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Showing posts with the label ib2dws

Cardoon About To Bloom - June 2024

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After battling a vast aphid invasion on our Cardoon plant (planted IB2DWs last Fall and came back this year), appears ready to burst with a couple of big, spike-y blooms.  I planted it on a whim late, late last year based on seeing this in the Fragrance Garden at the Morton Arboretum and didn't know what to expect.  At the time when I bought it, the sign at The Growing Place called it a "Biennial" - which I think means that it won't bloom the first year - so this is the bloom year.  This piece from the University of Wisconsin talks about how you don't normally see a bloom in cooler climates (like ours), so we might be in for a real treat.   See below for a look at our Cardoon buds/blooms as they grow up/out before they open: I went at the aphids pretty hard with both Neem Oil, our hose with a high-pressure setting (just to try to blow the aphids off) and then, ultimately with a insecticide dust.  I'm hoping the aphids didn't get these to a place where t

Four Cornell Bronze Dahlias Planted - Sideyard + IB2DWs - June 2024

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The last of the Dahlia tubers are in the ground:  I planted four Cornell Bronze Dahlias that I bought this past winter from Longfield Gardens.  I started them in nursery pots indoors, then moved those to the patio to get acclimated.    I've put in six Melina Fluer dahlias - three in the sideyard and three in the front porch bed .  Then, I put in four Orange Nugget dahlias in the new sideyard bed .  And, now I've put in four (2 in sideyard and 2 IB2DWs) Cornell Bronze dahlias.  13 total plants for the season.  Cut flower season. These are behind the others, but with a little water and a lot of sun, I'm thinking they'll close the gap quickly. 

Nicotiana alata 'Perfume Deep Purple' Planted IB2DWs - June 2024

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More flowers.  That's a big breakthrough for me as a gardener in 2024.  Last week, I posted photos of the Zinnias and Dahlias that I planted IB2DWs and in the new seed bed.  Today, I'm sharing the details of another new (to me) flower:  Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple'.  I bought just one and planted it in the conifer garden - IB2DWs.  Below is the sign from The Growing Place that talks about the dark purple blooms and the smells that come with this flower: I've had Nicotiana Jasmine before , but it didn't reseed.    This new one is purple (vs white) and it is also in full sun.  Below is what it looks like at the time of planting: Below is a photo that provides a little context - this is in the new (as of last Fall) conifer garden.  

Planting A Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnia IB2DWs - June 2024

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Day three of Zinnia-mania IB2DWs.  Yesterday, I posted the details of some common orange Zinnias that I planted as bedding plants .  A day earlier, I planted a larger, further-along Uproar Rose Zinnia from the nursery.   I have been trying to push myself past the discomfort around flowers and this new Zinnia from The Growing Place certainly is there: out of my comfort zone.   As I walked around the nursery, this Zinnia jumped off the bench.  Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnia.  See below for the sign.  It reads: "This stunning cultivar will stand out in any setting with its 3' - 4' bicolor blooms of golden yellow and magenta orange."   This was the MOST expensive Zinnia that I have bought, but it was a 6.5" nursery pot: And, that meant that I really bought TWO zinnias.  After having them sit on the driveway for a couple of days, I noticed the foliage was drooping.  That evening - after work - I dug them in to the conifer garden.  Below you can see the immediate look - wi

Orange Zinnias As Bedding Plants - IB2DWs - June 2024

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 For Mother's Day, the kids and I bought a couple of flats of ordinary orange zinnias from the big box store that we planted in some pots for the Moms (and God Mothers) in our/their lives.  I ended up having a few extra and put some in our back patio containers (more on those later), and decided to plant four as bedding plants near the driveway in the original IB2DWs bed.  I picked orange because I like orange and it is the Illini color (of course).   Yesterday, I posted about the one Uproar Rose Zinnia IB2DWs - and that one is much larger/bushier than these.    Below the first photo shows what these orange zinnias look like after a week or so in the ground: I have limited experience with flowers (as I've said in the past), but what I've read and watched online, you can pinch off blooms to (try to) get bushier plants.  So, naturally...I decided to sacrifice these early orange flowers.  I cut them all off - you can see the result below.  I left the flower heads there on the

Uproar Rose Zinnia elegans - Planted IB2DWS - June 2024

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#2 on my priority list for 2024 is to 'keep going with flowers' .  That means...pushing through my discomfort around blooming perennials and annuals and planting things that I haven't in the past.  This year, that means that I am expanding a little bit out from what I *do* know and what I *do* like.    Last year, I had a small patio container that mixed some salmon-colored zinnias and Euphorbia .  It was great and I was able to cut from the Zinnias all through the late Summer/early Fall.   This Spring, I cut out a new bed on the southside and planned to spread some Zinnia seeds around (more on this soon) to serve as a sort-of cut flower garden bed.   But, I also went further with flowers this year by planting some dahlia tubers.  So far, I've planted six Melina Fleur Dahlia tubers (that I started indoors) .  Three in the sideyard, three in the front porch bed (where the Disneyland Roses were last year).  And, I put in three Orange Nugget Dahlia tubers in that Zinnia b

Penstemon Midnight Masquerade In Bloom - Early June 2024

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Last Fall, I planted a three-pack of Penstemon Midnight Masquerade in the conifer garden IB2DWs and talked about how I needed to keep going (out of my comfort zone) with flowers.  There was a lot to like about these perennials - they're drought tolerant, can handle heat and humidity, full of dark foliage and bloom purple and white flowers.  When I bought them, they were past bloom-time, so that flower part was taken on faith. This Spring, I marked their reemergence for their first Spring in early April when new foliage clumps came back from dormancy .   I topped this part of the bed with some big box mulch (not leaf mulch...) and mostly moved on in the gardening season.  Until this week.  When these things started to bloom.   Have a look at my three one-year-old Midnight Masquerade Penstemons ( or Beardtongue ) with their showy light purple and white clusters of flowers: This spot is full sun and is part of what I've always called the 'hard to grow' section.  The thick

Sedum kamtschaticum 'Variegatum' - Yellow Blooms - June 2024

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Last Fall, I planted a pair of variegated sedums -  Sedum kamtschaticum 'Variegatum' down by the sidewalk as a drought-tolerant groundcover .  They managed the conditions of the Winter and emerged this Spring.  I posted about them in March when very little else was growing in our garden .  They had been eaten a bit by the (dang!) rabbits, but otherwise were in good shape.  Today - in early June - they're putting on some yellow blooms.  One of them (the one on the right) is a bigger clump, but they're BOTH beginning to flower.  See below for a few photos.  Just above them are the recently-planted Dusty Miller annuals (that are being invaded by some turfgrass that didn't get properly smothered.   It looks like I didn't post about those (yet), so I need to get them into the [garden diary]. They're likely candidates to divide in a few years - once they've spread out a bit.  

What Prairie Dropseed Looks Like After Two Years - May 2024

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I bought and planted a couple of Prairie Dropseeds ( Sporobolus heterolepis ) in the Spring of 2022.  They're highly sought-after from all kinds of gardeners - native folks, new perennial movement people, even more formal gardeners.   And they did...nothing.  Like..nothing. They looked like a short clump of Kentucky Blue Grass that was out of place in a garden bed.  That's how they looked in their first year (2022) and their second year (2023).   This Spring, I cut everything back to the ground and suddenly...the Prairie Dropseed is showing itself with a lot more growth and a bunch of seed heads.  Here, below is the one that I can identify - IB2DWs.  Looks lovely: I can see the appeal in these now.  Can they be divided?  I hope so.

Sarah Bernhardt Peonies - Cut Flowers - May 2024

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It is peony season around here.   When we were first dating, Nat was a blogger.  Her url was iheartpeonies dot com.  The very first thing that we planted in our first garden was a Sarah Bernhardt peony that was a division from Nat's mom's garden.  The story goes that the peony was her great aunt's peony that had been divided a number of times to be planted in various family member's gardens.   That peony ended up back in Nat's Mom's garden when we moved out.  I said - back in 2017 - that it was being 'fostered' .  But, it has stayed there these seven-plus years.   Our new garden didn't have any peonies.  Until 2018 when I bought a couple of tubers.  The first one was Sarah Bernhardt .  The pink peony that you think of when you think of peonies.  It has moved around a few times, but ended up IB2DWS and has grown quite a bit up there.  Last year (2023), I declared was our first REAL 'Peony Season' .  It was the first time that we had blooms; or

Wiring Up Weeping Norway Spruce Leader - IB2DWs - May 2024

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Both of the small, weeping Norway Spruce trees that we planted last Fall have put on spring growth.  New, bright-green needles and weeping limbs have appeared.  That includes the leaders - especially on the tree closer to the house.  It has seen a bunch of top growth - see below.  I trained these small trees up on poles last Fall and from what I've read, you have to keep training the leader up, or else...it will become a 'spreader' vs a more upright tree.   This leader needed a taller pole, so I grabbed one and wired it up to get the leader more vertical and upright.  See below for the 'after' of this Weeping Norway Spruce: I'll watch the top of this spruce and think about pruning back some of the lateral branches to reduce competition for the top.  

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.  

Garden Edits - Drawn to mass planting - 2024 To-Do - April 2024

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2024 is shaping up to the year of garden edits.  A lot less additions in our backyard garden, but some edits to shift towards things meet some criteria:   1.  Work in our yard. 2.  Are appealing (to me). 3.  Have some four-season appeal. That means that changing out things that don't meet those critieria (hostas) and replace them with things that do - both plants that I have on-hand and ones that I need to bring home. My time in this garden is too short to spend time or effort on plants that I don't love.  The edits that I'm thinking about right now focus on mass plantings and repetition.   There's a garden in our neighborhood that I walk past and admire often.  It has a large property with simple, repetitive-planted beds that have hostas, groundcover and a couple of other perennials.  There's A LOT of beds, but they MOSTLY ALL planted in the same pattern - groundcover in front, hostas behind and a third perennial in the rear.  It is simple.  And repetitive.  And lo

First Real Mulch Cap In Conifer Garden - April 2024

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Last Fall, I extended (what I call) the IB2DWs (In Between Two Driveways) bed to reach down along the property line, all the way to connect to the small sidewalk-adjacent bed.  In it, I planted a number of conifers ( Conifers Should Come First) , transplanted a few divisions (Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass and Serendipity Allium ) and tucked in a few other things.  When I made that bed, I was converting it from turf and that meant that I used a combination of techniques:  removing the turf, smothering the turf with cardboard and just leaving some of it in place.  I planted everything in biosolids and then topped the bed with even more biosolids.   But...I mostly focused on the planting.  And left the bed in a not-so-finished state.  That meant that grass was poking through in spots, the edges weren't clean and I applied arborist wood chips.  The chips were intended as an initial attempt to both retain moisture and (hopefully) improve the soil.  This area is hard-to-grow and liv

Red Cones on Weeping Norway Spruce in Spring - April 2024

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This Spring is full of new garden experiences for me.  That's all thanks to the big "Fall Planting" sprint that I ran through in October of 2023, when I tucked in dozens of new things including the creation of the small, linear dwarf conifer garden IB2DWs.  I found a pair of Weeping Norway Spruces that were labeled 'pendula'.   I put one up closer to the garage and the other one further down closer to the sidewalk .  I staked them both up and hoped for the best.   They both handled the winter just fine (as expected) and are starting to put on a little spring flush of needle growth.  But, one of them is also showing some cones.  That's nice.  But, even nicer?  They're red raspberry-colored cones.  Small ones, but certainly raspberry-colored cones.  See below for a couple of photos. What is interesting (to me, at least) is that there's not any mention online of these Weeping Norway Spruces producing red cones.  Other spruces - like Picea abies 'Acro

Parkway Tulips Spring Show - April 2024

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The pink tulip bulbs that are planted down close to the sidewalk IB2DWs are up and showing out this week with blooms that are opening up.  This area was grass until September of 2021, when I declared this a 'hard-to-grow' spot that wasn't supporting turf.  Between the poor soil conditions (clay + gravel from the driveway and sidewalk installation) plus the heat that radiates from those during the Summer made this an inhospitable spot that held Kentucky Bluegrass turf that ALWAYS went dormant during the heat of the Summer.  Look back here for a photo of this section when it was grass .  In the Fall of 2021, I planted a number of tulip bulbs down by the sidewalk and they had their first Spring in 2022 .  That makes this (2024), their third year of blooms. That same Fall (2021), I added an ornamental grass - Panicum Shaenandoah Red Switchgrass in that same bed that has come back each season.  Last Fall, I planted a pair of variegated sedums - Sedum Kamtschaticum Variegatum

Cardboard To Smother TurfGrass in New Mulch IB2DWs Bed - March 2024

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Earlier in March, I posted the details of a partial project in our front-porch bed that included the application of some cardboard to smother turfgrass that has crept into the bed .  I laid down cardboard, the topped with with a mix of clay, topsoil and biosolids.  I still need to finish the rest of that bed. But, in the meantime, I also applied the same treatment to a couple of spots in the expanded IB2DWs bed.  Last Fall, I carved out some new beds and removed SOME turf.  Turns out, I left behind A LOT of it, so...cardboard was the play here.   I did this in two spots - closer to the Bald Cypress - 'above' the first Baby Blue Spruce.  Then, again, closer to the sidewalk by the other Baby Blue Spruce tree.   Below are a some photos showing the post-cardboard + top soil + biosolids application.  There's still more grass to smother in this bed, but this is a good start: I used topsoil, clay and then a big batch of biosolids.  In an attempt to mix those biosolids with even mo