Sunday, December 12, 2021

Don't buy this

Recently I purchased a plastic bird feeder for "clingers" from Wild Birds Unlimited. Today I dropped it a total of two feet. Despite landing on soft ground, the bottom broke off. When I bought it, the salesperson warned me that the top hook might break off but the manufacturers would replace it. I should have taken that as a warning. I don't want a replacement, just my money back.

Today I cut back the 'Betty Corning' and 'Avant-garde' clematis. The strong winds we've been experiencing lately cause them to bang their tuteurs against the house. A bit disconcerting after dark.

For some reason, mice have been getting into the house. My SO teases that it is because my yard is so wildlife friendly. I don't care how many rodents there are outside, but I draw the line when they breech the walls of my domicile. One of the cats caught one in the house and maybe one in the garage. I have caught three in traps baited with "butter bark". I hope that is all there is.

In my next lifetime, I hope to have a clear view of the horizon or at least a more natural one. Until then, this is the best I can do to capture lovely sunsets.

The temps just won't stay below freezing around here, perpetuating mud season. I use a Bissell Crosswave to clean my floors and am shocked each and every time from the amount of dirt it picks up, even after I have already vaccuumed. I clean the dogs' paws with a Paw Plunger, but it's getting worn out, as am I.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

The happiness of bluebirds

The bluebirds found the mealworm feeder in one day; ditto the sparrows and starlings. The starling population seems low these days. Either their migration patterns are different this year or the mysterious avian illness that struck songbirds this past summer reduced their numbers.

Lately I have been giving myself permission to just sit in the recliner in the den and watch birds. The bluebirds don't chase away the competition at the mealworm feeder but definitely hold their own. Sparrows will eat almost anything, including the "bark butter" and the seeds from pampas grass and volunteer asters. I watched a blue jay peck at a redbud pod to eat the seeds within. There are now ground feeding juncos and nut eating nuthatches, and the occasional hawk flies through the yard, sending the rest to safety. While walking the dogs, I've seen crows pecking at fallen walnuts. There are mourning doves in the neighborhood and passersby at the pond. So much to see if we but stop and look.

I've complained about the 'Golden Spirit' smokebush not blooming much, but it did this past summer. And now the dried seed heads look rather striking. Unlike the purple leaf smokebush, this specimen seems to hold onto its seed heads.

Several years ago I purchased some fleece leggings from a seasonal store at the mall. It turns out those leggings are windproof, so I wear them when walking the dogs. Today, despite the stiff breeze, I was able to do a little yard work (cutting down the false indigo) in comfort. There is no bad weather, just inadequate clothing.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A flutter of sparrows

I find the descriptions for flocks of certain birds to be amusing. A parliament of owls, a murder of crows, a murmeration of starlings. Sparrows look like a "knot" when clustered around the millet feeder or perching on the bird bath, but they take flight in a "flutter" for no apparent reason at all.

I put up another bird feeder, the one for mealworms, but so far no takers, not even starlings. There is one more bird feeder to be cleaned, one that is too big and heavy for the utility sink, so it is sitting in the bathtub, awaiting a hosing down and a spritz of 10% bleach solution.

Sean from Sanctuary Natives and I had a great discussion this past week about the yard design. He spent two hours here, explaining the why's and wherefore's of the plants he chose. I learned A LOT, even why my elm tree surpassed the older tulip tree in growth. It turns out the leader of the tulip tree had been whacked, so it had to develop a new one before it could really get going. So if you are purchasing a tree from a nursery, make sure its leader has not been cut if you want it to get off to a strong start.

One change to the design will be more trees, like an oak and a hickory. There is a mature oak on the next block that I just love. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time is today.

Some of my guests this past Thursday came bearing gifts, including a xmas cactus. Did you know that there are apps that can identify plants? We were able to name the ones I received in October, so now I know that some of them are toxic to cats. (Beau the Feline Destroyer of all Things Nice has been nibbling on some of them and then vomiting, so I had a clue about that. And I moved the plants to where he can't reach them.) I wax and wane on houseplants, but for some reason am waxing strong recently.

I'm still busy with physical therapy. My shoulder feels almost normal, there is zero pain, and I feel five years younger. My energy is returning, too. By spring I should be raring to go.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The lower the temps, the higher the bird count

Now that the temps are staying low, the variety of backyard birds is improving. Ditto what I see when walking the dogs around the neighborhood. In fact, I think this guy is a regular.

(Sorry for the poor quality of the above photo. I wanted to see how well the zoom feature on the camera of my new phone works. About the same, it looks like - not very well.)

I still don't have all the feeders up, but that did not stop bluebirds from visiting this "bark butter" feeder. I also saw a nuthatch at it. It seems the finish is too smooth for good gripping, but I'm afraid if I rough it up, the wood won't last as long. We'll see how it goes.

There is not much to see or do outside right now. I did prune the 'Limelight' hydrangea the other day. A combination of recent events left it looking rather pathetic. It doesn't get enough sun, so I usually don't prune anything except the blossoms. Last year, because of my shoulders, I could not reach very high, so the branches became rather spindly and drooped a lot this past summer. I'm hoping the high pruning I was able to do this time will perk it up.

I forget about the witch hazel because most of the year it doesn't look like much. It's a bright spot on this gray day.

Covid numbers are up again, especially in this state and even moreso in this county. It doesn't appear to be slowing anyone down, though, judging by the traffic and crowds. I guess this is as good as it is going to get, so despite being fully vaccinated, I will continue to mask and use hand sanitizer when out and about. Have a safe holiday weekend!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Feels like November

Today we received our first snowfall. Add raw winds, cold temps, and gray skies, and you have November in Indiana. And yet this week we are expecting highs in the 60's again. Weird, weird weather.

My SO and I moved the compost bin to the side of the shed, dumping the composted material into a raised bed by the so-called meadow. I cut down the zinnias and Mexican sunflowers, all of which go in the bin. The weed pile is currently near the back of the yard, but it will be moved to behind the compost bin. I mowed the lawn for what is hopefully the last time this year.

The bird feeders have been going back up one at a time. So far, there are stations for niger thistle, suet, safflower, peanut splits, whole peanuts, "bark butter", millet, and a nut and fruit mix that is in a new feeder for "clingers". Still, about all I am seeing are sparrows.

Once again, Pinetree wins the prize for earliest garden catalog of the season. Even though the yard and garden are in transition, I see a few seeds I would like to order.

Otherwise, I am busy with physical therapy for my shoulder. Functionality continues to improve and my energy is returning. As we age, parts wear out. I'm grateful that my problems have been fixable (so far!)

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Sparrow Haven?

I named this blog Woodchuck Acres because at the time I started it, woodchucks were quite the problem in my vegetable garden. I have not seen a woodchuck in my yard for many years, especially after adopting my current canines. However, there are sparrows. Lots and lots of sparrows. Right now they are flocking to the millet feeder, splashing in the bird bath, raising a ruckus in the arborvitae. I hear blue jays but haven't yet witnessed them at the whole peanut feeder; someone has been nibbling on the split peanuts. But otherwise, it is sparrows, sparrows, sparrows.

My SO and I took a walk in the woods a few weeks ago, hunting for mushrooms to photograph. I kept saying, I don't know much about fungi, so he later bought me DK's Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi, by Thomas Læssøe. Sometime I will sit down and try to identify what we found in the Lindenwood Nature Preserve.

Or maybe I should start identifying the fungi I find in my own yard. The ones in my lawn are probably lawn mower's mushroom (panaeolus foenisecii). They resemble the mushrooms one buys at the grocery store, but these are slightly poisonous. I have yet to figure out what the tiny mushrooms below are, though.

We have finally had some hard frosts, and now we are looking at a delightful forecast of sunshine, with highs in the 50's and lows in the 40's. The city has started the annual leaf pickup even though most of the trees have not yet turned, let alone dropped their leaves.

I saw the shoulder surgeon this past week and all is well with the replacement joint. Now that the pain is gone, I am looking forward to a new lease on life. Tomorrow physical therapy starts, and I am psyched.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Not quite what I expected

Sorry for my absence. A dear friend passed away from melanoma (get those moles checked!) and I came down with a bug of some sort (Covid test was negative). So besides recovering from surgery, I am also recovering from illness. At least I was able to abandon the brace this past week. While I can't do much yet, my shoulder is loosening up.

I received a first draft of the yard design. Even though I told the designer to treat the yard as a blank slate (except for the trees), I initially was not comfortable with the design. There are a lot of plants I am unfamiliar with (mostly ground covers), so had to research those a bit. Now I feel mostly okay about the front yard (except for the placement of a white oak where I don't think there is room), but the backyard looks like a lot of work to maintain. Also, I was hoping for more shrubs and vines in the back. We'll have a chance to sit down and discuss my misgivings, then he'll do a final draft.

There are a few new houseplants inside now. I purchased some cacti for a coiled pot and my son and his girl friend sent me a planter of plants for my birthday. I had to repot the latter, as the container they came in was not very practical. Also, providing the names of plants seems to have become a thing of the past, so I can't tell you what any of these are.

Speaking of plant names, I could not find the name of the arborvitae in the backyard. Apparently, I never entered it into my blog. Fortunately, I found it in an old spreadsheet. Just for the record, it is Thuja occidentalis 'Techny'.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Mud season

We received another 2" of rain this past week. Where there isn't standing water, the lawn looks like the proverbial hayfield. Currently, I am at the mercy of others, so could not mow midweek; tomorrow my SO will take on that task, hopefully for the last time this season?

One good thing about all this rain is I have not had to water recent transplants. We installed the 'Claire Grace' monarda along the south side of the house and the 'F21 Jackmanii' clematis into a container. The yellow mums I wintered over from last year bloomed well, but look like they could have used some judicious pruning.

Regarding my shoulder, this past week the staples were removed from the incision. I have to wear the brace for at least two more weeks, then two weeks after that I start physical therapy. My goal is to be ready to garden next spring.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

August-like AGAIN

We had some cooler temps for a while, but it is back to the 80's again, plus over 4" of rain this past week. It feels like a jungle out there. Mushrooms are appearing in the grass.

Shoulder replacement is much different than hip replacement. With the latter, you start feeling better on day one, while the former feels like a giant step backwards. With hip replacement, you start physical therapy right away; with shoulder surgery, you have to bide your time for 4-6 weeks before starting any exercises. If I were more energetic, I might be bored.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

So far, so good

Just a quick note to say that the shoulder replacement surgery went well. I'm home and sometimes feel almost normal. For example, this morning I supervised my SO while he mowed. He used to drive a fork truck for a living, so he caught on to the zero-turn mower fairly quickly. But he mowed r e a l l y slowly. Then I slept the afternoon away.

The dogs are at the kennel for a few more days, the cats take turns sleeping in my lap, my SO and daughter help with the stuff I can't do one-handed. So all is well.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Finally feels like fall

Besides cooler temps, we received a fair amount of rain. Today is sunny and mild, but we are expecting some more hottish weather this week.

I haven't done much this week in the yard except prepare for the window installers. My daughter deemed the pruning my SO and I did on the mugo as insufficient, so my son-in-law helped remove more (most) of it, using a reciprocating saw. I would never have thought of using that tool, but he was able to cut the trunks very close to the ground. I also whacked at the false indigo that was blocking the front walk, dragged containers and hoses out of the way, etc.

BTW, the new windows look *great*. The house was built with wood casement windows that were a mess, so I replaced them with double hungs about 20 years ago. These were the kind that tilted in for cleaning, but I never really liked them. So it is back to casements, this time vinyl. The installation is almost done; there is some sill replacement that needs to be done, plus new wraps. I am becoming convinced that wood is great inside, not so much outside.

` I am giving the indoor herb garden another try. One basil and two parsley plants in handmade pots. Of course, I didn't make note of the herb varieties, but the pots are crafted by Dowidat Ceramics.

This is the week for my shoulder replacement surgery. I obviously will not be able to garden for a while, but I am stocked up on books and jigsaw puzzles to keep me from being too bored. And there is always TV as a last resort.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Still feels like August

I needed to buy some oversized t-shirts for post-surgery wear. Initially, I was aiming for long-sleeved, but I just can't imagine it will be much cooler by then (and WeatherBug agrees). Ditto pants - I'm sticking with shorts for now.

The 'Claire Grace' monarda arrived from Bluestone Perennials along with a backordered 'F21 Jackmanii' clematis. I chose this variety of monarda because it is supposed to be more tolerant of dry conditions, which describes the bed along the south side of the house to a T. I can't plant it yet, though, as new windows are to be installed late next week.

The Jackmanii is destined for a container. It's rather tiny right now. I assume there won't be much top growth this fall, so the pot can overwinter in the garage. In fact, it can probably overwinter in the garage forever, after being pruned in late fall.

Speaking of clematis, the Clematis Paniculata is blooming a bit. It's in a container as well, will be pruned later on and overwinter in the garage. This variety can be invasive, especially in southern climes, but the winters here are usually severe enough to kill off the seeds.

The goal of these two clematis plants is to cover the pergola. Maybe this experiment will work out. (Fingers crossed.)

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Purple dogs

One recent day I needed to do *something* outside, so I knocked down a bunch of volunteer pokeweed but did not clear it out of the yard. Now the dogs run through it, chasing rabbits, and come out with purple streaks on their backs. One of Watson's collars, the one with all the tags, is out there somewhere. I have not been able to locate it.

We are now allowed to resume backyard bird feeding, after cleaning feeders and birdbaths with a 10% bleach solution. (I have no bleach right now. Who knew it has an expiration date?) They still haven't figured out what caused all the songbird deaths, but the crisis seems to have passed on its own.

This summer is endless. Just when I think we are done with the heat, a series of 80+ degree days descends. And it has been dry. Hot and dry is not normal for September in these parts. I'm tempted to tear out the annuals, but hummingbirds and monarchs still visit. At least the lawn has slowed down.

In about two weeks, I will have a total shoulder replacement. I'm both looking forward to and dreading that. It will mean reduced pain and improved functionality, but not right away. Recovery is slower than it is with hip replacement, but I'm hoping I will be just as happy with the end results.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Much better

Sean from Sanctuary Native Landscapes spent two hours touring my yard while we discussed what was there, what to get rid of, what to keep, etc. In a nutshell, we are simpatico. He confessed that one of his favorite things is eliminating invasives. Good-bye, trumpet vine and pokeweed and Canada thistle and mulberry! He also loves trees, the more the merrier. I'm eager to see what design he comes up with. Then we can start implementing it in phases.

The weather has improved, too, with lower temps and even some rain here and there. The summer perennials are fading, but the annuals and asters keep things colorful. And the coleus.

I'm not really shaped like that!

This county is still on a bird-feeding moratorium. About the only birds I see these days are goldfinch and hummingbirds. The latter will be heading south soon.

There is an interesting article by Margaret Roach in the New York Times about ecological horticulture and how fall planting works within that mode. At Brooklyn Bridge Park, they have eliminated almost all spring planting in favor of fall planting, which not only favors the plants, soil, and animals, but is also labor- and water-saving. I hope you are able to view those articles - I'm not sure if they are behind a paywall - because they are eye-opening.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Bust but boom (maybe)

Last week's landscape designer was a bust. He came right out and stated that we were not a good fit. His MO is tear everything out (including the castleblock I slaved to install many years ago) and replant what's popular now. When I realized this guy was not going to be my yard savior, I nearly burst into tears. So disappointed!

He provided me with the names of some other landscapers that might be more to my liking, but their websites did not click with me. Then I stumbled across Sanctuary Natives Landscapes. "Sean" and I chatted the other day and it sounds like we are on the same page. He will be here on Tuesday. Fingers crossed that this one works out.

(You know how you do some extra cleaning when expecting company? I did basically the same thing today, trimming the backyard and mowing front and back. It looks less like a jungle now. I don't want to scare Sean away.)

Many of my exeriments don't work out, but I have to admit I am happy with the butterfly bushes I planted in containers. I was doubtful at first, but once they took hold, they grew lush *and* attracted some butterflies.

Buddleia 'Purple Haze'

I have probably posted this phenomenom before, but it still tickles me: birds (goldfinches, I think) grab seeds from under a drooping sunflower head, then perch on top to eat the kernals, leaving the hulls behind.

This table needs bussing

Meanwhile, the heat drags on. I think today is the last day of the unbearable sunshine and humidity. Some days (like today) I manage to get something done outside before being driven inside, but other days I just give up.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Desperate times

I have reached the end of my rope regarding the front yard and have called a landscape designer to help me out. He will be here Thursday. I won't be doing the tear out or installation, and I may even turn over the maintenance to them. This decision has brought me a great sense of relief.

Meanwhile, I am identifying what I like and don't like.
  • I like the cotoneaster but it needs pruning
  • The mugo and elderberry need to go
  • I want to keep the gold mop even though it is blocking a walkway. What grows under it - barberry, firebush, POISON IVY - can all go
  • I'm meh about the boxwood
  • The pampas grass can stay or go
  • I love the smoke bush, but wish it were not so close to the house
  • Can the rhododendron be rescued?
  • No more yucca or false indigo. Both are out of control.
  • Open to suggestions for the bed along the front walk
  • Eliminate the northern sea oats PLEASE

What was the final straw? I am having the windows replaced in my house. Needless to say, there are plants of one sort or another growing under almost all the windows. The mugo growing in front of the picture window on the east side is the most problematic. My SO and I tried to hack out a path for the installers, but it is still barely passable AND now there is a big hole in the landscaping.

If that were not enough, our pathbreaking behind the mugo revealed some house damage. The picture window resides in a "bumpout" that resembles the bumpouts one sees on some RVs. The house looks less flat-faced with it, but it has been problematic, moreso now.

Repairing this damage will become part of the window replacement project. At one point, I was going to skip replacing the picture window, but now I am glad I included it.

I was hoping once it stopped raining so much, the flopping plants would right themselves a bit, but no. The natives along the fence are so floppy that it is difficult to get the mower through that area. I'm wondering if one problem is I (optimistically) planted them all too close together.

This morning, before the heat drove me inside, I propped most of this mess up with some hardware cloth supported with rebar so I can at least mow along there. This is a perfect example of how things go in my yard. I plant something, it looks like it is going to work, but then my vision eludes me.

August is being August - hot and humid this week, with scattered rain. Before the heat moved in, I managed to clean out most of one raised bed, where I hope to transplant the coneflower and penstemon. The bird feeding ban has been lifted in most of the state, but not this county.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

I fret about trees

Maybe because trees take so long to get established and grow large enough to cast some shade, I tend to worry about mine. So far, none have succumbed to disease or pests or weather, but still I fret.

This pic is the trunk of the pagoda dogwood. I'm not finding any help online about this issue. So far, the tree looks fine, but this is a worrisome sight.

The 'Perfect Purple' flowering crab in the front yard has a similar problem. Again, the tree looks fine otherwise (except for losing the leader which broke off in a storm). I hope it continues to do well.

At least the redbud in the backyard that lost a leader-type branch in the same storm has several applicants vying for that position. We'll see who comes out on top (so to speak).

I don't worry about the bishop's weed - it's indestructible - but it does seem to suffer from leaf spot, or something like it. I *could* try to do something about it, but like I said, indestructible.

One plant I had completely forgotten about is this Japanese painted fern I received as a gift when I retired. It must like its location at the end of the hosta bed, and I admire its tenacity, but it is too well hidden. Perhaps it would make a good houseplant?

After a week of hot, humid, rainy weather, almost everything that blooms in the yard is leaning if not outright prone. Even the Russian Giant sunflowers are falling over, despite not having seed heads yet. The natives along the fence are particularly bad. And because of the weather, I have not been able to be out there helping everything get upright again. There are several dry, temperate days ahead, so I'd better stop writing and start staking.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Tired of gardening

I'm not actually tired of gardening per se. I'm tired of what I have been doing in the garden which is a lot of maintenance (pruning, weeding, edging, etc.) instead of the fun stuff like planting and relaxing on the deck and feasting my eyes on the results of my labor.

I do sit on the deck occasionally and contemplate what to do next - next week, next month, next year. One thing I had not realized is that rudbeckia spreads, so it is shouldering out the coneflower I planted with it in one bed. One possible solution is to move the coneflower to one of the remaining raised beds and transplant some of the rudbeckia into the "meadow" where it can spread to its heart's content. That's assuming I am going to have a meadow and not just more lawn.

The penstemon that I planted in a container several years ago looks fine, but it did not bloom this year. I'm guessing it needs to be transplanted, too, maybe into the same bed as the coneflower. (It's a big bed.) The penstemon I planted in a container this year is not happy, perhaps because the English thyme that cohabits in the same container is too much competition.

For some reason, the fleabane is nearly non-existant this year. Some consider it a weed, but I like it because it blooms most of the season and from a distance looks like baby's breath. Here is another fan of fleabane.

When I see goldfinches in the cup plant, I'm reminded of a presentation I attended several years ago about bower birds. The speaker suggested that birds are attracted to food that matches their color: bluebirds to blue fruit, robins to red/orange fruit, goldfinches to yellow flowers, etc. Of course, this is not 100% accurate - the goldfinches *love* coneflower seeds and robins eat purple pokeweed berries - but it's a fun observation.

There are a lot more pollinators in my yard this year. Not sure why - maybe those who usually treat their yards with pesticides are skipping this year? - but I appreciate seeing all the activity.

I can't tell if this little bee has yellow wings or if those are his pollen sacs.

While the volunteer sunflowers are blooming like crazy, the Russian Giants have yet to form heads. The Mexican sunflower is not particularly bloomy, either. No idea why.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

We went to the animal fair...

My SO and I took my granddaughter to the county fair this past week. She seemed a bit bored, but I get an inordinate amount of joy checking out the animals. In a previous lifetime, I kept chickens, cooked rabbit (I called it "chicken surprise", with the surprise being it wasn't chicken), raised a couple of goats, etc. So while we avoided cow patties and refrained from petting any of the critters until after we ate some carvival food, I reminisced about my livestock experiences.

Or two sheep or one cow

At one point, I considered creating a mini-farm after retirement, with mini animals (pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, bantam chickens, babydoll sheep, etc.), but that is not the kind of thing one can do solo. Also, finding affordable land meant moving quite a ways out of town and I've become accustomed to the convenience of city life.

While researching how best to control flopping of tall perennials, I came across several references about how ironweed never flops. HA! Even in full sun, I've seen it lean. Along this fence, the plants probably do not get as much sun as they would like, which would be one contributing factor. The other may be that the soil is too rich, even though I don't fertilize.

We had another hot week, so mowing and trimming and a bit of weeding were the order of the day. Next week promises to be absolutely lovely, temps in the 70's with lows dipping into the 50's. It does not feel like we are on the cusp of August.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

High floppability

The natives planted along the fence on the south side of the house are blooming... and flopping. I like them tall but not when they lean across the path I take with the lawn mower. The ironweed plants have inverted tomato cages to keep them somewhat upright, but the coneflower and rudbeckia need some help. There is a new edition of Tracy DiSabato-Aust's book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden; I have an older copy, maybe should check out what's new. Perhaps the pruning techniques will help. If not, a fence of some sort, one that won't obstruct?

I took advantage of the lovely weather this week to finish edging around the shrubs and the hawthorn tree out front. While I was at it, I removed the protective hardware cloth, snipped suckers, pulled weeds, etc. I also propped up the false indigo just in time for the lawn treatment guys. Then there was the pruning of redbuds and viburnum. My SO helped with the latter, thank goodness; my shoulders won't let me operate the lopper.

The mid-to-late summer perennials are going at it. I *love* the cup plant patch, as do the finches. The plants are at least ten feet tall.

In front of the cup plant is a clump of silvergrass with the additions of coneflower, rudbeckia, daylily, and aster.

Volunteer sunflowers mingle with rattlesnake master and big bluestem.

Besides volunteer sunflowers, there are some volunteer morning glories growing in containers. Some vines that I thought were morning glories are something else, bindweed or something like it, so those have been eliminated. I'm trying to help the actual morning glories with a trellis; it's too short, but that isn't stopping them.

Does anyone know what is wrong with this clump of aster? I think the browning of the lower leaves can occur when there is too little rain, but we have had plenty of that.

Another problem we have had plenty of are Japanese beetles. I plant hollyhocks as a trap crop, but this year the little buggers have ignored the hollyhocks in favor of coneflowers and zinnias. Boo.

I hear cicadas, have found one husk and seen one flying around, but we must not be Brood X country. My son lived in Bloomington IN during the last emergence and says they were quite the nuisance down there. What's been your experience?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone....

Or so the weather forecast promises. It has been rainy all week, with just enough breaks to break one's heart. Consequently, I have done next to nothing in the yard besides mow and trim between the showers. The coming week looks delightful, though: lows in the 60's, highs in the low 80's, sunshine. Hopefully, I will be able to beat back the jungle that I euphemistically call a garden.

This fungi is not growing in my yard, but is a good indicator as to how damp it is.

This post showed up on my FB feed:

Besides depriving birds of their food, mosquito spraying does not discrminate between mosquitoes and other insects like pollinators. The bee population in my yard is much lower than it was before the "Bite me" signs appeared around town.

The Crimson King maple in the front yard does not look quite as full as it has in the past. Several other specimens in the neighborhood have succumbed in recent years, but mine has always looked healthy... until now. I looked up some info on Crimson Kings. They are a variety of the Norway maple which lives to be 250 years... in Norway. In the US, life expectancy is arouind 60 years. If my tree was planted when the house was built in 1973, it has been in the ground nearly 50 years. I don't know when they start counting the age of trees, but I'm hoping mine lasts a bit longer; a slow grower, it is finally casting some decent shade.

The natives planted along the fence are blooming a bit more. The cup plant patch is getting there, too. Zinnias in pots are almost ready to open. The orange "ditch lilies" are doing their thing. Hopefully, this week I will get to do mine.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Come on, come on

That's what I think every time I look out my bedroom window at the native plants along the privacy fence. There are a few coneflower, ironweed, and rudbekia just starting to flower. I'm inpatient to see them all in bloom.

Last fall, I purchased some "hardy" mums. In the past, I have planted such specimens in the fall, but they don't do well, pooping out before they can bloom again. This time I left them in their pots and overwintered them in the garage. They looked pretty pathetic by the time I brought them out into the sunshine, but perked up after a while. Yesterday, I transplanted them under the purple leaf smokebush; I plan to interplant some Stella d'Oro daylilies with them. In preparation for this effort, my granddaughter helped me expand the edging around the smokebush. (When a task involves a lot of bending, she is quite handy to have around.)

I also expanded the edging around the 'Golden Spirit' smokebush, as I plan to interplant something like coral bells with the 'Autumn Joy' that is there now.

Other plans include pruning the highbush cranberry that is taking over, obscuring this honeysuckle vine. The vine climbs over the fence; my neighbors actually like it. I want to plant more honeysuckle vines along the back fence, where I can see them better. But first, I have to get rid of the trumpet vine I regretfully planted there.

There are alot of volunteer sunflowers growing wherever I don't mow, including this row. I assume they are from the bird feeders. If I can't fill the feeders for a while, at least I can provide some alternatives for the birds.

The 'Betty Corning' clematis is done, but 'Avant-garde' is at its peak. The sweet autumn clematis has almost reached the top of the pergola already. There are a lot of volunteer morning glories from last year right behind it.