Early fall is big spider time!

I love this time of year in the garden. The grasses are all full, topped with fuzzies, and home to many noisy grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets.

It's also the time when the orb weavers and other big spiders show up. I love photographing big spiders!


Unexpected volunteer: Celosia

Several years ago I planted a small bed of Celosia 'Flamingo Feather' from seed. I had only known the short "plume" form of Celosia, so was intrigued by the tall, "wheat"-like blooms of this variety. (At this point I didn't know that Celosia came in several forms: "crested" which looks like a brain, "plumed" which I believe is the most common, and "wheat").

In any case, I had a "wheat" form, and enjoyed them all that season. Then the next, as they produced and drop lots and lots of seed. Then the next, but with slightly fewer plants. I never planted this again myself, and just relied on volunteers coming up each year.


More bamboo rhizome tricks

Yesterday I showed you the bamboo rhizome that traveled along inside the rotted tree root. Today I have a couple more rhizome examples, but on a smaller scale. First, take a look at this photo:

It's a "wild" planting bed just under the south edge of my deck. It contains a mix of perennials, annuals, and weeds, and I usually let volunteers grow here -- I don't plan it. I also keep a few potted plants here as it does get a bit weedy and the pots give it some order. Notice anything that doesn't look like it should be here?


Bamboo rhizome surprise

I've been growing running bamboo for four years now, which isn't really that long. But since plants are usually quite predictable (much more so than pets or people), you pretty much know what to expect, even with a plant like bamboo.

Except when they do something you didn't expect. Like last evening when I took a division from one of my plants and made a surprising discovery.


My favorite plant markers

Like many of you reading this, I grow a lot of plants in temporary pots. I'm talking about utilitarian black (or green, or brown -- sometimes even white) plastic nursery pots. Maybe they contain seedlings, or divisions of bamboo, or plants I bought small and am letting grow up a bit before I put them into the ground. These plants need tags or markers in them, or I'd never, ever remember what they were.

I've tried a few different types of tags and writing implements, and this is the best solution I've found yet based on price and performance.


Stumped: simple garden job long delayed

If you looked at photos of my yard from about 20 years ago (which you can do here) you'd see a lot of black locust trees. If you look at photos from 10 years ago (which you can do here) you'd see less of them, but still quite a few. Some of them were quite large, but others were relatively small, younger trees, with trunk diameters of around 5" (12 cm). Those trees are pretty much all gone now, but in a couple of cases they're lingering: there are some stumps in my yard.

The stump from one of the smaller trees has been annoying me for years. I don't know why I've never done anything about it before, and don't know what finally made me spring into action yesterday, but that's what I did.


Forgotten blooms, butterflies swarm

One of the highlights of my garden in September is the Liatris aspera, or rough blazing star. It's the end of the season counterpart to the June-blooming and more common Liatris spicata, or gayfeather.

What makes the blooming of the aspera such a special time is the butterflies. When the gayfeathers bloom there are a few around maybe, but when the aspera blooms they're everywhere in the garden. They literally flock to the purple blooms, especially in the warm afternoon sun.


Millennium Park Chicago, Lurie Garden

This week I was in downtown Chicago for business, and had some time one evening to walk over to Millennium Park. I have wanted to see this park since it was opened in 2004, and even though I get up to Chicago a couple of times every year to visit relative, it never happened.

The weather was perfect, the walk from the hotel was at most 20 minutes long, and I got to spend an hour or so just soaking in all of the wonderful parts of this place: the plants, the structures, the art.


Just a look around

I haven't had much time to do anything in the garden this week, nor have I had much time to put together an informative post.

I did take a bunch of photos of my yard the other day, so today you just get a look around. Enjoy!


Do I really need more of these?

Last weekend I took another trip to my friend Mike's garden. If you've been reading for a while, you know what happens when I go to Mikes: I dig up a bunch of plants, usually bamboo. Well I did get more plants, but they aren't bamboo.

They're specimens of the next two items on the list of plants I really have a lot of already: Elephant Ears, and bananas.


Trapped, then untrapped

A few days ago I noticed that there was a rabbit in my much-neglected fenced veggie garden. This didn't bother me, as there's really nothing in there that I'd care about him eating. Maybe the kale. Tomatoes? Rabbits don't eat those. There's some poison ivy growing in there that I keep forgetting about... maybe he'll eat that.

He got in because my gate has virtually disintegrated, and was pushed open about 8" at the bottom. At least I assume that's how he got in. Today though I noticed that he was still in there, and was throwing himself against the chicken wire fencing. Not injuring himself, but pretty frantic. It got me worried.


Garlic chives pollinator survey

The garlic chives have been blooming for a week or so now, and every pollinator in the area knows it. Well, not every pollinator, but a lot of them. The butterflies and honeybees may get all of the press, but there are a lot of other critters involved too.

I spent about ten minutes at these blooms the other day, just to see how many different insect species I could see.



Yesterday I showed you a quick fix to a problem a potted bamboo had. As it happens that wasn't the only problem that particular plant had. In fact, it might not have even been the most serious issue it's been dealing with.

You see, this is not the normal angle for a living bamboo culm (they're only called canes after they're cut from the plant for some reason). They're usually pointing toward the sky, not the ground!


A little too wet

With our day-long rain recently, I got a reminder of some of the problems in my garden. Not major things for the most part, but things that either I've been meaning to do but didn't really see the immediate need, or things I had forgotten about.

For instance this potted bamboo. When I dug it at Mike's garden weeks ago, I put it into a pot that did not have any drainage holes. (I just realized I never even posted about that dig. It did happen though.)



After at least six weeks of no significant rainfall in my yard -- possibly much longer but I'm afraid to research -- we finally got rain! It started early in the morning with thunderstorms, then it rained steadily pretty much the entire day.

The ground got a deep soaking, the temperature really dropped, and everything was still wet the next morning.


In the trenches

Actually, I'm not in the trenches, but I am digging some. It finally cooled off enough that I can start the work to help contain some of my more troublesome running bamboos.

This Semiarundinaria okuboi is the first, as it's the main offender right now. My rhizome pruning didn't get all of the escapees this year, so I need to take it to the next level. Let the digging begin!


One-word Wednesday: Texture


Bees can't wait

You know the Datura inoxia plant that is growing in a crack in my driveway? Do you know who loves the blooms? Bees.

They love them so much, they can't even wait until they open to rummage around in them.


slow on the moles

I've been pretty lazy this summer when it comes to the moles. Or maybe you'd just call it "tolerant". In previous years I'd be out there catching moles as quickly as I'd see them, but this year...

Well, this year I just don't care that much.


Plumeria update

Way back in July I planted some Plumeria cuttings. If you remember, these were my second attempt at growing this plant -- my first two from the previous year did not survive the winter in my garage. They both rotted even though they received no water for at least 5 months.

Although I started this year's cuttings much later than I should have, I still have hope that I'll get at least a couple of plants out of the attempt. As you can see above, one of the cuttings has leafed out and is doing quite well. It may actually need a larger pot already. The rest of the cuttings? Let's take a look.


A little help: fixing a problem

A couple of weeks ago I got some new tropicals on clearance and potted them up. Did you see that post? Since all of the plants were water lovers, I used a pot with very slow drainage. It turns out that the drainage was too slow.

The soil stayed waterlogged, and started smelling swampy (from the anaerobic bacteria). Plus the plants started looking really tired and were starting to yellow (the banana was at least), so I knew I had to do something.


Late season bargain: two trees

One of the things I love about this time of year is the garden centers all start having clearance sales.  That pricey new cultivar I've been eyeing all summer was easy to pass up at $14, but for $7 I'll give it a shot! I'm being really good this year with restraint -- since I already have too many plants than I know what to do with, I'm being pretty selective. Keeping the impulse buys to a minimum is important, but I've also learned that it's important to make a quick decision on the sale plants. If you wait a day to decide the plants will be gone when you return. (I know about that from experience.)

So when I saw a display of 5' (1.5m) tall Japanese Maples on sale for $20, I had to take a closer look.


Thirsty. Or hungry. Just annoying.

When I added a couple of new hummingbird feeders earlier this summer in an effort to get the hummers to settle down a little and share, I made more work for myself. You see, hummingbird feeders get filled with sugar water, and there are lots of critters that like sugar water. Hummingbirds, yes, but also woodpeckers, wasps, and ants. Don't forget raccoons too. There's only one creature from that list that is a real problem in my yard though.

Can you guess which it is? Yep, raccoons. Wait, I mean ants. (I'm so used to blaming raccoons for every problem in my garden.)


A little off the top

With cool weather finally hitting the St. Louis area this weekend, I was busy, busy, busy in the garden. All of the little things that I would have been doing over the last month or so if only it wasn't so hot, well, they piled up. Finally I get to do them, and can get my yard back under control.

For instance this bamboo along my driveway (Phyllostachys bissetii). I've posted about it before, how I keep coming up with ways to prevent it from drooping and flopping, yet it always seems to form an oppressive wave of green, getting in the way and darkening this area.


Hatch one hatch two hatch three!

The black swallowtail caterpillars that I hastily rescued as I was going out of town two weeks ago and then pupated in the jar have hatched!

There's not a lot to say about it, but much to show, so let's get started.


Canna 'Paton'

A few weeks ago I got a couple of tropical cannas on clearance, and potted them up. They're both doing well, but one of them is doing a little better than the other, and has put up its first new flower stalk. (I expect the other one to do the same as I can see several developing, but they're not quite there yet.)

So today, a look at these beautiful blooms produced by Canna 'Paton'.


A new bamboo project: native!

Last weekend when I visited Mike's garden, there was more to my visit than just taking photos of his sumacs. Mike needed some help moving some large bamboo divisions we had dug a month or so ago, and wanted to dig another one. Although he can manage it on his own, those types of projects are so much easier with a helper. As compensation for my help he offered me a division of his Arundinaria gigantea -- the "river cane" or "giant cane" bamboo that is native to the southeastern part of the US, including the southern part of Missouri.

In fact, Mike dug his plant from the Missouri "boot heel" (the southern part of the state -- take a look at a map and it will become clear why it's called this) many years ago. I don't grow this bamboo, mainly because it can often look pretty ratty -- not the nicest specimen for a garden. Mike's plant looks quite nice though, so I was happy to take a division from it. I had the perfect spot in my yard for it too (which is rare -- I usually put new divisions into pots for a year or so) so let's take a look at the planting process.


This is butterfly season

In my garden it's peak butterfly time, which means it's peak butterfly photo time on this blog. Besides, we're having a late-season heatwave and it's just too hot to do other stuff in the yard -- unless you like reading posts about watering? That would actually be an easy post: "I turned on the hose and walked around for an hour or more, depending on the time of day and when I last watered."

So today it's more butterflies. Mainly common ones like this Silver-spotted skipper. There are probably a half-dozen of these in my view at all times (when I'm around the blooming plants).


Garden visit

Last weekend I visited my friend Mike's garden again, to help him with some bamboo digging and to see how things have changed since the last time I was there.

Today's post is a mostly comment-free look at some of the plants he's growing.


Ambushed again!

Earlier this year I posted about an ambush bug that I discovered in my veggie garden. Before that post I had never heard of ambush bugs, and I was really fascinated by this "new" critter. Guess what I found the other day?

Yes, another ambush bug! I spent quite a bit of time watching it and taking photos, and I have to say that ambush bugs are quite boring. They pretty much just sit there without moving. Forever, as far as I can tell.


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