Ugly plant, fixing it

I'm a fairly patient gardener compared to most. I'll give a poorly-performing plant a decent chance before I relocate it, or even banish it. Usually this means an entire growing season, but sometimes it means a few years.

Take for instance this 'Fine Line' buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula. I picked it up at least 5 years ago at a bargain price, and envisioned it forming a column of green, feathery foliage.


Just Blooms

'Fourth of July' rose, possibly mislabled


Spring means new life

Yesterday turned out to be an eventful one for me, and it all revolved around Spring and what it means for the animals around me. As well-balanced gardeners and nature lovers, we all pay attention to the new life around us: baby rabbits all over the place, nesting birds of all kinds, the calls of mating toads and frogs (if you happen to have water nearby). You can't help but notice it, as it's everywhere at this time of year.

Sometimes though it really pays to be extra-attentive, as I happened to see this very young baby bird on the ground in the front yard yesterday.


Preparing the cactus beds

One of my slowest projects has been the new "cactus" beds. I've been growing several cold-hardy Opuntia species in pots -- it's been over a year since I've received those -- and I also have a few Agaves and a Yucca to plant too.

The planting beds have been laid out since late last summer, and I finally got the beds prepped and ready for planting this past weekend. I don't think I've ever spent over a year deciding on a new planting bed before.


A closer look at the pond

The other day I showed you an update on the pond, and I mentioned that I added some new plants this year.

Want to take a look at them?


Just Pretty

Not much to say today, so you know what that means: photos!

Starting with some azaleas from Mike's garden.


Maintenance: bamboo control

On this blog I like to mix "pretty" posts with useful ones, sometimes even getting a post that is both. Unfortunately, today's isn't so pretty. If you grow bamboo though (or are thinking about growing it), it should be useful.

It's somewhat of a tale of neglect and how to deal with the consequences, as I've had a bamboo escape due to my own inactions.



I thought I'd give you an update on a few things that I've been posting about lately. First, the super-crowded Mexican petunia that I divided and repotted:

As you can see, it's doing fine.


More iris, new

A couple of years ago, my garden didn't contain a single species of Iris. Somehow, I've collected several over the past few years. I'm not quite Iris mad like some people are, but I'm certainly learning to appreciate their contribution to the garden.

So here are three of the other Irises I have. There are a couple more small ones that haven't bloomed yet (and I'm not sure that they will), but if I wait for those it may be too late for these.


The walkway beds expand

My newest planting beds -- those along my new-last-year walkway -- began their expansion this past weekend.

Although I'm more than pleased with the way these beds are going, they're just not big enough. There's much more room for plants out here!


Beautiful is caterpillar

Remember the other day when I found a green caterpillar on one of my roses while looking at rose slugs? Well, this must be the year for caterpillars on roses, because I found another one.

This one is quite different, and was found on a different rose. Are there more caterpillars this year, or have I just never noticed them on my roses before?


Do you like peonies?

My friend Michael sure does! This is only the second time that I've visited his garden when his peony beds were in bloom...

...and although I should have been helping him unload compost from my truck (the main point of my visit) I was busy snapping photos instead!


Chard, so pretty

The Swiss chard in my garden has been a big success this year! Both of my plantings of it overwintered, I've gotten many harvests out of it, and its added such a lush look to the garden.

Most of all though, it's so pretty!


Bamboo shoots

Just a look at some of the bamboo shoots and fresh new culms. This is Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis', but you knew that already.

I didn't get photos of every species, so maybe I'll have a follow-up post soon.


Rose Slugs

It's the time of year when the roses are exciting: foliage is fresh and colorful, blooms are starting to appear. It's also the time of year when a pest makes my normally carefree roses need some help.

The pest is rose slugs, and they can really turn a rose plant ugly.


Iris, through my eyes

I've only had Irises growing in my garden for a couple of years, and these were given to me -- I didn't choose them.

I don't think I'll ever be Iris-crazy, but I can certainly appreciate their wonderful blooms when they arrive -- just beautiful! But I really only like them up-close...


Spectabilis bamboo

Most of the bamboos are shooting now, and I've certainly posted photos of the beautiful shoots in the past. Today though, just a quick look at a single species, and how well it's doing for me.

It's Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis', and it definitely is spectacular!


Rip out, revise edibles

It's time for the kale to finally go. I overwintered this under hoops and plastic this year, and it rewarded me with so many fantastic early salads this spring.

Nothing in the veggie garden lasts forever though, and when you have limited space for edibles like I do (inside the fence to protect from the always-hungry herbivores) the bed space is precious.



So many different purples in the garden right now...



When I finally planted some blueberries a couple of years ago, I expected berries. What I didn't expect was that the little blooms would be so attractive!

Here's a brief look at them now. They're so colorful compared to previous years!


Beautiful, but what is it?

I've got an interesting volunteer growing in my yard. Okay, most people would call this a weed -- I would. I was in fact about to dig it out the other day, but realized...

...this is quite beautiful! Look at the silver edges along each leaf margin. Is this normal?


Make some room!

Two little projects today in which I needed a little more space. The first is this pathway:

With the bigger-than-expected dark-leaved ninebark on the right, and some clipped-to-the-ground butterfly bushes emerging on the left, this access gets much more restricted later in the summer.


Cabbage worms

It's amazing how quickly the garden can go from a cool, almost carefree source of spring greens... a battleground, where hordes of pests seem to appear almost overnight.


What to do in the rain? Weed!

Yesterday was the first day in about a week on which it did not rain, and we actually saw sunshine! I have to tell you that it's frustrating at this time of year to be unable to do much outside for days at a time.

Luckily, there's one activity that is perfectly suited to a sopping wet garden: weeding (or de-weeding, depending on how you look at it)! That's what I did on each of those days when the rain let up.


Cactus problem: what to expect?

I noticed that for the first year ever, my big potted cactus did not have a great time overwintering in the garage.

I'm hoping those of you with more cactus experience will offer some advice or at least let me know what to expect.


A little change

I've got a little problem spot in my garden. (Yep, just one -- the rest is perfect , cough cough) It's this Panicum 'Heavy Metal':

Since the bamboo next to it has grown up this grass doesn't get enough sunlight, so tends to be floppy and weak. So it's time to dig it up!



While removing my bamboo pots from the mulch piles the other day, I discovered not only a toad, but mycelium:

The fibrous, root-like portion of a fungus, mycelium is essential in breaking down organic matter and moving nutrients around.



It's finally time to do something about the pile of mulch that was protecting the potted bamboos on my driveway this winter.

I could have done this a month or more ago, but honestly, I knew it just wasn't going to be fun. Also, I did not know where I'd be putting all of this extra mulch -- I've got extra piles of it already in the back.


Happy Returns

Every spring I get to play the "which plants returned this year?" game. Herbaceous perennials could be quietly sleeping away the winter, or may be dying in the wet, cold ground. Most things come back year after year without fail, but there are some that, well, you just don't know.

So I was happily surprised to find this Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master) in the prairie bed!



The other morning I looked through the bedroom window and noticed this russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) moving:

It was shaking quite a bit, then stopped and a female cardinal hopped into view with a few small branches in her beak. She was building a nest, and snapping the fragrant twigs off to use in it! (I doubt it was the scent of the plant that attracted her, as most birds have a poor sense of smell.)


A nice view or two

As I've been working in various parts of the garden, trying to get things into shape...

...I realized there are a couple of really pretty views right now, areas that don't contain huge piles of mulch or carpets of weeds, or just appear empty because things haven't started rolling there yet.


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