Earlier this month, I posted a couple of things that I'd like to reference here. First...was the post talking about 2022 Garden Trends and how - like high fashion - the trends we see in the garden center or local nursery emerge years prior at places like the Chelsea Flower Show . In that recap post about trends, one of the design direction that was a big takeaway from Chelsea this year was the idea of 'organic ovals'. It is one of the big, macro trends mentioned in this piece cover last year's Chelsea show . The other thread I'm pulling at is the idea of a ' Getting to Know ' plant series that is part of my ongoing self-education. I started by talking about Eucomis (Pineapple Lillies) and how I ordered a handful of bulbs to try in containers this Summer. Part of these "Getting to Know X" posts is about getting myself a little more familiar with unique plants and cultivars. Things that not everyone has in their garden or yard. When you c
Showing posts from January, 2022
We're coming up on my one-year anniversary of living with a Maidenhair Fern in our house. I picked up a tiny one at Wannemaker's in February of 2021 and re-potted it into a larger clay pot . If you go back and look at that original post , you can see that the fern was quite happy. Feather-light and green. A month later (March of 2021), it was thriving . I seemed to have figured out how to keep it happy in terms of light and moisture and feeding. After that post, I don't seem to have shared any further updates on the fern. But, it has *been* a journey. When people talk about Maidenhair Ferns being finicky, they're not lying. During the life of this potted fern, I've kept it inside. Either in our family room or screened porch. And, it has been a series of ups and downs. After that March post, I think I saw some decline. Followed by me tending to it, watering it and feeding it. Which lead to a period of happiness. Then, typically followed by another cyc
I have just recently (in the past three-or-so months) started to utilize hot giardiniera on my bar pies. Here's a photo of my "Nice Cups" pepperoni pizza that is half-topped with olive-free hot giardiniera . A funny thing has happened with my ability to handle hot/spicy foods recently - my tolerance has dropped significantly. But, in an interesting coincidence, Nat's tolerance has only grown. So, I've gone from "extra hot peppers" at Potbelly's to "light hot peppers". With that going on, I mostly make my giardiniera pizzas for a crowd and not ones that we eat at home by ourselves, but I still want to take the time to get my utilization dialed in. Here, below, is a photo of the latest tip that I picked up: draining the giardiniera in a colander to remove the excess oil. I mean...the idea is simple and logical. In order to control the top-oil level, the right thing to do is to remove as much of the giardiniera oil as possible. But,
Back in November, I posted a photo of what I called a pair of "underutilized" Disney MagicBands . I wrote about how they weren't able to "live their best life" because our trip was cut short. In a post a week earlier where I posted a photo of Pooh Bear as a 50th Anniversary statue , I talked about how we didn't see too many of those statues due to "unforeseen circumstances". But, in those posts, I didn't really talk about what we *did* do on our trip. Besides going to a couple of parks and having some good drinks at my favorite restaurant on Disney property (more on that in a different post, I think), Nat and I were down there for the Run Disney Wine & Dine Race Weekend. Both Nat and I were set to run the 5K, but she was also running another, much longer race. I was happy to just do the 5K. Here, below is my bib. Our race started in the rain and thankfully we had ponchos. We stood out there for a couple of hours, waiting in the c
Hard to put away all the Christmas stuff without a few glitches, right? This year, we lost a number of our vintage glass ball Christmas ornaments. Most of them were common ones - just a single color. But a few of them were these more interesting ones - with writing/stripes/what-have-you on them. I posted some photos of a good haul that we picked up at an Estate Sale in Elmhurst back in 2016 , but I don't think the one in the photo (below) was from that group. That same year (2016), I bought another set of vintage glass ornaments (in these nice cardboard storage boxes) and *those* blue ones were some of the ones that shattered this year. One of the things that I'm trying hard to focus on in 2022 is the notion of 'stuff'. I read this post from Jason Kottke that references a Wired piece from Paul Ford titled: A Grand Unifying Theory of Buying Stuff . After reading those posts - the line about not 'buying stuff for my stuff' stuck with me. It also made
Last week, I started my Winter propagation journey with a new bottle of Rooting Powder and talked about how I was planning on taking up some projects including using some cuttings (or, frankly...more like 'fallings' - because they just fall off the plant) of Burro's Tail and our Christmas Cactus. I've had success with lazy propagation with my Burro's Tail over the years, but that was at my office on the 64th floor. This post and photo from 2018 show a good look at the mother plant, a set of soil-rooted babies and a clear cup of water-rooted cuttings. I have a series of pieces of this succulent that we've had laying in pots/containers for a number of months, but haven't really been dedicated to getting them to root and was mostly just leaving it to 'hope' that they'd take off. So, I went off to YouTube to figure out what the *right* way to propagate these are - in soil or in water. I learned that you should (ideally) allow the cutting to
I make exactly ONE "stunt pizza" at home. It is a BBQ chicken pizza that I call the "Orange Bird" that features chicken and double application of a store-bought sweet bbq sauce. First I apply the sauce to the chassis and then, post-oven, I squeeze on a drizzle (it is, I suppose, *more* than a drizzle, but less than a full slather) on top. I've added this post-oven drizzle after I found the pice a little dry but that the sauce burns pretty easily when put on top pre-bake. In this case, (once I de-pan the pie) I put down (first) a heavy hand of post-oven Romano scattered on top, then after waiting a beat, I put down this sauce which finishes with the heat off the top of the pizza. Btw....you might be wondering what a 'stunt pizza' is? Urban Dictionary has an entry that sums up the term pretty well , but that's not where I picked up the term. It was from Pizza Blogger Adam Kuban - somewhere along the lines of following him online in various plac
On Friday, I posted a photo of my blue (foliage) grow light that I've set up for some of our houseplants this Winter. These are all containers that I've kept outside during the Summer (mostly in spots with indirect light) or on our screened porch (that is enclosed) during the edges of the growing season. One of the containers that I've had for 10 months now is my one-and-only (and first ever) Staghorn Fern. I bought it - on a whim - from Home Depot for $10 last March . It came in a nursery pot and despite researching how they're supposed to be *mounted*, I've left it alone. The last time I showed a photo of the fern was in August of last Summer when it had spent a few months outside on the front porch - in shade. At that time, I also made a move that I (sort of) consider a compromise between mounting Staghorn Ferns and keeping them in a container. There's plenty of folks who keep them in what I'll call a 'basket'. My solve to get my contain
The largest park in Walworth County that runs a few hundred acres and gives visitors the ability to get down close to the White River during all seasons. On this recent Winter visit, the River was a mix of frozen and moving. I visited (and posted) about this very park last year in mid-January . If you get off the main trail a bit, you can get down to enjoy the sights and sounds. This visit was a reminder about being 'present'. Spend a few minutes listening to the running river and you can forget about whatever is on your mind - both past and future. And just be present. Jimmy V's famous speech talked about doing three things everyday: "Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears." This sure feels like a spot to do #2: spend some time in thought. Our visit to Walworth County feels like a good reminder to do all three everyday. Or try to. Then, you'll have
On my Winter Gardening to-do list are a few propagation-related items: Being more deliberate with propagating some of the Burro's Tail buds that seem to fall off of the main vines everyday and starting to propagate our Christmas Cactus . To do both of those, I'm going to give this Rooting Powder from Bonide a shot. For Burro's Tail, I've had luck WITHOUT this rooting hormone , but that all was when I was in a downtown high-rise window. I'll post some photo updates when I get around to planting these small cuttings in their own containers and will experiment with how this rooting powder helps/doesn't help with getting them going.
We keep the majority of our potted plants/containers/house plants in two places for *most* of the year. The first is outside. And that usually is between about June and September. The second is our screened porch. And that's from September to January. And again from about March to June. On the porch, we have a corner table that holds a few containers and the top of one of our firewood racks is the other spot for the pots. The porch is useable for about 300ish days a year for us and about the same for our plants. The porch gets a TON of natural light and the plants don't seem to dry out as much out there as they do once we bring them in the house. In year's past, we've brought them in the house in January and they've struggled. These came in about three weeks ago and (knock, wood), they're doing ok (so far). We've tried a few places - upstairs in a south-facing window. Downstairs in same facing. Indirect light, direct light. It seems that the best o
I was doing a little thinking/looking at this here online Weblog (or diary as I like to think of it) as it relates to the template. It has been a number of years since I've done any real housekeeping and moving things around. As part of that process, I thought I'd let some of the data lead the discovery process to understand how most of you are engaging with my diary. First...let me say that I continue to be amazed that ANYONE reads any of these posts. I do ZERO promotion of the blog. I have no ads and cater the posts/topics to an audience of one: me. I write MOSTLY as a resource for my own sanity - and to flex my own publishing muscles. Seth Godin calls it SUSDAT . I call it SUSDAP. Shut up, Sit down and Post. Every.Single.Day. But, what are *most* of you using to read these diary posts? By a large margin, you lunatics who are here are reading this post (and everything else) on your mobile device. And, you're slightly more iOS than Android. But, also slightl
Last year, I started a series of posts that I tagged as part of my 2022 garden planning something I've been calling my 2022 plant wish list. I suppose that's not entirely an accurate way to describe things, as they're not wished-for plants as much as the beginnings of a plant buying prioritization process. In this post showing the four-season interest of these Autumn Ferns , I mentioned that I should add more. Same with this post showing a few Arrowwood Viburnum that I picked up late in the season - and mentioned that I needed to find more. But, the way I'm thinking about what I want to add to the garden this year isn't about wishing as much as it is about going through some logical progression of identifiying needs and prioritizing. So, I think a better way for me to start thinking about this is more akin to the notion of 'getting to know' some plants for 2022. That's a clear 'tip of the cap' to Roy Diblik from Northwind Perennial Farm wh
I was going through some of my draft posts from earlier this Summer and I noticed a draft post about a Japanese-inspired concrete garden object that I saw in a garden on the border of McCollum park in downers. I thought I'd bring it up-to-date and publish it here as a marker towards some garden object-inspiration. Here's what I saw in a garden in Downers Grove below - a short, stout object that looks like a lantern. They are called a toro . I've posted about being drawn toward Japanese-inspired gardening and even have a visit to Gotenyama Garden in Tokyo as inspiration where they have a large Toro (or at least that's what I *think* it is). From that post : I also went to the Chicago Botanic Garden late this Summer to visit with a friend and colleague and while there, we tool'd around the Japanese Garden . It was really lovely. Here, below, is a photo I took with my phone as we walked towards the Japanese Garden section from the main entrance. In that sam
During the past week or so, I've been poking around doing research into evergreens for this year and think about shrubs and trees that might work in certain spots of our garden. While I was doing that, I thought that I should do some level of an informal audit on what is in place. Of course, there are the Hicks yews (in multiple places), but also a couple of Junipers and just last year, I added a Bird's Nest Spruce that I left in the nursery container . But, when I went out in the yard to have a look at what else there was, I realized that I planted another conifer that I failed to document in the [ garden diary ] this past fall: a Mugo Pine. When I was planting some of those tiny Boxwoods , I also dug in a very small Mugo Pine. While I failed to post about the small Pine going in, I *did* mention it during my 2021 scorecard post . While that's just fine, I do think this small conifer shrub deserves a post of its own. What is a Mugo Pine? From Monrovia : A popula
Applying the formulation with a 51% hydration factor from last wee k and a 190 gram dough ball yielded a nice result. Laying on a ring of Vermont White Cheddar lead to a nice frico. Notes: I used ZERO bench flour and was able to roll out the ball to a something close to 12". Using Crisco as the sort of 'paste', I was able to stretch the skin out and it didn't snap back. This one has Roni cups and a heavy hand of post-oven Romano. No baking steel involved, but I think I need to go back to putting the steel on the rack above to provide for that refractory heat in order to get the top just.right (well done).
The Lemon Star Amaryllis bulb - that we planted in early November - sure missed the Christmas (and even New Year's) window, but it is now the real star of the show. After the other blooms are (now) past their peak, this one is currently putting on a lovely green party in the center of our countertop. The flowers are pretty big, but there isn't a ton of them - and they're not double-bloomed. The other Amaryllis' that we've grown over the years have always tended towards the red/pink/maroon-type. The Bird picked this one out because it was different. Pretty sure it was the only green one at Wannemaker's this year. Would recommend it to anyone - looking to do something a little more unique. Looking back at this post from January 5th , it appears that 9 days of difference shows the growth from a closed, pointy bud on top of the stalk to having flowers on all four sides open and in bloom. There's another, lower secondary stalk with a bud emerging, so
Last year, I heard from someone from the University of Missouri who was writing a story about the art of espalier if they could use a photo that I took of the Belgian Fence espalier at Disneyland for inclusion in their piece on the Mizzou site. At first, I wasn't sure *which* photo - because I've taken a bunch of them - but the one he was asking for was the second photo in this post : the diamond-shaped one close to It's A Small World After All in Disneyland. That story ended up getting published last year and my photo was included here: For those of you who have a little bit of interest in espalier or training trees, you should go ahead and give the story a read. Head here to go through the full post. It is titled: " Espalier: Pruning as an Art Form " by David Trinklein - University of Missouri, Division of Plant Sciences.
This isn't part of *my* Christmas Haul (like the padded espalier training wire from last week), but I still wanted to post a photo of this gift that was received in our house by the Bird. One of the things that we've done over the past year-plus is to watch ALL of the Marvel MCU movies as a family. As part of that experience, some of the characters in the MCU have become family favorites. One of those is Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. The Bird (now) has some Groot shirts and even a little magnet shoulder-sitting Groot that she'll wear around . But, when I think about all of the kids, the one that has the MOST interest in nature and plants and gardening (with me) is the Bird. So, I'm thinking that is part of the draw to Groot: he's organic and is plant-based. For Christmas, we came across this set of Groot planters on Etsy and knew that she'd love them. There are four in the total set, but you can buy just one. Note: there are A LOT of 3D-printe
For the better part of 2021, I have been making (exclusively) Bar Pies at home to the exclusion of just about any other type of pizza. I've made the occasional Detroit-style, but for the most part, it has been 12" round Bar Pies for 10+ months . However, Bar Pies have a specific provenance - that of the east coast. New Jersey. Massachusetts. Those places make "Bar Pie". What do we make in Chicago? Something called Tavern pizza. Or Tavern-style pizza. Or, just Chicago Thin Crust. Bar Pie isn't too far from Chicago Thin, but it is a bit different. So, I've decided that 2022 is going to be my Chicago Thin/Bar Pie hybrid year. My maiden voyage down this path was this past weekend when I took a Chicago Thin recipe that I found on YouTube , modified it to be a little bit *more* like my base Bar Pie formulation in some ways, dropped the hydration down a bit and then, finally did a couple of downsizing from a 14" formulation to a 12"-based cha
What do they say about being 'on trend'? Something like....if you stick to something LONG ENOUGH, it will eventually come back to being 'on trend'. Like clothes. If you loved wearing flannel shirts and Doc Martin boots back in the 1990's and you kept wearing them ever since? Good news. You're back on trend twenty-plus years later. With that idea, I suppose it is worth thinking about trends in gardening. I've posted about trends in the past - here's a 2019 post about how gabion-style walls were on trend that year . And in 2020 how creating little 'nooks ' was on trend. There are various times when trends in gardening come out. The first is typically during the Chelsea Flower show that takes place annual in London . This year, the show was moved (Thanks, COVID.), but some trends continued to emerge - mostly related to the changing dynamics COVID has brought to our lives. Something that seemed to percolate out of Chelsea this year was the
I've posted about my pair of horizontal cordon Greenspire Linden trees a number of times over the years - talking about their structure, how I train them, what I train them with , etc. Most of those photos are show during some part of the growing season when they're covered with leaves or buds . But, winter interest is a lot of why I've fallen in love with the idea of espalier. I've always thought that the structure is never more clear than when the trees have shed their leaves. Just look at this post from last month . But, it turns out, there's a little nuance there. See below, a photo that I took a few days back. I'm not certain that I have a new answer: when do espalier'd trees show the most structure? When they're dormant, yes. But, more so: when they're covered in a little bit of snow. Set against the grey cedar fence, the snow capped branches are highlighted and stand out. I have a few other trained trees that are years behind thes
With the holidays (officially) winding down in our house and the decorations being tucked back into their tubs and boxes, I wanted to include in my Web diary a photo of our front yard Christmas tree and our blow mold Santa and three reindeer . I've done this in the past including a similar photo last year featuring the tree and Santa/reindeers . The front yard tree *is* a thing in Downers Grove, but that's not why we do it. We do it because of our time on Indiana Street in Elmhurst . We really loved that tradition, so we've kept it despite moving to Downers. This is the 11th year of documenting our front yard Christmas tree tradition - and 12th year of a front-yard photo. 2019 post was only of the blowmolds , so I'm not counting that in the 11 years. Here's our 2021 front yard tree featuring a fresh snow covering our tree and Santa/reindeer. Here's our 2020 front yard Christmas tree with Santa and his reindeer . Here's a photo of our Santa/reindeer f