Sunday, May 26, 2024

Feels (almost) like summer

Some mark the beginning of summer with Memorial Day. The weather is almost there, but some cooler temps are in store for us this coming week. As I age, I find it more and more difficult to work under the sun. This morning was overcast, though, so just right for getting some things done in the yard.

I like my older honeysuckle vine but not how it is out of control. Hopefully, these trunks from the arborvitae will help corral it and send it up instead of out.

For the younger honeysuckle vines, I proactively set up trellises to keep them in check.

One other climber, the Clematis Paniculata which is still in a container, is being trained to climb up the pergola. (No pic, because the whole setup is rather chintzy looking.) The plant received a top dressing of composted cow manure today, to keep it happy.

And then there is the climbing rose. I've been looking for a trellis to arch over the gate in the fence, but it has to be at least six feet wide and six feet tall, which is expensive. While spraying weeds behind my privacy fence, I noticed the neighbors behind me had installed a trellis made from concrete remesh (or something like that) for their new climbing roses. So now that is on my shopping list.

Yesterday I managed to get the rattlesnake master into the ground before the sun came out from behind a cloud. This morning was overcast, so I tackled the beds in the front, cutting down spent ragwort flower stems (the hedge trimmer works well for this) and hand weeding. The Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy Beardtongue) is blooming there, along with the Heuchera richardsonii (Prairie Alumroot), which the bees are loving.

The Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' (Rough Goldenrod) I planted last year is doing well, still in tidy clumps. The aster I planted in front of it did not survive an onslaught from bunnies. I'm debating on whether to replace them. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any reference to the variety.

The serviceberry (a.k.a. Juneberry) fruit is ripening, right on time. The robins will be loving these shrubs in a few weeks.

The spiderwort is blooming well, mostly early in the day. Later on, it closes shop. The rain garden has been closer to a water feature this spring, and I'm not sure the plants that have been under water are going to survive. I'm wondering if some Siberian iris would do well there.

And to close out this post, my trio of suns. They are made from metal, and I purchased them at the annual home and garden show. The first on is on the front porch, the second one by the dining room window, and the last one on the back fence. I particularly like that last one, as its look changes with the changing light.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fox Island

Two years ago, a derecho came through this area. For those who don't know, a derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that here caused a lot of damage. Fortunately for me, the worst hit area was south of my house. Unfortunately for Fox Island, a county park and nature preserve, the storm did a LOT of damage.

The park had to close indefinitely. Donations and volunteers were requested, to help with the clean-up and restoration. Now, two years later, the park is about to open. And since I donated some money, I was invited to a pre-opening hike last month.

The bulletin board in the nature center tells the story. The company that removed the trees did so in exchange for the wood. New trees have been planted, and the park is starting to heal. But it will be generations before it fully recovers.

Where there was once countless trees there is now next to nothing.

The sandy soil did little to keep trees upright.

I have a bit of history with the park. While self-employed (many, many years ago!), I participated in a ground water study, hiking through the preserve to measure the depth of the water in strategically placed wells. Those wells cannot even be found now. I have cross country skied at the park, surrounded by winter-bare trees that are no longer there. It's all very sad.

While we are catching up, here is a photo of my Christmas cactus blooming in April. The plant was a gift, and the year after receiving it, I did manage to force some winter blooms from it. But I haven't been a very good plant owner to this thing, have debated over whether I should put it out of its misery, when it creates this rather large blossom. Go figure.

I don't think I mentioned my attempt to overseed a swath of quack grass in the backyard with grass seed and clover last month. It's really hard to tell if it is working, and I have been remiss in keeping the patch watered. I'm going to mow the area today, and we'll just have to wait and see.

As promised, here is a pic of a spiderwort blossom. It is recovering from being transplanted quite nicely.

Yesterday I planted the impulse purchases from Riverview Native Nursery. These include Queen of the Prairie, Michigan Lily, Purple Meadow Rue, Spotted Joe Pye. They all went in next to the rain garden. I hope they tolerate my heavy clay soil. I also picked up a couple of butterfly weed plants at the nursery, to round out the ones out front. Those are now installed as well. Now all that is left are the rattle snake master plants, which was what I went to the nursery to purchase in the first place.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

So green!

The spring surge of flowering plants has slowed down, but with all the rain we have been having, everything is green, green, green. I have been mowing every three days - good thing I like to mow and good thing I have a riding mower. It's been difficult to get much of anything else done in the yard, though.

There are still plants to be planted. Today I installed a very root-bound spiderwort, Tradescantia 'Amethyst Kiss'. It was a impulse purchase, something I have never grown before, but very pretty blossoms. It's not fussy about light, should bloom all summer long, hopefully will tolerate my heavy clay. I placed it at one end of the rain garden. Once it has recovered, I'll post some pix.

Last week the cup plant and common milkweed went into the "meadow". I checked on them today. The cup plant looks great, but something - baby bunnies, I presume - has been nibbling on the milkweed. I didn't think anything would eat milkweed. The same something has been chomping on the coneflower that is in that area. I would have thought the fencing would keep the little boogers out, but it looks like I will have to wrap the area in hardware cloth.

The aster I planted last fall has also fallen prey to the rascally rabbits. *sigh*

Another impulse purchase was this potted Kalanchoe 'Mandala Red'. I knew nothing about this plant, had never heard of it, but I like red. It won't get much bigger than this (9"), but will bloom all season long. I wonder if I can bring it inside over the winter and treat it like a houseplant.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the yard, this honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler', is getting out of control. Pruning only made it stronger. When the hummingbirds arrive, they will have plenty of nectar.

This early blooming catmint hybrid, Nepeta 'Cat's Pajamas', is doing just that.

Last fall, I brought home some bales of straw in the back of my CRV. When I cleaned out the car, I threw the bits and pieces under the Japanese maple in front. Lo and behold, it sprouted. So now I have a mini crop of wheat.

While I cut back most of the ragwort in front of the house, I left some standing and discovered that goldfinch like the seeds. I tried to put grape jelly out for the orioles and catbirds, but the rain keeps filling up the feeder. Oh, well. I'm sure they are finding plenty to eat this lush spring.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Plant fever

I was rather smug about my self-control over ordering plants from catalogs - just a few cup plants and a dozen common milkweed. But then I made in-person visits to two nurseries and came home with more than I intended. At one nursery, it was not crowded and I spent too much time wandering the aisles. At the other nursery, I felt rushed and grabbed plants without thinking. I'll list them all in a later post, as I'm a bit tired today from trying to get most of them planted.

Here is an example of an impulse purchase. I am not a fan of geraniums in general, BUT. Sometimes I find the intense color of their blossoms irresistable. This one caught my eye and followed me home.

And here is an example of what I planned to purchase: some coleus for the front porch planter. This is a "sun coleus" - the porch gets rather intense morning sun.

Last year I tried to grow ornamental sweet potato in hanging baskets with limited success. In fact, the success was limited to this planter on the north side of the shed. This year I decided to try "wave" petunias there instead. The vertical fish is a ceramic piece I made as a watering aid - water goes in the mouth and out some holes at the bottom.

And a few pix of some current blooms in the yard:

Columbine - up close and personal

Dame's rocket

I just read that there is a work day planned at a local preserve where they plan to eradicate dame's rocket. Of all the invasive plants to target, this one seems rather innocuous. Better to tackle ornamental pears and garlic mustard.

In the past few years, I have tried to grow perennials in containers, with some success. But I'm tired of having to water the containers and store the containers in the garage in the winter. And the plastic containers are starting to fall apart. Last summer I transplanted some penstemon, and it is doing quite well. Today I transplanted some catmint from one container into the coneflower bed where there was a bit of a gap. I also transplanted a miniature butterfly bush into the same bed where there was another gap. Interestingly, the root systems of these plants were not very developed. The remaining dirt in the pots went onto low spots in the lawn where water puddles after a rain.

I think I heard baby bird cheeps from the bluebird house today. While I have let all the other bird feeders run dry, I had planned to keep putting out mealworms for the bluebirds... until I saw that the sparrows are eating the mealworms. They don't usually do that, are probably gathering food for their young, but hey. Not allowed.