Showing posts from 2020

Firewood Replenishment - January 2020

I shared the sad state of our firewood hoard a few days back and mentioned that another split (50/50 Oak/Cherry) Face Cord was on it's way.  Welp, today, it is here.   This is the second year in a row that I had a third Face Cord delivered during the year.  In 2019, it came in mid-February, so we're running a couple of weeks ahead of last year.  Last year, I turned to the 50/50 Cherry/Oak blend for a couple of reasons (they were out of birch, I didn't want Ash, and this was the only 50/50 mix they had at the time) and those mostly held up this year.  We'll burn this stuff up over the next few months as the weather stays cold and hopefully, this load will take us until the weather breaks.  
One thing to note:  quite a bit of this wood is split what I'll call 'larger'.  Larger pieces overall and what seems like more heartwood and less sapwood.  Not sure that's possible, but it seems that I'm getting my hands on a bunch of interior/heartwood pieces th…

All Four 2019/2020 Amaryllis - Mid-January 2020

A couple of days ago, I shared some photos of the flowers of the 'double blooming' Cherry Nymph Amaryllis that I planted in November.  I only showed the flowers, but wanted to revisit (for record-keeping sake) all four of the bulbs for height and vitality in January.  The last time I posted photos of these flowers was on January 2nd.  You can see the photo of these same four flowers 2.5 weeks ago here

Left-to-right, the flowers are:  Apple Blossom (Menards), Red Lion (Menards), Star of Holland (Menards) and Cherry Nymph (Wannemakers).

Some notes: 

The Red Lion bloomed first and exhausted itself first, too.  This had two stalks/stems.The Apple Blossom went second and is also exhausted.  However, this was the only one that had just one stalk/stem.The Red Lion has a bud that is about to burst open.  It was behind the other two, but the second stem/stalk will have flowers (I think) into February.And, finally, the heights were all over the place:  the Red Lion was treated with th…

Winter Plant Dreaming: All Gold Japanese Forest Grass

There are "seed people" - those gardeners who spend the cold, dark days of January and February getting their seedlings going - pouring over catalogs, ordering supplies, turning on the lights, etc.  Me?  I'm more of a 'tree/shrub/plant/perennial dreamer' during those same months.  Just a couple of days ago, I shared this Slender Hinoki Cypress (tree form) that I'm lusting after to add to the backyard and mentioned how it is often part of a "Japanese Garden". 

Over the years here on the blog, I've done a bunch of 'tree dreaming' posts, but this one is a little different:  let's call it 'Grasses Dreaming'. 

This post is about a grass that I came across on the Monrovia site these: All Gold Japanese Forest Grass.

Here's a look at them from Monrovia:

Others, like Michigan Bulb carry something that is close, but not the same including this Golden Hakone Grass - and point out that it was the 2009 Perennial of the Year.  And, imp…

Firewood Consumption - Mid-January 2020

It has been seven weeks since I did the last "Firewood Consumption" check here on the blog with these photos on December 4th, 2019.  Today, I'm sharing this (somewhat sad) photo showing the current state of our firewood hoard.   On the top is what Cherry firewood we have remaining (about a dozen pieces) and on the bottom is what Birch firewood we have remaining (about two dozen pieces).  This is in addition to the 'hearth-side' firewood storage box that holds about a dozen combo teams.

This order was delivered in October of last year and was a face cord of Birch and a face cord of Cherry.

Comparing this to last season (2018/2019), we're about two weeks ahead of where we were last year.  Check out the February 2nd post from last season (Feb 2019) and the 'stack' looks similar to today.

I keep a tertiary rack on the side stoop outside of my office door that I've exhausted all the Cherry/Birch from, and once empty,  I moved the little bit of limbs a…

Cherry Nymph Amaryllis Blooming - January 2020

While two of the four Amaryllis bulbs are done flowering, the largest - and most expensive - bulb (bought at Wannemakers) is blooming.  It is a Cherry Nymph bulb that is billed as a 'double blooming' Amaryllis and the moniker is holding true for this beauty.

Potted on November 21st, 2019.
A week in, this bulb showed no signs of growth.
Mid-December and the tip of the first bud was just emerging from the bulb.
Right before Christmas, it was just about 4" tall and thickening up the stem.
On January 2nd, the first stem was up and trying to get ready to open.

For reference, my large bulb in 2019 was just beginning to open up at end of December.
On January 20th of 2019 - 25+ days past Christmas, the bulb was in bloom.
And it was still throwing off flowers well into March.  Yeah....March.

So, this one is blooming (for the first time) about the same time as last year's large bulb.  Will it stay blooming until March?  We'll watch and see.

This red flower is quite pretty …

Backyard Tree Caliper Measurements - January 2020

Two days ago, I posted the first findings of using the caliper measurement tool on our young trees with this post showing the caliper measurements of our Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam trees in the backyard.  Today, I'm documenting in the [garden diary] the rest of our young backyard trees which all came from nursery stock. 

I did the same thing on these that I did on the Hornbeams:  measured six inches from the ground and marked each of the trunks.

First up is the pair of Greenspire Lindens that we've put up as an esaplier.  First is the one on the right (facing them). 

Then the one on the left (facing them).  This one is slightly larger.

Then the Weeping White Spruce that I planted mid-Summer 2019 and is dealing with it's first Winter below:

One of the backyard Chanticleer Flowering Pear trees - this one along the south fence line below.  This tree was planted on Earth Day 2018 and was a really tiny tree (and was cheap, too!) to start.

The small Dappled Willow that we…

Columnar Tree Dreaming - Dakota Pinnacle Birch and Swedish Aspen - Winter 2020

Since the new year, I've posted about a couple of spots that I'm thinking about for trees in 2020.  That started with the five trees that I want to plant in the front yard (including five new trees) and a small section between the espalier Linden trees and a Cleveland Pear along the southern fence line.  In both of those pieces, I talked quite a bit about columnar trees.  At this point, you're probably like:  we get it, Jake.  You like columnar form.

Yes indeed.  But, because this is *my* blog, you're going to have to bear with me.  Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I'm going to use this space as a reference guide for some columnar trees that I've come across that are work referencing back as I add more inventory.

This post is about a pair of what I'm calling 'white trees'.  Birch and Aspen.

First up is this Dakota Pinnacle Birch Tree.

The folks at Fast Growing Trees are currently selling a 5-6' version for $99 right now.

It is lab…

Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Caliper Measurements - January 2020

A couple of days ago, I shared a photo of the new caliper measurement tool that Nat picked up for me on Amazon so I can get some better measurement of our young trees in the yard.  I have been tracking the heights of my newly added trees to the yard for the past couple of years (here's this Summer's measurements and here's last Summer measurements), but some of the trees are getting more than ten feet tall and using a conventional tape measure to accurate reflect their growth is difficult.  Between not being able to reach (and be at eye level) with the very top of the tree and the reality to some of the tree's 'growth' isn't always in height, but in branching out and what-have-you.

Like I've done with the heights (which...for many of the trees, I'll still do during the late Summer), I'm going to document caliper measurements on a regular basis.  I'm thinking that I'll do a semi-annual measurement this year (now + Summer) to see if they s…

Lawn Equipment: Groundskeeper II Thatch Rake

Over the years, I've done a few [Christmas Haul] posts that show off some of the things that people have gifted me for the yard and garage and shop.  This year, my first "haul" post (despite not being labeled that in the title) was this heated bird bath post from my mother-in-law.  Today, is another gift, but from my Sister-in-Law:  this rake called "The Groundskeeper II".
I came across it on someone in the lawn care community YouTube channel (wish I could remember who it was?  But, just search [Groundskeeper II rake] on YT and you'll find plenty of review posts).
What is it? It is a rake.  Yep.  A rake.  But, it is a thatch rake.  And it is unique in design.  Here (below) is the rake laying in the ground in our yard.  You can see that I pulled up a little dead grass in the photo, too.  

The Groundskeeper II has a couple of stickers on the handle that talk up the value prop of the tool:

1.  Easy on your back. 

2.  Self-cleaning.

3.  Replaceable tines. 

Those …

Acquired: Caliper Measurement Tool For Tree Measurements

As part of my [garden diary], I've been working to keep annual logs of growth on some of the trees and shrubs including my tree height inventory.  Here is the link to the 2019 tree height inventory post.   And here's the one for 2018.  The reason I bring this up is that earlier this month, as part of doing a mid-Winter yard inventory, I posted about some Winter damage on our Flowering Cherry Tree in the backyard.  In that post, I lamented that my measurement(s) for some of the trees is becoming inaccurate because of their heights getting too tall to get a tape measure on properly.  
Welp...thanks to the miracles of e-commerce shopping, I'm now the proud owner of this Digital Caliper Measurement Tool that you can see below.  This one is just $8.99, so it isn't the most expensive or sophisticated caliper tool, but I'm thinking it will get the job done.

It is pretty easy to use and came with a couple of backup batteries.

As I mentioned in my 'front yard tree bud&…

Heated Backyard Bird Bath Upgrade - Winter 2019

In November of 2017 - as we approached our first Winter in our new house - I posted a photo of our heated bird bath being placed in the yard near our feeders.  At that time, I kept the feeders a little bit closer to the house.  That bird bath was originally from our old house in Elmhurst and it was a 'deck-mounted' heated bird bath.  So that meant that when I used it in Downers, I had to place it on a little table.  It didn't have a pedestal.    For Christmas that year, I was gifted a Water Wiggler to keep the water moving.  
The bird bath was one of the key pieces that we needed in order to meet the criteria of being a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation (the other criteria include three kinds of food, two types of cover/shelter and places to raise young).  
The first year, I didn't see much action in the bath.  
But, during the Winter of 2018/2019, we placed the heated bird bath outside again, but this time it was used pretty regularly.�…

Front Yard Trees Buds (And No Buds) - Winter 2019

A couple of days ago, I posted a couple of photos of our Flowering Japanese Kwanzan Cherry Tree that had suffered a little bit of winter damage here on the blog.  Today, I'm documenting a few of our front yard trees and their buds (or lack thereof).  I wanted to capture a few of the trees and how their buds were coming along in the heart of Winter.  If you're looking for a layout of our front yard trees that is a companion of this post, you can view it here on this 'tree dreaming' post from a week ago.
First up, is our small Bald Cypress.  Last I covered it here on the blog was back at the end of August of this Summer (2019) when it was showing nicely with green, lacy needles.  Today, you can see it (below) clinging to a lot of brown/orange needles on the trees small frame.  

Here (below) is a closer look at one of the branches that have some thorn-like (but not thorns!) raised bark, but not what I'd consider normal 'buds'.  However, look closely at the ti…