Lazy Summer

It's summer in St. Louis, which means hot, humid (usually), and overall just lazy.


It's not just me -- it's the ungulates too!


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Just about dead

What might be the worst photo you see from me this summer...


...shows the sorry state of two plants that I thought were invincible.

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Rivers

If there's one thing we have in Missouri, it's rivers. Recently my wife and I have been visiting some of them. Well, a couple at least -- it's not always easy to motivate yourself on your one day off a week to brave the 95ºF (35ºC) temperatures (plus humidity!) and get out into "the country".


We did though, and the first of the rivers I want to share is the "big" river...

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Hibiscus 'Mahogony Splendor'

You already know that I'm back to buying new plants this year, and that I'm not adverse to paying for annuals or tropicals -- things that are not cold hardy in my climate. It seems like that's where all of the "best" plants are...



...so bring them on! Sure I'll have to let go once the killing cold comes, or figure out a way to overwinter at least a cutting, but it's so worth it. Here's a great example: Hibiscus 'Mahogony Splendor'.

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Emerald Jumper

Saw a cool little spider on the rose the other day...


...and I just had to snap some macro shots. Note that if you're not a spider fan, you might not want to continue reading because the remaining images are a bit closer.


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Petroglyphs

We're not doing any extended road trip like we did last summer and a few years earlier, but that doesn't mean that we're not getting out and seeing cool things. Just this past Sunday we drove down to Washington State Park (in Missouri), about an hour from home. What's there of interest? That's actually what we wanted to find out, knowing only that it's a heavily forested and hilly region that we've driven past several times on the way to our favorite winery.


The first thing we discovered there were the petroglyphs.


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Pond update?

Yesterday we looked at the non-pond water features in my garden. Today we'll look at some deer -- no, of course we'll look at the pond. Well, sort of.


Something strange here. I don't remember planting a tree in front of the pond...


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Water features that aren't the pond

I have two non-pond water features in my garden. The most prominent is the water barrel in the front garden, found at the intersection between the two front walkways.


I'm trying something a little different in it this year, as the deer visit it every night (and sometimes during the day) so it's difficult to find plants that they won't snack on.


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Some Before and Afters

In general I'd say that I've been making decent progress on the garden projects this year. I've been out there at least a few times a week getting things done, and it feels good to make some progress! These projects are not always great stories though, so trying to craft a post out of them individually is not productive. As a series of before and after shots though, that might work!



So I start with some shots I took a month ago, when the unwanted volunteers (aka weeds) seemed like they would take over.

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Ficus Update

A couple of years ago (or three) I got a clearance NOID fig for $10. The little thing was alive but not very impressive.


I've been growing it in a large pot and overwintering in the garage, and it's starting to become something to see.


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New Plants!

It's been a couple of years since I've been able to do a "new plant" post since last year I made a point not to buy any plants. It probably goes without saying that a summer of no plant shopping is quite a bit less fun than a summer with!


I showed you the annuals I bought earlier, where I just needed to fill out several different beds and didn't have specific ideas of where things were going. This trip was different, in that I had some ideas about what plants and where.

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Summer Surprise number 1

The first happy surprise I got this summer was actually discovered in the spring:


It's my Manfreda virginica, and for some reason the deer did not prune this one for me this year!

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Summer Surprise number 2

I've had some surprises this summer -- good ones for the most part so far -- and today I'll show you the second of them. (Wait, what about the first? Well, I'm numbering them in the order I discovered them, not in the order in which I'm sharing.)



Those of you who grow roses probably recognized this: new growth. Maybe I should say that another way...

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Monday Miscellany

Time for another catchup post of randomness from the past couple of months. Maybe I'll go in chronological order, at least roughly.


That lets me start with the clematis, which are so great for a couple of weeks and then turn icky.


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The Fabulous Color of Japanese Maples

Ah, that wonderful, colorful foliage of japanese maples: browns and yellows and reds. Is there a better tree for autumn color?


Oh wait, it's only June.

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Casual Visitor

We all love visitors to our gardens, right? We want them to be comfortable, feel at ease, enjoy their visits.


Well, not always. Sometimes they're just maybe a little too comfortable.

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Banana update

Late last fall I put the bananas (Musa basjoo) to bed for the winter, as I do every year. I did things differently that last time, doing as little as I could to protect them. Yes I mulched with leaves, but this time I didn't create a cage to fill, cover it with plastic, or anything else. I just put a minimal amount of leaves and hoped for the best.


Well, the winter was not mild by any measure, especially if you're a tropical herbaceous flowering plant. I was curious to see how my "protection" worked, and what would emerge come spring. As seen above in a photo taken a month ago on May 24, everything is fine!

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Bamboo Cleanup Number One

One of the reasons that I've been posting so infrequently so far this summer (yesterday's post was my first in about two weeks!) is that there are a lot of projects left out there, and it's either do or write about it. (Time to catch up a bit!) One of those projects is bamboo maintenance. The dry fall and winter combined with a couple of extended spells of bitter cold took a heavy toll on many of the bamboos and there are many dead culms to remove.


What makes this task tricky though is some species take a while to wake up, and it's not always easy to tell what's dead until later in the spring. Case in point: this Phyllostachys virella. About a month ago I finally decided that this one was not coming back.

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Ash

There is a bit of a panic right now in Missouri, especially in parks and neighborhoods where ash trees were planted decades ago -- my own city and street included. The Emerald Ash Borer has arrived, and that means that our ash trees will soon be a memory only. I'm not too worried about our forests, as only about 7 percent of the trees in our about 15 million acres of forests will be affected, and I'm not even too concerned about my own garden.


You see, my single remaining ash tree is kind of a jerk.

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Morning Surprise

Last Sunday my wife and I got a little surprise when we walked out onto the deck:


Yep, it's fawn season again!

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Rose, so perfect (for now)

A couple of weeks ago my one remaining rose (Zephirine Drouhin) was just about perfect.


That foliage, those blooms -- complementing the support quite nicely I must say.


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Wednesday Vignette: survival

Plants never cease to amaze me. So resilient...


...so strong. Able to grow where there is not much chance of thriving.


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Replacement plants (should I really tell?)

Last year was a "weak" one for me when it comes to the garden. I didn't do too much out there and added very few plants. In fact, I had a goal to spend no money on plants last year, so visits to area nurseries were few. I did come very close to that goal by the way.


This year I have no such goal. The garden is more important this year, and it's time for me to get it back into shape. To some extent I'm not concerned about spending on plants this year... but should I really admit to that?


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What to do?

I've got a problem. It's this hinoki cypress (fernspray cypress?) -- Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides'.


It was a perfect choice 10 or so years ago when the bamboo was tiny and this space was mostly empty. The flattened evergreen foliage on curving branches looked so great! Unfortunately, things have changed.

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Spider Eyes

I've been doing quite a bit of cleanup in the garden the last week or so, and much of that work involved pulling leftover leaf clutter out from under some plants. (Some was left as mulch intentionally over the winter, and some is from the oak tree that drops leaves until early spring it seems.) I've noticed so many different types of spiders under there, what are categorized as "hunting spiders" because they don't build webs to catch prey.


I noticed one interesting one the other day on the Pachypodium -- which I've been keeping on the porch until I figure out exactly where I want it to go.


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That kale was delicious!

"That kale was delicious!" is what was said in my house recently.


Well, not in the house exactly. Near the house. And not by people.


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You know you have a problem...

You know you have a bit of a problem...


...when your lawn grass...


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What a crop: kale!

I've really outdone myself this year in my veggie beds. As you may know, they've been in a sorry state for a couple of years, and I showed you what they looked like a couple of months ago.


Now though, my attention to detail and dedication to growing something edible (by humans) has paid off, and a bumper crop will soon be harvested!


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There are no ducklings

If you read last week about the duck that's been sitting on a nest for about a month...


...you should know that there will be no ducklings in my pond this year. Don't be too disheartened though, as the story is not nearly as sad as it was a couple of years ago.


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A taste of bamboo cleanup

There is much bamboo work to do this spring. Much is normal maintenance: pruning, cleaning. The dry fall and harsh winter have created an extra amount of damage that needs to be removed too, but I also skipped some tasks the last year or two and am paying for it now -- mainly rhizome pruning and therefore having to wrangle a few back under control.


So today just a taste, with some before and after photos. Starting with this vignette from the back garden, where it's difficult to know exactly what's going on here because it's so overgrown.


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No freedom for cup plant

Hello cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), my big native beauty!


You're sort of an early one in my garden, emerging vigorously and almost crowding yourself out.

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Mid-Spring Blooms

I am not the biggest fan of the early spring blooms: daffodils and the like. But those later spring flowers... I love them! I guess these are mid-spring blooms?


Here's a little sampling of a few of the nicest in my garden right now.

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What do you see?

This is the view of my neighbor's house from my driveway. Why am I showing you this?


No, it's not to show a clean, more traditional garden space -- in sharp contrast to my own. It's to show you something much more interesting.

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Looking good? Look again.

Ah, beautiful bamboo culms:


Looks so good, such a pretty sight at any time of year. (This is Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis', showing off its characteristic yellow and green striping.)


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Making it through Winter

Yes, it seems like we've made it through another winter, but with that title I'm not talking about myself.


I'm talking about my Pachypodium lamerei: it has managed to keep a leaf, and I'm just about ready to move it back outside!


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Cold, cold Spring

We should be deep into Spring by now...


...but the cold just won't stay away! Some nice warm days (we hit 82ºF/28ºC the other day!) sandwiched between cold ones makes this an unusual Spring, at least compared to the last several years.


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Bamboo damage, winter 2017-2018

As I hinted at earlier this week, it's time to take a look at the bamboos and survey the damage that winter has dealt to them. If you prefer seeing healthy, green bamboos (as I do) with little evidence of winter's wrath, then you should look at the before photos I took in December. What comes next won't be pretty.


This is a look along my driveway. Indocalamus longiauritus, in front, usually shows almost no damage. The greenest clump is Sasa oshidensis, but even it has significant burning.

(Note that I took all of these photos on March 19. Things look a little worse now.)

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Bamboo Peek

So it looks like I'll be doing quite a bit of finger crossing in the next few weeks...


...as most of the bamboos are looking a bit fried. (More than a bit really)


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Spring bulbs, forcing cleanup

The allium and daffodil foliage started emerging a month ago, but cold weather slowed it down. (In recent years it's pushed out early and gotten zapped by late freezes.) Although only the crocus have started to bloom, I figured it was time...


...to clean up this bed. It is the first thing that people see when they drive past my house, so it should be something worth looking at, right? (It's where the rose support is, so maybe they're not noticing the mess?)


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Don't be tempted: fruit trees

Is there any symbol of spring more powerful than a fruit tree in blossom? Is there any thought more appealing to the winter weary shopper than being able to walk out into your garden and pick a juicy, ripe fruit straight from the tree?


Combine the two and you have a very strong potential for impulse buy: fruit trees!


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Delicious Spring?

There are tastes of Spring in the air...


...and is there a springier taste than rhubarb? (probably)


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A little game after the rain

Let's play a little game, okay? I'll show you a photo, and you just have to tell me if it's 1) a water feature or 2) a problem caused by a week of rain.


These photos are all from a couple of weeks ago, around Feb 25 after several days of rain. I think we got 5" (13cm) or so total over a few days.

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Frosty mornings, still

It's been alternating between warm and cold lately...


...which leads to beautifully thin ice fragments, and wonderfully frosted vehicles on some mornings!


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Eight-year anniversary: best of INWIG 2017

According to Blogger I made my first blog post on March 5, 2010 which means today is my eight-year anniversary!  One of the main reasons for creating this blog was so I'd document everything I did in the garden, and although I've slowed down over the past year with less frequent posts, I've still captured some important moments.Hopefully I have still given some entertainment and knowledge to you, my readers over the past year. (Or several years if you've been reading for a while or went back to discover older posts).


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. See them here.

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Warm weather makes it happen

The other day when the temperature reached 82ºF (28ºC) I knew I had to take advantage of it and get something done in the garden. But what? Where to start? Actually, the answer was pretty easy: the veggie garden!


These raised beds, fenced to keep the herbivores out, sat fallow and unused all of last year. I suppose "unused" is the wrong word though, since Nature used it to grow whatever it wanted to.


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The pond, end of January

After a very cold start to January, the pond had a thick layer of ice on it. I can't really say how thick it was (at least 6"/15cm), but it lasted for most of the month. It thawed a bit once and got over an inch of rain on it, then another cold snap froze that.


By the last day of the month though, most of the ice was gone and I was able to take a good look.


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What to do: dividing Aloes

Like many gardeners -- even casual ones -- I have a few Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) plants that I received from others. This "small" one is now several big plants, each ready for its own pot.


The question I have is how exactly do I divide this?


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Seven-year anniversary: best of INWIG 2016

Hey, I only just realized that I never did a "best of 2016" post last March!  Here it is, only 351 days late!

According to Blogger I made my first blog post on March 5, 2010 which means today is my seven-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.

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Weird Winter?

So I've been noticing: it's been a pretty weird winter, at least here in St. Louis. For example, here's yesterday's forecast:


Yes, it was over 80ºF (27ºC) yesterday, dropping to 32ºF (0ºC) at night.  (Our normal high is about 45ºF / 7ºC)


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Mid-winter, still pretty

We're approaching the time when the garden starts changing pretty quickly (wishful thoughts of Spring?) so I thought I better post what things looked like on January 19th. I went out there intending to take photos of the bamboo for comparison with the "before" photos taken earlier.


I did get a few of those, but instead I was distracted by how pretty things were, in a relative way. The browns of the winter garden really make the other colors pop, and the blue, blue sky doesn't hurt. I love the pergola shadows in that first photo!


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