“Earth knows no desolation.
She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.”
– George Meredith
My neighbours have plumy ornamental grasses whose seven-foot tall stalks and plumes they let overwinter, which provides great cover and perches for birds.
Last week, I happened to come home while they were cutting them down, and without even taking my groceries in, I zipped across our yards to ask if I could have the cuttings. “Sure! Saves us a trip to the town compost pile.” I love neighbours.
So I transported all these grasses into the back yard and then wondered how I would use them before someone furry, feathered, or scaled built a nest in or under them.
I thought I could cut them with pruners but they were not very compliant. Breaking them with my hands wasn’t working too well, either. I left them to languish for a few hours and spoke to the spouse about it; he suggested asking a friend of ours who has a chipper/shredder if we could bring them over. She said yes, of course!, so after we cut the stalks in half with a hedge trimmer so they would fit in our car (on a tarp), we drove our dried grass stalks the few miles to her house.
I wish I had taken photos of the cutting process. Her husband fed small stashes of the grass into the feed tube and, with a little pushing and prodding, out came perfectly cut and shredded straw mulch.
After 20 or 25 minutes, we had two large bags, which filled about 1/5 the car space that the original stalks had. There’s a lot of air in dried grass.
Now the mulch is ready for veggie seedlings, annuals, and fragile perennials.
And the same neighbours offered a large pile of mulch made of mostly leaves and grass clippings that’s been sitting in their yard for years, which I can use for sturdier perennials and for sheet mulching projects, along with my own hand-crafted mulch.
Speaking of sheet-mulching, I sheet mulched a new small bed along a fence last week, actually a continuation of the back border:
… and today I re-sheet-mulched one of my two hazelnut plantings:
I plan to also sheet mulch a 12″ border along all my current borders in the next few weeks; the lawn is encroaching on them.
Below, some sights this past week in the early spring garden:
I’ve had these three lilacs since 2011. Two started blooming in 2013, but the ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ had never budded until this year:
Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal …”
— from April Prayer by Stuart Kestenbaum