Early morning visitors

Early morning is my favorite time in the garden. It's quiet, dewey, and it's when you'll see some things that you probably won't get to see the rest of the day. The other morning was no exception.

Like many other suburban gardeners, deer are frequent uninvited visitors to our yards. I was going to write "unwelcome visitors", but I don't think that's really true, at least in my case. I like seeing the deer around.


Termites! (don't panic)

So the other day when I was scrambling around trying to find more potting mix to use when potting up bamboo divisions, I emptied out a container which had been sitting around since last Summer when the Rhubarb that was in it went dormant (and then I guess died). Breaking the potting mix up, what did I see?

Termites! Ack! Termites! Well, that was my first reaction.


Something to like, something not to like

I've been focusing so much lately on weeds, and cleanup, and the rainy weather, that it's important to realize that there are things that I really like about my garden. Enjoyable things. Beautiful, interesting things.

For instance, this spot next to the patio. I put these Heuchera in these pots "temporarily" three or four years ago. I've never repotted them or moved them. I do water them when it's hot, and fertilize them once in a while, but for the most part I leave them alone.


Wild seedlings

I don't know about your garden, but I've got seedlings everywhere! Not just weeds either -- I've got plenty of seedlings from desirable plants. Plants that I probably want to save, perhaps to transplant, or maybe to leave where they are.  It's important to recognize the plants you want to keep while they're small, otherwise you'll end up yanking them out with all of the weeds. Sometimes it's simple, like when you're growing in pots, as is the case with this red plains coreopsis:


Trying to get comfortable

It's been a few days, so let's check in on Super-whitey's kittens.

They're moving around a lot more now, and they each have one eye open. They still sleep most of the time, but it seems to take them a while to get settled.


Digging, potting, and untangling bamboo rhizomes

The other evening I made another trip to Michael's garden to dig some more bamboo. As a reminder Michael has been growing a dozen or so varieties of bamboo in his garden for over 20 years, so has a wealth of experience with growing bamboo and keeping it controlled.

That's the plant we dug from. He wants to move it to the left a bit, so we took some off the right edge and he'll just let it spread to the left over time. We're not sure of the ID of this bamboo, but it seems like a Pseudosasa, most likely Pseudosasa japonica -- commonly known as "Arrow Bamboo".


What do you do when it rains?

We've finally had a few days in a row of decent, soaking rains (after three weeks or more of warm and dry) so that's great for the plants! The problem is it's Saturday and I'm eager to spend some time in the yard. What can do you when the ground is muddy and everything is wet?

Take photos? Yes of course, since overcast days provide better lighting than harsh sunlight in many cases, but that's not the answer I'm looking for.


Do a little planting

I decided to plant something at lunchtime today. I've been overwintering Tradescantia zebrina cuttings inside, and from two cuttings I've produced dozens of plants. They're taking over my plant table in the basement, so time to get some outside!

That's what they look like after Winter. A plant doesn't get much deader than that.


Prepare for the onslaught!

It's the time of the year when some of the trees in my yard unleash their attack. I'm talking about Silver Maples, and their fascinating but frustrating (for a gardener) seeds more commonly known as "helicopters".

This year the tree seems to have decided that it doesn't need as many leaves, and has used the energy it saved by not creating them to instead produce extra helicopters.



Super-whitey doesn't have as much time to follow me around the yard right now, as she's a little bit busy these days:

Yes, we now have a couple of kittens! (They're about 2 days old in this photo.)


Switching out a switchgrass

I've got two forms of switchgrass, panicum virgatum. I've got 'Heavy Metal' which does really well for me, and 'Prairie Sky', which has not done well. 'Prairie Sky' is supposed to be similar to 'Heavy Metal' but taller and more upright, but it's been a floppy, weak plant for me grown in full sun for three years. The 'Heavy Metal' is in a bamboo bed and has to go this year, so the 'Prairie Sky' is going to be removed and replaced with 'Heavy Metal'. Here's the winner ('Heavy Metal') which will be moved:

And this is the loser ('Prairie Sky') which will be removed:


Finch nest update

If you remember, there is a house finch nest on our front porch. Here's one of the original images:

It turns out that although that photo shows three chicks, there were actually five chicks crammed in there!


Building a new box

After I did my weeding yesterday and had some breakfast, I had to choose a project for the day. I was thinking of cleaning the deck, or maybe staining the pergola, but I instead decided to work on this:

It's a temporary retaining wall that I made out of chunks of concrete. I put it there two summers ago when I planted one of my bamboos on the slope on the edge of my yard.


Early morning weeding

It "rained" yesterday after a cold front came through. I think we got maybe 1/4" of rain, after two weeks of dry and above-normal temperatures. I was hoping for a lot more wet this morning, as there's no better time to pull weeds than after a rain. Here's the bed I need to tackle:


A mystery and a puzzle

The last few mornings while checking on my Phyllostachys bissetii bamboo that's next to the driveway outside the garage and doing quite well:

I've noticed this on the driveway and in the bamboo:


Time to catch up

I've done a lot of little, interesting things the last couple of days, but none deserve a detailed account. So I'm going to just jump from topic to topic briefly.

First, I cleaned up the new wildflower bed. It's not strictly wildflowers, but there were mostly annual wildflowers there last year, with some garden favorites, grasses, and a couple of perennials mixed in.


Meet the garden cats

I've mentioned before that we have a few cats that hang out in our yard, or at least visit once in a while. I believe they're all homeless.

Let's meet these cats who apparently have good taste in gardens. ;-)

This is "Whitey". (Remember that we give strays descriptive names only.)


Random acts of cleanup

I'm getting close to finishing all of my yard and garden bed cleanup, so I'm going to jump around to various tasks today. First up, these bamboos that are next to the driveway.

This is Sasaella bitchuensis. The new shoots and leaves are coming in fast, but I'm tired of looking at the ragged dead or half-dead leaves that were damaged by cold and wind last Winter. They may eventually fall off on their own, but I want them gone now.


A few missed details

There are a few details about my day digging bamboo that I didn't tell you about yet. As I mentioned, Michael has a lot of really interesting plants in his garden, and besides the bamboo, he wanted to give me some Irises. The colors of this variety are pretty unique from what I know about Irises, but since I know nothing about Irises except the rhizomes grow on the surface of the soil, I could be wrong.


Digging Bamboo

I made a visit to my new gardening friend Michael's garden today to help him dig out a relatively mature bamboo that he wants to get rid of. Michael has a large variety of plants of all sorts in his garden, from towering Oaks and Pines to miniature Irises. He's also been growing bamboo for over 20 years. Here's the plant he wants to remove:


Mistake, Opportunity, or Learning Experience?

As I've mentioned before, I have several species of bamboo in my yard. Some are in pots, some are in the ground, and some are in raised beds. This raised bed we call the "bamboo boat" because of it's shape:

(That's a photo from last Spring) I built that box a couple of years ago, and slanted the walls outward in an effort to help deflect any rhizomes upward -- the idea is to convince them not to go deep into the soil, because that makes it harder for you to detect and keep in check. Because this box is on a hill, and to keep it visually appealing, I made the top of the box level, so the one side of the box is only 12" or so tall, while the other end is about 3 feet deep.


Cleanup: the end of the front yard, and more

There is just a little more cleanup left in the front yard, then just a bit more in the back, and I'll be done with the Spring cleaning! Yes! So today, it's basic raking of leaves and trimming of grasses.


House Finch nest

I've written before about the wrens that were building a nest in my garage and under my deck, and hung a birdhouse. I have not yet talked about this:

It's a House Finch nest, and is located at the top of a post on our front porch.


Mantis eggs

A few weeks ago when I was cleaning up the triangle box, I noticed something that is pretty exciting to me:

The egg case of a praying mantis!



Today just a quick task, as time is quite limited. Each day as I walk out of the garage, this is the first bed I pass. It's the triangular raised bed ("box") that was my first cleanup task this year. It is jam-packed with Agastache foeniculum. I love this plant, but there are too many here.

I notice them getting bigger every day, and say to myself "I need to do something about these soon".


Cleanup: double dose

This is going to be a long post.

Saturday was supposed to be rainy all day, so I was prepared to stay indoors most of the day and possibly sneak outside for a few minutes when a break in the rain happened. Instead, the rains came Friday evening, and Saturday turned sunny and nice, but cooler than it has been lately, so I jumped outside in the morning for some cleanup work.

I started with this small bed all the way in the back corner of my yard.


Bamboo Shoots

As I've mentioned, our weather has been warm the last few days. Friday night we got a good, soaking rain, and the combination of the two has woken up many of my bamboos. They're starting to shoot!


Cleanup: the much-neglected veggie bed

My vegetable bed is the only fenced-off part of my yard. It's really a necessity because of the rabbits, woodchucks, deer, and other critters. It's also the place that I store several potted plants over the winter, and is surely one of the most-neglected areas of my yard in the Fall.


Cleanup: clip, snip, spray

Since I tackled the patio a bit the other day, I should really work on the bed that's next to the patio, as I look at it all the time.

A couple of grasses mainly, some perennials, a few herbs. I really consider this to be two or three planting beds even though they're connected. I'm not going to tackle what's behind the grasses today.


Cleanup: quick clips

It's about 20ºF warmer today than it should be: 80ºF instead of 60ºF, and the same for tomorrow. This means two things: 1) I should be seeing more bamboo shoots, and 2) I need to do some more cleanup. Just a small area today:

This is an area where Pink Primrose grows. It spreads pretty quickly, but dies back some years and spreads again, so it never really gets out of hand. It originally was planted on the ground below this small raised planting bed ("box" as I call them), then it moved up into the box one year and died out below, then it moved back down out of the box.


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