The Cherry Trees

When we met the trees in our backyard, they were covered in green leaves and vines (wisteria!) but definitely not decked out in full drag fabulousness like they are right now in March.  I never bothered to look up the leaves to figure out what kind of trees we have, so I was totally shocked this year when they debuted their awesome pink cherry blossoms.  It seems we have weeping cherries on our hands.  I know these are a big deal in D.C. and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and whatever – but, trust me, it’s way cooler to have one in your own backyard.

Last weekend, we had to trim their branches because apparently they were dropping cherry blossom petals into our neighbor Hector’s pool.  La di da with his pool.  Anyway, these gorgeous pink trees are a great start to Garden 2012 and I’m psyched to see what else sprouts in our yard that we aren’t expecting.

The other bonus to the cherry trees is they bleed a thick, amber-colored sap.  My idea for a craft project is to harvest it, trap bugs, and see if I can make my own amber-like petrified bugs with it (because it totally does harden to a plastic-like consistency).  If it works out, look for me teaching a class in Sap-based Bug Petrification at Third Ward or something.

Above, a view of our trees this morning (April 1, 2012).  I feel like I want to share one fun fact about cherry trees, which is actually kind of nice considering that we’re working so hard to grow an awesome, edible garden (for example, the first flower seeds I’ve sowed outside so far this year are sunflower & nasturtium):

FACT (from wikipedia, obv.): Cherry blossoms and leaves are edible and both are used as food ingredients in Japan:

The pickled cherry blossoms are actually kinda’ awesome looking.

I’d totally eat those.  I think I’ll try to pickle them this year and let you know how it goes – and since I took ONE pickling class at The Meat Hook in BK, I’m totally an expert and can handle pickling plants that can be toxic when eaten in great quantities (wikipedia taught me this too:  “Since the leaves contain Coumarin, however, it is not recommended that one eats them in great quantities, due to its toxicity.”)

Welcome to the Jungle

In July of last year, myself, my man and my two Brussels Griffons moved into a new place and inherited an overgrown urban jungle in the backyard.

Some kind of weeping tree had wept its branches all the way to the ground.  The grass was weird and weedy and well above our ankles.  The prior owners’ dog had taken massive shits everywhere.  And it smelled. 

Since then, we’ve done a lot of work on the yard.  Last year, we were all about cleaning it up and enjoying outdoor space of our own for the month or two that was left of summer.  We were shocked at all the beautiful things growing beneath all of that inherited overgrowth.  This year, we got started early growing our own veggies and herbs from seed, planning what flowers we wanted to put where, and diagramming above-ground planters and plant placement – and I want to tell you about it.   Don’t worry, I’ll provide some historical information;  there are a lot of pictures from last year that I can’t bear letting go to waste.

To give you an idea of what a mess the yard was, here are some before & after shots.  You know it was bad because we needed a ladder.  You’ll also know it was bad because we discovered a charcoal grill (and not a portable-sized one) that we hadn’t seen before.

Before:

After:



The yard clean-up took one full, solid, sweaty day before we had even moved in.  Among other things, we discovered a giant barrel in the back by the fence filled with an unidentified, extremely nauseating, organic matter.  (No, it wasn’t a dead body.)  We had someone come and evaluate it (I can’t remember where he was from… Dept. of Sanitation?  Dept. of Environmental Protection?) and he told us to dig a hole, empty the contents of the barrel into said hole, add some lime, fill it up with dirt and deal with the odor til it dissipated.  People are gross.  Who fills a barrel with rot and just leaves it to be someone else’s problem?

The sadness resulting from the barrel – filled to the brim- with alleged rotting animal carcasses and dog poop was mitigated somewhat by the wisteria blossoms we discovered, and which later covered our trees.  This made me particularly happy because when I worked as a landscaper one summer I used to steal baby wisteria seedlings from rich people’s houses to try to grow them for myself.  They pretty much all died after a week or two – and that was probably nature’s way of telling me that kidnapping is wrong, even if it’s only plants.

Lastly, for the record and to address the title of this blog, our dogs do pee on the lavender and it, well, really pees on my lavender that they won’t quit it.  (This phrase should totally catch on:  like “yo, this jack & ginger i just ordered is weak and that really pees on my lavender.”)  🙂