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Showing posts from June, 2021

Gilt Edge Toad Lilies Planted - Spring 2021

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Last November, I posted a 'plant dreaming' post about Japanese Toad Lilies that I came across for the first time (i.e. new to me) via Erin the Impatient Gardener's Instagram handle.  Here's that post where she talked about growing Toad Lilies and said: "You should know and grow Toad Lilies. "  Ever since that post, these have been on my radar.  In fact, I mentioned them as part of #18 on this year's to-do list when I talked about the continued expansion of Japanese-inspired gardening .  So, when I saw them being sold at Hinsdale Nursery this Spring, I knew I had to buy some of them for our yard.   Here, below, is the listing at Hinsdale Nursery - for 'Gilt Edge' Japanese Toad Lily - Tricyrtis fomosana 'Gilt Edge': They're 'shade-loving' and will 'naturalize'.  Love both of those things. Here, below, are the three 1# nursery pots as they began to break dormancy recently: ...And here's a look at the plant tag that came

Fanal Astilbes - June 2021 Update

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A year ago, I planted twelve Fanal Astilbes in the backyard - in the south bed - according to the placement spec'd by our landscape plan.  They suffered some transplant shock and had a tough go of it for the first month or so.   I baby'd them for the rest of the Summer in hopes that they'd come back this Spring.  By April of 2021, I was starting to see them come back and emerge from their dormancy .  I knew that I planted these in the wrong spot, so when I expanded the new backyard beds, all twelve of these needed to be transplanted out closer to the border in May of this year .  I've been watering this area in pretty good this Summer because there are a series of things that have been transplanted (these + the Oakleaf Hydrangeas) and some new items ( Butterscotch Amsonia that I planted in May, too ). And, all that watering has paid off with these Fanal Astilbes as many of them have come up big and bold with red flowers and quite a bit of foliage.  See the photos below

Little Henry Sweetspire - June 2021 - Front Yard

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Here, below, is a look at the pair of Little Henry Sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Sprich') that was planted back in the Summer of 2017 when our house was built.  This shrub puts off these lovely, white flowers that have a really nice smell and the foliage puts on a show all year long.   This sits in a bed tucked in between our front walk and the driveway and just kind of keeps performing without much care. The last time I posted about these Little Henry's was back in September of 2019 here . I water the front yard during the Summer heat, so this shrub likely gets a little bit of that benefit, but I haven't fed it directly - to date.  But, I've noticed that the foliage is a little bit light green - not dark green currently.   I mentioned on Monday that the Rhododendrons seemed to need a little bit of iron , so I went out and picked up a bag of  this fast-acting Iron soil supplement from Menards  to see if it will make it happy and darken things up.  I'm going to use

Totem Pole Switch Grass - Front Bed - Spring 2021

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I first spotted something called a Totem Pole grass at Hinsdale Nursery earlier this year.  It was billed as a grass that can get to six feet tall.  I was intrigued.  So, when I saw this Prairie Winds Totem Pole Switch Grass at the Morton Arboretum Spring sale, I knew I had to buy one.  (I know, I know...I shouldn't ever buy ONE of anything.  But, I broke *that* rule for this grass due to the size and sun requirement. ) In the photo below, you can see this grass in the nursery container in a spot in the bed kind of tucked behind the tulips and the Norway Maple tree and kind of straight out from the corner of our screened porch.   Here, below, is the front/back of the tag: The back of the tag reads: A sturdy, durable ornamental grass that withstands adverse weather conditions.  Grey-green leaves form a strictly upright column of steel blue foliage.  Golden seed heads in fall.   And...note the 72" height listed at the top of the back of the tag. Walter's Garden has a listin

Rhododendrons Blooming - June 2021

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We have a pair of Rhododendrons planted on either side of our rear stoop that we put in the ground in 2018 as part of our plan .  I have never pruned them, but have protected them a little bit in Winter using Wilt-pruf a couple of times.  These are evergreen shrubs and they put on a nice flower show most years. But, this year these shrubs looked a little sad earlier this Spring.  They were yellow, drooping and leggy.  I bought some Epsoma Holly Tone this year to feed my hydrangeas and these Rhdodendrons and it seems like they've responded a bit.  I'm pretty sure they have an iron deficiency - as outlined here by Ortho.  Purdue University Extension office has a post up about this yellowing - called chlorosis .   I have started to feed these with a little bit of coffee grounds, but I think that I'm going to need some more drastic action to correct the iron. But, back to this season:  these two shrubs are flowering right now with light purple flowers.  Here, below are the pa

Duchesse De Nemours White Peony - Planted May 2021

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I've posted dozens of times about peonies.  Nat's favorite flower.  By a bunch.  We had a series of lovely and productive (flowering) peonies in Elmhurst, but in the past four growing seasons here in Downers Grove, we have yet to have ONE peony flower.  I think it has to do with all the shade we have and where the peonies are planted.  To try to solve that, I transplanted some of the peonies closer to the house in an attempt to get them some Sun.   But, for Mother's Day, we also bought Nat a new peony.  It is this "Duchesse De Nemours White Peony" that you can see on the tag below: This particular cultivar is white (which, we normally don't have) and comes with some credentials.  From White Flower Farm comes this description : A century-and-a-half after its introduction, the fragrant double 'Duchesse de Nemours' remains a standard by which all other white Peonies are judged. Strong stems give the blossoms an aristocratic bearing; a touch of yellow at t

Lemon Coral Sedum and Red Begonias - Front Beds - Spring 2021

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Every year, we've planted annuals in our front bed to add a little pop of color to the front of our house - with mixed results.  Last year, we used 24 Devine Lavendar Impatiens in the bed .  The most plants we've put in this area.  The full progression looks like this: Our first full year - in 2018 - we planted some Ranunculuses - about eight of them.  In 2019,  we planted 16 orange marigolds.  +8 plants yoy. In 2020, we planted 24 Impatiens.   +8 plants yoy. The second goal (beyond the color) is to help improve the soil in this area as when I got started it was solid clay - from the foundation backfill.  I amended the soil with Gypsum and have added some biochar/humic acid to the area, too.  And, of course I've added mulch to these beds over the years.  First, with hardwood fines, then in 2019 and 2020, I laid down cocoa bean hull mulch .  The thinking here is that nothing aerates and breaks up clay soil better than roots growing.  Every year that I plant here will make t

Front Yard Purple Sensation Allium Check-in - May 2021

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There are (now) four Purple Sensation Allium that pop up in our front bed between the Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea and our boxwoods.  I say "now" because when I planted these in the Fall of 2018, there were five of them in this location .   Seeing the photo below, I'm now thinking I should buy more of these this Fall and line the whole row between the hyrangea and boxwods with a row of Allium bulbs.   They provide a nice pop of color and come alive in between when the tulips have expired and when our annuals begin to fill-in.   I could see 25 or so more planted here to fill in the area.    Note:  like other posts, this one is live in June, but this photo is from late May 2021.

Planting Two Harvest Gold Hargozam Crabapple Trees in Belgian Fence - June 2021

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Back during quarantine (Spring/Summer of 2020), I bought eight very inexpensive apple trees and planted them about two feet apart along our fence .  Then, I proceeded to lop them them off at about 24" from the ground and hoped for the best.  They all seemed to throw off some new buds and I thought that maybe they'd all do fine.  I wired them up by mid-Summer and saw some new growth.    But, by August, I had three trees that had died .   #1, #5, #6 (from the left) were all lost - that was two Golden Delicious and a Honeycrisp trees. When I was planning this Belgian Fence espalier, I did a little bit of research into pollinators and what combination(s) were needed to bear fruit.  I'm KNOW that Honeycrisp trees pollinate Golden/Yellow Delicious Trees.  And...I'm pretty sure that Golden/Yellow Delicious trees pollinate Honeycrisp apple trees.   So, when I was going to find replacements, I knew that what I had remaining were four Honeycrisp trees and one Golden Delicious t

Two More Everillo Sedges Planted - May 2021

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Last Fall, I bought my first sedges.  They were these Evercolor Everillo Sedges (Carex o. EVERCOLOR 'Everillo' from the Morton Arboretum and I planted them around the trunk of our Cherry Blossom tree .  I initially planted three and this month when I saw them at the Morton Spring sale, I bought two more.   They went up in price (last Fall = $10 each, this Spring = $10.95 each) as you can see from the sale sign below: If you look back at this photo from late September of 2020 , you can tell the color of these after a Summer of growth, but not look at the photo below, they seem to start a little bit more muted.  With five of them planted, I'm starting to get a little bit of a drift going on - right next to the Waterslide Hosta that I planted last year (and the two new ones from this year). I'm about to get these mulched in and that should keep them happy for the hot growing season.  I didn't do a THING to these this Spring - didn't clip off any growth, but thinkin

Linden Tree Aphid Control - Early June Check-in - 2021

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A couple of weeks ago, I took some steps to head off the annual aphid infestation that has been occuring on our Greenspire Linden trees that leads to them being swarmed by Yellow Jackets who are eating the aphids.  Back in mid-May, I applied a Systemic Soil-Application insecticide and - just to be doubly sure - I also sprayed a persistent contact spray to the leaves just to kill whatever might already be on the leave s.   As a reminder, this is what the underside of the leaves looked like when the Linden Aphids were living on them (back in late Summer 2020).  Doing this check-in on the Lindens (which...are currently espalier'd in a horizontal Cordon, btw), I looked at the underside of the leaves.  And, while I don't see any of the aphids like I did last year, I do see some white, hairy spots at the intersection of the leaf veins.  See below for a zoomed-in shot of the leaves: I've done as close of an inspection as I can on these photos and I can't tell what that hai

Labella Maggiore Dahlia - Planted May 2021

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Part of the newly carved out beds in our backyard - near our patio - are the only real shots we have for a lot of Sun in the back.  As part of the whole transplanting/order of operations stuff, I transplanted a bunch of our peonies up here and left some spots for annuals.  Well, I treat dahlias as annuals - and don't keep the tubers like a good gardener should - so when I found this bicolor dahlia at a good price, I grabbed it and popped it right into the ground.  It is called a "Labella Maggiore rose bicolor dahlia" and it seems to be off to a decent start in the ground: Below are the tags that show that it gets between 18 and 28" tall - so not huge for dahlias.   The colors on this particular variety remind me of the Disneyland Rose colors that we see later this Summer.  I've grown dahlias in the ground before over in this area and I think that will be a nice feature to replicate every year.   I'll keep these wet and then mulch them in shortly.

Shorter Mow + Applying Hydretain to Front Yard Lawn - June 2021

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I decided to do a couple of (new to me) things with my front lawn this year including some of the things that I've already covered like spoon-feeding a granular with Sea Kelp (applied at end of April and end of May - so far) .  But, this post is intending to cover two other new (to me) things:   First... I'm cutting it shorter than I've done in the past.  For the past couple of years, I put the mower ALL THE WAY up and cut at that length. I had a deep green lawn through most of the Summer and didn't get killed with a water bill.  But, the length came at the cost of neat-ness.  My e-Go mower doesn't have a ton of vacuum power, so there was always a lot of folded over blades. So, a risky change:  This year, I'm putting it on the 4th 'notch' out of the six on my Ego walk behind push mower.  Last year, I was cutting at six.  See below for the difference - which is about an inch shorter. And the second new (to me) thing - which is a companion to that shorter

Miniature Variegated Hosta - June 2021 - Golden Tiara Hosta

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We have a miniature variegated hosta that sits right below the large Northern Red Oak tree that our tree swing hangs from that I really like.  I'm not sure where it came from, but I am guessing that I pulled it from my Sister-in-laws lot right before they started to build their house back in 2018 .  I ended up stashing a bunch of that stuff back in the far reaches of our yard and mostly forgot about all of it. It was planted near a larger Catalpa tree in the back that the kids like to climb and that meant that it was getting trampled by little and looked a little neglected.  So, I dug it up in June 2019 and transplanted it around the large Oak tree on the north side of the lot.  In that post in 2019, I talked about how I admired this thing and said that as it grows, it was one that I should try to divide to make even more. I posted a follow-up photo of this hosta last Summer (June 2020) and showed off even more new growth as it began to spread out a little bit. Here, below, is a

Indiana Street Bearded Irises Planted - June 2021

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We lived on Indiana Street in Elmhurst for almost ten years.  In two houses.  One of our own .  And one of Equation Boy/Man and my Sister Vic's .  Our last few years there, we lived next to a couple named Wes and Susie (hmmm...maybe Suzy?  Or Suzie? Who knows...I never asked how to spell it) who were good neighbors.  They had a hot tub and some nice Japanese Maple trees.  Wes was an artist who loved dogs and liked our little puppy (at the time) Lizzie.   One of them spent time in the garden.  (see Japanese Maples) And they had a front parking spot (not quite a driveway because they used the alley behind the house and had a garage back there) that was lined with Bearded Irises.  They always put on a nice show.   Fast forward to this Spring and Wes and Susie have moved out and someone is tearing down the house to build something new.  My Sister Vic was able to grab some of those Bearded Irises from the front and save them before the bulldozers arrived.  The Japanese Maples didn't

Four Ghost Japanese Painted Ferns - Planted May 2021

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I have been eying the addition of some Japanese Painted Ferns to our backyard all this growing season.  I have one that I planted on the north side of the screened porch in 2018 .  It is a Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' and it has done really well on it's own over there mostly being left alone.  Here's what it looked like last Fall/late Summer in August of 2020 .  And in Priority Area #1 from this year , I was thinking of using Japanese Painted ferns instead of the (currently) spec'd Ostrich Ferns.   When I was at the Morton Arboretum Spring Sale, I came across these painted ferns and I ended up buying four of them to add to the backyard.   Here's the tag (below), which shows these aren't the same "Pictum" ferns that I had already, rather they are called Ghost Japanese-Lady Ferns.  Athyrium 'Ghost' and they're described as a 'hybrid with the best qualities of Japanese Painted and Lady Fern'.  Kinda great, right?  I have one Lady F

Planting An Emperor 1 Japanese Maple - New Firepit Area - June 2021

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Back about a week ago, I posted a preview of where we were going to put our firepit area in the backyard with a little gravel area surrounded by some beds and (eventually) linked with a little path from behind the Northern Red Oak tree.  One of the new things that I'm planting in the border bed between the lawn and the firepit is a new tree.  And it isn't just *any* tree.  It is a tree that I've been thinking about for a while - based on my musings about how I should add a couple of Japanese Maple trees to our yard .  In that post , I included both the traditional (and widely available) Bloodgood Japanese Maple and mentioned that there had been a tweak to that cultivar to make it even more Cold-weather-hardy (for our Zone 5b) with something called the Emperor I Japanese Maple tree.  Ever since then, I've been looking for an Emperor I tree.  I've come across a few - in various sizes and costs, but they were all too expensive for me.   As is the way with MOST Japanes

Northern Red Oak - Tree Swing Identified

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Last Summer, I posted a photo of a sign that we came across at Waterfall Glen that detailed the difference between the various Oak trees based on their foliage.  About a month later, I put that new knowledge into practice and identified one of the two large Oak trees in our yard as a Northern Red Oak.  (Actually...I'm pretty sure that it is a Northern Red Oak.) In that post, I mentioned that the other large Oak tree (with our tree swing) had leaves way too high up in the air to identify the species and that I should wait until some fall.   Well...thanks to the squirrels in our yard, there are little clumps of leaves that have fallen in the past couple of weeks.  Here's a closeup of one of them showing the pointed leaves with deep lobes. Totally a Northern Red Oak , right?