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Showing posts from May, 2024

Stripping Concrete Slab Forms - DIY Pizza Oven - May 2024

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Just 48 hours ago, I shared the details and photos of how I poured our backyard wood-fired pizza oven reinforced foundation slab using 46 sixty-pound bags of 4000 PSI concrete and a MudMixer.  I've kept the slab (mostly) wet using a garden hose and covered it in plastic.  48-or-so hours after the pour, I knocked down the supports and began to remove the forms.  Here's what was left:  an almost (for a first timer with a non-super-discerning eye) perfect 5.5" thick reinforced concrete slab: The light color (and discoloration) is from the plastic sheet touching the concrete as it cured.  I'm not the least bit worried about that as I know the slab will continue to change color.  I'm happy with the straight lines and the lack of air pockets around the edge.  I used a heavy hammer to vibrate the forms in an attempt to get the concrete mix down along the edge/face of the forms.  It seemed to have worked.   After a few more days, I'll get out there and snap some chalk

Garden Edit - Nook Behind Weeping Cypress - Hosta Replacement Project - May 2024

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Last month, I wrote about how 2024 might end up being the year of the great "Garden Edit" for our backyard .  I collected my thoughts about what I was drawn-to garden-wise and that boiled down to a few things:  planting in masses, focused on plants that work for our garden, have some appeal foliage-wise and have some four-season appeal (or at least 2 or 3 season).   I outlined a few places that I thought about editing including around the tree swing tree, the kitchen curved bed, IB2DWs and the 'hosta replacement project' on both sides of far backyard.   The first "Garden Edit" that I took on was the tree swing tree .  Where, I reorganized some things and pulled the Hakonechloa Macra (green ones) Grasses to the front and plan on carrying that drift further back.   The second "Garden Edit" was the southside Hosta Replacement Project/Stumpery .  I pulled out a number of hostas and transplanted the All Gold Hakonechloa Macra grasses from the Tree Swing

State of (The Original) IB2DWs Bed - May 2024

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The last time that I published a "State of the IB2DWs" was in Summer 2022 - just about two years ago . Back then, the bed was just getting established; after being transformed from turf grass to a mulch bed.  Today, it is longer, bigger, more-planted and presents a more full-figured profile to visitors.  I thought it was time to update the garden diary with a new State of IB2DWs.    First, the original part - closer to the garage.    Below are a few photos that show the current state - featuring some Serendipity Alliums, Karl Foerster Grasses, Cat's Pajamas Nepeta, some Elijah Blue Fescue clumps, creeping jenny, sedums, All Gold Hakonechloa grasses, a couple of Agastache Blue Fortune , a Prairie Dropseed, some Peonies, a couple of conifers, some boxwoods, a Cardoon and a couple of trees.  Things are doing well, but the Summer heat hasn't arrived.  

Indiana Street Iris In Bloom - May 2024

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We have a purple bearded Iris planted on the southside of our house, behind the Limelight Hydrangeas and right off the side porch.  I call these our "Indiana Street Iris" because they came from my sister - who lives on Indiana Street.  These Irises are from her neighbor Wes, who moved out and had his hosue torn down.  These were 'rescue irises'.  I planted a small clump in June 2021 - here's a photo that shows how small they were (all foliage) .    They put out a small bloom a few weeks later .   Last year, this bloomed in June and had put on some good size in the two years it has been here .  Below, is the Indiana Street Iris that has a number of shoots pointing upwards that will bloom in the coming weeks.   I haven't divided these, but perhaps this is the year - after they bloom.   These also have me thinking more about Irises - and in particular - an Iris that I came across at the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale called 'Gerald Darby' Iris - Ir

DIY Pizza Oven Foundation Slab Pour - May 2024

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After bending and installing the rebar, reinforcing grid and vapor barrier , it was now time to pour the foundation slab for our diy backyard wood-fired pizza oven.   As I posted about last week, I shrunk the foundation slab down to be 72" wide and 80" front-to-back.  It is 5.5" thick (2x6's for concrete forms).   This is sitting on top of six inches of 1/2" compacted gravel and a 48" deep of large rock drywell.   I used an online concrete estimating calculator tool and when you put those dimensions in, it says that I needed 42 60# bags.    I have to pour two slabs - this foundation slab and then, once I build the stand, an insulated hearth.  Each approximately the same size.   When adding those two up, I ordered 85 60# bags and had them delivered.  I opted for 4000 PSI concrete - as a little bit of an upgrade over the baseline concrete. Knowing that the labor involved in this pour is in two parts, I opted to split them up:  first...hauling the concrete

A Third Emperor 1 Japanese Maple - And a LOST Laceleaf JM - May 2024

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This post deposits two things into the [garden diary]:   the loss of a Japanese Maple and the planting of a different one.  First, the loss.  Last Summer, I planted a 2-gallon Japanese Maple that was mis-marked.  It was labeled as an Emperor 1, but was had dissectum or laceleaf foliage .  I marked it as an 'unknown' Japanese Maple - likely a Takukeyama.  That tree was purchased on May 12, 2023, so I had a decision to make.  By May 11th (this past weekend), the tree was not leaf'ing out.  The scratch test showed that the trunk was still alive, but no buds had opened up.  With the one-year warranty running out, I opted to yank it out and get the store credit.   This marks the second loss of trees this year - the first being the Silver Maple that I removed earlier this Spring .  Two trees lost, zero planted.  But, that is about to change thanks to the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale.  A few days ago, I posted about the Sun King Golden Japanese Spikenard (Aralia) that I picked up a

'Sun King' Golden Japanese Spikenard - Aralia cordata - Morton Arboretum Plant Sale

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 The sign at the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale reads:  2020 Perennial Plant of the Year!  A unique addition to your shade garden.  'Sun King' emerges mid-spring with bright gold leaves and reddish brown stems.   In heavier shade, the foliage ranges from chartreuse to lime green.  A hardy, tropical looking beauty that brightens up the shade.   It gets 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.   I've been thinking about Sun King Aralia for a couple years and I finally pulled the trigger and bought six of them for our backyard garden.   Here's a listing from Proven Winners that describes Sun King : A unique golden-leafed plant for the shade. The color will be brighter yellow in part sun, and more chartreuse or lime green in full shade. Tiny white flowers. After blooming, deep purplish black, inedible berries. Here's the plant tag below: And, here below is a look at the plant in the nursery pot: These are going into a 'Garden Edit' in the backyard and will be part of

Tree Form Doublefile Viburnum In Bloom - White Blooms - May 2024

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We have three Doublefile Viburnums that are grafted tree-form in shape in our backyard.  Two along the north fence line, one on the far west (far back) by the firepit.  I planted these in Spring of 2022 , making this their third growing season.  These have emerged earlier than last year (2023 - their first Spring) and I suspect the warmer, earlier Spring accounts for that earlier wake-up.  Last year, at the beginning of May, these were *just* leafing out .  This year, they're ALREADY blooming in that first full week of May.  This post is on May 12th, but I took these photos a few days ago when the shrubs were in full-boom.   They bud'ed out in March this year .  And now flowered in May.  They've put on some size - both height and width and are growing into their screening-purpose.    Last year, I posted photos of these blooms in mid-May .  So, these are about two-weeks ahead of 2023.   Below are some photos - first showing the top of the tree-form shrub.  Then, a look at th

DIY Pizza Oven Foundation Slab - Rebar and Reinforcement - May 2024

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Last week, I ran through the details of the final dimensions of our backyard wood-fired pizza oven including the reinforced slab, the block stand and the insulated hearth.  I had been thinking of a 39" diameter oven and after looking through the actual dimensions of the block stand (less than 16" per block), I've settled on these final dimensions: Reinforced foundation slab: 72" wide x 80" deep. Stand: 4 blocks wide x 4.5 blocks deep - 62.5" wide x 70.312" deep. Hearth: Same as stand.  Framed with 2x6 dimensional lumber. Oven: 39" interior, 51" exterior side-to-side x 64" front-to-back. The first major task is to pour the foundation slab.  The steps to get that done include: Excavate the site Lay down 1/2" gravel and compact the base Think about drainage on/around the foundation slab  Set up the forms and stake them level and square Buy the material (concrete, rebar, cinder blocks, angle iron) Lay down a 6 mil vapor barrier In

New Conifer Growth - Lime Green Tips - May 2024

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Some of our conifers are putting on a two-toned needle show right now.  The new growth on both our Weeping White Spruce and Weeping Norway Spruce emerge in a neon-green color that contrasts with the older, darker-green needles on the main part of the trees.  The new growth brightens up the garden and makes the trees standout a little bit. Below are a couple of photos - first one of the Weeping Norway Spruce that is planted IB2DWs.  There are two of these that went in last Fall, but the one in the photo is the tree that is planted closer to the house than the sidewalk .    And, the second photo is the Weeping White Spruce that lost its leader a number of years ago and has NOT grown up at all.    Here's a post from early June 2023 that shows this same Weeping White Spruce tree with big, blue-ish swollen tips of new needles after the flush grew out.   I mentioned that this tree lost its leader and it hasn't grown at all height-wise for a few years, but now that I'm looking at

First Rose Feeding - Granular Fertilizer With Systemic Insect Treatment - May 2024

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I'm posting this on May 9th, but these photos date back to May 1st - when I applied the first (monthly) treatment of rose fertilizer and systemic insect treatment.  I have just three Disneyland Roses left after the three that were planted last year failed to survive the Winter.  Roses are 'heavy eaters', so I try to feed them once a month.  I figure...there's no better day than the first of the month to feed them, right?   Below are a couple of photos - first showing the granules that I tossed around the base of the roses.  And then, below, a photo of the container showing the 2-in-1 product: