Sunday, August 28, 2022

Tiny 'shrooms

After I trimmed the redbud trees, I left the branches on the ground while the leaves dried up. When I cut up the detritus the other day, I noticed these tiny mushroom. (I think I will go back to using my SLR camera - it does a better job than my phone camera of taking photos up close and personal.)

After my comment last week about a lone mourning dove, I saw four of them in the yard at the same time, but they acted like they didn't know each other. Maybe youngsters? I set out some mealworms to see if the bluebirds were interested. They weren't, but the sparrows were. I'll wait a while before I try again.

Otherwise, not a lot is going on in the yard. I'm falling behind in weed control, but it's not too terrible yet. Still watering, still mowing. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Doesn't feel like August

My memory of August is that it was hot and humid, but dry. The lawn would go dormant, which provided a welcome break from mowing. No more, I guess. The temperatures have been relatively moderate, as has the rainfall. And plants have started to turn.

The berries on the winterberry holly will be red in winter, but are now turning from green to yellow to orange.

The 'Limelight' hydrangea blossoms are beginning to pink up, too. I'm glad I kept this shrub, as it gets more sun now and should grow less spindly.

Birdwise, my feeders are populated mostly by multiple families of sparrows, but I have seen a few "newcomers" like a lone mourning dove (where's your mate?!?) and a downy woodpecker. The hummingbirds appear to have left the area, despite the natural offerings in my yard.

I'm loving that honeysuckle vine and plan to add a couple more along the back fence. I just have to remember to keep it under control, now that its growing conditions have improved.

I'm a little worried about the pagoda dogwood. All the leaves have dried up. I confess that I don't keep a close eye on it - maybe it has done this before? I know it is not from lack of water; could it be its feet are too wet? Google has been no help at all.

Like yardeners everywhere, I am constantly considering what to plant next year. Of course, I don't want to interfere with the newly planted natives, but I am missing the splendor of giant sunflowers and butterfly attracting zinnias.

Have a contemplative week.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

New mulch means new fungi

I was a bit worried I would not be able to keep ahead of the weeds in my newly landscaped beds, but so far, it's been relatively easy. Some are hand-pulled, some are sprayed. The yucca is proving to be rather recalcitrant, though. I hope it succumbs.

With three inches of mulch and a fair amount of rain, some new mushrooms have sprouted in the yard. Fun(gi) stuff.

Since we had some rain and the temperatures have moderated, I have backed off on all the watering. (Plus, sometimes at the end of the day, I am just too tired to drag a hose around.) Everything looks great, so I'm not too worried.

There is so much that goes on in one's yard that goes unnoticed. Like spiders and insects. On more than one occasion, my entire front yard has been covered with webs like the one below, visible only in the dewy morning light.

I can tell I am tired of summer, as I find myself looking forward to snow. Have a cool week.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

IMHO part 2

I've been a (mostly) organic gardener for (most of) my adult life. Managing weeds organically requires a variety of methods and tools, and a lot of diligence. Between my hip replacement and shoulder replacement, I just could not keep up with the mechanical and manual efforts of weed control, so am now resorting to herbicides, to protect my investment in the new landscaping. I've made my peace with this change.

To save money, I have resorted to concentrates. These require a sprayer of some sort, and every time I want to use an herbicide, I have to mix some up. When I have just a bit to treat, though, I am not above applying the concentrate directly from the bottle, using a small brush. This method is actually recommended when treating something like grape vine or mulberry: cut back the plant and apply the concentrate directly to the cut stem.

Now I have a lot of areas to treat, to keep ahead of the weeds. For convenience sake, I have been purchasing ready-to-use Roundup, which comes with a variety of application methods. The first one I tried required pumping air into the container to create enough pressure to spray the herbicide. This is how my sprayer works, so I'm not unfamiliar with this kind of operation, but for some reason, I could not get much pressure built up inside the container. The second bottle of Roundup I purchased came with a battery operated sprayer. Using this one was much easier and effective. This is going to be my go-to method unless I find something even better to use.

I was hoping the sweet potato vine I planted on the front porch would climb the trellis there, but it only went so far, despite my efforts to direct it upward. My neighbor across the street reported similar frustrations with her sweet potato vine not vining very much. Next year I'll try something else in this location, but may still use some sweet potato vine in hanging baskets.

The black eyed Susan along the fence on the south side of the house is trying to choke out everything else growing there. I hope to rescue the few surviving coneflower plants; I think the ironweed can hold its own for a while, not sure about the aster. Susan is such a thug, something gardening catalogs don't usually point out. To be fair, ironweed can spread aggressively as well.

Lately, I've been experimenting with what I call Bento dishes - bento box meals served on a plate. Sometimes all I need for a particular recipe is a small handful of, say, green beans, but finding a place that sells loose green beans is a challenge. Farmers markets are also a challenge when it comes to timing and parking and crowds. So, after years of not growing vegetables, I have the urge to return to growing some of my own food. But in much smaller amounts. In containers. This will require some research and experimenting, two things I love to do.

About the only birds I see at the feeders these days are sparrows. There is the occasional housefinch, goldfinch, cardinal, blue jay, etc. but otherwise, not much diversity. I think I saw a northern mockingbird one day, and one of the landscape guys swore he heard cedar waxwing. Papa wren scolds me and Finn whenever we exit the front door, as there is a wren family in the house hanging in the maple tree. I'm looking forward to migration season, which may be closer than one thinks: a flock of geese flew overhead today, presumably heading south.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022


Now that I've been watering (and watering and watering) post-installation, I'm discovering that the donut-shaped watering bags are not the time-savers I imagined them to be. While filling, they need babysitting to keep the water in the bag and not running out of the hole. Also, they block rain. So I am going to remove them from the shrubs.

The zippered watering pouches around the trees, however, are easier to manage. I can insert the hose and walk away, to deadhead flowering plants or fill birdfeeders. They don't work for shrubby plants, though, and are too tall for the hickory tree.

The plants are not only settling in but thriving (except for a few ragworts that get disturbed by Finn who thinks all that mulch is just a giant outdoor litter box). Some are even blooming, like the nodding onion and columbine.

And the ragwort is spreading, just like it should.

Last weekend, my daughter, granddaughter, and I went to Indianapolis to shop. Our first stop was Brickyard Ceramics, which has a field of wildflowers for a front yard. This photo doesn't do it justice.

I sowed more grass seed on bare areas in the lawn. After one round of Roundup, I've discovered that it doesn't work well on vines, just as the herbicide I have for vines doesn't work on other weeds. There is still some trumpet vine that needs to be erradicated, as well as some grape vine and poison ivy. The yucca and false indigo are popping up, unfortunately. And nutsedge is the bane of my lawn and nearby beds.

I updated the plant list for your viewing pleasure.

Today is HOT, HOT, HOT, but the next week or so promises to be milder, plus maybe rain. I'm ready for a break from watering.