Chanticleer Flowering Pear Winter Marcescence - December 2019

Last week, I shared a couple of photos of our stand of Frans Fontaine Fastigiate Hornbeams and talked about how they were retaining their leaves to provide some Winter screening.  They're not the only trees in the yard that has foliar marcescence occurring.  Above you see one of our three Chanticleer Flowering Pear trees that has almost all of its leaves still on the branches.  This tree grew a ton this year - based on the tree inventory post - but I'm not sure if this foliar retention took place last year, but I do remember that one of our old flowering pear trees in Elmhurst held on to most of the leaves through Winter because I wrapped lights around it and had to contend with the leaves obscuring the lights shining through. 

I planted this tree early in our time here in Downers Grove, but, unfortunately, I don't have a post showing it going in the ground.  It has grown quite a bit and I placed it strategically based on a neighbor a few doors down having a light on thei…

Firewood Consumption Check - December 2019

This is the first firewood check since we had a couple of face cords delivered in early October this year.  As we've done in the past, the guys stacked our Birch and Cherry firewood in a couple of spots including these racks in our screened porch that you see above.  Let's start there:  on the smaller rack in the back, all of the wood on top has been used and a little more than half of the rack has been burned down.  The rack in front is still untouched.  There's that one errant log leaning up against the fireplace, right?  That's one of the pieces that I cut from the downed Oak tree limb earlier this Fall.  Once the rack clears out, I'll drop it on there to season for a year or so.  In the screened porch, there's one other stack that existed against the wall that has already been burned off, too. 

As for the other rack, it looks like it is more than halfway burned, too.    And all of the wood stacked in front of the rack has been consumed, too.  If you look c…

Broken Peloton Shoe Buckle And Finding A Replacement

One recent morning, I was getting my shoes on to try to sweat it out a little bit before work and as I tightened up my left shoe, I heard something snap and a little bit of plastic went flying.  I had snapped off the ratcheting buckle on my shoe.  In the photo at the top of this post, you'll see the now-naked Peloton shoe with the broken little ratchet piece.  
Below, you'll see the piece.  This is what came off of the shoe.  Turns out, it is all plastic.  

Below you'll see the piece in profile.  The circular part in the middle is what snapped off - the plastic part wraps around a metal cylinder.

The good news is that how they make these spin bike shoes these days, they're totally replaceable.  In that top photo, you'll notice a screw and if you loosen it up, the buckle just comes off.

So, off I went to figure out where I could get a replacement.  Peloton doesn't sell one.  I guess they want to sell more shoes?   But, u/Beemuzzler on the Peloton Subreddit post…

Growing A Norfolk Island Pine Tree For Christmas

Back on our Summer trip to San Diego, I came across a tree that had a specific look to it:  the Norfolk Island Pine.  There was one of these trees right across the street from our house - and it was that one that got me to research what the tree was called.  But, we also came across the '1st outdoor lighted Christmas Tree' that is up at the Hotel Del Coronado - and it turns out that *that* tree, is too, a Norfolk Island Pine tree

The reason that I bring this up is that when I was at Home Depot recently, I came across these tiny Norfolk Island Pines that are $6.99.  My hand is in that photo at the top for scale.   These young trees don't have the shape that I think about when I think Norfolk Pine.  Here's what I'm talking about.   Has those long, limited limbs with needles pointing upwards.   

They also have slightly larger ones for a few bucks more.  All of them come in these holiday-packaged pots with little ornaments as I think they're either intended as po…

Fall 2019 Three-Bin Composter Update

This photo is about a week old, but shows you (basically) the current state of our three-bin compost setup that I made in the easement behind our lot.  Using some fence panels and long stakes, I made three 36" by 36" square 'bins' that I've been using this Summer and now Fall. 

Here's the original post showing the three-bin composter being setup in May of this year

Also, one note (for the garden diary):  I've also filled the Compost Tumbler again this fall with a combination of greens and browns. 

The three bins all have distinct purposes and you can see that kind of taking shape here.

Bin one (on the left): making a layered batch. Nitrogen. Then Carbon. Then Nitrogen. Then Carbon. Layers. Earlier this year, I added a bunch of grass and most of our weeds to provide some nitrogen.  I just added a layer of browns to this bin to get that layering going. But, before I add more, I need to add some 'greens'. With Winter here, that means that t…

Christmas Trees: We Tried Something Different This Year

Every year since we've been married, Nat and I (and the kids) have participated in a Moran Family tradition:  heading down to Braidwood to the Tammen Tree Farm to cut down a Christmas tree.  Last year's version can be found here.  And here.    What's that you say?  That's two different blog posts with two different trees?  Yep.  Like her Mother, Natalie likes to put up two trees.  One larger one in the family room and another smaller one in our front room.

Our trips down to the Tammen Tree farm are a lot of fun.  We pack into a couple of cars and drive around their farm to try to find everyone a tree.  We buy one (or starting when we moved into our new house - two), Nat's folks buy a couple and her sister buys one (I think).  Driving around is fun, looking for the perfect tree isn't so much fun.   Why?  Because we like Fraser Firs and I want a 'big' tree for the family room tree.  Tammen has a TON - hundreds - of smaller Fraser Firs.  Those that are si…

Amaryllis Bulb Growth Update - Late November 2019

Here's a current look at our four Amaryllis bulbs.  One of them - the Star of Holland - is out in front in terms of growth as it has two buds that have emerged and are starting to gain some height.  You can see that one on the left of this photo above.  At center - near the bottom of the photo - is the Cherry Nymph bulb that cost almost 3x the other ones.  If you look closely, you'll see a little leaf emerging from the bulb, so things are moving on it.

As for the other two, you can see them in the background of the photo above, but for a closer view, check out the photo below.  The bulb at the bottom of the photo is the Apple Blossom Amaryllis and is a little bit further ahead than the one in the back - the Red Lion Amaryllis.

I've switched over now to watering these all with a alcohol-blended water mixture to try to limit the height/leggy-ness of the stems. 

What is most striking is that all three of the Menards bulbs have taken off.  The last time I tried one of those …