Friday, March 29, 2013

Got Much Mulch?

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
~ Seneca

Tough week for the trees here at the humble Bush-O'Regan Abode in Southwest Florida.  Three were bid farewell in the last few days.  It's been bittersweet.   

I've had a difficult time getting back outside to work, let alone enjoy, our yard.   Having turned a major corner in the last two weeks, I'm diligently kicking spring yard prep into gear.  The house and yard exterior has been looking like the neglected home of the grieving widow recluse, instead of the buddingly sweet Spanish style bungalow it had been only a few months ago.  Feral cats (a ridiculously bad problem in this area) had taken full observation of my outdoor absence making themselves all to comfortable on the premises.  Now add psycho cat lady next to that grieving widow recluse descriptive.  Oh my, hot stuff, right?  Well, no more.  I'm back baby - - with a vengeance - - and my first victim is the Hong Kong orchid tree.

Our home is old, built in 1925, and so are many of the trees - - that old or older.  They've been long overdue for trimming, chopping, removing - - you name it.  Living in an area where seasonal hurricanes are a real reality,  proper, responsible maintenance is mandatory to prevent as much collateral damage as possible should storm strike.  Makes sense doesn't it?   And this is my first time owning a home too.   But boy, was Boomer a complete curmudgeon when it came to dealing with the trees.    Enter the Hong Kong orchid debate...

The Hong Kong orchid towers next to our driveway, near the detached garage, at at least 50 feet high.  It's immense and dying.   It resembles something out of a Tim Burton film, huge base trunk, one of the largest the arborist had ever seen, with scrawny branches, barren with leaves that turned brown within 2 days of sprouting, and it no longer blooms its infamous purple orchids.  Bring on a 15-20 mile an hour wind and branches litter the driveway.  Big storms made me nervous how the tree would handle it.   Boomer and I debated having the tree taken down from the time we moved in, June, 2011.  "It's not dead, it'll come back," was his best argument.  There was no reasoning.  Well, the tree is now worse off than it was almost two years ago and on Tuesday, the pros came in with the lift truck to take it down, grind it up and hall it away.

Got much mulch?
One thing I've heard often is the need for me, as the newly widowed, to create as much ease and simplicity in my life as possible during these early months of bereavement - - especially being alone.    Case in point, tree maintenance.  The last thing I need is a dead tree coming down, even a live one at that.   Ease and simplicity gave me an inspired request to pass on to the tree men, "Hey guys, how about leaving that mulch here on the driveway for me when you're done?" "Are you sure?" they asked.  "Absolutely," I said, "now I've got the mulch I need for the yard to ward off those weeds."  Without heavy mulch you are at constant combat with weeds in southwest Florida.  A 50+ foot Hong Kong orchid makes one serious pile of mulch.  And you know what else?  It smells fantastic!!!  Like orchids. The red, aromatic mulch is quickly making its way around the landscaping.  In my neighbor's yard too. 

Next are the Australian pines that line the west side of the driveway up to the Nightmare Before Christmas tree.  There are (were) a dozen.  Last summer I took three down.  Boomer squawked, until he saw the one tree's entire root base still attached to the trunk, and when our neighbor Dave also said they were in bad shape, Boomer pulled back the moan-groan tree rap he had going and agreed with the ones I took down.  Let me be clear, Boomer did not take down these trees.  I did the labor, he complained and then hid inside to tip a few.   It was frustrating for me when he'd do this personality flip, saying I didn't know what I was talking about, only to change his opinion when another man agreed with me.   It's the dark side of what alcoholism does to the afflicted ones personality.     Moving on...
Anita, the abstract orange tree, December, 2011

We were surprised when we learned we had an orange tree in our front yard.  We were even more delighted when it grew actual oranges in 2011; yield was about 18.   Anita, the abstract orange tree, as we named her, was struggling with ants & termites.  Prior to arrival in Florida, our fantastic neighbors had given Anita a serious cut back to help preserve her, which is how she acquired her shape. The absolute most delicious oranges I had ever eaten.  Zero acidity.  Turns out that major pruning pushed a harvest burst, common when trees are dying.  In 2012, Anita, only grew about 8 oranges, half were edible.

Ed Wood, formerly Anita.
Today, I took down another Australian pine.  Sadly, Anita didn't survive the winter.  She came down today too and was renamed, Ed Wood - abstract yard art.

Oops, I just found a splinter in my left index finger.  Might be time for SMO to have a chain saw.  Ensue laughter at the vision you're having of me with a chain saw.  You too Boomer.

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