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Showing posts from September, 2020

Evercolor Everillo Sedge - Via Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale - September 2020

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This is the seventh in the series of plant varieties that came home from the Morton Arobretum Fall Plant sale from last week.  The previous six - including some Japanese grasses, coral bells, a couple of hostas and some other shade plants can be found at the bottom of this post.  I bought these bright Evercolor Sedges based on the recommendation of the staff at the Arboretum.  From the sign at the top of this post, they describe these as having a 10-12" height and 16-24" spread.  But, also, they call out Full Shade - which is a key for me.  The rest of the description reads:Leaf blades are long, thin and arching, with a golden yellow hue.  Adds a burst of color to garden beds, borders and containers.  Mounding habit adds texture to many garden areas, especially when mass planted.  Best color in locations with morning sun. Below is a photo of the front and the back of the plant tag - where they call this out as a Japanese Sedge. 

Walter's Garden compares it to other, simil…

Dolce Cherry Truffles Coral Bells - Five from Plant Sale - September 2020

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The sixth variety of plants that we bought at the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale is a set of five Coral Bells.  Specifically, DOLCE Cherry Truffles Coral Bells.  These aren't the FIRST Coral Bells that we have in our landscape as I planted one (not sure of the cultivar) in a container in 2019 and transplanted into a foundation bed in the Fall.   By August of 2020 (a little bit over a year ago), I checked in on the plant and it seemed to be doing well.   In that post, I mentioned that the best practice is to divide these things every three to five years.  2019 = year one, 2020 = year two.  Next year is year three.  Come Spring, I'll take a shot at dividing it.  Here - below - is the sign for this variety - DOLCE Cherry Truffles Coral Bells from the plant sale.The description reads:Beautiful bright red, heavily ruffled leaves form a low, mounding habit.  In Summer, the bright color persists, maturing to a rich mahogany red.  Dark burgundy stems hold light pink flowers and dark ros…

Chocoholic Black Snakeroot - September 2020

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The next up in my purchase(s) at the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale is one of these Chocoholic Black Snakeroot (Actacea 'Chocoholic').    The sign from the sale is below, but for the short-hand reason for why I bought it?  It flowers in Full Shade.  And, like it or not, I'm a shade gardener.   This snakeroot grows to 4-5' tall and a three-to-four foot spread.  
The description from the sign reads: Bronze purple foliage is a welcome addition to the shade garden.  Rich mauve-pink flowers lighten to white as they age.  Forms a dense, upright clump.  
Below is a photo of the full plant showing the current height and clump size.   I haven't thought about Snakeroot before, but when I saw this one flowering, I couldn't pass it up.  
The ball-like flower buds have started to explode into white flowers. 

The Chocoholic Version is one of many versions of Snakeroot.  Walter's Garden thinks highly of this cultivar: This lovely native cultivar adds wonderful texture, color,…

All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses - A Dozen from Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale - September 2020

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One of the plants that I've been chasing for a while is a Japanese grass.  I posted a 'dreaming post' back in January of this year featuring something called "All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses".  I wasn't the only one in our house that has had a little bit of plant lust as Natalie had snapped a photo of a neighbor close to Randall Park that has grasses in their yard and she said:  "I like these" when she texted me the photo.  So, imagine my delight when I went to the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale and came across a bunch of these All Gold Grass - Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'.   The sign you can see below carries this description:A vigorously growing, all gold version of the Hakone grass.  A cascading habit makes it perfect for the landscape or container.  Spreads slowly through rhizomes.  
I ended up buying quite a few of these and have plans to put them in both our front (side) yard and the backyard.  
Here's what one of them looks like:

Praying Hands Hosta - From Morton Arboretum Sale - September 2020

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The third variety of plant material that I brought home from the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale last week is the second cultivar of hosta.  And it is (maybe?) even more unique than the Waterslide one that has ruffled edges.  This one is called Praying Hands Hosta and according to Walter's Garden, it is "unlike any other hosta."  It also was "Hosta of the Year" in 2011.  
Here - below - is the plant tag that shows the height being 14-18" and the spread being 12-16".  

Here - below - is a look at the plant that I brought home.  It is really interesting looking.  

If you looked closely at the photo of my Linden trees that I posted a few days ago, you might have viewed this hosta at the base of one of them.  I've been watching the sun/shade patterns of that area to see if it is the right place to plant this hosta.  I'd like it in a spot that can be viewed and highlighted - so underneath those trees feels good right now.  I'll do a shade study a…

Soil Savvy Soil Test Returned - September 2020

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A little over a month ago, I posted a photo of the pair of soil tests that I was planning on conducting for my lawn - both front and back - from SoilSavvy.  These tests require you to take a composite set of soil plugs and combine them into a little tray that you ship off.  When SoilSavvy's lab receives the samples, they run them through their system and then send you off this analysis.  I ended up doing one test for my front yard and one for the backyard.  This is a little different in approach than I did last year, but I'm thinking this is the best way forward. First, a quick review of where things were last year.  This year, the results show higher levels of just about everything aside from Boron.  First up, the front yard.  The N-P-K analysis shows that the Potassium is below the target area.  Surprised?  Not really.  Milorganite's N-P-K is 6-4-0 - so I haven't added any Potassium to the yard this year.  

The Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur are all off the charts. So,…

Late Summer Linden Cordon Espalier Trees - September 2020

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The last time I shared a photo of our pair of Cordon Espalier'ed Greenspire Linden trees was back when I gave them a hard prune in July of this year.  Two months later, the trees have shown some new growth and are filling out the levels of the horizontal cordon.  I've decided to go with four levels and you can see those four levels starting to stand out in the updated photo below.
After the pruning/shaping that I did earlier this Summer, I'm now seeing some direct response in the form of new light-green growth.  Check out the photo below for a closeup showing some of the new growth:
In both trees, the second from the bottom set of horizontal branches are the strongest/most vigorous.  Followed by the top level - which I think is a reaction to pruning off the apical meristem.  The bottom level is the newest to emerge and to be trained.  If you look closely at the espalier wire system behind the trees, you can see that the lowest level isn't the same as the rest.  It is - …

Waterslide Hosta - My first Ruffled Hosta - September 2020

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Yesterday, I started to share some items that I bought at the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale starting with a pair of Karl Foerster grasses and mentioned that I also came home with some other items.  Here is one of those: A Waterslide Hosta.They had a few different varieties of hostas that were unique - ones that you can't buy at Home Depot or most big box garden centers.  All of them were selected by the staff at the Arboretum to be good for Fall planting.  Of the six or so for sale, I ended up deciding on trying a few.  I mean...tell me that you could see a rack of these hostas and not want to buy one?
Here's the tag showing the Waterslide hosta mixed in with some other more lime-colored hostas.

And the back of the tag:

The description on the tag reads: This beautifully ruffled hosta is a thrill to behold! Blue, rippled leaves hold their color all season long.  Lavender flowers appear on proportionate flower scapes. Here, below, is the sign that was up at the Plant Sale and inc…

Two More Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses - Arboretum Plant Sale 2020

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Last week I went over to the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale and picked up a few things for Fall planting.  They had some items that I've come across before and others that were new to me - having not come across them at either a garden center or big box store.  I'll post about the groups of plants (and one tree) that I brought home over the next few days.  
First up are a pair of Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses.  I've posted about them over the years - and have a series of them planted outside of our kitchen windows in back, three of them planted by our landscapers between our front porch and driveway and one solo grass planted outside of our screened porch.  I bought six and only planted five by the kitchen windows, hence this other one being all alone.I really like these grasses as they provide a mix of coloring through the year - from green to purple to gold - and provide a lot of interest all year long - including Winter.  Back to that one outside our screened porch.  …

Going Back For More Wood Chips - Late Summer 2020

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Back in April, I posted about how I had started to go over to the Downers "mulch pit" with some buckets and my pitchfork and bringing home about 1/3rd of a yard of arborist wood chips a couple of times per week.  At that time, I was mostly stuck at home due to COVID, so I had the time.  And, I had a huge part of our far backyard that I had never mulched.  These wood chips seemed like a good idea to cover some of that soil, provide a little bit of mulch and potentially create a base upon which I could cover with higher quality mulch.  
I ended up doing a big section across the back of my yard, but after getting that *mostly* done, Spring had arrived and I switched my attention to other parts of the yard.  I also had 12 yards of hardwood fines premium mulch delivered that covered the rest of my yard.  (Note to self:  12 yards wasn't enough for my yard.)
Well...guess what?  COVID is still here. And I'm still *mostly* stuck around the house with time.  For me, August an…

Pizza Oven Planning - Foundation And Our Drywell

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Over the past few years, I've dreamed about building a backyard pizza oven - both in our old house in Elmhurst and here in Downers. I've posted a few times on the potential location(s) on the blog. Here back in 2017. And, here again earlier this year and most recently just last month when I was talking about a pond. In each of those explorations, I've included a location of the pizza oven that is along the north side of our property, off of our patio, down in a lower level of our patio.
As I continue to think about the location - and I'm increasingly thinking that the northside site - that is situated down low - is the right spot.  It is low-lying, so the fireplace won't be sticking up for all of the neighbors to see - and to expose to the elements.  
I've read the Forno Bravo DIY installation instructions like six times and lurked all over the forums over the years.  One of the pieces of counsel that they give is that if you live in an area of the count…

Adding An Ember Retainer - Fireplace Grate Prep - Fall 2020

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Each of the last few seasons, we've swapped out the wood holding grate in our fireplace.  I've bought some commonly-available ones from big-box stores.  They're made of steel (and not cast iron) and, frankly, while they appear beefy, they're not super heavy-duty.  And that's been a fine trade-off.  Buying one for $20 to $25 for the family room fireplace and it lasts for the one burning season.  Some call it Fireplace Grate Melt - but what happens is that a couple of places come loose and larger openings start to appear in the grate.
I've posted recently about the prep work done by ordering, sorting and stacking all the firewood on the racks this year, but I also wanted to get ahead of the firewood season by dealing with the grate.  I looked around and settled on the grate that I think is right for us: this 28" wide x 15.5" deep (they call it Deep) "extra heavy-duty" grate.  It comes with what they bill as a lifetime guarantee to not 'bu…

Late Summer Stress on London Plane Tree - September 2020

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The past few days, I've added some entries to my garden diary showing off some late Summer growth on our Dawn Redwood tree,  our front-yard Bald Cypress tree and most recently the hedge of Hicks upright yews.   The Summer has been hot and dry.  And, therefore, it hasn't been all good news for the yard.  In the photo at the top, you can see some of the foliage of our London Planetree.  It is clearly stressed.  A good portion of the tree is going yellow - and it is just early September. 

The history of this tree - which I call the Grampy tree:

Bought in April (during lockdown) on an early am run to Home Depot with some birthday money from Nat's Grampy.Got around to planting it in May.  And it was immediately stressed due to the transplant.  It recovered and leaf'd out again this Summer. 
I've tried to water it a bit, but have not paid nearly enough attention to this tree - and it shows. 

Here, below, is another look at the yellow leaves.  Also, for those keeping trac…

A Fox Across the Street - Randall Park, Downers Grove - Summer 2020

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I was out moving the lawn sprinkler around (the gear drive one that I bought this Summer) and I noticed someone watching me from across the street.  It was this guy - a little Fox - sitting on the driveway watching my moves.  I looked down and then when I looked up, he was gone. 

For reference, this is the driveway that you can see in the video here from 2017 with the same white garage door peeking out.

Not the first fox we've seen - but I mostly see them closer to Maple Avenue - behind the Lincoln Center - but a good reminder that they're around and our neighborhood is home to plenty of wildlife. Two years ago, I posted this photo of a Coyote on my walk to the train.  Last Summer, a duck laid an egg in our yard.  And earlier this year, I spotted an Owl up in a large tree early one morning

We've had a bunch of run-ins with foxes up in Wisconsin - in fact I saw one up on the porch one Winter morning

Foxes are talked about all around town on places like Nextdoor - so mu…

Hicks Yew Hedge - First Berries (Arils) - September 2020

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The past few days, I've added some entries to my garden diary showing off some late Summer growth on our Dawn Redwood tree and our front-yard Bald Cypress tree.  Today, I'm adding an entry showing how our Hicks Yews in the back of our lot are showing off some 'berries' for what I think is the first time.

The posted about these Yews just last month when they were looking fine.  And earlier this Spring, I posted a photo showing off their new growth after they suffered some frost/winter (and maybe rabbit?!?) damage.

I planted these last Summer, so I'm thinking that due to the transplant shock, we didn't see any berries in their first season.

But...turns out, these 'berries' aren't really berries.  They're "arils".  And they arrive mid-Summer - hence why I'm noticing them right now: Via this post on Four Season Foraging:
Yew produces red arils— berry-like seed coverings. (I'll just call them "berries" for simplicity'…

Late Summer Growth on Bald Cypress Tree - September 2020

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Yesterday, I posted a couple of photos showing off some late Summer growth on our Dawn Redwood and today, wanted to add an entry to my Garden Diary showing off some similar growth on our *other* deciduous conifer:  the Bald Cypress in our front yard.  The last time that I posted about this tree was earlier this in January when it was showing some buds on the tree.

Similar to the Dawn Redwood, I haven't totally baby'd this tree, but have done some hand watering around the mulch ring.   This tree is 'downhill' from one of our gutter pop-ups, so whatever rain we *do* get, this tree gets some benefit.  I also tried to break up the "clay bowl" prior to planning this tree back in 2018.  The needles on this tree - at this point in the Summer - aren't a bright, vibrant green, but this new growth (on the tips) is providing a nice pop of color.

This tree is planted pretty close to the north property line - between our driveway and the new construction site next do…

Late Summer Growth on Dawn Redwood - September 2020

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My history with our Dawn Redwood has been mixed overall, but over the past few years, it seems that things have been going well. Originally planted our first Spring - in 2017 - I over-pruned the tree and didn't baby it enough leading to it only lasting that first season.  By 2018, I had replaced it.  That year, I really tried to pay attention the small, thin tree.  I hand-watered it regularly and we had a little bit of a milder Summer.  And the tree made it through its first year. 

By Fall of 2018 - the first full year with the replacement tree - I was seeing Fall growth.  That felt good.  It needle'd-out in the Spring of 2019 and hasn't looked back.  It grew 36" last year

The last time that I checked in on the tree was earlier this Summer when I found a little bit of new growth on top - gaining even more height. 

Today, I'm diary'ing a few photos showing some late Summer growth on the tips.  I've tried to pay a moderate amount of attention to this tree…

Northside Kentucky Coffee Tree (3 of 3) - September 2020

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I mentioned that we had an arborist come out to look at some of the trees our property for maintenance and while he was there, I asked him to help me identify a few trees.   At the time, I wasn't sure if they were weed trees or something that was/is worth keeping.  I showed him one of them and he immediately told me it was a Kentucky Coffee Tree.  I posted about the first one - along our back fenceline here.  Then, I posted photos of the second of them - on the south property line about halfway between the large Oak and the trampoline. 

This post is showing the third of these trees.  This one is along the north property line/fence line and is to the East of the cluster of American Elm trees we have (all of them small) along the fence.   So this is kind of growing up in/out from the canopy of the biggest Oak tree (swing tree) and just next to the River Birch clump.

You can see the chainlink fence in the photos here - that's from the construction next door and will go away once …