I must apologize for disappearing into cyberspace and not posting to my blog as of late. I could list all manner of excuses, some perfectly legitimate, but instead I will just let you know that I plan on continuing with this blog because I really do like the idea of chronicling my efforts at backyard sustainability here for anyone interested to follow. I see it as a great self-reflection tool, too, because while there are times we feel like we are not moving forward with our dreams, the truth is we may yet still be, just at small, incremental and almost imperceptible rates and it is therefore good to look back at snapshots of our projects along the way.
I thought it would be fun to show some pics that Brent just discovered on an old camera card. It’s a blast from my past of our backyard when we first moved in in 1999. Alot has changed and as you see pics of my place now I think the differences will be just as obvious to you as they are to me.
Here is good shot of the back (north side) of the house in 1999. As you can see, there was nothing butt-up against the house but sod. Two of the three plants that can be seen are ones I planted before I learned about natives or edibles. One is aloe and the other looks to be Dieffenbachia. The latter is long gone but the former remains in several clumps found all over my front and back yards! The third viney looking one that is leftmost is a pathos that the previous owner accidentally planted in the yard near the back door by leaving a potted plant to overgrow its container and spread through the back lawn. We are still fighting that invasive vine to this day! It’s a great houseplant, clearing the air of toxins inside a home. It just does not belong spreading wild and out-competing native species. In the distance you can see the trunk of a mature slash pine in the adjacent lot, which was later brutally removed by accident when there was a misunderstanding about which lot was getting developed. I was sad to see that tree go but at least it gave me a volunteer sapling in my yard before it was taken down.
This photo was taken looking straight back into the yard from the back doors, which were sliding glass doors off the dining room that opened onto the lawn directly. You can clearly see our only existing neighbor’s house at the time. Logan is searching for Easter eggs by the mahogany sapling we planted. Autumn and Logan each got a mahogany sapling from the city as a reward for picking up trash in our neighborhood. That was our first foray into planting natives. Unfortunately, this sapling snapped off at the trunk during Hurricane Charley a few years later and was never able to recover.
This next photo shows the NW corner of our backyard at the time. One of the biggest reasons we liked this property was because the house sat as far forward on the lot as allowable leaving a huge back yard. The backyard was already fenced, too, which was a big plus. Beyond the fence you can see a huge clump of invasive Brazilian pepper surrounding a native slash pine. The pepper has been cut back and cleared many times but I am sad to say, all these years later it still remains. The big bush in our yard was a philodendron which we removed when I started getting into planting natives. At first I was under the impression that because it was not a native species I needed to remove it. In this case, although philodendron are not native, they are not considered invasive so as it turns out I could have left it in as it is okay to have non-invasive exotics in your yard. The kids would go underneath it and use it as a “clubhouse” but removing it made way for some slash pines of our own which I think is a good trade off. Funny story… it took us forever to get that thing out of the ground but we did not have nearly as hard a time getting it out as we would have had it not been partially root bound by a pot that it had been planted in! It was as if someone just took a potted philodendron, pot and all and stuck it in the ground! Silly people…
This last photo shows the NE corner of our big backyard in 1999. Present in the photo is the home of our only existing neighbor at the time. The palms outside the fence are theirs and the small clump of bananas inside the fence was the only plant on that side of our yard. That clump slowly grew up over the years and even produced a few times. The fruit was the freshest, best-tasting banana I’ve ever had (I wish I knew the exact variety). I am sad to say that my chickens apparently felt the same way about the whole plant and slowly ate away at the clump last year until the last leafless trunk fell over on itself and then they ate that too! Lesson learned, chickens LOVE banana plants!
Spoiler alert: my next blog entry will compare some recently taken photos of the same angles of my backyard! It is my hopes that records like this will prove to me that I am making progress towards my dreams and goals, even if just a little at a time!