Tag: lawn

Mean and Green

Getting greener again

After a few months of being jealous of my neighbors for enabling their lawns to evade the effects of the blistering hot summer, I woke this morning to find myself transforming from being green with envy to being verdant with chlorophyll!

Kangaeroo Corner’s lawn, which started May in a generally strong state albeit being slightly patchy, took a drastic turn for the worst in early June.

Fingers crossed

At what should have been the onset of the rainy season, I made the mistake of heavily fertilizing the warn to boost its strength for what I expected would be a hot and wet period ahead.

I was only half right: we got the heat, but not the precipitation.

Seeds starting to germinate, but still pretty patchy

I gave the lawn too much of a boost and the sweltering summer left it with a case of fertilizer burn.

Our lovely patch of vermillion turned into a strip of ugly brown muck.

Tree fern reviving after a tough summer

And nothing I did would change it.

Bolstered by knowledge gleaned from watching dozens of YouTube videos from lawn experts (in totally different climates), books, advice from friends, powerful seeds, sprinklers, watering, not watering, lawn boosting formulas, fertilizers and more. Nothing worked.

The dwarf wattle was a pleasant and unexpected success

I was ready to give up, particularly as our kangaroo paws had thrived in the heat and looked ready for a shift to being planted rather than being raised in pots. Other plants had also done well, the hardenbergia, jacaranda and dwarf wattle being the notable successes. I was keen on planting these and giving up on the onerous and, well, fruitless, endeavors of the lawn.

But Mrs. Kangaeroo insisted we keep trying. I pledged to do so until the end of September, by which time I vowed to replace the lawn space with plants.

Kangaroo paws have, delightfully, been one of the success stories of this summer in Kangaeroo Corner

That deadline arrived and there was not much sign of grass growing. Ironically, the neighbors on both sides who had praised me at various times for the flourishing lawn at Kangaeroo Corner had healthy patches of lawn while we struggled.

I’ve had difficulties coping over the past couple of years and my always fragile self-esteem has been particularly vulnerable. The thriving garden, including the lawn, had been a confidence booster. The withered lawn, then, was having too much of an effect on my well-being. Not good, but the reality.

The jacaranda feared fallen in May is now towering over the neighborhood

Entering October, I decided to give the lawn one last chance. I tilled the ground, applied a layer of seed, scarifying, added topsoil, pounded the seeds intro the earth, spread fertilizer and then religiously watered the seeds to keep them moist, praying all the time that they would finally root an spread. Not much happened.

Then, late Sunday afternoon, it started spitting just as forecast. As always, I retired early, noticing that rain was falling steadily. It would keep falling throughout the whole day on Monday, and the garden was so bereft of crucial watering I was glad to see a national holiday go to waste.

The hardenbergia is growing wonderfully and raising hopes of a purple bounty next spring

When I woke this morning, I was delighted to see the lawn looking greener than it has in months.

Growth is still highly patchy and there are areas that will need more work.

But it was a lovely sign of hope when I am otherwise feeling down and struggling.

Summertime Blues….er, Browns?

Summer in Tokyo this year was just how I like it: boiling hot and dry, probably the driest I have experienced in 35 years of living in the Japanese capital. But while I loved the heat, my garden in Kangaeroo Corner had mixed feelings, especially the lawn that went from vibrant green to burned brown.

Trees thrived! Most delightedly, the jacaranda we had written off as dead in the spring powered back into life and is now one of the tallest growths on the block. The “branch” silver wattle goes from strength to strength and the golden wattle beside it is flourishing. All the grevilleas, bottle brush and myrtles grew in the dry heat like crazy. Even the eucalypt given the imposing task of trying to survive in what I’d termed the Corner of Death has prospered.

Although death proved to be the outcome for the vast quantity of seeds I brought back from Australia this year, the summer was kind to some. The kangaroo paws thrived and I was able to give many out to neighbors. Next spring should give our neighborhood a real Aussie taste. Hardenbergia, often called the Australian native wisteria, also thrived and we have have it climbing up the fence and around a trellis.

Even the dicksonia, planted in direct heat in a boiling summer that should make it struggle, did as expected for a while, but after we placed it under a makeshift shade, the tree fern has plugged away steadily.

Unfortunately, the spectacular summer didn’t leave all feeling well. My cherished lawn virtually died overnight through, I suspect, fertilizer burn. Anticipating the rainy season, I covered the lawn in fertilizer in early June before we were to hit 30-degree temperatures daily and hoping that the rain would work its wonders on the grass.

Armed with a new lawnmower, I then gave the lawn a crew cut. Well, the rains never arrived. The searing heat and over-mowed lawn proved fatal to the grass roots and within days what had been a verdant strip of land had turned into a dustbowl.

I’ve tried everything since to revive the lawn including aeration, raking, re-seeding, over-seeding, using a sprinkler, watering, not watering, shading, exposing, organic fertilizing and more. Nothing worked. Voracious pigeons didn’t help, either. Finally, this week, after almost two months of an ever-growing patch of brown began to sprout the odd shoot here and there. We’re still gonna have 30-degree or more temperatures daily for the next week or so, which is prompting me to hold back on planting new lawn seed. But it does give me a lot of hope.

Gardening is right up there with cycling for me now. I have had my confidence sapped by an inability to step up to the plate with what life has pitched at me over the past few years. The garden gave me back a bit of a boost last year when I saw it do so well. As summer passed and the lawn deteriorated, it has a terrible effect on my state of mind. Too fragile, for sure, but I was already struggling. While the garden on the whole has done spectacularly well considering the difficult conditions, as always my mind is drawn back to the negative and downbeat, which has been the struggling lawn, a metaphor of myself. Mind you, I got to learn a lot about lawns (most of which I have already forgotten) as a result of what went on this summer and hope that I might be able to revive it. Same goes for myself!

Stop that Pigeon!

Lots of serious stuff is going down at the moment, yet the biggest gripe in my mind is how to deal with a bloody pigeon.

One of my escapes has been the garden at Kangaeroo Corner, and one of the areas of which I had been proudest was the flourishing lawn.

Except, it’s no longer flourishing.

In May, I went heavy-handed on the fertilizer in the expectation of warm, dry weather followed by the rain and warmth of June and July. The rain barely came and the heat was dry and blistering.

I didn’t realize that I needed to compensate by drenching the lawn.

It dried up and became a dustbowl, almost overnight. I stupidly tried to rectify the situation with more fertilizer, which exacerbated the problem as the fertilizer scorched the grass roots.

Now the garden is a patch of dirt.

I went through all the YouTube solutions I could and have tried to rectify the situation. Lack of patience is proving a terrible foe.

I’ve sourced grass seed that can be planted year-round, even in the extreme heat of summer, and I spread it in the hope of recovering the garden’s greenery. Some patches have emerged, but for the most part, I have been feeding an oriental turtledove, which is basically a fancy name for a bloody pigeon with markings, that enjoys tucking into the seed.

To be honest, having spent the vast majority of time since the start of the pandemic with only a bird as a companion, I am not averse to avian friends.

But the neighbors complained in the most passive-aggressive manner possible when I was feeding birds with daily handouts of seeds that I felt compelled to stop, and I have upheld my promise not to deliberately feed them.

But the lawn seed has drawn this one bird in particular and I am having nightmares about trying to keep her away and restore the delightful green carpet that once adorned the garden.

Unfortunately, in the great Australian tradition of futile wars on birds, I’m losing.

We recently had a long weekend and I spent the bulk of it keeping watch over the lawn to allow the seed time to root and grow.

Calling out the big guns: A sprinkler is the latest weapon in the so-far futile attempt to revive the devastated lawn at Kanageroo Corner

As long as I remained vigilant, it was OK. Every time I noticed the bird coming into the garden, I could leap up and throw a sandal at it or spray it with the hose and it would fly off. All good, except it would return. And the process was repeated.

I can’t maintain a 24-hour watch, though, so I have been heartbroken to wake and see the patches where the seed has been gobbled up overnight.

It’s gotten me infuriated and disheartened, but I am also pleased in a way that the bird has found a source of food in the heat of the summer. And the oriental turtledove is, after all, a symbol of the city in which we live, so I am performing a civic duty of sorts, I guess.

The Strewth, the Whole Strewth and Nothing But the Strewth…

Strewth, work and life are bloody busy at the moment, but I can’t let that stop me from looking after things, which resulted this week in a renovation to the Fountain of Strewth.

It was nothing major, but I found wooden letters on sale in the local 100 yen shop and decided they could decorate the fountain in Kanageroo Corner.

Somewhat harsh weather conditions have got me worried about the garden, with a week of fairly constant rain a few weeks ago followed by largely gloomy conditions where regular rain hasn’t arrived, topped off by blistering heat and stifling humidity. Aussie plants don’t handle the humidity well, which raises my concerns.

My lawn is a bit of a mess. The rain hit it hard and I probably overwatered it and compacted the soil. I tried aeration, but ripped out large divots while doing so. I have been trying for weeks to re-seed, but the only progress I have made has been to fatten the local Oriental turtledoves: the same ones that got me in trouble with the neighbors in the past, who were annoyed that I had been feeding them. I continue to do so, unintentionally of course, and I hope it doesn’t lead to problems.

Work is still driving me nuts. A few weeks ago, toxic boss asked me to review a ChatGPT performance. It was fantastic, but not quite up to scratch if compared to the requirements we are placed under, which is how I reviewed it. Toxic boss abused me for not agreeing with her glowing assessment. But I felt my assessment was fair and I stood my ground. Didn’t matter. Toxic boss informed our team this week that we would be using ChatGPT for our work from now on.

Strewth!

Cherry Bomb!

Most of Japan is now awash in a glorious blanket of pink thanks to the blooming of the cherry trees.

The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower and when they bloom, it’s not hard to see why.

The fragile flowers create a spectacular floral display that flourishes for about a week, gives another dazzling display as the petals fall and then disappears until it’s time to do it all again the following spring.

My opinion is that cherry blossom season turns Japan into the most beautiful place on earth and there are truly delightful sights to be seen just about everywhere. Of course, holding a special place in my heart are the cherry blossoms at Kangaeroo Corner, seen here just in front of the incredibly lush lawn!

It’s All Happening Here!

Pushed for time and all other sorts of resources, Kangaeroo was surprised to note this morning that it had been almost 10 days since the last post on the site.

So much has been going on, some of it pretty crucial, that time slipped away.

To borrow a turn of phrase made popular by one-time Australian cricket captain and commentator (and fellow Victorian) Bill Lawry, it’s all happening here.

I guess it’s best to go forward by category.

Among Kangaeroo’s interests over the past year has been the Aussie garden.

A crucial part of that garden is the lawn, traditionally an integral cog in the Australian horticulturalist’s kit (but less so nowadays because of the environmental impact in terms of using up so much water).

Grass tends to go dormant over winter, which means many lawns turn brown.

But so far Kangaeroo has been fortunate enough to maintain a strong shade of green.

Raking has proved to be enormous in that, and keeps the garden looking fresh and alive.

It was a lucky lesson learned, purely by coincidence.

It’s not just the Kangaeroo family and friends who are getting to enjoy the Aussie garden, either.

Plenty of birds are coming to take a look at some of the flower, but especially the bird bath.

Among the visitors have been warbling white-eyes, Japanese tits (get your mind out of the gutter!), brown-earned bulbuls and oriental turtle doves, the avian symbol of the city of Tama.

Outside of the garden, the ruling bird, Dino the Dinosaur, has also played a pretty influential role in goings on at Kangaeroo Corner.

For the past week or so, she has been laying eggs yet again.

This involves her tearing strips of paper incessantly as she frantically seeks to build a nest.

She also gets pretty aggressive.

Dino is normally extremely possessive and clingy, but this falls by the wayside when she lays.

She got so sick, a rescue run to the avian vet was required in the cold and snow last week, only for Dino to become bright and perky immediately upon arriving at the end of the grueling 15-km bike trip through the undulating outskirts of Machida.

It was a delightful relief, to be honest, though Dino is more focused on her eggs at the moment. Except when she’s tearing paper, pooping or eating persimmons.

Mr. and Mrs. Kangaeroo also got a rare chance to spend some time together and headed out for a delightful sushi lunch.

Backed by a handful of GoToEat campaign deals, we could pig out on pricey and delightfully delicious sushi for a grand total of 500 yen in cash.

Cycling has, as always, continued to be a constant in Kanageroo’s life.

So far, Kangaeroo has risen early every morning and headed off into the dark and cold to ride.

One ride, in particular, may pave the way to new horizons, but that matter has yet to be decided, so there will be more on that further down the track, I reckon.

Otherwise, it has been pretty much the same, standard fare, although the Death Machine has played a more active part in cycling so far in 2023.

Kangaeroo feels more at ease on the recumbent and is better able to maneuver it.

Consequently, average speeds are showing a distinct improvement.

Except, of course, when climbing.

Climbing overall has displayed a marked downturn as Kangaeroo continues to pack on the pounds with his overloaded, sugar-heavy diet.

Still not ready to make a change, yet, it seems.