Tag Archives: fall chores

Meadow Blooms 1 – Crocus

Crocus happily mingled throughout the grass!! That’s my happy place. ¬†ūüôā

Crocus in lawn 2013
photo by SVSeekins
planting crocus in lawn
phot by SVSeekins
the crocus meadow in 2012
photo by SVSeekins

We started with a Dandelion Dilemma in the fall of 2011.  The chosen solution was digging out the weeds & dropping crocus bulbs in the subsequent holes.

After all that digging, the lawn looked pretty rough through the winter.

Then there was some tentative success with crocus blooms in the spring of 2012. ¬†Perhaps the bulbs hadn’t had time to root well before winter came?

And the lawn still looked like it had been attacked by gophers.  I had hoped it would recover more quickly.

12 mnths after dandelion digging
photo by SVSeekins

It probably would’ve been better to have given that whole area a good layer of top-dressing. ¬†But that would’ve cost more money & taken more effort, too… ¬†So I didn’t.

Over the summer, the grass recovered on its own. ¬†Isn’t patience a beautiful thing?

Only a few of the dandelions came back. ¬†I’ve tried to jump on those as soon as they show up. ¬†Perseverance¬†is a good ambition in these circumstances.

Crocus in lawn 2013
photo by SVSeekins

Now I’m reassured that spring is on its way because the crocuses are here & doing their happy dance. ¬†As sunshine beams down, they open up. ¬†They quickly close when a cloud passes over. ¬†When the sun caresses them again, they open back up. ¬†They’re so whimsical & busy!

What a lovely reward for all that digging 18 months ago. ¬†ūüôā

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

P.S. ¬†Here’s a post from another writer who did a very

snow crocus, woodland crocus, early crocus, summit park, crocus, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

a similar project, only without all the dandelion to contend with:

… and one from an established local meadow

PP.S. Here are some other meadow faves:

Rake Wrangling

standard rake
photo by SVSeekins

On our farm there wasn’t much call for leaf raking, so I grew up thinking a rake was just a rake. Then I got together with C & his wonderful world of tools. ¬†Who knew that all rakes¬†are not created¬†equal?

gravel screenings add traction on our south mountain path
photo by SVSeekins

I recognized the classic rake. ¬†That’s the one a comic character steps on & is¬†thwacked in the head by its handle. ¬†We had one of those back home (and yes, I’d stepped on it by mistake).

It turns out this kind of rake is designed for shifting sand & gravel. ¬†I now use it on the pathways that lead up our ‘mountain’.

landscapers rake
photo by SVSeekins

The oddest rake in C’s repertoire is also used for¬†leveling¬†ground but in a different way. ¬†It specializes in more delicately shifting wider swaths of soil. ¬†He used it on the freshly tilled front yard, making sure that the ground sloped away from the house, before he seeded the lawn.

Inevitably the season turns to autumn & as tidy urbanites we turn our attention to removing the leaves that clutter our tidy lawn.

The apple leaf is flat and small.  Once off the tree, the leaves take up very little space.  They fit nicely in the bed of the surrounding shrub border (as mulch).

bamboo rake
photo by SVSeekins

The bamboo rake can handle this task, but not much more. ¬†It’s nice that this rake is mostly biodegradable. but it just doesn’t stand up to heavy use. ¬†It’s not so nice heading back to the store to purchase yet another replacement.

metal rake
photo by SVSeekins

If there’s a good rain before I get out to rake things up, the delicate apple leaves mush deeply into the grass. ¬†That’s when I prefer a metal rake. ¬†It’s stronger & moves the wet clumps of leaves nicely. ¬†The tines are narrow & the dry small leaves sometimes slip through, so it’s not a total replacement for the bamboo rake.

adjustable metal rake - at wide setting
photo by SVSeekins
adjustable metal rake - at narrow setting
photo by SVSeekins

There’s a similar rake that has an adjustable head. (+ telescoping handle). ¬†In the wide position, this rake is good for moving the wet clumps caught in the grass. ¬†In the narrow position, it’s good for getting into tighter spots, or moving those small dry apple leaves. ¬† What’s not as handy is the extra weight. ¬†That said, I’m glad to have it around.

gary oak acorns
photo by SVSeekins

The garry oak tree supplies a much tougher job.¬†First to come off the oaks are the acorns. ¬†They’re small but have a bit of weight to them. ¬†When they fall from the full¬†height¬†of the tree, they pick up some good velocity & strike the ground hard – – practically planting themselves in the lawn.

metal rake with flattened tines
photo by SVSeekins

Like the mushy apple leaf issue, these little nuts are a bit of a challenge to remove. ¬†The rake that works well for this is also a metal rake, but one with tines that have some width to them. ¬†They’re strong enough to reach down into the grass, and are close enough together to catch the acorns & pull them along.

The second challenge with the garry oak is the leaf durability.  Compared to apple leaves, which break down over 1 winter РРgarry oak leaves take 3 to break down!  For that reason, I prefer to compost them before they end up in the garden beds.

gary oak leaves
photo by SVSeekins

We rake the leaves into piles… shift each pile onto a big tarp… and haul them over to our composting area.

The third challenge is the shear volumes.  The much larger, curled, garry oak leaves that come off our trees could fill up a pickup truck РРeach week. (Leaves typically fall for 8 weeks)

composting leaves in stucco-wire enclosures
photo by SVSeekins

There are 6 garry oak trees around our yard – – and many more in the adjacent yards. ¬† That’s a lot of leaves. ¬†And a whole lot of raking.

The rake we use for clearing up acorns is also my pick for raking oak leaves. ¬†The issue turns out to be the hardiness of the rake. ¬†In the past we used the $10 version sold everywhere. ¬†We’d easily went through 4-5 rakes in one season. ¬†Aghhh! ¬†I was pissed about repeatedly spending $50 a year on a crappy product.

sturdy rake details
photo by SVSeekins

Then we found a version with sturdier components & design.  Even the handy butterfly nut & bolt that attaches the handle to the rake allowed for replacing a broken handle.   It cost $30, and is heavier than the cheaper rake. but I figured it was worth the extra effort to try a sturdier rake.   We bought one for each of us.

It definitely¬†paid off. ¬†It’s been 5 years, & the rakes are still up to the task. ¬†We haven’t even needed to swap out a broken handle!

Just reducing the frustrations of replacing busted rakes is worth the heavier weight and higher price tag.

Paying $60 up front (for 2 sturdy rakes) was¬†cost effective too. ¬†If we’d continued using the cheaper rakes:
$50  x 5 years = $250 on the crappy rakes!

I’ve learned three lessons.

  1. I’m convinced quality tools are worth spending a little extra money on.
  2. I get a kick out of the variety in C’s wonderful world of tools.
  3. And I’m slowly learning how much nicer it is to use a tool specialized for the task at hand. ¬†ūüôā

© copyright 2012 SVSeekins

The Dandelion Dilemma

In my mind dandelions have pretty yellow flowers. ¬†They’re deer resistant. ¬†Long blooming. Survive drought & famine. ¬†They’re tasty as salad greens. ¬†And even make wine.

To C, that’s just not enough.

C carries a big grudge against dandelions. ¬†He¬†harbors¬†dark thoughts & plots their demise. ¬† He’s carried bucket loads away from the lawn after battle. ¬†But still he lives in fear that the¬†common¬†dandelion¬†will win the war.

This fall I initiated a new plan.

After having some success during wet seasons past, I decided to have another go at digging the dandelions out – and this time replacing them with crocus.

spring crocus
photo by SVSeekins

Fall is the proper time to plant¬†bulbs. Considering I’ve dug the hole to get the dandelion out, I might as well take advantage of the effort, right?

My good friend AT planted the idea in my mind years ago. ¬†When she was very young, her dad had employed the same reasoning in his yard: replace dandelions with crocus. ¬†I’ve never seen that lawn, but in my imagination it is wonderful.

The crocus of choice promises to grow no higher than 4 inches tall. ¬†They bloom in mid February. ¬†Even if they’re still blooming when C brings out the lawnmower, they should be safely below the blade. ¬†Cross my fingers.

After some rain in the fall, most plants can be dug out quite easily. ¬†The soil is moist, and therefore softer, and easier to dig. ¬† Dandelions however, have multiple, deep, sometimes cork-screwing roots. ¬†If any section of root remains in the ground, it’ll happily renew itself.

planting crocus in lawn
photo by SVSeekins

For this project I chose the dandelion patch just outside the¬†fence-line. ¬†It was especially¬†resplendent¬†in dandelion. ¬†It’s also a high visibility area that C is the most embarrassed about. ¬†I gave special attention to get as much root as possible.

Working an hour or two at a time, I slowly made progress.  There was so much digging that the lawn looked pretty rough for the first while.

Well over 400 crocus bulbs were planted.

I’m hoping that by spring there will be a colorful blooming meadow.

So much of gardening doesn’t seem to be about having a green thumb. ¬†Having a strong back is certainly a plus. ¬†So is crossing fingers. ¬† Wish me luck. ¬† ūüôā

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012

snow crocus, woodland crocus, early crocus, summit park, crocus, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

PS – here’s the follow-up post a year or so later:

… and one from an established meadow