Saturday, October 31, 2020

Easy to be confused

Let it be known that the shrub I indentified as a spicebush a couple of weeks ago is actually a witch hazel. For some reason, I cannot keep this straight. Its fall blossoms, though, are a dead give away.

I spotted a squirrel in the bird feeders the other day and wondered if I was also confused about what's been eating all the peanuts. Yesterday, I filled the peanut wreath, then ate my lunch by the patio door. Within minutes, a half dozen (or more?) blue jays descended on that feeder, chasing away the flickers and sometimes each other, in their zeal for peanuts in the shell. It took them about an hour and a half to empty the feeder.

Sparrows continue to be the bane of my backyard. I've watched them at the peanut splits feeder, but they mostly drop the peanuts on the ground and the dogs eat them. As a stopgap measure, I hung a coir-lined basket under that feeder, to catch the spill. The sparrows don't seem to like it, but it doesn't seem to bother the other birds (including the flicker).

In other bird news, I have noticed all summer that sparrows have been eating something in the Japanese maple in front of my dining room window. The poor tree has not leafed out very well this year, something I blamed on a late frost, but apparently I can now blame it on the sparrows - they eat the leaf buds. I gave up growing peas in my vegetable garden because they kept eating the pea blossoms. If my Japanese maple does not survive, I may give up on it, too.

After my SO cut down the fruit trees, I noticed this lovely vine growing in that area. Too bad it is POISON IVY. Yesterday I planned to spray it, but I could not get the ^%$#@! cap off the herbicide bottle.

Last week I promised a pic of my new drying rack in the garage. It's tall enough that the bikes fit underneath. The stacked cement blocks have 4x4 posts inside them to help provide support - or to make sure the whole stack topples if bumped hard enough. Right now the only thing drying on it is a bunch of daffodil bulbs I unearthed while moving asters.

It looks like we finally had a hard frost last night. If it stays clear, we may also get to enjoy a "blue moon". Since Trick or Treat is still on here, I will be outside (wearing a Covid mask) monitoring the card table of treats (from a safe distance). Hope your Halloween is full of treats and no tricks.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Feather of bird

I don't need binoculars to recognize most of the birds in my yard, but some of the feathers I come across are a mystery. Like this one. The red tips puzzled me, but now I am thinking it might be from a bluebird. What say ye? (The feather looked more pristine before Clio put her snout on it - dog snot.

The Allen County Department of Management posted a graphic to help dardeners to decide about yard cleanup. The point of the posting is to encourage gardeners to leave flower stems standing until spring, when one cuts off the flower heads. The dead stalks provide stem-nesting bees a place to hibernate and to make nests for their brood. To view the post, click HERE

Last Sunday my SO came over and cut down the fruit trees that I cut down previously - they keep coming back! - and we moved the cinder blocks surrounding their beds. The blocks are sitting in the driveway right now, waiting to be used to make a drying rack in the garage. If that makes no sense, it will once we execute our plan and I post some pics.

We have been having quite a bit of rain lately, probably because my neighbors across the street have gone camping. It's become a running joke. The feeding frenzy at the bird feeders is over, although the blue jays are doing an excellent job of emptying the whole peanut wreath. Are they eating the nuts or hiding them somewhere for later? And yesterday I saw a monarch butterfly in the backyard. Time to head south!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Despite the weather

There has been a feeding frenzy at the bird feeders recently, mostly sparrows. I began to wonder if we are in for a rough winter, but the forecast is for mild and dry instead of cold and wet. We shall see.

We had a light frost the other night, nothing that would finish off the zinnias. I've been throwing a sheet over the coleus on the front porch when warned, but I dug up a new mother plant for next year's cuttings, just in case.

Now that the fence work is complete, I transplanted the bee balm to the south side of the house, after moving some of the remaining asters from the house side to the fence side of the same area. I'm a little confused about the aster varieties I have. What I moved looks like New England asters but are shorter. A volunteer aster has popped up in the yard as well, something I thought at first was more fleabane (which is done), then classified as a low growing aster, but then changed my mind again when I realized the plants were not low growing but floppy. Some day I may get all the asters sorted out, but not today.

I repeatedly try to capture the reddish hue of the Big Blue Stem in fall, but my pix never do it justice. This is the one that is most upright; next year I will try to prop up the others, as they look great in front of the fence.

A shrub I pretty much ignore is the coralberry. This year I made a point of checking on it periodically, because I wanted to actually see the berries. My efforts have been rewarded. I thought this shrub would get a LOT bigger, like eight feet across. This is its third season, so maybe I am being impatient.

The spicebush witch hazel is another shrub I tend to ignore, even though it looks lovely in front of the viburnum. I've yet to notice any berries on it, or blossoms either. This is its third year as well, and like the coralberry, it seems puny compared to what it should become.

Virginia creeper is one of my fall favorites, although sometimes it grows where I don't want it to, like behind the vinyl siding on my house. I'm still thinking of trying it in a container on the pergola, though. Tell me if I am nuts.

Rhubarb always surprises me with its fall color. Although I don't grow food anymore (something I have been debating lately as I never made it to a farmers market this summer and the grocery store zucchini tastes horrible), I keep my rhubarb patch for pie and dye.

I should be finishing up a few things in the front yard, but instead have been fixing up the raised beds I plan to keep, moving dirt from the defunct beds and mulching with newspaper and shredded cypress. The bee/wasp nest is still active, but once they settle down, I'll complete the transplanting of coneflower.

While searching through my blog for references to this or that, I've come to realize that there are a LOT of plants that I loved but that disappeared and were consequently forgotten. I'm making a list of ones I'd like to re-introduce to the yard, plus some new ones. This, despite my vow to downsize the garden.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Fenced off

The fence installers were here on Wednesday, to set the posts, then returned Friday to build the gates. I *thought* I was keeping a close eye on the dogs on Thursday, but not close enough - they dug a half dozen deep holes on the south side of the house. Fortunately, they did not disturb the plants. It also gave the fence installers a place to put the dirt from the post holes.

The city came by and renewed the spray-on grass. Some in the addition are diligent about watering it. I'm less so. My outside faucets are still on a well, but my neighbor across the street had his hooked up to the city water when that was installed. His water bill went through the roof when he tried keeping the spray-on grass wet last time; he's not watering it at all this time.

We had a couple of hot days (Indian summer?), but now it is cooling down again. Still no hard frost. Leaves are turning, some faster than others. I don't plant for fall colors but I certainly enjoy seeing them when I am out and about.

Don't forget to vote!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Less is more

I have a tendency to cram a lot of plants into a small space, thinking the density will discourage weeds. It does somewhat, but I find it is also difficult to remove the weeds without disturbing something. So my new philosophy is to limit the varieties I plant in each bed.

Toward that end, I moved some sedum of an unknown variety and some catmint of a questionable variety to the bed under the hawthorn tree. I think the catmint is 'Six Hills Giant'. The mystery sedum is tallish, like 'Autumn Joy', but the scanty blossoms are white and pink. It always gets leggy in its current bed; I'm hoping it will thrive better in more sun.

(I searched my blog for mentions of sedum and came up with nothing that helps identify the mystery sedum. Now I'm wondering if it accidently snuck in with another sedum purchase. I also saw a lot of other sedums I have planted over the years that did not do well at all.)

So that is two types of plants under the hawthorn. The 'Golden Spirit' smokebush has just one, the 'Perfect Purple' crabapple just two. The bed by the front walk will probably end up with two or three, while the purple smokebush may have just one. (I'm not counting spring bulbs.)

The other day I tried to dig up some of the 'Hameln' dwarf fountain grass to transplant it, but the shovel would not penetrate the soil. It doesn't help that the bed used to be covered with lava rock. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, to maybe I will try again on Monday, maybe with other garden tools.

It's hard to believe that it is October already. Some leaves are turning, some are falling, but it hasn't really started here yet. Last night there was a frost warning, so I covered the coleus on the front porch with a sheet. I also purchased some hardy mums that I may try to winter over in the garage.

The underground utilties guys were here this past week, marking the yard so the fence work can begin. I'm anxious to get that taken care of so that I can finish transplanting to the south side of the house.