Showing posts from 2020

Fertilizing Oak Trees in Backyard - October 2020

The second step in our process with the arborist from Davey is feeding the trees.  We started with applying growth regulator to the two most vulnerable trees (Norway Maple in Front and Red Oak in back) in late September.   Recently the guys came back out for step two:  applying fertilizer.In Davey's case, it is called Arbor Green Pro - a one year application that they fed to both large Oaks in back and the Maple up front. Here's the Davey team applying the fert - around the area of the tree canopy.  It was raining, but he still went ahead with injecting it right into the ground. 
What is Arbor Green Pro?  From their site:   The description says that it can last 'up to 2 years'.  But, what the guy told me was: every year.We have one more application to just the Oaks before Winter that I'll post about when it occurs.

Chanticleer Pear Screened Porch Sideyard Tree - October 2020 Check-In

Back at the end of April, we planted a tree on Earth Day outside of our screened porch.  It is a Chanticleer Pear - which, I know....I know...isn't the best tree to be planting in our landscape, but we were facing a set of circumstances that warranted this approach.  Our neighbors to the north were building their house all this calendar year and while we had planted our row of eight Frans Fontaine European Columnar Hornbeams to provide screening from our back patio and screened porch, we planted them without knowing where the house was going to be built.  By Earth Day, the new house next door had the framing done and - much to our surprise - we had *most* of their windows screened with trees.  But, there was ONE new window - closer to the front of the house that was basically unblocked by the Frans Fontaine Hornbeams.Have a look at this post from back in April - where you can see the window I'm talking about.And now, have a look at the same view as it looks now - in late Octob…

Dawn Redwood - Fall Show - October 2020

Our Dawn Redwood is my favorite tree in our yard.  It is easy to miss or forget due to it being tucked away in the back of our yard and is still pretty small.  This is the replacement tree and I planted this version of the tree in the Summer of 2018 and this version of the tree has done well over the past three growing seasons.  It survived in 2018.  In 2019, it shot way up.  Like 3' of new growth.The tree is putting on a nice fall show with orange needles.  You can see it in the photo above.  Our yard is mostly yellows and greens and browns come Fall.  But this Dawn Redwood is a lovely orange. The last time I checked in with this tree was in September when it was throwing off some new, lush growth after weathering the heat of the Summer.  

However, I'm a little uneasy on this tree as the orange is a little different than last year - which I know was a positive Fall season because the tree came back this Spring.It wasn't until November - about a month later than today - whe…

Ash Firewood Rounds - Hoarded From Neighbor

A week or so ago, it was warm enough to have our windows opened.  And as is the way these days, I was working from home in my office.  We have construction going on next door to us, so it isn't that weird to have heavy equipment running and noises coming from various forms of trades and construction.  But, what I *thought* heard wasn't construction equipment, but what sounded like chainsaws.  My firewood hoarding antenna shot up.  And I went out to see what was doing.  Sure enough, there was a crew of guys taking a couple of trees down in the yard behind us (and one to the south).  I walked over there and asked them what they were doing with the wood.  And what kind it was.  They said it was a mix of Ash and Pine.  They said that I could have the Ash.So, over the next twenty minutes or so, the guys proceeded to bring the rounds and drop them over our fence into the far part of our backyard.  You can see what I received in the photo above.  This tree is really chewed through as…

Relocated and Refilled Compost Bin(s) - October 2020

The last time I checked in on out compost bin was in May of this year before the heat of the Summer worked to heat up the pile.   At that time, I had the 3 bin setup in the easement behind our yard.  One active bin, one carbon storage bin and one nitrogen storage bin.  Earlier in the Spring, I worked to install a passive aeration system by inserting six 2" perforated pvc pipes in the bottom third of the pile. But as fall arrived, I've come to realization that the pile isn't in enough sun, so I thought that I'd move it to a place where I think it can get a little more heat.  That meant deconstructing and digging out the full pile.  When I dug out the bottom of the pile, I came to the realization that something had occurred.  Why?  Because we had some black gold.  Either time.  Or the passive aeration.  Or both? Something exerted the right pressure on the pile and transformed our yard waste into that black gold.  The other thing that I noticed is the shrinkage.  The pil…

Voting By Mail - DuPage County Clerk via Ballottrax

Earlier this week, I received this text message letting me know that my ballot was received by the Clerk's office at DuPage County and has 'been processed'.  It came via the BallotTrax system that they are using for mail-in voting this year.  
Have to say that the system is pretty great and gave me a lot of confidence that my ballot both was on the way to me AND that it had been received by the County for counting.BallotTrax bills itself like this:BallotTrax is designed to track mail ballots and absentee ballots through the postal stream and proactively push ballot status notifications to voters, thus increasing election visibility and vendor accountability.  By integrating with State and/or County election offices, print vendors and USPS, BallotTrax knows when a ballot has been printed and mailed to a voter, returned from a voter, received by the election office and accepted for counting by the election office.I've made it pretty clear that I don't love government…

Hicks Yews Hedge Progress - October 2020

Back last Summer, I bought 15 Hicks Upright Yews in small 2# nursery containers when they went on sale at Home Depot and planted them in a row near the back of our rear fenceline.   I planted them in July and watered them in with a soaker hose to keep them alive.  The first Winter, a few of them were eaten by rabbits, but all of them came out of the cold alive.  By June of this year, they had put off their first full-season growth and last month, a few of them had produced their first arils (berries).  I wanted to document how they stand - going into Winter - this year.  Below, you can see a full photo showing the yews from edge of hedge to edge.  
The gaps haven't filled in much (yet), but I can start to envision what they'll end up looking like and still want to think about pruning them to be kind of like this 'swooping' hedge that I captured as inspiration.

Pre-Dormancy Check - Praying Hands Hosta - October 2020

In mid-September, I bought a series of perennials at the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale including one of a unique, vase-like hosta named Praying Hands hosta.  After putzing around the yard by placing it in various places, I settled on digging it in along the north bed - about half-way back in the yard.  It is adjacent to some of the Guacamole Hostas that I planted this Summer.  I watered it in a few times and now, as we head towards the end of the season, I mulched it in with woodchips.  You can see the current state of the hosta below: I'm hoping that the little bit of layer of protection the wood chips are going to provide will help protect this unique cultivar over the Winter.  Come Spring time, I'll apply a layer of hardwood fine mulch and keep my fingers crossed that it establishes itself and makes an appearance.

Wreath Hitchhiker - Camouflage'd Insect - Fall 2020

Nat spotted a little guy hanging on our front door wreath recently.  He's one a pretty good job of hiding himself - via natural camouflage - amongst our wreath leaves (these are faux leaves) and what I think is hiding from predators like birds.  Can you spot him in the photo below? Took me a second to see him myself.  But, below is an annotated version of the same photo.  Clever insect, right?
So, what is it?  Appears to be a Katydid.

Weeping White Spruce - Winter Protection - October 2020

A week or so ago, I posted some photos showing how I'm trying to protect some of our smaller Canadian Hemlock trees from rabbits this Winter.  I originally planted six of those small trees.  One of them died that first year.  But, last Winter, two of them were devoured by something.  I'm assuming it was a rabbit.  So, this year, I'm being more proactive in trying to protect some of our evergreens from being eaten by those rabbits who are looking for a winter meal. That means that in addition to the Hemlocks, I've taken the same approach with poultry fencing with our Weeping White Spruce tree.  You can see that fencing set up in a ring below:
The goal here is to keep the rabbits from being able to really go at this thing - but I know it won't be fool-proof.  I'm going to ring the exterior of the fencing with some wood chips to try to make it 'burrow-proof', too.

Delayed Hosta Spring Frost Damage Showing Up In The Fall - 2020

Most of our hostas in the backyard are now looking like this one you see below.  It has a blend of seasonal decline (the yellowing) and what I'm pretty sure is frost damage from very early this Spring.   We had a late frost - after these. had emerged and while they didn't show this much damage all year long, based on watching Monty Don's Instagram handle, he mentioned 'frost damage' on his hostas.  Here, below, is one of our hostas underneath the hornbeams in our backyard: And here, below, is Monty Don's post on Instagram talking about frost damage on his hostas: View this post on Instagram The hostas are dying back - but the damage caused by a frost on May 15th only apparent in the past week or so. I have often observed this very delayed effect.A post shared by Monty Don (@themontydon) on Oct 5, 2020 at 12:00am PDT Seems like the same situation, right?  He's calling it a 'delayed effect'.

Frans Fontaine Hornbeams - Pre Fall Dormancy - October 2020

Here's a look at the row of eight Frans Fontaine Columnar European Hornbeam trees that we planted for screening a few years back.  You can see the new house that was built next door to our house on the left and our screened porch on the right.  These eight trees have grown up and out and are providing us with quite a nice screen this Summer and Fall.  
Our neighbors haven't moved in yet, so we haven't really tested how the screening actually works with real people in the house next door, but so far, it has been good.  This is a similar shot from 13 months ago that shows you the growth over the past year.

We Found a Geocache in Wisconsin - October 2020

On a recent hike up in Wisconsin at Big Foot State Park - right on the coast of Lake Geneva - the kids and I came across a Geocache box.  We, umm, stumbled upon it.   We were walking on the "Nature Trail" (there are a few different trails there - red, blue, yellow, etc...including a short "Nature Trail" that takes you from one of the main lots down to the bogs/ponds on the shore of the lake.Here are the two kids holding up their treasure:
We're (currently) not geocachers.  But, I looked up this package on geoaching.comThere's this listing:This geocache has been hidden as a part of the Wisconsin Geocaching Association's State Park series. This geocache is hidden on the Nature Trail, just off of the Red Hiking Trail.I wonder if I'll ever amend that (currently) to the description above.   We'll see if the kids want to find more.

Yellow Jackets On Our Linden Trees - October 2020

For the past two years, I've noticed that some sort of bee1 has been finding a home on our espalier'd Linden trees.  There has been A LOT of them.  Swarming around the tree, climbing on the leaves, etc.  I If you look closely at the photo, you can see some of them.  Each tree has dozens of them.
I figured that they had a nest close or something.  But, I wanted to find out more.  First, I wanted to figure out what they were.  This handy chart from shows difference between wasps and yellow jackets.  Based on that, I'm pretty sure these are Yellow Jackets.  They're short and fat. 
So, I went out onto the Web to try to figure out why our Lindens are covered in these things.  And, sure enough, there are a series of posts on  Including this one that was answered by Robert Cox from CSU that tells me that the Yellow Jackets aren't there because they love the Linden. They're there because the tree has aphids is what he suspects. Yellowjacket wasp…

Lost: Dappled Willow Tree - October 2020

This post marks the third tree that I'm filing as LOST for this growing season.  The first one was in July when a newly planted Lombardy Poplar didn't make it but a couple of weeks.  Then, one of the kids (not sure where they live!) ripped off the growth on my contorted Larch.  Today, I'm calling our Dappled Willow as dead.  Planted in the Spring/Summer of 2019, the tree was a copy of a Dappled Willow that we had in Elmhurst.  That, first Dapple Willow was a wild success and both Nat and I loved it.   It seemed to come back this Spring - surviving the first Winter - and budded out in April.  But, then something happened.  Might have been a late frost?  But, it died back. The tree tried to keep growing - and sent off some VERY LOW suckers, but that only lasted a month or so.  Today?  The tree looks like this: Dead and gone.

52 trees across four planting seasons.

With this loss (3rd of the year, there are (For now...) 43 of those trees still alive.
2017 (9 planted. 3 Died…

Dwarf Albert Spruce - In Decline - Fall 2020

My mother always had a dwarf Alberta Spruce in our landscape.  Despite being a shade gardener, I have a memory of her having one of these shrubs/trees in the front yard when I was growing up.  I also remember that my Busia had a couple of these, too.And, that's why I put one in a couple of years ago.  I planted this tree (is it really a tree??) back in late Spring 2018 and it seemed to do well right away.  It put on some new growth in year one and year two.  This year, it was humming along.  But, suddenly, it now looks like this below.  It is in decline: 
Back at the beginning of the month, I posted a photo and details of a trio of Twinkle Toes Lungwort that I planted at the base of the Dwarf Alberta SpruceIn that post, I made mention of the stress this tree was under then.  In the photo above in this post, you can see both the Spruce, but you can also see all three of the Lungwort.At this point, I'm not hopeful.  Needle loss in October isn't a good sign. I lost a Weepin…

Political Wisdom From A Vintage Cookbook & Congressman Gerald Ford

A couple of days ago, I shared my excitement and a few photos of a yard sale find that I picked up in Southwest Michigan:  a Republican Congressional Cookbook "from your Congressman Gerald R. Ford" - who you know went on to both become Vice President and then President.  Despite never being elected to either of those offices.  I didn't read all of the recipes (just yet), but I did find this other page that I thought was worth sharing on the inside back cover.  In this cookbook, (then) Congressman Gerald R. Ford shared what he called "A Declaration of REPUBLICAN Principle and Policy". Have a read of what he has to say as he lays out the "Basic Beliefs Of Republicans":
I've retyped the copy of that photo below.  It reads: Republican philosophy is rooted in the traditions of this land of ours -- in the Declaration of Independence that made this country free, in the Constitution that has kept if free, and in the free men and women who have made it the g…

Trampled Coral Bells - October 2020

Last month, I bought a series of Coral Bells (Dolche Cherry Truffles) from the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale and planted them in a brand new bed that I established this Fall to the north of our driveway.  Some of them are pretty close (within two feet) of our property line.  How are they faring?  Some of them are showing some new growth and seem to have navigated the transplant shock.  You can see that new growth below: 
But others?  The two that are closest to the property line were trampled by the guys doing the driveway concrete.  Here's one - below - that I think might recover. 

But, here's another that has no leaves left on it.  I put the yellow stakes and sprinkler spike next to these the day after they installed the driveway so the guys could see where they were stepping.  

This bed is (currently) mulched in wood chips, but it needs a layer of real mulch laid on top. Since it is in the front yard, you know what that means?  Cocoa bean hull mulch.  To match the rest of …

Disneyland Roses - Blooming And Growth - October 2020

We have three rose bushes in our yard.  Two in our sideyard - with southern exposure and one planted in a rear bed outside of our kitchen.  They are all the same cultivar:  Disneyland Roses.  I don't know much about roses, but I'm learning.  It turns out, Disneyland Roses are Floribunda Roses.  There are a bunch of varieties of roses including tea, hybrid tea, Grandiflora and - what the Disneylad Roses are - Floribunda Roses. Sunnyside Nursery has a post titled "What The Heck Is The Difference Between Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora & Floribunda Roses?" that lays out the basics.Knowing I only have this one cultivar, I've begun to educate myself on the care of Floribunda roses.   According to, Floribunda Roses give you "Minimum upkeep with maximum color".  They detail what makes a Floribunda Rose unique here:The Floribunda Rose is a crossbred flower that is loved for its hardiness in harsh climates, minimal upkeep, and its ability to have c…

Winter Protection For Young Canadian Hemlock Trees (2 of 3) - October 2020

In March of this year, I posted some photos of a few different things in our yard that had suffered what I believe was rabbit damage.  These trees and shrubs emerged from Winter with parts of the limbs clipped right off by what I think was a hungry rabbit (or rabbits) that were looking for some food when snow had covered everything.  Why do I think it was rabbits?  Well, first of all, because we have plenty of rabbits.  And second, this post from the winter months, rabbits survive by foraging for food under the snow. Because vegetation is less plentiful during the winter, rabbits may increase their intake of tree bark and conifer needles.This year, I decided to take a proactive stance against these rabbits (no offense, guys.  I'll try to supplement what you eat this Winter) by erecting a barrier that would make it difficult for them to get to the trees.  Back in May of 2019, I first planted three Canadian Hemlocks in the far back of the yard.  And a week or so later…

Lemon Coral Sedum @ Morton Arboretum

If you drive by the entrance to the Morton Arboretum last month, you saw a striking series of plants that include some bright colors including this ground cover that is almost highlighter yellow.  They planted a big drift of this stuff that made a carpet-like layout.   See below in all of the late Summer glory: I suspected that this was Lemon Coral Sedum - which I've planted in containers the past few years - but wasn't sure.  But, what is amazing (at least to me) is that the Morton Arboretum has something called a "Plant Clinic".  What's a Plant Clinic?  From their site:The Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic helps homeowners, gardeners and landscape professionals throughout the Chicago region and the world have healthy, attractive, well-chosen plants. Trained staff and volunteers are available in person, by phone, or by e-mail to help with tree and plant selection, identifying and coping with pests and diseases, and other concerns.So, I emailed them to inquire abou…

Late Season 2020 To-Do List Check-in (October 2020)

I've begun my Fall cleanup around the yard the past few days.  That means that in addition to beginning to mulch in some of the woody perennials, I've begun leaf cleanup.  There is still come time left in the season, so I thought I'd go through my 2020 To-Do List to see if there are any items that I can cross off before I put the yard to bed for the season.  Back in February, I set out my list for the year that included 25 items.  Seven items were for planting.  Three were in the yard.  Seven were for trees.  Two in the beds.  Four in building structures.  And a few others that are the only item in their category.Then in June, I did a mid-season check-in.  I had completed 13 of the 25 tasks.  Let's have a look at the list as it stands today:1. Plant Area #1 (oak leaf hydrangeas).
2. Build the 'bridge' in Priority Area #2 - between the Hornbeams and Mighty Oak.
3. Get the walkway installed/spec'd in behind the Yews along with some other plantings. Or start it …

Dug-in Young Bonsai Juniper Nursery Stock Check-in (Not ready for pruning) - October 2020

Yesterday, I posted a photo and talked about this 'unknown Juniper' that is in a large container on our patio.  In that post, I mentioned the other two Junipers that I have in the ground - Youngstown and Chinese.  I bought them as small $5 nursery stock from Home Depot and at kept them around the patio all season while I tried (it was hard) to NOT prune them too much.  My goal is to work them into tree-form as I learn (just a little bit) about bonsai.   I've documented my "bonsai journey" over the past few years on the blog and you can find those posts here.  I've learned (and killed) from one tree and have tried to be patient.  At the end of the season, I read that it is smart to dig them into the ground to overwinter them in their containers (people do this with all sorts of bonsai pots).  So, that's what I did:  dug up a couple of holes, stuck the junipers - pots and all - directly in the ground, covered them and tried to mulch them in with leaves. Wel…

Unknown Juniper in Large Patio Container

On our back patio, we have a container with a small conifer that I'm not sure the cultivar.  I bought it last year and worked on it a little bit - as there is some wire on parts of it - but I'm not sure which kind of juniper it really is at this point.  I have two junipers - Youngstown and Chinese - that I have in containers that I planted in the ground.  My plan is to dig them up next Spring and give them another haircut/style.  My Bonsai journey has been one of buying some nursery stock initially and KILLING my first one.  In a matter of months.  Due to over-pruning it, I think.  As a result of that experience, I've kinda taken the 'lazy bonsai' route on these - by giving them an initial wiring up and then planting them (in their containers to restrict the roots) in the ground (or in this case in a larger container).  By next year, all three will hopefully able to handle a little bit of pruning.Here is the unknown Juniper that has grown nicely in the container i…

Cooper's Hawk In Our Red Oak Tree - October 2020

\ It is hard to determine the size of this Cooper's Hawk in our backyard, but he was big.  And, I'm pretty sure he is/was a Cooper's Hawk based on the details from Cornell.  The last time that I captured one of these birds of prey was back in February of 2019 when I saw one sitting on our fence.  This time, he was way up on a tree limb and he hung around for a while - like five minutes - before flying off.This piece shows all the hawks that call Illinois their home, but I can't tell from it if I should change by classification from Cooper's Hawk or not.