Last Spring, while the world was pretty well shut down, The Growing Place nursery got creative and held a 'drive thru' shopping experience. You couldn't get out of your cars, but you could drive thru the areas with the plants, shout out to the staff who would grab something for you and toss it in your trunk. We ended up buying a few things that were part of our plan (Summer Beauty Allium) and some that weren't ( Harry Lauder's Walking Stick contorted tree ), but were things we wanted. One of the other items we bought was our first Lenten Rose (or Hellebores). We picked a Sally's Shell and planted it in Spring . It was flowering when we bought it and I was careful to watch it all Summer. Notice, I said "a" Sally's Shell. Which, upon reflection, is a very common gardening mistake: buying just one of something . Our plan has a couple of spots that call for drifts of Hellebores - and one of them is this season's "Priority Area #2&quo
Showing posts from March, 2021
Back in October of 2020, I posted some photos showing a juniper cultivar that I have kept in a large patio container for the past few seasons and talked about how I had wrapped some wire around some of the limbs as I began to learn how to bonsai the past few seasons. I overwintered this container both inside the screened porch and then, due to A LOT of fungus gnats, ended up moving it back outside. This is the same juniper that I posted snow-covered back in February that really got my brain going on bonsai for 2021, so when the snow melted, I immediately went and looked at the state of the tree. And, it turns out, the wire that I wrapped on the tree (either in 2020 or 2019) was on far too long and too tight. Because there's quite a bit of wire damage. You can see it below, but it was on their so long that it was difficult to remove as the tree began to grow AROUND the wire. This is a tree that I'll move work pretty hard this year ( it is #2 on my 2021 Bonsai to-do list a
Earlier this month, the fine folks at Disney Imagineering shared even more details of the newly refreshed entrance to Epcot that includes the original fountain, some cool ribbon lighting and a series of flagpoles that are flying flags featuring the original symbols of Epcot . Seems like it is a lot of "back to the beginnings" for Epcot in terms of the entrance and I'm here for it. In our pin trading, we've collected a series of the Epcot pavilion symbol pins, but there's one that we just came across that was new to us. It is what you see below: Now, we can certainly have a conversation about *if* this is scrapper (and it might be), but that's not what I'm here to post about. It is about the fact that, based on THIS pin, I just learned that the World Showcase had/has a symbol that was in harmony with all the other ones that I was familiar with over the years. What is interesting is that this story on D23 (the official fan club for Disney) doesn'
Last Spring, our neighbors to the north began framing their house and once the window placements were set, I came to the realization that our row of Frans Fontaine Hornbeam trees were doing a pretty great job of screening between our houses. But, there was an edge spot - closer to the front of the house - that was going to be exposed to one of their new windows. So, on Earth Day 2020, we decided to plant a columnar flowering pear tree (yeah...I know. they're not great trees. But, I needed to put in something that was inexpensive, narrow in habit and, ummm, fast growing. The Chanticleer Pear tree fit the bill . When I planted it , the tip top of the tree was right at the fence level. But, by the time Fall came around , it had put on more than 18" to the top. Have a peek at it in October of last year . The tree was beginning to do its job. I've had mixed luck with these trees. I had a large (3"+ caliper) planted in our front yard in 2017. It died that firs
Last year, I planted (in two sets) twelve Summer Beauty Ornamental Onion (Allium) on the south side of our backyard in two different spots. First, I put in four underneath one of the Espalier'd Lindens , then seven more further down (and one more by the Lindens) all in a cluster that will, hopefully, grow up and out into a nice drift of alliums. This is my first Spring with them and I'm happy to see that they're showing a lot of nice, new green growth coming out of the ground and seem to be one of the first movers of the season. My count shows that all twelve are (right now) showing signs of life, so I'm thinking they all are coming back. I threw down some wood chips on top of these to shelter them from the cold last Fall and I'm thinking these might have helped in some way. But, they sure take on a messy look once Spring comes, don't they? Have a look at three of these Allium covered with Fall wood chips below. These need a new, fresh coat of hardwoo
About a month ago, I decided to take a dwarf umbrella plant that was mostly forgotten about upstairs in our spare bedroom and transplant it to a different container . The goal was to straighten it out - and get it standing straight up in the air. But, also to try to compel some new growth through some top pruning. It wasn't long before that initial care that one or two tiny buds began to pop from the trunk . But, they didn't take off. Checking back in this week - about a month from that initial top prune - and you can see (below) that the tree is showing some new top growth right at the point of cutting. There are a couple of smaller branches growing and the light green, larger branch: As for the trunk buds, they're continuing to exist, but not breaking much in terms of throwing off new branches. You can see one of them on the left side of the trunk below: That one (and another one) appeared right after I did that initial top prune. So...you're thinking the same
Just about one month in and (knock wood), our Maidenhair Fern is still green. And, showing some signs of growth in terms of width and height. Here is the post showing off this delicate fern that we brought home in late February and have been careful to keep happy. I have a couple of brown tips, but also new growth. Thus, a mixed bag so far after one month. If you poke around the Web just a bit, you'll find people talking about how difficult these ferns are to take care of as indoor plants. And, while I'm certainly no pro, it seems like the key for this fern (SO FAR) is to keep it mostly watered. For me, that means a couple of times per week. And a good soaking in terms of watering. I place the pot in our sink and soak it pretty good - letting the water run out the bottom for a bit before putting it back into the little plastic tray. Once the warm days of April begin to appear, I'm going to plan on putting some of our containers out for little parts of the day to
Yesterday, I shared a post talking about the concept of creating curvilinear flower beds in landscape design and how one of my initial backyard projects is to move towards a final shape with our beds. That requires us to carve up a bunch of the current lawn and creating new beds that jut out into the grass. But, before I can even begin to think about how to make those swoop'ing, curved beds, there is some thinking that I have to do in in order to get both ready for the days of sod removal AND what has to happen AFTER the creation of the new beds to get them ready and dressed for the season. To arrange my thinking - and to pressure test on what I want to do - I thought I'd create an individual (for me) order of operations document that details the steps in the order I need to take in order to make this all work. So, let's go. 1. Remove our Automower wire. Around the entire perimeter of our backyard, we have a low-voltage green wire buried about 3" or so from th
I've talked and talked and talked about our backyard landscape plan on the blog over the years and I've made a lot of progress towards realizing the vision laid out there. But, because I'm doing things myself, my best laid plans don't always work out. And, one of the ways where I've been having trouble is in laying out the beds in the back. You look at these ideal woodland gardens and any backyard garden of note, one of the things that you often see are beautiful, graceful, swooping curves that mark the edges of the beds . In poking around the Web, I found this post from Sue at Not Another Gardening Blog that was part of her " Good Lines Mean Good Designs " series titled: Curves Wonderful Curves . Those posts are almost ten years old, but they're just as valid as today. And, for a beginner gardener like me? They are *just* what I needed for where I am on my gardening journey right NOW. In the post , Sue introduces (to me) Curviliear Form for
If you ask me what my favorite plant type is, I'll answer by talking about ferns. They're my favorite plant type to grow. When I talk about ferns, I mostly talk about my love for outdoor, perennial ferns. Ostrich Ferns were my gateway drug . We have others, now. Like Japanese Painted ferns . A Lady Fern that I planted last year . And a big, happy unknown cultivar "teardown" fern deep in the yard . We plant Foxtail ferns what seems like every year. Nat also keeps a big Boston (I think) fern on our front porch during the Summer and we've tried to overwinter it upstairs. It has lost a LOT of leaves/fronds, but there's still a lot of green, so maybe it will come thru. I also added an indoor fern this Winter when I bought my first Maidenhair Fern . What is supposed to be a finicky fern has - so far at least - been ok for me. I keep it pretty well watered and thus far, it hasn't shown much stress. But, for a few years now, there's been another ty
Last week, we were snapped back to reality with a heavy, wet snow. False Spring had come and gone. But, what remained after the snow fell were still some signs of Spring including these tulip starters that had come up from the mulch. With the snow laying on top, it suddenly became VERY easy to figure out how many of these tulips were up and where they were located. I suppose you can call that a silver lining, right?
There were more than ten large birds flying together in what you could call a boil . Or, a kettle or even a cast. I missed much of them, but was able to whip out my phone quickly and snap these photos over our backyard on a recent afternoon. No idea what type they are, but based on my bird feeder visits, I'm guessing this was likely a boil of Cooper's Hawks . The photo below shows seven of the (more than ten) hawks in the low-flying boil.
Last Fall, we went NUTS at the Morton Arboretum Fall plant sale. Bought all sorts of stuff - some that made sense, some that didn't - base don our plan and priorities. And, some of the decisions kind of landed in the middle. They sorta made sense. But sorta didn't. One of THOSE was the trio of Twinkle Toes Lungworts that we bought and planted on the south side of the property . Buying those didn't make sense because they're NOT in our plan. But, buying them *did* make sense because of a few things: they're blue. And they grow and flower in deep shade - which we have tons of - and they flower in Spring - after Hellebores and before annual flowers show off. After planting them, I mulched them initially with some wood chips and then left them alone. There's some good news - in that it seems that all three are back this Spring. Here's the little bit of green foliage that has emerged from the base of these plants: You can see the fuzz on the dea
Last year, we added a Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree to our backyard after seeing it a drive-thru buying experience at the Growing Place in Aurora. We first saw - and fell in love - with this curving, interesting tree at Disneyland Paris outside of their Haunted Mansion (called Phantom Manor ) and knew then that we should buy one of these contorted trees. Where we planted it ended up being close to the 'focal point' we were trying to design along with the apex of the 'nook' that will (eventually) hid the fire pit area. The tree came with a bamboo pole that the tree was growing around and I pretty much just left it as is after planting. But on a garden walk around recently, I noticed that the tree had begun to really grow AROUND that bamboo pole - especially down near the bottom. So, I went ahead and tried to remove the pole, but it turned out harder than I expected. After some sawing, cracking and twisting, I was able to remove the central bamboo pole. But, no
Back at the end of February, I published my 25 point "to do" list for the yard and garden for 2021 . In that list, I included what I called two "priority areas" as #1 and #2. The item in spot #3 was to work the area between the two driveways. The first two priority areas are in the backyard, but this one is in the front yard and I didn't label it as a priority area before I published the list, so I'm not sure I can now. Instead, let's just call this"Between Two Driveways". I mentioned it yesterday as a potential location for some transplanted peonies. This is a long, narrow strip that was - up until last fall - just turf with a very small Bald Cypress and a troubled Chanticleer Pear tree . Our neighbors directly to the north of us have recently built their new house and moved in this past Fall. As part of their new construction, they added a new driveway that runs parallel to ours - thus creating this long strip of land. The Bald Cypr
Starting all the way back in 2010 , I have documented the re-emergence of the pink peony tips as they peek out of the mulch in our flower beds. When we lived in Elmhurst, our yard was MUCH smaller, but also it was full sun. That meant that we could have quite a few peony plants that would throw off flowers that Nat could cut and bring inside. Once we moved to Downers, peonies haven't been a focus. And that's due to the shade garden we have in our yard. We have a series of peonies that we've planted - including some teardown peonies, but none of them have ever flowered. Here's one of them as they peeked thru this past weekend: Here are these same peonies in 2020 . I think these are the 'teardown' ones, but I also planted some new ones as tubers back in 2018 . Back in 2019, I did a roundup of all the peony plants on the property here and one of them even flowered ?!? I don't remember that at all. Well, I've been thinking that we either have
This is the third in a series of four posts based on the garden things that Nat brought home from Costco recently. The first one was a set of Frances Williams hosts for the backyard . The second was two packs of Bressingham Blue hostas that are destined, too, for the backyard. 3rd post. first two hostas. Today is another shade-loving perennial that pairs well with hostas that we got started with last season. And that would be astilbes. Here's the bag of six Gloria Purpurea Astilbes (below): And, here's the back of the package showing a 20" spacing requirement and saying they get about 24" tall. As I mentioned earlier, we started with Astilbes last year - buying 12 of them and planting them in June . Timing was off and some of them suffered some transplant and drought stress, so I'm not certain how many made it, but it isn't all twelve. The area where we planted them - on the southside in front of some new Oak Leaf Hydrangeas - calls for 15 of t
On a recent afternoon, we had our backdoor open to enjoy the warmer temperatures when I heard that prehistoric call of the Sandhill Crane. We live out in the Western Suburbs of Chicago and it was early afternoon in early/mid March of 2021 when I took this video below of a group of Sandhill Cranes flying in what sure seems like a circular pattern that continues to move north . Almost like how a tornado moves across land. They were, as is their pattern, flying pretty high in the sky, but that sound was unmistakeable. This is a 2:30 video, but I've started the embed below at about half-way because that's when the noise is clearest. Turn up your speaker and click play below: This is the northern migration that I've captured now, but I also posted a similar video of these same (well...probably not THESE same birds) heading south in late November of 2020 . You can see that video here . Wildlife Illinois says that 20K of these amazing-looking birds migrate through Illin
All the way back in the late Summer of 2017, Nat's Mom sent us a Disneyland Rose as an anniversary present. It was our first rose and I planted it in a bed that had basically nothing in it - right outside of our kitchen windows. But, it was quickly clear that this was in the wrong spot. The following Fall ( 2018 ), we acquired two more Disneyland Roses , but this time, I planted them in on the southside of our house, along the foundation. And, they've fared pretty well. But the initial one, planted in the wrong spot wasn't doing as well. By last Summer, the Disneyland Rose was being crowded out by grasses, hostas and well, weeds . So, this year, a portion of #6 on my 2021 to-do list was to transplant the rose to be over by the other ones. I did a little bit of research on the timing and prep for transplanting a floribunda rose and figured out a couple of things: 1. Do it in late winter/early spring. When the ground is soft enough to work the hole. 2. Pre-d
I mentioned in yesterday's post about the new set of two-toned Frances Williams hostas that Nat also brought home some other shade-loving plants from her trip to Costco. The next set are also hostas, but this time there are two bags of them and they're blue. Officially: 18 Bressingham Blue hostas. Here, below, is a look at the back of one of the bags that details 40" spacing and hardiness (down to Zone 3). It turns out, I've bought these before and have some of them in the yard. But, I'm not sure, exactly. In 2018, I bought a (then) 10 pack of them and stuck them in the ground somewhere and didn't document the locations. Having good photos of mature Bressingham Blues now (thanks to this bag), I'll have a look around late Spring and see if I can pick any out. I'm thinking that they went in on the north side of the house, but will effort to identify them. Back to what these are.... The Chicago Botanical Garden has a page up about Bressingham Blue
Last year, I added five Guacamole hostas to our backyard - three larger ones, two smaller ones. In two different spots . The plan that we're working from calls for Guacamole hostas in a couple of different spots including in what I've called "Priority Area #2" for 2021 - this woodland garden section . Here's a look at part of that section that highlights the hostas. Green = what I planted last year. Yellow = what is remaining. In terms of cultivar, Guacamole Hostas have a lovely color that resembles...you guessed it...guacamole. It has margins on it and is a two-toned green. And, 'tis the season for impulse buys, right? Well, Nat was at Costco recently where they're selling packages of perennials like hostas and other-what-have-yous and, well, I couldn't help myself. She sent some photos and I ended up pulling the trigger on a different variety that I think will complement the trio of Guacamole hostas. Say hello to Frances Williams Hostas. I
Back in February, when I was at the end of the line in terms of wanting to deal with snow, I posted something that amounted to a bonsai wish list (or to-do list) for the season. It was a way to get my brain thinking about what the Spring and Summer will look like and a coping mechanism after all the snow. (Listen...I'm not normally someone who hates Winter. But, February...and ALL.THE.SNOW was, umm, a bit much.) So, out of that post , I mentioned that I wanted to do a few things including utilizing the existing nursery stock that I have on hand, acquire more for future use, dig up a 'found' bonsai (American Elm), take a bonsai class and...create a bench or table for the trees. I've looked around (briefly) on the Web to figure out the right way to display bonsai and it seems like if you are interested in learning more about the topic, stop number one on your journey should be this Bonsai Empire post that talks how to display trees and gives some tips. They also sh
Last year, I planted one (yes, I know, I know...it was a mistake to buy *just* one) Lenten Rose (or Hellebores) in our backyard that we picked up at The Growing Place . It is a cultivar called Sally's Shell and it was in flower when we bought it , but quickly planted it in the backyard right where the plan called for a series of them in what I've called the 2021 Priority Area #2 . That area calls for ten (10) of them, so I have some more to buy to get close to that coverage this year. But, before I turn to adding MORE this year, I wanted to figure out how it weathered the Winter. And, it didn't take me long to identify this beauty as you an see a purple-ish ball of foliage that has emerged from the mulch/wood chips - that you can see below: Stepping back a little bit, you can see (below) how it sort of just fades into the wood chips, but there are some of the stems and leaves that survived the Winter associated with the little purple package in the middle. This is in