Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunshine on My Shoulders

I sat on the stone bench in the backyard today, enjoying the warm sun, the view, and the backyard visitors.

During the time I sat there, we were visited by wood storks, limpkins, muscovy ducks and mallards, lesser scaups, and a male cardinal, among others. A northern mockingbird was singing his heart out in the tree nearby, a queen butterfly flew overhead, and at one point an osprey scared the heck out of me by diving straight into the lake and retrieving a fish with a splash before flying away with it in his feet.

With the sun warm on my back, I admired the view and reflected that just a year ago, this patch of yard was just dirt and scrubby weeds. So, how did we get from there to here?

Again, here's what we started with:

My plan was to carve out another arc of garden, this one essentially going from the neighbors' fence to the corner of my house. We were about to install the walkway from the front of the house around to the back, which would lead up to the cement pad outside the screen door. This would give me a small garden by the house and a large one from the pathway to the edge of the yard, more or less.

So, we waved our magic wands and presto-chango, it was done!

Yeah, well, so maybe we had to do a little more actual work than that. But more on that another time.

The plants in the backyard have actually worked out pretty well. We have a couple of oleanders, lots of muhly grass, and some blue-eyed grass that still continues to struggle along (see my previous post Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes for more info on these plants). We also have Walter's Viburnum, Simpson Stopper, and Firebush (all Florida natives), a couple of straggly Bougainvillea bushes, and the date palm tree that has been here for many years.

In mid-summer, after seeing the success of it in my butterfly garden, I planted lantana camara and added some stepping stones near the porch. By this time, we had also put in the stone bench and removed a struggling viburnum.

By early fall after the rainy season had passed, nearly everything was thriving and the muhly grass was showing its amazing autumn colors.

We had a lot of successes and only a few failures in our backyard planting. Here's what didn't make it:
  • Blueberry Bush (native) - I think just didn't get enough water while it was trying to get established. I'd love to try this again sometime, maybe by planting it during the rainy season so it has a good chance to get started.
  • Wild Petunia (native) - Not really sure what happened here; this just didn't thrive. It may not have gotten enough sun in its place behind the bench. At any rate, I was forced to pull it out by the end of the summer. We transplanted the saw palmetto there from the front yard.
As I mentioned previously, we had to replace one of our viburnum bushes, but the new one looks okay. They are both getting some flower buds now as spring approaches, so we'll see what happens.

I can't help but feel pleased with my backyard now. I've created a pleasant garden to sit and watch the visitors to the lake, which are many. Here's the wood stork who came to see me today:

They have awfully ugly heads, don't they? This is a bird that's considered endangered in the U.S., but we see them frequently here in My Florida Backyard. How cool is that?

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