I spent the morning puttering in the yard. There are signs of spring already and though I was tempted, I left the pruning shears in the potting shed. Some of the plants had already been pruned, or I should say nipped, anyway. My goal is to keep the yard "native", or at least use only plants that can survive in our climate without any babying (drip irrigation excluded). So far my strategy is working well, but it is difficult sometimes to find those hardy specimens. It is not just the climate they get to contend with, it is the wildlife too.
Initially we thought about building a wall around the yard, but it is a sizable piece of real estate and it would be spendy as well as a Big Job. Besides, we love the uninterrupted view, and the wildlife that comes and visits to eat or drink. I should have bought stock in the chicken wire manufacturing business though. As new plants are added they get a cage of chicken wire to protect them from rabbits until they are established. That deters all of the cottontails and most of the jack rabbits. Once the plants outgrow the cage, or they seem to be doing well enough, I remove the cage.
The plants at the border of the yard, closest to the native vegetation, suffer the most. I thought the rhus microphylla was big enough after a year of two to make it on its own, but to my dismay I noticed that its bark is getting eaten. So, a new cage was constructed this morning, and others that had their branches pruned were protected again too. But I can't help but feel for the animals as there is very little other green to be nibbled.
Exciting news! About half the seeds I planted have sprouted. They are spending the days in the open cold frame (it is almost 70 degrees during the day) but are brought to the laundryroom every evening.