One of the projects in the backyard that I've been eying since we arrived home from vacation is to clean up and shape the boxwoods that we have close to our patio in back. They're pretty shaggy right now and have grown together a bit after being in the ground for four growing seasons. You can see their current state as shaggy boxwoods below: A little history - these were planted in 2018. And I pruned them for the first time in Spring of 2019 . I haven't touched them since. Why? Because I found some inspiration both on the Web and in person. First... these Jacques Wirtz cloud hedges that have grown together and are shaped in one big mass. And then this mass of boxwoods that are in Memphis at the FedEx Worldwide Headquarters . The Fall of 2019, they started to put on some size . And a year later - Fall 2020 - they had grown even closer together . It seems that the time has come to shape these, but (right now), I don't have shears. Seems there are a couple
Showing posts from June, 2022
Tracking for the [ garden diary ] as well as the 2022 to-do list a couple of applications in the garden. First up is iron. Fast-acting iron. Chelated Iron . I applied this to the rhododendrons by the back stoop and the Little Henry Sweetspire out front. Below is a photo of one of the rhododendrons where I peeled back the mulch and sprinkled the pelletized iron. I applied this iron to both. This is the product that I've used the past two seasons . (below) Next up are the Disneyland Roses. This is the second application of rose food to my three Floribunda roses. This is the second application of the season. The first was in mid-May . In the photo below, you have to look closely, but if you do, you'll see the granular fertilizer.
Last year, I planted four Japanese Ghost Lady Ferns that I brought home from the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale around the base on the Weeping Nootka tree . These have done remarkably well in this spot and are putting on quite a show right now. Below is a peek at them: These are some of the various Pictum Japanese ferns that we have - but these are characterized as Lady Ferns.
Early Sumer is peak Sweetspire season. We have a trio of Little Henry Sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Sprich') planted in a little border by our front walk. I posted a VERY SIMILAR photo almost exactly one-year-ago when these were in bloom in June 2021 . Below, you can see the peak bloom season for these flowering shrubs. And, you'll also see the Saratoga Ginko that we planted last month peeking out in the middle . Last year, I applied some fast-acting iron to help darken these up and if I have that bag on hand, I'll do the same this week. These were planted in 2017 as part of our pre-move-in landscape planting. That means they've had five growing season with 2022 being the sixth.
What a difference on month makes. Especially when that month is in late Spring/early Summer. Below, you'll see what the current state of the pair of Greenspire Linden trees that are pruned into a horizontal cordon espalier form in our backyard. They've put on a TON of growth in the past four weeks and are in need of a cleanup. It appears that the lowest tier of the espalier has (now) reached the end of the frame, so I'm thinking that I can take the framework down. However....as you can tell from the photo....the tree is SO thick and lush that you can't *really* see the frame. Here is what they looked like four weeks ago . Below is a photo from mid-May of this year where you can see ALL FOUR levels of the horizontal cordon espalier:
Earlier this Spring, I was concerned about our lone Totem Pole Switch Grass because it didn't seem to show any growth. Turns out, it is a slow-starter. Here's a post from mid-May when it had just started to emerge for the first time about three or four weeks behind other ornamental grasses . One month later, the grass is above my knees and is putting out some serious blades. No seed tips (just yet), but plenty of greenish-blue ornamental grass blades. See below for the current state: This is planted behind the troubled Norway Maple and seems to have figured out how to co-exist with some hard-to-grow conditions: a dense root mat from the Norway Maple tree + clay soil + hydrophobic mulch + quite a bit of sun + mostly drought(ish) conditions. Last Summer this put out seeds head by August, but has YET to reach the claimed heights of six feet .
Yesterday, I posted some photos showing the series of Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses around the garden . I also acknowledged that some folks consider them VERY basic. But, I guess they're a guilty pleasure for this gardener. In that post, I mentioned that I was planning on doing a follow-up on the IB2DWs bed that featured some of these same ornamental grasses. Here, below, is a view of the IB2DWs bed. Consider this the early Summer "State of the IB2DWs Bed". And, here below, is an annotated version of that photo. Orange = five Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses White = Bald Cypress tree Red = two Serendipity Alliums Blue = Prairie Dropseed Green = Peony Purple = two of the three Green Velvet Boxwoods that I planted a few weeks back Yellow = the trio of Blue Fescue grasses and Cat's Pajamas Nepeta from this season The bed is starting to fill-in this season, but it still needs some work to add some layers. I'd like to try to plant some additional grasses
I know that Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses are very (as they say) basic. You'll find them in plenty of landscapes around Northern Illinois. But that's for good reason: they are really strong performers. Across multiple seasons. They stay upright and proud to provide winter interest, but they also put on a show as they grow in early Summer. In fact...I'd say that right now (mid-June) really *is* PEAK Karl Foerster grass season. They've grown up for the season and have put out their flowers on the tips that are light green. But, the blades of the grass - in particular their color - are the real stars of the show. Here's a few looks at various Karl Foerster grasses around the yard right now below. First, some of the grasses planted right off our patio. These were planted last Fall and were divisions. Next up are the three that are in the mulch island between our front walk and our driveway. These, too, were divided last year ( and this Spring ). Here,
During the flurry of posts about the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale, I seem to have missed posting the details of this small, unique hosta that we bought and planted in our backyard. Above, you can see the listing for the Hacksaw Pocket Hosta. It is described as: "Vigorous, small green hosta with thin rippled leaves that have a serrated edge". It stays small - just 6-9" tall, but when mature will get up to 2' across. Below is the plant tag for the Hacksaw Hosta. You can tell that this one was pretty small in the container. We planted it in the backyard, near the Everillo sedges and Crested Surf ferns . One month in, this hosta has put on some new growth. I'll keep babying it for the season and then hope it will just go on autopilot like the rest of our more-mature hostas.
The blooming of our floribunda roses (Disneyland Roses) has begun for the season with their first flush of pinkish-orangish blooms on all three plants that are in our sideyard. These are in full sun, but have mostly been watered naturally (not irrigated) and have thrived in their current location. The last time I posted about these was when I applied a granular fertilizer in mid-May . (note to self: it is time to apply again.) Below is a photo of the rear-most two Disneyland Roses with a pair of pre-espalier Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees planted between them. And, here's the other one - located closer to the front porch - below. I'm also including one of the divided Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses that I put over here last Fall in the photo (on the right). This one is the largest one side-to-side. Here's what they looked like last June . If history is any guide, these will have multiple flushes of blooms all the way through the growing season. Here's the bloo
I've had a few versions of allium around our garden in both of our houses. All the way back in 2011 (eek! That's 11 years ago), we had a few Allium bulbs that I stuck in the ground in Elmhurst . When we moved to Downers, one of the first things I did (in our first Fall) was to put down some Purple Sensation bulbs . During our second Fall bulb planting season, I added even more . Then, in 2020, I added a different kind of Allium - Summer Beauty Ornamental Onion Allium that grow in clumps . These were called for in our plan in a couple of sections, but they were new to me. Then...that same Summer (2020), I quickly added eight more to our backyard . Last Summer, I added a different variety - Serendipity - to our front yard IB2DWs . Three of them were planted, but just two have come back this year. And, last Fall, things got a little nuts with Allium bulb planting. I put in some Pinball Wizard bulbs . I put in some Drumstick Allium bulbs behind the Astilbes in back.
Earlier this Spring, I received a few comments on a post from last year where I talked about after some hemming-and-hawing, I brought home and planted a special tree: a Japanese White Pine - Pinus Parviflora 'Glauca Nana' . Below are a couple of them - that are similar: "I saw this tree and I'm intrigued. How is your's doing?" I replied back in the comments with my thoughts (more on that below), but I thought this might deserve a full post. First....about the tree. It has a siren call. You can't NOT notice it amongst the pallets upon pallets of Arborvitae and Boxwoods. And, I have to admit...I saw the exact same thing that the two commentors had - at the Big Box Orange nursery this Spring. Here's the beauty that was calling me to bring it home from back in May: So, I won't waste time. My tree didn't make it. My Japanese White Pine - Glauca Nana - went brown in Winter and got worse as time went on. When Spring came, it was crispy, ha
#6 on my 2022 to-do list included the need for providing a more robust structure or trellis system for our one-year-old Cascade Hops vine that was planted last year. Last year, I used a small, metal ornamental trellis that allowed the vine to get up about three or four feet off the ground . This year, I was planning on providing a true, stand-alone trellis. But...the growth of this vine thought otherwise. Why? Because it grew like crazy and by the time I was getting around to thinking about which trellis to buy, it was too late. But, my 2022 to-do list still stood. What could I do? I decided to take the same route I took with the Belgian Fence frame: attach some deck screws to the fence and wire up a grid on the fence to provide for the vine to grow up. I put in a dozen or so screws and wrapped green, outdoor wire around them in a box-shape and some cross-wires to make various ways for the vine to grow. How'd it go? The Cascade Hops vine quickly found the trellis w
Last month, I ran through the success rate of some Bressingham Blue bare root hostas from Longfield Gardens. I planted 18 and now have ten that have come back for year two. 55% success rate . In addition to those blue hostas, I also planted nine Frances Williams bare root hostas at the same time. These were planted in late April 2021 and were clustered around the Northern Red Oak tree (tree swing tree) in our backyard. Last Fall, these Frances Williams hostas had emerged and were small, but mighty . We recently had our mulch done and it seems that what started as nine hostas is now six plants. You can see them below: I'm going to leave these as-is for this growing season, but if they bulk up by Fall, I think I need to dig up and transplant a few of them - as they're planted too close together. The one that "looks" the best is the three-leaved one tucked in right by the trunk of the tree (in the shade). It has the nicest coloring/margins and the largest leav
I planted a tiny, native Pagoda Dogwood tree back by the fire pit area last Fall (October of 2021) . I decided to protect this with a ring of chicken wire because I feared the dang rabbits would destroy it all Winter. This was the first Spring and it leaf'd out really early. See the photo below for the very interesting lined foliage that is adorned on all the tips of this tiny tree. NOTE: This is the tree that leaf'd out the fastest of any tree in our garden. I took this photo in mid-May, but posting in June of 2022. So, call it mid-May for this tree reaching full leaf-out. Some of our other trees have broken buds, but none are full. (London Planetrees, Ginkos, Walnuts, Catalpas, Kentucky Coffee trees haven't broken bud just yet.) I'll water this in during the heat of the Summer with hopes that it grows up and out to provide a little bit of layering and screening back by the firepit.
I've planted bare root hostas the past few years and this season is no different. In addition to the Aaron Caladium tubers that I recently planted, Nat also brought home this bag of six Longfield Gardens Sum and Substance bare root Hostas from Costco this Spring. You can see the package showing the Sum & Substance variety below as well as a peek at the size of these Longfield Gardens bare root hosta: What are Sum & Substance Hostas? Monrovia calls them 'fast-growing' and 'Perhaps the largest and most popular of the hostas' as well as being Hosta of the Year, 2004 . What's that again?!? These might be the 'largest' hosta out there? I've been thinking a lot about giant or large-format hostas the past few seasons and added a set of three Abiqua Drinking Gourd Hostas last Fall back by the firepit that are billed as being a 'true giant' hosta. Those seem to be back for the first full growing season, so they're NOT quite at matu
Starting last Spring, I decided to be a little more proactive in terms of protecting some of our trees from pests. That started with the Greenspire Lindens that are currently espalaiered into a horizontal cordon. For the past few years, I noticed that the trees were being swarmed with yellow jackets and/or wasps . Turns out, they were there feasting on aphids that are drawn to Linden trees. So, starting last year, I treated both Lindens with five gallons of this tree protect & feed solution . It seemed to work and there were no wasps around all season. This season - NOTE: I'm posting this in early June, but I actually did this project in early May, 2022 - I pulled back the mulch around the Lindens and made a little ring for the solution to soak in around the base of the trunk. I made up five gallons of solution per tree and slowly dumped it on. See below: This year, I also decided to treat the Saucer Magnolia tree out front the same way. Last year, I noticed it seemed
Earlier this Spring, Nat brought home a package of Caladium tubers from Costco that I finally got around to digging into the beds. These are Aaron Caladiums that I'm treating as annuals as I don't anticipate digging these tubers up to store for the season. Aaron Caladiums are described as: "beautifully refined element to add to a shady site; luminous white leaves with feathered dark green margins; a great border accent that will tolerate some sun" . Here, below, is a look at the Longfield Gardens packaging showing the twelve tubers and the individual bags. I decided to dig them into the south bed where they can sit in front of the Fanal Astilbes that run part of the border . You can see the disturbed soil in the photo below. #14 on my 2022 to-do list was to work some tropicals into the landscape, so this checks part of that box. And #16 on that list was to add some shade annuals. These, too, check that box.
This Spring, we had the most tulips come up that we've ever had in our garden. That's because that I've planted tulip bulbs every Fall for the past few years. Adding colors and textures and growing the area where the bulbs are planted. Last year, I was able to snap a few photos of the current state of tulips, so when I was planting the bulbs in the Fall, I had a sense of where they needed to be planted to fill in the area . This post shows an updated look at a few areas to focus on planting bulbs that I'll need to reference come Fall. First, around the front of the Norway Maple, there's a bare spot between the two grasses you see where the rootflare enters the mulch. As well as right in front of that grass in the center of the photo - to the left of the Boxwood. I should plant bulbs in those two spots: As we go around the Norway Maple, there's more gaps to fill in: Between the front of the tree and the Lemon Coral Sedum on the left of the photo between the