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.


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