Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Midwest Gardening: May 2021 Freezing to Boiling....trying to catch up!

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These photos were taken May 27-June 3. After a week bout with near freezing temps, we dragged our feet on planting...and then finally got most of the vegetable garden in the ground. Then a blistering, windy dry HEAT wave.


The Virburnum has already dropped its petals, 


...it was gorgeous for a second.


This pot has already lost the Ranunculus in the middle. I've put it in deep shade now.


We had our huge silver maple trees professionally trimmed this year...and the back yard is no longer total shade, so the umbrella has been up a lot, protecting some shade plants.


This speedwell used to be in total shade, it bloomed and has really shrunk since then.


This rose had no blooms, I was afraid it was frosted.


The greenhouse prior to planting---the tomatoes were all blossoming.


Caladiums were wilting in the HOT temps in the greenhouse.


This was the temp at 8:30 am...with all the windows open and the fan running. 


I'm nursing the perennials before I put them in the ground. I emptied out the entire greenhouse and put everything under the back eaves on the north side of the house


There, I did a Barbie post---she was helping me wrangle all those plants I stuck in the shade.


Working hard!


Look at these HOSTA...waiting for a cool home!


She definitely looks better than I do in this heat!



Here's the garden 5/27 with some seeds in, I'll share some more photos next week, hopefully everything will still be alive. Seeds have sprouted, and the tomatoes are loving the heat.


My giant HOSTAS are just that, giant. Hubby has the watering system all straightened out and replaced. We had such a wet year---last year, such we didn't used any of the irrigation equipment. It all needed to be fixed and tweaked.


I still don't have this planter planted. We actually ran out of dirt after we ordered 5 cubic yards. Most went along the new driveway, on the east side fence, and all my pots. Our compost pile really didn't break down into compost much this winter. We will have great dirt next year though.


A new shrub rose out on the mound is taking off.


A Coreopsis was planted and seems to be happy.



Here's hoping you aren't broiling and you got your plants in!!

Hugs,  from Chicagoland.


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Sandi 
 






Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Midwest Gardening 2021: Successful POND REDO and company


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 In one of my last posts, I mentioned that the pond needed a redo. Last year in the interest of my back and age, we dumped 3 bags of sand into the pond to raise the bottom---thinking that would make life easier. 

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It didn't, the water was way too hot for plants or the frogs that would take up residence. The water was slimy and the buildup on the bottom was really disgusting. So, this Spring, I dug thirteen or so gallons of slimy sand and rocks out of the pond. 

I bleached all the rocks and rinsed them three times and left them in the sun for a few days. The pond cleared up quickly with clarifier, and I already had mosquito floats in there. 

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We replaced the pump works, hoses and clamps---these also get very dirty and plugged up. Actually we had enough odds and ends around the garage to do this without any extra purchases. The pump is actually placed on a rock, and I clear it every time I see the the Fish spew lessening. 


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Creeping Jenny (Baby Tears) wintered over and are showing up around the pond. Hopefully they will cover most of the edge. The lime green is a great accent.

 I had also planted some succulent mat bits here and there and they are starting to show up. We have had this old fish for so many years, he's made of plastic but I have to anchor him with rocks, to keep him from blowing over.


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I've removed the rocks from the edges---because of the Grand or little visitors. The temptation is to rest or step on the edge rocks and maybe fall in. At least this way it is not walkable, though it is now deep again.

I did purchase two new plants, one grass which I split and put into a larger pot with a layer of rocks in them and also some some holes cut in the sides. More rocks went on top to hold the dirt in from floating around the pond.

I also potted an optic plant. These have done well in the past. The plants use the excess nutrients in the pond and will help it stay clear. Plus, they provide places critters to hide in. 



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One of the culprits for putting debris in the pond is this Viburnum bush/tree. Hubby trimmed it back severely last year, so it only had blooms here and there.

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They are my favorite, usually they bloom with the Peonies, Iris, and  roses, so I can make beautiful bouquets. This year they were early and everything else was late, only Iris started to bloom this week.

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Even from just a few blooms---this is the 'snow' they leave behind. We have also had incredible winds in NE Illinois this year. 

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In the front you can see the creeping succulents I put between the rocks last year. Many came back despite the 4 feet of snow that ends up on top of this area to clear a path to the garage.



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We love the sound, it comes through the kitchen windows and is water trickling is simply delightful.

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Here's the rose...just starting to bud out a week ago.

After a few days, I placed starter plants along the wood to pot, and noticed this:

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At first I didn't notice, and then I saw we already had a frog in the pond.

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Even before I put the plants in.

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He/she was quite patient as we tried to scramble and take photos with the cell phone. 

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I'm hoping the little family grows, even though we are constantly walking around this area. I put in plants and now I have to watch carefully to see where 'Froggy' likes to hide! 

WHAT SORT OF CRITTERS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR GARDENS!?!


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Sandi 
 











Thursday, May 27, 2021

Midwest Gardening 2021: IRIS FABULOUS- I can't wait to share.

Every year, I hold my breath for our 'Fabulous' Iris to begin blooming. With our 80 degree temps this last week (and high winds with finally TWO rains) they have exploded in color and stature.

Photos taken May 24th, 2021


It was so windy, that morning I had to corral all the IRIS which were very tall this year, from our constant watering. Our part of Illinois was at just 2.3 " of precipitation since February 1st.  As, I have said in earlier posts, I never remember having to water in April and May.


The front wall of our home is basically greenery, Iris and a couple of pots I haven't planted yet for color. I love Iris for their elegance, vibrant hues, and their spikey greenery which adds interest to our garden. They are very hardy in our Zone 5 and if the weather isn't too hot they have a long 'bloom life'. We will have cooler temps now, so I'm hoping the bloom will be lengthened considerably.


Our new boxwood bushes survived the winter and are in need of a healthy trim to thicken them after all the planting is accomplished. I LOVE the texture with the Iris.


I had to hold this one from the wind---and it also gives you an idea of how huge the blooms are.  Iris are happiest planted on the surface and not even in the best soil. This is the perfect place, south facing and sheltered from north winds.


Sorry, I don't have the species list at hand. I ordered about $80.00 worth three years ago. And they haven't disappointed. This year, I will dig up and divide, making even more blooms hopefully next year.


This pale yellow is ruffly and simply reminds me of a summer dress! 


These are just gorgeous. You can see blooms already spent because of our hot temps.


Great color!


I'm so glad I tied these up--the winds have been fierce this Spring.


Over on the east side we have this variety! Peach and lavender, nummy! You can see the Sweet Peas in the back left beginning to go nuts. This flower bed will be redone as soon as the Iris have finished their bloom. 


By May 24th I had finished the pond! YUGH, what a project. I had to dig out the sand and the rocks...bleach everything, then multiple rinses. Get all the muck out, and reset and replace hoses and pumps. I finally have it looking good again and considerably deeper. 
Last year, I had thought raising the bottom would mean less care---WRONG! 
The pond last year ran too hot, and we had no frogs, and lots of slimy growth. So after digging out 13 gallons of blackened, slimy rocks and sand...I think I have it taken care of.  I rinsed the rocks 3 times, and then bleached them in the sun, before they went back into the pond. WE WILL see, how it goes! 

We use pond clarifier and mosquito floats which are organic and bio-degradeable and safe for people, animals, and water critters.

Here, the IRIS are yellow and burgundies which aren't blooming yet. This area is between the garage and house and is in shade until the sun is overhead. I'll share more Iris blooms from here next week! 

HOW are your favorite bulbs doing? 


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Sandi 
 


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Midwest Gardening 2021: Late April- Projects and Backyard!

 Hi, All! I forgot I had started this post and then didn't finish it. 

Gardening has kept us busy and other projects, too! These were taken late April. We were still,  very cold, and dry.

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This  rose is sprouting. YAY! We installed these railings as safety measures for working back there. We are getting older and having something to keep you from falling is a plus!

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The Viburnum (Snowballs) was severely trimmed back last year. I don't expect very many blooms this year.

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This east side bed will be redone this Spring. But, the Daffys love it here and bloom first. I want to do some lattice or something on the cement here and LOTS of new dirt. I think we will dig everything out and start over. 



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My chair is on the burn pile right now---beyond repairing. I will be on the look out for a 'vintage' or 'redo' focal point for here!

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Despite night freezes I got the backyard pond going---the birds love it and use it as a bathing pond and drinks. I have a big pile of blocks in the middle they can stand and drink from.

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I hope to get a few water plants this year. This pond really is very low maintenance, I simply skim it once in awhile. And throw mosquito circles in that are harmless to the birds or critters who use this. Lavender plant just in front is trying!


The fence has more birdhouses, and the chirping is lovely. Can't wait to hang wash.

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Looking forward to the Holly hocks. We are cutting back on veggies along here...the yellow squash was insane last year, and we will just put them in the garden.
The canning larder is quite full, our plan to feed three families, could have been ten.

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Hollyhocks are biennials, so you count on plants refurbishing themselves, I take the stalks and spread the seeds everywhere and hope some restart.

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This area will be adressed. All the wood has been done, the ledge disguises electrical. Thank goodness we did all our wood projects last year. There won't be any wood purchases here at 250% over normal prices.

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There are some winter repairs though. Recommended channeling for these panels isn't enough to hold up to our West Winds. Despite a large 2 story house next store, we get some tough winds all the time.

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The sod we placed in our problem area last year is holding. An edging treatment will be added, I'd love to do rocks but we will see.


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The Heuchera/Coral Bells---varieties around the tree survived and we have had to water end of April and May at least once a week. We are in Very Dry conditions bordering on Drought.
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OUR NEIGHBOR has been very ambitious and stockpiled a huge amount of wood...giving them privacy. 

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Not everything is pretty in storage---here's our hodgepodge of larger containers. Many are going to a friend and our kids this year. Cutting back on containers so we can take a few short trips this year.

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This bush and transplanted Hosta are doing well. I still haven't cleaned out the beds of debris...giving the bees/bugs some shelter from the freezing nights.

LOTS of projects and work to do. Next post will be everything this week, as Spring has finally blossomed in Chicagoland.

Hugs and Are you making a Garden Project LIST?


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Sandi