2007.08.07 Take a tour of my yard

Written by David Green.


By DAVID GREEN

Some friends stopped by for dinner one night last week and they wanted to look around the yard. These are people I generally see in the woods. That’s where we meet.

Since they’re the woodish type, I figured they can handle my yard OK. It’s far from manicured.

You start off with a member of the umbelliferae family right there in the front. It’s obviously a cousin to chervil and parsley and wild carrot. I was pretty sure it was sweet cicely. My friends were pretty sure it was water hemlock.

I’ve spent half an hour trying to figure it out tonight. Do the upper leaves have distinct blades? Are they pointed at the apex? Do the fresh leaves have a nauseous taste?

That last question could help identify the plant as poison hemlock. That’s what it looks like to me. Did someone slyly plant this stuff in our front garden hoping we would mistake it for parsley?

Maybe it is parsley, but maybe I would die like Socrates trying to make the determination. It was one of those items coming up that you aren’t really sure about, but it looks interesting, the tiny flowers are attractive, you let it grow.

There’s a lot more to see.

 Take a few steps south and you come to the milkweed. This isn’t the native stuff you find everywhere. It’s a more attractive garden variety, I suppose. It all depends on what you like. I find the flowers of common milkweed uncommonly beautiful.

OK, let’s round the corner of the house. What’s that down the row? Why it’s common milkweed. My wife has been so kind to allow me to grow a small patch in back, but this is a new volunteer, and this is why normal people don’t purposely grow plants such as milkweed and poke. Fortunately for the milkweed, I’m not normal.

Milkweed is the star attraction anyway, because one of my friends is pointing out how to look for monarch butterfly eggs on the bottom of milkweed leaves. We discovered that I’m rich in monarch eggs.

I’m wealthy in other respects, too. Walk into the back yard and discover that my lawn is actually a plantain research station. We’re growing lots of them, but not by choice. They just like it here and no Round-Up has stymied their growth.

I’ve spent two or three hours pulling them in recent weeks, but I don’t have enough free hours to get the job done. Besides, they’ve dropped their seed. They’ll be back. So I’ll pull a few dozen more next year. It’s a relaxing pastime.

There’s some tall weedy stuff on the way to the back. I don’t know what it is, but ants are very fond of it. The darn mulberry is coming back again, along with the dreaded Siberian elm. I see you can get rid of that stuff with a regular regimen of prescribed burning.

Next comes the red horsechestnut with all the broken branches. It was so heavy with fruit that branches have been snapping. Over alongside the back steps is where I once tossed a honeylocust pod. Now I have a small tree that I cut every so often. The thorns are real leg catchers.

Here, also, is my most impressive mullein. It’s now about 6-foot-6. Another “weed” my wife allows. She’s kind in that way.

Next to the garage is a waferash, a unique tree that grows along Bean Creek. Below is a patch of wilted sweet joe-pye, next to a volunteer redbud.

This is our former vegetable garden. It now has lamb’s quarters, a mint, ragweed and more milkweed. There’s another volunteer redbud along the fence.

Over in the far corner by the weather instrument shed, a lovely patch of Queen Anne’s lace is thriving. My wife hasn’t mentioned that. I don’t think she goes back there. We have motherwort and some nasty thistle that needs pulling.

There’s the walnut tree that arrived on its own. It shows beautiful, symmetrical growth, but it’s got to go. Perhaps this fall I’ll get out the saw.

Then comes our vegetable garden where a rabbit gnaws down the broccoli, the lamb’s quarter grows tall and purslane serves as a living mulch. We should be eating the stuff. It has everything from vitamin C to omega-3 fatty acids.

Well I guess that’s the bulk of my yard. There’s also my wife’s yard. That’s the nice one you see as you walk by, trying to ignore all the weeds that I grow.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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