Saturday, May 29, 2021

A gardener's wish comes true

Last week I complained about how dry it has been here. The rain gods must have been listening because we received 1.5" one day, then about another 0.5" on another. Everything is well watered now. The temps dropped, to the point I had to turn on the furnace last night. The plants may like it warmer but I don't.

Every year, after I have scheduled AC maintenance, I hustle to clean up the area on the west side of the house. This past Monday I moved the daylilies and Asiatic lilies that were next to the AC unit to the bed by the front sidewalk. Then came a layer of newspaper and bag after bag of pebbles to complete this rather sterile but practical landscape. The problem has been chipmunks and dogs digging for chipmunks. Now there is no place for those wascally wodents to hide. More containers will be added.

I've whined before about how the junipers under the windows of the den were too big. I've tried pruning them which seemed to only simulate them to greater heights. So a few days ago, my SO helped me whack them down. (The jury is out regarding that Alberta spruce in the middle.)

I'd like to replace the junipers with something evergreen but more controlable. Perhaps Ilex glabra 'Compacta'? Also known as inkberry, it likes it damp and there are two downspouts and the outflow of the sump pump in that area. However, inkberry prefers acidic soil, so that would need to be addressed. Perhaps two females here and a male to fertilize them around the corner?

Canada thistle is a constant thorn in my side (a little gardening humor there), but once in a while, something unusual like this sow thistle shows up. Of course, it is not welcome, either, but it's nice to see something different for a change.

My order from Bluestone Perennials arrived in good shape; I plan to install the plants tomorrow, when the blasted wind dies down. They are: Clematis Paniculata, Buddleia ' Purple Haze', Buddleia 'Pink Micro Chip', Agastache 'Kudos Ambrosia'. These are all going into containers. The only one I am concerned about is the clematis, as I won't be able to move it into the garage come cold weather. I hope I can protect the roots well enough for it to winter over.

I think the hummingbirds we saw last week were outliers, although another one appeared yesterday. In my experience, they usually don't show up until June. I'm giving up on the oriole feeder, at least for now, unless someone convinces me otherwise. Both wren houses appear to be populated.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

So dry

We have had no rain since Mother's Day when we received 2.5". Nothing is suffering, but I would not mind a nice, all day drizzle. The dry weather has not stopped the grass from growing. The front yard is treated (organically), the dogs keep the backyard well fertilized (also organically). Good thing I like to mow.

My son and his girl friend visited this past week (we are all well-vaccinated) and brought me a tuberous begonia. I have never grown one of these before, so it will be a little horticultural adventure. Per usual, the red of the blossoms is not accurate in my pix.

For some reason, my son removed the tag, so I don't know the variety. I hope it produces trailing stems. If this plant works out, I may incorporate tuberous begonias into my future shade garden, in hanging baskets.

Yesterday I spotted hummingbirds at the feeder; my son said he saw one on Thursday. Huzzah!

The coleus have been transplanted to the flower box on the front porch. I started some sunflowers and Mexican sunflower. It is probably a good thing that my previous attempts at seed starting did not work, as the spring weather has been so erratic and I have not had a good feel for what there is room for. My SO and I continue to hack away at the raised beds, but for right now, I am keeping four of them: the rhubarb patch fills one, hollyhock (which I use as a trap for Japanese beetles) another, the sunflowers will go into a third, and the Mexican sunflower the fourth. There is also a larger bed that holds coneflower and rudbekia. All that should give me something to look at.

I finally ordered some plants for containers, from Bluestone Perennials. They were supposed to ship this week, but so far no word. I am also awaiting the back-ordered mini grow garden from Gardners Supply, which is supposed to ship this month. We'll see.

The 'Winter King' hawthorn is in full bloom. I recently read a description of it that included the trait "thornless". NOT. But maybe other varieties are thornier. The 'Wentworth' high bush cranberry is also peaking. There is volunteer columbine in the front yard, dame's rocket in the back. The false indigo and cotoneaster are just getting started. Almost always something blooming.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

All messed up

The temps have moderated here a bit, but many trees and shrubs are still confused. My FB feed showed some pix I had posted before on this date - the 'Golden Spirit' smokebush and 'Lemony Lace' elderberry, both fully leafed out. They are nowhere near this state today. The redbuds are *finally* starting to leaf out. Many trees in the neighborhood look half dead, not because they are but because they are still so leafless. At least my Japanese maple has recovered from last year's attack of the sparrows.

I've been sadly remiss about keeping the area behind the privacy fence to the west trimmed, so I took a look the other day to see how bad it was. I could tell the neighbors that own the privet beyond my fence had whacked the hedge a bit, but I assumed they had also cleaned up the trimmings. NOT. That kind of thing doesn't bother me - my backyard is in a constant state of flux - but I will try to trim around their leavings... sometime.

My SO and I attacked the raised bed that last summer contained a big wasp nest. (I wanted to believe they were bees, not wasps. I was wrong.) Then we moved the main birdfeeding station to that spot. It's a better location for viewing. I continue to weed, weed, weed elsewhere.

Several so-called neighbors on Next Door have reported seeing hummingbirds and orioles at their feeders. I was going to replace my unvisited oriole feeder with the hummingbird feeder, but instead I have both now. Remember the lonely Maytag repairman? I feel that way about my nectar feeders. At least the wrens are here, blasting away. There is a nesting box in the front yard and one in the back; hopefully both will soon be occupied.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Any colder and it would be snowing

Around here, Mother's Day seems to be designated as Visit Local Nurseries Day, but I wonder how many families are out in the cold, windy, rainy weather. Personally, I would opt for a cuddle on the couch and a good movie.

My SO and I stopped at Menards the other day. I've been on the lookout for a decent water fountain. The one I have is not well designed and dribbles. All I bought in the garden department was a package of coleus for the front porch. Last year's variety was HUGE, so I'm opting for something smaller this year: Wizard Scarlet. I still have the mother plant from last year, plus a couple of starts off that; they will go into pots.

This past week, the Lawnganics people treated the front lawn again. I don't know specifically what they use, but the dandelions are now drooping. I think the clover and wild strawberry will survive, though, which is what I was hoping for. The grass itself looks very healthy, but then it usually does in the spring. So far, I'm pleased. After edging and mulching the beds around the trees in the front yard, I'm thinking maybe I will outsource that labor as well.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Fifty shades of pink

The flowering crabs around town are just stupendous this year. I'm surprised I have not rear-ended someone while I gawk at them. One house I drive past frequently has six mature ones in their front yard that creates a wall of color. My own flowering crabs are still small but just as lovely. Per usual, my photography skills do not do them justice.

The actual color of the blossoms on this 'Prairie Fire' flowering crabapple is more coral than pink. And they are dense. While examining the tree, I removed the empty bagworm casing my granddaughter had noticed earlier. I also noticed that there is no central leader. I purchased this specimen online. I can't recall if it came truncated or was damaged and in need of pruning or if I cut it off for unknown reasons. My aim was to have a small tree that would be tall enough to provide some afternoon shade for the nearby AC unit. That goal may be thwarted, at least for a while.

My SO and I continue to undo the raised beds. We are not as young and spry as we used to be, so it will take us a while. In the front yard, I've been edging the flower beds. And there is so much weeding to do!

I'm a little concerned about the redbuds. While the snow did not seem to damage the blossoms, the trees are not starting to leaf out yet. The bloom time came a couple of weeks early - usually, they are peaking around now - so maybe the leaves are following their own schedule. I hope so.

The chokeberry is blooming, as is the prunifolium. Last summer's transplants on the south side of the house are starting to break ground. Last year's bumper crop of "whirlibirds" - samaras from the neighborhood silver maples - are causing a bumper crop of seedlings. The rhubarb is ready for some pie.

I'm sorry if this blog is becoming a bit of a bore while I downsize the yard and garden. After this season, things should get more interesting as I concentrate on the designated areas for the future.