The pond gets new fish

If you've been following along regularly you'll know that I updated the pond this spring: emptied it, made it a bit smaller, refilled. I've been waiting to add new goldfish, and the wait is finally over!

A dozen small comets were purchased and introduced to their new home last week!


More bamboo shoots

After fighting with the driveway bamboo while building the support to help keep it upright, it's time for some bamboo love...

...and there's nothing I love more in the garden than bamboo shooting season! I've got four different Phyllostachys species shown here, all shooting at the same time. From bottom to top it's Ph. nigra, Ph. aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis', Ph. propinqua 'Beijing', and Ph. bissetii.


Bamboo support, finished

Continuing with my permanent bamboo support project. Yesterday I got started by thinning out the grove and then sinking a few wooden posts as the backbone of the structure. The next step was to add the front posts and the crossbeams.

That sentence makes it sound so easy, but working with the leaning bamboo constantly straining against me made this a difficult task!


Bamboo support, part 1

One of the first big bamboos I planted was Phyllostachys bissetii back in 2008. It's along the edge of the driveway in back but is also visible from the street.

I've fought with it for several years, trying various methods to keep it more upright. Part of the problem is the overhanging trees -- they make this plant lean over the driveway in the quest for more sunlight. I have started on my final solution to this problem, so let's take a look at what I've done.



Why do the best bamboo shoots...

...always come up where they shouldn't?


A little repair project stretches out

Remember the copper trellis that I revitalized a couple of years ago by adding the mesh panels?

Well, the temporary connectors (plastic zip ties) have degraded in the sunlight and have started breaking. The result is curling panels and an overall shabby look.


Rose Support Finished

I've shown you the build of the rose support and the design process too, and I've had a chance to get the final bars on and the rose has been tied up... time for a final look! ("Final" for now I mean.)


Rose support design process

The rose support has been built (well, almost finished) so you've seen the final design. As I've said I really didn't have a good idea of what I wanted to do, so after I set the two posts I got to work on the computer.

The first design was the simplest: just add some horizontal members to the vertical posts. This would give me something to tie the rose canes to, but almost immediately I knew this was not adequate. Sure it would be easy to build, but I knew I wouldn't be happy with having to tie many rose canes to it. Plus it wasn't really my style.


Rose support, part 2

I started building the rose support last week, and if you remember I did not have a final design in mind yet -- I only knew that I needed two sturdy posts. Well, I finished the design on Friday and started building.

I'll show you my design process tomorrow, but you can see that the first step in building it was to add some cross members to the posts.


Big Rose Needs Support

I've been eager to jump into some of the projects in my garden that will require my woodworking abilities, and although I've dabbled a bit over the winter and planned, it's time to really get busy!

The first project is this climbing rose, 'Zephirine Drouhin' next to the driveway.


First cut, then rake - sometime

Limited garden time and relatively small weather windows (times when it's not raining or sopping wet) means that my spring garden cleaning happens a little differently this year.

Usually it's chop or pull or prune, then rake, pick up, and trek to the compost pile. Not this year though.


I guess it's spring?

So it seems that spring is actually here now. Not that I have much time to notice, but I'm getting out there to do some of the spring chores so I'm seeing clear signs.

Just quick look at what's going on around me. Not my tree above, but can't help but enjoy and appreciate parking lot plantings that look like this!


Let's talk bamboo survival

It's the time of year when my thoughts turn to the garden, and in my garden that really means "bamboo".

So let's look at some bamboo!


So warm, until it's not

This is what you get when you have warm, mild weather for a while...

...and then a night of 18ºF (-8ºC). Those plants that emerge early -- even earlier than normal -- get melted.


Bamboo tasks getting bigger

Although the warm weather has left, it was clear and dry this weekend. With a long list of bamboo-related chores to get done, I decided to tackle one on Sunday that was overdue.

This is my Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis'. It's growing next to my driveway in the back and is probably the most impactful plant in my garden.


Bamboo cleanup continues

One of my biggest springtime garden tasks is cleaning up the bamboos. Sometimes this means thinning and tidying the big, arborescent bamboos, but it also means pruning or mowing the groundcover and shrubby bamboos.

Last Thursday while the warm weather was still here I tackled the front yard bamboos. This year it's easy to tell what foliage to trim off: pretty much all of it!


Pond Makeover, part 2

Did you miss part 1 of my pond makeover? Monday started with more bailing, and this is when it started getting really, well, crappy.

I'm not really sure how deep the muck was at the bottom, but it was at least 6" (15cm). It could have been double that. Those buckets got heavy.


Pond Makeover, part 1

Yesterday I mentioned that the sight of my pond stopped me from continuing with my spring garden cleanup, and teased that today I would reveal what nastiness I enjoyed next.

So I now hesitantly show you my pond, which was once the jewel of my garden. A leak created last summer resulted in months of neglect, the end result being a pond unfit to even show in photos. Sunday I had enough and decided to do something about it.


Starting bamboo cleanup, and then...

Our warm weather has not only put me in a mood for some garden cleanup, but it's given me some extra time to do it too. Logically that doesn't make sense, as early spring seems like it should mean less time for cleanup, but for some reason I feel like I am getting an early start, so more time.

In any case, I eased into the huge cleanup job (or an enormous number of small cleanup jobs if you'd rather think of it that way) by tackling a bamboo.


Something cool going on here

So I noticed something just the other day about the Pachypodium lamerei that overwinters in my living room...

Besides the fact that it's a really cool (and dangerous) feature here.


Perfect placement

You may remember over the summer when I salvaged "the rock" from my childhood yard and placed it in my front garden.

It seems I positioned it "perfectly" -- right on top of a bunch of crocus!


So early

When you have four days or more in a row of 65ºF (18ºC) temperatures in February, strange, potentially bad things start happening.

Trees wake up early. Very early. I noticed this magnolia when driving home from the bakery on Friday. Yes, that's Friday, February 24. Magnolia blooms.


Another bamboo tale

Since temperatures have been around 70ºF (21ºC) for the last few days, I decided that it was time -- as early as it is -- to get the stream running again. I'm not going to show you that, as it involves lots of black, smelly water.

I will share something I noticed though, as I stood back and admired the scene (that moving water makes such a big difference!)


Briefly, bamboo

Every year as winter comes to a close (or appears to as our crazy warm temperatures seem to indicate) I take a look at the bamboos and assess the cold damage that was done.

Although we've had an overall quite mild winter, there were a couple of cold snaps where the temperature got down to about 4ºF (-15ºC) each time. Even a night of this will cause damage to most temperate bamboos.


Amazing: life!

I talked a bit about the trouble I have growing hellebores, but today I'm amazed at something else:

I've been able to keep rhubarb alive!


Coconut, round 2

My first battle with the coconut didn't go too well, and since I was tired of having the partly-open thing on the kitchen counter, I got serious yesterday.

The result: success! Sort of.


What's the deal with my Hellebores?

I've grown just a couple of hellebores during my time as a gardener, and I have to admit, I'm not having much success.

The first one I got was a large division, and it died before the end of the season. There was another somewhere that I don't remember seeing for the last couple of years, and this is my current one. Doesn't look too bad, but where are the blooms?



Remember the coconut I brought home from Florida? I was trying to decide if I should try to let it sprout, or just eat it.

I decided that letting it sprout would just result in a year or more of extra work (trying to keep the plant alive) if it even worked, so time to eat!


Winter color

Just some color that I noticed today in the garden.

It was a bit warmer so I spent a few minutes walking around. Not as much fun as in spring, but the garden is still quite enjoyable.


Florida beach life

In early January we took a much-needed vacation and spent a week on the beaches of Sanibel island in Florida.

Since our days were spent walking the shoreline and lounging on the beach, this post is about the wildlife we found, all of it fascinating to us. Don't expect to learn any names though, as "crab" is about the best I can do on most of these.


Ficus #2 update

I had forgotten that I drastically pruned another ficus last year, and thought I'd show that too.

I bother to post about these probably because they are the two best looking houseplants I grow. Not the most exciting of post topics, but more evidence that radical pruning is sometimes the best thing for a plant.


Ficus update

Just a little update on one of my houseplants, one of a few fiddleleaf figs (Ficus lyrata) I have.

Here's the way it looks right now. Want to hear more about this and why it's somewhat amazing?



It's been a fairly mild winter in St. Louis, except when it hasn't. Temperatures above normal most of the time, except for a couple of times when the arctic air arrived and dropped us to single digits. I believe the low was 4ºF (-16ºC) on two separate occasions (the second while I was out of town).

The result is the smaller bamboos -- which some years I have trouble deciding how to prune exactly -- are pretty much fried. Here's a little survey of some of them, starting with the Sasaella bitchuensis in the hellstrip.


Time for pond v2

I've posted about my pond troubles a few times this year, and I've determined that I need to do something drastic.

This thing is a mess right now, something I don't want to even look at. When in good shape it's probably the most enjoyable part of my garden, but right now...


Ice and Bamboo

The ice of last weekend is just a memory -- temperatures are in the 50's and 60's now, too warm -- but I wanted to still share with you what those of us whose gardens are built around bamboos see.

It's not pretty, but it's mostly harmless and temporary. Lots of painful looking bending.



I haven't posted about it yet, but I recently returned from a much-needed vacation trip to Florida. One thing I brought back with me:

This seed. Is it a coconut still in it's husk?


Every year: surprise!

I've been lazy with bringing plants indoors this year. Yes, I got them into the garage when necessary, but sorting them into the "stay in the garage" and "move into basement" lots was only about 50% complete until yesterday.

That's when I moved a bunch of small potted succulents into the warmth and under some lights. And that's when I got the surprise. Notice anything special about the elephant bush in this photo? (Other than the fact that it's dropped a lot of leaves I mean.)


Ice: beauty or beast?

If there's one thing that makes winter scary to a cold-climate gardener it's ice. Nothing has the potential for breaking the bones of a garden like an ice storm, when decades-old trees and other cornerstone plants can be damaged beyond recovery literally overnight. The number of dead limbs and twigs in my front yard is evidence of that -- I'm not sure yet if my plants made it unscathed.

Ice has another side though: I don't think there's anything in winter that can bring out the beauty in small garden details like a good coating of ice. Today I want to share this aspect of winter with you.


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