Showing posts from June, 2019

100 Years of Coca-Cola In France - In Bottles, Cans and Cups

I drank a few of these 100 Ans de Coca-Cola en France bottles and cans during my trip to Paris for the Air Show.  Turns out, this is the first corporate campaign the company has run in-country.  Here's my view of the bottles and cans that I ran into.  And one cup...doesn't have the 100 years thing on it, but, its from Disneyland Paris.   Kinda interesting they didn't embrace the whole #ShareaCoke thing.

Here's the little film they put together to mark 100 years together.

Giant Thumb in La Defense

Oh, you know.  Just a giant thumb sticking out like a...well...sore thumb.  In La Defense.  Details here.  "Le Pouce" was the first piece out outdoor art that struck me in Paris on a recent trip there. Certainly not the last. But the first.

Done: Gold Cone Junipers Wired Up

One of the items on my 2019 gardening to-do list (addendum) was to make sure I got around to wiring up the new Gold Cone Junipers that I planted this Spring.   When I picked them up, I was drawn to the promise of their bright needles and how they filled a big part of my desire to add conifers to our landscape.  In that original post, I referenced how a pro-gardener recommended that these particular junipers get wired up to avoid any sort of Winter/snow damage. 

That's what this post is for:  documenting that I actually wired them.  The top photo shows one of the Gold Cone Junipers all wired up with a green coated metal garden wire.  Compare that photo above with the photo of the same shrub in this photo.  I tucked in all the leggy new growth and bound it to the core of the plant. 

Here's a closer look at the wire: 

The shrub in the foreground is wired up.  The one in the background is not (yet!).

There were seven items on my 'to-do list addendum' for this year.    I&#…

Lost: Weeping Cherry Tree - June 2019

I'm calling this one:  our Snow Fountains Weeping Cherry tree is dead.  Didn't make it to year two.  I planted this tree on Earth Day 2018, so it is just outside of the one-year warranty window.    And the tree was looking good in April as it had set buds last Fall.    I wasn't ever really satisfied with the location, so having it die isn't the end of the world.

Using the list from my most recent Weeping White Spruce post, this is the sixth tree that I've lost since we started planting and the first one lost this season.

Other "Lost" trees include:  a Chanticleer Pear, a Dawn Redwood, a Corkscrew Willow, a Fraser Fir, a Canadian Hemlock and now this Weeping Flowering Cherry.

Here's the full list of trees that we've put into the yard since we bought the property in 2016 and moved in during the Summer of 2017. 35 trees planted. 29 trees currently alive and adding to our landscape.

2017 (9 planted. 3 Died. 6 of the original annual total alive now…

Milorganite Hoarding - Summer 2019

There I was...walking through the garden center of our local Home Depot and what do I see?  A half of a pallet of bags of Milorganite.  Shortage?  What shortage?!?  I mentioned the potential Milorganite shortage in my initial post about starting to use the stuff.

There were about 30 bags of the fertilizer on the pallet.  Did I take all of them?  Nope.  But, I did take 12 bags.  That's two applications for this season.  If I go back and see more, I'll buy 12 more to hoard for a late Fall and next May application.  I also used the Menards site to see if they had inventory and to my surprise, every Wisconsin location is loaded!  Thinking I'll likely take a drive to Kenosha on a weekend we're up at the lake.

At the top of the post is a photo of six of the bags.  Below are the other six.   (oh...and a bag of Ironite!)

I've thrown down one application of Milorganite this year and after I get the results back from my SoilSavvy test, I'll know how to proceed with the …

Soil Savvy Soil Test Kits - Two Tests

Last week in the post about how I had bought my first run of Humic Acid (granular), I mentioned that I was going to test my soil before applying.  Welp, today is that day.  I bought two Soil Savvy Soil Test Kits after watching Ryan Knorr on YouTube talk about how to collect a sample.   There are a variety of ways you can test your soil including a few that you can buy at Menards and mix up on the spot, but this test is priced a bit higher, requires you to send away a sample and the posts some online results for you. 

So, why two?  You can probably imagine that I'd want to get a test from my front yard and my back.  But, you'd be wrong.  When we built our house, the entire front yard was a massive mud pit.  And so was the back.  For about the first 100 feet.  And that's where we laid sod.  Based on the soil type in our landscape beds, I'm pretty sure that everywhere there is sod, there's a lot of terrible clay soil.  The front and the back (first 100 feet) were grad…

Cast Iron Urn Planter Front Yard - 2019 Edition

Early last Spring, I found a large cast iron urn planter on Craigslist in LaGrange and added it to our front yard landscape.  It is BIG and HEAVY and it hasn't moved since we filled it last year.   Nat has expressed that she doesn't love it in this location, but I haven't moved it yet.  And, the bad news is that I filled it this season already.  This post is to document what this thing looks like in June of 2019.

You can see that I've gone ahead and applied the whole thrill/fill/spill thing.  As we get later into the heat of the Summer and Fall, I'll swap these out for something else. 

Dappled Willow (Hakuro Nishiki) Tree Form - Planted 2019

Another day, another tree that we planted in the yard.  This one, while isn't technically in the "dwarf" category, is another purposely-small tree:  A Hakuro Nishiki Dappled Willow Tree.  Welp....this is actually - according to the tag - a "Deciduous Shrub", but in Tree Form.  So, I'm calling it a tree.  I'm pretty sure that this is a grafted tree, but I can't really tell where it was grafted.  I'll post some closer photos if I can find the graft spot/line in the tree.  
But, since this is a tree, this is #35 in terms of planting since we bought the property in 2017.  This is a tree that we had (and I bought it on a whim) back at our old house in Elmhurst.  We planted it on the northside of our backwalk, adjacent to the garage.  It was a stunner.   I loved how it looked.  Nat loved it, too.  It shoots out these beautiful - and almost celebratory - willow limbs that are full of color. Pinks, greens, whites.    
 I don't have a post about our…

Dwarf Alberta Spruce - Planted 2019

This marks the eighth tree that I've added to our backyard this season - and all eight of them (so far) have been conifers.  This one being a Dwarf Alberta Spruce tree.  The most recent tree that I planted was this Weeping White Spruce tree earlier this month.    Those of you who have kept up with things around here, you may remember that #8 on my to-do list for the season was to plant some conifers.  
These eight trees are all small (tiny Hemlocks, especially!), but this is the first "dwarf" tree in the yard.   But, all of them are conifers.  This one was picked out by the Bird for her "Earth Day Tree" this year, but it took us more than a month to get into the ground.    And it is planted right adjacent to last year's tree that she planted - a Chanticleer Pear flowering tree.  
So, eight conifer trees.  Plus three conifer shrubs - when we added these Gold Cone Junipers to the other side of the property.  Just yesterday, I showed off the bright gold needl…

Gold Cone Junipers Late Spring Show

Look at this Gold Cone Juniper being all showy with it's new gold foliage.  Compare this photo to what this shrub looked like when I bought and planted it in early May of this year.  Remarkable difference in the color.  Also note that the new growth is, indeed, kind of *loose* in terms of opening up the shrub a bit.  What I learned when I first bought these is that they need to be wired or twine'd up ahead of Winter.  Reminder to self:  wire up the Junipers this Fall.

Transplanted Miniature Variegated Hosta - June 2019

All the way in the back of our lot is a tree that the kids climb from time-to-time.  Back there, underneath that tree was the sweetest little variegated hosta plant that I just noticed late last Summer.  By then, it had been trampled by little kid feet.   This Spring, I decided to be proactive and get it out of the spot where it was going to be stomped on and move it.   

Last May, I picked up two different hosta varieties (Christmas Tree and Fantabulous) and planted them around the large Oak Tree that we have a rope swing hanging from in the yard.  If you go check out that post, you'll see that the landscape plan calls for hostas around the tree.   So, I figured, I'd take this little hosta and move it to right around that tree. 

This photo doesn't really give you a sense for the scale of the leaves, but they're small.  And the color of this is quite nice - the variegated edge is yellow, not white.    This is one to watch this Summer.  If I can get it established in th…

Weeping Cherry Tree - Not Doing Well 2019

The last time I posted about this Weeping Cherry tree in the far reaches of our yard was back in April when I showed the buds that had set the previous Fall.  Today, it is struggling.  Not dead yet, but on the way to being put on the "LOST" list.  You can see a few green leaves on some of the limbs, but most of them are bare.  Some of the limbs have dried leaves on them.  Perhaps overwatered?  I'd be surprised if it was because the tree didn't get enough water.  Polar Vortex, maybe?  Not sure.

This was one of our Earth Day Trees from 2018 and it seemed to be doing just fine last year.  However, it *did* have a shoot come off of the trunk - below the graft - that I thought was an indication of a totally healthy tree.  However, now... in retrospect, it might have been a sign that the tree was struggling for life and it sent out the shoot to ensure that it has enough energy to survive.

Gabion Walls In The Suburban Wild

Way back in January of this year, I posted a link to a 2019 gardening trends piece that mentioned that "gabion-style walls" were going to be hot this year.  If you aren't familiar with a gabion wall, go read that post where I unpack the whole thing.  On a recent run to pick up a sandwich out by Seven Bridges one weekend, I came across Ike & Oak Brewing that has these large gabion walls set up around their patio.  You can see a few of them in the photo above.   

On trend, it seems.

Adding Humic Acid To The Lawn - June 2019

This year, I'm trying a few different things with my yard including tending to it by myself (instead of having someone else cut it), trying Milorganite instead of a traditional 4-step synthetic fertilizer program, mixing and spreading my own herbicide blends and even trying to use a soil temperature tool to time the application of various things.  
There are a few more things that I have planned including the application of this product you see in the post above.  But, first...a soil test.  Yes, I'm going to test the soil we have, but I'll post more about that when it arrives.  I have a few choices to make in terms of how to pick the areas for testing.

Now, back to this package of The Andersons Humic Acid.  As I've talked about in the past, I've been spending more and more time looking at other folks on YouTube talking about their lawns and what-have-you and one of the products that I've seen a few times now is Humic Acid.  I poked around and this article seem…

Teardown Hydrangea Early Summer 2019

Of the three hydrangea plants that we've put in on the south fence line of the backyard, this "teardown hydrangea" is doing the best.  Above you see it here in Early June of 2019.  Here's a post showing it in August of 2018.  It threw off a bunch of nice-sized blooms last year, so I'm hoping that this year, it will do even better.  Comparing the two photos, it has seemed to grow larger/taller than last year.  I'll have to try to document later this Summer where this thing blooms - on new or old wood.

Volunteer Strawberry Plant - 2019

Last year, I planted ten tiny bare root strawberry plants in containers and placed the two containers outside of our kitchen windows.  I didn't end up getting any fruit and when looking at the containers at the end of the year, it seemed that they were mostly dead and weren't going to come back this Spring.  I took them off to the compost bin earlier this Spring and moved on.

But this past weekend, Nat asked me if I could move a strawberry plant that was growing in and around some ornamental grasses.  What strawberry plant, I asked?  And she pointed me to this one.  Turns out, we have a volunteer Strawberry plant that is coming up and flowering.  What a nice surprise, right? 

I *do* need to move this, but I'm thinking I should wait for it to go through one season of throwing off whatever tiny berries it might throw off this season, then move it.  This post says to wait until August:
If you already have an established bed, you should generally transplant strawberry runner…

Finding And Beginning Collection of American Elm Bonsai - June 2019

Last year, I discovered a few smallish, but growing trees that had been through some heavy pruning in our yard.  The previous owner had cut most of the little cluster of trees back to stumps at some point before we acquired the property.  Two or three of them are tall (15' or so) and I couldn't figure out what they were, so I sent a few photos in to the U of Illinois Master Gardener program.  They identified them as American Elm trees and provided some details about Dutch Elm Disease and pests that weaken these trees. 

With my recent interest in bonsai including the purchase of a few pieces of nursery stock (here, here and here), I've discovered that one of the *other* ways to get bonsai trees is through the collection of natural bonsai species.  Or...what I think they call "Pre-Bonsai" species. 

Collecting bonsai (or...again pre-bonsai) is about going out in nature, finding and selecting potential trees that can be dug up and potted. 

I'm thinking that a fe…

2 New Lilacs Added (Nocturne) - June 2019

Last year, I added two common Purple Lilacs to the southside fence line to our backyard in a couple of spots that were called out for hydrangea plants in our plan.  I deviated from that plan because Nat always loved our neighbor's Lilacs in Elmhurst and wanted to try to replicate that in some way here in Downers.   The first two (commons) get about 12 feet tall and can take a prune.  My expectation is to get these to grow *up*, but pruned back to make a bit of a hedge.  They were small when we put them in and they're small today.

Nat mentioned that she wanted to add even more lilacs to that spot and so after looking at the plan, I found two more hydrangeas that we can swap out for lilacs.  And after a little bit of research, I found this other variety called "Nocturne".   These are later blooming - to extend the Lilac season - and are similar shaped.  The leaves are a bit different, but the most important part is that extended blooming season.  You can see the two n…

Yard Hydrant Update - Retractable Hose Mounted on Fence

Back at the end of May, I posted about how I was trying to sort out my yard hydrant situation.  With our yard being so deep, I needed a way to get a hose about half-way back that would allow me to water everything in the rear part of the yard.  Last year, I solved that (kind-of) by burying a rubber hose underground from the house to a location about 100' or so from the rear boundary.  There, I stuck what is called a "Yard Hydrant" in the ground and called it a day.  That yard hydrant had a place to hold a big mess of hose and had a spigot that would allow me to turn on/off the water from that location. 

The problem was that it didn't make using or storing the hose any easier.  And with the Automower in the backyard, I ended up having a sliced hose because I never got all of the hose off the grass. 

Hence...why I posted about this project in the first place.   This project made it to my 2019 To-do addendum list, so we can begin to cross that off. 

I have a nice retra…

Frans Fontaine Hornbeams Early June Check-in - 2019

A few weeks back, I posted about how I fertilized the set of Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam trees and posted a photo of a few of them that are right outside of our screened porch. 

In a post from a few weeks back about our flowering Cherry, someone asked in the comments how these were doing.  Figured it warranted an update.

Today, here's a few photos showing these trees in their late Spring/early summer foliage.    You can see that they've all leaf'd out in a major way and they look great for year two.  I wasn't worried too much about these coming back, but I do have to admit that I am relieved that they did.  However....some of these do, indeed, look better - or more full - than others.

First, the top photo that shows four of the trees to the left from our patio.  These are all about the same in terms of thickness, lushness, etc.  They're all close to the same height and you can see that a couple of them have a really nice, thick set of leaves near the tops.  …

Dawn Redwood Needle'ing Out - Late Spring 2019

The last time I chronicled this small Dawn Redwood was back in April when the limbs were full of swollen buds about ready to burst open.  Today is the tree as it has leaf'd/needle'd out a bit and is coming into its own.  This is the second Dawn Redwood we've planted as the first one died in the first season.   This area is pretty close to one of the spots of standing water that I documented a bit back, so I'm thinking that this Redwood received good water this Spring.    I want this one to thrive this year (hopefully 'creep' up, too), so I'll keep it watered when the heat hits this Summer. 

I measured this Dawn Redwood at 63" tall in September of last year.  I don't see a lot of new growth out of the top of the tree yet.  But....this is a good benchmark to check against later this Summer.