Sunday, May 24, 2020


We have received a LOT of rain recently, not enough to be a problem, at least for me, at least not NOW. The new storm drains appear to be working as planned. In other words, no more lake front property after each downpour. Yay!

The hawthorn tree is blooming, as is the 'Wentworth' highbush cranberry, both in snowy white. The pink cotoneaster is popping now that the creeping phlox is done. There are a few volunteer columbine and what I now know is dame's rocket, an alien invasive that we are supposed to irradicate... but it's so pretty!

One annual I managed to plant so far is some red morning glory, 'Scarlet O'Hara'. While waiting for that to actually produce some flowers, I will *finally* put out a hummingbird feeder, as those pugnacious creatures should be showing up any day now.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do in the yard, then stymie myself with "But first..." when the but-firsts never get done. This year I am just going to do something, anything, as the mood hits. As long as the front yard looks tidy enough....

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Fit to be bit

I purchased a new Fitbit, the Charge 4, to replace the One. The new one has some fancy features, including the ability to determine what kind of activity one is engaged in. If I left the One on while mowing with my riding mower, it counted over a thousand steps. (I don't roll the lawn, so it is rather bumpy.) The Charge 4 counts that time as "outdoor bike riding". That is one slow bike ride!

Several years ago, I purchased an oriole feeder, and just this month set it up with some homemade nectar. Alas, either there are no orioles to lure or else it is too late for nectar. Orioles carb load with nectar while migrating, but during the rest of the season, prefer fruit and mealworms. For those two foods, I will need a different feeder. I'll contemplate that while I set up the hummingbird feeder I found in the back of a kitchen cupboard. I'm sure it was a gift, as it doesn't look like something I would pick out, but I have NO memory of how it came into my hands. Anyway, the hummingbirds should be making an appearance in a couple of weeks. I hung up the wren house and although I have heard wrens nearby, they are snubbing me this year.

Yesterday I did get the new coleus, Solenostemon scutellarioides, planted in the flower box on the front porch. It's been a while since I've purchased coleus at a nursery as I usually keep one as a mother plant for the following year's brood. Apparently, there are coleus varieties for SUN now. The ones I purchased are Proven Winners Colorblaze Golden Dreams, grow 24"-36" tall, in sun to shade. That should be perfect for the front porch, which gets hot sun in the morning, then shade the rest of the day.

The redbud trees and the purple sandcherry are fading while the chokeberry and the blackhaw viburnum are coming on strong, as are the bleeding heart and volunteer columbine. The smokebushes are slow to leaf out, hope they are okay. And the 'Betty Corning' clematis has already gotten away from me.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mow, mow, mow your yard

The weather is a bit iffy, but one can tell it is spring by the sounds of lawn mowers, mine included. I fertilized the front yard with compost and spot treated the dandelions, but otherwise leave it to its own devices. The wild strawberries are starting to bloom there, as well as an errant grape hyacinth or two.

I (finally) fenced off access to the north and south sides of the house by the dogs. The north side is relatively unscathed; it's where the hosta bed is. The south side, alas, has multiple holes dug along the foundation, presumably done in the pursuit of chipmunks. People say chipmunks ruin foundations, but I am thinking it is whatever is pursuing the chipmunks that does the damage.

I was going to just dig up this whole area and move in ornamental grasses, but there are still some remnants of the prairie sampler I planted there several years ago, mostly asters of one sort or another, and little blue stem and probably some other stuff. I can still move in the grasses while I decide what to do with the rest; one of the grasses is northern sea oats, which will spread to fill in any gaps I make.

The mystery shrub from several weeks ago has a cousin growing in the hosta bed, so it must not be the spice bush I was hoping had survived. Mulberries pop up here and there, in an unending succession, but I think this might be a silver maple? I welcome all guesses. This particular speciman will have to go, as it is too close to the house. The other one I may let go for a bit, as it is located in a gap between the service berry and high bush cranberry. I eliminated all the silver maples from my yard many years ago, but sometimes regret that I did not keep one that grew at the back of the property, as it would provide a significant amount of shade by now. I'm not a fan of silver maples, but they are native and they grow fast.

Speaking of growing fast, I am very impressed with the Triumph elm tree I planted in 2016. It looks like it is almost as tall as the tulip tree planted in 2009 (?). It's growth habit is more vertical and is leafing out much more than the tulip. I simply love it.

My SO and I managed to catch a nice day and spent it at Spring Lake Woods and Bog. There were not a lot of spring flowers yet besides hepatica, but it wasn't too boggy, so we had a nice stroll.


Fungi of some sort

Indiana is in the midst of a slow reopening. I have appointments for a dental cleaning, a haircut, and a massage this week... fingers crossed. Each site has protocols in place to make it as safe as possible, for employees and clients. I was able to visit a local nursery this past week, to get some coleus and a few other annuals. We'll see how it goes. Strange times.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Bring on a downpour!

Last week's big excitement in front of my house was the upgrading of the storm sewers. While sheltering in place (more or less), I kept tabs on the progress. It looks like they are basically done here (except for seeding lawns and repairing my neighbor's driveway), but today's dog walk revealed that they continue the job one street over.

While all this was going on, I probably could have squeezed my car down the driveway, but since there was nowhere I had to be, I hunkered down except for dog walks. The daily newspaper arrived each day, but the mail carrier could not reach the boxes once. I don't get much mail these days anyway, but I was on the lookout for another disc from Netflix.

The sewer grate on my side of the street is not actually on my property, so lawn damage was peripheral for me. I was a little worried about my nearby flowering crab - what if the backhoe backed over it? - but they did not even get close.

They had to cut the road which has been a bonus: drivers slow down when they see it, although it is not much of an obstacle. The front loader doubled as a street sweeper, so the roads have been relatively clean throughout this process.

I kid my neighbor across the street that I did not have a problem with flooding until he redirected his sump pump to the front of his property. Apparently, the engineers took this into consideration, as the construction crew provided his sump outlet with a conduit to the sewer.

So now I am eager for a big rain, to test this new design. Instead, yesterday we received SNOW. I swear we almost always receive a snowfall in April, but I am hoping this is the last of it. I don't think it is going to interfere with the flowering shrubs and trees. I mowed last weekend, but I think I'll skip it this time.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Piddling in the yard

Yard cleanup continues. I have been cutting up the longer stalks so I can fit more into the trash can, but now am thinking if I am going to that much trouble, maybe I should just let the pieces mulch, then compost in place. Once I have finished downsizing the garden, I may just do that.

While cleaning up, I came across this thing. I suspect it is a spice bush I planted in 2017 (I think - there doesn't seem to be a blog entry about it). I thought I had moved it to the south side of the shed, but whatever I did transplant did not survive. If this is a spice bush, I am very glad to see it.

There are more crocus (crocii?) than usual this spring. Even though we had a mild winter, maybe it wasn't beneficial to the local rabbit population. The daffodils are blooming as are the pink hyacinth. And then there are fungi.

I reassembled and repositioned the tuteurs for 'Betty Corning'. Last year's experiment of trying to direct these clematis vines to the nearby redbuds was a fail because the Betty's don't get tall enough. Maybe this year I will prune back some of the vines, to try to control the rampant growth. In case I forget, I anchored the tuteurs to the downspouts.

The neighbor who lived behind me kept two compost bins behind his shed. When he moved, he took one with and bequeathed the other - and the compost in it - to me. The compost has been sitting in old recycle bins in the garage... until yesterday, when I spread half of it on the front lawn. My spreader is old and decrepit, and it seemed to get hung up on the pieces of egg shell, but I managed to make one pass over the lawn. The walk across the lumpy lawn and the pushing of the spreader reminded me of why I purchased a riding mower a couple of years ago. My ankles and arms were sore after that.

I hope you all are playing it safe, staying home, washing hands, etc. Keep calm and garden on.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The trials of March

"Sheltering in place" does not mean one cannot go out in the yard and work on spring clean up chores. The front yard looks relatively tidy, so I've been concentrating on the backyard. If I lived in the country, I would just do a controlled burn to get rid of all the dead plant material, but alas, I am a suburbanite and must abide by local laws.

The dogs have been inordinately interested in the garden shed and now I know why: something (I'm guessing a woodchuck, hence the name of this blog) has managed to breech the hardware cloth barrier I oh-so-carefully-but-apparently-not-carefully-enough skirted the shed with last fall. Some of this damage may have been inflicted by the dogs, though. There are days when I wonder why-oh-why did I adopt these knuckleheads?

My SO suggested we cut up some plastic trellis and use that instead of the hardware cloth. I agreed but have this sinking feeling that an animal that can chew through hardware cloth will have no trouble with plastic.

While a construction crew toils away resolving the neighborhood-wide drainage issue (getting us high and dry must be an essential service), I have drainage issues in my own backyard. The clay soil does not help. Yesterday the ground wasn't too bad, but of course today it is raining AGAIN.

I like to get a pic of the few remaining crocus blooms before rabbits eat them. The snowdrops and snow crocus are already gone, and it occurred to me that perhaps they *have* bloomed before this year, but I didn't notice because they haven't created clumps yet, so come and go without much fanfare.

Last summer I thought I had eradicated the cocklebur, but apparently not. The dogs come in with these things stuck to their collars, then they stick to whatever I am wearing, like Velcro.

I looked through previous March blog posts, to see if this year is different, but no. March is the limbo between winter and spring. Last year my hip was a good excuse for not keeping up. This year, thankfully, that is not a problem anymore. Time to get crackin' - if it ever stops raining.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Something new

Yard and garden cleanup continues, but this week with a surprise. In fall of 2017, I planted some pink snow crocus (Crocus tommassinianus 'Roseus') and early snowdrops (Galanthus woronowii). (I wouldn't know that but for this blog entry.) I don't think they bloomed at all... UNTIL NOW!

I had given up on them. Oh, ye of little faith.

I hope they spread far and wide in my front yard.

And then I dreamed that the regular crocus had bloomed as well. I checked yesterday, but it was just a dream.

Meanwhile, the ornamental grasses in the front are gone, as are many dead flower stalks in the back. The grass is turning green s-l-o-w-l-y. Buds on shrubs and trees are starting to swell. The vultures are returning from wherever they spend winter. It won't be long now.