Showing posts from June, 2020

Transplanting Variegated Hostas Around Oak Tree - June 2020

My #2 priority area in our backyard for this gardening season is around the large Oak tree that is home to our tree swing.  That part of the plan called for adding a series of hostas, ferns and connecting the beds between the Hornbeams and this nascent bed.  The plan called for the addition of 10 or so Hadspen blue hostas, but there were two factors that made me go a different direction.

First, I planted three hostas in this area already.  First, there are two, existing variegated ones present:  Christmas Tree and Fantabulous from 2018.  Second, there was a third, variegated hosta that I tucked behind the tree - the miniature variety that I really like.  And finally....I had a mixed variety of Hostas that I've tucked underneath the Hornbeams over the years - including mixed variegated ones with more blue ones.  So, I decided to get the variegated ones out from below the Hornbeams.  And move them to where you can see in the photo at the top.

Below, you can see all the new ones in …

Eight More Summer Beauty Alliums Planted - June 2020

This photo above shows seven new Summer Beauty Ornamental Onions (Alliums) that I planted just to the West of the Fanal Astilbe border.  I planted eight total with one other new one joining the previous four that I planted earlier this Summer.  These eight (well...7 + 1) are part of "Priority Area #1" that I wanted to plant this year that called for 12 total.    I planted these about mid-way back in the bed with the thought that I could - maybe next year - supplement these with a border (closer to the edge of the bed) of annuals in front of the Allium. 

If you zoom in SUPER close to the photo above, you'll see that there appear to be some flower buds that have shot up in the middle of the clump.  So, I'm thinking that we'll get *some* flowers this first growing season.  Have a look at the red arrows for the 'curl'ing up' flower buds that are emerging:

Red Oaks vs White Oaks - At Waterfall Glen

We were out for a walk at Waterfall Glen and came across this sign on the trail - a bit "in" from the waterfall parking lot off Bluff Road - that shows the two groups of Oaks:  Red Oaks and White Oaks.

This sign shows that in the Red Oak Group are: Northern Red Oak, Black Oak, Shingle Oak and Hill's Oak.  in the White Oak Group are: White Oak, Bur Oak, Swamp White Oakk and Chinquapin Oak. 

The key difference is that *most* of the Red Oaks have pointed lobes while White Oak lobes are typically rounded. 

We have two large Oaks in our backyard.  But, I haven't, at this point, been able to name them.  With this chart, I'm now thinking that I'll be able to do JUST THAT this Fall when I'm seeing the leaves on the ground.

Glazed Patio Container - Zinnias, Salvia, Petunias - June 2020

Here's one of our patio containers that we recently planted for the Summer.  It is a purple, yellow and red combination - which we've mirrored elsewhere - based on a bed we saw in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.  This container has a larger Blue Salvia  (Salvia farinacea), a yellow Zinnia and in front a red Wave petunia. We've planted this large container every year - always different - but this feels like a nice combination of sun-happy annuals that should flower all season long.

Notably, the Salvia (Salvia farinacea) is a perennial in warmer zones (8-10), but is treated as an annual up here in Zone 5b.  With the newly installed Eze Breeze windows in our screened porch, I'm wondering if we move our containers in there this Winter...if we'll get a little bit of a 'greenhouse effect' with the wind cut down?  Maybe this is a container that I should test to see if the Saliva will come back.

I'll post a few more photos of our other containers on the patio thi…

Driveway Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses - June 2020

Spring and early Summer has treated our Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses that are sandwiched between our front walk and driveway really well.  There are three of them planted in this little bed that I mulched earlier this Summer with some cocoa bean shell mulch.  They're all happy and putting on a little lacy show right now. 

I've posted photos of these grasses over the years.  They were planted when we moved in back in Summer of 2017.  And here's a look at them their FIRST year back - in early June of 2018.   By August of 2018, they had finished growing and were transitioned to golden tops/tips.  The last time, I posted a photo of these were last October (2019) when they were on their way to dormancy for the year. 

In the photo at the top of this post, you can see them right now - happy and green.  With a lot of top growth that is lightweight and moves with the wind. 

Here - below - is a close-up view of those tips.  They are really striking RIGHT now. 

These provide s…

Oakleaf Hydrangeas Flowering First Season - June 2020

Yesterday, I posted photos of both of the Munchkin Oakleaf Hydrangeas flowering and today I have a couple of photos of the traditional variety that are also flowering in their first year.   There are five of these 'traditional' (aka. non-Munchkin) Oakleaf Hydrangeas that I planted in early June 2020.  Those seven are the most important aspect of solving for - and planting out - "Priority Area #1" in our backyard.  In the photo at the top of this post, you can see one of the conical flowers from one of these hydrangeas.  Lime green small flowers followed by bright-white blooms. 

Below, you can see two of the five traditional shrubs.  (are these shrubs?)  On the left is one with multiple flowers.  On the right, the foliage is a little bit lighter color, but you can see a couple of flowers starting to emerge. 

Here's a closeup of one of the flowers.  Also note, the brown spots on the bottom leaf - that was present when they arrived (these were a bday present). 


Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea Munchkin Flowering - June 2020

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of a series of Oakleaf Hydrangeas that I planted in "priority area #1" - that included both traditional and a pair of "Munchkin" variety.  I've been trying to get these plants to get over their transplant shock by watering them pretty frequently.  And now, we've been rewarded with some year-one flowers on both of the Munchkins.  You can see one of them in the photo above - that shows off a series of flowers.

And below, is a close-up of the other one - further to the West - of the flowers that are opening.  They're a really nice lime color right now that (based on the nursery tags) are likely to be turning a bright white.

With the heat of the Summer coming on - coupled with some travel to Wisconsin - I'm thinking that I'll have to add a new soaker hose to these along with a timer to make sure they don't take a step backwards.

Mason Bee House - Some Occupancies - June 2020

This is the third season with our Mason Bee house/hotel in our yard.  I was gifted it for my birthday in April 2018.  Hung it that year and documented the population/residents in May of 2018 when some of the cavities were filled.  That first year, there were 14 tubes filled or packed with mud.  And eggs.

I don't seem to have posted about the occupancy rate in 2019, but I'm happy to report that we're seeing a big jump in occupancy for 2020.  At the top of this post, you can see the bee hotel as it stands now.  I went ahead and made it easier on all of us with the annotated version of the photo below. 

It shows 36 little red circles that are filled with mud.  I haven't done a scientific analysis, but it seems that the larger bamboo is NOT being used - rather they seem to prefer a mid-sized bamboo piece or hole. But...with 36 sets packed in, that's a more than a 100% increase in occupancy.  Now, there's lots of coverage about the decline of bees, but just based o…

Hosta Moving (Teardown Hostas) by Hose Bib - June 2020

On Friday, I posted some photos of how I removed and divided a very large Hosta from around our rear hose bib.  In that post, I mentioned that I wanted to dig up another of the hostas and move it East a couple of feet to make the spread of these a little bit more even.  And, that's what I did in the photo above.  There were four Hostas in this row.  I removed #3 (from the left) and relocated it.  I then dug up #2 (from the left) and moved it over to the right so the three remaining hostas are a little bit more evenly spread.   I'll water this in pretty hard to get it set up to succeed this Summer.  But, hoping that by next year, it will have totally recovered and we'll have a nice set of three spaced out here.

Mulberry Firewood - Checking - June 2020

Back in the of last year, I took a bunch of rounds from hardwood trees that our neighbor took down to build their house.  That pile was mostly Ash trees, but there were also a few Mulberry rounds that were included.  I didn't really know what they were, but after I identified that Mulberry tree - I processed it the same way as the Ash.  However, that Mulberry was alive when they took it down and that meant that it was heavy and wet.  And...weirdly yellow.  I split it over a number of months this past Winter and by March, I had all that I was going to split up done for the Winter with just a few larger pieces left.  If you look at the bottom photo of this post, you'll see what the wood looked like when split.  In April, I started to work through a few more rounds including more Mulberry and found a yellow heartwood with purple under the bark.

Fast forward to today.  The pile that I had stacked came tumbling down a month or so back.  It wasn't stable, so one day, I found ab…

Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam Trees: 750 Days Difference

Those are four of our eight Carpinus betulus Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam trees as they looked 750 days ago.  This was right after they were planted in the end of May 2018.  There is a lot to notice in this photo besides the trees.  The cedar fence was still showing some signs of brown in the color.  The mulch is, umm, perfect.  The grass next to the trees seems pretty stressed due to the planting.  Also, at the left of the photo, you can barely make out a tree with a TreeGator watering bag around the trunk.  As for the trees?  Well...they look pretty far spaced apart.

This, below, is what these same four (plus the Chanticleer Pear on the left) look like today.

There are plenty of things to pick up on in the latest photo, too.  The trees have filled out and are wider and thicker.  They've grown taller, but hard to say how much.  The hostas at their base are all new - compared to their planting day in 2018. 

And for an even more nuanced view, here's the 'in between'…

Cicada Holes in the Ground - Illinois - June 2020

Back in the rear part of our property - where the soil was undisturbed during our construction, the ground is littered with these little holes - which I think are Cicada holes.  Why?  Because they're everywhere in our neighborhood.  This appears to be part of the 17-year cicadas that are in Northern Illinois.  From the University of Illinois Extension office, they label these cicadas - in 2020 - as the "Northern Illinois Sub-Brood (part of Marlatt's XIII)".

Note the inclusion of "sub-brood" in their name.  Turns out, the ones that are coming in 2024 - also on a 17-year cycle - are going to be more significant than this Summer.  Again...from the University of Illinois Extension office:
The northern Illinois brood, which will emerge in late May 2024, has a reputation for the largest emergence of cicadas known anywhere. This is due to the size of the emergence and the research and subsequent reporting over the years by entomologists Monte Lloyd and Henry Dyba…

Teardown Hostas - Removed, Divided and Relocated - June 2020

A few days ago, I posted some photos of the teardown Hostas that I had planted around our hose bib outside our kitchen window and talked about how it was time to remove and relocate one of them to make room for the rest that had grown up and out.  I decided to yank the 'middle' of the three along the house out to start and divide it.  In the photo at the top here, you can see the gap that now exists with the largest of the hostas pulled out.  I plan on taking the Hosta on the left of the photo and moving it out - to space these out a little bit.

In that post, I mentioned that there were a few locations that need hostas including our front bed, by the screened porch, priority area 2 and 3. 

So, where did I put them?  None of those spots.

I ended up dividing that one Hosta into four smaller ones - and put a series of three of them just to the East of the 2nd largest Oak tree on the South Side of our lot.  You can see those below.  I wanted to put the third one around the front …

24 Divine Lavender Impatiens Planted - Front Yard Bed

Over the years, we've tried different annuals in front of our boxwoods in our front yard bed.  Our first full year - in 2018 - we planted some Ranunculuses - about eight of them.  Last year - in 2019 - we planted 16 orange marigolds.  Neither set of those did very well.  The marigolds were better than the Ranunculuses, but they didn't spread and some did better than others.  When we started with this bed, it was about 2" of mulch and then backfilled clay.  Not a ton of organic material to deal with beyond the mulch.  Over the years, I dug up spots and added pelletized gypsum a few inches down in an attempt to loosen up the clay soils.  (speaking of which...I should probably add some gypsum to my lawn this Summer) and tried to amend the soil to improve the conditions.

Last year, I used a bulb auger to dig out the holes for marigolds, planted them and covered with cocoa bean mulch.  I read somewhere that the BEST way to loosen up clay soils is to actually plant in them:  t…

Guacamole Hostas Placement - Front and Backyard - June 2020

When we moved in, we had three Hadspen hostas planted in our front landscape bed in front of the large Maple tree as part of our initial installation.  I've subsequently added some tulip bulbs to complement the boxwoods and hostas and have been laying down cocoa bean hull mulch over the years.   As part of buying some of the nursery stock for my Priority Area #2, we acquired six Guacamole Hostas.  Three of them you can see in the photo at the top.  Obviously, this isn't in the backyard and isn't in Priority Area #2, but Nat has been commenting on our front yard and our need to add some additional plants.  I've placed these three Guacamole Hostas (they're big - and came from Hinsdale Nursery) alternating between the smaller Hadspen Blue hostas that are there already.

Here's a wider view of the front bed including these three new Guacamole hostas placed.

Three of the six are going to go in that front bed and that means that other three are destined for our backy…

Sunrise on Lake Elizabeth from Sunset Park - Summer 2020

That photo was taken in the area of what is known as Sunset Beach Park on Elizabeth Lake in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  I was out for an early-morning walk and the sky was painted purple and pink.  The Park is located on the West side of Elizabeth Lake ( I call it:  Elizabeth Lake) and has great views of the....ummmm....sunrise. 

The location of the park is mentioned in this article about new playground equipment
Sunset Beach Park is located on the Lake Elizabeth shore, at Sunset Drive east of Lakeshore Way. Here's an overhead look of the park (the red spot is the playground equipment) from Google Maps:

It is located at the end of Sunset Drive. 

You might be able to tell from that small photo of Google Maps that the lake is, ummm, EAST of Sunset Drive.  And to the EAST of Sunset Beach. 

Here's a zoomed out view that shows you the orientation.  Note the red arrow point up for North.  The yellow circle is the position of the sun as it rises in the mornings.  It comes up OV…

Early Summer Hydrangeas - Tuff Stuff & Everlasting Revolution - June 2020

This is an early June look at a pair of hydrangeas - on the left is the smaller Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea.  And on the right is our Tuff Stuff Hydrangea.  At the bottom of the photo are a couple of still-nursery-potted Fanal Astibles that I put on the soaker hose to keep from drying out.

The last time I posted a photo of these two hydrangea was last September (2019), when they were still green and happy.  They did NOT flower last year.  In terms of size, the Tuff Stuff is/was bigger in September - after a full season of growing - but not by much.  So, I'm hopeful that we'll see that one continue to grow up.

Before that, I posted a photo of these two in August of 2018.

And right about two years ago, I posted photos of both the Everlasting Revolution (it was barely green) and the Tuff Stuff (has always been *ahead*).  They were planted in October of 2017 and were shipped to us by Nat's Mom as an anniversary gift.  They were small.

That means, we had the 2018 and 2019…

Large Teardown Hostas - Ready to Divide - Summer 2020

Yesterday, I posted a photo of a miniature hosta that I transplanted from the far back part of our yard to underneath the Oak tree swing trunk and mentioned that I was watching it to see if it was healthy enough to divide into multiple plants.  While I wait for that....I wanted to post about a few other hostas that were certainly *healthy enough* to divide.  You see them above in the photo.  These are all "teardown hostas" that I grabbed in the Fall of 2017 and was surprised in 2018 when they all emerged.  Hostas, are indeed, hearty perennials.

This post shows the location in question and the landscape plan that was drafted:  it includes 4 Hadspen Hostas that wrap around the corner of our house.  If you look at the photo at the top of this post, you'll count five (5) hostas. the middle of that photo, you can see one of them is bigger than the rest.

I'm thinking my plan is to dig out the two 'middle ones'.  That would be the largest one and the one t…

Dozen Fanal Astilbe Planted: June 2020

My top backyard priority was to get the southern fenceline planted with a series of new perennials.  Back in February, I called it "Priority Area #1" and showed a schematic of what would go where.  You can go back to that post and see a photo with a sketch on top of it showing a "head-on" look at the area.  Below, you can see a portion of the landscape plan that was developed that shows the plantings here.  You'll note that it calls for bookend'd Summer Beauty Alliums, a series of Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas and a strip of Fanal Astilbe up front.  On the far right, you'll also see the esaplier'd Lindens and they show something as "Existing", but I don't know what that is because there really wasn't anything in that spot when we built the house.

That part of the plan calls for:
15 Fanal Astilbe
12 Summer Beauty Allium
7 Oakleaf Hydrangea

I also posted about how I wanted to add a larger Canadian Hemlock tree or another columnar tree to…

Mini Variegated Hosta - Summer 2020

Last year, I posted a photo of this transplanted miniature hosta that currently resides underneath the large Oak tree that hosts our tree swing and remarked that it had come back and wasn't getting trampled by the kids like it was when I had it planted in the far back.

The hosta is quite a bit larger than last year as it seems to have had enough time to establish itself and now is spreading a little bit.  Once it gets large enough, this one deserves to be split up and spread around with a series of clumps living here.

The photo above shows a couple of other things for context - the trunk of the Oak tree behind the hosta, the larger hosta in the top right showing the edge of the bed.  And what appears to be a tiny, (and new??) hosta leaf emerging on the far left.

Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas - Planted June 2020

Back in February, I put together a few posts that were an attempt to help me prioritize the new plants and shrubs that we were going to buy this year.  Those posts were called Priority Area #1, #2 and #3.  And a few days ago, I did a check-in on my full 2020 list and mentioned that I was close to getting a big part of #1 done with the planting of some Oakleaf Hydrangeas.

In this area, the plan calls for a bunch of new items, but I boiled down the needs to a few specific additions:

1.  Some Summer Beauty Alliums
2.  Some Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas
3.  Some Fanal Astilbes
4.  A larger shade-tolerant Canadian Hemlock and perhaps a columnar tree, too.

In May, I posted some photos of the first four Summer Beauty Allium that we planted under the Espalier'd Lindens.  You can see one of them in the photo at the top of this post in the purple circle on the far left.

In that photo, you can all see that we planted more things.

The red circles are Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas.
The blue circles are…