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Showing posts from June, 2018

Dappled Willow Tree - Old House and New House?

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The tree you see above is a Dappled Willow (treeform) in the Home Depot parking lot/garden center/nursery.  It is, I think, a grafted tree (hence the 'treeform') and one that we had in our old house in Elmhurst.  I put it in one of the beds that was close to the garage side door, so we walked by it every time we got in and out of the car. 

Here's the label from the tree at Home Depot:


Both Nat and I really liked the tree.  It grew big and threw off these beautiful, pinkish reeds. 

I gave it quite a bit of consideration before, ultimately, passing on the tree for this season.  It was $49.99, so between the price and not really having an idea of where, exactly to put this thing, I talked myself out of putting it into our cart. 

One place it *could* go is in the hydrangea bed along the south fence line.  With the hydrangeas filling up the ground space, this could sit on top of them - in the back - and get what it wants:  part sun.  Then we'd get to enjoy it from the pati…

The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans Coaster - Added to Collection

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A double feature:  Coaster #28 and a little lid for a hotel-room glass - both from The Roosevelt in New Orleans.  This place is super old-fashioned and my kind of hotel:  rooms that are weird sized.  Big, odd-shaped spaces near the elevators.  Half-floors with like 4 or 5 stairs.  They'd NEVER build a hotel like this today. 

Similar 'old fashioned' hotels in the [coaster collection] include the Adolphus in Dallas and The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

This was my second trip to New Orleans with the first back in 2011 where we made a stop at Central Grocery.

Mid-Summer Update on Fostered Fern and Hosta

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The last time I covered our fern and hosta(s) that have been fostered by Nat's Mom in her garden out in Naperville was October of 2017 when the hosta had ridden out the hot summer and the fern had died back for the year.  That post is here

The photo above is one I took recently when we took a trip to Naperville.  You can see that both the hosta and the fern are HUGE.  They've been there for two full growing seasons - and this is their third.   The hosta again has some tip burn, which is disappointing, but it does get some decent sun due to the Bald Cypress that is located close leafs out later than most trees. 

The size of those two are the good news.  The bad news?  The tiny Hosta Venusta that I planted back in 2016 doesn't look like it survived this harsh winter. 

According to this post, one of the best times (besides early Spring) to transplant hostas is early fall - so I'll look to taking this one in September or so.

My experience with transplanting Ostrich Ferns…

Solo - A Star Wars Matinee

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Took us a couple of weekends, but we finally went to see Solo as a family recently.  And, I liked it.  I think we all did?   The only part that I have strong feelings about is the Darth Maul part at the end.  Why wasn't that Jabba? 

We went to the York Theater in Elmhurst, which is one of our favorite theaters and part of the Classic Cinemas chain.  Here's a trip to another Classic Cinemas theater in Fox Lake.

Coyote On My Morning Walk To The Train: Spotted

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There I was, minding my own business, walking to the train one recent morning at close to 5 am and I notice a little guy kind of prancing across the street.  He sees me, turns tail and scampers off.  He got to a safe distance, then turned and inspected me as I continued to go on my way.

That's him right there in the red circle.  Not super clear, but you can get the idea.  He's pretty skinny, isn't he?  If you read the Nextdoor section for our neighborhood, you'd know that these coyotes are all over the place, but this is the first one that I've witnessed myself.  I've come across quite a bit of wildlife in our backyard (skunks, rabbits and even our Black Squirrel) and on our block (foxes), but haven't seen a coyote...until now.

Down the block from us is a large pond that spills over into a creek that runs behind the homes across the street from us.  With an abundant supply of water, plenty of wooded cover and what I would presume to be a good supply of foo…

Harvesting Perennials From A Downers Yard Across Town

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Holy moly.  That's a lot of perennials, isn't it??  Peonies, irises, hostas and even ferns all lumped together in my garden cart.  So, where did these come from?  Someone we know is in the process of moving to Downers Grove and as part of their move, they're doing some clearing of their property.  That meant that the garden that was existing was going to disappear.  So, just like we did with the house down the block, I went over there with my spade shove in hand and dug.  And dug.  And dug. 

I filled the back of the van up and there was still so.much.more.  I'm going to try to go back and dig up a few more things.  But first, I have to plant these. 

I'm planning on putting them out in the far back of the yard where they can recover from the massive amount of shock they're undoubtably going to go through.  I'll try to baby them for the next month or so with the weather being warm and then hope *fingers crossed* that come next Spring, we'll see most of t…

Backyard Fountain Dreaming

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On a recent trip to Menards, I was in the garden center and was drawn to their fountain setup.  They have a dozen or so fountain ranging from formal tiered fountains to desktop versions.  Some of them are terribly cheesy but others seem ok to me.  But, there are two things that seem to bind them all together:  they're made of fiberglass.  And they're cheap.  Well, relatively cheap.  
I've had a fiberglass fountain before at our old house in Elmhurst and I really liked it.  Some of the time.  It was a three tiered traditional fountain with a pineapple on top.  A few things I came to appreciate:
1.  The bowls weren't very deep.  So that meant that I had to constantly (like every other day) fill it with the hose.   2.  The birds loved it.  But they made it SUPER dirty. 3.  It didn't last 2 seasons because I left it out over the winter and it suffered some freezing cracks and was rendered worthless.  
Thus, despite having an itchy purchase finger, I passed on them.  I …

Mighty Oak - Inherited Backyard Tree - June 2018

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Back at the end of May, I entered a River Birch tree in our backyard into my [Garden Diary].  It was a tree that we inherited, but I wanted to document it during the Summer of 2018, so I have something to revisit as it grows over time.   Today, I'm entering another tree:  a mighty Oak tree that is the inherited tree that is closest to our patio.  You can see it above in a photo that I took recently as the canopy continues to leaf out.

This is one of two really large Oaks that we have inside the fence line.  The other is the 'tree house' candidate that I posted about earlier this Spring.

This Oak (above) is the tree that we have hung our tree swing on and you can see the ropes coming down from it in the photo.

This tree was one of a few that were in a row when we bought the property, but due to the drainage requirements - we had to build an underground pit out back and swale our land towards it - we had to remove a few of the other trees.  None of them were this big and st…

Update on Fostered Peony in Naperville - June 2018

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Nat's sister sent us this photo of our 'fostered' peony plant that is in Nat's Mom's garden out in Naperville that we planted in 2015.  As you can see, it has grown up quite a bit and seems to have recovered almost completely from the harsh transplant.  It is even blooming with two small blooms, but more importantly, the green foliage looks quite strong.  
I posted a photo of this same peony emerging last Spring, but didn't followup with another post.  The peony struggled and didn't flower last year, but I knew it would take a few seasons to recover. That's the good news.  The bad news?  I'm going to take it back this September and restart that recovery cycle.  
The foster care, has indeed, worked, but now that we're ready for this beauty, I'm eager to bring it home.  About a week ago, I posted about how the Sarah Bernhardt variety was starting to emerge this Summer (after planting this Spring), so I'm already thinking about creating a l…

Lemon Coral Sedum - In our patio pots

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I came across this Lemon Coral Sedum from Proven Winners in this video from Garden Answer.  I really liked the way it looked in her video, so when I came across it (at the garden center at the Jewel of all places), I had to bring it home.  I put it in a few spots including this wine barrel planter that we have set on our patio.  Like a lot of other sedums, it is drought tolerant, but this one has a neat chartreuse-y color along with those pretty yellow flowers.  I planted this one and it immediately began to establish itself, stretch out and put on this show.  Tucked right in next to the Night Sky Petunia that continues to bloom all Summer long, this part of the pot is doing exactly what I was hoping for in this spot.  The only *miss* in this pot is any sort of mid-level structure/height, but it is getting close to time to rip out those Pansies and replace them with something more fit for the heat of Summer.  Opportunity, right???

This wine barrel container (for now) is on the north …

Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea - June 2018

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This is the third in the series of posts updating some plants that Nat's Mom gifted us late last fall.  Yesterday, I posted about the Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea that is doing really well.   Today, I'm sharing the photo you see above to show the current state of the Everlasting Revolution hydrangea that isn't doing *as well*.  You can see that it is much smaller than the Tuff Stuff and the foliage is barely emerging from the mulch.  In fact, I had to kind of carve out a little hole/trench for this thing to even have a chance.  It is located about eight feet from the Tuff Stuff variety, so they're getting basically the same support - sun, water, soil.  But the difference is stark.  I've actually babied this one a bit more this late Spring and hope that it continues to establish itself a bit so we head into the Winter with a strong base/root system.

I'll try to revisit this plant later this Summer/Fall to see how it has grown when the heat of the Summer hits Downer…

Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea - June 2018 Update

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Back in October of last year, Nat's Mom gave us a couple of plants that I immediately stuck in the ground and then nursed through the balance of the growing season in the hope that, despite planting them so late, they would survive the winter and come back.  I recently covered how one of these plants - the Disneyland Rose - is ready to bloom this Summer here on the blog.  The other two plants included in the series were hydrangeas.  The first one I'll post here is the Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea

Above you'll see a happy and healthy hydrangea that is quite small (like 6" tall and 8" wide), but has more growth on it than when I put it in the ground in October.  I didn't cut it down at all this Spring and that's because, according to this Proven Winner item description, it will bloom on *both* old growth and new growth.  From PW:
This re-blooming hydrangea begins blooming in early summer on old wood and continues to produce flowers on new wood through autumn…

Canadian Hemlock - Added to Hornbeam Hill

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Back in January, I posted a little snapshot of another part of our landscape plan that was of the far, southwest corner of our propertyThat corner included the addition of three Canadian Hemlock trees.  In that post, I mentioned that the plan actually calls for nine of these Hemlocks and at the time, I had not planted any of them.  
Here, today, is a look at another slice/section of our landscape plan.  There are multiple elements in this little image, but I want to focus on what is in green: three Canadian Hemlocks.  This is about 2/3rds of the way back between our house and the property line and as you can see they're tucked in against the northern fence line.  

Those of you following along know that I've posted these in a series.
The other plan sections that I've shared include: southern fence line with Hydrangeas and allium, one of our rear foundation beds outside of our kitchen, the north fence line that we put the Frans Fontaine European Hornbeams, either side of…

Disneyland Rose - June 2018 Update

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Late last Summer/early last Fall, Nat's Mom gifted us three plants: an Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea, a Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea and a Disneyland Rose.  I planted the two Hydrangeas along the south fence line where the plan called for them, but I stuck the rose in the rear foundation beds outside of our kitchen windows.  It is located right in between where I planted the teardown Hostas last Fall and the Karl Foerster Grasses that I planted this Spring.

What you see in the photo above is the Disneyland Rose - that has not only survived the winter, but is about to burst with it's first flowers.  What good news to see this thing flourishing in our first Summer here.  Those pointy buds are really quite cool, aren't they?

Those of you who aren't familiar with the Disneyland Rose, check out this post I wrote when we acquired the plant

Nat has expressed an interest in more roses, but our plan is really light on them, so we'll have to figure out how to add them in t…

Installing the Gartenkraft 100 Foot Retractable Garden Hose Reel

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Inside of our garage, we had a hose bib installed during construction that I intended to use to water inside the garage, on the driveway and out front of the house.  But, when we actually started to use the hose in this area, it quickly became apparent that we had to be thoughtful in terms of where/how we stored the hose.  At first, I considered something like the (highly regarded) Eley hose reel with a traditional hose.  I came across it from Laura on Garden Answer in this video.  But, in thinking about how much the kids are involved in the hose (watering the flowers, playing with the water, etc), it seemed like if I wanted the hose to end up wound up each and everytime, I was going to have to find a self-retracting hose reel.  GeekbeatTV ran a review of a retractable hose reel from Flowmaster that seemed right for us.    Our Home Depot sells the same Flowmaster reel but under the Gartenkraft name

And after it came home with us, it sat in the garage for a month.  Then I figured it…

Tear Down Ferns - Spring 2018 Update

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Back in May, I posted a photo update on what I have been calling our 'teardown hostas' that came out of a yard down the block.  They've subsequently grown quite a bit and have leaf'd out to be nice sized hostas that are really in their first year of growth in our yard.  I mean...I put them in the ground in October, so there was really very little opportunity for them to grow/put down roots before they died off for the Winter. 

In that same post back in October of 2017, I mentioned that I grabbed a fern or two as well from the tear down lot.  I planted them right amongst the hostas and guess what?  They, too, came back.  I took the photo above at the beginning of the month - and that's one of my favorite stages for these Ostrich Ferns - when they begin to unfurl.  But, because I'm just getting around to posting about these ferns, I went back and took another photo to show the progress/growth.  Look at how tall and proud it is standing now.  (and speaking of the…

Two Fingerling Potato Varieties Planted - 2018

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This year, I planted two different varieties of fingerling potatoes in containers - the Magic Molly I (above) and Pinto Gold I (below).  These are very similar to the two that I planted back in 2016.  Last year, with the move and all, I didn't plant any spuds.  I chose to put these into a series of containers because we don't have a garden set up yet.   


I took the seed potatoes, cut them up into segments with at least one eye each, then after waiting for the cuts to heal/dry, I planted them in some larger containers that our shrubs/trees had come in. 

Fast forward to today and look at the growth coming out of the top of the soil. 


I planted these low and kept the soil level down because I wanted to 'hill up' new soil on top of this growth.  These are the purple Magic Molly's based on their purplish foliage.  On top of this new growth, I added a few inches of top soil.  Then, when they grow more, I'll add a little more until I reach the top of the container.

Update on Sarah Bernhardt Peonies - Shoots Emerging June 2018

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Back in May, I posted about the first peony plant that we put in our backyard - a variety called Sarah Bernhardt.  Despite the fact that peonies are Nat's absolute favorite flower, we had gone almost a year without planting one.  (We did, however, have a foster peony at Nat's Mom's house.)

I put this particular peony near the north fence line and after burying the tuber, I covered the area with mulch and marked it with a stick and then a stone ring. 

We were putting together Fairy Gardens with the kids recently and I noticed that the peony shoots and broken through the mulch and we had some actual growth.  These are way, way behind what most normal, established peony plants look like by June.  This is normally the time we're cutting the blooms and bringing them indoors. 

Since this was planted as a tuber this year, I was just hoping that we'd get these to emerge this year and that they'll have enough time to establish their root system before the dry/hot seaso…

Rhododendrons Added To Backyard - 2018

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Back in April, I shared a small look at the landscape plan that was specified for either side of our rear stoop.  These are the stairs that come out of our family room and lead to our patio.  That plan called for a pair of rhododendrons that flank each side of the stoop.  Earlier this Spring, I picked up the plants and got them in the ground before the mulch arrived.  After a bit of acclimating, they seem to have stabilized and have begun to throw off a series of beautiful, almost out-of-this-world blooms.  The photo above is one of them.  And you can see both of them in the image below. (pay no attention to the hose or shoes or sidewalk chalk in the photo!  We live in a perfect backyard, folks!)


One other thing to note in that photo:  the pot on the stoop contains the dahlias that I planted inside earlier this Spring.  Look how big and happy they are!?!?

Replacement Chanticleer Flowering Pear - By Garage - June 2018

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Right at the end of May, I posted about the 3" caliper Chanticleer Flowering Pear tree that we had installed right outside of our garage didn't make it through the Winter and was slated to be replaced.  Welp...as you can see in the photo above, the new tree arrived and was planted recently. 
The initial tree was planted in June of 2018 before we moved in and I did a check-in post on the tree in February of this year when I speculated that the tree didn't make it based on the very few buds being set on the tree in the fall.  
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the new tree and the one that they ripped out.
I've made no secret about my love/hate relationship with these flowering pears.  They do a really great job of growing fast, providing screening and even a little show in the Spring.  But, I know that they're a cheap/low-cost solution that isn't all that long-lived.  That hasn't stopped me from planting three of these including this one, a medium-si…

Front Hydrangeas Update - June 2018

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This is a look (and post in the [garden diary]) of our hydrangeas in the front yard.  On the right side - under the front part of our porch are four Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas.  On the left, are a pair of Annabelle Hydrangeas.  There are also two Little Rocket Narrow Spiked Ligularia that are showing in the photo, too, but this post isn't about them.

These hydrangea were planted at the same time and were the same size container.  I also gave both a hard pruning early this Spring/late this winter to be *about* the same size.  They were getting a bit 'leggy', so based on some guidance from fellow gardeners, I pruned them down to focus some of the growth into a more bush-like shrub. 

But, look at the growth on the two varieties.  The Annabelle's are planted facing south.  The Vanilla Strawberry ones are facing east - from the building.  Meaning that as the sun moves across the day, the two on the left side stay in the sun most of the day while the four out front move …

Anemone St. Brigid Blend - Planted

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At our old place in Elmhurst, we had a big, beautiful, sprawling Anemone plant that was a gift from Nat's Mom.  Turns out, Natalie had Anemone in her wedding bouquet and they were attempting to recreate it some time after our wedding and that involved the purchase of Anemone plants to take some cuttings from.  Nat's Mom ended up with a couple of these plants and gave us one - which I stuck in the sideyard of our house - right to the south of our front porch.  And it thrived!  Like, really thrived.   After a couple of years that is.  It started small, came back in year two and I think gave us just a couple of blooms.  But in year three and four and beyond?  It was big and wonderful.  Take a look at it blooming in 2013 here

Just like the peony that the kids gave Nat for Mother's Day this year, they also picked out a set of Anemone bulbs - these St. Brigid Blend.  Which, I believe aren't the same plant that we had before.  Why?  Because this product listing says that i…

Karl Rosenfield Peony Tuber Planted - Sideyard 2018

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Back one month ago, I shared a photo of the Sarah Berhhardt peony tuber that I planted in our backyard and talked about how peonies are Nat's favorite flowers.  Unfortunately, before that one, we didn't have any peonies in our entire yard.  But, we *are* fostering one at Nat's mom's house out in Naperville and I plan on bringing that over to Hornbeam Hill early this Summer. 

For Mother's Day this year, the kids all decided to buy a few bulbs/tubers for Nat and one of them is this Karl Rosenfield Peony - which is a double bloom variety. 

Around the side of our front porch, we have a couple of hydrangeas, but then a lot of blank, naked beds.  There is literally NOTHING in this spot on our landscape plan, so I decided to wing it.  It is south-facing, so peonies planted here would be getting some good sun and due to the downspouts and grading, this area gets a good amount of water.  So, just in front of the downspout off the porch is a spot that I stuck these peonies …

Mortgage Lifter Tomato - Planted in Container - 2018

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I've been thinking about the placement and location of our vegetable garden, but as is often the case, life got in the way of actually building something.  So, I'm back to using my old stand-alone tomato cage containers again this year.  They're self-watering from Gardener's Supply Company and I've had decent luck with them since we moved out of our first house in Elmhurst.  The first tomato that I've added is this Mortgage Lifter Heirloom variety.  I've posted about this same variety back in 2015 that I bought from Angelo Caputo's, but I didn't ever follow-up with posts showing the fruit.

Inventory of Tree Heights - June 2018

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A couple of days ago, I shared the photo and details of the Fraser Fir that I planted in the back.  In that post, I included a tape measure image that showed the current height.  I figured that taking a tool around the yard of Hornbeam Hill to document some of the other trees current heights which can serve as a benchmark in the years ahead.  
Here's a few of the trees that I was able to document.  
First up is our Saucer Magnolia in the front yard.  It is standing at 81" tall currently. 

One of our flowering pears - on the north fence line is 112" tall currently.


I measured the end Frans Fontaine Hornbeam trees and it came in (as best as I could tell) at 156" inches (13').


The Red Maple Sun Valley tree that we planted for Earth Day is 96" tall currently.


The weeping Cherry that we planted for Earth Day this year is currently 74" tall.


The Crimson King is currently 112" tall currently.


The Weeping Cedar tree that we planted this Spring is just 51…

Season Two - Karl Forester Reed Grasses By Front Porch - June 2018

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These three Karl Forester Reed Grasses were planted by the landscaper by the builder before we moved in.  They're placed in a small bed that is sandwiched between the front stairs on our porch and front walk and our driveway.  I didn't document them last season here on the blog, but due to their location, they didn't have an easy time.  (I *did* document other things in the front like our Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas.)  Based on where our hose bib in front is located, our hose ended up living in this area a lot last year and as such these things were trampled/smashed pretty regularly.  That meant that come late Summer/early Fall, they were looking shabby.  I wasn't sure what the Winter would hold, but I crossed my fingers.  Earlier this Spring, I cut back all the winter show and now look at them!  They're doing quite well and have tons of growth. 

The same can't be said about the grasses we bought from Costco last fall.  They didn't come back at all, so I&…