Veggie Bed Update

I noticed this past weekend that although there is still a lot of work to do around the garden, and lots of plants are just barely starting to emerge, certain areas are looking quite good. For instance, the veggie garden.

It's not just quite good -- it's amazing, at least by my standards (I've had some trouble growing edibles in the past).


Wet weekend

I didn't think the rain was ever going to stop! The prospect of a weekend in the garden after a few days of rain turned into a Saturday watching TV and a Sunday working in the wetness.

Still, a moist garden in spring is such a nice thing -- it can be so beautiful!


New Ninebark

You probably don't remember, but last fall I picked up a new ninebark on clearance.

I already had a large ninebark in my garden and don't really know where I'll put another one, but I couldn't pass up the $10 price tag. The one shown above is my existing plant 'Summer Wine', whose deep, dark colors I love. The new one though...


This year it's Clematis

Every year I seem to focus on adding one plant species or genus to the garden: groundcover thymes one year, mints another, bamboo for a couple of years. It never happens due to careful planning, usually starting with an idea for a single plant in winter or early spring -- then I get obsessive and buy several varieties.

I never intend for this to happen, but it invariably does. I wondered what this year's plant focus would be, and I found out about a month ago: Clematis vines.


Garage plant drag out begins

Every spring I wonder when I should drag all of the plants out of the garage, where they've spent the winter dormant or semi-dormant. Or possibly dying, to be honest.

This year it's been particularly difficult to decide when it was warm enough, because the temperatures keep fluctuating so wildly. We've had our share of warm spring days where it's over 70ºF (21ºC), but also a good number of cold ones where it barely got above 40ºF (4ºC) and dipped below freezing at night. Since most of these garage plants are not able to take a freeze, they've stayed indoors.


More Spring Pretty

The calendar says it's here, but the thermometer doesn't really agree. Spring!

Just more photos today, as the early evening sun backlit everything so nicely yesterday.


Time to uproot!

Back in January I asked for some advice on what I should do about an Austrian pine whose roots had escaped the pot and gotten into the soil below. I was sure it had done this because it really put on a lot of growth last year, and from past experience I knew that meant that roots had escaped.

The best advice I got came from Jeremy, who said "pines are tough... I would whack the roots under that pot without a second thought". So that's what I did.


The cage: bamboo support

This past weekend I tackled a project that I've been planning for months, if not a year. As you probably know I have a relatively large planting of bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii) along the driveway. It provides a good deal of privacy and frankly, just looks great.

When it's not flopping all over the place that is. This is still a juvenile bamboo, having been planted in 2008 as a very small plant, and it hasn't reached the size where it's able to keep itself more upright. So I've been helping, providing supports of various kinds the last few years.


A mistake?

I was hoping to post today about my project that required creative thinking, but I realized I forgot to take a couple of key photos so it will have to wait until tomorrow. Instead I'll post about something I did recently that could end up being a terrible mistake.

For the first time ever I decided to mulch the path on this side of the house. Read on to hear why I thought this was a good idea, and also why it may be a very bad one.



I don't know about you, but I often need to think on my feet in the garden. Lack of an appropriate tool, a cost-cutting measure, difficult access -- these all will make a job much harder than it needs to be.

Sometimes the solution is less than pretty, and although it works you're surprised that it does.


Cleanup: before and after

In the past I've done detailed posts about cleaning up various planting beds in the spring, in fact, some of the first posts I ever wrote were about spring cleanup. I've since learned a couple of things: first, that reading about preparing a perennial bed for spring isn't overly interesting, and second, that stopping to document the cleanup process really extends the length of the job.

So this year I decided to just take before and after photos of each area, with a little description if there's something notable going on in the photos.


April Showers

April has always been the pivotal Spring month where I've lived, warming up and seeing everything start to waken. The saying "April showers bring May flowers" is always in my head when it rains.

It's certainly been raining a lot here in St. Louis lately -- we've gotten over 3" (8cm) over the last few days. Incidentally, that tub is a recent garage sale find. I was thinking of using it for a small water feature -- I may want to move it into place now and just let the rain fill it up.



You know those posts I create that contain very few words and lots of photos? This is one of those posts.

There arrival of spring is so personal and emotional, that I'd rather not fumble around with the words to describe it. Show you what I see, and leave it at that.


Pruning my single Clematis

Is it strange that somebody so fanatic about plants, tending a garden packed with so many different species, has only a single Clematis vine?

Is it even stranger that this single Clematis wasn't even planted by me, that it was a volunteer? Maybe, but that's the case in my garden (at least for another week or two -- but that's another story), and today I'll talk about pruning this vine.


Weed this way? Focus.

I tried an experiment this past weekend, one that was not particularly pleasant. Remember the bittercress that I photographed recently? I worry about this weed more than any other in my yard, as the ripe seed pods literally explode when touched, flinging tiny seeds in a 6-foot (2m) radius or more.

I've not been diligent with pulling these weeds for the last couple of years, and they go to seed long before I'm ready to start mowing, and I saw a big increase in the number of these petite white flowers all over the place this year. So I got myself motivated for some weed pulling.



Continuing my recent inadvertent theme of exclamatory post titles, I found something interesting yesterday. I spent several hours cleaning up some of my beds yesterday, and as a "one last thing before I head inside" task I decided to trim a few remaining ornamental grasses.

This one may or may not have survived the winter: it's deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and although it's supposed to be cold-hardy enough for St. Louis, the winter moisture is the problem.



A hawk finished its meal in one of the trees behind my yard yesterday and hung around for at least 30 minutes afterward.

Lucky break for me, as I got a chance to take several shots of this impressive bird!



Of the edible plants that I overwintered this year, kale is king...

...and that's a very good thing.




Pond Art


Schlafly Gardenworks in April

After missing the last couple of monthly first-Saturday gatherings in the garden at Schlafly Bottleworks,  I finally made it to April's last weekend.

The weather was great, a good number of people turned out, and I got a chance to see how things went over the winter for the garden. (I didn't take an overall photo of the garden as I usually do. Sorry about that.)


weedy, but nice

It's spring again, and that means its time for a look at my early-season "alternative lawn" plants.

In other words, the weeds that seemingly will always be part of my garden. Starting with henbit.


Heuchera, part 2

Remember a month or so ago when I visited the local nurseries and found dozens of different Heuchera varieties?

I ended up getting some of them, but used a little trick to save some money.


Dig, dig, plant

I tackled a fairly big project last weekend, one that should pay off for me in future years. It may even pay off early this summer.

The first step was to remove this Miscanthus sinensis. It grew as a seedling from 'Gracillimus' but didn't have the narrow blades of the parent, so wasn't overly attractive. It also seemed to flop a bit here. I decided last summer that it had to go.


Grasses back on track

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I overwinter purple fountain grass indoors under lights every year. I take small divisions in the fall and end up with a dozen or more good-sized plants by the time spring rolls around.

Except this year, because I tried something different and it didn't work. So my "plan B" was to purchase a couple of new plants as soon as they were available, divide them, and see how many plants I can get by planting time.



Last year was the first I ever grew swiss chard in my garden, and I have to say that it's probably here to stay. Beautiful, nutritious, tolerant of heat -- it just did so well for me.

I can now add "quite tolerant of cold" to its list of attributes, as my chard plants overwintered with just a thin frost blanket covering them all winter. I didn't know how they'd fare this way, but it's time to find out.


The Bucket

When I moved into my house over 20 years ago there were two things left in the basement: a very old refrigerator, and a metal paint bucket.

The bucket sat in a corner of the basement for at least 15 years before I came to appreciate the beauty in "well-used" objects like this, and how they can contribute to the garden.



Even though temperatures dipped back below normal for the last two days, it seems that spring is finally here, which means I can safely remove some of the protection from the plants I overwintered outdoors.

Starting with the edibles that were provided with makeshift greenhouses. Remember when I decided to wrap this small planter with plastic to try and grow chard over the winter? Well it's time for this eyesore to go away.


winter losses

Although this year we had a more normal winter than last year's super-mild one, it was still relatively easy. The coldest temps stayed around for only a day or two at a time, there wasn't heavy snow until just recently, and we didn't get any ice storms.

Overall a pretty easy winter for most plants you'd think, right? Well, I've lost a few.



The solitary frog that lived in my pond last summer has returned! Or at least I assume it's the same one.

It's a Southern Leopard Frog, and yesterday's warm weather had him out and calling. A nice surprise on a beautiful spring day.


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