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Showing posts from 2022

Lancifolia Hostas Divided - October 2022

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This is the third in a series of posts showing a few of the various hosta divisions that I've been doing lately in our backyard.  First was the two (new) hostas that I tucked in around the big Oak tree in our south border.   Then, the two (new) Bressingham Blue hostas that I transplanted over on the northside by the Doublefile Viburnum treeform .  Today's 'free plants' post shows off two (new) Lancifolia hostas that I took from a three-way division out by the original Autumn Ferns.   Below is a photo that shows the three Lancifolia Hostas amongst some other foliage.  The original location is in the front/center of the photo.  And the two new ones are both directly 'behind' and 'behind and to the left' of the original/mother hosta.   They look droop-y right now, but Lancifolia hostas are vigorous growers, so I'm not worried about them.  They'll show up strong come Spring. Below is the 'before' look at this area.  You can see the trio of

Mickey Mouse Topiary - 18 Months of Growth - October 2022

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The time has come to bring the houseplants in from outside.  We haven't gotten a frost yet, but I know that the first frost isn't too far away.  I don't move too many plants outside, but there are a few including staghorn ferns, my firesticks cactus , Nat's big fern and my standing Mickey Mouse topiary.  This year, I kept the Creeping Fig Vine topiary on the front porch all Summer.  That meant that it received a tiny bit of morning sun, but was in the shade for the bulk of the day.  It was just six weeks ago that I last posted an update on my Mickey Mouse that showed off a good seasonal growth spurt.  If you go back and look at the photo in this post from early August , you'll note that his hands were (at that time) not covered and that there were a few 'shoots' poking out.   Today?  See the photo below for what Mickey looks like after a full season of outdoor growth: This is 18 months of growth and it is pretty well close to being totally full with the fra

Bressingham Blue Hostas - Divided and Transplanted - October 2022

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Yesterday, I posted a few photos of a hosta that I divided and transplanted around the large red oak tree in our backyard.  I tucked in the two new divisions into a part of the border that was bare.  I mentioned in that post that doing the seasonal gardening chore of dividing perennials was/is on my 2022 to-do list and I had planned to do a few more around the backyard.  Today, I'm showing a divided Bressingham Blue hosta that I dug up from around the side of the screened porch and split into three segments. The hosta in question was planted as a bareroot plant in 2018.  That means it has had five full growing seasons.  Here's what it looked like last Summer (2021), when I declared that this had finally reached maturity .  Today, I dug it up. First, below, you can see the current state of the hosta.  It has many stems and is a good division candidate. I split it into three segments and tucked the largest one back in the same spot.  Below, you can see the remaining Bressingham

Pair of Divided Hostas - Under Southside Oak Tree - October 2022

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The time has come to start dividing some perennials.  Why?  Because the temperature has dropped and I find myself with a little bit of time where I can putter in the backyard beds after work before it gets dark.  As a reminder, #12 on my 2022 to-do list was to add more 'free plants' through division - something that I've done the past few growing seasons.   My plan focuses on two different types of plants in our garden:  grasses and hostas.   Earlier this Summer, I went around and identified a few candidates to work on, but I started with a couple of hostas NOT on that list.  I was out by the large, Northern Red Oak tree in the south beds recently and noticed that a couple of hostas that are planted there have grown enough to be considered good candidates for division.  I dug up two - these are unknown cultivars - and split them.   I put one from each division in a hole kind of 'around' the oak tree trunk - in a spot of the border that is currently empty.  See belo

Firewood Delivery of 3 Face Cords - September 2022

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'Tis the season for firewood delivery in our house.  This year, I ordered three Face Cords for delivery from The Grove Firewood out in Sugar Grove.  1 Oak, 1 Cherry and 1 "SuperMix" - which is a combo of oak, cherry, hickory and birch (normally).  They didn't have any birch this season (so far), so my mix was heavier on Hickory. Here, below, is a video of the three face cords being dumped on our driveway.  This is kiln-dried firewood. How does this stack up to previous years? Here's last year's post from early October where I talked about a late September delivery of three facecords .  Fall of 2020, I ordered three , too.   I stacked these three facecords in the various racks - including a big messy pile on the stoop outside my office.  I'll post some photos of the current state of the racks in the coming days/weeks.  For now, here's a look at what the racks look like before I started loading the new wood:

Norway Maple Tree - In Decline - September 2022

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After years of fighting to try to keep our large, signature front-yard Norway Maple tree alive, we've made the difficult decision to have it removed.  We tried everything - giving it a growth regulator , feeding it, pruning it.  But, the tree continues to decline.  Every time we experience a storm of any meaning, we lose a limb .   I'm having a few firms come out to give us a price, but within a couple of weeks, this tree will no longer be gracing our front yard.  I'm not quite sure that I've come to grips with the size of the impact the removal will have on our landscape, but I know it will be massive.   My brain already moves to thinking about what to replace it with - and if we can get the replacement in the ground this Fall.  My normal move for tree planting is to find SMALL trees that can handle the transplant, but this location calls for something else - something larger - as an investment.  That way, we can enjoy the tree WHILE we live here.   I'm also thinki

Six (More) Autumn Ferns Brought Home - September 2022

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Just last week, I posted some details and photos of ferns that are peforming really well late in Summer and early Fall in our garden .  Those were Japanese Painted Ghost Ferns and Autumn Ferns.  I planted three Autumn Ferns - Dryopteris erythrosora - in May of 2021 and have watched them become standouts.   One of the things that I learned - by 'getting to know' these ferns is that they're semi-evergreen.  All the way until mid-December (2021) , I was able to see these ferns show up in the garden, well-past when everything else went dormant.    I liked them so much that I put the idea of adding more of these on my 2022 to-do list (#2)  and on my 2022 plant wish list .    Good news:  on a recent trip to the orange Big Box nursery, I found a set of six of these Autumn Ferns that were 50% off.  They're small to begin with (1.5 pint), so half-off made them $3 a piece.   Some photos below show these newly acquired Autumn Ferns.  First, a top-down look at the fronds.  Then, a

Disneyland Roses - Late September Blooms - September 2022

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Our Disneyland Roses - which are Floribunda Roses - have a cyclical bud --> bloom cycle that hits a few times each growing season.  In late September, I'm seeing this cycle hit for what I think is the third time this season and what is usually the LAST of the bud--> bloom cycles.  The last time that I posted about the blooms was back in mid-June when they were looking great .   That was their first bloom cycle.  Sometime in early/mid August was cycle number two.  And, right now, we're at the beginning of cycle number three. See below for a couple of photos showing all three Disneyland Roses.  First are a pair that are closest to our backyard.  The one on the left is the OLDEST, but it was transplanted this past Spring, so it is the smallest .  You'll also note that the pair of espalier-in-training Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees behind the roses below: The third Floribunda rose is set about fifteen feet to the East - towards our front porch - on the other side of our base

Compost Pile Settling - September 2022

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Ten days in the life of a recently turned compost pile is an eternity.  At least, that's how it seems with my compost bins.  Ten or so days ago, I posted the details of how I emptied my compost bins (and tumbler) and refilled them with a proper mix of browns and greens along with some alfalfa cube accelerant .  At that time, the main, properly mixed bin was heaping.  By that, I mean I piled up the compost into a mound that extended well above the top of the fence panels on all sides and was mounded about 30" past the top of the panels in the very center.  Go here to have a look at the pile ten days ago . Thanks to active decomposition and gravity, the 'heaping pile' bin is now well under-control.  See below for an updated photo showing the edges of the bin have all sunk down and are now under the top of the fence panel edges.  And the center mound?  That's dropped by more than half, too.   We're getting close to the start of leaf collection season, so that mean

First Bald Cypress Fruit - September 2022

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Four years.  That's how long it took for our Bald Cypress tree to go from a thin, wispy nursery pot tree to a mature-enough tree to bear fruit.  I bought this small tree at the orange Big Box Nursery back in September of 2018 .  I planted it in the IB2DWs section and followed Ralph Snodsmith's advice by giving it a " Five Dollar Hole " and hoped for the best.  By Fall of 2020 (two years after planting), we were seeing plenty of needle growth .  Same with a year later (September 2021) when the tree seemed to have 'leaped' up .   Just earlier this month, I captured the caliper dimension (6" from root flare) at 3.47" .  Up from 1.21" in February of 2020 .   This tree is CLEARLY at the head of the class in terms of all of the plantings we've made of small trees.  It is growing tall and wide .  And is likely getting ready for the first real limb'ing up of the tree as it begins to encroach on driveways.  (remember...it is located IB2DWs after

Limelight Hydrangea Cutting - First New Growth - September 2022

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Ten days ago, I posted a couple of photos a new (to me) project of trying to grow hydrangeas from cuttings .  I tried two different culitvars (Limelight and Strawberry Vanilla) at the time and frankly...I wasn't sure if what I was doing was going to work and/or if it was going to be too late in the growing season to even attempt these. I still don't have the answer to the second question (is it too late?), but I do have a mixed-results answer to how they would do.  That answer?  The Limelight seems to have transitioned from cutting to (potentially) rooted.  The Vanilla Strawberry cutting?  Not so much. Here, below, is the limelight cutting.  The most critical thing to note?  The new, lighter color leaves at the center.  These new leaves are a sign that this cutting has managed to 'take hold': The larger leaves are cut.  And that's on purpose.  I trimmed them in half as a way to try to help the little cutting survive.  Some plantsmen call them 'solar panels'

Ferns That Look Good in September - Zone 5b - Autumn and Ghost Ferns - September 2022

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I've long talked about how my favorite garden plant family are ferns.  Hostas are a close second.  Why?  Because my Mom was a shade gardener who toiled in her garden over the years with hostas .  Our backyard is mostly shade, so like my mother...I, too, am a shade gardener.  That means finding things that work well in shade and/or part shade.  That has lead me to lists like this that talk about various things that work well in shade like heucheras , lungwort and...of course ferns and hostas.  Over the years, I've planted various ferns in our gardens, but my first fern love was the Ostrich Fern .  I've had them in our garden in Elmhurst, brought a couple to my sister & Equation Boy's house (when we lived there) and have them here in Downers .  And, while they're really great ferns, they start to look a little ragged as the growing season goes on.  But, on a recent walk around the garden, I've noticed that a couple of varieties of ferns are looking REALLY goo

Transplanted Hicks Yew - Southside Bed - September 2022

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Late last season, I planted six small upright Hicks Yews in a little row about half-way back in the southside bed of the backyard .  My thought was that I was going to to try to bring a little bit of repetition to the landscape by trying to mirror or repeat the Hicks Yew hedge that I've been growing along the back of our property.   They all seemed to have done just fine this season, but earlier this Spring, I undertook a shrub project that involved relocating the four Lilacs from this area and replacing them with three Green Giant Thujas.  If you look at this post showing the planting of the Thujas , you can see the six small Hicks Yews.  In that post, I talked about how I needed to relocate some of these Yews and with the temperatures dropping, I was finally able to get around to starting that relocation.  Below, you can see one of the Green Giant Thujas and a hole in the mulch directly in front of it where I dug the Yew out of as it was a pretty tight fit. I decided to keep it

Alchemilla Mollis 'Auslese' - Ladys Mantle - September 2022

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 This is the second new (to us) perennial that we recently planted that came from Roy Diblik's Northwind Perennial Farm.  I'll admit that I made one of the core gardening mistakes ( don't buy just one of anything ) with both of these recent additions, but these were picked out from the shade section by my middle child.  This post is about Alchemilla mollis 'Auslese' - or Ladys Mantle.  The sign at Northwind is below and points out that this works in part shade, has yellow flowers and spreads out to about 20".  It also calls out the scalloped, grey-green foliage. And, here below, is our pint-sized plant.  Of note, after just a few days home, I've come to realize that this thing needs to be watered regularly.   So, what, exactly is this?  Is it like a Heuchera?  Is it ground cover?  (If so, it would count towards my 2022 to-do list goal around groundcover, right?) The University of Wisconsin Horticulture Extension has a page up about Lady's Mantle where

Two Volunteer Tree Seedlings - Backyard Bed - September 2022

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I have had various volunteer trees take off in different parts of our garden over the years.  The American Elm pops up EVERYWHERE .  The Chicago Blues Black Locust does, too .  I've talked about how I have Catalpa seedlings (or what I think are Catalpa seedlings) in different spots of the front and backyard.  For the most part, I rub or rip out the little seedlings before they can become anything of signficance.   However, there have been a couple of tiny seedlings in the southside backyard bed that I've been watching for the past few months, wondering what they'd become and if they were worth nurturing.  Before we went into Fall, I wanted to document here in the [tree diary] both of these trees as they are currently standing. First up is a Maple tree.  This Maple (unknown cultivar) is growing up right behind the Fanal Astilbes on the southside.  It is about 24" tall, has a strong central leader and is throwing off a LOT of healthy, green foliage.  See below for two p

Twinkle Toes Lungwort Transplant Project - September 2022

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Yesterday, I posted a couple of photos showing the transplant location of three purple Astilbes that I moved from the north bed to the south bed where they're (now) tucked in amongst some other Fanal Astilbes.  In that post, I mentioned that this was the first of my early Fall transplant moves that I was planning to take on as the weather begins to turn cooler.  On my [ Fall 2022 ] task list was another transplant project:  Twinkle Toes Lungwort .   I planted three of these Lungwort in the south bed back in the Fall of 2020 and they've done really well over the past two growing seasons.  All three of them have put on size and are really lovely dotted silver, low border-loving plants.   In my post from a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I wanted to dig these up and move them closer to the front of the bed.  The reality is that they're low-lying plants and need to be closer to the front so I can plant something more intermediate behind them.   This post shows the location

Transplanted Purple Astilbes - September 2022

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Last Spring (March 2021), I planted some bare root Astilbes from Longfield Gardens that Nat picked up at Costco in the backyard .  They were Gloria purpurea variety and were billed as having purple flowers.  I checked in on them this Summer when I noted that they were pretty crowded in a spot between the trunk of a tree and some hostas.  I mentioned then that I wanted to transplant these this Fall.   Well...Fall isn't REALLY here, but in my garden, I'm doing some of my Fall tasks, including transplanting and dividing.   On a recent, rainy evening, I went out and dug the three Astilbes up and transplanted them over into the second row of my OTHER Astilbes.  Here, below, is what the area looks like with the three new ones planted: It isn't PLAINLY obvious where the three transplants are located, so I've included (below) an annotated photo that I can reference next season when I start scanning the mulch layer for tips of new growth to emerge in Spring.  Here's where

Campanula Poscharskyana - Blue Waterfall - September 2022

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On a trip up to Wisconsin recently, we brought home a couple of part shade perennials from Northwind that were destined to go into the Bird's little backyard garden that sits along the northside fence.  Both of these were new (to us) and will work in the understory section of the beds.  The first one is commonly known as Serbian Bellflower, but is listed at Northwind as Campanula Poscharskyana - Blue Waterfall.  See below for a look at the 1# plant that we brought home....and was PROMPTLY eaten by the dang rabbits.  Below is the sign from Northwind Perennial Farm where they describe the plant as 'vigorous'. What it doesn't, explicitly say is the word 'groundcover'.  But, that's what Bluestone Perennials call it: a short, mounding groundcover .   #5 on my 2022 to-do list was to 'fall in love with groundcover' and this is another data point towards that goal.  As of late last month, I had planted 20 ground cover plants this season including a variety

Late Summer Tree Caliper Measurements - September 2022

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I posted the growth details of our front yard Bald Cypress tree last week.  Those photos and details are here .  But, I also wanted to get the rest of the measurements on all of our trees before they dropped their leaves.  #7 on my 2022 to-do list included 'capturing the caliper measurements' of our trees.  This post details the growth that I've seen on some trees and documenting other newly planted trees (since the last time that I measured).   There are a few trees that we've lost and a few that we've gained since January 2020 - the last time that I measured.  At the bottom of this post is a series of photos showing the measurements.   But, the best way to look through this is by looking at this table below.  Showing their Jan 2020 size, their September 2022 size, the growth in inches and percentages.   First, the Hornbeams.  Most grew in the 30-40% range with the first one growing almost 70% (which feels like an outlier).  They're mostly >3.5" trees