Saturday, March 31, 2007

In the genes?

My mom just gave me this picture she found of me -- c.1977, Chicago.
Hmmm, maybe I was meant to have a garden all along? Nowadays though, I try to wear something a little more practical... ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring clean up: Day 2

It's hard to get stuff done in the 1 hour of daylight when I get home from work; so sometimes you just have to take a personal day to tend to the garden.

This morning the sun is shining and it's about 70F ... perfect.

So this morning, I tackled the Triangle Garden in the backyard. I call it that because it's shaped like a triangle and it's in the backyard . <>. Here's what it looks like in the midst of summer:The previous owner planted here: monkey grass (or mondo grass, I just learned), a Japanese barberry, and an ornamental grass I haven't ID'd yet. There's also vinca I am slowly pulling out, and some ajuga (carpet bugleweed) which I am not. I planted 2 Fall mums in Oct 2005 and 1 of them came back last yr and is coming back again. I also planted 3 of the irises here, but not doing well.

I cleaned it out today, cut down the grasses, and re-edged the border -- going farther out into the grass because we are going to flagstone this area anyway (it's the main traffic path to the backyard). I also tilled the soil a bit mixing the leaves into the dirt.
Here are some of the final photos:

It still "looks" messy, but then again it's still March in Chicago. Brown is still the color du jour no matter how many daffodils are coming up. (We're getting tricked by this beautiful weather).

2007 To Do List

I am a list-a-holic. I love making lists and scratching off the tasks when I'm done. The only caveat is that I know the things I don't want to do, because they linger on the list for months and months.

Here is my 2007 Garden List. Some of the things have to get done (i.e. spring clean-up) others are projects and goals I'd like to accomplish. At the same time though, we are remodeling 2 rooms in our house, so it'll get pretty busy in 2007.

  1. Cut down as much black knot on plum tree as possible.
  2. Spring clean-up (cut back plants, compost leaves, edge garden beds)
  3. Clean up shed and fix the shed door
  4. Cornmeal the grass (May/July/Sept)
  5. Paint & Re-screen the back porch
  6. Paint the garage door white
  7. Clean out the gutters and examine the down spouts
  8. Rain barrels
  9. Clean up existing stone paths and re-set stones where needed. Remove grass from between and plant ground cover. Need to find good ground cover for between stones
  10. Plant new fence garden in backyard (measure, tape out, move existing plants, prep the bed, buy plants, plant plants)

March 26: Daffodils, Irises, Lungworts & Tools

I am going to try and be better about noting when things are in bloom. I wanted to get this all noted last year when I started this blog, but it didn't happen. Such is life. Maybe this year.

March 26th --

The daffodils are in bloom. In the SW corner garden, 3 separate clumps of daffodils are blooming and I pulled off about 5 to have indoors. I see about 4 more that want to open (not yet though).

I love lungworts. Am I weird? They grow great in my garden and look nice all summer. Plus the tiny flowers are cute. So needless to say they are coming up already and I even have flowers on them already. I divided and planted some by the screened porch last summer and they're back.

Last summer, I divided the tall bearded irises that were growing under the kitchen window. Instead of giving them away, I decided to plant them in all different areas of the yard (front/back/sides) to see where else they could grow. So far they all seem to be doing really good (i.e. coming up) except for the one in the Triangle garden in the backyard whose roots got really mushy.

And right now what I really need are some tools. And more specifically something to cut back the tall prairie grasses and the monkey grass. I've been doing this with pruners and I feel ridiculous.

Any recommendations -- long shears maybe?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring clean up: Day 1

This is more for me (i.e. boring notes):

Just noting that we started spring clean-up on March 24th (earlier than last year). Cleaned up the center front garden between our and Pat's house. Re-edged the grass on that side --looks much nicer and cleaner. Also threw some more grass seed since the grass looked pretty sad.

The grass-like plant I noted last year has been ID'd as Star of Bethlehem. Websites say it's related to the onion and some say it's a weed, but does have nice flowers in June. I remember some flowers last year, but not a lot. Also, the plant spreads quickly, and that's true here. Not sure I want to keep them -- maybe thin them out a bit? Blue arrow shows where they are growing.

Note: Need to thin out Star of Bethlehem in Front center garden & Under the kitchen window garden.

Friday, March 23, 2007

What do I do now?

Our next door neighbors just sold their house ...

Matt and I are in mourning, not only were our neighbors the greatest people -- seriously, friendly neighbors are a TREASURE, we're lucky if we even get a wave from some people -- but they were avid gardeners who taught us what all our plants were and what to do. She was my gardening guru, my mentor, my teacher, my encyclopedia of information... how am I going to manage the garden without her... help, I'm scared.

Besides the obvious gardening help, they gave us lawn tips, they loaned us their tools (and they have a of of tools), we had nice friendly chats over the short picket fence, she would tie back Jumanji, the killer clematis, for me when he got unruly; we took in each other's garbage cans, her husband even snow blowed our driveway this past winter...

AARRRGGHHH... What are we going to do?

I'm not ready for new neighbors; I'm not ready to be the welcoming neighbor to the new people. This will be a very long summer ...

Hydrangea revisited

Exactly one year ago like now, I posted an entry about my hydrangea sitting at my doorstep.

Picture of the plant as it appears today.
I was perplexed. Hydrangeas are supposed to be big floppy bushes covered with pom poms of blue and pink flowers, not a gangly, bark-shedding skelaton with conical flowers bunches lurching at my doorway.

Nevertheless, Inspector Rosemarie (the game I am forced to play since the previous owners planted no less than 300+ species of plants, but failed to leave me even a scrap of evidence of what anything was) discovered that this lurch was none other than the Oakleaf Hydrangea.

Picture of the plant as it appeared June 2006.
So last year my big concern was pruning this plant after getting mixed reviews from the numerous "plant authorities" who give their two cents anytime they see someone with gardening shears. They shall remain nameless. But, as a newbie with a wealth of information on the Internet, the library, blogs ... I listened to this "plant authority"and pruned my hydrangea for the past 2 springtimes. Result? No Flowers!

Last year I quoted this website, and if I had just comprehended what I quoted (honestly, I didn't have a clue) I would have realized that in the springtime I was pruning off any buds the plant grew the previous Aug/Sept.
So lesson learned? Prune the Oakleaf Hygrangea in June/July.

Or better yet... don't touch this plant.
I have to realize that not everything in the garden has to be blessed with Rosemarie's pruners. Instead, I am going to play the game called "Don't touch, just watch" -- also known as "lookey, no touchy." Then maybe I'll have some beautiful pictures to post later on this summer and learn to love the "lurch."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - March

Another garden blogger, May Dreams Gardens, has started a "Garden Blogger Bloom Day" which means that every 15th of the month, garden bloggers can post pictures of what's growing in their garden at that particular time.

I usually don't start taking pictures until April because March 15th is still pretty brown outside. But here's what's growing in my yard on March 15th in Zone 5/ Chicago:

Coming up through the cold ground and mottled leaves are the beginnings of Daffodils.

These snowdrops started growing in January because we had a warm spell, and I thought that maybe they were doomed for the rest of the year. But never fear, these tough gals have emerged from the snow unscathed!

This is my personal success story. Last summer, I divided and replanted all my tall bearded irises (a first for me!) and you can see them coming up through the brown leaved and the brown stalks from last year.

And to give you an idea of what the backyard looks like on March 15th, here's a photo looking west at 9AM. It's still pretty brown and frosty out there, and most of the plants I highlighted have frost on their leaves.

April 15th should tell a whole different story. See you next month!