Driveway surprise

This is my driveway behind the house, as seen from the bedroom window. It's the messiest part of the space because it's where plants are being repotted, things are waiting to be relocated, etc. Just a general working area.


There's something special about it though, don't you think?


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Opuntia attack!

No, I didn't finally get around to cleaning the leaves out of the cactus bed -- it's the Opuntia that was being attacked, not doing the attacking! The attackers looked like this:


Kinda cute -- as many insect nymphs are -- but still...


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Fawn Sighting

It's fawn season, so I'm not too surprised when I spot one in the garden or in a neighbor's yard.


I am surprised when one stands in the road for ten minutes to nurse though!


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Fathers Day is Mantis Day again

For some strange reason, the mantis egg cases that I keep in the refrigerator all winter almost always hatch on Father's Day. I'd say at least 80% of the years that's when it happens.


It happened again this year!


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Garden sculptures, for you?

Well, it has taken a little while, but the "cube" series of garden sculptures that I've been working on are finally available...


That's right, you can now purchase these for your own garden from my Etsy shop!


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Sneak Peek

Something I've been working on lately. You may have seen these if you follow me on Instagram (hint, hint).


I'm not going to say much about these yet...

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Going overboard: new planter creation

So I made myself a new planter recently. Here it's shown with some plants still in containers to try and figure out what to plant here (and what deer won't eat right at mouth level):


This project happened only because I've been storing our old kitchen sink in the garage for several years and have finally cleaned things up to make more workshop space. The sink had to go and I didn't want to just throw it away (even though somebody would probably have rescued it from the curb).

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Late emergence

It's almost summer (feels like it already at least in St. Louis) and most plants have already pushed out most of their new growth. Sure a few bamboos are still shooting, but pretty much everything else have finished their spring growth spurts.


Except for the tropicals that is, the plants that overwintered in my garage or basement or living area. Those are just getting started!


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Exciting, the deck

Actually, what's exciting is not the deck, but what is going on just past it -- and on it. First, the boxed bamboo (Phyllostachys virella) has had a big size up this year...


...and the tops of the new shoots are strikingly visible just past the deck railing. (This plant is in a box next to the stream.)

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Nightmare gets better without me

So nightmare area number two (aka my cactus bed) has gotten much better...


...without any help from me!


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Siblings

A quick look at some siblings of the wild variety in my garden right now.


Starting with chipmunks. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Hey, there's only one chipmunk in this photo!" You have a good point, but this is just a teaser.


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Nightmare area number two

Continuing the theme from yesterday, here's the second nightmare area in my garden right now. It's my "cactus bed".


There are so many things wrong here, I almost don't know where to start. The sad, sad yucca, the sweetgum sapling, but the main thing is the leaves. Yes, those have been there since the fall (if it's not obvious).


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Nightmare area number one

Emboldened by Peter's recent post about the less attractive parts of his garden, I'm going to share with you the three "nightmare" areas of my garden. Today's is actually the oldest part of my garden: the large raised planter box below the deck.


This was originally full of flowering perennials including shasta daisies and purple coneflowers. In recent years it's been the home to my main (and sometimes amazing) castor bean planting. Right now though it's just a bed full of weeds.


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Surprise return

I neglected my ribbon bush (Homalocladium platycladum) last winter. The previous winter I kept it in the garage and watered it a bit more than the other plants. This past year though it was in the garage again -- a bigger plant -- but I didn't water much.


The result was a dead ribbon bush come spring. Really a shame because I loved this unique foliage -- it will be missed for sure. But will it?


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Clematis, beauty and problem

I grow a few clematis, and for the most part they make me happy -- when the deer don't prune them that is. The one that I grow on my mailbox has performed quite well for me, especially considering how shady it is here.


I believe I purchased this as Clematis 'Piilu', but that's almost certainly not what it is. It looks so good with the variegated bamboo (Sasaella masamuneana 'Albostriata'), doesn't it?


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A little allium love

Just a little allium eye candy today.


Allium christophii might be my favorite, but is it only because I've only been growing it for a couple of years?

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What's wrong with this Agave?

I noticed that this Agave 'Impressa' (or at least that was how it was labeled) is looking a bit unhappy:


Lots of yellow in those leaves, especially the lower ones.


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Big leaves, cleanup time

My Indocalamus tessellatus bamboo has such large leaves, it's really a standout even among so many other bamboos. Unfortunately it gets bitten by winter quite easily and the new leaves emerge relatively late. So in the spring when everything is fresh and new (right now), this plant looks tattered and tired.


I've not pruned this one to the ground like I do with some of my others, instead using a more delicate pruning technique when needed. It's needed now!


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Rose Support Update

I thought I'd show you some updated photos of the rose support now that the plant has leafed out and blooming.


I love having structures peeking though foliage!


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Come on Monarchs!

Remember how I was recently hopeful that my large and ever-expanding colony of common milkweed would finally rear its first "crop" of monarch caterpillars?


Well, things are looking good! Or at least they were for a while.


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Robins

Robins made a nest in a disused hanging planter under the edge of the deck:


It's at about eye level for me, so I just raised the phone camera above the edge and blindly snapped these images. The first was taken April 19. I've often wondered why these eggs evolved to be blue. Seems like a bad color if you want to go unnoticed.


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Flood!

After a few days of heavy rain in the St. Louis area, heavy flooding is widespread. With perhaps 4" (10cm) of additional rainfall expected today and tomorrow, things are expected to get worse before they get better.


Although my house sits on high ground, my garden is still experiencing some flooding -- particularly the pond.


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Now? Really?

One of the tasks that I had on my list for this spring in the garden was to remove or at least drastically reduce the milkweed in my yard.


For the past four years I've been growing a few kinds of milkweed for the monarch butterflies. I started when a volunteer Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) sprang up in my prairie beds.


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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!


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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.

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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!

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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.

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Shoot

Why do the best bamboo shoots...


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

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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.


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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...


...so time for a final look! ("Final" for now I mean.)


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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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!


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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!


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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.


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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.

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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!

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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!


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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.


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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!)

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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.


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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!


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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.

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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?


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