Saturday, November 21, 2015

Let it snow

Today we received the first snowfall of autumn 2015. Usually, some kind of snow falls by Halloween, but the weather is late this year. Climate change? El Nino? Who knows.

Yesterday I did manage to water the new prairie plants on the south side of the house and top dress them in straw. The strawberry bed is protected as well. Today I put away the hoses and cleared the front porch of soggy Jack O' Lantern and dead coleus.

The flamingos are garaged and the driveway markers are set, so bring it on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

End of the musts, more or less

Last week I replaced the DOA cherry tree with another (Grandpa's Orchard gives great customer service), then my SO and I hauled in three loads of horse manure, and last Monday I planted the garlic. That marks the end of the must-do items on the yardening list. Of course, there is always more that can be done, but nothing that can't wait.

Look what the manure brought

Oh. Except strawing the strawberries and the newbies on the south side of the house. It's really windy today, and wet, so maybe tomorrow.

Pinetree Garden Seeds again wins the award for earliest seed catalog of the season. I haven't looked at it yet - it's just too soon, still recovering from this past year, although I am making plans for next (always).

The birds finally showed an interest in the homemade birdfeed thingies. A squirrel stripped the toilet paper rolls - must have been the peanut butter.

Taken through a wet-with-rain window

Monday, November 09, 2015

You can give the birds some feed but...

The g'daughter and I gooped together some homemade bird feeding thingies, made with a seed mix that included all kinds of goodies one would think the birds would like. But no. Not even the sparrows have shown any interest in our creations.

One recipe we used was from Alpha Mom and included gelatin as a binder. Most of it went into cookie cutters, which didn't work as well as I had hoped - too crumbly. I put some of the leftovers into orange halves, some into muffin liners. I have yet to see any evidence that the birds find this mixture palatable.

I have higher hopes for the peanut-butter-on-toilet-paper-rolls-rolled-in-bird-feed objects, although there is the risk that squirrels may tear these to shreds. So far, no takers there, either.

My observation is birds favor different foods in different seasons, so hopefully they will become interested in our offerings someday, before they rot.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not have known that it is sparrows (or at least one sparrow) stripping bark from this branch on my tulip poplar tree. Has anyone else witnessed this kind of thing?

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Last mow?

It has been warm but dry here, unusual weather for us this time of year. While the grass growing has been slow, it didn't stop altogether. I think it is done now, so I mowed for what I hope is the last time this season. I also trimmed and weeded a bit out front; the backyard needs more attention, but then that is always the case.

I took these pix a couple of weeks ago.

Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln', from the front

Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln', from behind, with cotoneaster

, Pampas Grass, Northern Sea Oats, Switchgrass

Little Bluestem

Tulip Poplar

Blueberry ('Patriot' I think)

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

The garden mid clean-up

Viburnum 'Blue Muffin'


I have been calling the grass pictured below Big Bluestem, but BB does not get such a plume-like seed head. So now I have no idea what this is.

The little squirrel came by for a closer photo op. I can't decide if he is a small species of squirrel or just a young one. I have seen a couple of black squirrels here and there, in other neighborhoods.

And I spotted the albino robin; he is hard to miss.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Indian summer

We had a hard frost the other night, hard enough to do in the zinnia and marigold but not the bee's friend. I threw a sheet over the coleus on the front porch (which didn't help much) and the herbs on the deck (they survived). Now we are back to more moderate nightly temps as the trees turn and the yard and garden work winds down.

The plants from Prairie Nursery are in place on the south side of the house, and most appear to be doing fine. (Since this is the time of year when they go dormant, I'm hoping root growth is making up for the lack of vigor above ground.) It has been unusually dry, so I water them every two days.

Thanks to Mr. (or Ms.) Woodchuck, the sweet potato harvest was disappointing, especially considering all the trouble of raising them in black felt grow bags. Besides continuing to make my garden less accessible to wildlife, next year I may actually try (once again) growing sweet potatoes in the garden proper, as my SO has doubled the height of some of the raised beds.

I don't feed the birds during the summer, as they seem more interested in dining on fresh foods. While it is too soon to plug in the bird bath, the cool temps and calling jays remind me to fill the feeders. The spilled seed attracts the non-avian clean up crew, including this young squirrel.

Its appearance drove the indoor cat nuts.

Sometimes by fall, I'm a little sick of the yard and garden, but this year I am trying to be more diligent about cleaning out the vegetable beds. Also, anything that can be done now may (hopefully) ease the hectic pace of spring. And in the back of my mind are changes I want to wreak upon the yard going forward.

What plans do you have in mind for your yard and garden next year?

Monday, October 12, 2015

In a pinch

After reading a review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden at the gardeninacity blog, I picked up the book from our local library. Then I took it back. Tracy DiSabato-Aust's techniques looked like too much work. But unhappy with the way my yard looks, I took the book out again late this summer. Perennial maintenance still looks like a lot of work, but now I feel more willing to make the effort. Not that I have yet, but my interest and motivation are growing.

Last week, I installed 32 transplants from Prairie Nursery on the south side of the house. They didn't quite fill the space available, so to plug the holes I moved some of my established plants, including the New England Aster 'Purple Dome'. I've never pinched this plant back, but a volunteer specimen growing next to the rhubarb bed received a whacking or two from my grass trimmer before I let it go.

"Pinched" New England Aster 'Purple Dome'

As you can see, the "pinched" plant is not only shorter and less straggly looking, the blossoms appear denser. The one left to its own devices needs a makeover. (Truth be known, it was also competing with a clump of yarrow gone wild, which I'm sure did not help.)

"Unpinched" New England Aster 'Purple Dome'

My yard will always look unkempt to the fans of "meatball" shrubbery, but I am becoming a convert to controlled chaos. As the newbies in this bed become established, the more mature plants will need to be held in check. Guess what book is going on my xmas list.