Shoots of color

Although I grow a lot of bamboo by most gardeners' standards, I grow a lot less than some bamboo collectors who have 100, 150, even 200 or more different species and varieties. Still, I have enough different types that I can appreciate the allure of shooting season.

Bamboo shoots of one species are exciting and can be lovely alone, but only when you get a few different species shooting at once can you really see the comparative beauty.


Bamboo remnants cause trouble

Spring is bamboo shooting season for most temperate bamboos, which means I'm checking my plants for new shoots every day, looking for the first signs of pointy pokings through the soil. I've been watching this one plant in particular, as it was one that I planted 18 months ago but didn't produce a single shoot last year.

It produced some tiny culms later in the year, resulting in some bushy greenery near the ground in a couple of places. At the time I thought this was strange, and was worried that voles or shrews were nibbling the rhizomes, causing the plant to put up tiny survival shoots.


Pond gains greenery

If you've been following along for a while, you'll remember that last fall I built a pond -- if "built" is the right word. Dug. Put in. Whatever -- I now have a pond. I mentioned this several times this winter, and said more than once that I can't wait until I get the plants in.

Well, guess what happened last week?


One-word Wednesday: Tulip!


Bluebells and other wildflowers

Last weekend we took a drive down to Shaw Nature Reserve, specifically to see the wildflowers. We'd normally go in a couple more weeks, but I got an email from the Missouri Botanical Garden saying that our early spring meant that the blooms were in full-swing right now!

So off we went for a few hours of hiking, with a goal of getting to the bluebells field down by the river.


Japanese maples early leaf

Like almost every tree and shrub around, the Japanese maples have leafed out already. Mild winter means I'm very nervous about late freezes. (Spring 2007 was like that, and many Japanese maples were heavily damaged that year -- a lot of them in the area got removed later that summer.)

I love watching these small trees come awake in the spring. Is it because so many of them (all seven of mine actually) are red when the leaves are new? Is it because they're the right size, letting me get an up-close look without having to do some climbing or grab a ladder?


Bulb planting payoff

Those spring-blooming bulbs I planted late last fall are starting to become something to look at.

When I planted these I was concerned that it was too late, that critters would eat the bulbs or the blooms, and that even though I got all of these bulbs on clearance it would be a waste of money. I needn't have worried.


Open with care

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll probably recognize what this photo means:

That's right: another plant trade has been made! Even though I knew to some extent what plants were in this box, I didn't know exactly so opening was quite exciting. What made it more exciting was the warning to open carefully. Hmmm... sounds dangerous. Ready to take a look?


More spring surprises

The volunteer tree that bloomed for the first time this year was the surprise in yesterday's post -- today I bring you several more.

Starting with what has to be a holly seedling growing in one of my pots, right? I had a small potted holly for a few years until the deer ate most of it, but it never produced berries so this must have been "planted" by a bird. Based on how slowly hollies grow, it will be a tabletop plant for a few years at least.


Spring surprise

There are a few volunteer shrubs and small trees growing at the back edge of my yard, right along where the barely-managed common ground strip starts. In the past I've removed bush honeysuckle from this area, spent time finding and cutting grape vines where they emerge from the soil, planted a few small trees on my own -- I've even mulched back here a few times. So I'm pretty familiar with what is growing in this "wild" strip.

There's a small tree that I've been watching for a few years. It's got interesting but not spectacular bark, and a nice branching structure, but I haven't been able to identify it. This year I got more of a clue, as it has bloomed for the first time ever (or at least the first time I ever noticed)!


One-word Wednesday: Sedum


Bamboo control consultation

My recent post about helping Ted dig out some bamboo resulted in another St. Louis resident to contact me with questions about controlling the spread of their bamboo. I visited their home this past weekend.

I noticed the two plantings of Yellow Groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) as soon as I pulled up. They looked fairly large and quite mature, which always gets me excited. The bamboos in my yard will always be considered "accent plants", as they won't have enough room to spread and form groves like this.


Simply Sempervivum

Last winter I bought a lot of different varieties of Sempervivum, or "hen and chicks". I grew them under lights for the last part of winter and the first part of spring to give them a jump on the growing season. My idea was to fill a planting bed with their varied colors and textures.

When I found out that deer eat semps (my trial pot of them in the intended planting spot got munched), I put that plan on hold and they just spent the rest of the year (and winter) in their nursery pots. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with them, but for now I'm just enjoying having them around.


Potting the spoils

Last weekend when I visited the garden of another bamboo grower and helped him in a start to get his Yellow Groove back under control, I mentioned that I was able to bring home several bamboo rhizomes and a few other plant divisions: the spoils of my bamboo rhizome conquest.

Although the rhizomes and divisions spent a couple of rainy days in the back of my truck (no worry about them drying out!), I did finally get a chance to pot them up.


Bird rescue board

Where do you keep your bird rescue board? What do you mean "I don't have a bird rescue board?" How then do you jack up your porch roof when you need to free a frantic and frightened fowl? Maybe I should back up a little bit...

It started the other morning as I was taking photos of the crocus-chomping slug. The unmistakable sound of a creature caught in a metal tube of some sort came to me while I was on the ground with the camera...


Delicious crocus

As my newly-planted-last-fall crocus start to bloom (the years-old ones in the lawn have pretty much pooped out, as I got tired of leaving their foliage uncut until it withered) I've been looking pretty closely at each new bloom.

There's nothing too exciting about them, whites and yellows and purples, but I happened to notice one of the yellow ones moving in a strange way yesterday morning.


GBBD: March 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is a meme brought to you by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Each month on the 15th, garden bloggers from all over the world show you what's blooming in their gardens right now.

For me, the bloom choices are minimal. Since I removed the Forsythia this weekend I no longer have that source of flowers (they are blooming in the common ground now), but I do have a few.


Time to move

Oh, not me -- we're not moving house. It's time to move one of the larger plants in my garden that has been bothering me for a few years: the Forsythia.

It was originally planted in the front yard at the corner of the house by a previous homeowner or the builder. This isn't one of those newer, smaller cultivars though -- it's one of the old-fashioned types that gets 12' (3.6m) tall and wide or more. It was much too large for its spot, especially since I don't like the look of pruned shrubs very much, and Forsythia is one that really looks terrible when shaped by pruners I think.



The other morning while digging bamboo rhizomes in Ted's garden, when we'd stop for a quiet breather we'd sometimes hear a rustling of the leaves that didn't seem like it was caused by the wind or our own movements. We both heard this a few times and it seemed like there was some creature moving around in the leaves -- we just couldn't be sure though.

Until this little American toad was uncovered or decided that he'd had enough of our raking and digging and decided to make a run for it. I saw him hopping over the leaves just where we had been working -- it's a wonder we didn't crush him or otherwise cause him harm.


In another place: bamboo control

Yesterday I helped another local gardener with some bamboo control. When I started blogging two years ago searches on "St. Louis garden blogs" listed Ted Wight's real estate/gardening blog as the top result (and still does today), and looking through the gardening posts I found that Ted grows bamboo.

After talking over the past couple of years about control and how he had some wayward shoots emerge last year, we tried to get together to survey the situation -- it didn't happen last year though. I pestered Ted about it more this year, and our schedules finally aligned with the weather forecast and I got to see his bamboo in person this weekend. He grows only two varieties including the common "Yellow Groove", but what a beautiful grove it is!


Before and after

Recently I mentioned that I needed to trim some of my groundcover and "shrubby" bamboos to remove the winter-damaged leaves, but that I wanted to wait a while until there were signs of the new branches and leaves clearly forming.

I decided yesterday to do this, and it was a bit painful. What made it tough is that this mild winter has spoiled me -- some of these plants have leaves that are virtually undamaged. They're green and lovely, and have been all winter long.



And by that I mean: guess what I've been doing lately?

Yep, like many northern hemisphere temperate climate gardeners I've been planting seeds. Some indoors, some out.


Annoy me tree

Do you have any parts of your garden that are just a little bit annoying? I'm not talking about a planting bed that you want to redo, or an ugly shrub or tree you want to remove -- those are major things. I'm talking about something that is probably quite minor, invisible to anybody else, but bugs the heck out of you every time you see it.

I've got one of those (at least one). This twisted white pine (Pinus strobus 'Torulosa') bothers me whenever I look at it.


Veggie garden makeover, once again

Remember last year when I made over my veggie beds so that I'd get a good harvest for once? Well, it didn't work, and in hindsight I didn't make enough of a change. I went from my heavy clay soil (that I've been amending for years with compost, but still is way too heavy for nice edibles) to small raised beds that contained better soil. They just weren't deep enough though.

My veggie beds immediately after last year's makeover.

Encouraged by the success I saw at Gardenworks, I decided to make another attempt.


One-word Wednesday: growth


Bamboo chops

No, I haven't started my third year of posts with a drastic change from gardening to recipes -- it's time for some bamboo maintenance!

"Mowing" of the groundcover bamboos and some rhizome pruning. We'll start with the easy stuff.


Two-year anniversary: INWIG best of 2011

According to Blogger I made my first blog post on March 5, 2010 which means today is my two-year anniversary! Two years of daily posts? Yep. Since I think about gardening every day, why not post about it every day too? One of the main reasons for creating this blog was so I'd document everything I did in the garden, and I have to admit I've done a pretty good job of that. Did I list every detail of every task I did? No, certainly not. I missed lots of stuff, including some important details such as what exact varieties of veggies I planted, spacings, fertilization schedules, etc. but I also shared a lot of things that I would normally have just observed and enjoyed for myself, and have hopefully given some entertainment and knowledge to my readers.

Today I'm going to take a look back over the past year and list my favorite posts in chronological order. If you haven't seen them before please take a look. If you have seen them already, then take another look -- it's still fun! I did this type of post on my one-year anniversary too, and I really like the way it turned out. Expect it every year.


Gardenworks Gathering

Yesterday morning I attended the first informal gathering at Schlafly Gardenworks in St. Louis. I posted about this garden before: it's where I attended a gardening talk that got me inspired a month ago, and where I got the sacks of coffee grounds to use as fertilizer. There was so much interest at that talk that they decided to start meeting monthly out in the garden, earlier in the year than they would have normally considered.

Jack and Nolan are the gardeners in charge of this urban plot, and they just spent an hour or so talking about how they keep this garden producing restaurant-quality produce pretty much all year long.


Cats love bamboo

One thing I learned late last summer is that although bamboo is certainly beautiful in the garden...

...cut bamboo canes also look fantastic in a vase indoors!


Slightly forgotten: green driveway

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I'm typically not a "take some photos and compose a post immediately" kind of garden blogger. My style is more "take a bunch of photos over a day or two (usually a weekend) then compose posts about them during the next several days". Oh, sometimes I'll take photos and post immediately, but it's a rare thing. Depending on how busy the photo session was, I may let photos sit for a couple of weeks before I get around to posting about them. Well, I've got a new personal record now, thanks to some forgotten photos I took... in early July!

While visiting my family in suburban Chicago this past summer, I noticed my sister's neighbors doing some work in their yard. Not just the normal suburban gardening of pruning, or mowing, or planting some flowers either -- something substantial and quite interesting.


St. Louis 2012 Home and Garden Show

Last weekend I visited the St. Louis Home and Garden Show. I had been to this show only once before back in 2006, so I had an idea what to expect: lots of "Home" and very little "Garden".

I hoped that had changed after six years, but sadly, it had not.


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