Back in April, I posted a 'to-do' reminder to remove the small Bird's Nest Spruce evergreen shrub from inside the nursery container (that was, in-turn, planted directly in the ground) to planting the conifer OUT of the nursery container and into the ground. Why? Because, I originally bought it with an eye towards using it as pre-bonsai material, I've now changed my mind and wanted to get it started in a more permanent spot. I did this same thing with another pre-bonsai shrub - a Juniper Pfitzeriana Aurea - in a different spot a couple weeks ago . Here, below, is the Bird's Nest Spruce after being planted and having suffered some rabbit damage this Winter: And, here, below is the container it was in with the label. I'm hoping now that this has roots down in the native soil, we'll see it establish itself a little bit this season and will put on some new growth. I'll be sure to protect it from the rabbits next Winter so it won't get saw'd
Showing posts from May, 2022
In the photo above, you can peep a bunch of things; a few of the Everillo Sedges on the bottom right. A couple of small Hicks upright Yew in the middle left. The Chocoholic Snakeroot in the top right. But, the focus of the photo here in the [garden diary] is the three ruffled hostas planted on a diagonal. They are Waterslide hostas and they're looking really great. I first planted one in fall of 2020 that I bought at the Morton Arboretum Fall Plant Sale . I (now) know that buying one of anything is a mistake. So, in Spring of 2021, I remedied that mistake and brought home Waterslide Hostas that I found at Home Depot . The one closest to the back (by the fence) is the oldest and the two one-year-old versions are closer to the front of the bed. They're a cool blue/green color and the ruffled foliage provides a nice contrast to this area that features the sedges and yews. I mentioned then - and it still holds true - that I'm drawn to ruffled foliage on these hos
Last Summer, one of my big-box-nursery white whales was the Crested Surf Japanese Painted Fern. I saw them a few times, but always wanted to wait until they went on sale. Then they started to disappear from the shelves and I figured it wasn't meant to be for our garden. Right after the 4th of July, I found three of them on sale and decided to plant them in the little Japanese garden-inspired section on the south side of our backyard . Two of them seemed to be fine, but one suffered. I watered them and watered them. And they still went into decline. That first year is always tough. I figured I lost one or two of them. And, so imagine my delight when Spring comes around and all three of them have fronds that begin to unfurl. You can see them in the photo below, planted in a triangular shape around a hosta: I really like these double-tipped ferns, so my plan is to give them as much water as they need this Spring/Summer. My experience is that if I can get a Japanese Painted
Last Spring, I planted a bunch of bare root hostas in a few spots around our backyard that Nat brought home from Costco. I'll get to the Frances Williams Hostas in another post, but this one is about the Bressingham Blue bare root hostas from Longfield Gardens . I planted eight in what - at that time - I called the 'focal curve' . And six back by the Yew Hedge . Two by the downspout around the Screened Porch . That's only 16, so I'm not sure if I planted 18 of them (sometimes...these bare root hostas are so tiny that I plant two in one spot). I covered some of these last year showing their first year growth. By June, I was seeing some of them emerge from the mulch . And by August, it looked like seven of the eight in the focal curve had made it . I don't seem to have documented in the [garden diary] the ones back by the Yews, nor the ones by the downspout. So...one year after planting bare root hostas, how are we doing? First, it seems the two by t
Every year, we go on a little vacation to Wisconsin or somewhere else where we find ourselves away from our house for a number of weeks in a row. Each year, I try to set up an irrigation system that provides enough water to allow for the plants, shrubs and trees - as well as the grass - to simply survive. In most years, we usually get a LITTLE lucky and get a rain event once or twice while we're gone and most everything survives. Last year, we went on vacation in the middle of the Summer and weren't lucky enough to have that rain event. Couple that with a REALLY dry Spring (Drought) and my sprinkler setup not covering EVERYTHING and we have things die out. One of the specimens who suffered last year was the Weeping White Spruce columnar tree that is planted on the southside of our beds, near the Lindens that are espalier'd. By mid-July last year, it was showing a bunch of needle drop - when we came back from vacation . And by September, it had gotten worse. Dead b
I've covered a bunch of the shrubs ( hydrangeas ) and perennials ( Ivory Prince Hellebores ) that I brought home from the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale already here on the blog. But, we also bought a tree from that same sale. I've bought a tree each of the years that I've attended the sale including this Emperor 1 Japanese Maple tree last year . And this Red Fox Katsura tree from 2020 . This year, I've prioritized shrubs in the landscape, but I included a couple of tree items on my 2022 to-d list . #7 was to plant more trees (and measuring them), so this new tree checks that box. I keep thinking about that advice I came across in April of 2019 related to planting trees . The proverb is below : That means planting small trees that - over time - can grow into something meaningful. I've done this recently with a Ginkgo tree (well...two of them, but one snapped in half ), so I figured another Ginkgo would be interesting. I brought the Babe to the sa
We've had a pair of Rhododendrons that flank the sides of our back stoop since our first year here in Downers Grove. They've been a mixed bag - evergreen is nice, but they've under performed and have gotten a little leggy in some years. They're there because that's what our plan called for, but would I plant something else there if I could do it all over again? Probably. On one side, I've had some ground cover take root in the shape of a volunteer sedum and that's a nice addition (by accident). You can see both one of the rhododendrons and the Lemon Coral Sedum at the base in the photo below. Taking a look back, it seems these bloomed in mid-June last year . I gave both of these flowering shrubs a bit of a prune last year after they flowered and I'll do the same this year. I've mentioned trying to use tropicals (and sub-tropicals) in the garden more this year and that is one of the reasons why I *want* these to work so much: they lend a
A week or so ago, right when they were putting on a bunch of their new growth, I applied the first treatment of fertilizer on our three Disneyland Roses that are planted on the south side of our house. This is the second year that I've done a feeding program for them and something I mentioned I wanted to keep doing on my 2022 to-do list (#10) . Last year, I used a granular product from Jobe's , but this year when I went to the orange Big Box Nursery, all I could find was this Vigoro granular. I figured it was fine since the N-P-K were just about the same. I feed in early May, so this particular bag says that the next time I should feed them is two-to-three months from now, which would mean sometime in July. And, then again sometime in September. One of the other things that I need to remind myself is around companions for these Disneyland Roses. I covered some ideas last year, when I mentioned Alliums and Nepeta as potential options . I put down some Allium bulbs, but
I was doing a little garden walk this past week when I noticed something new poking thru the bottom of the fence. It was tall and had blue flowers at the top of the flower stalk. Could it be? Might it be? Sure enough....have a look at the photo below and let's talk about what this flower is via our neighbor's garden: That's a little naturalized Virginia Bluebell that has crept over (under) the fenceline. I wrote about these Spring Ephemerals back in September here and included them in my 2022 plant wish list. And, #2 on my 2022 to-do list was to plant perennials that work across four-seasons where I mentioned the idea of a Spring Ephemeral like Virginia Bluebells . This feels like a gift, right? A little colony of Mertensia virginica that exists next door has drifted over the past few years, but I've always removed it. Why? Because I didn't 'get to know' this plant until last year. So, this year? I'm encouraging it to stay here and maybe e
We moved lilacs this Spring from here ...to here . We have NEVER witnessed even ONE Lilac flower in all the years in Downers Grove. Now...with the transplant, guess what? They flowered!?!? Yeah. First time ever. Perhaps due to the transplant stress? Or in spite of it? See below for a photo of the first-of-their-kind blooms on our recently-transplanted Lilac flowering shrubs that we moved to the north side. These will be something that we'll have to watch this year and next Spring to see how they managed the transplant.
By last September, they were leaf'd out and looking good . Before the frost arrived, I decided to dig them into the landscape and let them try to overwinter outside . I covered them with mulch and surrounded them with chicken wire to keep the rabbits out. Well...much to my surprise, these have come back. In that September post, I talked about how there were ten Kentucky Coffee tree seedlings and one small Maple tree seedling . I dug these up and moved them to our raised bed by the patio. Here, below, is what they look like after a long winter's nap: By my count, there are nine (maybe ten) KCT seedlings and that one Maple that have made it. Pretty good. #7 on 2022 to-do list was (in part) to continue to work the seedlings . Next up on my list is to try to germinate these Honey Locust seeds .
Earlier this week, I showed off the new haircut that I gave to the pair of crabapple trees in our sideyard and talked about my plan for shaping them into a Palmette Verrier form along the side of our house . I thought it would be wise to document my other (or...as the kids say: OG) espalier: the pair of Greenspire Linden trees that are shaped into a four-tiered horizontal cordon. The last time that I showed these trees was in early April when they had NO leaves on them . I mentioned last week that they had broken bud (very pretty buds, btw) and were leaf'ing out. What do they look like this week? Really lovely set of espalier - with four tiers. Well...almost four. See below: On the left, the bottom tier is done on the left, but needs some help going right. On the tree on the right, the bottom tier needs some help extending both ways. I'm thinking those will get done this growing season. #6 on my 2022 to-do list was to continue to work the Lindens (these have bee
Earlier this week, I showed off a couple of photos that featured the pair of Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees that were in (what I then called) a pre-espalier form . These were planted last Fall along the southside of our house, in front of our gate. Since they had already bloomed, I thought it was time to take out the pruners and remove all the non-necessary limbs to allow the trees to focus growth on the limbs that I cared most about. I started with a top haircut - pruning off the apical meristem or leader on both. That usually has a strong impact on the tree where it signals a bunch of NEW growth. I used the siding boards to get them the same height. From there, I went two siding boards down and removed all the little, starting limbs in between those two segments. Then, again two boards down. And so forth. I still am not sure what form these will take, but - for now - I'm training them horizontally. See below for what are (now) four-level horizontal cordon espaliered craba
Most all of our other grasses have woken up already. But, up until the last few days, I was worried that we had lost the one Prairie Winds Totem Pole Switchgrass that we have planted in our front yard. It is kind of 'behind' the Norway Maple. I bought it from the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale last Spring . By early August, it was putting on some growth, but certainly didn't live up to its billing: super tall . Later in the month, it was able to withstand the heat of August and be in fine shape . But, all Spring, there was NO Activity. Not a single blade. And then...we had a heat wave. Last week, the temperatures were in the 90's all week. And guess what? That pushed everything along. Including this Totem Pole Switchgrass. See below for how it looks in mid-May: Oh...and see that Lemon Coral Sedum? It is back for another season. Groundcover is on my 2022 list , so I should think about more of this, right?
I brought home three Ivory Prince Hellebores from the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale and was able to get them into the ground in the border that held our lone ( previously purchased ) Hellebore. You can see them in the photo below: the three Ivory Prince Lenten Roses / Hellebores are now planted in a triangular shape *around* the existing Sally's Shell (now planted in the middle). This area is bordered by a large/mature Catalpa tree (you can see a peek at the trunk on the far left of this photo below). In the coming days/weeks, I'll mulch these in and have the edge of the bed cleaned up. With four (now) in this spot, I'm hoping for some self-sowing (according to the Web...that's a thing. But, it hasn't happened for me just yet) and spreading. This area calls for ten total Hellebores , so we're getting close to half-way there.
Last Summer, we planted a pair of Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees on the side of our house - the south side that gets a lot of sun - right up against the foundation. I watered them in a bit, but we were (mostly) past the heavy heat of the Summer (mid-September is when they went in), so I kind of let the trees just figure things out on their own. I didn't train these very hard last Fall because of that. I left them as is and didn't prune anything off of them. I did, however, put a couple of limbs out horizontally with some light bamboo poles, but otherwise didn't touch them. Earlier this Spring, there was a peek at one of them (naked) in this Disneyland Rose protection post from mid-March . What happened this Spring? They woke up. And put on a really nice show. Pink buds opened up to white flowers with pink centers clustered all over both trees. See below for a pair of pre-espalier crabapple (Sugar Tyme - Malus 'Sutyzam') trees . This post is going up on May
Last week, I posted a couple of photos showing the timing of the Cherry Blossoms in our backyard on on small Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree . This was the fifth of six growing seasons where we able to experience Cherry Blossom season. Kinda nice. Before we get too far into the Summer, I wanted to post a few photos in the [ tree diary ] showing the timing of some of our trees breaking bud this year. These photos were all taken on Monday, May 9th. So, we can call that early/mid May, right? First up - Dawn Redwood. By May 9th this year, the needles were beginning to show up. See below: Here's another look at the Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree. Leaves and flowers by early/mid May: Below is the "Grampy Tree" - the first London Planetree in the far back of the yard . The three smaller ones I planted at the end of last season that I'm planning on PLEACHING aren't this far advanced. That has me a bit concerned. Below is the small Pagoda Dogwood tree that we a
Last year, I bought three Japanese Forest Grasses - Hakonechloa Macra Hakone Grass - from Northwind up in Wisconsin and planted them right at the base of the big Northern Red Oak tree - the tree swing tree amongst some hostas. These grasses are similar to the All Gold variety that I have in a few places, but these aren't as 'lime green' color, but rather a darker green. They're also (per the signage) more vigorous. This is their first Spring and all three of them have emerged from the mulch. You can see them (below) tucked into the border with some hostas (Frances Williams and others) above them. My plan is to let all of these things come up and then decide if I need to transplant a few things around. The bare root hostas are starting to get to a more-mature size and as they fill in, I think there might be a few more than necessary here.
Last year, I planted a few Carex Pensylvanica in our backyard (under the Frans Fontain European Hornbeam trees) that I brought home from Northwinds Perennial Farm up in Wisconsin. It doesn't look like I planted anything about these being in the garden last growing season. These were the the pilot plantings of Carex under these trees and they seemed to do fine last year. Carex Pennsylvania can be planted as close as 1' centers where they'll knit together to create a carpet. Mine are planted 10-plus feet apart, so there's, ummm, no 'knitting' going on. But what *is* going on? A really lovely Spring seed head show. See below for a look at one of these Carex showing off dark colored, almost-black, seed heads with the flush of new Spring growth. I've taken different approaches with all three of these sedges in terms of Spring cleanup. This one (above), I've left as-is. No trimming at all. One of the other ones I ran over with the lawn mower and
At the beginning of June, I showed off the three 2# Little Lime Hydrangeas that I brought home as part of our backyard landscape plan . I wanted them to fill in right in front of the apple tree Belgian Fence espalier on the north side of the yard - under the Tree Swing Northern Red Oak tree. In order to get these three in the ground, I first has to dig up and transplant an existing shrub: An Azelea . This flowering shrub has been in the ground for a number of years and, in reality, was in a terrible spot. It flowers (barely), but is leggy and not happy here. I started by digging up the azalea while trying to keep the rootball totally intact and surrounded by soil. See below for the spade I used to dig this azalea up - right in front of the Belgian Fence espalier: I decided to move this one out further west to a more-sunny spot in the backyard. With these being #13, #14 and #15 shrubs planted, I thought I'd revisit my initial list : 5 Oakleaf Hydrangeas. Planted and done.
The Cherry Blossoms are in bloom. At least in our backyard. The photos below show our Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree in bloom with pink flowers and red-to-maroon foliage. Those leaves turn out ordinary - green-colored - as the Spring and Summer wears on. This tree was bought in Mid-May in 2017 as we were still building our new house. We planted this ahead of our occupancy and had to baby it as the heat of Summer arrived . For the full tale of the tape, here's the history of this tree below. It has bloomed five of six years with 2019 being the only year we saw no flowers. 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 on April 28, 2021) 2022: Bloomed in mid-May. (photos taken on May 11). 2021 was the earliest (late April), but the other four