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Showing posts from April, 2021

Garden Diary - Where to Plant Tulip Bulbs in Front Yard - April 2021

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The tulip bulbs that I planted last Fall in the front yard ( I planted 57 of them last Fall ) have really come up this Spring.  I'll take a proper photo of all of them - from the front - when they are all flowering.  But, for now, I wanted to document the location of the bulbs and where I can add even more this Fall.  From the front porch, this is the view of the stand of tulips around the Norway Maple tree: I wanted to post this on the blog in the Garden Diary so I remember WHERE to plant this Fall's bulbs to really fill in this area with tulips - so I circled these areas in the photo below.  I can see surrounding this tree with even more bulbs. I've posted about these tulips this Spring - first when they came up .  And then again, when they were covered in snow .  

All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses Remerge - First Spring - April 2021

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This post is another in the series of documenting the Spring re-emergence of the various plants that I bought at last Fall's Morton Arboretum Plant Sale.  I first shared photos of the trio of Twinkle Toes Lungwort that emerged first in mid-March.  Yesterday, I posted some photos of the Chocoholic Black Snakeroot that has some lovely lacy leaves that are standing on top of purple stems in this first Spring.   Today, I'm posting a photo (below) about the All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses that I planted in the backyard around the Tree Swing Oak tree.  Formally named Hakonechloa macra "All Gold", there are six of these planted (mostly) in a drift between the tree and the fenceline interplanted with some hostas. Here's one of them peeking thru the mulch (and the wood chips that I added in late Fall): In the photo below, you can see where these six are planted - currently mixed in with some of the tulip bulbs that I planted last Fall. It is hard to tell (exactly) wher

Black Chocoholic Snakeroot - Back for First Spring - April 2021

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One of the many plants that I bought at last Fall's plant sale at the Morton Arboretum was one (yes...I know.... it was a mistake to buy just one ) of these Chocoholic Black Snakeroot plants .  It is a shade plant and gets between four and five feet tall and 2.5' to 3' wide.  So, I planted it in a spot near the fence, thinking it could be one of the 'back' pieces of a layer puzzle where our plan calls for some shade-oriented hydrangeas.  Last fall, it has these beautiful white flowers on some long stalks, so I was hopeful when I bought it that it would add some new drama to this side of the yard.   Well, this Spring brings good news that this plant has come back for the first full season.  That makes the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale plants 2-for-2.  The Twinkle Toes Lungwort popped up a couple weeks ago and today, it is even flowering.  Note to self:  I should take some current photos.   Here's what the Chocoholic Black Snakeroot looks like today below.  Some pu

Troubled Chanticleer Pear Tree Back on Schedule - April 2021

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Back in 2017, we had a large (3" plus caliper) Chanticleer Pear tree planted in our front yard - adjacent to our garage and driveway.  That tree died in year one and was replaced.  The replacement tree suffered the same way, but it took me close to a year to figure out that the problem was water - but not drought.  It was OVERwatering and the tree was drowning.   I worked the hole and tried to break through the clay bowl, but the tree has never been right. In 2018, it flowered in November .  Weird, right?    I last covered this tree in April of last year when it was showing just a couple of flower buds .  It leaf'd out just a little bit last year and I assumed that it was a goner this Spring. So much so, that I planted another , second tree in the shadow of this one with the thinking that I'd get a half-year head start with the new tree when the time came to chop down this pear.  That tree was this very thin Red Fox Katsura tree that I planted "between two driveways&

Saucer Magnolia Tree Blooming in Northern Illinois - April 2021

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Our front yard, multi-stem Saucer Magnolia tree is in full bloom this week and it is putting on quite a show.  We had this tree planted in Summer of 2017 and have seen it bloom in 2018 , 2020 and now (for the 3rd time) 2021.  Despite the hard, cold Winter and the late frost(s) this Spring, the flower buds persisted and began to unfurl during the first week of April.  Below, you can see one of the flower buds as it began to open up: This flowering tree (this year) is timed with our 1.5 Flowering Pear trees and the emergence of our tulip bulbs.  It is (this year), not flowering at the same time as our Cherry Blossom tree in the backyard - which is really behind this Magnolia.

They're Back - Wild Onion Removal - April 2021

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Everyone has a landscape enemy.  For some, it is Creeping Charlie or Clover.  For others, it is Garlic Mustard Weed.  For others, it is Wild Violets or Plantain Weeds.   Or Nutsedge.  Or Purslane.  I have ALL OF THOSE.  But, they're not my enemy.   I have one weed that bothers me more than any other.  Because it is both everywhere and nowhere.  And I have so much trouble removing.   It is the Wild Onion .   And I've been on a multi-year crusade to eradicate it from my yard.  Yet, I can't tell if I'm winning the battle.  Here - below - is the very latest of the scourge that I yanked out of the backyard. I have - so far - filled up a five gallon bucket of these Wild Onion bulbs and A LOT of soil that came out when I yank'ed them out.   I've been at this for (now) three seasons.  Started in 2019 when I started to pull them out .  Then, I went at it again last year with remova l. I've also tried to chemically alter the soil by applying Pelletized Lime over the

Mailbox Post - Small Gardening Tool Storage Idea - March 2021

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I was in the Menards garden center recently and came across this rack that had four mailbox posts laying on it that had my gears turning a little bit.  Turning about what?  Well, that would be #11 on my 2021 to-do list for the season :   "Figure out SMALL tool storage - like pruners, saws, gloves, hand shovels, hose washers, other smalls." Could a mailbox post and a large, metal mailbox be the solve? I've danced around various tool storage ideas and have not settled on something that I'm in love with in terms of location, size, type, utility for gardening tool storage.  But, a mailbox solves A LOT of what I'm facing:  it is weatherproof, it closes and some of the larger ones can hold a lot of things like saws, shovels, gloves, even wire and automower supplies.  I currently keep everything in the garage, but that means that when I need them, I have to out front, grab them, then come back and do the work.   This would put my most-essential tools right on hand IN the

Inherited Daffodils - Finally Bloomed - April 2021

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I've written about a patch of volunteer (I should have called them "inherited") Daffodils that live under the Northern Red Oak tree back in 2018 when I speculated that they were (indeed) daffodils .  But, that they never actually flowered for me since we lived here.  This patch of green shoots comes up every Spring.  There are like 16 distinct patches that sit in between the fence and the large Northern Red Oak tree that have put green shoots up that have an onion-like look and smell.   I've wondered WHY they haven't bloomed - could it be that they are too old? Or not enough light?  I haven't removed the foliage of these in previous Spring seasons in the hope that they'll collect enough energy to put off blooms the following year.   But this year?  We have *some* flowers.  Have a look at the photo below showing off some yellow flowers.  Pretty great!  Not all of them are even showing buds, but we'll get a few more this season, I think: This spot is a

2020 Disneyland Resort Pins From Disney Outlet - The Lost Year

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Back in March, the folks at Disney announced they were closing some of their stores as their business continues to transition to e-commerce.  That has only surely accelerated due to the pandemic.  One of those stores that was on the list of closures was near us - up in Rosemont.  Turns out, it is an outlet store.  And, I didn't know this, but Nat did (because she's been there a few times), they carry quite a bit of Disney Parks merchandise.  In particular, they carry Disneyland Park merchandise that has cycled through the park and ends up here - at the outlet with discounted prices.  Kinda neat.   With outlet prices coupled with the store closing, Nat went up there and picked up a bunch of clothes for the kids.  And, she came home with two things for me.  2020 Disneyland Park pins.  Disneyland was closed for nine of the twelve months of 2020, so it is no surprise that 2020 merchandise ended up at the outlet, right? The pins were marked $3.99 and - as you can see below - one ha

New Backyard Beds Step 1: Automower Wire Removed

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Back in March, I decided that one of the projects that we wanted to take on this season was the creation of clean, new, swooping bed edges in our backyard.  And, in order to figure out what I needed to do - and by who - I created a simple order of operations list of the steps as I see them . Step one:  pick up the Automower boundary and guide wire that rings the perimeter of our backyard.  I started on that project recently and have made some progress.  Here, below, is about 40% of the backyard boundary wire that I've pulled up out of the grass and collected the spikes that hold it in place. This set of wire is littered with those little pigtail plugs that connect the wire in various places that it has severed over the years.  This section of the wire has been picked up and reset various times over the years, so it wasn't that hard to pull up.  There are other parts (the remaining 60%) that hasn't moved since I put it in initially back in 2017, so it is buried in the thatch

17 Years of Blogging - Web Publishing Anniversary

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I suppose it is more like seventeen years and seven weeks.  I seem to have missed chronicling the 17 year mark of publishing the Web here on the blog back in February.  February 16, 2004 was my very first post on my Weblog that traveled from JoinTomCross to RhodesSchool to JakeParrillo.  But, thankfully (lol), I've brought over all of those posts to this one place online.  Seventeen years is a long time for anything. For me, it is 40% of my life.  I fell in love with the Web back in 2004 and haven't looked back.  But, plenty of you others have moved on - to other platforms and other tools.  But for me, there's a lot of joy to be putting my fingers to the keyboard and everyday: " Show up, sit down and type. " That exercise - writing something, every day, is because I fear atrophy.  As I've reached my 40's, I realize (painfully so) that my body is atrophy'ing.  But, my mind?  And the idea of creating?  I can fight that off by pushing "publish"

Dorianell's Cake Shop - Back of the Yards Chicago

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That's a photo of Dorianell's Cake Shop - once located at 1114 W 51st Street, Chicago, IL 60609.  It was in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, just a few blocks west and one block north of Sherman Park on Racine and Garfield. My sister Vic sent that photo to me.  And it is the first time that I'ver ever seen it.   That's where my Mom grew up.  Upstairs.  And that's her dad's bakery on the first floor.  I've heard a lot about "the bakery", but I never knew it had a name.  Nor what it looked like. Turns out, it isn't *just* a bakery; it is a "cake shop". I can't totally explain it, but this photo makes me really happy.  It also gives me so many ideas and thoughts.    I've talked about what the sign and exterior would look like if I ever did a spot of my own.  I guess I've found the name for my pizza place .  (I'm not doing a pizza place.) The name of the place?  Dorianell's?  That's a combination of my Mom and

Chainsaw Safety Gloves - For Beginners

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Back at Christmas, I received a new, battery-powered chainsaw.  My first chainsaw.  (Is that a thing?) I'm a total newb with a chainsaw and, frankly, pretty hesitant with it that I haven't even taken it out to use it just yet.  I need to, but I'm playing it safe.  To that end, one of the things that I've added to my program are these gloves.   Will they keep my fingers from being lop'd off?  I'm not sure.  Can they hurt?  Not a chance. 

Ricotta on Bar Pizza - Post Bake - April 2021

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Yesterday I shared some of my Bar Pie progress shots and talked about pockmarks and what-have-you.  As part of this journey, I've been thinking about some of what Adam Kuban called "stunt pizzas" during the class I took with him earlier this year.  One of the pizzas that I've had in the back of my mind is this shot I posted on the blog back in 2015 .  It has a ricotta that I'm pretty sure is added post-bake.  And that's what I did recently; my first time with post-bake ricotta. Chellino Ricotta to be exact. I'll be working this stunt pizza out a little bit more because I think it has some promise.  'Roni cups, post-bake ricotta, basil and Mike's Hot Honey.  Just like the Spicy Bear from 2015 .  Well, almost like that.

More Bar Pie Progress - April 2021

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We are right in the midst of gardening season and that (usually) means that pizza season begins to head towards a downswing.  But, that doesn't mean that I haven't made some real progress with my bar pizza work.  Back a month ago (beginning of March), I posted how I was able to achieve some of the pockmarking that I was after and today I'm sharing a couple more progress photos.  I'm happy with the way this basic cheese came out, but I used a little bit too much traditional cheddar (didn't have white) around the ring. In the month of March, I also started to take my bar pizza act on the road and baked off a couple of road pies including this pepperoni 12-incher that was (maybe??) the best bar pie that I've made to date. It was (below) crispy and well done and the undercarriage showed the right bit of char/doneness while the top came along just about where I want the final product.  Of note, the oven I used for this one has NO convection function, but does go to

Limelight Hydrangeas - Early Spring Pruning - Before and After - April 2021

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We have a pair of Limelight Hydrangeas that are set just to the south of the front edge of our front porch.  They're kind of tucked on the side of the house - right at the 'wrap-around' section of the 'wrap around porch'.  They've done remarkably well - better than other hydrangeas we have right in front of the porch.   They throw off A LOT of green during the Summer.  Here's what they looked like in July of 2020 .  And what they looked like in the previous October showing off all the blooms drying out . I've always been confused about pruning hydrangeas.  Do they bloom on new wood?  Old wood?  Do you prune them to the ground?  Do you prune them back to buds?  Two buds?   Last year, I confirmed (to myself) that Limelight Hydrangeas bloom on 'new wood' .  Which means, I can prune them back pretty hard and they'll still flower.  Here's what they looked like last Spring after a prune and recovered with new green growth .  You can see that I