Favorite photos of 2010

I thought I'd finish off the year with a look at some of my favorite photos from 2010. Since I took a lot of photos this past year -- over 6000! -- I knew I'd need some rules when choosing or else I'd end up with 100 photos in this post. So I made two rules: 1) the photo must be related to the garden  2) I had to choose exactly two photos from each month.

It was pretty difficult to find two good photos from January and February (before I started this blog), and it was even harder to pick only two images from May, June, July and a couple of other months, but I stuck to it. Most of these photos have appeared in the blog, but some may have not.

Edit: I missed a month and had some mislabeled -- fixed now.


Bamboo likes some snow, but not too much

I've said it before that bamboo in the snow is extra-beautiful. The problem comes when you get too much snow, or the wrong kind of snow. Heavy snow that sticks to the bamboo and weighs it down, bending it over -- that's the wrong kind of snow.

It's not so pretty then, and is actually a bit distressing the first time it happens.


Snow make pretty

Like much of the country, we got some snow here in St. Louis this past weekend, on Christmas Eve actually. Although we didn't get the city-closing totals that the East Coast did, we got a decent 4 inches, which is a nice amount. It covers everything and makes things look completely different, sort of sugar-coated.

It also does some unexpected things, like revealing where the ground is warmer.



For the past couple of days this hawk has been visiting my yard. I'm pretty sure it's a red-shouldered hawk, unless there is another hawk species that looks very similar.

Perhaps all of the grasses and bamboos that are currently covered in snow make my garden appear to be the perfect winter hunting location, with lots of hiding spots for rabbits and other delicious morsels for a ravenous raptor.


A pretty calm year: 2009

As I reviewed the photos I took from 2009 (the last year before I started this blog), I realized that it was a pretty calm year in the garden. No construction projects, no trees to plant, no new planting beds to prepare (well, just one). Just a nice year of watching things get larger.

The year started out with one of the favorite photos of bamboo I've taken to date. This is the bamboo I put in the raised bed just four months or so earlier.


A storm and more bamboo: 2008 part 2

In the history of my yard's transformation into a garden, I stopped at late summer 2008, hinting about a storm. On September 14, the storm that was the remnants of Hurricane Ike moved over St. Louis and hit my garden pretty hard.

I'll start today by taking a look at what exactly happened.


Bamboo in snow: Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve in St. Louis and it started to snow. As I've said before, I think snow and bamboo go great together, so I've snapped a few photos.

If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a happy and safe holiday!


Let's add some bamboo: 2008

After the projects of 2006 that gave my garden "purpose" and the excitement of 2007 in buying lots of new plants to fill in around the patio, the spring of 2008 was eagerly awaited. I bought more plants and did a few little projects that I barely documented with photos. But if I had to summarize 2008 with a single word, it would be "bamboo".

Even though I had bought a couple of small clumping bamboos in 2006, for some reason I awoke from my winter gardening slumber this year and thought "I'll give big bamboo a try".


A year of not building anything: 2007

After the huge projects of 2006, 2007 was relatively quiet. I didn't need to excavate any giant holes, move any rocks or build any structures. There was some digging involved though, because I planted a few more trees and prepared a few new planting beds.

This is one of the trees that was planted in the front yard. It's 'Shaina' Japanese Maple, and I really love this tree -- it made such a bold statement here between the house and the driveway.


Finishing up 2006

Today I finish up 2006 (in the history of my garden) with three projects and lots of photos. I've already talked about clearing the space by having trees removed, then building the patio. The first project I'll talk about today is the main staircase to the patio.

This one was tough to design, since I had never really designed a stairway before, and it's important that it's easy to use without feeling awkward. The last thing I wanted was to make the trip down to my nice new patio scary or dangerous. So I did a lot of planning.


The patio takes shape: 2006

If you've been following along the last few days as I chronicle the changes in my yard over the past few years, you'll know that we've just had (in 2006) all of the remaining locust trees removed from our yard, leaving a pretty uninteresting space with no vertical elements. You saw how I laid out my garden hose to designate an area that would be turned into "something", but I wasn't sure what yet. That was in March 2006. For the next few weeks I thought about it and planned, and also bought several large plants and small trees. This was the first time I had ever purchased trees, and it was exciting!

After much research and several visits to local nurseries, some of which I had never been to before, I bought three different Japanese maples, a couple of clumping bamboos (my first bamboos) and other small trees.


Clearing the slate: 2006 part 1

In the history of how my yard became a garden, we're up to what is probably the most dramatic year in terms of changes: 2006. I was going to write that it was the "most important year", but I don't thing that's really true. It's certainly important, but every year that I built a box or put a substantial plant into the ground was important as everything that came after it was based on it.

Definitely 2006 had some major changes. It started minimally enough with the removal of the concrete slabs underneath the deck. Besides some time with a rented jackhammer and hauling chunks of concrete around the yard this was pretty painless and mindless.


A little bit more: 2004-2005

Continuing today with the history of how my yard became a garden, I'll look at a couple of relatively quiet years: 2004 and 2005. There were a couple of smaller building projects these years, but mainly more planting and letting existing plants fill in.

There was also more experimenting with different types of plants -- mainly flowering ones.


The garden fills in a little: 2003

As you saw in yesterday's post, 2002 was the year of the box -- there was a lot of building before any planting happend. 2003 had very little building, some planting, and just watching the existing plants fill in.

Some of these plants are long gone. Some of them (the echinacea and heuchera for instance) are still around, and still going strong today.


Becoming a garden: 2002

Since posting the old yard photos I found yesterday, I've located several more "historical" garden photos. After looking them over, I've decided to dedicate a couple of posts to them, showing how my yard evolved into what it is today. I thought it would be good to document, especially since the garden is continually evolving even today (or will be once spring rolls around).

Yesterday's post looked at 1990, 2000, and then jumped to 2003, but let's ignore those 2003 photos and examine 2002 today.


Before it was a garden

Even though the temperatures have warmed up a little bit and are staying around the freezing mark, for some reason I'm feeling exceptionally cold tonight. So I thought I'd take a look through my photo archives and find some photos from this past summer that would warm me up a bit.

Instead I found all of the old photos of my yard, before it was a garden.


Grass divisions update

Ten days ago I took some small divisions of a purple fountain grass, potted them up, and moved them into the basement under lights. It's time for the first update on their progress.

As you can see, much green has appeared. Green is good. I was pretty sure the divisions would do fine, but until I see the first growth emerging I'm never completely sure.


We are freezing, aren't we?

Whenever the temperatures really dip during winter, I always marvel at the birds. It's a wonder to me that their tiny bodies don't freeze, and they appear to be relatively unaffected by the cold. Or are they?

They do look a little chilly, with their feathers fluffed out (to capture air which provides more insulation), but they're not shivering, nor are they moving about stiffly, stamping their feet, or doing anything else that we mammals tend to do when exposed to frigid air.


Snowy, windy, cold

Much of the Midwest got hit with some nasty winter weather this weekend, and although we didn't have a blizzard here in the St. Louis area, we did get a few inches of snow. It's also quite blustery, and very cold. Our low tonight is expected to be around 2ºF (our normal low for this time of year is about 25ºF).

What did I decide to photograph to represent this winter storminess? Whatever I could see through the window, because I was not going outside with the camera today. I also took a couple of shots of the windows themselves -- there was some interesting snow sticking to some of them.



Most people live where there are seasonal changes. The days get longer or shorter at different times of the year. The temperature changes. The weather patterns change. It may become more overcast for longer periods of time, or it may remain cloudless for months. These changes affect our lives in many ways.

This is especially true when you live and garden in cold climates.


Frosty magical morning

This morning was a frosty one. It wasn't particularly cold -- right around freezing -- but it looked cold from inside the house. So despite the sun I almost didn't go outside with the camera.

What convinced me to start snapping photos was the way the sunlit frost looked on some of my freshest mulch. Once I got out there and got going with the camera, I couldn't stop.


Plastic pants for plants

This past weekend I took care of most of my large potted bamboos by laying them down and covering them with plastic sheeting. (Okay, the plastic is more of a blanket than "pants", but "pants" worked so well in the title and almost made sense, so I left it.) It got too dark to take final photos at that time, but here they are now.

We've had some cold nights since then, with temperatures around 15ºF on a few nights, and the protection seems to be working.


Forgotten, the second

The other day I wrote about my forgotten and frozen jasmine. At the same time I noticed the jasmine was still outside, I turned to the right and noticed that I had a large potted bamboo still unprotected:

I was supposed to have included this plant with the other bamboos that I laid down on the ground and covered over with plastic, but somehow I completely forgot it -- even though I look at it every day as I go into the garage.


Not forgotten

Yesterday I wrote about a plant I had forgotten about and left exposed to some freezing temperatures. I'm happy to say that I did not forget about today's plant, which is one of my favorites but is only marginally hardy in my climate:

It's a cardoon, and if I don't give it some protection it most likely won't survive the winter. Let's look at how I decided to protect it this year.


Forgotten, the first

In all of my recent preparations for the arriving cold weather -- moving plants into the greenhouse and garage, covering plants with plastic, saving divisions and cuttings -- I've somehow managed to forget a couple of plants. Yesterday I looked up at the deck stairs as I walked past and among the pots of now-dead annuals this one jumped out as if it were spotlighted:

My jasmine! It's definitely not cold-hardy, and I thought it was unable to take temperatures below freezing.


Mulching the bamboos

Yesterday after I mulched the horizontal potted bamboos, I mulched several of my in-ground bamboos too. I've been mulching all of them with layers of compost throughout the year, but some of the newly-planted ones haven't had any real mulching yet, or needed a bit more.

Besides providing more protection for the roots and rhizomes, the shredded hardwood mulch really makes the bamboo look great I think.


Protecting the large potted bamboos

An alternate title for this post could be "how to greatly underestimate the time and effort a job will take when it's only 35ºF and windy". My goal was to get my large potted bamboos ready for winter, and although I had a plan ready before I got started, it ended up taking me most of the day.

With temperatures expected to get down into the upper teens (F) Sunday night, I knew I had to get these plants taken care of this weekend, and better to jump into the task today in case something goes wrong and I need more time.


Overwintering purple fountain grass

I love ornamental grasses, and one of my favorites is purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'). I think I had six plantings of this last year, and this year I want to have more. The trouble is, this grass is not cold-hardy enough to survive our winters.

Fortunately I've discovered that it's not too hard to overwinter under lights, so each fall I take small divisions, pot them up, and bring them inside.


Whoa deer!

Deer in my yard is not an uncommon occurrence. I've written about the deer that come through daily, nibbling bamboo and other plants. I've talked about the less-than-healthy deer too. So seeing deer in the yard is not a big deal anymore. Seeing an adult male deer though, that's something quite uncommon and exciting.

About a month ago I was able to capture this young guy on video. Not the largest deer you'll ever see, but not bad for a suburban yard I'd say.


Frost Flowers, another day

The other morning I posted about frost flowers, delicate ice structures that are produced by certain types of plants under certain freezing conditions. In that post I questioned the conditions under which these glacial garden blossoms formed.

I've gotten some more data (there are new frost flowers in my yard), so I'm taking another look.


Green onions

I've written before about how I hate throwing away plants. I may have way too many tomato seedlings than I can plant, or more potted bamboos than I know what to do with, but I feel like I owe it to the plant to give it a chance. Sometimes that even means saving plants that you don't even really think of as plants.

Take for instance these green onions. You can buy a handful at any grocery store for about 50 cents. In our house we use these on any mexican food we make (nachos and burritos mainly), in miso soup, and they're a key ingredient in some of our own concoctions.


Hopefully helping houseplants

As much time and energy I spend on my outdoor plants, I've never been great with houseplants. I'm just not a houseplant guy. I have plenty of houseplants, and I enjoy them, but I certainly do not baby them. I like houseplants that can take some abuse -- you know, the kind that only need water once a week, and won't suffer too much if you skip a week.

This small palm was doing fine near one of the windows until the cats decided it looked enough like a bamboo and started chewing on the leaves. So I ended up moving it to the basement under my lights. Then spring arrived and I pretty much forgot about it for months.


Frost Flowers

This morning I headed outside with the camera, as I was heading over to the community mulch pile to pick up a load of mulch. It was a frosty morning, a degree or two below freezing. I only walked out of the garage for a moment, but something caught my eye -- an interesting flash of white:

I wasn't expecting it, but some of the scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea) plants that I grow as an annual throughout my yard had produced frost flowers!



The other morning when I was digging up the sea creature that was the Elephant Ears roots I had to pick up (again) a large potted bamboo that was laying on the ground. It's a division from an established plant and has some tall, large culms on it. This makes it somewhat top-heavy and although it's in one of the largest pots I have and I have anchored it with some boards, it still falls over whenever it gets breezy.

When I picked it up, I noticed some beautiful condensation on the culms.


Snow-dusted bamboo

I mentioned that Thanksgiving morning when I was moving my potted bamboos into the greenhouse it was raining. It started out dry, then started sprinkling, and by the time I was finished it was coming down in a steady shower. As the temperature kept falling, the rain turned to sleet, then quickly to a heavy snow of big, wet clumps of flakes.

Phyllostachys bissetii

Luckily that was already after I was inside, but when it stopped snowing and I went outside to get some firewood, I realized that I had to snap some photos. The first snowfall of the year won't be around very long.


Filling the greenhouse

When you put off a task until the last possible moment, you're stuck doing it under whatever conditions exist, whether they are ideal or not. This is especially true with outdoor projects, and as it turns out, most gardening projects occur outside -- at least until we all start living in domed cities with moving sidewalks and flying cars. I've known that a hard freeze was coming, and I assembled the greenhouse over the weekend when the weather was perfect for that sort of work.

Yesterday morning I filled the greenhouse with my potted bamboos. The weather was definitely not perfect for this task.


Cuttings take root

A few weeks ago I took some cuttings of tender plants that wouldn't survive our early hard freeze, then put them into water to root. Two of the three plants I was certain would root, but the third I wasn't sure about.

I'm glad to say that all of them are now well-rooted, so let's take a look.


Preparing the tropicals

We've got some cold air arriving in St. Louis in a couple of days -- it's probably what the northwest portion of the country is getting right now -- so I've got to get moving and get my tropicals stored. I've already setup my greenhouse that will protect my smaller bamboos, but it's unheated and won't do anything to protect the bananas, Elephant Ears, and other tropical or non-hardy plants I'm growing.

My timing isn't the best, since I should have done this a couple of days ago when the pots were all bone-dry, but yesterday a line of storms came through and dumped rain. It was quite a storm with strong, gusty winds, but it was pretty brief. I'm glad to say that the greenhouse came through unscathed, so I'm not going to have to worry about it at all this year.


A cat of many faces

We have two stray cats that hang out around our garden these days. Both of them are extremely people-shy and won't let me get within 10 feet of them, even though they see me bringing them food all the time. They mostly hide in the bamboo and under the ornamental grasses, watching, and keeping a lookout for each other -- they do not get along.

This guy is Toe White. He's most likely the father of Super-Whitey's kittens. He may be owned by somebody in the neighborhood because I don't see him every day. Maybe he's got a wide "range" to patrol and it keeps him away for a few days a week. I don't know.


Putting up the greenhouse

As I was deciding which chores to do around the yard or house this weekend (clean garage, clean basement, pull vines, paint bookcase were all strong contenders) I took a look at the weather for the week. Good thing I did, because later this week it's going to get cold: 21ºF or so a couple of nights in a row.

That fact immediately moved a lower-ranked task to the top of the list: put up my temporary greenhouse. The greenhouse is where most of my smaller potted bamboos will spend the winter -- maybe I'll put a few other plants in there too if there is room.


The prettiest compost pile ingredients

We save kitchen scraps for our compost pile. I know that technically the peels, eggshells, and other degradable waste really doesn't make any difference -- how much difference does a banana peel really make in a compost pile that's already 6 feet in diameter and just had a few tarp loads of leaves dumped on it? Still, we collect the scraps in a bucket under the sink, then dump the bucket when it's full.

Sometimes it fills up faster than others, for instance if we have a lot of potatoes to peel -- but it typically fills slowly. Recently though our kitchen scrap production has gone through the roof. My wife has been bringing home the scraps from her baking classes! She usually announces it with an energetic "I've brought you a present!" when she walks in the door -- dozens and dozens of crushed eggshells, buckets of fruit peels -- typically in larger quantities than we could ever generate ourselves.


Fallen leaves meet rake

Do you have large trees in your yard? Do you have a large number of not-so-large trees? Does your house sit in the middle of what may be considered by many to be a forest? Do you live in a temperate (not tropical) climate? Then you're familiar with this scene at this time of year (unless you live in the southern hemisphere, in which case you have 5-6 months before you see it again):

I don't live in a forest, nor do I have 100-year-old oaks or other huge trees towering over my yard, but even a medium-sized tree can drop a lot of leaves. I usually wait until all of the leaves have fallen, then start my cleanup -- unlike some of my neighbors who started picking up leaves a month ago. Here's how I make this oft-maligned task a bit easier on myself.


Bamboo surprise: excited or not?

It's no secret that I love bamboo -- just take a look at the tags listing on the right side of this page and you'll see that the "bamboo" tag is by far the most-used. Why do I love growing bamboo so much? I can't say definitively, but besides its look and its vigor, the one thing that makes it such an exciting plant is its unpredictability.

Its explosive growth above ground is easily seen, but under the soil -- at least in the case of running bamboos that spread via rhizomes -- you don't know exactly what's going on. You know it's doing something, and is probably growing several rhizomes, but unless you dig around you're not going to have any indication of the plant's spread until the spring when it produces shoots.


Some color lingers

We had another freeze the other night, but amazingly some flowers have survived, and the autumn colors are lingering, giving me a little final taste of what the garden was this year.

Soon I may need to refer to this blog as "browns and bamboo", but for now there are still some other colors.


Pulling down more vines

This is the time of year when I realize just how many different annual vines I had growing in my garden. Toward the end of the growing season they've become an integral part of the garden but really go unnoticed -- the deck railing is supposed to have the hyacinth bean vine on it, the triangle pergola is supposed to be a wall of feathery cypress vines. I just don't think about them too much.

Once the first freeze hits and they all die though, it's a different story. Overnight they've become towering masses of brown, making the garden seem sadder, and reminding me that I need to do some cleanup. Lots of cleanup.


Bamboo shoots, tiny style

About six weeks ago I dismantled a wooden raised bed and removed the bamboo that was growing in it. (The timelapse video is pretty cool if you haven't seen it yet.) I gave away a few large divisions from this plant, but the rest I potted up.

For some reason some bamboo species (in this case Phyllostachys aureosulcata, or "Yellow Groove" bamboo) that are dug in summer or early fall will send up shoots.


Mites on bamboo, or bamboo mites?

If you grow houseplants, chances are you've seen the plant pest called "mites" at one time or another. Mites are tiny sucking insects that mainly live on the undersides of leaves, feeding on the juices of the plant. Unless there's a very heavy infestation, they typically don't cause too much harm, but their feeding results in light "speckles" or "spots" on the leaves from where they've removed the chlorophyll. Many species also create webs on the plants, which is why they are often called "spider mites".

For temperate bamboo growers, mites are one of the most troublesome pests. Although bamboo can host "regular" spider mites, there are certain species of mites that attack mainly bamboo (and closely related) plants: these are called "bamboo mites".


Sunrise, two-for-one

A couple of mornings ago I was awakened by hungry cats, and upon making my way to the kitchen I noticed a strong glow from the east: a particularly nice sunrise!

So I grabbed the camera and took a few shots.


Woolly Bear Caterpillar

The other day when I was restacking some logs on my woodpile to make room for some more freshly-split maple, I found this hibernating caterpillar:

Depending on where you grew up, you may immediately recognize this as a "Woolly Bear" caterpillar. You may also have heard the folklore that you can predict the severity of the coming winter based on the amount of black "fur".


More fall color - wow!

As the leaves of the deciduous plants around me lose their chlorophyll and develop anthocyanin pigments, we're treated to a few days or weeks of brilliant color displays. (Or maybe just dull browns, depending on the tree.)

This Japanese barberry jumped out at me yesterday while I was testing my newest vintage camera lens, and its colors really amazed me. I don't remember this plant looking so spectacular last year, or even just a few days ago. Is it the warm, dry weather we've had after the hard freeze last week? I don't know, but I like it!


  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP