Vinca chore finished

A couple of weeks ago I talked about removing the variegated Vinca major that had been taking over the stream. There was a second part to that project that I actually tackled a week ago but just never got around to posting about.

Here's the rest of that project. If you remember, I don't want to eradicate the vinca -- just cut it way back and reduce it's spread a little. Looking at this photo, this seems to be a big undertaking, as almost all you can see is those vines.


Fastidious Grackles, Sad

The common grackle is a bird I have a love/hate relationship with. First, I think they're beautiful birds -- the males especially with their iridescent heads and big yellow eyes:

From Wikipedia. Link here.

What I don't like about grackles is their aggression. They are social birds so where there is one grackle there is a mob of them, and they crowd out other birds. At least from the bird feeder, where they will work together to quickly empty it: one or two birds will sit on the feeder, shoveling seed to the ground where the rest of the flock quickly gobbles it up. All of the other birds get nothing.



What makes bamboo such a fun plant to grow is the expectation: how many shoots will you get this year? how fat will they be? where will they come up?

After the shoots emerge and start growing these questions have been answered, leaving just one more: how tall will they get this year? 


Pond update

I want to jump ahead a couple of months into summer because the pond is progressing slowly right now. Still, I guess things are happening.

There's been a little bit of growth in the water plants, I've planted more things around the edge of the water, and more things live in the water itself now. Let's take a closer look.


Finch nest, 2012 edition

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're probably familiar with the finch nest. It's been a regular feature of my front porch for three years now, two broods a year. I posted about this the first year, then last year too, and then earlier this spring in the infamous bird rescue board post.

I've been enjoying them again this year, but haven't been taking too many photos. Until the other day that is, when I got a bit of a scare.


Not quite finished

My spring-flowering bulb plantings would have to be considered a success by almost any measure. I planted them so late last fall -- after all of the bulbs were on clearance -- that I was concerned that they wouldn't have enough time to establish. The mild winter gave them a break though, and it seems like all of the bulbs bloomed.

Crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinths, and tulips -- I saw them all and some of them lasted quite a long time. My neighbors all complained that their daffodils bloomed for just a few days and were gone, but that was probably due to the spell of 90ºF (32ºC) days we had. My blooms were slower to emerge and therefore missed the hottest days, and lasted for a couple of weeks it seemed. I thought the show was over now, but I was wrong.


Ninebark blooms nicely

One of the sights I returned to after my recent trip (besides the knee-high lawn) was the ninebark.

This is probably the best-looking shrub in my yard year-round, but in mid-spring it really impresses with its blooms.


Nice views

For the past several weeks I've been doing little jobs in the garden. Moving pots out of the garage, potting up new plants, weeding, dragging potted bamboos around, cutting down last year's dead growth, pruning -- you know, gardening.

All of a sudden yesterday I realized that depending on where you gaze, the garden is starting to look pretty nice.


Too long

Here's a riddle for you: what do you get when you start with a lawn that needs a mowing, watch it rain for three days straight, leave town for the good part of a week, then watch it pour down rain again the day after you return?

You get to see some interesting seed heads that you normally don't get to see.


Box on porch

When a cardboard box arrives on the front porch at my house in the spring, there's a good chance it's going to contain plants.

When the box contains a label that indicates "live plants" there's no doubt about it. New plants!



If you are like me, the garden can never progress fast enough. Plants take forever to grow and fill in, vegetables don't ripen as quickly as I want them too, and seeds -- well, they just take forever to emerge and start growing.

Except, they don't really. It's just that -- again, if you're like me -- you'll check those seeds a couple of times a day at least, so any progress they're making seems small indeed.


Looking at bamboo

Very few words again today.

Just another look at the springtime bamboo in my garden.


One-word Wednesday: Gift



I've recently realized that the three different ferns I have...

... are quite nice, and getting to be a decent size.


Foliage follow-up

Yesterday was my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post, and today brings us another popular meme: Foliage Follow-up! Experienced gardeners know that although flowers get all of the attention, it's foliage that really makes the garden, so Pam over at Digging started this meme to help give greenery the attention it deserves.

I'm not sure that I've ever participated in a Foliage Follow-up before, but that's only because I'm not organized enough -- I definitely have enough noteworthy foliage to show. So here's what I have going on right now.


GBBD: April 2012

It's the 15th, which means it's time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- a meme I participate in a few times a year when I actually pay attention to the calendar and have some flower pix to post.

So here's a look at what's been blooming for the last week or two in my garden. The roses are particularly lovely right now -- they loved the early start to spring for sure!



As I've noted before, this year I've been visiting the Schlafly Gardenworks -- a large (to me) urban garden just outside the St. Louis city limits in "historic" Maplewood. As the gardeners there are 95% focused on growing food, I thought I'd pick up some tips on getting my veggie garden producing this year. Three years of disappointing harvests motivated me, and I remade my veggie beds earlier this year, got the cool season plant seeds in the ground early, and things are looking pretty good.

One tip I got from head gardener Jack may or may not pay off for me, as I'm not sure I've implemented it correctly. When I mentioned that my beet yields often disappoint, Jack said that he's found that the seedlings don't have the "strength" to punch through any sort of crust on top of the soil, so he always starts his beets indoors in a nice light mix and transplants the seedlings. So I thought I'd give it a try.


Nothing in particular

I started collecting photos a week ago for a post I was going to call "emergence" -- it was going to show all of the things that are bursting out in my garden, out of the soil, out of the branches of deciduous trees.

The problem is, most of the plants emerged weeks ago, so I wasn't able to find enough for a full post. So my photos sat and are now completely outdated. I instead decided to just post about nothing in particular. I do this every once in a while.


Vinca loves mild winters

One of my first experiences with "easy to propagate" plants in the garden was variegated Vinca major. This plant arrived in a hanging basket, and eventually got planted in the yard at the base of one of the large raised beds I built years ago.

What I found was that vinca grows as a quite long vine when in the ground, and that almost everywhere the vine touches the ground it will root, quickly forming a large colony of plants. This is great when you only have a dozen plants or so in your new garden, but a decade or more later the vinca has bulked up, challenging me to feats of strength every summer.


Bamboo shoots

Spring is an exciting time for all gardeners, but for those of us who grow temperate bamboos it's extra special, as it's when most of the species send out their new growth: it's bamboo shooting season!

Besides the anticipation of seeing the first shoots poke through the ground, wondering what size the new culms will be and how tall they will get, and where exactly they'll emerge, many species of bamboo have shoots that are just beautiful.


Another unique plant trade

You know that I really enjoy trading plants with other gardeners. I did it several times last year, and this year I've already received a few packages, some more spiny than others. This one was a little different though.

If you're a keen observer with a good memory, something about this box may be familiar. It was to me when I saw it. Didn't I see something like this last year?


Pond update: toad eggs!

I've been doing a little bit of work in and around the pond -- so have the toads apparently.

This is some of the red-stemmed parrot feather that floats on the water's surface. As you may be able to see, it's got strings of toad eggs in it!


Grass, a silent look

A quick look at grassy views in my garden this Easter morning.

This is what a large part of my back lawn looks like -- not really grass, but there are a few grass blades in there.


Packed pot planted

If you asked me what plant I had the most "extras" of, it may take me a minute to think about it, but the answer would probably be Agastache foeniculum. Besides having it growing in half a dozen places on purpose, it's also popping up everywhere -- including the mulch around my neighbor's tree.

I also have several pots of the wonderful-smelling stuff, from small nursery pots containing single plants to big planters that hold a veritable carpet of the plants. This one for example. Last year it grew a "lawn" of Agastache seedlings and I never did anything about it. They formed a nice-looking pot that I kept next to the driveway all summer.


Veggie bed update

A month or so ago I remade my veggie beds. Again. For the second year in a row.

It appears to be paying off though, as things are getting off to a great start -- but that could be due to the warm weather we've been having.     Let's assume it's all my doing, okay?


Prickly pot

Remember those innocent-looking brown paper bags full of dangerously prickly plants? The ones I got in a plant trade a couple of weeks ago?

Well I've finally gotten around to potting them up. That's the great thing about Opuntia pads: you don't have to hurry, as they'll keep for weeks or months. Perfect for my schedule recently.


It's drinking the water!

The pond has already been teaching me interesting things; surprising me in many ways.

One of the surprising things is the honeybees, and their constant drinking of the water.


Pink, Magical, Sweet!

With all of the different methods of springtime planting I've been doing: seeds, tubers, bulbs, replanting stored rootballs, it's the wait to see if a plant forms that is exciting. Exciting but also nerve-wracking, as until I see the greenery poking though the soil I wonder what's going on under there. Is there enough moisture to get things growing? Is there too much, with the seeds or tubers rotting? Are temperatures too low -- or more fittingly for us this year with highs for the last couple days around 90ºF (32ºC) -- too high?

It's nice to come across a plant that saves me this nervousness and waiting.


First taste of sun

Like many gardeners, I've been starting plants from seed indoors over the past 4-6 weeks. Today they got their first taste of sunlight.

I've always got way more tomato seedlings than I can use, but the allure of the seed packets always wins out -- especially since I had access to seed from a lot of different varieties this year from a generous neighbor. The plants start out tiny and well-spaced, but then all of a sudden it's a jungle in there, and it's time to repot or at least get them off the plant table and give them some room.


An experiment with ears

If you were reading my blog in the fall you may remember me talking about elephant ear tubers. I've grown various elephant ear varieties, and used various overwintering strategies. I've left them in pots in the garage, dug up the tubers and stored them dry, kept small plants alive inside under lights -- trying to find the strategy that involves the least effort on my part but allows me to have as many of these plants as I want come spring.

The normal Colocasia esculenta is dead-simple to overwinter, as the tubers store dry on a shelf with no issues. The black stem taro (Colocasia fontanesii) is a different story though, so I've been experimenting.


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