Monday, October 12, 2009

Is it fall, or winter?

We had our first snow a couple of days ago --just flurries, but still it seemed terribly early. It's been quite cold for over a week now --cold, as in heavy frost. The plants in the planters are goners.

Before it got too cold, I did manage to move a couple of plants I'd been thinking of moving during the summer. I also planted two of my six heather plants, and some bulbs. However, I still have quite a few bulbs to plant, and four more heathers. Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the low 50's, so I'm hoping I can get the rest planted. Although normally I teach a lab Tuesday afternoon, I've taken the day off in order to be here when our new furnace is installed; I'm hoping I can be outside part of that time and get these things in the ground. It's looking like it might be my last chance!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We finally got in (and cleaned) the pool yesterday, although the water temp was only 80 and the air temp was only 82.  But it was sunny, so it felt refreshing.  I keep hoping we'll get some hot weather early in August, but it's not looking very favorable.

The big July bloom is coming to an end --all the lilies are pretty much done, as is the bee balm.  The hummingbirds have been enjoying the buffet.  The shasta daisy and rudbeckia is still blooming, probably because it's been so cool.  

My lupine look awful, and I'm trying to figure out what to do about them.  Apparently they like things a big acidic, so I need to add some stuff to the soil --peat moss will do the trick apparently.  However, in the meantime, I'm thinking I should try some acid fertilizer.

We haven't had any significant rain since we got back from traveling, so I need to get the sprinkler out today.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boy, it has been so chilly recently!  The last few days it's not even gotten out of the 60s!  I think we made it to 72 today --but for July, that's strange.  It's really a little too chilly, it doesn't really feel like we're in summer.

We took Emma to Rockton's Old Settlers Days fair yesterday, and it was nice that it was cool.  She went on her first real rides --tilt-o-whirl, ferris wheel, etc.  She had a great time.  Tomorrow Erin and I are taking the girls to a water park down near Starved Rock park, luckily an indoor water park, since it's only warming very slowly.  We're going to stay overnight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Liatris - John & Irene have this plant growing in their yard and didn't know what it was.  It's a great looking perennial, and I'd like to add it to our gardens.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm watering with the sprinkler again.  We leave day after tomorrow for a week, and no rain in the forecast.  Emma and I watered the pine trees and tomatoes this morning.  I think I'm going to move the basil to the front porch and water it good before we leave.  It just dries out too much in the sun on the mudroom porch.  I still want to mix up some of the neem oil and spray the rose bushes before we leave, as well.

We spent most of the day extracting honey down in Byron --about 35 lbs worth.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rob and Emma have worked hard on the north porch landscaping, and we finished it last night.  The walls are built, the soil filled in, Rob moved some hostas to surround the drywell, and last night we finished mulching the whole area --it looks great.  We'll have to figure out what to plant there next spring --it's so shady in spring and fall, but gets quite a bit of sun in the middle of summer.  I'm hoping Lisa will have some suggestions.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Boy, from 98 to 62!  However, the plants much prefer it, I think (except the tomatoes).  We've had several cool days; it's supposed to warm up over the weekend, but only to normal temps (82ish).  We haven't had any rain in quite a while --I did a thorough sprinkler watering 5 or so days ago, but at this rate I'll have to do it again pretty soon.

Today I'm going to cut the lawn, and I'm going to need a jacket :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hot Hot Hot

It's too hot!  95 yesterday and again today.  The pool water got up to 90!  The flowers are blooming and dying before I even get a chance to see them.  And I just can't make myself do anything outside except float in the pool.  The forecast isn't cooling significantly any time soon, either, although the humidity will decrease a bit in the next few days.  Still, when it gets this hot, it's still too hot, even with slightly lower humidity.

Rob worked a bit outside yesterday in the morning, but that was all.  Emma and I chased a bunny (I really need to spray Liquid Fence) out of the garden this morning and were already hot.  She's at Trot Camp, sweltering.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lots of storms last night and this morning, and maybe more this evening.  I haven't checked the rain gauge, since it's still raining, but it seems like a good amount.  That means I don't have to water the new trees for a couple of days, which is nice.  Rob's dry-well by the front porch worked well through the storms.

The red lilies started blooming yesterday, and some of the "kiss-me-kate" lilies in the east bed are blooming as well.  It might be nice to put some of those red lilies near the blue delphinium, which is also blooming now --that would be a nice combination.  The yellow foxglove is beginning to bloom.

I've been in the pool once (yesterday) --the water is still 78 degrees.  Emma and Rob have been in several times, and I might have gone in earlier if I hadn't gotten this cold.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Today I bought two new lupines, which should actually flower in color, and planted them next to the white ones.  I added in some peat moss to the soil, since I don't really have any compost.

I also bought and potted some basil.

We've gotten about an inch of rain over the last two days --just what we needed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We moved four milkweed plants from in front of the paddock to the garden.  They're all drooping a bit now, but perhaps they'll take.  They have the strangest roots --just one big root, really, that make a T at the bottom.  But none of the little stringy roots most plants have.  We watered them in well, and we're hoping for the best.

It's 73 and really humid today.  Maybe storms later.  We got less than a quarter inch of rain yesterday, so some more would be welcome.

The alliums mixed in with the siberian iris are beginning to bloom --there are yellow and pink so far.  I hope they'll seed themselves and spread.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Over the last two days, Rob has finished the stone steps up to the north porch.  It looks wonderful, with the old limestone lintels as steps.  He's also created the stone wall on the west side to match the one he built last year on the east side.  Creating the steps excavated quite a bit of dirt, so we just need a few more bags back by the bleeding heart to fill in the bed.

Today he had playground mulch delivered, and he's back there now, spreading it out on Emma's playground. 

I did a little watering, including the two new pines by the drive.  They were drooping, so I guess I need to water them a bit more often.  They have a lot of new growth to support right now.  I will try to remember to water them again tomorrow, and then we might get some rain this weekend.  I also watered the red bud and pussy willow trees, and need to remember to give them lots of water as well --I'd especially like to water the redbud deeply, to encourage deep roots so it will survive the winters.  I'll need to leave the hose there for a while to really let it get thoroughly watered.  

My lupines are blooming --white!  I've sent an email to Lisa, to see if she can think of what I  might be doing wrong with them.  They just don't look lush and healthy.  I should try to top them with compost and more mulch.  Maybe the bed is just too sandy.

The rose is amazing this year --I've never seen it with so many blossoms at once.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We've been cleaning the pool -- a bigger job than last year because the winter cover blew off and then into the pool, dumping all the stuff in.  Also, the sun hit the water and created lots of algae during the time before Dale came to open it.  Rob and I've spent two days vacuuming it --a very slow process.

It's a nice day today, 77 degrees and sunny, and the smell of the locust trees just permeates the yard --it's wonderful!

Yesterday I got the rest of my tomato plants in.  One of the cloches had been knocked off this morning, but the plant wasn't eaten --I think squirrels were just digging in the bed for some reason known only to them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It finally rained!  I haven't checked the rain gage, but I'll bet we got an inch or so.  Perfect for all the plants, especially the new trees.   I'll have to get out there and spray for rabbits this afternoon, since the rain might have washed the smelly stuff away.  It's gray and 58 degrees.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mowed again today, since it's supposed to rain tonight . . . and tomorrow . . . and Wednesday.  Still, things are pretty dry for spring, so it will be good to get some rain.  The garden is looking so pretty --by the birch trees it's mostly green but it still looks great.  Two rose blossoms opened to day, they smell wonderful.  The baptisia is just beginning to color up, although it's not a very bright blue, and the garlic chives are really bushy and flowery.  The purple iris have been blooming for a few days, and now the yellow and orange ones are starting to open.  I've staked the tallest ones, hoping the rain will leave most of them standing up.  I also staked the delphinium that has the most flower stalks, by using two bamboo stakes and wrapping it with twine.  

It's a nice cool day today (I had to wear my jacket while mowing), and Rob and Emma have removed a lot of things from the garage in order to clean it.  The deadline is the rain tonight :-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The last days of May

The garlic chives are blooming, the purple iris is looking gorgeous, and the columbine has lots and lots of flowers.  I hope that the humming birds are visiting.  I've been watering and fertilizing --it's been a week or so since we had any rain, and the new trees really need water.  The cardinal flower seeds have germinated, so by August we should have some flowers from those.

The gnats are still horrible.  And I really should mow the grass again.  Maybe I'll do that on Monday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The purple iris started blooming by the propane tank a couple of days ago.  Most of the spring flowers are going, with only the bleeding hearts hanging on.  I've managed to keep the rabbit damage to a bare minimum.  I got an email telling me my tomatoes have shipped, and hopefully to the two trees will ship soon too.

The gnats are awful so far --it's always one bug or another :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blue Spruce

Yesterday, on Mother's Day, we bought two cute little blue spruce trees, and planted them at the end of the driveway, one on each side.  They're just 2' high right now, but they still look nice, and I think they'll make a nice entrance as they get bigger.  I think we're going to need to protect them from snowmobilers during the winter.

We also bought a little dwarf alberta spruce, which Emma named "silky" and planted it between the privacy fence and the swing bench.  It was a nice day to plant, because it was relatively cool.

The lilacs are blooming and smell wonderful.  So is the Korean spice viburnum.  With just three little flowers, you can smell them from a couple of feet away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This morning, in nice comfortable cloudy conditions, I planted the three purple asters in front of the two goldenrod in the birch bed, and planted the new penstemon against the privacy fence, and the anemone at the base of the beautiful oriental lily near the rose bush.  

This afternoon, after school, Emma and I planted the cardinal vines in three places:  under the privacy fence, and at each of the green trellises leading to the garden.  I don't honestly know if they'll come up either place, but I figure it's worth a try.  I still have zinnia and cosmos seeds to plant, but I haven't figured out where I want to plant them yet.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yesterday I bought potting soil and annuals for the two containers by the mudroom door.  I didn't put any petunias in there this time, and I put a mix of colors in each.  I hope they do better this year than they did last.  I also stopped by Lisa's house to pick up two peonies she dug up for me, and while I was there she also dug some iris and some virginia bluebells.  The bluebells are just tiny starts, not blooming this year.  I've put them in the east bed near the new spiderwort.  Hopefully they'll spread there and I can transfer some to the woods eventually.  

I got the peonies planted on the west side of the house, not too close to the heat pump, and the iris I planted near the windmill, to see what they're like.  Last night it started to rain, and we've had a nice rain all morning --gentle, just right for watering all the transplants in.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We had a very hot day --80 degrees! --on Friday.  I had just gotten 4 plants in the mail, and got very hot planting them.  Three of them were goldenrod --one for the back bed, to see if it will work with the black walnut, and two for the birch bed.  I've also ordered some purple dome asters, to put at the base of the goldenrod in the birch bed.  The last plant is a spiderwort, and I decided to put that in the east bed.  I took out one area of iris and planted it there, nearest the door we don't use.  It will get morning sun, but not the hot afternoon sun, so the blooms may last a bit longer into the day.  

Rob and Emma spent the day planting trees at Nygren, and brought two home.  One is white oak, the other is hickory.  They've planted them --one along the dying white pine tree line, and one out close to the road.  

Rob has been buying bags of topsoil and peatmoss and we've been emptying them into the bed in the front created by the new wall, but it's taking a lot!  I don't know if we'll get anything planted in there this year, given how slowly it's filling.  

The Korean Spice viburnum is leafing out and has at least two flower buds --quite good for such a small shrub.  The wiegelia is also leafing out, and the serviceberry tree as well.  That looks like it has flower buds as well, although it's harder to tell.  The tulips I planted a few years back are beginning to decline --the flowers are smaller and the color is not as intense.  And I'm still waiting to see if the poppies develop buds.  The baptisma is coming along nicely, but I have to figure out how to get it to splay out less.

Yesterday it started raining, and a cool front came through --we're back in the high 40's with lots of rain, which is good for everything that got planted.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We had some cold rain over the weekend, but it's warmer now.  Mid 60's today, supposed to be warmer tomorrow.  Yesterday Emma found some buds on the lilacs, and we transplanted the Strawberry Candy daylily to in front of the mudroom porch.

I was going to get soil and annuals for the two whiskey barrels today, but I had forgotten that it was interest group sharing --we have to go back to Spectrum for the evening.  I'll try to get some tomorrow.

Over the last couple of days we've had a flock of cedar waxwings visiting --lots of them on the bird baths at one time, and flying overhead.  We've also got a bluebird nest in one box, and perhaps another in the second box.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I think spring is really finally here.  We're getting 60's, maybe even 70 tomorrow.  The daffodils are starting to bloom --about time!  The hyacinths are showing color too, and the crocus are finishing.  

I think I might stop and get some soil and plants for the two planters out the mudroom door.  They're close enough to the house that frost this time of year doesn't really get to them.  

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Today finally felt like spring --it got up to the mid-fifties, and the wind wasn't quite as strong.  After church, we all played and worked in the garden.  I got some more clean up done, including cleaning last years seedheads from the sedum, and transplanting the thistle-like plant that was too close to the blue-bird house.  Rob and Emma inspected the bees, and got the hives set up with sugar water and pollen patties.  The bees continue to come home laden with pollen, and I continue to wonder where the heck they're finding it!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First Planting

Yesterday I got some daylilies and a purple coneflower from Roots and Rhizomes.  Today Emma helped me plant them.  The daylilies are behind the sedum next to the garden bench, the coneflower is where the pussy willow tree failed.  It's 50 degrees outside, but still windy enough to be chilly.  Sometimes it seems like it will never warm up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A nice day today --still a bit chilly, with a high only of 52, but nice and sunny.  The spring bulbs have been pushing up, even with the chilly temps.  The hyacinth are showing flower buds, and the glory-of-the-snow has blossoms that are open (the pink one).  I did a bit more mulching today, and I tried to get the viburnum out of the birch bed --no luck there.  I did cut several major roots all the way around, but it's got a strong tap root, and it's not budging.  It's so hard to get in there and do anything, because of all the other plants.  I'm going to see if the damage I did might be enough to kill it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well, we had some typical early April weather for a few days, and things are continuing to come forth.  The glory-of-the-snow that I couldn't find earlier has emerged in both places, the hyacinths are starting to push up, the lilies and the bleeding heart are beginning to show their tips.

However, today we're having another winter storm, with snow.  It was supposed to be a big storm, but on the radar now it looks like it might be breaking up.  So far, we just have a dusting on the ground.  It would be really nice if this storm wasn't as bad as they originally thought because Rob and Chris just installed new bee packages yesterday.  They have to put blankets on the new hives at night for a week.  Since the snow/rain/sleet would make the blankets wet, Rob put tarps on last night.  The less precip we get, the easier it will be for them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today was chilly and very windy --upper 3o's in the early afternoon.  Then the sun came out more strongly and the temps climbed all the way to 50.  The wind still felt chilly, however.  The crocus are really beginning to bloom, and this afternoon the honey bees were busily harvesting the pollen.

Still no sign of the glory-of-the-snow I planted on the NW corner, although the patch of pink GOTS near the garden bench is getting ready to blossom.

Still too chilly to do much, or enjoy it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Well, it wasn't so bad --in fact, it's almost all gone.  We got sleet and some ice last night, and then only less than an inch of snow.  By the time we went out to lunch, it was 40 and melting.  They got a lot of snow south of here, in DeKalb.

The rest of this week is supposed to be pretty unsettled --rain and snow showers, but not stuff that will stick around.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Waiting for snow!

The forecast is for 3 to 6 inches.  Oh joy.  But the temps are supposed to be a bit above freezing for the week, so it'll melt quickly.  Still, it looks to be a bleak week.  There are two more wintry mix storms on the way for later in the week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today is more like the March I always expect --wet (although we got most of our rain, at least an inch, yesterday and last night) and cold.  It didn't quite make it to 40 degrees today.

One of the crocus on the NW corner opened and it's white.  I can't remember if they are all white or not.  Still no sign of the other bulb I planted there, and I'm not sure what it is.  

Tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be nicer, and hopefully I can get a little more garden cleaning done.  We need to start buying compost and mulch, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More green

We've had some nice days.  Yesterday I was able to do some more garden clean-up, getting the daylily and iris bed near the propane tank straightened up (one hyacinth is peeking up), and the daylily beds near the woodshed raked out.  I also re-mulched the two maple trees with the left-over mulch we have near the mudroom door.  It felt warm enough yesterday as we were working in the yard that I had to change to short sleeves and sandals.  Of course, as soon as I stopped working, I needed a fleece again.  I think it was in the low 50s.

We had our first bonfire yesterday, just having the Fishers over.  The stars were brilliant.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Keeping watch

It's 53 degrees this afternoon, and overcast. It would be a nice day to work outside, but I have so much prep to do. Maybe I can work out there after Emma and Rob get home.

Yesterday I found the new bulbs (crocus, I think) coming up on the northwest corner, near the siberian iris that Lisa gave me last year. The other type of bulb I planted there (and I can't remember what it was) is not showing yet. Emma also found the purple crocus blooming in the east bed --they are always the first. I found the bare beginnings of a tulip and daffodil in the birch bed today. Oh, and the snow drop is blooming beautifully in the woods, and squill is filling in fast.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Early Cleaning

It's 55 degrees this afternoon. Rob and Chris inspected the hives (Chris lost one over the winter, so there are only two at the moment), and I began to do some bed cleaning. I don't want to do too much yet, I know it's still early. It's very tempting, though. I got about half of the pile of leaves into the new bed on the northeast corner, and I got the tomato beds cleaned up. I cleaned a bit where the crocus are starting to peek up, but I was careful not to really uncover them. Reading last years posts makes me realize how early it still is. I also managed to prune the flowering quince, so it's a bit thinned out.

The average snow for March is 5 inches --we've had none so far. I'm sure some will sneak in during the second half of the month. I have a lot more energy than last summer, and I'm grateful. We're supposed to be in the fifties until Weds, and then go back to typical March 40's.

A new year

Planting, spring 2009

Purchased plants:
Goldenrod – three plants, try one in walnut bed.
Spiderwort –this one has blue flowers, but almost yellow leaves.
Tomatoes –see below for types.

Purchased seeds:
Cardinal climber –for the fence. Could be the one behind the daylilies, since it says this will grow/flower in partial shade. Otherwise, the one that blocks the street.

March 5, 2009

We are having our first really warm day today. It’s hard not to go outside and look for green tips, but since it’s the first warm day, they are unlikely. Still . . .

It’s very windy, and I had to pick up all the recyclables and put them back in their can.

Well, I’m back in from outside, and sure enough the lilies are showing their tips. The yellow tulips between the birch trees are also showing the merest tip. The ground is still plenty frozen, however, below an inch or so.

I just ordered some daylilies and another purple coneflower from Roots & Rhizomes. The daylilies (3 of each, one yellow, one orange) are to go behind the sedum right next to the garden bench. I’ve got some bearded iris in there now, which aren’t doing well, so I’ll take them out. I’ve had trouble growing anything in the back part of that bed –even the bee balm died out. But daylilies are tough, so they’ll probably do okay back there.

The purple coneflower is to go where the pussy willow tree failed.

March 8, 2009

Well, today is definitely not a warm day –37F at noon. Lots of rain! Lots yesterday too. The backyard is a pond (because the ground is still frozen) and the water we drained off the pool Friday has all be replace ☺

Still, at least it’s rain.