Friday, October 30, 2015
Recovering from Wildfire
Clean up Update
One of the first jobs that needed to be done was to reinstall the main gate as the wooden posts had burned down. Bruce got the holes dug out and I called upon a former ranch resident to help set the posts into concrete and get the old gates rehung + fencing reconnected.
The metal gates got fire scorched- one worse than the other. Water with white vinegar helped to clean them up, then two coats of primer paint and a further two coats of a lovely fresh tone of green. Friend Marcella & canine Boo helped with this task on a sunny weekend in September.
I've ordered two of these fab frog finials for the gate posts which will be painted with a golden color. My plan is to paint the finials with the same color and the frogs to match the gate. Not sure when all this will get completed but… I'm looking forward to its completion.
Bruce and I completely redid the retaining walls at the main gate entrance. We used existing materials + a few new t-posts to get them done then cleaned up the drainage area with broken cinder blocks and pottery.
Friend Jo delivered a truck load of volcanic drainage rock in October… some of which was deposited at the front gate and the rest here at the library for the new retaining wall project.
Above & behind the library, Bruce cleared the brush for me. It took three loads to the Green Waste recycle center but it was well worth all the effort. The area will regrow but management will help keep a fire free area.
Below it is the new retaining wall. Also constructed with reclaimed timbers and newly acquired t-posts. although this is not a full sized wall, the volcanic rock should help to contain moisture from regular rainfall. Excess water should follow the trench below the wall and away from the storage unit.
One of the largest tasks was cleaning the caked fire retardant off the dome and its entry. Bruce who has a knack for heights is seen here cleaning the upper levels.
His idea of renting a one level scaffold to heighten the extension ladder so that a paint roller on an extension pole could reach the crown of the dome looked like this on the day. Bruce whose middle name is Wayne certainly was a superhero the day he painted crown and level 5 on three separate occasions. yikes.
Three coats of elastomeric paint were applied to all surfaces with special attention to several areas that had small sized holes & the window surrounds which had melted to a slight crisp by the heat of the fire.
The nearby compost heap with tarp cover burned up several feet away from the dome. I scraped and bagged up the ash and had the neighborhood clean up crew take that away for me. The firefighters sure did cut it very close with the dome area but they arrived in the nick of time saving the structures & minimizing damage repairs to them. Today, the dome looks to be the icing on the pre-verbial cake.
To date, i have done ten loads to the Green Waste Recycle center. Here's a clean up shot of the south end of the apple orchard- here the fire claimed the lives of 4 huge lavenders and a couple of the apple trees.
This is the shot where it all began in the distance. In the foreground, two plastic sheds and three raised garden beds were burned and cleaned up. The soil was hacked & bagged up - I managed to take three loads to the dump until County rules made it impossible to take burned stuff there. Glad i got this done early on.
The entrance to the Spiral Garden hasnt been cleaned up all the way yet. One side has and new sprouts of the vine has re-birthed.
Almost none of the large rooted bushes revived from the intense scorching the spiral garden sustained. I've dug out some of them but there is plenty left to do. In the meantime, i'm happy to show that the white sage is slowly coming back to life.
The biggest survival rate in the garden were ground covers and bulbs with many roses coming back as well.
A few shrubs in the north side which burned cooler are looking re-established. Sadly the crab grass is also responding to the copious amount of water that its taken to revive the plants.
I'm fatenning up the bulbs at the heart of the garden with lots of well water. Even the lilac is coming back.
The legendary gigantic rosemary which was a huge 8' diameter plant almost as tall as the plum tree that grew next to it- is all gone with the exception of one wee branch which rooted and hanging on for dear life. How nice that all the concrete critters also survived.
Another miracle is the wisteria at the center of the garden which has completely regrown. All the green that you see here is new growth.
One of the garden roses blossoming once again.
Most of the butterfly bushes on the outside western rim of the spiral garden have also come back. All of them still need to have burned branches pruned off. My plan is to cut them back mid winter.
Merlin's lantana and Italian Cypress tree have pulled through but the rest of the Italian cypresses, well over a dozen of them are in the process of being cut down. Two of the pawlonia trees will also need to be cut down. but for now, Merlin's angel which evacuated with us is back to sleeping in his rightful place.
And last but not least a new internet dish was installed allowing me to bring these tidings to you.
The journey of recovering / cleaning up from Rocky Fire is well over half way done. Many more loads to Green Waste await, as well as the completion of the front gate, and the rebuilding of the retaining walls at the well house but for this next upcoming week - I will take a break to visit with my parents in MI.