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Showing posts from May, 2019

Balancing The Color Pallette In Our Front Tulips

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of the newly bloomed tulips that came up in our front yard bed right in front of the large Maple tree.  Go see that photo here.  They look - to me at least - to be orange and red.  I say that because the reds were *supposed* to be pink, but they came out much more like a true red.  They looked great.  Or at least I thought they did.  That was, until I came across this ebook from Pretty Purple Door.  It is called "7 questions to ask yourself to choose the right plants for your garden" and you can get it by giving her your name and email address here on her site.  I'm not going to link directly to the .pdf because she is running a biz, but I do want to show one little nugget that is in that guide.  She talks about color palette and then lists a few of her favorites and a few to avoid.  To be respectful, here's a screenshot, but I've blurred out the parts that aren't relevant here.  (Again...if you want the full guide…

Done: Backyard Tulip Bulbs Relocated

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Number one on my 2019 Gardening To-Do Addendum List was to relocate some of my Fall bulbs.  It didn't make my main To-do list for the year, but the two kind of go together.  Why's that?  Because #8 on the main To-Do list is to add some conifers to the backyard.    My thinking was that if I move these tulips from back against the fenceline, I can replace them with the Weeping White Spruce that I bought and move these closer to the front of the bed.   Here's what these same tulips looked like earlier this Spring

I started to dig them and realized that moving blooming tulips is not for the faint of heart.  I dug deep and tried to pull out the bulbs and the ground with them.  Then, I poked around and tried to remove whatever weeds that had glom'd on to the bulbs and stuck them back in the ground.  Everything I've read about Tulips suggests that people often cut off the tulip leaves far too early because once the flower blooms, they figure that they should just get r…

Three More Canadian Hemlocks Planted - 2019

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Back at the beginning of May, I posted a photo that showed three of the six Canadian Hemlock tiny trees that I bought with a credit from an online nursery.  These things are tiny.  The official name is Tsuga canadensis. Sometimes they're called Canadian Hemlocks. Sometimes Eastern Hemlocks. Maybe 16" tall.  I mentioned in the post that I put the first three in the far back reaches of our yard and that I was planning on putting the other three on the northside.

These aren't the first Hemlocks that I've planted, unfortunately.  I bought a tiny one just like these at Menards on a whim and put it in the ground last Summer.  By September, it was gone.  Done.  Not sure what happened to it, but I also lost our little Fraser Fir at the same time.  Guessing it was neglect via limited water?

The three trees that are in this post (circled in green in the photo above) are the same trees that are specified in the landscape plan portion that I posted about in June of last year

My First Bonsai Pruning (Eeek...I Went Too Far)

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Back on May 7th of this year, I shared a couple of photos and talked about my initial excitement of giving the art of bonsai a shot with a piece of nursery stock that I picked up at Home Depot for $10.  It is a Cypress Hinoki and had one large(ish) trunk that seemed to have decent trunk taper, very little reverse taper and priced so cheaply that if I killed the poor thing, I wouldn't be that upset.

In that initial post, I talked about how I was following some of the Mirai Bonsai Basics video directions and started with the roots and trunk.  More recently, I moved on to the next few steps and began to try to prune the Cypress into a bonsai of sorts.

I know that every article you read talks about how you aren't supposed to prune more than 30% of the tree at any one time and that pruning an evergreen like this Cypress is best done in the late fall when it the tree is heading to dormancy.  But, I couldn't, umm, help myself.  I dove right in.


I began by pruning off all the dea…

Trying A Blue Spray Pattern Indicator - With Creeping Charlie Spray

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Out in the backyard, we have what I'd call a real work-in-progress when it comes to the lawn.  Well...a work-in-progress when it comes to everything back there including the landscaping and trees and mulch and what-have-you.  But this post is about the lawn in particular.  The past two seasons, I've done what I'd call the minimum in terms of working the lawn.  I put down a synthetic crabgrass preventer with early feed, a weed and feed and a Summer feed.  I also put down a synthetic grub treatment and last season put down an organic insect killer that was supposed to treat for ticks and ants and other things.  But, I mostly left the weeding to chance. 

When we moved in, we sodded about the first 100' of grass, then seeded the next 50 or so feet and left the balance to just be how it was.  There were plenty of weeds, crabgrass and clover back there.  The problem with weeds in the lawn is that they don't just stay in place.  They colonize!  They grow.  They move and …

Our Current Yard Hydrant Setup - Spring 2019

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Last year, I came to the conclusion that due to the size of our property, having a hose that is connected to our main spigot against the house was basically unusable.  The hose would have to be 200+ feet long and would stretch all over the place.  What else?  It would inevitably end up being strewn across the lawn and get nicked up by our Automower.  My solution was this yard hydrant. 

I bought this beige color one that has a hose holder attached and simply stuck it in the ground.  It has its own spigot and allows me to turn the water on/off at this point.

I ran a rubber hose from the house out about 100 or so feet in the mulch beds.  I buried it just a few inches underground and connected it to the yard hydrant.  Then I have this existing vinyl 100' hose that I can use to run out to the various beds.

This eliminated half of the problem of having hose laying around.  But, it still means that I have 100 feet of hose (instead of 200 feet!) that ends up laying around.

Posting this …

30 Gladiolus Corms Planted - 2019

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The two varieties of orange Dahlias that I posted about a few days ago aren't the only flower that we planted recently.  The Dahlias aren't bulbs, technically.  They're tubers.  The flowers (or...hopefully soon-to-be flowers) here in this photo are 30 Gladiolus.  Turns out, Gladiolus aren't bulbs, either.  They're technically corms.  What the heck is a corm?  I had no idea, but I found this post that walks you through bulbs vs. corms vs. tubers

These are the first corms that we've planted and the first time I've planted gladiolus.  I don't know why, but they've never been something that I've been drawn to over the years despite the fact that growing up I attend the Glad-Peach Festival in Coloma every year.  There were always tons of gladiolus.  But not that many peaches. 

The Bird helped me plant there and I put them all in the bed between the last and the second to last Hornbeam on the North fenceline.  I decided to not plant them in rows, b…

More Bonsai Nursery Stock Juniper

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Back in the beginning of May, I posted a few photos of a piece of nursery stock from Home Depot that was a Cedar tree and talked about how I was beginning to go down the bonsai journey.  At the time, I knew that I was better off pulling some cheap ($10) pieces off the shelf from Home Depot, work them a bit and see what happens versus say...buying an *already* trained and pruned bonsai tree.   Then, just last week, I posted an update on how I think I might have GONE TOO FAR with my first tree.   I pruned the heck out of it.  And..I worked the roots.  Doing both at the same time is not a good idea, but I have to say...live and learn.  Right?  That Cedar tree is basically done for the season.  I've put it in a bonsai pot and now I am just keeping an eye on it with water - which...the pot that I put it in has a tray below it - and that meant that the water ran through the pot, but was sticking around underneath it...thus keeping the feet of the plant wet for a few days.  Once I disco…

#TBT: Lincoln-Way Soccer Club In Ireland

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The last time I posted a #TBT photo of my youth soccer team it was the core group of guys that I played with for almost ten years.  Today's photo is of the same team, technically.  But it isn't all of the core boys.  There are some guys like Tom, Loran, John, Ted, Matt, Chris and Russ in here, but we supplemented with a few older/different guys from what I can best describe as a 'different soccer dimension'.  They were skilled players, but from a different club scene.

This photo is from either my seventh or eighth grade years, so I was 13 or 14 years old and I had the pouty teen thing down, right?

We're playing in Ireland in 1991 or 1992 and you can see the sign in the back reads Pike Rovers Football Club.  We were representing the USA in some fashion (not officially), but we were wearing French National jerseys because they were pretty close to what the US Men's National Team were wearing at the time - but the US ones had the colors only on one shoulder.

If I…

Both Orange Dahlias Planted In The Ground

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With the soil temperatures finally getting around 60 degrees in our Zone, I was able to get this year's Dahlia Tubers in the ground.  I planted them here - in the photo - along the south fence line right in front of the Teardown Hydrangea.  The Semi-Cactus ones on the left and the Dinnerplate ones on the right.    Last year, I put a few different types in containers and they did well.  I watered them in and will try to keep an eye on the spot in the next few weeks to hope that we get some growth out of the mulch.

Weeping White Spruce - Acquired But Not Planted (Yet)

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I first came across a Weeping White Spruce tree via Laura @ Garden Answer on Youtube.  I've embedded her video below and have set it to start at 1:03 mark in the video where she talks about how they picked this tree out.  In particular, she talks about how we're not supposed to judge an evergreen by what it looks like as a 'baby tree'.    The Weeping White Spruce is a columnar evergreen and it is a weeping tree.  By now, you guys know I love columnar varieties of trees and are drawn to those because it means that I can pack more trees into the yard as they grow.  

The first weeping conifer that I bought was last year was the Weeping Himalayan Cedar Tree that I planted about a year ago.  Earlier this month, I posted my concern for the tree as it had suddenly turned brown, but the good news is that it seems it has recovered and there is new, green growth all over the place.    I also added six (but just three of them planted so far) Canadian Hemlocks to bring the count …

Fertilizing Our Columnar Hornbeam Trees

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Adding this to the [garden diary] here on the blog to remind myself (mostly) that I put down 15 fertilizer tree spikes near our Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam Trees that we put in last year.    I put two on each tree but the most Western one that got just one.  (7 trees x 2 spikes) + (1 tree x 1 spike) = Feed trees for the spring.  I am going to supplement the last tree (and maybe a few others?) with a direct application of Milorganite (or the generic that Menards claims to be selling soon).

What made me decide to go with these Jobes Fertilizer Spikes again is that the tree leaf that is featured on the packaging appears to be a Hornbeam leaf (or something like it...) so the product seems fit for purpose, right?

I last showed the view from our screened porch BEFORE the Hornbeams went in here, but to mark the fertilizer application, I took a similar photo and am sharing it here below.  The angle is different, but I wanted to show the leafy-ness of these trees prior to the application…

Documenting A Couple Of Spots of Standing Water In Our Backyard - May 2019

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A few weeks back, we had a few days of very heavy rain.  It came down in the morning, afternoon and evening.  For like three of four days straight.  The ability to work in the yard was almost zero because of how saturated the ground was in the yard and the beds.  But that rain event also exposed to me a few areas in the far reaches of our yard that I think are worth documenting here in order to be sure that as I begin to address the far back yard that these spots are giving proper consideration.
Due to their location and distance for the existing water mitigation tools (Dry well, etc), I am thinking that the only way to really address some of these is through a combination of improving the soil's ability to absorb water (aeration, de-thatching) and through the changing of the grade.
First up is this linear puddle that is maybe twenty feet long and sits between a rough (eventual!) bed and the yard from the trampoline to the neighbor gate on the southside.  

The second is this larg…

Dawn Redwood Needle Budding - Spring 2019

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Of all the various tree-related posts here on the blog, the Dawn Redwood might have the most action in terms of posting.  I first bought our initial Dawn Redwood back in May of 2017 and planted it in our new backyard in Downers Grove.   By October of 2017, I was concerned that the tree was not going to survive.  And I was right.  It didn't come back.   So, I replaced it with a tree from an online nursery and planted it in July.  Not the best time to plant a new, young tree, right? 

But, by Fall, it was showing signs of growth and it had seemingly weathered the tough, stressful planting.  Mid-November of last year, the deciduous needles had turned all brown (as they are SUPPOSED TO DO!) ahead of the hard Winter.  Finally, my most recent post on this tree was on April 1st of this year where I shared a photo of some of the buds that had set last Fall about to burst open with new growth

The issue is that back on our initial Dawn Redwood, we too, had buds that had set, but they neve…

Pre-Blossom Kwanzan Cherry Tree - 2019

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I snapped this photo of the freshly burst free leaves from our Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree a couple of weeks ago, so the {post-date} on this post is a little inaccurate.   So let's call this May 2nd or so in terms of usefulness in the [garden diary] purposes.   This photo is going up almost a week after I shared the same Kwanzan Cherry trees in bloom down in St. Louis.  That post is here.    
The tree still has not bloomed, but once it does, I'll grab some photos and add them to the [garden diary] post over on HornbeamHill.com. Should be any day now based on a May 21st bloom in 2018.  
We have a few other flowering trees in our yard, but there are a few on my radar to acquire including an Eastern Redbud tree - maybe a multi-trunk variety (??) and maybe another flowering Cherry.  I think I saw a Yoshino Cherry at Home Depot on one of our trips.  Maybe it will come home with us.

New Spring Green Growth on Weeping Cedar (After a Brown Spring)

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I logged my concern about our Weeping Himalayan Cedar Tree a couple of weeks ago when I shared a photo that showed that the small, young tree was turning brown from the top down to the middle of the tree.  I had planted the tree just a little bit over a year prior, so our one year warranty was over and if the tree was dying I was out the money.  In that post, I found at least one source that confirmed that young cedar trees will sometimes brown out in the late Winter/early Spring to shed some of their needles to only grow back out green shortly thereafter.

Welp...I have some good news.  At least I'm pretty sure it is good news.  Check out the photos at the top here and bottom of the post.  See all those new green needle buds?  They are all over the limbs of this beautiful tree.


I am really excited to see that this thing made it through our tough Winter and now that I know it experienced some stress, I'll try to baby it through the Summer to make sure it is adequately watered …

Squirrel Buster Standard Added To Feeder

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About a month and a half ago, I was complaining about how my big Squirrel Buster bird feeder was leaking seed - you can see that post here.  Spring is the time when I give our feeders a rest after feeding the birds and critters all Winter long, but for my birthday, I was given this new addition:  a Squirrel Buster Standard Edition.   This is much smaller than the big one we already have and has a little different set-up in terms of how you fill it.  But, it is made by the folks at Brome Bird Care, so I know it is a thoughtful feeder. 

I'll get it out on our feeder pole (We have a new one of those, too...so I'll post about it because it is awesome looking) soon and fill it to see what kind of birds we get in late Spring.

View From The Road - Sunset on the Way Home

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A few weeks ago, I posted a photo on the blog of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from my JAL flight home.  I've spent quite a bit of time up in the air during the first part of this year.  Thus, I have seen a lot of cloud-time.  Let's post this week another photo from the road - this time on a recent flight home from Newark where I caught the Sunset while we were above the clouds somewhere over Pennsylvania.

Dropping Off at Pre-School Like A Boss

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Here I am sitting in the line on drop the King of the Ball Tossers off at pre-school one morning recently when I see in front of me this Dad dropping off his toddlers LIKE A BOSS in his Tesla Model X with Falcon Wings.  Talk about winning the whole drop-off line, amirite?  No fancy grocery wagon from Volvo or Infinity can shake a stick at this guy. 

Sorry to my kids...I have good news/bad news.  The good news: for the older girls....you're taking the bus.  The bad news?  When we drive you, you're rolling out of the Swagger Wagon.

A Visit to Ted Drewes for Frozen Custard - St. Louis

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I've posted about the food tourism that was a key part of our family visit to St. Louis a couple of weeks ago that included a stop at Blueberry Hill on the Delmar Loop and a visit to the Downtown Imo's pizza ahead of a ballgame.  But, we also made a visit to the "must stop" Ted Drewes for frozen custard.  Nat recalls fondly her visits to Ted Drewes during her time at Wash U, but I had never had the stuff before.  Serious Eats calls Ted Drewes a "national institution", so the stop was, ummm, warranted. 

We pulled into the generous parking lot and hopped out of the van.  You walk around to the street-side of the stand (see the photo below) and wait in the line to order.  All of us ordered our own concretes in the smallest format.  Micro or Mini, I don't remember.  They take cards, so no need to come with cash, but after you order, you kind of stand around and wait for them to call your item out - just like most every other ice cream stand. 



Their menu can…

Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms in Concordia Park - St. Louis

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I mentioned in a few posts that we were in St. Louis recently to show the kids Nat's old stomping grounds.  It turned out to be a blend of vacation time with a little bit of work mixed in.  One of the mornings, I was trying to make a couple of work conference calls during our trip to St. Louis and found myself outside of the Kaldi's Coffee (Nat's favorite!) that is adjacent to Concordia Park.  You can find the location here.  The kids were eating their breakfast and I snuck away for some quiet. While I was pacing and doing the calls, I came across this small Kwanzan Cherry Tree that was in bloom and beautiful.  I'm familiar with the Kwanzan Cherry Tree because it is the same variety that I bought and planted after my first trip to Japan to see the Cherry Blossoms.  I took this photo a couple of weeks ago in St. Louis so they're clearly ahead of us bloom time because our tree hasn't bloomed yet.   But, they're behind the blooms that I saw in Japan on my sec…

Front Yard Tulips Blooming - 2019 (90% Flower Rate)

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Last fall, I planted 50 tulip bulbs in the bed out front of our porch in the front yard at the base of a large Norway Maple tree.  They were a blend of 25 Orange Double Late Princess Tulips and 25 Crystal Beauty Fringed Pink Tulips.  And I followed up with some photos of these tulip bulbs emerging from their long Winter's nap under the bed of mulch in a post in late March of this Spring.   At that time, I wasn't sure how many of the 50 bulbs were going to flower and after seeing some marks of critters pulling up the bulbs in the Winter, I was hoping for the best.

But now the flowers are fully bloomed and you can see the blend of tulips in the photo at the top of this post.  I counted 45 of the 50 bulbs had bloomed - 90% - which I'm pretty satisfied with in this mass planting.  I love the way these look and from the street, they give off a really wonderful shot of color.  And...I'm already thinking of adding EVEN MORE tulip bulbs in orange and red this Fall.  I can see…

Regional Pizza: Imo's in St. Louis

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Yesterday, I posted about our visit to St. Louis and eating at Blueberry Hill with their awesome Schlitz Beer lamps.  We ate good in St. Louis and I figure I should share more.  Being a pizza nerd, a visit to St. Louis isn't complete without grabbing a St. Louis-style pizza.  Not familiar with St. Louis being a regional pizza style?  Start here with this post on Serious Eats.  It is thin, tavern-cut pizza with the most defining characteristic being that it is topped with provel cheese. Provel is a combo of Swiss, provolone and Cheddar.  We ordered a medium pizza because it was an odd time of day - and we were on our way to the ballpark for a game.  We had half plain cheese, half pepperoni.  They lay the 'roni under the provel, so there's no cuppage or #ronicups to be found at Imo's.

This pie felt like a close cousin of Chicago tavern pizza, but since we didn't order the sausage, it is hard for me to make that link directly.

There's tons of posts/stories about …