providing shelter

It’s one of the saddest things to see: A house undergoes a remodel or even minor revision like a new paintjob, and in the course of of the project the landscaping gets run over by equipment or trampled by workers oblivious to established plants that may be as old as the house.

How it begins

We’ve just started a project of our own on a little detached studio room behind the house. It began innocently enough with thoughts about replacing the patio cover that was starting its slow descent to the ground. (No piece of wood is safe in the land of termites.) Maybe two or three weekends of hard work to replace it. Yah, right.

As long as we were removing the patio that was attached to the room, we thought it would be a good time to redo the siding that has some spots that are failing. And as long as the walls were open, we really should insulate. And as long as we had things partly dissembled it made sense to replace the old single glazed windows and doors with better insulating ones. (The local power company provides rebates towards insulation, and one of the federal stimulus packages features 30% rebates on super-insulated replacement windows.) Now that the walls are starting to be opened, it’s clear that some of them are so gone that we’re having to re-frame them completely. So the little two weekend project has grown to two months or more. If it doesn’t rain.


Right: Just some of the spots we’re having to reframe.

With a fairly long-term project like this, we didn’t want to damage the plants in the middle of it. John’s assortment of epiphyllum cactus plants in pots needed shelter, and less portable plants planted in the raised shade bed around the pond wouldn’t be able to take much sun. The waterlilies in the pond would do okay with full sun, but the extra sun causes algae to grow and we didn’t want to have to battle pond scum as another house project.

Sheltered plants after the demolition

So the weekend we took down the sheltering patio cover, up went these little portable cabanas and beach umbrellas. It looks like we’re having a big garden party, but it’s going to be a lot less relaxing the next couple of months.

My workstation during this remodel

This is my main workstation where I do my blogging, layered over by protective sheeting and open to the great outdoors. I suspect my blogging is going to take a big hit for a while as all my waking hours start to be consumed with the project.

And all this is happening during the prime planting season in Southern California. I have seeds to sow and plants to plant. I’m stressed. But with my university job being one of those impacted by state furloughs, I’ll be having lots of time to work on the project. I suppose that’s seeing the silver lining to the dark cloud that’s about to send lightning bolts in my general direction…

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