Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ugly Stuff

Finally the daytime temperature has risen to 54 degrees, but it is windy, as March always is when the air gets warmer. I finally got outside and could get through the snow to reach my tools.

But it was ugly.

First, it was hard schlepping through the rotted snow. It's mushy but icy underneath and the awkwardness of sliding around in it hurts my hips after a while. The front and east sides have melted but the rest of the yard and the meadow are still deep under snow.

Second, the voles went wild this winter and the entire east side of the yard is dotted with tunnels.

I mean the whole yard! Every three feet or so has these excavations. Under all the snow this winter they dug up mounds of dirt and created a city of networked underground thruways.

At the edge of the mulch around the new katsura they created a construction site. Everywhere else there are entrance and exit holes, with mounds of dirt at each one.

I need to get mousetraps and set them out. Probably 30 or more, in order to place a trap at each entrance and exit. That was the only thing that worked, at least in the much smaller strip along the front walk the year the voles took out all my plantings there.

There are more uglies.

I think the pink flowered heaths are dead. Both of them.

March is their season to bloom. The little spots on the brown foliage are dried flowers from last year.

For comparison, here is what they looked like on March 16 back in 2010. That was a warm spring, but even so they should not look so dessicated and brown in the middle of March.

I'll wait for milder temperatures, and a more sustained warm stretch than just this one day, to see if they green up and sport their pretty little pink flowers. But they are awfully ugly right now.

Another ugly sight is the miscanthus by the garage door. It's weighed down by hard packed icy snow, but I was determined to get at the standing stalks and cut them down.

The hedge trimmer Jim got me last summer works like a charm, but all I did was make a bigger mess. The fronds chopped down easily, but I could not free half of them from the icy snow. So when the snow does melt, the loose grass stems will blow about and make a horrible mess.

Already, on this windy day, the stuff I cut blew around and accumulated in corners and edges.

The half that I could gather up and cart away was taken out to the back hill, where they will blow around there. They are bright colored and loose, and hard to dispose of and easy to see everywhere.

I hate grasses.  I would never plant miscanthus again as an ornamental in a garden. The only way to deal with them is to burn them in winter, they go up in a poof. But I can't do that so near the house. Next year I must cut them down in fall, even if the sheared stump looks so silly.

I did accomplish a few positive things. The amsonia by the front walk was easily cut down with the handy hedge trimmer, and I got to the pruning of the Japanese maple in front. I took off a lot.

My tools were dry and fine inside the shed, even though I still can't open the front doors with all the snowpack around them. Everything inside it wintered well.

And here's something pretty to counteract the ugly stuff -- a spring wreath on the front door:

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