Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the Immortal Words of Ringo Starr ...

"I've got blisters on my fingers!"

I didn't start out yesterday planning to cut back the Miscanthus on the north side of the garage. I had hopes of visiting the soil yard to pick out some more rocks for an area beside the pond. But when I went out to feed the fish, I noticed that I needed to take care of some watering chores. I've been spending a lot of time lately reworking, or attempting to rework, the way I have my hoses set up in the back gardens. I decided yesterday morning that there was no time like the present to try method number 253 (hyperbole, perhaps ... but it FEELS like that many). I had removed the biggest hose and hauled it over to a different spot, threaded it through the tangle of pink skullcap, Old Blush rose and Barbados Cherry, and was preparing to attach it to the connecting hose. That was when she knew she had made her first mistake (apologies, Lyle Lovett). I bent over to connect them and felt a disc in my lower back crunch. That was not pleasant. After a few moments of deep breathing, I straightened up ... again, not pleasant. Once I'd determined that I could indeed still walk, I discovered that movement actually made me feel a bit better. So I continued with my watering. As I aimed the hose along the alleyway fence line, I realized I hadn't checked on the progress of my sweet peas. Next thing I knew I was pounding nails into boards and stringing fishing line from nail to trellis so the sweepies would have something to climb up on their way to the trellis.

Just after I finished that task and was contemplating my next move, I saw a terrible sight. My neighbor's cat, a sleek black feline named Night, was padding across the street with a bird in his mouth. Knowing that he's been hanging around the trellises where my goldfinches feed, I chased him down. Sadly, it was too late for the wee bird. Now, I know that it's just his instincts kicking in and I don't hold it against Night (well, not much). He's a fine fellow and I don't wish him any harm. That said, I see no reason to make it easier for him to catch MY birds, who have flown all this way to visit me and to whom I wish to offer protection. So for the rest of the day, passersby were occasionally treated to the sight of me racing across the yard, hose in hand, to spray Night on his next predatory mission. I enlisted the help of my darling daughter, who collected pine cones from around the yard and put them on either side of the trellis. I'm told that cats don't like things prickling their paws. I'll be making a trip to Sam's today to buy red pepper, too. My intent is to convince Night that unpleasant things happen to him when he visits my yard.

So what does all this have to do with Miscanthus? Well, the beds in front of the trellis and along the garage wall are lined with 9 clumps of the larger variety of Miscanthus (I'm not sure what the cultivar is). These ornamental grasses are the perfect hiding place for a felonious feline. I usually leave them up as long as possible because their winter colors appeal to me. But when it's a choice between the safety of my finches or the view, I choose the finches. The grasses will grow back ... the finches are only here for a while. Below are views of the aftermath of my Miscanthus management exercises.




I was so incensed at Night and so fired up to get the grasses cut back that I neglected to grab my camera before starting. In checking last year's post on the annual whacking of the grasses, I see that I'm almost 3 weeks ahead of myself. Woo-hoo! That's like sand going backwards in the hourglass!

Now if you'll excuse me, achy back or no, I must head outside and get busy raking and bundling the trimmings. Before I do, I must give a shout out to my thoughtful and delightful friend Robin of Bumblebee Blog. When she was here in November for a visit, she brought me a most useful and much appreciated birthday gift: Pallina gardening gloves and gardening gauntlets. Friends, let me tell you, never have I appreciated a gift more than I did yesterday: those gauntlets saved my forearms from the depredations of the grasses' sharp edges. Bless you, Robin!

I'll leave y'all with a picture of my favorite spring annual, bar none: the delicate blooms of Linaria maroccana, Toadflax. That's a bluebonnet in the lower right corner ... well, shoot, I can't not show you a picture of it, as well. Then I'm really going!


16 comments:

Kathy said...

Bluebonnets! Toadflax! The only flowers I'm growing are frost flowers. Hope your back heals quickly.

Leslie said...

Your garden is looking wonderful! I tried to buy cayenne at Costco yesterday to deter the cat next door from getting more birds at my feeder. They didn't have any. I need to look elsewhere.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Wow, that was a whole lot of work you did on those grasses, and with a sore back too! I'm very impressed. I hope that your efforts succeed in discouraging Night from hunting the little birds.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Yes, always show a photo of the bluebonnets. I wish I could grow them here from seed. You had a wonderful productive day in the garden, and I'm impressed with your efforts to protect the wee ones. I own a felonious cat, so I'm always working toward that.~~Dee

Gail said...

Cindy,

You are one hard working gardener...did you have to have a lie down with an ice pack after this day's endeavor? Gail

EAL said...

It looks great! I must say it is so strange to see your domestic landscape, with no snow, as has covered mine for the last couple months.

Pam/Digging said...

You have bluebonnets in bloom?! Man, that Gulf breeze must make a big difference, since Houston's not any farther south than Austin.

Please post about these gardening gauntlets that Robin gave you. I need some. I made the mistake of digging up a miscanthus today, and looked down to see my arm scratched and bleeding. What vicious edges those leaves have, and you don't even notice it cutting you at the time.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Ah flowers! I'd almost forgotten what they look like. :-) You've done quite a lot of work, good for you!

A pity about the bird, I'm a cat lover but I don't like it either when they catch one.

Jean said...

Good idea about cutting back those grasses to eliminate the cat's hiding place. I've been trying to do the same thing since our neighbors let their cats roam everywhere. Those finches are only here for a little while longer, so gotta make it as pleasant as possible for them! (If only they wouldn't fly into the windows!)

Interesting to see your bluebonnets blooming. I pulled mine out of the greenhouse today (they're in a pot) and they look like they're about to start doing the same thing. Seems pretty early to me.

Good luck with your back!

Jean said...

One more thing, wasn't it John Lennon who said that?? :-)

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Thanks, all! I've seen Night near the feeders a couple of times since I posted. He's starting to run away when I yell at him, so I'm hoping he's equating seeing me with bad things happening to him! Re my title, it was definitely Ringo who said it, following his drum solo on Helter Skelter.

MA said...

Here's another great idea: when you go to have your way with rosa chinensis mutabilis, use the cut canes at the base of the trellis. Cats HATE that.

Meadowview Thymes said...

Your bluebonnets are blooming?? No way!!

Annie in Austin said...

Ooh - hope you're feeling okay, Cindy - and think the gauntlets were a great idea.

Cats were using a rosemary to hide behind and rush the fountain but whacking a rosemary is a lot easier than dealing with grasses. I've grown quite a few over the years and personally, I think pampas grass is even worse than miscanthus for slicing skin.

Bluebonnets and toadflax look so cute together!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

(Like MA's idea for using mutabilis canes as feline discouragement sticks and may try it if my rose plants grow big enough to need cutting back.)

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

MA, I'm going to try that with the rose canes. Cutting down the grasses has been a help ... the birds can see him coming now.

Annie, I've heard that about pampas grass. I'm considering putting the miscanthus on Craigslist, free to anyone who wants to dig it, and replacing it with Gulf Coast muhly. I think that would look even prettier and be easier to maintain.

Bird Advocate said...

Thank you. It's so sad more people don't value our wildlife as you do.