The depths of August

Fifteen minutes earlier, it was impossible to sit there due to the fronds.

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It’s worse every August, two months into the monsoon season. I curse my planting of so many things years ago when I was a horticultural ignoramus. The philodendron in the photo is an example. I’m resting my old bones after removing about a dozen of those huge leaves, which were drooping to the grass.

Speaking of grass, all of what you see and much, much more will be stone and concrete by January. That’s this fall’s reversal plan, turning greenery into lovely, maintenance-free rock.

By mid-August, the constant rain since early June has put muscle into the yard. I really should hire a gardener. But wait! I have one, Abel the Deadpan Yardman, and he does more than mow on occasion, mostly tossing what I cut into the ravine at the tail of the dead-end street out back. I just need to alter his job description.

When I replace this grass with stone, he’ll have even less to mow, but I’ll pay him the same, so I need to provide more chores.

Looking to another part of the yard, we encounter this below, the Willy-Nilly Zone, at least half of it. This is where the monster aloe vera lived until I had it removed last year. It was at the back, to the right. It monopolized at least a quarter of the space, and since its departure, eager beavers took up the slack. Most are weeds.

What is a weed? It’s a plant growing where you don’t want it.

I tried to control them at first, but it was an impossible task. Thankfully, the zone is trapped by stone and concrete! There are some desired plants in there. The datura tree, a stand of red-hot pokers, a bridal bouquet that doesn’t bloom much anymore, some lilies, that cactus in the foreground.

Also, a line of something I planted along the near border 18 years ago. And some ground cover my child bride tossed in there way back. But there are lots of weeds too. It all rather blends together, however. It’s not called the Willy-Nilly Zone for no reason.

Maybe I should yank it all out and lay concrete and stone.

That’s always a superlative option.

The Willy-Nilly Zone, full of Lord knows what.

The nosy neighbor

The Before shot. Way bigger than it appears.
The During shot.
The nosy neighbor.

As promised a couple of weeks ago in Roses of September, the final monster aloe vera has been cut down to size, not totally eliminated as we did with the other one in July, but made more manageable, more petite.

One reason I did this is because when the rainy season fades away, we’ll be hiring guys to uproot the grass you see in the photos and replace it with stone and concrete as my ongoing lawn-replacement campaign soldiers on, perhaps to be completed before I die.

The aloe vera was poking way out over some of the grass, plus it was long overdue for some stern discipline anyway.

The rear gate was open during the butchery yesterday, so in walks the cheeky kid who lives out back, uninvited. I was sitting on the yard patio in a web chair overseeing the aloe vera trimming when he walks up and sits with me. I took his photo.

He had never been into our yard before and was quite impressed.

He, his parents and numerous siblings live across the street in what would accurately be called a miserable hovel. But he has a good attitude and is likable. When I stood up to go inside for breakfast, he walked to the dining room window and peered through the glass. I waved.

The work ended. The guys drove off with the green garbage in their pickup truck to dump God knows where — I don’t ask — and the neighbor boy was ushered out the back gate by me. Adiós, kiddo! Everything returned to normal.

The After shot.

The aloe vera appears as if it returned from a week at Weight Watchers.


Before you depart today, it will be fun to chuckle at the notions of the nutty folks on the other side of the political divide. Enjoy!

It neglected to mention the (half) black president!

Roses of September

It’s too close to the golden datura. They’re bosom buddies.

Like virtually every plant in the Hacienda yard, I purchased this rosebush without knowing what I was buying. The flower is pretty. Turns out that it’s a climbing rose, and I have given it nowhere to climb, a defect I intend to remedy next spring.

With chicken wire.

But until then, it’s just droops. The flowers are nice, however.

I initially planted four rosebushes along the Alamo Wall. I have uprooted two for various crimes, and of the remaining two only one produces flowers, so the other’s time is limited. I just have not gotten around to murdering it yet.

Speaking of plant murder, a crime I have acquired some fame for committing, I have another victim in the sights of my virtual bazooka, the final aloe vera which, like the two I have already committed to the dust bin of history, has gotten too big for its britches.

It’s flowering up a storm, common this time of year.

But I will not murder this one because it’s my last aloe vera, and one needs the medicinal properties on occasion, plus it puts out pretty flowers. It will merely get a close shave.

I’ll have to phone the plumber who is my go-to guy for serious yard trimming. He has access to a chainsaw and pickup truck, neither of which are owned by my standard gardener, Abel the Deadpan Yardman.

Stay tuned. Bloodshed to come.

The Un-greening of Felipe

willy2
The Before Shot.

THE CREW came this morning with machetes and a chain saw, a pickup too.

1
Guys at work.

2
Wielding the axe.

last
No more aloe vera, at least not on that spot.

They got the stump almost level with the ground, so now the question is if it will try to pop up again. Probably. I’ve seen people pour motor oil on stumps in these situations, but I hope not to have to do that.

Background on this work can be seen here.

This ongoing process I dub the Un-greening of Felipe. When the Hacienda was young, and I looked at the yard with the attitude I developed in Houston, I made mistakes. I planted things thinking they would grow as they grew in Houston, a little bit or not at all.

But Lordy! I am now running in reverse. We had three stands of banana trees, and now we have one. We had three monster magueys, and now we have none. We had a towering nopal, and now we have none. We had a trash-tossing peach tree, a pear and a loquat. Now we have none. We had three aloe veras. Now we have one.

The un-greening, still ongoing, makes life easier, and ease is what I crave.