Monday, July 23, 2012

Tedium in my Veins and the Vines

It was sometime back during a hurricane season past, I'm thinkin' it was when Hurricane Floyd threatened our coast in 1999 (but who really knows - my adult memory isn't that reliable), that my wonderful, kind and always helpful neighbor next door put up his hurricane shutters as a precaution. Our homes are laid out identically, and our Florida rooms (such as this one covered in metal shutters) are walled in by jalousie glass on three sides and could be a nice little target for a powerful storm.

That hurricane took a turn away from us and became a memory after those preparations, but seeing as it was still hurricane season and not wanting to have to take them down only to put them back up again, he left them up. Thing was, using various forms of reasoning after that, they stayed. Right. Where. They. Were. In perpetuity.

After the first winter, the shutters became one of those things a person sighs about but has hopes to see remedied in their lifetime. By the end of the next hurricane season, and on into the following year, I gave up my grand illusions when my neighbor asked if I minded them much because he wanted to leave them up. This man has been a blessing of a neighbor who has come to my aid on more occasions than I can count. If I need something fixed that I can't handle, he's a go-to guy and willing to dig through his garage for whatever tool or handy fix-it solution he can muster, always as if it is a joy to help me out. Who was I to complain.

So there it was, is and apparently ever will be. Meanwhile, on my side of the chain link fence (which only adds to the industrial feel) time, hurricanes and the State of Florida wreaked havoc on my own yard. Add in the fact that mowing around things and keeping them edged is a huge pain, so planting something to block the view always weighed in on the decision because I really wanted to avoid lawnmowing demons. I did not want to have to exert any extra effort to get the mower around more plantings.

Then a surprising thing happened. A couple of years ago, something led my neighbor to take the shutters down. After I got over the shock, I was thrilled to see the event underway. I imagined a "normal view" again and a relief from the look that has from time to time been the backdrop to various weed infested plantings, sundry in nature, on that side of the chainlink.

The thrill was short-lived. When he removed the shutters, I discovered that there were broken jalousie windows under that metal. In addition, the problematic original jalousie door on that side of the house had been covered over with a piece of plywood hammered in place. The shutters lie in heaps on the ground, providing cover for the neighborhood lizards and whatnot. None of this seemed to be on my neighbor's priority list. But wait...shortly thereafter, I returned home to find him putting the shutters back up. He said he'd changed his mind and wanted to leave them up until such a time as he can redo the room and wall it in.

Read: It'll be a while.

Enter the trend toward industrial furnishings and decor and the advent of me spending more and more time out on my patio. Oddly I began falling in "like" with the wall of metal. I realized it actually makes a fine solid backdrop for the lovely colors of nature, especially in a world quite accepting of the industrial vibe. It also makes for more privacy on my patio.

As a gal in love with otherwise dissonant surroundings comprised of sundry salvage, I finally began to plot my strategy for making the most of the backdrop while softening the area, a bit at a time, and as finances will allow. Meanwhile, I was coming to terms with my dislike of mowing around things and trying to keep the weeds and grass from growing in and around the beds. It was a trade off I decided I needed to learn to live with.

After hours of wandering garden centers and staring at plants trying to imagine the color, shape and blooming potential of each, only to go home and think some more, I decided on Mandevilla vines despite the poor track record I have had with them in the past. Seeing as I had previously planted them in too much shade, I figured the sunny side of my neighbor's fence was prime real estate for these pretty pink flowers to take root and make a home.

My easy-going neighbor was agreeable, as he always is, allowing me to do whatever I want (he never even sees this side of the yard anyway). Even though he could care less, with a smirk and a nod to the hedges that border our yards along this same fence (which I fail miserably to keep trimmed), in Girl Scout fashion, I solemnly promised to take care of the vines with the usual disclaimer (to the best of my ability depending upon circumstance, waning interest, too much sun, too much rain, blogs to read, etc.). Disclaimers are a wonderful thing.

There could have been a full post about my Mandevilla planting, complete with deep thoughts and funny stories, but my great musing on the matter went the way of my energy as the sun and the tedious process of removing the tentacles of the vines from around the lattice-work they came on stole my time and thoughts. After that, I had to re-thread each long vine through and around my neighbor's chain link fence to get them started in the right direction and spread those tentacles out for good coverage. It took me 4 1/2 hours to plant and unwind and rewind four of these. By the time I was done, my memory of any funny thoughts had long since escaped me for cooler more pleasant surroundings.

I'm not sure which of us got the worst end of the deal on the removal of the vines from the trellises, me for having to do it, or the Mandevilla for the trauma I put it through. It wasn't unlike untangling christmas lights, only I had to be super careful because I didn't want any of the vines, buds or flowers to break. Unfortunately I lost a few.

Luckily, as I've said before, tedium is one of my specialties. Miracle of miracles, I finished before dark. So glad it's done. Several times I almost stopped, thinking I'd finish the next day, but then kept telling myself how glad I'd be later that it was behind me. I was right. I was glad because that Sunday was super busy as it was. Having that planting behind me, I was able to paint my new garage sale finds as well as move plants around on my patio, pull weeds, tear apart an old chair for a project and water the lawn. My back and legs were thankful I was done too.

So as a reminder...

Here's the before:

Empty, barren, a little cold and harsh.

Here's the "after"... so far:

The view there feels softer already. The plants seem to be doing well, and some of the shoots are winding up and around the chain link and making good time in their quest to grow and sprawl. It makes me very happy to look out the back door or to step outside and see the beautiful color and think about how great it'll be one day when dark and light pink Mandevilla flowers have spread across the majority of that fence.

I had other planting to do over the weekend (I am getting it done!), and I spent much of yesterday cleaning silver, of all things. I'll tell you about that later.

See ya then!

I'll be sharing this with:

Mop it Up Monday @ I Should be Mopping the Floor
Saturday Show & Tell @ Cherrios & Lattes
Get Schooled Saturday @ Too Much Time
Show & Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Inspiration Friday @ At The Picket Fence
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home
Potpourri Friday @ 2805
Fridays Unfolded @ Stuff & Nonsense
Made U Look @ Made in a Day
Transformation Thursday @ The Shabby Cottage
Live, Laugh, Linky @ Live, Laugh, Rowe
Time Travel Thursday @ The Brambleberry Cottage
Share Your Cup @ Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Open House Party @ No Minimalist Here
What's It Wednesday @ Ivy & Elephants
Wow Us Wednesday @ Savvy Southern Style
Primp Your Stuff Wednesday @ PRIMP
Very Merry Vintage Style
Cowgirl Up @ Cedar Hill Ranch
Open Call Tuesday @ Salt Tree
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays @ Coastal Charm
Terrific Tuesdays @ Adventures of a DIY Mom
Tuesday to Do @ The Blackberry Vine
Metamorphosis Monday @ BNOTP
Make It Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House


  1. you have WAY more patience than i do. LOL my idea of "don't wanna weed here OR look at it" is: rosemary...

    i have like 25 big rosemary bushes/trees (they are that big) 'cause they grow themselves. HAHA!

    your vines are GORGEOUS already - i sigh at what they are going to be!!!

    :) robelyn

  2. How pretty... they will be gorgeous as they spread!

  3. Well, that's one beautiful way to take things into your hands to save yourself from unsightly neighbors yards. I am proud that you pushed through, despite the heat and tangles and finished. It looks BEAUTIFUL.

  4. What a great idea!! Loving it already...can't wait to see it all vine-y and grown over!! Have a great week, Liz!

  5. Oh, much better. It gives the eye a beautiful place to land. I'll just get better and better.

  6. A terrific solution! good for you for being such a good neighbor!

  7. They say good fences make good neighbors... well, in your case, a little galvanized wall doesn't hurt either!

    I guess there are far worst things to have to see, when you look out your back window.
    your plantings look wonderful. I don't suppose I know just what a mandevilla is...

  8. Hi Liz!!!!!!
    You've made your place awesome!!!!!!!!!

  9. Great idea! On one side of my house I get to see three poultry houses about 1000 ft long each, and.....I get to smell them too! UGH! (Especially in the heat we've had). I'd take your view any day! :) Thanks for your visit!

  10. I agree that it looks better already. A lot of work but well worth it. The color of the blooms is spectacular!

  11. Beautiful yard Liz. The plants are a very pretty add on!
    Marcie @

  12. Mandevilla is so pretty, they really helped to soften the look. We can only grow them as an annual here. Thanks for visiting me!

  13. Hello Liz! You have a lovely yard and the post is very interesting. I enjoyed reading about your great finds of last week.
    Very nice blog, I'll continue coming here. Thanks for your visit!
    Besos from Argentina, Silvina.

  14. Omy Liz I am so WITH YOU here..we hv a SIMILAR situation-I cannot elaborate for obvious reasons-[complicated]Our solutions will have to b long term-costly to locate appropriate plantings [tall,tall,getit?] to camoflauge [?] a huge TALL mistake !!@@##$$ rofl at me-
    I appreciate how carefully you chose your words-mmmm hv you considered individual , trellises not a lengthy structure just one behind each vining would kind of layer and take the eye off chain link fence and hopefully the OTHER THING too..NOT A FLIMSY LIGHT WEIGHT TRELLIS something substantial enough to handle whatever 'grows' and spreads..justa thought. BEEN THERE...AM THERE..EXTEND MY HEARTFELT SYMPATHY LOL 'laugh a lot' we do!


  15. It will be so pretty when they take off. Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see you again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  16. Ha Ha! Been there, done that. Neighbor that is trashy, trashy, trashy! I put up a 6 foot privacy fence, JUST between us. Sure broke the bank at the time, but made my life much better. So, I feel your pain. Beautiful flowers you set out!

  17. The mandevilla will look fabulous covering the fence. If you get really energetic Liz you could dig a small flower bed the length of the fence and soften the industrialness of that fence!

  18. I was thinking as I read this that the corrugated metal was not as bad as the twelve-foot tall white carport next to me. I love the vines, but did you know you could have just wired the trellises to the fence with the vines still on them? I'm just saying...

  19. Lovely solution! Hope they grow really fast for you! Thanks for sharing at Potpourri Friday!

  20. Great solution and a lovely post :) I am hosting a Giveaway where you can win a 50 dollar gift card to the store HomeGoods. It would be great if you drop by My Dream Canvas :)

  21. Those chainlink fences are a good underpinning for a pretty vine (or 4!)--it looks great, and will only get better as it fills in. Well done!

  22. Oh, lovely flowers! I hope they grow and bloom like crazy for you. I have chain link fencing that would be gone in a heartbeat if I could snap my fingers and make it so. But we're living with it and also trying to vine some flowers on it. So far so good with our clematis...Thanks for sharing.

  23. You are going to have the prettiest living fence in the neighborhood!

  24. When they grow out and cover that fence it'll be stunning

  25. Oh! I like these a lot more than the honeysuckle they grow around here to cover fences, etc. I'll keep it in mind. . .

  26. you have away of telling stories that i really enjoy. your vines are looking great!


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