Today's big news is the installation of two trees, a Triumph Elm (Ulmus 'Morton Glossy') for the back yard and a Winter King Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis 'Winter King') for the front.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where, once upon a time, the streets were lined with elms. This variety is a product of the Chicagoland Grows program, and combines the vase-shaped form with disease and insect resistance. It grows 60' tall and 40' wide, and someday (knock on wood) will shade the deck and pergola. Elms serve as host plants for several species of butterflies, so maybe I will be lucky enough to attract some.
The Winter King Hawthorn grows to be about 25' high and 25' wide. Abundant white flowers in the spring produce tomato-orange berries for the birds. The leaves turn from glossy green to burgundy in fall (fitting in with my dark red/purple color scheme in the front yard). I must remember to not freak out over the peeling bark. Also, thorns.
(I'm past the age of digging ginormous holes for big trees. The tree planting crew of two had a huge auger to chew up the clay soil, but they still had to resort to shovels. I am happy to pay for their services.)
Last weekend I visited a friend whose family owns a wholesale nursery. Her husband offered me some shrubs from his inventory, all things I didn't really want, but he managed to scrounge up an oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).
I know exactly where I want to plant it - next to the front porch - but first I need to move the ornamental grasses that grow there. Since the nearby Crimson King maple is (FINALLY) big enough to throw a shadow, the grasses are not doing as well. Like most (all?) hydrangeas, this one likes its share of shade. And the flowers smell wonderful! (Unlike the 'Blue Muffin' viburnum blossoms, which smell like carrion.)
There are still a few other plants to go into the ground as well, but the weather has turned dry and the ground is assuming its usual concrete-like tendencies. The hysteria mongers on the local news stations keep promising severe thunderstorms, but so far each weather system slides right past. I'd better go do some watering.