Tag: garden

July Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

If nothing else, this monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom day project is showing me that I may have gone too far across the spectrum from “it’s all about the flowers” to “just worry about structure and foliage”. This garden doesn’t have a lot going from a flowering perspective. I’d blame it on the shade – but know I can have shade and flowers.

The lightpost bed is still the most colorful area of the garden. Huechera and Corydalis lutea are blooming, the barrel has filled in. Even the grass is adding some “flowers”. Over in the walnut bed, only things in bloom are the corydalis, and a small little hosta. That in this diminuitive form the flowers are kinda charming.

The blue/yellow container group by the driveway farm is beginning to fill in and look nice. And the driveway farm itself is rocking. The warm even hot days we’ve had the last couple of weeks have kicked the tomatoes into gear. Tons of flowers, and the beginnings of fruit.

In the front bed, there’s a few things in bloom. A perennial geranium, a foxglove lutea, an allium. But on closer inspection, things are in a bit of disruption. Plants knocked sideways, broken off, a covering of sawdust everywhere, piles of cut up logs.

All because when we got home from vacation Tuesday, we arrived to discover a tree on our roof. Well, not a whole tree, but a very large branch – which had taken out the smaller branch I was worried about overhanging the house. Honestly, the giant branch wasn’t even on my danger, danger radar screen. However, Monday morning’s storms, yanked it down. While coming home to it was a shock, I am glad we weren’t here when it happened. Kiddo is already wary of storms. The sound of this hitting the roof might have scarred us all for life. 
The large branch was from a crotch high in the tree. Diameter of a medium sized tree (that dainty looking foot is a size 10.5). Crushed a bit of the corner of house. Currently navigating the insurance/contractor jungle. But on the bright side, the tree canopy is opened up, I have slightly less shade, and no more branches overhang the house! And, most importantly, no one was hurt.

A bit of a slow start…..

The cool, wet spring (probably better described as long wet winter) combined with a significant amount of both work and personal travel has put me a bit behind on gardening. Did a bit of work a couple weeks ago, and this past weekend finally got out and got dirty – setting back up the driveway farm.

My yard and garden are heavily shaded with only a small area offering enough sun to successfully grow food. And that small spot is centered around and on my driveway. Last year I started experimenting with growing herbs and veggies in pots along the driveway edge. This experiment was mostly successful and has created what I call my driveway farm.

This year I’m focusing mainly on heirloom tomatoes and herbs with a pepper or two thrown into the mix. I started the day with last year’s pots filled with last year’s dirt and more than a few volunteer weeds. I look like a bit of a mad scientist as I rejuvenate the soil in the containers. Mixing in a bit of new potting mix, compost, fertilizer and my secret ingredient of alfalfa pellets.
I use the largest pots I have for the tomatos, filling between them with the smaller herb pots. I’ll be sticking in nasturium and other small plants such parsley at the base of the tomatoes. Also need to rig up some kind of automatic drip irrigation system, but all and all good progress on the farm.
 The area I think of as the lampost bed is filling in nicely. Planted the barrel with annuals a couple weeks ago, but it really is the perennials stealing the show – and proving the value of foliage for color in a garden. Love the brightess of the yellow foliage in this shaded yard.
 On the other hand, the bed under the walnut tree is not quite as successful. Several of the pernenials did not return. Some corners of the bed are fine, other a bit bare. Still experimenting here on what will grow successfully beneath a walnut.
As I worked  and took pictures around the garden, I realized that last year I kinda lost steam on updating garden progress on this blog. I think the last phot I did of the front beds looks something like this:
Nothing but spray painted bed lines on both sides of the front walk. Readers digest version: We tilled it up, I planted in a variety of shade and part sun plants, sticking to a green/white/burgundy color scheme, relying on foliage color more than flowers, and finally used stones from other areas of the yard to create an edging. If I can say so myself, it has all turned out quite well.
This spring we added the bottle tree, and bottle bug earlier this year. I lost few if any of the perennials over the winter. Most of all, I am thrilled with the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (aka red leaved redbudtree). One of my favorite small trees. I find the deep color of the young leaves enchanting. Cannot imagine a garden without this tree.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May

 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is the 15th of each month. The idea is to chronicle the progression of our garden’s through the seasons by taking pictures and creating a blog post on the 15th. This month I was halfway there. I got the pictures taken…but getting this post up, well, better late than never, right???


This long, cool, seemingly never ending spring (late winter???) has highlighted how badly my garden needs spring flowering bulbs. That will be an initiative of mine this fall. In the actual cultivated parts of the garden, there’s little in bloom. The garden is just waking up, beginning to kick into gear. The spring renewal of the garden provides a little treasure hunt for me as I wander. Reminding me of the plants I’ve added, remembering their origins.


The Amelanchier ‘Princess Diana’ purchased 4 years ago from the Missouri Botainc Garden plant sale as a tiny rooted cutting. Grown for 3 years in a pot, moved from house to house, and now in ground, taking shape as a small tree  in this garden.

The Corydalis lutea, a division from my Mother’s garden – but a plant I’d given her as a division from a plant sent to me 15 years ago by a woman I met on the CompuServe Garden Forum.
A small pulmonaria, a division sent me last year from another great gardener and friend, a friendship which also bloomed on the CompuServe forum
And some of the typical spring bloomers, vinca, bleeding heart, ajuga.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has my back, and is providing some glorious woodland natives. Throughout my woods, clusters of Arisaema triphyllum(Jack-in-the-Pulpit) pictured at the top of this post. Masses of trillium.

However, within this all lurks a bit of evil. Masses and masses of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a noxious weed, introduced from Europe and threatening native plants throughout the Midwest. And I do mean masses. In clusters together, between the other plants, Best controlled by pulling, which when at flowering height is easy. However, lurking below millions and millions of tiny seedlings. I’ve read a single plant can produce 50,000 seeds, seeds that remain viable in the soil for 6 years. Garlic Mustard plants are alleopathic producing chemicals in the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants.

And so I pull…..and pull and pull. At times frustrated by the sheer numbers. Knowing I will have to remain vigilant all summer as additional plants reach flowering maturity. But also knowing that if I prevent the creation of new seeds, I’ll eventually get ahead of this scourge – at least in my small patch. And that with each plant I pull, I’m handing just a bit of the edge back to Mother Nature, and the plants she put in this space.

A Tale of Two Cities’ Garden Shows

Early spring…..the time when gardeners in the upper-Midwest start itching for some greenery. It’s the beginnings of seed starting season, but still several long weeks from outdoor planting time.

So what’s a gardener to do? Visit a garden show or two. Which is exactly what I did. First up the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, held March 10-18th at Navy Pier. This one had an added bonus for me of a tweet-up with other Chicago area garden bloggers. A couple of weeks later closer to home, Hubby, Kiddo and I attended the Milwaukee Realtors Home and Garden Show, held March 25 – April 3rd at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds.

The theme for the Chicago Flower and Garden Show was “Sport of Gardening”. The display gardens all had some kind of sport theme, from the obvious such as giant croquet mallet and balls (made out of beautiful white orchids), backyard putting greens, and sailboats. Or the less obvious “sport” of backyard entertaining and chicken keeping. Even the decorated tablescapes/floral arrangements had a sports theme.

Best of all the sport’s themes, the over the top but fascinating Blackhawks garden

 The display garden where I spent the most time was the garden featuring stone sculpture’s and plants (mainly woodies, both deciduous and evergreen) from Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock, IL. While we were visiting, the artist was actively working on a new piece. Watching him hand carve the stone was fascinating – as were the mainly examples of his craft woven throughout the garden.

 But, of course, it was the plants that drew me in. Can’t wait to get down to Woodstock and check out this nursery located 65 miles southwest of me, 35 miles due west of my Mom, I have no excuse not to go. Based on the specimens in the garden (which were very nicely marked), this is a must see place for me.

Spring garden shows can get ideas flowing for projects large and small. Unfortunately, as one of the garden bloggers commented, more and more these shows are about selling bricks, pavers, and other hardscape. The Milwaukee show made no bones about it with both the sponsorship of the “Garden of the World” theme by Uniloc, a manufactured block and paver company, and the outdoor bedroom display when you first walked in the door.
Like the Chicago show, the Milwaukee show’s display gardens included lots of focus on outdoor entertaining, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and water features.
My favorite garden at the Milwaukee show was the one that highlighted a bit more green practices. Beekeeping, green roofs, rain barrels…
Both shows had water features created by drilling holes through rocks. The Chicago show even had a vendor selling kits of pre-drilled rocks to make your own at home fountain. I love this technique for fountain building, first seeing it in the Better Homes & Gardens display gardens in downtown Des Moines back in 2003 or 2004. Trend setters that we are, Hubby & I built one at our last garden. Here’s the ones from the garden shows:
And mine from 2006, in situ:
Each show also had a market area. The Chicago one a bit smaller than the Milwaukee one – which to be fair was a *home* and garden show. From Chicago I brought home seeds and a few bulbs. Milwaukee’s catch was much more fun. I’ve always wanted a bottle tree. There was a vendor with iron bottle tree forms, plus other iron garden scupture. Couldn’t resist the bottle bug to go along with the bottle tree. Now to find them a home…..

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – January

One of my goals in 2011 is to up the amount of garden related content on this garden blog gone astray. I know I’ll never have a one topic blog. My life, my way of thinking just isn’t like that. Which for me is good. Hopefully, for the folks who check in from time to time, it’s good for them too.

Last year I noticed several of the garden blogs I follow doing a monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post.  On the 15th of the month, bloggers share pictures of blooms around their garden. Seems like it would make a great chronicle of the year. This year I plan on adding my name to the list and participating. Of course, it’s January in Wisconsin. Not much actively growing outside, let alone blooming. Will have to stick with the indoors for now.

And unfortunately, I’m not much of an indoor gardener. So slim pickings.

Thankfully, kiddo had given me an orchid for Christmas. Intended for my new office with its wonderful bank of east facing windows. I hadn’t brought it into the office yet. An obvious place to start when hunting for blooms.

Next I checked the Christmas cactus I’d been handed down from my Grandma. About a month late to see it in its glory. A single bloom and the remnants of two others were all that remained.
Lastly I checked what I call Martha’s begonia. Ordered from Logee’s several years ago after Martha Stewart had done a show on growing begonias. And I’d been drawn in by the black leaves. Sure enough a couple of blooms.
And that’s it. Looks like I may have to add a few more indoor bloomers….it’s gonna be awhile before I’ll have any outside!
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