This is a record of my journey in our garden.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snow Dusting in April.

Its April 18th and we woke up to snow here in Chicago land. Just a dusting, it melted by midmorning. I was off today so I went out and took some shots. Brrrrrr.... it definitely feels more like March.

Slushy Bird Bath
looks inviting.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Miniature Rose 'Santa Claus'

This is a miniature rose called 'Santa Claus'. It is a Weeks (own root) Rose bought at a local nursery 2006. I have come to learn that own root (not grafted) can be important in a cold climate. This was an impulse purchase and I must say, one of my better ones. This is a very hardy little rose, the last two winters it was not covered at all and come through just fine. When I saw miniature on the tag I thought this shrub would be small, under 2 ft. (Tag: MINIATURE 12-16 inches/Rounded   Large Double Blooms   Show form best in cold weather  Resistant to powdery mildew). So tags are a general guide (I know this),  this little rose gets at least 3 almost 4 feet. Its  a little taller than I wanted for this spot, 2 ft. would have been perfect. For two years I kept saying I was going to move it, but the view of this lovely little rose out my kitchen window changes my mind every year.

It has been hard to get a good picture,  its either too bright or to dark. I so need a better camera.
Santa Claus Miniature Rose
Two ft. would have fit the scale so much better.
My neighbor asked how I get a rose to bloom in the shade because the large Pin Oak in the front yard appears to shade the front of the house. After we moved in my husband had the Pin Oak trimmed up, removing some of the lower branches. This lets in more light and air circulation better for a wood house (Johns concern) and better for the garden. 

You can not tell the size of the bud from this picture but the buds are tiny little gems. I love how the sepals open like a platform highlighting the delicate rose bud. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Japanese Maple 'Fire Glow'

In the Front Entrance bed is my first Japanese Maple 'Fire Glow' purchased in the spring of 2008. After a trip to the library and two books on Japanese Maples, I was obsessed. I just had to have one, but not all are hardy to zone 5. After much research, planning and shopping both on line and at locale nurseries I found this little gem at Home Depot for 35.00 ......SOLD! This little tree should get about    6-10 ft tall and according to what I have read, growth can be controlled by keeping it potted. The leafs bud out red, turn darker more maroon in the summer, then brilliant red in the fall. Fire glow has a thin leaf that appears to 'GLOW' when back lit by the sun.

I love looking out my kitchen window at my little JM, and the leaves really do glow when the sun light is at a certain angle.
The bright fall color.
I kept it in this small cedar pot for two year, keeping it in the garage over the winter. 
Spring color 2009. We had planted red & white tulips around the base of the pot. The red tulips turned out mororange than red and the white only came up the first year. 
Spring 2010 we moved the orange tulips and added more daffodils. Then, do to my husbands persistence Fire Glow was planted it in the ground. I hope it does not get to big now that it's in the ground. We will keep it trimmed and see how it grows.
 I have not been able to get a good picture of the leaves glowing but if you click on this picture you can kind of see it.
Fall 2010 was a dry fall and that seemed to affect the color.
Well I would not call this fire glow but the leaves are definitely glowing. Below are two links for more information regarding Japanese Maples.


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Narrow Strip Bed

Along the front sidewalk, next to the house is a narrow strip  that is mostly shade. We tried a few different things in this bed, impatiens, new guinea impatience and corral bells, nothing did very well. In the end we planted optical grass in a pot, a mini hosta, 3 astilbes close together and moved the corral bell to the end where the Japanese Painted Fern is. The red switch grass that we had added earlier was replaced with a potted red lace leaf Japanese Maple that was recovered from the back yard.

My mother-in-law gave me this mini host after I admired it so much. She did not remember the name  so I have no idea. I love the bright green leaves and so do the slugs. It was planted late in 2009 and the slug ate it down to the ground, luckily it came back.
Optical grass in the pot.

 I believe the Astilbe are 'Fanal'. I save tags and found tags for 'Fanal' and 'Montgomery'. They are both reds, close in size although 'Montgomery' is slightly larger. I now keep a garden log so I know exactly what is where. A third astilbe was added to the two above in 2010. Now the three have filled out nicely.
Its a little hard to see the red switch grass that was planted about 2006. This little grouping at the end gets a few hours of direct sun but not enough for the switch grass to do well (what was I thinking)  so out it came. The coral bell  or heurchera is 'Palace Purple' and seems very happy here.

This is a Red Lace Leaf Japanese Maple 'Tamukeyama' recovered from the back yard. It was purchased in the fall of 2008 when my youngest left for college. A consolation  gift to myselfIt was 4 ft tall at that time and planted in late fall with a heavy mulching to over winter. In the spring (2009) it was full of buds ready to leaf out and then the rain started. It was a very cold and wet spring and I neglected to pull back the winter mulch. To much rain, to much mulch, the buds never opened. The stem was greenish, but the whole top was dead so we cut the top off and waited. It recovered but my lovely 4 ft. tree is now about 20 inches tall. Last year 2010 it was dug up, potted and tucked it with the Japanese Painted Fern and Palace Purple Coral Bell.
The Japanese Painted Fern is special to me. I bought this fern about 11 years ago. Shortly after  it was purchased we ended up moving. Since it was still in the pot, the fern moved with us. Then 4 years later when we moved to this house, we dug it up and here it is.
The narrow bed strip.
My lovely fern and little maple.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Front Entrance Bed

Continuing with documenting my garden beds, this is the "Front Entrance Bed". If you click on the picture you can see it a little better. As all garden are, this is a work in progress. The vinca and junipers were there when we bought the house along with a few tulips. We added the bleeding heart, Japanese maple, some hostas,  coral bells, a miniature rose, clematis with trellis, yellow flag iris, the red switch grass and various spring bulbs. I sometimes think the bleeding heart and the miniature rose throw off the balance of the bed. I have thought of moving them or at least one of them, but I so love admiring them from my kitchen window I just can not relocate them. All three (japanese maple/bleeding heart/minature rose) peak at different times and are doing quite well. The bottom line is they make me happy and that is what it's all about, right?

The Front Entrance Bed in the distance
A different view.
From the driveway, you can see some of the daffodils and tulips. The bloom times very with the bulbs some are finished and others yet to come.
The bleeding heart was the 1st plant added when we moved in. We have always had bleeding hearts and have planted three at this house.
Our house faces east and the conditions must be perfect. This is the largest bleeding heart we have ever had. In 2009 I am not exaggerating when I tell you it was 5 feet tall and covered in blooms. My daughter said its a monster out of control, but that year was a cool wet spring. Last year it was a little more  reserved.
I do love pansies. I treat myself to pansies every year for my birthday in April. My neighbor always says its a little early, but thats the beauty of planters they can always go in the garage if needed.
The idea was for the clematis and iris to bloom together, I definitely can say not all of my plans work out so well. I know the yellow flag iris can be invasive but I cut the stalks before they go to seed and I needed a tough iris that can take wet feet. The gutter overflows all the time, even though my husband is always on the ladder cleaning them out. There is a price to be payed for large mature trees. Oversized gutters may help but are not in the budget,  at least for now. Anyway, the water pouring over had created a low spot, and when we tried adding fill the rain always washed it away. So flag iris was my solution. The clematis is tucked back on higher ground and so far seems to be doing okay (They do not like wet feet).
Noble clematis planted in 2009.
Yellow Flag Iris added 2010.
Fire Glow Japanese Maple, more photos to come in an other post. 
June Hosta 2010.
Santa Claus Miniature Rose.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The small bed I call the "Driveway Bed"

As I wait for spring and gardening weather I wish to try and document all of my small garden beds so.... this is my "Driveway bed".
Spring 2010, we had added tulips in the fall of 2009.
There are peonies behind and day lilies in front of the tulips which will help hide the foliage after the blooms have faded. Those are Crab Apples in the distance.
Aladdin Tulips, we had this kind of tulip in the back yard but lost them after about two years. Not sure if it was squirrels or the condition of the bed at that time. 

I think I will be adding more Aladdin's, but will wait to make sure  they do well here.
A new clematis "Bonanza" also added 2009
An other clematis "Arctic Queen" a double white  was added 2010. Its to small to see here, its even hard to see the second trellis. I am hoping it will make it. I could not find a good specimen but had to have it anyway. You  know how it is when you just can't walk away!
Not the best angle but it had rained and the peonies were droopy
The sun is a little bright here but you can see  the evergreen that fills up that side of the house. I love peonies but if its going to rain you might as well cut them for a bouquet for the house.

Day lilies
These day lilies  were here when we bought this house 7 years ago. They have been moved three times.
I think we have finally found the wright spot for them.
Its always more fun to pick your own plants, especially day lilies there are so many to choose from. Some times you have to use what you already have, these add color when nothing else was blooming.


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