Spring means...

Spring means different things to different people. This is especially true of gardeners who tend to be looking more closely so see things that the general population might miss. Every year is different too, at least in some ways.

To me this year spring means a peony stalk forest, a miniature woodland in the wrong colors jumping out of the ground.



The garden gloves have been getting quite a workout lately, with all of the bamboo rhizome pruning and other garden cleanup.

They're not exactly falling apart yet, but they're oh so dirty and getting worn out. The weak spots on these seem to be the seams.


Monday Miscellany

More randomness from the emerging spring garden. I'll start with a little vignette, a trio of plantings that has become pretty over time:

The honeysuckle vine on the post is so old now (at least 15 years) and has formed such an attractive tangle of woody stems at the bottom, the perfect foil for the softer Clematis 'Rooguchi' that is in the "third year leaps" stage finally. Look at all of those stems! In the foreground that evergreen that I cannot for the life of me remember right now...


Bamboo Before and After

It's the time of year that I have mixed feelings about: bamboo chopping time. It's a happy time because it means that spring is here and the bamboos are pushing out new growth, but it's also a sad time as it means that all of that lovely foliage will be gone for a few weeks or more.

To be clear I'm talking about the shrub and groundcover bamboos only, as the tall (arboreal) types don't need this annual pruning and cleanup. I was pretty thorough for once in getting before and after shots of all of these, so you'll hopefully see the two sides to this activity. It's also a long post so you'll get a feel for how much effort I need to expend on these every spring.



My bamboo before/after post is taking so much time, just some quick thoughts today. Sometimes life gets in the way...

This corner of the driveway is becoming so nice now...


Wednesday Vignette: Hope

Spring for most people is a sure thing: a time when the weather warms up, blooms start appearing, and everything greens up. To a gardener though I think that Spring is less certain. We know it is coming -- some years more quickly than others -- but there is a fair amount of hope, surprise, and even disappointment along the way.

Today's vignette (brought to you by Anna at Flutter and Hum) illustrates "hope" in the form of my hardy bananas (Musa basjoo). They've never failed to come back each year, but after removing the thick mulch of leaves it's always a mess under there.


Bradford Pears: Spring Beauty and Bane

One of the first trees to come into flower in the St. Louis area each spring is the Bradford Pear. These trees with their full canopies of white blossoms make any neighborhood more cheerful at this time of year.

If you take a drive around more wild areas of town though, cheerful is not what you'll be feeling.


Monday Miscellany

I've been in the garden cleaning things up for the past week. After a day off yesterday because of an unexpected snow, I should finish up the bulk of the work today. I've been collecting little tidbits as I went, so here are a few of them collected.

Starting with my gravel beds. This green santolina has done surprisingly well here, and stays evergreen. So nice!


A question and a warning

I have two things for you today. The first is a question relating to a plant I grow: Petasites japonicus. This is the large-leaved plant that I grow at the edge of the pond if you've forgotten. When it first starts to emerge in the spring, it first puts up its flowers.

This is what the flowers on my plant look like. Not much of a bloom, but the bees find it attractive even if I do not.


Red Mushroom

I spent several hours outside cleaning up the garden again yesterday, and toward the end of the day I noticed a unique color in this early spring landscape dominated by browns and greens: red!

It's a red mushroom! Perhaps "brick red" is the best description of the color, red with some brown. So pretty I had to go inside and get the DSLR, as the phone camera wasn't going to cut it!


Wednesday Vignette: Drama

Yesterday our state of Missouri was voting along with many others on who would be the candidates for The Election this November, and the most Super thing about this day was the weather. Temperatures of 82ºF (28ºC) made working in the yard for several hours a treat.

As early evening arrived so did this impressive cloud, catching the feel of the day so well. Bright, unusual, dramatic, and a little bit tense.


Fern fronds: these may grab you

I guess it's certain now: Spring is here in St. Louis. We've got a little bit of colder weather coming this weekend, but it won't get below freezing. In fact today will be near 80ºF (26ºC) and mostly dry so I'll be out there continuing with spring cleanup. First though a break to enjoy some of Spring's goodness: fern fronds unfurling!

These are from my tassel fern (am I right about that? I can't find the plant tag...) which stayed green all winter. I suppose that means that I shouldn't be surprised that it's the first fern to put out new fronds, but I was when I saw them yesterday. I mean, it's only mid-March!


A last look

It's time to chop down my groundcover and "shrub" bamboos, as they will soon be pushing out new growth. Some are brown, some are still green but a bit tired looking, but all will be wonderful when the foliage refreshes.

Unfortunately, this means that I'm entering the period of least attractiveness for the bamboos. This hurts the most with the Sasa veitchii bamboo whose leaf margins "burst" each winter giving the foliage a beautiful variegated look. So this is one last look at the S. veitchii before it gets clipped.


Friday Randomness

A collection of tidbits today, starting with my Musa basjoo hardy bananas. This is what they looked like a few days ago:

I had just removed the plastic cover that was keeping the leaves dry and the color and texture of the dead pseudostem tops caught my eye.


Bamboo, the wrong color

Every year, regardless of how mild the winter was, all of my groundcover bamboos need to get mowed down. That's because they take varying amounts of damage ranging from minor spotting and tattering to complete leaf kill.

Before I do the mowing though -- either with hedge shears or my actual lawn mower -- it's nice to take a look at the color contrasts that these "dead" bamboos provide. The Pleioblastus distichus above is my smallest bamboo, but the color punch its brown leaves supply right now is not small at all!


Problem getting bigger

The title of this post is a bit misleading, as I don't see the subject as really a "problem" -- not a big one at least. It's my beautiful Fargesia 'Rufa' clumping bamboo:

The trouble is that it wants to splay open to some extent, getting wider each year. (It gets taller too, but more wide than tall.) I was going to fix this last summer but stopped when I discovered the wasp nest inside. No wasps right now, so a perfect time to fix this little irritation.


Springtime means: space!

Temperatures are very springlike in St. Louis this week: between 60ºF (15ºC) and 70ºF (21ºC) every day with lows that don't go below 50ºF (10ºC). That means it's time to start moving things out of the garage and basement!

I start with the garage, as that's where the plants are most in the way. With my workshop in the garage, any floorspace that a plant uses is space that I want back as soon as possible!


Feeding bamboos

Late winter (or very early spring if you're an optimist) is when I give my bamboos their first feeding of the year. It's commonly thought that running bamboo -- which spreads by underground rhizomes -- is such an "invasive" plant that you just stick it into the ground and it takes off.

Well, that's not strictly true. Bamboos are heavy feeders and in order to really thrive they need lots of nutrients (plus water). Sure they can still throw out a 15' (4.5m) rhizome even if they're not babied, but I'd much rather have a healthy, vigorous plant that I need to fight back than a weak one that may not look its best but is also not able to spread so much. So I fertilize three times a year.


Six-year anniversary: best of INWIG 2015

According to Blogger I made my first blog post on March 5, 2010 which means today is my six-year anniversary!  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 you, my readers.

Today, as I've done every March 5 since I started, 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 previous anniversaries too, and I really like the way they turned out. Expect it every year.


Tap Scrape Tap Tap

That's the sound that I hear coming from the kitchen whenever the wind blows.

Remember the heavy wet snow we had a week ago that bent the bamboo down? A few culms are still out of place, and one of them is touching the kitchen window.


A quick visit to Missouri Botanical Garden

Like many, our weekends are shifted one day to Sunday/Monday, and on Mondays we like to get out and do something different and fun. We didn't have a lot of time this past week but we decided to take a quick walk around Missouri Botanical Garden.

We visited in late March last year, so this may be the earliest I've ever been here. Some things never change regardless of the time of year you visit -- the Climatron will always draw your eye -- but as expected the planting beds look so different in late winter.


Bamboo work continues

Yesterday I started talking about rhizome pruning, arguably the best way to control running bamboos.

Today a bit more about this, starting with the finished product! This is my Phyllostachys atrovaginata grove newly pruned, the trench visible as a loop of plowed earth surrounding the plant. Bamboo allowed inside the loop, not allowed outside!


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