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Showing posts from August, 2019

Welcome To Acorn Season - Our Backyard 2019

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We have two very large Oak Trees in our backyard.  One of them has been documented here on the blog last Summer - and has our tree swing hanging from it.  The other is on the southside of our property and is almost as massive as the first.  I posted a photo of it's trunk when I was talking about a potential tree house here.  We also have a few medium-sized and a few MASSIVE Black Walnut trees in our yard.  Having these trees around means that come mid-to-late August, our yard starts to transform into a nut wonderland.  Above you see three of the green acorns that I picked up.  They were among HUNDREDS of their brethren.  Some in good shape. Others that have been already worked over by various critters including the Acorn Weevil

These things aren't falling of their own accord.  Or at least...most of them aren't.  They are being released by squirrels.  It is kind of fun to watch these guys climb up into the extremities of these trees, hang on for dear life and gnaw away at…

Crystal Lake Brewing Beach Blond Golden Lager

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Had this Beach Blonde Golden Lager from the folks at Crystal Lake Brewing when we stopped into the Brat Haus in Richmond on a recent visit to Twin Lakes.  Like a lot of places these days, they have a pretty extensive beer menu with a mix of national and local choices and - much to my dismay - a heavy (as it seems always these days) focus on hoppy-IPAs.  This lager was a natural choice for me - something local, light and crisp. 

Beer Advocate gives it a 81 which puts it below the normal range of the beers that Dr. Jeff has us try during his beer education sessions.  Speaking of which...we should do one of those again now that school is getting back in season and we'll be in more on the weekends as the weather cools down.  Ah...Fall is coming!

Closer Look at Tokyo Street Trees - Popular

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I've posted about the street trees of Tokyo a few times here on the blog.  In those posts, I've talked about the hard pruning that they do to *some* of the trees, how others have a more columnar nature to them and what species they might be (a lot of Ginkos!).  On my most recent trip, I walked down a fancy street in Ginza and saw some trees in full foliage.  And these trees aren't Ginkos. 

Here's a close up of the leaves of the same tree you see above:


Looking through the list of popular trees on The Street Trees of Tokyo site, I made it all the way down to below the top 30 to find what I think these trees are:

Pretty sure it is a Popular.   And...the Lombardy Popular is columnar variety.

Fountain and Pond Inspiration at Morton Arboretum

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I've posted a bunch of times about fountains and ponds here on the blog including a look at some designs that I'm documenting to save as inspiration for something that *could* eventually find the way into our backyard.  In April, I showed this park pond in Woodridge.  And last year, I posted about these bowl-like fountains that I found at Wannemakers

Today, I'm sharing this image that I took at the Fragrance Garden in the Morton Arboretum.  It is a kind of hybrid between some of the pond ideas that I've been filing away AND the bowl/fountains that I've posted about, too.  This one has a nice round elevated bowl that is perfectly level and lets the water roll off into a concrete bowl that has flagstone ringing it.  This is a kind of interesting approach, but I wonder if having something like this that has A LOT of turbulence in it (water fall) limits the fish you can keep in this?  Maybe they're smart enough to head to the calm waters?  But, I also like the e…

Cube Shaped and Pruned Box-like Shrubs and Trees at Disneyland

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Look at those cube trees.  These are in Disneyland's Fantasyland right on the same path to the It's a Small World ride that the Belgian Fence espalier setup (on the little riser/stage) and the Mary Blair-inspired garbage cans.   These cube trees are right across the main path.

Based on this post from Plants of Disneyland, I think these might be Fern Pine or Podocarpus gracilior and add quite a bit of visual interest to the background of this spot - and, of course, provide plenty of screening for people watching the parade.

I've documented a few different plants/trees/flowers from Disneyland and Walt Disney World over the years here on the blog and summed it all up in this post.   With the recent posts in the past week or two, I guess I need to update that post - or write another now.
Full list of posts (at that time) about Disneyland horticulture.  Here's a look at some of the Disneyland Roses in their native environmentA Belgian Fence at Disneyland.A nice Live Oak i…

Small World Garbage Cans - Disneyland

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These garbage cans are just beautiful, right?  There's all sorts of Mary Blair kinda-stuff going on with them as they are lined up along the route to the ride.

I took this photo on the way to It's A Small World After All in Disneyland and you can see the little 'stage' that I mentioned in the post with the Disneyland espalier photo I shared recently.   The visual design on the cans is striking, of course.  But the whole idea of the garbage cans at Disney Parks are a concept with a huge amount of attention on them as a topic.  First...there's the notion that Walt Disney and Imagineering (or WED as it was likely at the time??), invented this 'style' of garbage cans.

From Theme Park Tourist:
As he planned Disneyland, Uncle Walt examined the trash cans of the era. They were mesh cans that had a couple of major design flaws. The first was that a can with holes in it allowed goop to seep out. Yes, gross. The second is arguably worse. A can with holes in it doesn…

On Finding A Four-Leaf Clover

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One of the kids is playing soccer this Fall and the practices have started.  So, I have plenty of time to hang out in the clover and look for one of these lucky guys.  The kids were unimpressed when I brought it home to show off.

We Went To The Black Spire Outpost At Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

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Back in April of 2018, I posted this photo of one of our kids celebrating the upcoming Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios.  Go check it out here.  That land is currently open to cast members and will be opened to the public before the end of the month.  But, being "Disney People" (with air quotes), we couldn't wait for that and had to squeeze in a visit to the California version of Galaxy's Edge/Black Spire Outpost/Batuu/Star Wars Land1 during our recent trip to the park.   
And we really liked it.  There's only one ride open (The Falcon) and yes...everything is expensive.

But, the imagineers really did an amazing job on the land.  It certainly feels *immersive* and that seems to be all the rage these days.  Now, we haven't been to Universal Studios to see any of the Harry Potter land(s), but what I've read about it, that word (immersive) comes up over and over.  And, between Pandora in Animal Kingdom and now SWGE, I think that Disney - and imagineering…

Disney Parks Ephemera: Disneyland Map Black Spire Outpost Opening

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Documenting this here on the blog as part of my Disney Parks ephemera collection.  This is the Disneyland Park Map from July 2019 when they opened Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and features a couple of people piloting the Millenium Falcon. 

A little bit over a month ago, I posted the map for Disneyland Park and Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris. This Spring, I posted a photo the map and guide celebrating the 35th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.At the beginning of 2019, I posted the Holiday park map for Disney's California Adventure.And one with snowflakes from Disneyland in Anaheim. In 2017, I posted the special Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party guide and map from the Magic Kingdom. The first Disney Parks maps that I shared were back in the Spring of 2017 with both guides/maps from Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

August Is Mirai Sweet Corn Season

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During the Summer months of July and August, you can go to any Jewel or Mariano's or what-have-you and you'll come across sweet corn in a big bin.  On sale, you can sometimes get it for a dime per ear.  And, occasionally, you'll get some really great corn.  But, if you get to one of the handful of Farmer's Markets where they sell Mirai Sweet Corn, you'll be ruined for any of that grocery store stuff.  Mirai Corn is sold by an outfit called Twin Gardens Farm and they sell it in half-dozen bags that you see above.

From Twin Garden's site:
Mirai, pronounced ME-rye, was developed in Harvard, Illinois in the early 1990s. Mirai is a hybrid that combines the three main sweet corn genotypes, SE (sugar enhanced), SU(sugary), and SH2(shrunken). Mirai is not genetically modified and was bred naturally by cross pollinating the different sweet corn genes....The seed was first introduced to Japan because they have small farms where much of the work is still done by hand. The…

Backyard Pizza Oven Inspiration - 2019

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Over the years, I've posted about my pizza oven dreams.  Backyard pizza oven dreams.  All the way back in 2010, I posted this photo of what I THEN called my "Dream Pizza Oven".  And in 2011, I posted another photo that showed off a little 'roof' out front of an oven that I collected as inspiration.  That's close to ten years ago, so this *dream* has been going on for a while - as far back as our original house in Elmhurst.  But, when we moved, the backyard pizza oven dream didn't die and I even posted about the various locations that I could put it here on the blog.  And that brings me to today and *this* oven that you see above.

I came across it online last week and have revisited the photo a few times now.  To be totally clear, that is NOT my photo above.  You can find the original here

But, let's look at a few things that jump out to me in terms of pizza oven inspiration.  First, the wood storage box.  One of the things that I really like about t…

More Belgian Fence Espaliers At Disneyland

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Back in January, I posted a photo showing off a Belgian Fence espalier that I fell in love with during a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim.  During a recent trip to Southern California, we ended up going back to the park and I found that same espalier.  I wanted to see if it had changed at all during the six months since we had seen each other last.   That's it in the photo above during the end of July.  And while there's some thickening-up of the branches, it is mostly the same as we last saw it.  Due to their climate, one would think that there isn't much seasonal differences, right?  They certainly get some growth in Spring and Summer, but Winter dormancy in Los Angeles isn't quite like what it is here in Zone 5B.

Seeing this again, only enhanced - in my own mind - my desire to bring a Belgian Fence to our property.  It is #2 on my 2019 To-do List, but here we are in (almost) mid-August and I haven't even acquired the trees.  That isn't to say that I haven'…

Using Ironite To Green-Up Without Growth (Late Summer)

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A week ago, I posted some photos of my yard as a way of documenting where I was in the lawn care Summer process and talked about how it was a mixed bag:  the turf appears green to the eye, but when you look closer, it appears that there's some 'melting out' or leaf spot or something else happening below the surface.  Before I post about what I ended up using to try to cure (and, potentially....prevent) that, I wanted to get in the [garden diary] a post about Ironite. 

I've now put down two treatments of Ironite this season with splitting a bag on the front yard with the first 1/3rd of the backyard.  I put the first one down around Memorial Day and just put the second one down in early August. 

What is Ironite?  Well....it is 1-0-1 lawn fertilizer.  But, I think of it more of as a color-agent.  From the Pennington site comes this description:
Nothing greens like IroniteTurns yellow to greenProvides quick greeningWon’t burnFor all soil typesNPK 1-0-1 The basic premise is…

Late Summer Pelletized Lime Treatment Added To Lawn (Treating Wild Onions)

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If you've been reading along on the blog this gardening season, you might remember that I chronicled how I was attacking the scourge of wild onions that were taking over my backyard.  Once I figured out what they were, I went about trying to remove them by digging them out.  I also mentioned in that post that some folks were recommending to add lime to make the environment a little bit less hospitable to the onions by increasing the pH of the soil. 

As part of my late-Summer turf work, I decided to apply another four bags of Pelletized Lawn Lime to the back 2/3rds of the yard.  How I arrived at an August application was looking at the soil tests that I did earlier this Summer.  This section of yard has a pH in the ideal range, but I think I want it a bit more alkaline range - perhaps even higher than the ideal range - to help ward off the onion blossoms that will be trying to make a home next Spring. 

That's 160 lbs in August on top of the 160 lbs that I put down early this S…

That's Not Chicken!

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On a walk to the train station for my return trip to NRT aboard the Narita Express (a close cousin to the "Tragic Express" - the return trip of the Magic Express from your Disney resort hotel to MCO), I came across this McDonald's advertisement showing off three sandwiches.  The bottom one has a face-like quality with the bacon 'tongue' sticking out and kind of smiling along the curvature of the burger.  But, the middle one.  See that cutaway in the middle.  That's not chicken.

World's First Electrically-Lighted Outdoor Christmas Tree - Hotel Del Coronado

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Yesterday, I posted a long post that covered the incredible Dragon Tree, the Marilyn Monroe movie 'Some Like It Hot' and the upcoming renovations at the Hotel Del Coronado.  Go read that post.  Great.  Now you're back?  Today, I'm posting about another tree at The Del - this tall tree you see above.  It is a really large Norfolk Island Pine tree.  And it sits to the right (as you face the front door of The Del) along a sidewalk that takes you out to Orange Avenue.

As you walk by the tree, you'll notice this marker below:


It reads:
Hotel Del Coronado Christmas Tree
Here stands the world's first electrically-lighted outdoor Christmas tree, unveiled at Hotel del Coronado December 24, 1904. I stopped and read the marker and was all like:


I don't know why, but this feels like a *wow* moment to me.  The idea of people taking the time to hang lights on trees outdoors for Christmas is so accepted today that it is crazy to consider that there is a moment and place …

The Dragon Tree And The Renovations - Hotel Del Coronado

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More than 130 years old, this Dragon Tree at the Hotel Del Coronado is a stunner.   Even the hotel itself says that the tree "is almost as iconic as their signature red roofs".  And it is right outside the front door of the hotel.  Well, it is a little bit offset, but if you are walking up the walk from the beachside area towards the front door, you walk right past it.

Check out the marker below:


It reads:
Dragon Tree  Dracaena Draco  Native to the Canary Islands, this unusual tree was planted at The Del prior to the turn of the century where it thrives in our temperate southern California coastal climate.
The dragon tree was used as a backdrop in the Marilyn Monroe movie 'Some Like It Hot', which was filmed at The Del in 1958. I haven't seen the movie, but I guess now it should be on our list, right?  The film has a 97% Fresh ranking on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is NOT at all about what I figured it was going to be about.  The plot:
Two Struggling musicians witne…

The Dahlias Are Coming - (And They're NOT Orange!) 2019

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Back in May of this year, I shared my plans to plant some Dahlia tubers directly in the ground in one of our landscape beds along the south property line.  That post is here.   In that post, I described the two varieties - one being a semi-cactus and the other being a dinner plate.

Specifically I planted three Big Brother Dinner plate Dahlias.

And, I planted three Color Spectacle Semi-Cactus Dahlias.

Please go click those links.  And make sure my eyes aren't fooling me. 

They're both orange, right?  Like, totally orange.  The packages of both show orange flowers.  And...I love orange flowers.  Well, I like orange most things.  But, have a special soft-spot for orange flowers. 

Now, scroll back to the top of this post.  That's a couple of the Big Brother Dinner plate flowers about to burst open. 

And now, check out the photo below.  That's one of the Color Spectacle flowers starting to open up.


They're, ummm, not orange.  Right?  Those are totally yellow Dahlias.  L…

Garden Inspiration From Gotenyama Garden In Shinagawa

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Just a little bit over a week ago, I shared ANOTHER1 post about the trees that I saw in Tokyo and talked about how I'm in the middle of a bit of a crush on Japanese horticulture.  That crush certainly is most-focused on trees (both deciduous and coniferous) that are typically columnar in shape, but it also extends to gardens in general.  This post is about a little hidden garden called the Gotenyama Garden that is right outside the Tokyo Marriott in Shinagawa.  The same place that had that epic honeycomb setup I shared back in July.

The Cherry Blossom tree that I included in a post with some Nagoya-area trees back in April of this year is from the very top of Gotenyama Garden, but that was as far as I was able to *get* to in the garden on my previous trip.  Just a quick step outside to grab a photo.  This time, I was able to wander in there a bit further.  And it is pretty great!

Starting with the image you see at the top that shows one of the intermediate levels of a five-or-si…

American Soda Water - In Singapore

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I guess this is part of the continuing series of posts chronicling the various soda cans I came across over my visits to JAPAC.  This one - Monarch American Soda Water - was from the hotel lounge in the hotel I was staying at in Singapore.  Previous ones were J-Cola from Japan.  And just recently, three Coke Zero cans from Tokyo and Singapore

You can see that this one reads: "Original from USA".   Kind of interesting that they're marketing the USA-aspect of the stuff and not, say, France, where "Big Sparkling" (you know.....La Croix, Perrier seem to be from).

And, just for the record, I think I coined the term "Big Sparkling" right now.  I think we can lump  Topo Chico, Bubly (owned by Pepsi), and perhaps Schweppes along with La Croix and Perrier into "Big Sparkling", right?  Spindrift - for now - can still cling to it's independent roots.

I'm good with Big Sparkling.  Drink the stuff as often as I can.

One More Night (Bob Dylan)

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This is maybe my favorite version of Bob Dylan.  Maybe.  I don't mean the song, specifically.  But...it is really great.  It is 'One More Night' from Nashville Skyline which was released April 9, 1969.

It has only been played twice live.  Yeah...twice.  June of 1990 and September of 1995.

But, by saying *favorite* Bob Dylan, I'm talking about how the whole thing comes together.  The song, the voice (according to some...he stopped smoking (???) and you can hear it in his voice.  I mean...those people who say to you:  I hate Bob Dylan's voice.  That voice, etc.  Just have them play this video above and then see if they stand by their answer??!?), the sound and the flow of the entire record.  Just really great.

I remember the first time I had ever heard of Nashville Skyline.  My friend Neil (son of Super Coach Jer, sometimes AKA Mitch) and I went to Threshold Records in Tinley Park.  And after nosing around some vinyl, Neil plucked Nashville Skyline out of the CD bin…

Early August Front Lawn Check-In (2019)

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This is the first season that I've taken a high degree of interest in our lawn.  This is also the first time that I'm cutting the grass (in the front) by myself.  For the past few seasons, we've used a service to cut the front (while Go-Go - our Automower - cuts the back) and I wasn't ever really pleased with how they worked our lawn.  They came every week, no matter what and that, I think, made for a less-than-ideal lawn for us.  There were some ruts that I fixed this Spring with seed and I think generally, they were cutting it too short and coming EVERY WEEK just to put in the billings.  I get that.  They're running a business.  But, when the price increases came this Spring, I just decided to buy a lawnmower.  My FIRST lawn mower and cut it myself.  The front itself isn't very big (including the parkways and the side strip on the other side of the driveway, we're talking less than 2,500 square feet), so it doesn't take long.  And, once I started to …

Singapore Cargo Ships At Departure

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I didn't get to see a lot of Singapore, but one thing I was struck by was all the shipping traffic in/around the coast.  Here's a shot I saw on departure as we took off out of the airport on a morning flight.  Quite an armada of container ships, right?  This was the view off the coast, too. 

We see ships on the horizon when we're on vacation - in California or Florida - but they're just occasional blips on floating on the sea far out there.  Not quite the same thing going on here - which I assume is for a variety of reasons including the size of the passages and the restrictions/regulations placed on the voyages. 

But, all that stuff we buy has to come from somewhere, right?