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Showing posts from May, 2021

Three More All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses In Curved Border - May 2021

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I added three new All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses to this little curve in our backyard bringing the border total to six with three more in the back.  Back on May 9th, I posted a photo showing how I moved three of these to the edge of the new bed .  These three new ones are from the Arbor Day Plant Sale from the Morton Arboretum.   Here's what the sign looked like at this most recent sale - where they were asking $18.95 each. I bought eleven (11) of these last Fall at the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant sale for $16 each .  That means that I now have nine of these back in this spot and five up front - in between two driveways.  I have these planted by themselves in a border, but seeing them now I think I should move the back three a little closer to these front three to make more of a drift.  This pdf describes a drift as 'a colony' and I kind of like that description.   Here's what I'm thinking in terms of some transplanting in this area with last year's grasses i

Weeping White Spruce - New Leader + New Growth - May 2021

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When I planted the small Weeping White Spruce in our backyard in 2019 , I noticed at the time that the tree had a sort of dual-leader-thing going on.  I think that's pretty common for young trees that are shipped to retailers:  tree nurseries are likely keeping small trees with ONE STRONG leader in the ground at their nursery because those trees have the strongest likelihood of growing big, tall and straight.  So, we see a lot of trees that have double leaders.  Despite noticing it, I didn't do anything about it.  My habits in terms of tree pruning have changed A LOT in the past four years.   How so?  Well, I was taught by my Dad to limb-up trees.  You want them to grow big and tall, so any energy that they dedicate to the bottom is wasted.  And, I did that.  Making a bunch of immature trees almost lollipop-looking.  And I lost some.    And decided to take a step back and NOT prune trees very much.  This Weeping White Spruce has been the benefactor of that new practice.   I too

Aphid Control on Greenspire Lindens - Spring 2021

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Last week, I posted a photo of my horizontal cordon espalier Greenspire Lindens as they were about to break bud for the Spring. The trees are starting to really fill out and look like I wanted them to look - now in their fifth growing season.  But, last year something happened.  These trees were swarmed by yellow jackets .  And, after a little bit of research, I discovered that the trees were inhabited by Linden Aphids - which is (apparently) quite common.   Last Fall, I took the first step to trying to treat the Aphid infestation - and figured out that there are two ways to treat trees:  with either persistent contact treatments or systemic treatments . Persistent contact sprays - they kill what they contact.  And they'll last from a few hours on the leaves up to a few days.  They're good for more immediate results, but they have some downsides in that they may harm non-targets (meaning...they will kill not just aphids). That's what I tried to use November .  My thought

Pre-Bonsai: Bird's Nest Spruce - May 2021

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I had four bonsai-related items on my 2021 to-do list for the yard and garden .  One of them - Number 10 -  was to buy some pre-bonsai materials that I can purchase as smaller stock (and thus, lower prices) to use in later seasons.  Number 10 on the list reads: That idea of buying some pre-bonsai is something that I've done before by buying nursery stock and sticking it directly in the ground.  The guys at Bonsai Empire have a page up about pre-bonsai where they give you some tips on how to do it; including what to kind of look for when buying nursery stock.  I currently have three pre-bonsai junipers that I've picked up over the years - two in the ground and one in a larger container .  My plan for this year - #8 on the list - is to 'work' those three this season.  That means digging them up, pruning them a bit and likely sticking them back in the ground to overwinter in their pots at the end of the season.   But, this post isn't about those old pre-bonsai tre

Kanzan Cherry Blossoms - May 2021

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2021 marks the second year in a row that we are being treated to some pink peony-like Cherry Blossoms on our Japanese Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree (or... as the Missouri Botanical Garden points out...it is also called the "Kanzan" vs. "Kwanzan" .  I'm thinking I'm going to start calling this a Kanzan from here out...) in our backyard.  Our tree was bought from Menards after my first trip to Tokyo in 2017 and we planted it right around Earth Day that year.  It was blooming when I bought it.   This was the first Japanese-inspired piece of our garden puzzle - that have been subsequently complemented with the Japanese Maple tree, ferns and some grasses.   So...let me do a list here: 2017: Bloomed (when purchased) in mid-May . 2018: Bloomed that first Spring after being planted in mid-May . 2019: No blooms.  Looked like it wanted to in mid-May .   2020:  Bloomed (during the pandemic) in early May . 2021:  Bloomed in late April (photos in this post were taken

Autumn Ferns Planted - May 2021

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The fourth piece of this little newly planted bed section on the southside of the property are a trio of Autumn Ferns.  First, I transplanted 15 green hostas .  Then, I planted a dwarf Japanese Maple Tamukeyama tree and just yesterday, I posted photos of three Dolce Apple Twist Heucheras .  All in the same section.  Dryopteris erythosora is the cultivar of these Autumn Ferns that I planted from 1# nursery containers that you can see below.  I bought these at Home Depot and thought they'd be a nice fern diversity away from Ostrich Ferns. The Missouri Botanical Garden has a nice listing for these - and mentions that they have a Japanese-gardening-related name: Japanese Shield Fern.   Dryopteris erythrosora , commonly called Japanese shield fern or autumn fern, is an arching, evergreen (semi-evergreen in cold winter climates) fern that grows in a vase-shaped clump to 2' tall and as wide. It is native to woodland hillsides and mountain slopes in Japan, China and Taiwan. New frond

Dolce Apple Twist Heucheras - Three Planted May 2021

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Yesterday, I posted some photos of our new Japanese Maple tree and included in those photos was a brief look at three of these Dolce Apple Twist Heucheras that I bought at the same time.  Again...not planned - which may have been a mistake - but also, I bought three (not one!).  Here's a look at the 1# nursery pots that they came in: And here's a look at the back of the plant tag showing the height (10") and spacing (20") and a description of the colors (changes with the seasons).  It was their color (chartreuse) that drew me to them thinking that they'll be a nice contrast against some other items in this section. I planted these three in a row on the new border - just outside of the Japanese Tamukeyama Maple and surrounded by some transplanted hostas.  These (below) are the first four of the (ultimate) 15 hostas that I transplanted and posted about last week.  Also, on the left are a few ferns - some of the items listed as companion plants on the tag.  More on t

Tamukeyama Japanese Maple Planted - May 2021

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I've posted quite a bit about Japanese gardening and Japanese-inspired gardening over the years on the blog and dedicated a whole post last year to talking about Japanese Maple trees .  Well, the impulse to buy one got the best of me and I came home with a new tree for the yard.  This is the second tree planted this year - the first was the bareroot Shagbark Hickory .  This post is about the second:  a Tamukeyama Japanese Maple tree that I bought at Home Depot.  Here's the tag from this tree: And here's the tree as it stood pre-planting: Here it is in context pre-planting: And, the price:  $69.98 with a Menards-matching 11% rebate bringing the total for this tree down to $62.28.   This tree is a dwarf tree - and stays small.  I was drawn to it being 'medium-sized' in nature and thought it could play a nice role in the layering by being in the 'in between' area behind the border plants and in front of the larger shrubs in the back.  It is weeping and lace-l

Three All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses Transplanted - April 2021

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 In the order of operations for this Spring, I continue down my transplanting plan.  First were the Fanal Astilbes that I moved out to the edge of the bed.  Then, I divided and transplanted 15 hostas in a border .  Today, posting a photo showing three newly transplanted All Gold Japanese Forest Grasses.  I planted six of them back here in the Fall and they all came back this Spring.  With this new bed created (and extended), I took three that were in the back and moved them up to the front edge of the bed - that you can see in the photo below: If I come across more of these grasses this year, I'm thinking I can use a couple of them on either side of these three to create a nice grass border.  I planted them far enough back to account for a full-size adult grass to live within the bed.  Posting this in early May, but I did this work on April 24, 2021.

15 Lancifolia Hostas Transplanted - South Bed Border - April 2021

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Yesterday, I posted a photo showing the new location of the dozen Fanal Astilbes that I transplanted out to the edge of their new bed and commented that that was the FIRST of a few posts showing the transplanting that I have been doing this Spring.   Today, the photo below shows the new location of 15 teardown hostas that I planted on the southside of the yard in the curved border of this new bed.  You can see the first three on the left taking the 'second row' spot and if you look closely, there are two more in the 'second row' under the Oak tree at the top of the photo: Here's an annotated version of that photo showing the 15 hostas: A few important notes: 1. These hostas are (I'm pretty sure) Lanifolia Hostas .  Based on this "What hosta do I have?" page , I found this Lancifolia page in the Hosta Library.  Things check out.  I inherited them when we moved in.  They're plain green with glossy leaves.  2.  They get to a nice size - if left alone

Fanal Astilbes Transplanted Into New Beds - May 2021

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Now that we've set the final edges of our backyard beds using the notion of curvilinear design/layout , I'm able to begin to transplant some of the items that I have on hand to put them in their final spots - closer to the edges of these new final beds.  The first set that I took on were the dozen Fanal Astilbe plants that I planted last year.  I was happy to see that all twelve came back this Spring and below you can see the twelve holes where I transplanted them further out.  You can see in the photo below the pole of the bird feeder and some of the pink circles.  So, these are moving up about 24" but also not TOO CLOSE to the edge of the bed to be sure they have some room to spread out. This is the first of a bunch of transplants - including hostas, ferns and grasses that I'll be making in the next week or two ahead of mulch.  As a reminder (to myself) that I laid out an 'order of operations' with my beds this year - that starts with removing the Automowe

Shagbark Hickory Bareroot Tree Planted - Earth Day Tree 2021

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This marks the 53rd tree that I've planted on our property since we planted our first one on Earth Day 2017.  This was a tiny, bareroot tree that we picked up from the Environmental Club from Benet Academy.  They were giving away tiny trees for their Earth Day project.  There were a couple of Oak trees to choose from (Burr and Pin) and this Shagbark Hickory.  You can see the little tree in the photo below that measures close to 36" tall including all the roots.  That's about 24" below the ground and about 12" above ground.   The roots were wrapped in newspaper and then in plastic.  I removed the packaging, straightened out some of the roots and planted in in the bed - not far from the fence - in amongst the hydrangeas on the south side of the backyard.   Here is the Shagbark Hickory as it stands now: I'm not getting too attached to this little tree, but I'll give it some water and a little bit of food and see what happens. As for the full list of trees, h

Early Spring Feeding for Hydrangeas and Roses - May 2021

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Putting this post in the [garden diary] so I remember what I did in terms of feeding some of my existing shrubs and flowers in the beds.  First, I fed my Disneyland Roses for the first time this year - using this product from Jobe's below - called Knockout Rose food.  Mine aren't knock-out roses, but this is the only organic Rose food that the Home Depot was carrying when I was there.  I also fed all of my hydrangeas with Hollytone (no photo), but I used the entire bag.  I spread Hollytone around all seven of the Oakleaf Hydrangeas , the one teardown hydrangea and the two early ones ( Tuff Stuff and Everlasting Revolution ) in the backyard.  In the front yard, I hit the pair of Limelights , the four Vanilla Strawberry across the front porch and the one, lone Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea on the other side of the driveway.  Since this stuff is for acid-loving plants, I also put some in/around the pair of Rhododendrons by our back stoop. I also planted some new items (that I'

Greenspire Linden Spring Buds - April/May 2021

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 I titled this post April/May because I'm posting it in May, but I took this photo in April of 2021.  April 24th, to be precise.  Those are the beautiful, exciting tree buds of one of our espaliered Greenspire Linden trees that are ready to burst open.  I posted a photo of these very same buds that were setting last Fall .  I planted these trees back in our first Summer here (2017) and set up the wire system that year, too .   I posted a similar photo EXACTLY one year ago today (May 4, 2020) with the buds showing a similar green and pink hue .   Last Summer - in year four of training (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), I made the decision about the final form and pruned off a bunch of the limbs to leave just a four-tiered horizontal cordon espalier.   Also, last year this tree was infested with Yellow Jackets that were feasting on an aphid infestation .  Before all the leaves fell, I applied in two rounds some insecticide on the limbs in the hopes that I killed off any of the remaining aphi

Spring Compost Bin Compaction - May 2021

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The last time that I posted about our compost bins was back in October when I showed it about 3/4's of the way full with the season's leaves and a little bit of grass clippings.  By the time the snow fell last Winter, I had stuffed the primary bin to the VERY TOP and filled the second one most of the way.   Today, posting a view of the bins as they sit right now - having compacted over Winter.  First, the primary bin - this one is back down to about 3/4's full.  It has had a full Winter of snow pushing down on it.  This bin also has passive aeration down at the bottom.  It will need a turn in the next few weeks then I'll add some fuel to try to get it cooking this Summer. Here, below, shows the second bin.  This one was full of (exclusively) leaves last Fall.  I've thrown all of my early Spring cleanup in there.  And, I'll use this bin as the 'turn' portion - when I fork out all of the contents of the main bin, I'll put them in this secondary one. 

Using Floating Row Cover on Newly Transplanted Perennials - Frost Protection in April

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This photo is from Tuesday, April 20th.  When, we had snow.  And two straight nights of below freezing temperatures in Northern Illinois.  I was totally unprepared for these temperatures, but thanks to Nat's quick thinking, we grabbed a couple of sheets of floating row cover from Amazon that had 'Same Day' delivery.  I unrolled them, covered a bunch of things that I've recently moved (the Fanal Astilbes, a bunch of random Peonies, some new ferns and hostas and an impulse-bought Japanese Maple.   You can see the snow coming down in the photo below: I went out the following morning (when the temperature was still below 30 degrees) and found my tulip blooms looking not so happy: I'm guessing that we'll have a much shorter season of tulip flowers this season, but by the afternoon - when the temperatures had risen to the upper 40's, they mostly seemed to bounce back.  Some of the flower petals had dropped, but nothing like what happened with the Saucer Magnolia o

Spring Leaf-Out Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam Trees - May 2021

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The last time I posted a photo of our stand of eight Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam trees that we have arranged in a hedge was last Fall when they all dropped their leaves .   We've had a VERY dry Spring around here in Zone 5b - almost no rain.  And, I can't help but think that's slowed down some things like the leaf'ing out of our deciduous conifers (Dawn Redwood and Bald Cypress are VERY SLOW to wake up this Spring) and I assumed that was the case with these Frans Fontaine Hornbeams.   You can see what they look like in the photo above - nice and leafy green. And, I figured they *were* behind.  But, when you look back at this post from exactly a year ago (May 1, 2020) , you can see that the trees are actually AHEAD of last year.   One other thing to note in the [ garden diary ] is that I extended the bed below these trees out by about a foot. In terms of how dense they are (currently), here's a look at one of the interiors - about head height - as it leaf's