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Showing posts from 2020

River Birch Going Yellow in Early August - 2020

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Just a few days ago, I posted a photo of our three-trunk River Birch in our backyard that we inherited with our lot.  If you look close enough at the photo in that post, you'll see a few yellow leaves on the tips of the tree.  I didn't notice the yellow at the time, but when I was out in the yard this week, I saw something that surprised me:  the yellow leaves covering this thing.  And...seeing a bunch of leaves drop to the ground.  Here's what the patch of grass underneath this River Birch looks like (photo below).  In the top right corner of the photo, you can see the three-trunks of the tree.


Seeing all those leaves on the ground is, ummm, concerning.  I mean...it is early August.  Not early October.  And, it has happened really fast.  Like, from green a week ago to yellow and dropping now.

I went poking around and found some (potential) answers.

Miller Nursery says it is one of two things:  Stress.  Or something called chlorosis - which sounds like it is lacking iron.


Sunset on Elizabeth Lake Wisconsin - August 2020

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The sky was full of pinks and purples as we stood on the pier and took in the magic of the twilight sky.  This is what I'll call a midway point in the series - is it a series?  - that started with sunrise at Sunset Park (terribly named) back in June of 2020

Like a lot of lakes, Elizabeth Lake is dealing with Eurasian Watermilfoil - an invasive plant that takes over.  We had it up in Coloma on Paw Paw Lake, too.   It is a common 'hitchhiker' that is brought from lake to lake hung up on props and trailers. 

The weeds on Elizabeth Lake have been something this year - maybe that's due to the water temperatures? Or, maybe that's just how things are these days.

Cast Iron Urn Planted 2020: Blue Salvia, Wave Petunia and Foxtail Fern

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Documenting here, in the [garden diary] our front yard cast iron urn that I've planted the past few years.  I bought it off of Craigslist from a lady in LaGrange in the Spring of 2018 and we've kept it adjacent to our driveway ever since.  I'm not sure it is the best location, but for a variety of reasons, it has stayed put.  One change this year:  it is now sitting on top of a larger, square paver to give it a proper base.

Here's what we had in the urn last year - which was a bit more colorful.

This year, there are three plants in the container - with two of them being replicated from our backyard container that is based on a color pattern we saw in Paris at Luxembourg Gardens.

This has a larger Blue Salvia (Salvia farinacea), in front a red Wave petunia, and tucked into the upper left is a small Foxtail Fern.  We've had Foxtail Ferns in containers the past few years and have had mixed results - depending on how tightly we've packed them into the containers. …

Orbit Gear Drive h20-6 Spike Lawn Sprinkler - New Gear

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I've thought about an in-ground irrigation system for the past few seasons and went so far as to get a quote from the guy that Chris at Green Grass recommended (Phil's Irrigation).  We have been talking about a zoned system that covers our grass, our perennial beds and even some of the containers on the front porch and back patio.  
But, in the mean time, I've been both hand-watering, soaker hoses and using various sprinklers to try to keep things alive.  In the front, that's been - exclusively - via an impact sprinkler on a spike.  And, it has worked pretty well.  But, we're on the third season of the impact sprinkler and between using it a lot and the wear/tear that comes with it being on the end of a retractable hose, it started to have a bunch of leaks and the pressure wasn't strong enough to have it complete a full evolution.  
In the back, I've used that same impact sprinkler and a multi-pattern stationary sprinkler.  That one was, too on the third s…

Yew Hedge Update - August 2020

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A week or so ago, I mentioned that I threw down some pavers to form a makeshift walkway behind the tiny yews that we have at the back part of our yard.  You can see in the photo here that all of the yews have settled into a pretty dark green color after experiencing some bright-green Spring growth this year

As of now, all of the Hicks Yews have seemingly established themselves despite having some trouble this Winter with some frost/cold damage

There are 12 total Hicks Yews back there that I bought last Summer and planted shortly there after.  My inspiration for this hedge is this swooping one from Bunny Williams.  We're now one year in and I'm hoping that by year three, we'll see these things begin to grow closer together and close some of the current gaps.  I was thinking that I'd leave these to grow to about three feet tall before I get out the hedge clippers to start shaping them.

This is part of what I've called "Priority Area #3" in the backyard…

Five More Guacamole Hostas - Backyard Summer 2020

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Yesterday, I posted a photo of a multi-trunk (3-trunk) River Birch tree that continues to grow up in our backyard and mentioned in that post that you could peek at a few of the Guacamole Hostas lined up alongside the bed the River Birch clump is located.  Today, are a couple of photos showing the rest of these large (and one small) Guacamole Hosta.

We had six of them purchased for us at Hinsdale Nursery earlier this Summer - five really large ones and one smaller one.  I toyed with the idea of planting a few of them out front under the large Maple tree, but after seeing them there, I decided to plant them in the backyard.  And back in July, when I planted the contorted Harry Lauder Walkingstick tree, I took one of the larger ones and planted it in the bed next to the tree

As for the other five, this post shows their current state and location. 

At the top of the post, you can see three more - two large ones and the one small one - planted in a small cluster on the northside of our …

River Birch - Inherited Tree - Summer 2020

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The last time that I posted a photo of this three-trunked tree was back in the month of May of 2018 when I included it (for the first time) in the tree inventory of our backyard.  It was Springtime, so the tree looked sparse at the time.  I'm sharing this photo in the [tree inventory] tag here on the blog to show how the limbs have leaf'd out and is providing some new lower-hanging screening and some branching that is starting to extend out over the lawn.

The other thing to note is the big change the area around the tree has experienced over the past two seasons - back in 2018, this tree was surrounded by turf.  Today, it is tucked into a mulch bed with a series of Ostrich Ferns at the tree's feet.

This is one of two multi-trunked trees in our yard - the other one being up in the front yard with our Saucer Magnolia.

I'm going to grab the calipers of these three trunks this Fall when I do the balance of the trees in our backyard.

The other things to note in this photo:

Purple Coral Bells - Container Transplant - August 2020

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Last year, we filled our cast iron urn that is out front adjacent to our driveway with a variety of annuals and perennials including a purple Coral Bells or heuchera plant.   In our zone, Coral Bells - which prefers part shade - is typically a perennial, so when I was cleaning out the urn at the end of the gardening season (before we swapped it out for Mums), I stuck it in the bed next to our garage on the north side of our house.  This area is - almost entirely - shade, so I figured it might be something that could grow there.

Fast forward to this Summer and have a look at the maroon/purple Coral Bells that you see in the photo at the top of this post.  It seems that the plant made it through the Winter and has come out the other side with some new growth and even some tiny flower stems that have shot out the top.

I actually am NOT sure what the specific name is, but I bought it at a big box garden center - and I'm guessing it is this Purple Palace variety that Monrovia lists on…

Christmas Tree Hosta - August 2020

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Yesterday, I posted a photo of a teardown hosta that I've determined is a Ventricosa Hosta with deep purple flowers, and today, I wanted to share another photo of a unique hosta that we have in our backyard:  the Christmas Tree hosta.  I planted this Christmas Tree hosta back in May of 2018 after finding it at the garden center of Menards

What is a Christmas Tree hosta?  From this listing on New Hampshire Hostas, they describe it like this:
'Christmas Tree' Hosta produces dark green leaves with a thin yellow margin that fades to creamy white in the summer, and occasionally streaks to the center of the leaf.  Forms an attractive mound of rounded leaves that are cupped and heavily corrugated. This is the third growing season and while the plant has grown, it isn't a massive clump just yet - so I haven't attempted to dig it up and divide it just yet.  It is planted around the large Oak tree (with the swing) on the side of the tree that is facing the yard/patio.  Th…

Ventricosa: Purple Hosta Flowers on Glossy Green Foliage - August 2020

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This hosta is planted in the far back of our property - where I put down a base of wood chips earlier this Spring.  Based on where it is planted and how it is pretty unique in color/texture from the rest of our hostas, I'm thinking that I dug it out of Nat's sister's lot before she tore down her house.  Here's a photo of a garden cart full of stuff that came from there.  I don't see any hosta leaves in the photo, but I, do, mention them in the post.  I also mention ferns in the post and I know the "teardown fern" that I post about is from her lot - and it is adjacent to this hosta.  Hence...my pretty strong suspicion that it came from across town. 

In terms of gardening debate, I think that hosta flowers might be the 'hot button' between Nat and myself.  They are something that she just doesn't care for.  Me?  I love them. 

Now, I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure why I love them goes back to my Mom.  And my childhood.  I posted …

Found Paver Walkway - Behind Yew Hedge - July 2020

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We have an easement behind our property that buffers us from the neighbors to the West.  In that easement we keep our 3-bin compost setup and left most of the rest of it to 'go natural'.  The easement runs the entire block and connects the big pond on the south of our neighborhood to territories to the north, so we've seen critters of all types using the easement to navigate.

Recently, our neighbors to the West decided to clean up the easement - and it seems that the folks that they hired to clean the place up also worked our side.  They removed a lot of Buckthorn, trimmed up some of the more valuable trees (think Maples and Walnuts) and picked up a bunch of debris that has appeared over the years.

They also uncovered a bunch of stones and pavers.  And, (lucky for us) stacked a whole bunch of them up right outside our fence gate.  There are flagstones of various sizes, but also five round pavers and eight square pavers.  These have 'pebbles' embedded in the top of…

Dawn Redwood - Summer 2020 Update

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It isn't super easy to glean from the photo above, but that is our Dawn Redwood tree that seems to be doing well - again - this Summer.  The last time I shared a photo of this tree was last Fall when it was starting to turn colors and was beginning to drop some needles.

This tree grew three feet of height last Summer and built out quite a bit of new branching, so I had been hoping that we'd see another good season.  And, so far?  It seems to be doing ok.  I've run a soaker hose on some of the plants in this bed, including this Dawn Redwood - to make sure that it gets enough water.

I left the spade shovel in the ground next to this tree - that's a five-foot-tall shovel and gives you a sense for the height of the tree as it stands now.  I'm NOT seeing a new three-foot-tall top on the tree right now, but there *is* some new growth on the leader (or...if you will... the apical meristem).  Below is a photo of the leader.  Can you see it?


Here's an annotated version…

Summer Beauty Allium - One Month In - July 2020

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Back in the end of June, I planted eight additional Summer Beauty Ornament Onion (allium) on the south side of our property in the bed that runs from east to west.  We picked them up (or...had someone picked them up) from Hinsdale Nursery and I put seven of them in a staggered planting.  When they went in, they were just green foliage, but today - if you look at the photo at the top of this post - you'll notice that they're all flowering some lovely purple sphere-shaped flowers.  Each of them have multiple flowers, but ALL of them are leaning to the East. 

Looking at this photo, one thing that I'm noticing is that the mulch that I put down (delivered in mid-April this year) has already broken down quite a bit.  This area - and these Allium could use a mulch refresh. 

That leads me to ask a question:  do gardeners mulch twice a year?  This post recommends both a Spring and Fall mulch
You should add mulch whenever layers thin out for any reason. You’ll also want to replac…

Empress Wu Hosta Planted In Front Bed - July 2020

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A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Shadowlands Empress Wu hosta from Home Depot and didn't really have a plan for where to put it in the garden.  It was small (1 gallon nursery pot) and inexpensive ($4.99), and I knew that it was a 'large' hosta, so I grabbed it and figured I'd sort the location later.  After keeping it in the shade and keeping it watered for a while, last week, I decided to plant it in the front yard bed - out front of the large Maple tree. 

That's it in the photo above - the second from the left - in a series of hostas.  When we did our initial planting, the guys at Green Grass planted three hostas and while they've survived, I don't think that they've thrived here.   Why? I'm thinking that is because they're competing for resources with the tree?  That...or they are a miniature hosta variety. 

Planted it between a couple of them and a little bit further back - closer to the tree.  If you read that original post on the Shadowl…

DIY Disney Parks Tree Twinkle Lights Project (Part 3 - Testing)

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This is the third in a series of posts about my attempt to recreate some twinkling lights that used to be inside of Disney Parks (and...I think are still at Downtown Disney/Disney Springs).  While this project has come together in the past few weeks, this has been something that I've been thinking about for a number of years. 

For background, here's the outline of the idea from last week.  Then, a couple of days ago, I posted about the bulbs and the specific fixtures that I'm using

Now that I had the bulbs and the fixtures, I wanted to see if I could figure a way to get them going without making the investment in the larger, outdoor transformer, the run of low-voltage wire and the waterproof connections.  I wanted to see if I could get them to power up and to see how "random" they actually were.

Each of the bulbs are 4 watts.  And they run on 12v power.  I went to the Google machine and searched to see what my Lionel transformers were running at power-wise.  Tu…

Blue Jay Perched On Bird Feeder - July 2020

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This isn't a net new entry to the [bird visitor log] here on the blog as I've already documented the Blue Jay in March of 2019 here.  But, I spotted this beauty the other day hanging out by the feeders and he was showing off his blue feathers for a minute or two.  I snapped the photo above (and below) with my phone real quick before he flew off.   Above, he's showing off his full colors on his back.  Below, he's facing the house.


I dug around a little bit on the web and learned that Blue Jays are part of the Corvidae family - which is the same family as crows - that we commonly call "Corvids".

DIY Disney Parks Twinkle Light Project - Bulbs and Bases (Part 2)

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A couple of days ago, I posted the first part - in a series - about my journey to replicating some twinkling lights that Disney uses (or used to use) in their parks.  In that post, I mentioned that by reading various forum posts from the past 10+ years, I came to find the bulbs and then what I thought were the right e10 miniature lamp bases.

These are the bulbs that I bought - you can see a photo of the box above.  Looks vintage, doesn't it?  Bought 15 of them - just to have a few spare on hand.

(NOTE:  I do NOT run any affiliate links - so I'm not making any money on sending someone to any Amazon/other seller items.  So, click away...and no need to strip out any ref?/affiliate tracking codes when you buy.)

Below, is a photo of the box and some of the bulbs - quarter on the desk for size reference.


Side of the box stamped "258".


And, here, below is the package of 10 lamp bases that I bought from Amazon.'


Here, below, is a close-up photo of one of the 258 flasher…

Saucer Magnolia Tree - Summer Flowers - July 2020

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I was out cutting the grass out front this past week and noticed something colorful up in the Saucer Magnolia tree in our front yard.  I wasn't sure what it was, so I started to poke around and try to figure out what was going on.  The tree has grown quite a bit in height the past few seasons, so I can't get up to eye-level, but by pulling some of the branches out of the way, I saw what you see above:  A pink flower in the tree. 

Then I looked closer, and I saw another one:  two pink flowers that are present on this tree in the middle of Summer.


The last time that we checked in this tree was in early May when I applied a ring of Cocoa Bean mulch around the base after the flowers had bloomed this Spring.  This tree flowered this Spring after missing last year's set of blooms. 

What is this Summer bloom on our Saucer Magnolia?  I'm not sure as it has never happened before, but this forum post talks about how Saucers sometimes get a second, summertime bloom.  What I don&…

Lost: Lombardy Poplar - July 2020

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That thin tree, braced with a piece of bamboo was an inexpensive Lombardy Poplar tree that I planted this Spring.  Put in the ground in May, it immediately suffered some shock.  And, while it temporarily seemed to recover with some new green growth, it is now a lost tree.

This is the first tree that I'm marking down as 'lost' for this growing season.  At least, officially.  And...at least...with the caveat of: 'so far'.  I have three other larger trees on the 'watch list' - that didn't break dormancy this Spring.  And two of the five remaining tiny Canadian Hemlocks that have been ravaged by rabbits.   Of those five trees, ALL of them have *some* green growth on them.  But, on a few of them, it isn't very much.   Thus, they're not on the official "lost" list, but might be this year or next.

As for the official list, this Lombardy Poplar tree joins some others in the tree graveyard on Hornbeam Hill.  This is the 9th tree that has died …

DIY Beginnings: Disney Parks Tinkerbell Lights via 258 Flasher Bulbs

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When we first went to the Magic Kingdom when the Babe was very young, I remember being struck by these twinkling lights that they had in the park.  At one point, they had a bunch of trees in the 'hub' - that have all been removed so people can view the castle/projection show.  On *those* trees were these twinkling lights that they turned on at dusk.

I can't find a video of *those* lights, but I do have this one of what I think are the same lights up at Downtown Disney.


Those lights give off a little bit of a firefly vibe and are what I remember.

And, it isn't just *me* who remembers the lights, as if you put in the phrase [twinkle lights disney trees], you'll see dozens of forum posts all about buying or replicating those lights. 

I've spent the past few months wading through them and I think I've come up with an approach that I'm going to attempt to DIY here at home.

First, the bulbs and the fixtures.

Again...based on wading through the various forums,…

The Men Who Built A Waterfall - Waterfall Glen

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A few days ago, I posted about seeing an Indigo Bunting male bird in a splendid blue coat down at Waterfall Glen.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we've tried to find time to get down to Waterfall Glen to go walking with the kids as well as dodging the crowds.  When we first went down there, they had the waterfall itself blocked off - in an attempt to keep from crowds gathering.  That was as recent as back in June.

There's now a category tag for [Waterfall Glen] here on the blog that hosts all the posts.

The photo at the top of this post is now the second post featuring a Waterfall Glen sign.  One on of our previous walks, I came across this Oak Tree identification sign and posted about it in June, too.

This sign talks about the waterfall and the "men who built it" and mentions that between 1934 and 1938, a company of men from the Civilian Conservation Corps - as part of the New Deal - were stationed up in Hinsdale at Fullersburg Woods.  It was those guys who worked a…

Lady Fern Planted - July 2020

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I recently got around to sticking the new Lady Fern in the ground in our backyard.  That's it - in the photo above - with the most  vibrant green foliage on the middle/right.  The story of how I bought this thing on a whim at Home Depot is here on the blog from a couple of weeks ago.  I took the photo here for the [garden diary] showing the location of the planting in relation to the River Birch tree.  Another way to think about the location is to take a peek at the photo above and notice the location of the River Birch and the clump of fern stems that you see in the top right.  Then, go here, and have a look at the reverse side of this from the lawn.  That post showing the 10 transplanted ferns is talks about the area where this one is located. 

The bulk of those transplanted ferns were planted to the East of the River Birch, so this Lady Fern is going to hang out to the West of the River Birch.  The plan called for "12 Ostrich Ferns" in this area.  I initially planted…

Indigo Bunting (Male) Sighting At Waterfall Glen - July 2020

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On a recent morning, we were out at Waterfall Glen - on the Waterfall side - and as I was walking back to the van in the little parking lot, I heard this bird before I saw him.  He (didn't know it was a *he* at the time) was making some noise and I looked up and with his blue coat, I couldn't miss him.  I grabbed my phone and zoomed in as best as I could and took the photo you see above.  I don't think that I've seen such a vibrant blue bird in our area, so I knew that I had to figure out who it was.

It didn't take long - just simply putting [bright blue bird northern illinois] into the Google machine and you get this featured search snippet:


I now knew what it was:  an Indigo Bunting.

So, when I got home, I turned to my bird book and quickly looked it up.  Sure enough...take a look at that photo in the book:


It is an adult male that I saw with what the book "cerulean blue" and I'm pretty confident that this is the first Indigo Bunting that I've …

Martha Stewart On Her Patio Containers: No Red Geraniums Here, People.

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There I was...watching Martha Stewart talk about gardening on a segment previewing her new show on CBS Sunday Morning when she came FOR ME.  Like...came FOR ME.



Ummm.. Hi there.



Horstmann's Recursive Larch Tree - Two Months In - July 2020

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Back in the Spring, I bought this tiny Horstmann's Recursive Contorted Larch Tree from an online nursery and planted it in the front/sideyard.  I watered it in and have been trying to baby it during the heat.  Today, posting this in the [garden diary] so I know what it looks like in the Summer of season one.  It has added some length to the tree, but due to it's weeping habit, it is hard to tell how much.  I'll add some measurements to this as I do a season-ending caliper reading later this Summer/early Fall.

I also didn't get around to adding this tree to the 'inventory', so I'm correcting that now.

This is tree #51 that I've planted and BY FAR the smallest one.

The previous one was last week when we planted the other contorted tree -the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick - which I mentioned was the "last tree" we had this year, but I stand corrected.

51 trees across four planting seasons.

(For now...) 45 of those trees still alive. 51 trees o…

Pair of Greenspire Lindens Horizontal Cordon Espalier - July 2020

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The last time I checked in on the full look of these Greenspire Linden trees was last Fall - November of 2019 - when they were heading towards dormancy.  At that time, the trees had been pruned for the year and had grown through a full growing season.  I also - at that time - was planning a different style of espalier: a candelabra.  If you go back and look at the photos in this post from November, you'll see how I was adding vertical supporters via bamboo rods AND encouraging more than 4 horizontal branches on the trunks.    The tree on the right - I had five or six horizontal branches.  And the tree on the left, I had five or six branches too. 

This past week, I went out to these trees with my bypass pruners (Alas...I don't have a pair of those sexy Niwaki Secateurs) and gave these trees their annual mid-year prune.  I normally take care of any branching that is pointing downward from the branches - and I did that this year.  But, I also made a call:  Forget the candelabra.…