Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Heat Goes On

The summer drought has settled in. It has been two weeks since we had a good inch of rain. I was just using the drip hose to water the trees and scrubs but that doesn't get the job done fast enough so I'll resort to the fan sprinkler. My goal of having a drought resistant yard is coming along and I learn a bit each year. My lesson lately has been to avoid planting in the late spring. It is best to plant in the fall. We planted a small Bottle Brush Buckeye in the west yard but it hasn't done well and will need extra watering. We had a few landscape architects give us their opinion on the best trees to reforest the canopy and it looks like the Black Locust has won the competition. The tree does well on the lot as evidenced by the many stumps. It won’t last forever but will be a good interim tree until the oaks, resistant elms, walnuts and hickories take over. The ashes are questionable with the impending ash borer spreading south. It should be here in five years. The entrance garden's Shasta Daisies are exceptionally tall for the bed and will be moved to our new "cutting garden" to be located on the south side between the main house and the addition. This was another good idea by our selected landscape architect. Other thoughts were to plant Boston Ivy on the terrace wall. The wall will have to be painted before we do that and that won't happen until the existing paint needs more attention. We also selected understory trees, scrub and groundcover species but the first job will be to plant about a dozen Black Locust in front of the terrace this fall. I'll work to make the most organic arrangement I can with clumps of two and three trees with the occasional loner. The other fall project will be to move the tall daisies, poppies and milkweed to the cutting garden and move the smaller flowers to the entrance garden such as our Bloody Cranesbill, Threadleaf Coreopsis, smoke plant and English Daisy. Separating and expanding the ConeFlowers, Stiff Goldenrod, daisies and hyssops will finish the fall work on the south lawn. Oh yeah, I want to move the path stones from the southwest side to fill out the paths on the southeast side. I never really use the paths on the west side and with a bit of newspaper and mulch in between I think I can simplify the paths and make them easier to use all year long. One last thing, we did finally succeed in finding some plants that grow on the southeast corner of the lot that has the two utility manholes on it. Lamb's ear and Yucca are doing well. I'm also letting the groundcover succulent weed go ahead and live there.

It's great to have an indoor project for the heat of the summer and the carport restoration has filled that nicely. Its been several months of work but we have removed the small studio that was constructed in the carport by the second owner and just last night put the first coat of paint on the south side where the new cabinets are going. It would have been nice to remove all of the old enamel paint and acid stain the raw concrete red but removing the paint was impossible with sandpaper and the exposed concrete was too soft. I think the chemicals in a paint remover would have removed the cementious material needed for acid staining. In the end, Janet made the executive decision to paint the floor since it will be covered mostly in carpets. The design of the cabinets will allow replacement of the windows either sooner or later. Sooner the more I think about how nice it would be to have thermopane in there and later when I research just exactly how the windows should be constructed and who should make them. Cedric's room has the best operating set of gate opening or French door style windows in the main home. Similar double pain windows were used in the addition window replacement but they don't seal very well and have to be puttied every winter. Double gate opening windows aren't a common style and seem a custom build. My research will pay off later when we restore the 10' tall living room doors. The next indoor project will be to construct the light boxes designed for the living room but being installed first in the workspace and then in the carport. They are a shallow box construction with the sides angled at a 96-degree angle to mimic the outward slant of the gallery parapet. Approximately 3 foot on a side and 4 inches deep, each contains four 20" indirect dimmable florescent around the perimeter and five down lighting halogens in the center.

I go to Beck's Hardware several times a week and Stan, Chris, Don, Rick and Dave have been great with the tips and tricks. Recently they saved me a lot of grief by suggesting an orange oil based carpet adhesive remover. I didn’t think it was going to work but sure enough it dissolved the old adhesive saving many hours of sanding. Which didn’t work any way because it just ate away at the delicate concrete finish. Thanks a bunch guys.