Ack! Not cool, Photobucket

So you may have noticed that the images on most of the posts here (except for a few recent ones) have been replaced with Photobucket's "broken link" image. So annoying. I'd say that "it bugs me"...


...but that is not nearly expressive enough. I am so frustrated, especially since Photobucket told me that my links would not break until my account was up for renewal.


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Will it survive?

Ah, I bet you think I'm talking about something in my garden -- will it survive the heat, or drought, or whatever. Alas, I wish I were talking about a plant.


No, I'm talking about this blog. The thing you're reading right now.


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New trellis

You know I like to build things for my garden. You may also know that I like to upcycle, repurpose, reuse. Well the slightly cooler weather had me in project mode on Monday...


...and it all started with the parts of an old dog crate that I salvaged from my neighbor's trash a summer or two ago (I've lost track). Add a little cedar and I'd get a custom trellis!


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Agave love

I've had a decent (too big for my climate?) Agave collection for a few years, ever since several were gifted to me by a downsizing gardener. This is the first year that I've really been blown away by one though.


Agave weberi 'Arizona Star' loves its new spot on the south side of the house!


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Back in the garden again!

As you probably have noticed, I've been going long stretches this summer without posting -- sometimes only one post a week (or less)! Mainly this is due to a busy schedule that leaves little time for gardening, but it's also due to the weather, as it's just been a very hot summer. Until now that is.


High temperatures around 85ºF (29ºC) with lower than normal humidity have given me the will to spend some time working outside. With a long list of tasks to tackle -- some of them being quite labor intensive -- I just jumped in with the first thing I saw: Milkweed.


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New sculptures

I've been working on some new garden sculpture designs, sticking to my current focus of mixing wooden cubes with metal rods.


This is a variation on the earlier work, and I call this one "Quad Cubes Z".

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What the deer can't resist

Looking out of the kitchen window a week or two ago (the days seem to be flying by this year!) I watched a deer browsing near one of my garden beds, eating violets or something else in the lawn.


As I watched the deer nosed into my raised bed, seemingly eyeing my solitary remaining purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I waited, knuckles close to the window ready to knock if it looked as if it would bite the last bloom.


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Too big - pachypodium

We had a storm come through last night. I didn't hear it, but knew it this morning as I looked out the front window...


...at my Pachypodium lamerei. That big, spiky beast that is a focal point of the front garden. Wait, where is it?!

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Castor Bean: July

Another quick "snapshot" post, just to see where things are as of early July. Unlike yesterday's bananas which are already impressive, today's subject are the castor beans.


If they behave as they did last year they will reach 10' (3m) or more tall by the end of the summer, but right now they're far from that.

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Bananas

With July's heat here, I thought it was about time to take a look at a few of the more impressive plants in my garden. I'll start today with the bananas (Musa basjoo). It's late enough in the season for them to be a focus...


...but there's still plenty of time left for them to become truly huge and awesome. It's nice to snapshot what they look like at different times during the year.

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It's baby raccoon season

No, I haven't seen a baby raccoon (yet) this year. How then do I know it's time for them to start venturing out and exploring the neighborhood?


The first clue was my trash can being covered by muddy little footprints this morning.


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Another surprise

Yesterday's post was about my biggest surprise of the year (baby fish). Today I will share a smaller one, found in the front walkway garden:


The area takes a little while to get going, but is starting to look good now. The "surprise" item is a plant...


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The best surprise

If your garden doesn't surprise you at least a few times a year, I'd say that there's something wrong with it. One of my biggest sources of surprise -- both good and bad -- has been the pond. Almost six years old and different every year.


This year (after its makeover) it still seems to be settling in, with greener water than I'd like, but lots of oxygenator plants. Those are the key to today's post, the anacharis and hornwort.

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Some light

The evening sun backlights the plants of the front garden so nicely, sometimes I just have to go outside and get a closer look! Even the plants that are in shade now benefit (photographically) from the light reflected off the front of the house.



(I took these a couple of weeks ago, but I have seen a variation of it every day since. )

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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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