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Two More Tree Heights in Tree Inventory

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In June of this Summer, I posted a series of photos that attempted to document the full tree height in our inventory on Hornbeam Hill.  I didn't get every tree, but I was able to put a height (approximate) on most of the new trees and that post was meant to serve as a reference post for documenting some of the trees as they grow.  But, there are at least two trees that went in *after* that post was shared that I wanted to document. 

First up is the replacement Dawn Redwood.  That's the photo on top.  You can see the height of the tree (currently) is just shy of 63" tall.

Below is the newly planted Bald Cypress in the front yard by the driveway.  That one is currently 51" tall. 


I'll be going back to these trees (if they make it over the Winter) next year and hope to see some 'creep' going on as they shoot upwards.

Menards Christmas Creep - 2018

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Continuing the annual tradition of trying to document on the blog the various times we first come across the Menards Enchanted Forest Christmas setup.  Posting this on the 24th of September, but I took this photo a week ago.  I've talked over the years about the notion of "Christmas Creep" and how I'm just fine with it.  Mid/late September is right in the middle of Fall holiday planning for most, but I understand why retailers are moving Christmas earlier and earlier. 

I've done the Christmas Creep documenting on the blog over the years. 

Here's 2017's version that I posted on September 28th.
Here's 2016's version that I posted on September 26th.
Here's 2015's version that I posted on October 6th.
Here's 2011's version that I posted on September 17th.

So this is the second earliest, but based on when I took this photo, it might have been a tie? 

As for the actual display, they have both their Halloween stuff up in the main seasonal s…

Backyard Tree Identification: Mulberry Trees

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Earlier this month, I posted about I was taking down a few Buckthorn trees on our property as part of early Fall/late Summer yard maintenance.  After peeping at the leaves on those Buckthorns and following the recommendation of our landscaper who marked them as such, I was pretty confident in removing them, despite their somewhat mature size.  The benefits of removing them far outweigh their continued survival.  There were, however, a bunch of other trees on the property that I couldn't at first identify and wasn't sure if I should keep or remove.

So, after some initial searching on the internet, I thought what I had were Mulberry trees.    You'll notice in the photo above something unique:  The leaves on one branch had very different leaves.  On.the.same.branch!  The leaves at the top of the photo have a few lobes on them, while the leaves near the tip - at the bottom of the photo are more egg-shaped.  Strange, right?  All signs pointed to Hackberries, but these were not…

Robin's Nesting Shelf - With Nest

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I posted back in August how a bird's nest had fallen from one of our big Oak trees down to the yard and how the kids were fascinated by it.  I read up a bit and figured out that we could build a nesting platform for both the replacing of *this* nest and hopefully the usage of other birds (Robins?) next season. 

I found these easy plans for a nesting platform/shelf here.    I had 1/2" plywood on hand, so I decided to use that.  I know that Cedar would be better, but I had the plywood on hand.  I made the cuts, assembled the thing and even tweaked it a bit.  I added a series of drainage holes to the bottom of the platform and to the bottom/sides of the walls.  Figured for both drainage and airflow. 

After I built it, I had the Bird paint it.  You can kind of see that she used some metallic paints on the back/sides of it.  After I asked her if she wanted to finish it, she insisted that it was done.   So, I put down a few coats of spray-on clear coat to both protect her paint jo…

Screened Porch Ferns Making A Late Summer Comeback

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I planted two different ferns on the northside of our screened porch earlier this Summer.  That post with the full details can be found here in the garden diary.  One of them (Autumn Fern) was planted on the left of this transplanted hosta and one of them (Japanese Painted Fern) was planted on the right.  If you look back at the post when I planted these, the hosta in the middle wasn't there yet and we didn't even have our mulch for the season, so I planted these in some clay.

They both immediately sufferend.  Dried out.  Figured they were dead.  Only thing I lost was the two bucks apiece, I figured.

Well, on a recent walk around the screened porch, what did I discover?  That both of these ferns have made a comeback of sorts!  They're both green, and have shoots popping through the mulch.  Amazing!  You can see their little beings on the far sides of this photo.  Incredible, right??  Well, maybe not to you, but this is an incredible sight to me.  Hey...thanks, Audrey Hepb…

2018 Randall Park Soap Box Derby - Downers Grove Block Party Tradition

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On a recent Saturday, we took the three kids down a couple of blocks to Fairmount Avenue to the annual neighborhood Block Party and Soapbox Derby.1   This is the second year in a row that we've participated and you can see a video and my post from the 2017 edition here on the blog.


As I wrote last year, this is a really fun family event.  The families that put this on go out of their way to make their block party a really special experience and they draw in families from not just their block, but from people like us - who live a few blocks away.  Once again, they had a DJ tent set up, a really well-put-together starting gate/ramp, a big food spread including hot dogs, a frosty keg and lemonade/water setups for all the kids (and shandy setup by combining the keg and lemonade setups for me!), a snow cone station, a number of sawhorses set up by the garage to tune up your car and every tool and wrench and impact driver you could ever need.  Oh, and they invited Guac and Tacos from D…

Planting a Bald Cypress - Front Yard Tree

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I mentioned in a post that I picked up a late-season Bald Cypress tiny tree at Home Depot recently, but didn't want to mark it down (officially.  Or as official as a blog post here counts as...) as the 26th tree that we've planted since we moved in.  But, now, you can see in the photo above that it is, indeed in the ground.  So we're now at 26 trees.  Full list is at the bottom of this post.  
As I mentioned in the post when I showed off the newly purchased Bald Cypress, this is a tree that we've been stalking for some time.  I *almost* pulled the trigger on a large one at the Growing Place that had a columnar habit, but passed on it at the last minute.  I have a feeling I'll be back next year to buy *that* tree.  But for now, we'll have to try this little guy.
The reason for the little one is both because it was cheap (sure!), but also because of where I planted this thing.  I wanted it to go in the front yard, between our driveway and the neighbor to the nor…