Sunday, November 22, 2009

My plant wish list for next year

I've been looking through Tracy DiSabato-Aust's (what a cool name) new book and now have a whole new list of plants for the garden! Most of these don't look like the kind I can get at the average garden center so I might have to do some investigatory work. Good thing it's November!
  • Dwarf Rocky Mountain Fir -- if I can find the right spot
  • Paperbark Maple -- as a possible replacement for diseased plum tree
  • Spiny Bear breeches
  • Purple Snakeroot
  • Blue False Indigo
  • 'Golden Heart' Bleeding Heart
  • 'Brilliance' autumn fern
  • Indian pink

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Fall clean up is done. We were blessed with unseasonably warm weather this weekend (usually we get our first snow), so we took advantage to finish up all the leaf raking, mulching, and composting.

I’ve definitely been absent this season, both in the garden and on my blog. It was a difficult one for my husband and I. We suffered two miscarriages (June & October) and that has really put a damper on my spirits, not to mention that while I was in early pregnancy I was hesitant to do any garden work. So spring cleanup was late this year, and we thought Fall cleanup would look the same … but lo and behold, beautiful weather. Just for us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Insects that keep company

I don't know what happened, I normally don't take a 2-month break! I'll be honest, I haven't been in the yard much the last month and a half. It's been COLD, rainy, motivation is next to nil, and I'm tired. Not tired of the garden! Just tired and my philosophy is ... it can wait for now!

I did take some photos of the creatures in my tiny backyard (the place to be apparently.)

This huge spider was right next to my head (I was examining a plant and had no idea it was there). This was the biggest spider I ever saw, but after I took this photo he packed up his belongings and left.
Another cool Orb spider suspended between our tree and the ground. He made this right next to our walk to the compost so we never disturbed him.

Is this a grasshopper? Anyway, he was lurching about in my variegated grass.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Random Garden things (from a while ago!)

We put up our 2nd rain barrel!

Does everything grow in my yard? I found this petunia growing between the stones in my back patio. Petunias re-seeding in Chicago? Say what?

Really, does everything grow in my yard? My mom got me a seed packet from the garden show. I threw them in my yard. She threw them in hers. I got plants. She got nothing. It's gotta be the dirt. Really it's not me. (The seeds I tried to grow the right way - i.e. in my egg cartons with lots of TLC - yielded nothing. Yet me throwing them in the yard ... plants. Go figure.)

New garden art! From my grandpa, he's so sweet. Even though he threatens to shear all my shrubs into meatballs, and he mows my grass during my birthday party because he thought it was too long, he knows I love my garden and my cats and he bought me this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rain Barrel water pumps?

Has anyone had any experience with water pumps for rain barrels?

We are now a 2-rain barrel household, having just installed the 2nd rain barrel on the other side of the garage.  Now the entire roof of the garage goes into a rain barrel (we have 3 separate roofs on our house).

This rain barrel was free; we found it behind my dad's shed, a place where things go to die. Where he got if from is anyone's guess; but then again, the man is a mystery. 

Now that we have these 2 barrels, I have decided that I am sick of carrying watering cans full of water all over my yard. I want to use the hose but there's not enough pressure.

Solution? A water pump.

I saw landscapers using pumps to water our Memorial Park in our downtown; they brought huge vats of water to the site on flat bed trucks and then they pumped the water as if it were a hose connected to a main line. I watched in awe.

I found some pumps on but it seems that if it says Rain Barrel Pump, the price is double. Is there another kind of pump that works as well? Sump Pump? Pool Pump?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Speaking of how things have grown ...

... in 2006 we were celebrating our 2nd year in the garden by adding these 4 hostas from Home Depot at the base of the Blue Spruce, in the front yard by the street.
This is what they look like now.
The poor chartreuse one is being squeezed out! Not to mention that the rest of the yard has exploded too. It's a serious jungle.

The Pagoda Dogwood: One Year

I planted the Pagoda Dogwood in my backyard last May. It was the first tree I ever planted. My how they grow up so fast.

August 2008

August 2009
Despite being chomped on by a tall bunny in the springtime ... and then being chomped on by bugs in June (bollweevils is what they look like to me), it's managed to remain alive and develop the horizontal shaping that these are known for.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

First tomato of the season

I have harvested my first heirloom tomato -- one extremely large Great White tomato.

The word harvested sounds funny when you have 2 large pots on the patio.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Foliage Fridays

A Study in Contrasts put up some photos of foliage and plant combinations where foliage really stands out.

I'm glad she did this, because as I grow as a gardener, one of the things I've been working on this summer is developing interesting combination. And with perennials, I find it great to move things around to see what works with what.

Here are my contributions to Foliage Fridays

This is in my southwest garden (part shade).
I got rid of a lot of ground cover and randomly threw in hostas, pulmonarias, and ferns, and some ajuga late last summer and they really took. They may need to get divided a little later this summer.

This is in the front by the street.

The goatsbeard was always there (but has grown), I added the pulmonaria last year and hosta 2 years ago.
I love the way this looks in a very shady area

This is the backyard fence garden - newly done 2 summers ago.
I just planted the dwarf oakleaf this summer and I love it with the purple leaves of the heuchera. Again, another very shady area that's getting a great dose of color.

The other side of the fence garden, gets little more sun.
I love the Jack Frost brunnera against all the green - and here I went for different texture foliage (ferns, astilbes, pulmonaria, hosta, and wild geranium)

Finally, another area of my southwest garden where I added an actual shrub
-- a dwarf blue spruce -- that mixes things up.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day July 2009

I have a lot more daylillies than I thought, also blooming are -- yarrow (white and pink), oakleaf hydrangea, comeflowers (regular and double stuff (as shown in photo), astilbes, and annabelle hydrangea.

Happy July!
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Friday, July 10, 2009

I hate the term "Water Feature"

A few weekends ago, my husband's body was invaded by a 48-hour foreign-like substance (extraterrestrial, perhaps) that feeds on labor activity - specifically of the outdoor kind. How else could I explain the fact that he spent the whole weekend in the yard, setting up the new water fountain, and cleaning out the garage? I think that foreign creature is all charged up now, I was sad to see him leave.

Ha ha!

The water fountain is officially installed and bubbling. However, what do you think looks better ...

rocks only around the fountain OR rocks trailing up

Monday, July 06, 2009

The 2009 Vegetable Garden: Heirloom Tomatoes

I haven't yet posted on what I have planted in my vegetable garden ... the vegetable garden being the 2 enormous pots that sit on my small utility patio in the only full 6+ hours of sun I get.

Last year I upgraded to 6 pots (2 very large, deep ones and 4 smaller ones) but I found it harder to get air circulating. And even though I got peppers in those smaller pots, I think they would have done better with more room.

So this year I went back to the 2 pots and I am only planting heirloom tomatoes. Why? Because I joined a CSA with my neighbor (we got our first crop last week!) so I'll be getting tons of vegetables. And because I've never grown one, nor have I ever eaten one. I figure they would be my next challenge.

I have 3 different varieties:
Where I buy tomato plants, for 1 small price you get 4 plants. With the heirlooms, that same price gets you 1 plant. So my odds have not been in my favor.

However, they are doing great! For my birthday last week the 2 tomato experts (dad & grandpa) were shocked at how large my plants were compared to their's. They couldn't believe I'd have such huge plants by the end of June. I told them it's because I love my plants more (ha ha).Great White

In addition to tomatoes, I also have rosemary, basil, and parsley.

Next year, after our house has *hopefully* been re-sided, I plan to convert this area to 2 long vegetable beds.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Garden Walk

Two weekends ago, I went on my first garden walk.

My mom and aunt, veteran "walkers" of all sorts -- garden walks, house walks, kitchen walks - came with me for my inaugural jaunt. They were impressed with my focus. My aunt said to me, "I thought you'd want to spend an hour in each garden, but you're quick."

My answer to that was, "If the owner was there to show me his/her plants and wanted to talk about them, then I could be there for days. But if they're not there, then I'm one focused chick. I take pictures, get inspiration, and move on."

Click here to see all the photos.
Garden Walk

All the gardens were so different, but there were three that I really loved. I am sure they had professional people involved, but it didn't "feel" like it. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Sometimes gardens look too stylized. These three had a more grown in feel, like even if it started as professional, the plants were left to naturalize, or in some cases the beds looked home-grown. That tends to be more my style.

My aunt, on the other hand, hated those gardens (her two favorites were my least favorite). It seems that gardens are like men ... there's something/someone for everyone.

Here are a few photos from my favorite gardens.

A lovely (small sized) pond.
I love how the terrain, the slop of the lot, and garden work hand in hand here.
And sometimes you gotta do ground cover.

This patio was my favorite, all the cut outs for small gardens.
And this tree just adds such a pretty place to rest under.

A total shade garden, they really did a lot with color and texture. I love the fern in the pot.

The same shade garden, pathways and hostas.

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - June

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I was a little late this month ... well, a little more than little. :-)

Clockwise from top left: Native geranium, Snow of summer (??), tall purple bearded iris, white peony, cranesbill geranium, masterwort, gerber yellow, gerber pink. Center: Daisy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden Surprises

I have not been doing much "gardening" this past month, and I had a personal set-back recently which makes me yearn to be in my garden all the more.

So imagine my joy when I saw three plants, that I planted last year, have bloomed for the 1st time. Just in time for a much needed pick-me-up.

I have never seen this plant before, but bought one at my native plant sale 2008 because it's shade loving. The only bad thing is that no one can see how lovely this plant is; I had to crouch down low to get this photo. (in the native garden front yard)

Another plant I bought new last year at the Arboretum Sale and seeing it in bloom makes my heart flutter. I am in love. (in the kitchen garden backyard)

White Peony
This was the plant I discovered 2 summers ago growing in my yard. My former neighbor told me that the former, former owners had a huge peony garden but that thy hadn't seen a plant in ages. Well, it appeared just for me and I moved it late summer 2007, but last summer 2008 had no blooms. This year it bloomed and it's white!! (by the front of house)
Wishing you all many garden surprises this summer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lilac Update

I just learned that a dwarf Korean lilac is also known as a Meyer's Lilac. That's a lot easier to type, and I still think dwarf is very misleading.

Anyway, they are in bloom and they are gorgeous. of course, the one I didn't prune is more gorgeous but the other one still has blooms. It just needs another year or two.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reseeding Columbines

Okay, I'm loving this collage feature- can you tell?

I know that Columbines are short-lived perennials that re-seed. That said, I've only planted one columbine in my yard and that is the photo on the top right -- Aquilegia canadensis, native colmbine. I planted this in 2006 (I'm not even sure if this is the original plant or a seedling?). But all the other ... they've just reseeded in my yard from wherever.

The 2 on the bottom (the pink and magenta ones with the more elongated petals) are on the side of the house by the rain barrel. Last year they were just clumps of petals, this year they have sprouted and are gorgeous!

The other purple ones are in the backyard and have some from the other side of the fence where they've been re-seeding from god knows where.

Again -- let's here it for FREE PLANTS!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: May 09

Who doesn't love May!? It's when the magic starts to happen. Thanks to Carol @ May Dreams Gardens, as always, for Blooms Day.

Some of these photos were taken before 5/15, but they bloomed between 4/15 & 5/15 so they deserve a tip of the hat.

Clockwise from top left:
  • Celandine Poppy (or wood poppy -- 4th year and re-seeding all over my native garden and beyond)
  • Virgina Bluebells -- in front yard garden
  • Jacob's Ladder -- 4th year and getting larger and full of blooms (they are starting to fade now)
  • Brunnera macrophylla "Looking glass" -- 2nd year and awesome looking.
  • Dicentra Luxeriant - the fringed bleeding heart. 4th year in front yard and still small, but still blooming
  • A robin taking a bath in the bird bath
  • A pink crabapple - technically not my tree but sits on my property line so I've adopted it.
  • White crabapple -- what I see when I look out the front door (see below)
  • Korean spice Viburnum
  • Dicentra formosa - the regular bleeding heart. The old owners left me 2 of them and they are enormous, flopping over from the weight of their hearts.

Not in photo:
  • tulips (see previous post), pulmonaria, hyacinths, jack-in-the-pulpit (I've got to get a photo posted of this, 1st year blooming and so cool!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Backyard Gardens: May 8th

I've still been taking photos and I think this will really help as the season moves on, and to plan for next year. I can already see beds where spring interest is lacking.

Porch Garden:
-- Sedum, pulmonaria (both darker and lighter foliage). A fern and hosta. The impatiens I planted here last year were nice filler as the grass grew bigger (the main focal point).

Fence Garden:-- Slow to emerge ... Out are the astilbes, brunnera, & pulmonaria. The hosta here is a slower emerging one. One of the heuchera's died. In the back I added the dwarf oakleaf hydrgangea from the Arboretum.
Hydrangea Quercifolia ‘Little Honey

brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass' (Year 2)

Southwest Garden:-- Groundcover of lamium, daylillies, pulmonaria, virginia bluebells, tulips, phlox. Astilbes and hostas in the back hang our with the baby Pagoda Dogwood.
Cornus alternifolia ‘WStackman' (Pagoda Dogwood - Year 2)

Triangle Garden:
-- The ajuga is in full bloom.

West Side:
-- The 1st half looks great -- pulmonaria, hostas, lilly of the valley battling with vinca, some daylillies, coral bells, irises, and tulips. Here I also planted my new double stuff echinicea.
--The 2nd half - by the newly planted korean lilac - has to get a makeover.