Tag: Gardening in Wisconsin

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.

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.

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!

Wordless Wednesday: Making Progress or Futile Effort

Hey, I *could* have a flock of pink flamingos….

Originally I was going to do a post titled “Reduce, reuse, recycle” featuring this planter created from more or less “found” elements…. coupled with details on how I re-use last year’s potting soil with a bit of a mad scientist approach involving fresh potting soil, compost, organic fertilizer, alfalfa pellets and some really grubby, dirty hands. Or how I use the styrofoam packing peanuts to fill the bottom of planters.

Sure, I used an old golf cart found in my parent’s garage, and a very old golf bag. And I do mix up my own potting soil. And, I did save and use the packing peanuts – usually checking to make sure they are styrofoam, rather than corn starch which melts with water, to fill the bottom of large containers

But then, when I posted a picture on facebook of my finished product, my brother commented, “what will the neighbors think”. You see, I live in an established, somewhat conservative, upper middle class suburb of Milwaukee. We did what I think was a brilliant thing – buying the least expensive house in the best neighborhood possible. What we didn’t do was the expected tear down/rebuild or massive remodel/new addition. Instead we are tackling tiny project after tiny project ourselves.  The result of which has been comments from our neighbor that our purchase price is “bringing the neighborhood property values down”, or in seeing we were doing landscaping ourselves comments about hiring a professional.

So maybe my neighbor won’t like my golf bag planter. But I sure do! We got the original idea back in 2004 when we attended the PGA Championship at Kohler. There on the streets of Manitowoc, WI was this planter….

Ever since, we’d said we’d have a golf planter. Finally made that a reality. My version:

I think it’ll get better as it fills out and grows. Oh the plants – in the top: Phormium ‘Jester’, Cuphea cyanea ‘Caribbean Sunset’, Cascade Centradenia, and ‘Aloha Red’ calibrachoa. Lower front pocket (with ball) Sanvitalia ‘Sunbini’, back pocket, sorry, lost the tag, maybe a santolina?

In other ghetto gardening news. A couple of weeks ago I saw these great painted trellises and tomato hoops at a local garden center. 
 
LOVED them, but not the cost. Instead I bought 12 tomato hoops from Menards and four cans of paint. For the cost of two of the garden center versions, I have a dozen. Set up a little spray paint assembly line of one of our bare spots, and went to town.

Have three each purple, blue, yellow and green to add to my driveway container vegetable garden.


I think they will be quite cool. 
And if the neighbor has a problem with these, I guess I could remind him it could be worse….I could follow the example of this homeowner I saw on today’s Ride for the Arts.

Wait until next year when I finally get my bottle tree…………
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