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.