The Pyracantha shrub on our south side provides filtered shade and our two-story house creates shade that begins to creep eastward after the peak of the day. Pyracantha is an attractive evergreen shrub. The delicate white flowers lure the pollinators and the local birds enjoy the red berries. Depending on the season, sparrows, thrashers, doves, cardinals and tanagers congregate to sing and play in the protective shrub. While these little birds might appreciate the lethal thorns, I can’t seem to avoid drawing blood when I get in contact with them. The shrub has been allowed to become quite large throughout the years, even to the point where the trunks have swallowed the iron fencing in some places. My partner and I have been removing the dead branches and pruning it back in stages. Our goal is to encourage the Pyracantha to provide shade and, more importantly, wind shelter without damaging the fence or passing pedestrians. I planted a few passionflower vines in open spaces underneath the Pyracantha hoping that they can use it’s branches for a trellis and provide more wind protection during the windiest months. I can think of reasons why this may not be wise but I have passionflower starters from a previous garden and I’m willing to experiment with the idea.
The yard outside of our fenced in area is exposed to the sun for the most hours and it doesn’t have protection from the wind or the animals. Rocks and wood chips are freely available in the area and will be an easy solution to protect the soil. Selecting Plants suited for the arid climate will be necessary and I plan to incorporate the local species as well. I do not plan on designing a drip system in the areas east of the sidewalk so those plants will need to be satisfied with what nature brings them especially during the time I travel away from home.
|West Canal facing north||South Canal facing east|
|South Canal facing west|
Notice the south canal is filled with dirt. The town’s topsoil that has settled into the canal is now being manually diverted into our yard. The canal topsoil holds a fair amount of small stones that I can utilize in the yard as well. It takes a good deal of sweat and sore muscles to shovel, screen, and then wheel the dirt up into the yard. The dirt is probably better than what I can buy at the local garden center (I’m never happy with store bought soil) plus the canals will work more efficiently without the soil buildup. The best part is the dirt is readily available for the price of the labor. I would prefer working out in the vitamin D rich sun to workouts in the gym any day. In that vein, moving rocks has been my weight lifting program. I want to point out that my partner deserves credit in his assistance in both of these activities. I recognize that the dirt may have the harmful metals found in mining towns so it will be placed in areas that are not going to be used for edible vegetation and I will practice the use of phytoremediation.
The photo on the right is a rock bed that I created to lead water through a run-off opening into the canal. Previously, wild grasses had established themselves in front of the hole. They would catch debris, causing a dam, which would effectively slow the water’s progress and cause flooding onto the pedestrian bridge seen in the above photo center. The dirt is mainly clay because the topsoil has been washed away. It requires a good soak and a crow bar to dig a deep hole.
In the past, I practiced T’ai Chi and Qigong. My teacher often reminded me of the lesson of the pine tree and willow.