Plumeria update

Back in the first week of May I planted some Plumeria cuttings, and I thought today would be a good time to let you see how they're doing. This is what they looked like back in May:


As I said in the original post I haven't grown these before, so wasn't sure what to expect. I've learned a couple of things about Plumeria since then.

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Bad rhizome day

Yesterday I rhizome pruned a couple of my in-ground Phyllostachys bamboos, and ended that post with a comment about having at least 6 more to do. I decided to tackle a couple of more today. The first one went fine, and I didn't find any escaped rhizomes. That could be because it's the bamboo that escaped last year and put up some shoots in my lawn this year (which I recently dug out and potted up). So I've been keeping a closer eye on that plant.


With the second plant I didn't get so lucky.

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Rhizome control time

If you grow running bamboo as I do, controlling its spread is important. This type of bamboo spreads by rhizomes (which are like underground stems) and stopping the spread of rhizomes is the way to keep the bamboo from taking over your yard -- and your neighbor's.


If you live where it gets hot in the summer with plenty of rain -- like here in St. Louis -- the rhizomes will grow like crazy. Growth of 10-20 feet in a single year is not uncommon, even from a small plant.

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The big picture

Yesterday I took a step back and showed you some photos of my backyard garden. I was hoping to give you a better sense of how everything was arranged: what plants were where, how things looked together. Today I'll give you an even better look -- well, it's still not the whole garden at once, but it will help.


First, here's a photo from the deck looking down onto part of the garden. It helps to have another perspective like this to figure out the layout and see how things look together.

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Take a look around

I've been spending so much time focusing on "details" of the garden in recent posts that I feel like I haven't given you a good sense of the garden as a whole. I've shown you specific plants, and small parts of certain beds, and potted up some plants, etc. but it isn't the individual plants that are important.


It's how they fit together and form the garden as a whole. You've got to step back and look at the whole thing once in a while, and that's what I'll do today.

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Bamboo dig (not rained out)

Last Sunday my planned bamboo dig over at Michael's garden was rained out. Today it did not rain, so the dig was on! The plan was to help Mike divide and pot up some of his smaller bamboos, both to control their spread and so he could sell some divisions.


Besides being a lot of fun (I enjoy digging and potting bamboo!) Mike was also going to let me take a nice division home with me. Free bamboo -- let's get started!

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Surprise?

So what do you suppose this is? I've been posting about mushrooms lately, so is it a mushroom? That would be a good guess, but wrong.


It's a lily. A "Surprise Lily" as we call them around here.

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What kind of feeder is this?

This is supposed to be a hummingbird feeder. You know what those are, right? Usually red, holds sugar water for the hummingbirds to eat. This year I've got one of my feeders hanging from my climbing rose trellis, so it's right outside the kitchen window. I see it dozens of times a day without even trying.


Why is it that most of the time I look out there I don't see hummingbirds, but this guy?

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Two simple projects involving twine

It is one of those mornings where the sun is barely up and just lifting the camera causes me to break out in a sweat. Warm, still, and humid. Very humid. Not nice. So I'll just do a couple of easy projects involving twine -- not much work, so less chance of soaking my shirt, right?


The first involves cypress vines that are growing in this blue pot on the patio. I had intended to put something in this pot but never found just the right plant, and then the cypress vines started growing and it seemed a shame to yank them out. So I'll help them along instead.

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Mushrooms (part 2)

Guess what? It rained again today, and although I haven't checked for any new mushrooms, I've got several more cool mushroom photos I've been saving from the last couple of years.

 
Of the dozens of different types of mushrooms and fungi I've seen, this is probably my favorite. It's fuzzy! More about this in a minute, but first a look at some other cool ones I've seen.

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Mushrooms (part 1)

We've had rain the last few days in a row, and that means mushrooms! I love taking photos of mushrooms and other fungi, as I think they're fascinating:


They can also be quite beautiful, at least to my eye! So today I'll show you several photos I've taken of various mushrooms in my yard over the past few years.

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Another storm

So apparently my post about clouds the other day has sort of jinxed us, as another strong band of storms came through again today, following up yesterday's dramatic weather.


A few years ago when I still had all of the black locust trees in the yard these types of storms would really have me worried, as I've seen too many locusts blow down over the past 15 years or so. Now I'm not too worried as there are just a couple of trees left to fall, and they probably wouldn't hit the house too hard -- they'd just sort of lean onto it (I hope).

So I get to just enjoy the drama of the storm: the gusty winds, the ever-changing clouds.

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Bamboo dig rained out

As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post, this morning I'd be going to Mike's to help him dig and pot some more bamboo. It was a cloudy morning so I checked the weather websites and they said "hot and humid with thunderstorms mainly after 1 PM". Hmmm. A look at the radar showed a line of heavy storms moving toward us, but according to the forecast it wouldn't be getting here for several hours. Seemed wrong but I believed it, loaded up the truck, and started driving.


A few minutes later I noticed the angry sky.

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What is it?

I spent the hot morning today making potting mix and mulching some more bamboos with compost. I got pretty overheated and exhausted, so maybe I'm seeing things, but what the heck is this?


I was walking around this evening with the camera trying to find something interesting to post about, and this guy landed on the climbing rose right in front of me! I snapped a quick (not quite in focus) photo, then he moved on. Does it remind anybody else of Spy vs. Spy?

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Clouds

As a Midwest gardener I need to keep up with the weather. Do I need to water today? Do I need to stake up some plants because they're likely to blow over shortly? Should I quickly take a bunch of photos before the hailstorm shreds all of the lovely large leaves?


Although not strictly part of my garden, I love taking photos of what's above it. I love clouds!

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Bees say: "The tiny flowers win!"

I've got several questions for you today. Question 1: How do you feel about bees? If you're like me, you love them! The garden would be so lifeless without them, wouldn't it?  Question 2: When you think of a flower that bees like, what do you think of first? I first think of a daisy or Black-eyed Susan, or something similar -- a big, bold target for the bees to find.


Of course I'm wrong, and you are too if you agreed with me. In my experience the bees like plants that produce clusters of tiny flowers best. Something like this native "Rattlesnake Master" (Eryngium yuccifolium). It doesn't even really look like a flower from afar.

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Nothing in particular

This morning was hot. Way too hot and humid to do anything in the garden except walk around looking at everything. Even that wasn't too much fun, as the sweat was soon getting in my eyes making it difficult to use the camera.


I persisted, but this post will be a series of unconnected images... not quite random, but no real purpose to it. You must have days in the garden like that, right? It can't be all work and structured time -- you need to be able to flit from one plant or bed to another on a whim, watching whatever catches your eye. That's how I feel today.

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They just keep coming

The other day my neighbor said to me: "The Japanese Beetles haven't been much of a problem this year, have they?" Well, let's see... this is the "bucket of death" -- soapy water that we use to catch the beetles as they fall in their attempts to escape:


This is the number of beetles I caught after just a single pass through my yard today, and all but a couple of them came from 4 of my rose bushes. There must be 200 of them in there (some are below the surface)!

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Bamboo!

It's no secret that I love bamboo. I have at least 40 different species and varieties in my garden, many smaller plants growing in pots. I just find it to be a very exciting, rewarding plant to grow. What's more exciting than bamboo that's growing in your own garden?


Bamboo that is growing in somebody else's garden!

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Woodpile cleanup (or an intro to every unwanted plant around)

My woodpile area is in sad shape right now. It's so weedy and overgrown that I can't even bear to use a current photo of it here.


This is a nice view of part of the woodpile as it was last September. Ah, beautiful.

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Random morning observations

I've mentioned it before, but I love walking around the garden first thing in the morning. Sun is barely up, the human noise in the neighborhood is minimal, the air is fresh, and there are sights to see!


Take this melon plant leaf for instance. The dew has collected all around the edge of each leaf!

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Another neglected garden bed

Here's another garden bed that I've let get way out of hand. It's got a few plants that I want to keep, but some that need to go.


I know it's hard to tell, but there are a few weeds in there too. Did you notice? Maybe you just blocked them out as I've been doing for a couple of months. They're not going away on their own, so let's get to work!

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Freshening the mailbox garden

The little planting bed surrounding our mailbox has always been a trouble spot. It's next to the street but that's not really a problem (except maybe in winter because of the snow that gets piled there and the salt that gets applied to the road). The main problem is that it's also next to a large Ash tree which sucks the moisture out of the ground and shades the area for most of the day.


As a result anything planted here doesn't do very well, declining over time until it dies or doesn't return in the spring. As you can see it's currently in sad shape, so it's time to do something about this!

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Grasshoppers and more

When I see an interesting insect or spider in the garden, I like to take photos of it. I've said it before, but I'm always amazed at the variety of insects that I can find in my own yard. Usually all you have to do is stop wherever you are in the garden and take a close look.

I've seen a lot of little grasshoppers lately, as well as several other interesting "bugs", so let's see what I've found.


Grasshopper on a bamboo leaf -- just seems right somehow, doesn't it? How about a little haiku...

Sitting on bamboo
grasshopper soaks up the sun
camera intrudes


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Overdue kitten update

When the kittens were smaller I was posting weekly updates. It's been at least a month since my last update, so it's time for another look at them. They're 12 weeks old now, although these photos were taken when they were about 10 and 1/2 weeks old.


That's Tiny Whitey (the kitten), not Super-Whitey (the mom). She likes to cuddle, but is also extremely energetic. I think that besides getting Mom's coloring, she also got her hunter's senses.

I have to admit that one of the reasons I haven't posted an update lately is that it's really difficult to get good photos of them now.

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Filling flagstone patio cracks

We've got three flagstone areas in our yard: the patio under the deck, the landing on the main stairway down to the patio, and the patio. All of them originally had a form of crushed limestone filling all of the cracks between the stones, but I've been slowly replacing that gritty, messy material with green.


The cracks in the patio under the deck are filled with moss, and it works well there as long as we don't let it dry out too much (and if the birds and animals don't dig it up too much), but in the sunny areas the moss just doesn't last. The best result so far has been with a form of creeping thyme called 'minus'.

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Driveway crack sunflowers

Every year some sunflower seeds that fall from the birdfeeder over the driveway escape detection from the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and whatever else eats seeds, and grows in the cracks of my driveway.


Since this is a corner of the driveway that the cars don't pass over, I let them grow.

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Beauty without Blooms

Usually when you think of beauty in a garden, you think of flowers. Big, beautiful blooms painting the planting beds with color. I love flowers too as we saw yesterday, but the main problem with flowers is they don't always last too long. Some blooms last only a single day, and some plants bloom just for a week or two and that's it for the year.


Therefore it's a good idea to not rely solely on flowers for the color in your garden. Instead look for the foliage to provide the visual excitement that you may be looking for. With interesting textures, great colors, and many different forms and sizes, let the leaves of your plants provide the punch in your next planting.

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Not digging

I've been so focused on digging lately: digging up weedy beds, planting in the refreshed beds, wondering what animal has been digging up my pots and beds. Today no posts about digging.


You won't even see any soil today. Just images of what's growing above it.

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Somebody's been digging in my bed(s)!

(That title only really works if you say it as if you're the Papa Bear from Goldilocks) 

This morning I noticed some digging in one of my new banana plant pots. I assumed it was just raccoons so put the soil back into place and watered the plant. Raccoons have curious hands, and they often mess up the soil of potted plants, pull smooth rocks out of pots, and other tactile things. So I wasn't concerned. Then I noticed another pot that had been dug in, and thought "that's a raccoon that sure loves to dig".


Then I went to the back of the yard to check on the bamboo division I dug and potted up yesterday -- I have to check it for leaf curl a few times a day -- and about half of the soil was missing!

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More planting and transplanting

This morning I decided to finish up the planting project I started a few days ago when I cleared this weedy bed out.


I mentioned that I might put one of my Elephant Ears here, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm also going to dig up some bamboo this morning, because I'm pretty tired and need some good exercise to wake me up (or exhaust me more).

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