Showing posts with the label backyard dreaming

Down to Two Pizza Oven Locations - 2024 Project - January 2024

The notion of building a wood-burning oven in our backyard is one that I've mused about for years.  Dating back to our first house in Elmhurst, I dreamed up how I could build one and where it would go in the landscape.  I've posted about it a few times since we moved to Downers - including here in 2017 and again in 2020 and then one month later (also) in 2020 .  The first post in 2020, I talked about planning for a pond and oven .   That last post in September of 2020 , I mentioned building it on *top* of our large drywell.   When I go back and read those posts, I can see the evolution in thinking - from close to the patio to utilizing the lower elevation on the northside to placing it on the drywell to deal with any potential heaving.  They all make sense.  And, that's what I've been thinking the past few weeks as I've moved into real planning mode. I'd like to call 2024 the year of the pizza oven.  Or, at least...the pizza oven foundation and stand.  Let'

Layered Boxwood Hedge Under Lindens - Shrub Planning - Priority Project #1 - February 2023

Yesterday, I posted a photo of the Green Gem boxwoods in our backyard and talked about how evergreens were going to be a point of focus for anything I add this year in the backyard.  Back at the end January, I put out a list of some potential projects/priorities that included adding some structure via evergeen shrubs at the base on the pair of Lindens in our backyard.  I've posted about this idea before and talked about adding boxwoods here .   But, I'm now thinking what it could look like if I planted them in pattern that is something a bit more interesting.  And, perhaps more formal.   I've been sitting on this photo from Deborah Silver for months now.  See below: View this post on Instagram A post shared by Deborah Silver (@deborahsilver) And, here's a screenshot of the three-deep sculpted boxwood hedge on the corner: What's NOT to love about this, right?  Of course, the skill involved here in shaping these is world-class, but let's for

A Disney-Inspired Water Feature for 2023? February 2023

One of the things that I've been chasing FOR YEARS in all three of our gardens (two of our own, one borrowed via my sister Vic/Equation Boy/Man when we lived there for two years) is a water feature.  I've longed after one in various forms.  Over the years, I've had two water features that managed to be planned, executed and maintained.  But, each of them lasted for just one season. The first one was this three-tiered acrylic fountain that I had near our garden in our first house in Elmhurst.  The birds loved it.  But, it dried out rapidly.  Then it cracked and was junk.   The second one was this small wine barrel water 'feature' that we had in the borrowed garden/patio .  It was an insert that wasn't quite the right size inside of a wine barrel planter from the hardware store.   I've talked about adding some water - for both the visuals but also the sounds - many times.  I included it on my 2022 to-do list and it was an item that didn't get done.   Wh

Spring Nursery Find: Columnar Norway Spruce - Cupressina - April 2022

Yesterday, I posted a photo and took a HUGE, deep breath and walked past a second Japanese White Pine tree that I saw at the big box nursery .  Why did I have to take a breath?  Because, I *really* wanted one of those trees.  Why did I walk past it?  Because I bought one last year.  And it seems to have failed this Winter.  But, what else did I see on that VERY SAME visit?    A tree that - like the Japanese White Pine - is also something that I've lusted after for a while.  In fact, I even posted an entire "Tree Dreaming" post about this species on the blog back in 2018.   What's that tree?  It is a columnar Norway Spruce - Picea abies 'Cupressina'.  Here's that post from 2018 .  Here - below - is the tag on one of these that I saw at the big box nursery showing the $99 price tag. Back in 2018, I said that there was A LOT to like about this tree: columnar, vertical, fast(ish) and unique.  At the time, I also said that it could withstand snow loads, but a

Juniper in a Wooden Tree Box - DIY Project Idea

I have an idea for a garden-related project that has been knocking around my head for a number of years.  Well...there are tons of those kind of projects, frankly.  But, for this post, I'm talking about one of them specifically.  This one...involves trees.  And...I haven't moved on it - for a variety of reasons including shifting priorities, lack of need, the right nursery stock and the opportunity.   It starts with this post about Hollywood Junipers in 2018 where I posted a photo of a tree in a wooden box for a container .  And, was likely rekindled during one of my trips to Tokyo where I saw all sorts of container'd conifers.  Like this one from House of Bonsai below: Via House of Bonsai . This is not my photo. And, even more recently, I came across a couple of striking conifer trees by the bus stops down at Disney Springs.  They were relatively new (newly planted) and still had their tags on them. Here's a shot of them below: And, below, is a look at the tag reveali

Another Belgian Fence (Maybe) - Defining the Patio Space, Entrance and Screening

Yesterday, I posted a new photo of a Belgian Fence espalier that sits on the side of the Main Street USA train station at Disneyland Park in California and mentioned that I can learn something about spacing by looking at how they put their (non-tree) Belgian fence together to get a 4-wide x 2-tall diamond pattern.  I also posted earlier this month a 'progress shot' of my mixed apple (fruit and crab) Belgian Fence that is in the second growing season .   I was recently reading this piece on espalier design and usage where I came across this little note that made me think (again) about a second Belgian Fence.  From the post :   "Consider using a Belgian Fence to create outdoor rooms. Their design will impress year-round and provide a wall-like privacy when in bloom. During the holidays, they are prime candidates for Christmas lights." What's that you say? Outdoor room.  Hmmm....Interesting. Privacy wall.  Tell me more.   Christmas lights....well... I've spent

Backyard Fire Pit + Path Inspiration - May 2021

Last month, I posted some photos showing off the new shape of our backyard beds - in a curvilinear form - and talked about how these were the 'final form' of the beds.  The idea that this was the final shape/form of the beds lasted about three weeks.  We decided we need to add another area and cut out even more turf.  Before we talk about what we're doing, let's first understand the backstory, current state and a little bit of inspiration that Nat found that we're trying to bring to life. We've had a sort-of DIY firepit area in the far backyard that was made up of wood chips that I picked up from the Village Mulch Pit and bricks that we scavenged from our neighbor's house when they tore it down.  You can kind of see that area in this post about some hostas and this post where I showed off the latest firewood rack back there .   That is in one back corner.  And the kids' trampoline is in the other back corner.  We also have a gate in one corner that the

Stock Tank Pond Dreaming (no fish, though)

Late Winter, heading towards Spring is the "what if" season for a gardener like me. a gardener "like me", I mean a total amateur who doesn't always think things through and has half-baked ideas.  My latest "what if" has to do with a pond.  Oh, I've posted a number of times about ponds on the blog.  Even talked about locations for them a couple of times .  But, due to a variety of factors (cost, upkeep, location, permanency, being busy with other things among them), I just haven't pulled the trigger.   But last week, I came across an Instagram post from Erin, the Impatient Gardener that stopped my scrolling.  I've posted about Erin the Impatient Gardener before here , here  and here .  As I've mentioned before, I think she's great and provides a lot of inspiration to me - not just because she knows her stuff, but because she's in (or very close) to my growing zone.  She's in Wisconsin, I'm in Northern Illinoi

Revisiting a Backyard Metal Frame Topiary - The Block I

As I often do during the deep part of Winter, my brain starts to think about the garden and the projects that I'd like to take on this season.  I've done a couple of years of to-do lists and those have been good ways of forcing me to focus.  In each of those years ( 2019 and 2020 ), I included trying a metal-frame topiary to the list.  And in both of those years, I never check the idea off my list . But, that hasn't stopped me from thinking about how to pull one off.  And, as I was tool'ing around the Web recently, I came across this Etsy store that sells all sorts of topiary frame s.  They're all really great.  Go have a look at this Pikachu one .  Or this Mickey Mouse head .  They also sell a full-body Mickey Mouse which looks really great .  It is $300, so maybe a little rich for a first-timer like me.  But, there also was one that caught my attention.  It is the one featuring Auburn University's A/U logo.  Here's a screenshot of the listing below.  (Ag

Garden Wish List for 2021: Toad Lilies (Plant Dreaming)

I grabbed this screenshot a while back from Erin the Impatient Gardener's instagram handle when she was doing a late Summer/early Fall walkabout.    One thing to note (for me):  I find it hard to find and follow gardeners that are near our zone (We're in Zone 5b) and that's a BIG reason why I follow the Impatient Gardener so closely:  she's in southern Wisconsin and deals with many of the same things we deal with here in the Chicago suburbs.   But...back to the screenshot of her Instagram story: the copy she overlaid to her image says it all (for me):  "You should know and grow toad lilies." I took this screenshot because, frankly, at the time I knew NOTHING about Toad Lilies.  That was...Until now.  After hearing Erin talk about these, I went to the Google machine and was introduced to these Japanese perennial plants.  From the Wisconsin Master Gardener : These perennial herbaceous plants, native to Asia (from the Himalayas to Japan and the Philippines), are

Pizza Oven Planning - Foundation And Our Drywell

Over the past few years, I've dreamed about building a backyard pizza oven - both in our old house in Elmhurst and here in Downers. I've posted a few times on the potential location(s) on the blog. Here back in 2017 . And, here again earlier this year and most recently just last month when I was talking about a pond. In each of those explorations, I've included a location of the pizza oven that is along the north side of our property, off of our patio, down in a lower level of our patio. As I continue to think about the location - and I'm increasingly thinking that the northside site - that is situated down low - is the right spot.  It is low-lying, so the fireplace won't be sticking up for all of the neighbors to see - and to expose to the elements.   I've read the Forno Bravo DIY installation instructions like six times and lurked all over the forums over the years.  One of the pieces of counsel that they give is that if you live in an area of