Friday, May 23, 2008

Unveiling of the Bench, Parcha and Painted (at least before the rain) New Walls

Well here it is....ta dah...the first prototype bench! It is very functional and far better than boards- on- blocks but needs some refining. As I suspected, the tiles on the bottom of the form were amidst rocky gravel and the tiles on top are what we have up. Our form made finishing work a little difficult and I am sure there are tools to round the edges that we just don't have. We have the triangle trowel and the flat rectangular one and have done our walls and the bench with those two tools.

The bench looks pretty good. {Chicken Little approves) If I paint the legs and top and maybe mortar them and the sides first it could look great, but I think it is good enough - solid, cool to sit on and not-going-anywhere. Next time I will figure out how to curve thoses edges (they aren't uncomfortable), I'll tint the cement maybe and see how that goes! Maybe I'll use some of those neat glass blocks (turquise ones) instead of tiles. Have to figure out what to coat them with (WD40?) so cement doesn't stick to them and you can see through to cool plants I'll put underneath.

Remember this messy overgrown area? I moved the plants elsewhere and we built our first little wall and are ready to start selecting plants to go in here.

Better, huh? A nice limey green wall low enough to be unobtrusive (but higher than the loose rocks that were there before). You can see through to more of the property. The bananas either fruited and we cut them, I moved the small ones or just took a few out. I have planted a low yellow-flowering ground cover to hold back the dirt and cover everything and put an agave to the far left with birds of paradise starts where I need some plants with height. Now you can see the avocado tree. When the fruit drops whatever is below is gonna have a few pounds drop on it and I know from the coconut episode what that is like! We'll try to get them before they drop but there are too many. I'm thinking some dark purple plants would be a good contrast and now just have to look around. I was going to put a variegated hibiscus in there but resisted the urge since it would get too big too fast. Words of wisdom - never make a bed smaller than 6 feet wide and really find out how big things get so the roots don't lift your cement, and foliage doesn't rot your wood or keep the cement dirty or block windows when they grow. Trees should be at least 10 - 20 foot at center...REALLY.

Here is the mostly completed bottom of the driveway. This morning at 7 I primed the wall. 3 hours later I painted it. 6 hours later the downpour started. Great. Now we get to see if it functions (or does dirt wash over it or avalanche to the left) or not so we can make adjustments. I put trinitaria (bougainvillea) in it since we cannot water down there. The choices were croton (slow growing and a little wide), hibiscus or trinitaria - the variegated yellow goes with the limey wall, the height will hide the lovely water pipes and other junk above and I'll have flowers! A good choice even though it is kind of the arborvitae of the island. It has its purpose!

Here's another view. We can't see any of this except when we drive up, but really wanted the front to look nice and needed to keep that dirt back and off our slippery driveway. The red plant in the pot will hopefully hide garbage cans and the other pot will hold flowers until the agave grows a little. The ficus (looks like sea grape but isn't) may outgrow its spot and I was hesitant because of the root system these trees can have but was told if I keep the tree at six feet it will be fine - we shall see. My instincts tell me it is wrong for there but I can't resist since its shape is right for the spot.

And finally - at last - parcha blooms! I toured the yard prior to painting this morning and there weren't blooms. After painting in the afternoon Jeff comes in and gives me the news. We've got a half dozen buds and a few blooms! I have read that they bloom for 12-24 hours, are self-fertile, and that you can put the fruit whole in a baggie in the freezer and thaw as needed. I can't wait to make marmalade and juice and other tasty delights! Maybe pumpkin balls and parcha syrup? Yum


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your Parcha blooms! Have you seen any hummingbirds yet? We get tons of them visiting our vine . We're on our second crop since moving over in August. The fruit drops off the vine when ready, which takes all the guess work out of it. Usually, a few green ones will fall a tad early. Wait for the yellow one. I take the pulp out of the shells (once nicely wrinkled) and freeze for making sorbet once the fruit is all gone...

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
We like the bench. Very impressive for a first effort. The glass blocks idea sounds cool too. Good luck with bench #2.

Did your new wall deal with the rain? With our construction going on, big rain is a real pain for us right now.

Nick & Miri

Anonymous said...

Hey Katrina:
During our latest pour our contractor used a small metal tool to finish off the sides of the slabs in front of our house. It basically lowers and rounds the edge, so might be a good thing for you to look for if you are planning another bench!