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Showing posts with the label mulch beds

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

Front Porch Bed - Drainage and Turf Issues - March 2024

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Last Summer (June), I extended and (attempted) to clean up the front edge of our 'front porch bed' along the south property line .  The edge had been creeping 'inward' over the years, so I decided to use a shovel to remove as much of the grass as I could, carve off a clean edge and sort-of 'extend' the swoop of that bed a little bit into the lawn.    If you look back at the photos in this post , you'll see a nice, grass-free edge that I planted with bedding plants ( dwarf, French Marigolds ) and Dusty Millers .   By September, the dwarf (French) Marigolds took off and filled in the new border.  They looked great and were thick/full of oranges, reds and yellows .  Behind those annuals went a colony of Summer Beauty Alliums .  Backed by some small Green Velvet Boxwoods to extend the existing short hedge of boxwoods.   All was good last year.   This year, I've already started to clean up this bed - cutting down grasses and raking out some of the season

Daffodil Foilage Returns - Late Winter - March 2023

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Right around this time every (early) March, the green tips of a set of daffodil bulbs emerge from the mulch in the bed behind the secondary Northern Red Oak tree.  These were inherited - and I didn't plant them.  I've observed them over the years - as far back as our first Spring here (2018) -  and here's last year's post .  They have flowered exactly ONCE.  Just once - in 2021 .   Will they bloom this year?  I doubt it.

2024 Garden Resolution - Try Leaf Mulch at Scale - January 2024

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Like everyone that I know, I've been a bark mulcher.   For my entire gardening existence.  That means that every year, we get a big load of hardwood mulch (usually 'fines') that is spread out on top of all of our beds to serve as a mulch.  It is the exact same thing that everyone on the block does:  make the beds look 'pretty', provide a bit of weed suppression, retain moisture and make things look uniform.   But, over time, I've learned that those hardwood bark mulches aren't exactly what I've been aiming for in our garden and this year, I just skipped the application.  Instead, I applied a mix of compost in some areas and biosolids in other areas.  And, in a lot of the garden...I applied nothing.  No new mulch.  The beds have had a couple of years of bark mulch application, so in most spots it isn't like there's nothing on top of the soil, so I figured I could get away with a year off of the mulch.  And, I chose this past year (2023) because I

Ajuga Bronze Beauty - 6 Plugs - May 2023

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Last week, I shared the 14 plugs of Ajuga Chocolate Chip that I planted around the backyard as groundcover near the border of some of the beds.  In that post, I talked about how I had grown in my appreciation of Ajuga Chocolate Chip (and groundcover writ large).  I came across it first from Erin the Impatient Gardener and her talk with Roy Diblik.  I bought the first few containers last Fall .   I recently came across a second Ajuga variety:  Bronze Beauty.  Same deal from Home Depot:  Six-pack of them.  Of note, this Bronze Beauty has a purple handle - and says it is designed for SHADE.   I decided to give it a try in two different situations:  First...tucked in between (and at the feet) of some established hostas.  See below for those hostas and Ajuga Bronze Beauty together: And, I put the other three right along the fire pit metal border - you can see those below.   #17 on my to-do list was to 'keep going with groundcover' - and I now have put in 20 Ajuga plants.  Pretty go

Pair of Mature Honeybells Hostas - May 2023

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I recently took notice of this pair of hostas that are planted right in front of the hops vine in our backyard (photo below) and thought that they were a really nice shape and foliage structure.   Why?  Because, I didn't divide these last Fall.  Last August, I included these in a roundup of 'dividing candidates' , but it appears that I left these as-is.    What variety are they?  They had white and purple flowers last year .  And they turned 'green apple green' color, too.  So....know that and using the "What Hosta do I have?" tool, I'm *pretty sure* that these are Honeybells Hostas .  I have a bunch of what I'll call 'ratty' or real common Lancifolia Hostas in the borders that I'd like to replace over time - and these beauties (ahem...Honeybells Hostas) are (once again) 2023 candidates for dividing and popping into the location of the 'ratty' ones.  

Queen of Hearts Brunnera Emerging - April 2023

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The *other* variety of Brunnera - Queen of Hearts - is pacing right about the same as the Jack of Diamonds.  I have three of them that have emerged early this Spring with green and white foliage that is peeking through the mulch.  See below for a few 'Early Spring' pics from the beds showing this shade-tolerant plant.   All three are back for their third growing season.  They were planted in 2021 .   In the photo below....it really hits home that I need to get my yard cleaned up this week.

Amending Stump Grindings With Biosolids - March 2023

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Spring seems like the season of biosolids-application posts and today is no different.  Last week, I posted a series of photos showing my use of biosolids in the parkway.  And, then I talked about how I was going to use biosolids in a vertical-mulching application to try to help remedy by clay soil problem by our front porch.  In that post, I referenced how I added organic material to the stump grindings to help the Triumph Elm tree thrive.   As another step towards helping these stump grindings  breakdown, I threw five gallons of biosolids on top of them - right next to the new tree - where some tulips are coming up.  You can see that in the photo below.  I didn't work them in the ground, but, as I keep up with the 'vertical mulching', I'll likely add even more surface biosolids like this batch below. The combination of organic material (and nitrogen) are going to be critical to making this bed a desirable place for plants and shrubs in 2023.  At least....that's w

Front Porch Bed - A Look At Soil Conditions - March 2023

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The planting bed that is out front of our porch has been something that has been on my mind for years.  Specifically...the growing conditions.  Between a few things going on out there, I think it might be time (this year) to take an even more aggressive stance at improving the soil across this foundation planting bed.  Last year (2022), one of the items on my annual to-do list was to think about how we improve the conditions up there and I suppose that I did that (a little) and gave myself a partial grade of complete.   The way I was thinking about this problem was across a couple of fronts:  hydrophobic mulch and the root mat from the Norway Maple .   Starting last Spring, I went about trying to fix the hydrophobic mulch issue - including the addition of some nitrogen in the form of alfalfa cubes and raked it in .  Then, in the Fall, I attempted to do even more.  First...with the removal and grinding of the Norway Maple tree, I'm hoping that the root mat issue continues to recede

More Tulips in Front Yard - February 2023

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Just yesterday, I posted some photos of the first tulips that I was able to spot in our front yard beds (in between two driveways down by the sidewalk) and mentioned that I wasn't sure if there were going to be more up by the house.  We took down the large Norway Maple tree and replaced it with a Triumph Elm last Fall .  As part of that process, the crew ground out the stump and with it (I presume) a bunch of the bulbs that I planted around the base on the tree.   But, life finds a way.  See the photo below that shows the trunk of the Triumph Elm up on a bit of a berm.  But...at the very bottom of the photo - in the middle - you'll see some tulip bulb tips: And, so too, have the tulips down around our parkway tree emerged.  See below for a few photos:

Carex Albicans - Firepit Border - August 2022

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A few days ago, I showed how the Bird added a single Carex Albicans to her little backyard garden and mentioned that I had bought a few more of these plugs.  I intended to plant all four back by the fire pit border, but she wanted one, so it went in her garden.  As I talked about in that post, these sedges are plugs from Northwind Perennial Farm in Wisconsin, where gardener Roy Diblik evangelizes for Carex as the cure for garden groundcover.  Below is the sign from his nursery: These Albicans are darker green than the Bromoides that I planted yesterday under the Hornbeams .  Below, you can see some of them before planting: Here, below, is the layout of these three.  They're close to the fire pit gravel border and will (hopefully) fill in and cover up some of that mulch. I could plant four dozen of these and that wouldn't be enough, so three barely makes a dent.  But, every garden has to start somewhere, right?   These three additional Carex Albicans now add to the total of care

Summer Beauty Allium - Pre-Blooming - Mid-July 2022

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The colonies of Summer Beauty Ornamental Onion - Allium - are looking full and happy in the various spots of our garden.  All of them are showing a series of buds that are - right now - downward-facing - and ready to explode with Summer color.   Last year, these were further along with their white flowers extending upwards by mid-July.   So, these are a bit behind.   I should use these in a few more spots, so I'll put that on my 2023 to-do list (along with groundcover).

Fanal Astilbes - Part Shade - July 2022

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Two years ago (June 2020), I planted a dozen Fanal Astilbes in the (then) small bed along our south fence line in an area that was visible from both the patio and our kitchen windows.  They were in the plan and that was the *approximate* spot for them (at the time).  Why do I say 'at the time'?  Because when I planted these the bed was only about five feet from the fenceline.   That all changed in Spring/Summer of 2021 when I laid out and had a crew dig all new beds that reached far into the yard with a curvilinear shape.  Once the new edge of the border was created, I dug up all of these Fanal Astilbe plants and moved them out, closer to the border .  I planted twelve in 2020 and transplanted all twelve in 2021.  Today?  All twelve are still here.   I moved them to be a little bit of a serpentine row that you can see below.  (You'll also note that the three Butterscotch Amsonia that I planted last Spring are also back.) These could use a little bit of love in terms of &#

Ivory Prince Hellebores - One Month In - June 2022

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This is a one-month-later checkin post.  I planted three new Ivory Prince Hellebores in our backyard in a colony right next to the one existing Sally's Shell sport that was underneath a large Catalpa tree.  How have they done?  Pretty well.  They seem to have not struggled once planted and are (currently) still in bloom.  You can see these four (in total) Hellebores in the photo below.  The existing Sally's Shell Hellebore is in the middle with the Ivory Prince cultivars spread out around them in a triangle.  This area calls for ten of these plants , so I'm now 40% of the way there.  This might be something I look to add in 2023.  Too early for that, right?

Aaron Caladium Tubers Planted As Annuals - June 2022

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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.  

Where to Plant Tulip Bulbs In Fall 2022 - June 2022

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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

Waterslide Hostas - Year Two - May 2022

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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

Backyard Peonies Emerge - April 2022

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One of the best features of our garden back in Elmhurst were our peonies.  We had well-established and productive peony plants that produced a ton of blooms.  When we moved to Downers, we inherited one, but it was planted back in the shade and never really did anything .   I planted a couple and transplanted a couple from some teardowns , but they were all clustered in the back with not a ton of sun exposure.  Until last year.  When I expanded the beds closer to our patio and moved three of them there and one to the front yard - IB2DWs area.    I also planted a new white one - Duchesse de Nemours white .  If you look at the photo in this post , it looks like I had FOUR peony plants in this area last year.   When I go to look at that spot, there's good news and bad news.   Good news first:  I see some of those tell-tale red tips emerging from the soil.  If you look closely at this photo below, you can spot them: Now...the bad news:  I only count three.  See below for an annotated v

Tree Swing Red Oak Tree Tulips Emerging - March 2022

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Last week, I posted a couple of photos showing off some tulip tips and allium tips that have emerged in the front yard as the snow has melted and the temperatures have turned upwards.  A few days ago, I wandered around the backyard to see if I could see any signs of life out there and sure enough....some of the tulips that are planted under the Tree Swing Oak tree have emerged through the mulch.  See below for a look at the red foliage peeking through: In the Fall of 2020, I planted 114 tulip bulbs in this bed - a combination of purple, white and yellow blooms.  Based on this redish color, I'm thinking that this one may end up being one of those purple flowers like Queen of Night or Negrita Tulips.  This is the second Spring these have come back - here's a photo from March 8th of 2021 showing the same bed .  These are planted in amongst hostas some grasses that I thought would be good companions in early Spring.  As the tulips die back, the hostas begin to emerge and cover u

Hydrophobic Mulch - Alfalfa Cubes To Amend and Add Nitrogen - March 2022

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While I can't get started with Spring clean-up just yet, the warm(er) temperatures have me wanting to be outside in the garden working on things that I'd like to get done this season.  One of the projects that has been on my mind since last Summer is thinking about a plan to address the hydrophobic mulch that is present in a few spots - but specifically under the Norway Maple outside of our Front Porch.   I don't think (I can't find) that I've posted specifically about hydrophobic mulch.  And the problem that it creates.  It is something that I'm dealing with in a couple of spots, but as I've gotten to learn more about it, I'm still trying to figure out both what CAUSED it and how to address it.   One of the VERY COMMON reasons for hydrophobic mulch is that it was applied too thickly.  That's true for me.  Especially under the Norway Maple.  I've had a lot of trouble growing under that tree - h ere's a whole post on the topic - so I'm no