Saturday, September 3, 2016

Brugmanzilla

I should point out that nobody around here has a decent lawn. Those are all down the hill in the nicer neighborhood, where people wanted to live before they wanted to live here. They're all sitting down there in their big houses wondering why the little bungalow pieces of crap up here are going for the same amount their houses are. Ha ha! Who knows? But their lawns are nice.

We're none of us supposed to like lawns anymore, because they take so much water and work and fertilizer and chemicals and stuff. So up here we look down on the big houses and big green lawns as evidence of poor moral character, and even though we would secretly like to lie down on them sometimes, we don't covet them out loud. Up here it is now considered normal to have tomatoes and squash in your front yard, or at least a bunch of xeric plants that look the same alive or dead and don't need a hose in either condition.

A lot of folks up here do still have leftover default lawns, but they're really crappy. I was just thinking I hadn't heard a lawnmower in forever, and that's because no one waters their lawn after God quits doing it in the spring, and it just looks like something a horse would spit out. The grass is brown and short and cowlicked with big sproingy weeds.

I should also point out that our aversion to watering lawns has more to do with solidarity with unfortunate drought-stricken populations than it does with an actual water shortage. We have lots of water compared with most people. I use more than most, but I hand-water it in the dark like I'm sneaking a cookie. I grow a lot of pretty flowers and not as many edibles, and come the earthquake my preference for Food For The Soul is going to kick me in the ass. But anyway when I do select flowers, I tend to ignore the ones that want lots of water.

Except this spring. I saw a nice Brugmansia in a little pot and thought: hey, it's been a few years since I've grown one of those, but I'm in the mood for a little pizzazz and ka-pow. I bought a giant pot for it because I know it has ambition and I put it on the patio and it looked like a dandelion on a football field. For a week.

Thing about those Brugmansias is you can't tell how big their paws are because they're underground. Within a month my plant was a galoot. One day it began to pout dreadfully. I hurried some water on it and it re-erected fast. The next day it pouted harder and I dumped a few more gallons on it. Day after day I rushed out with more and more water as it clutched its throat and threatened to faint on the divan, and every time it popped right back up and said "Just kidding."

This has to be how people feel when they go to all the trouble of making a cute little baby and they feed it with tiny spoons for years and years and then all of a sudden it's a big meaty teenage boy with a bad attitude and a 10,000-calorie-a-day habit and they find themselves thinking "What if I just don't feed it?" and that's okay. Go ahead and think it. You know you're going to feed it anyway. You don't want all those years of strained peas to have been in vain.

At least my Brugmansia is going to be properly dead by November. Your big kid is going to be in your basement playing video games until he's forty.

34 comments:

  1. I am grateful that I don't live in one of those communities where you must abide by certain standards (i.e. -- lawn, no fence, only certain colors on your house, etc.) because I ripped out all my lawn about fifteen years ago and am glad I did. I have lots of trees, ground cover, native plants, shrubs, with pebbled paths wending through them, and a fish pond in the back (back behind the stockade fence). Most of my neighbors seem to be like most of your neighbors about their lawns: they cut the grass, but don't go out of their way to keep it green and weed-free. Except for my next-door neighbor. She seems to expend a great deal of time, energy, and money on keeping her lawn as green and lush as a golf course. What's the payoff for all that? So that the neighbors can envy your lawn? Frankly, I'd rather they envy me -- if at all -- for my intellect or how well I've aged, or for being a snappy dresser. I know that in their eyes, my yard is full of "weeds". But my "weeds" don't require me to water them, feed them, and they serve a useful purpose: they provide food for the birds. Yeah, I'm afraid that I've taken the "moral high ground" on this matter. Don't these people realize what they're doing to the environment with all the chemicals they use to maintain this? Or do they just not care? She's a lovely person otherwise, but OoooOOO is she anal about her lawn!

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    1. I wonder if she folds her underpants. Yeah, this is the time of year I watch everything die down and just leave it be. I never clean up my yard until spring, and the birds LOVE it.

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    2. WAIT JUST A SEC. What is wrong with folding underpants? I have enough wrinkles on me, I don't need them in my gotchies too.

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    3. By the time my wadded-up underpants get on me, ain't no wrinkles left.

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  2. I'd prefer the plant too. We have a lawn, sort of. It's green and I mow it, but we don't water it, that's nature's job. I don't weed it, weeds are green and when I mow it they look just like the grass. I mow it because we're on about an acre and when it's knee high it's time, otherwise the snakes will start hanging out in it.

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    1. Eww, I just had an awful image of snakes being mowed. I guess that'll keep you on top of it, huh?

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  3. We do mow our lawns out here in the country, because we have ticks...lots and lots and we do want to be able to walk around our houses. But we actually are mowing crab grass, so that sort of counts. I guess.

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    1. Hey, maybe you should raise possums! I hear they're awesome tickavores. Bleah. Hate ticks.

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    2. Hi, Murr ... There are some beautiful examples of this plant at the Rose Garden by the steps where the tourist buses park. John Oliver told me the plant is quite toxic. He was emphatic.
      Cheers,
      reynolds

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    3. And I just saw those very plants at the Rose Garden a week ago! And yes, we're not planning to harvest it for salads.

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  4. Hilarious analogy!

    We didn't water our lawn a couple of hot dry summers ago and IT ALL DIED. Now we (and by we I mean my husband) are painstakingly replanting it a bit at a time. We (again, my husband) should have watered. I stopped having anything to do with the lawn years ago. My job is to buy flower transplants when they go on sale for half price and plant them before they die in their flats. That way we get to have them in the ground for about a month before the frost arrives. We make a good pair, he and I.

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    1. Yeah. When the nurseries tout a plant that "thrives on neglect," they'd better mean "lives even though it's still in its black plastic pot somewhere near where I thought I was going to plant it last spring."

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  5. "Clutched its throat and threatened to faint on the divan". Just perfect.

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  6. We've got a terrific example of an OCD lawn-freak in our neighborhood: he vacuums up every leaf that falls on it. Seriously, he has a shoulder-mounted, leaf vacuum and goes around each afternoon to suck up any individual leaf that dares to besmirch his greensward. This used to really bug me until I reasoned that if it keeps him from kicking his dog and beating his wife, it's OK, and cheaper than therapy.
    He also used to have some sort of motion-activated sound generator attached to the front wall of his garage. This emitted a high-pitched (but clearly audible - and OBNOXIOUS) tone when it was triggered by someone walking by. I once saw the guy in his front yard and asked him about the device (which hurt my ears even if I was walking on the sidewalk across the street from his house), and he said it was to keep people from letting their leashed dogs poop on his lawn. He said that was a big problem he had.
    Seeing as how we live in the same neighborhood and RARELY find fecal "gifts" in our yard, it seems apparent he was being singled out.
    Oddly, he removed or at least disconnected the noise device a short time later. I'm sure his neighbors were sick of the thing!

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    1. Oh man. I hate noise. Leaf blowers are a particular peeve. Leaf vacuums too. Both of them artificially raised standards of tidiness that then have to be kept up. Assuming you're an anal bunwad.

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  7. I have a scruffy, untidy yard.I only prune in stages.The patch that began its life (planted by former owners) as "lawn" has gone to weeds and will be gone completely soon.The bits I call "garden" are added to.And you should see the birds and bugs!True, I lose a few of my lovely big spiders to birds and bats and birds and possums get to some fruit before I do, but it's a shared home.

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    1. You really can't hold those munched spiders against the birds and bats, but I'm still struggling with the baby nuthatches going into the baby scrub jays. WE HAD A DEAL.

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  8. We have some 'lawn'. Not the envy of any neighbour. Weed filled, and often yellow. I like dinahmow's approach. And am getting there. Slowly.

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    1. I like it too. And people! Don't clean it up! It's like throwing a smorgasbord and then tipping the whole table into the garbage just as people are coming up with their plates.

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  9. Plant it in the ground and give it a frame to climb on. The roots can spread in search of their own water and it might live many years.

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  10. I have lawn, two patches of it out the front of my unit, but the grounds don't belong to me personally, so I can't rip it up and plant trees etc. There probably wouldn't be enough room for the roots to run free anyway, but the shade would be welcome. Anyway, maintenance comes around once a month and cuts any grassed areas here and all of them are on a sprinkler system that runs in summer a couple of times a week at 2am for an hour. I pull out any weeds that might be prickly, but don't bother with the rest, they're all as green as the grass.

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    1. Wow, you hand-weed and it's not even technically your lawn? Pride of place, man. Whoa.

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  11. My mom lives in a Phoenix suburb where the grass is brown most of the year. She has a neighbor who spray paints his grass green. Better than watering it. I guess.

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    1. I've seen that. It's remarkably lifelike. Better than the early color TVs were, anyway.

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  12. We have one of each: the florida bungalow is completely xeric with giant ferns and prehistoric sagos and coonties and orchids hanging from the trees and fence and all over. They all do fine with the occasional Hermine. We go away for 8 months and come back to Jurassic park. Then we have an acre and a half of weeds surrounded by woods here on the mountain and it looks absolutely fantastic after the tractor comes through- can't even tell it's just mowed weeds. We also have to mow to keep down ticks, etc. We don't water that either and it only rarely gets a tad crunchy late in the year. I do water the flowers on the deck although earth boxes minimize that somewhat and all the veggies get watered until about now when I'm so sick of canning that shit that it just goes to the bears and rabbits and voles and deer and what the heck is that red thing on your foot in the second photo?

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    1. You and Joy Williams make me long for Florida: cycads! But then I remember driving south Florida roads at night, submerged within 80 decibel insect (the size of dinosaur) calls and the ominous pressure of vegetation. How do you parse the glorious/frightening?

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    2. I really wish I could hear a dinosaur. Just once.

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  13. You got COONTIES!

    Well now. That red thing, now that you mention it, is a bell pepper that grew around a piece of wire. Dave thought it was cool so he planted the wire in a flowerpot.

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  14. Your ponderings are far better than anything I've read in magazines and papers! How is it not every publucation is begging at your feet to hire you full time? They must be clueless lawn people.

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    1. That's the entire problem with the modern publishing industry! They're CLUELESS LAWN PEOPLE!

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  15. Here in California a brown lawn is a point of pride. We removed our front lawn decades ago and the area is xeriscaped and pretty. Those green lawns do beckon me, like you said. I always call that plant Angels Trumpet, very apt and easier to remember.

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    1. Yup--that's what it's called. It's blooming like mad now, but the individual flowers don't last long.

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