Wednesday, May 28, 2014

harsh winter casualties...

We are just starting to have some hot and humid days.  They come and go.  We fired up the old AC last evening because I just couldn't take it anymore!  Just too humid in the house to sleep.  But I hate it when you do that and close up the house; all the windows and doors and in the middle of the night, the temps go down to something that is beautifully cool.  But inside, it's still 77 degrees.

Ah well.  Modern problems.

So, the casualties I've noticed around the garden.  The bamboo that I had been growing for a few years all died of exposure to continuous cold temps.  It was super cold this year along with a record breaking snowfall of the likes the area hasn't seen since 1830-31.  Crazy.  No worries though, there are plenty of bamboo shoots popping up all over.

Boxwoods have a lot of dead branches, but for the most part had survived by being buried under the blankets of snow.  Other than the one or two that were taken out by our cars sliding into the driveway and not being able to stop.

Some tea rose bushes are dead.

The climbing rose canes are all dead, but there is growth at the bottom.

A couple of spruce trees have damage.

Another bush that I have no idea what it is called is half dead.

I had planted a red bud in 2012, when my dad died and all of its branches are dead, but new growth is coming from the trunk.

A honeysuckle seems pretty much gone.

The one that makes me most sad is the lipstick vine that has a thick trunk.  It seems to be dead.  No growth yet and typically this is when it would start to leaf out.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

waiting for spring...

...but I don't think it's going to come this year.

We still have almost 2 feet of snow on the ground and it's the first week of March!  2 FEET!  In some areas, we have piles that are taller than my son.  He is a little taller than 6 feet.

Jbo and I were talking on the way into work today that the crocus should be starting to bloom soon, so I checked out the timing on this blog and it looks like in the past, they bloomed anywhere from March 20 - April 1.

I just don't see that we will be able to see any of these flowers by the third week of March.  I don't see any real "warm" days in the near future.  Hope I'm wrong, but I also don't want to see the damage all of this melting snow will do to everyone.  I would like it to start melting (today),...slowly.  A little every day.

Needless to say, we are so OVER this winter.  Jbo says it still looks very nice - which is true, but I'm itching to see the green grass and the pretty flowers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today is the first day of Spring.  It's cold (25 degrees) with some flurries.

Waiting, not so patiently for warmer weather.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Yesterday was the first day of summer and half my lawn is brown and dead.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

weeding, planting, mulching...

The weather has not been very cooperative since the early thaw and warm temps that we enjoyed in March.  Since then it has been rainy, WINDY and cold...dismal.  I don't know about you, but I cannot work outside in high winds...everything gets blown around and it's just a mess.

We managed to buy the mulch, the Boxwoods and even a Redbud tree.  Last week before we went on vacation, we were able to plant a mess of Boxwoods and the tree and cover the area with mulch...then we headed off to Florida.

We flew home yesterday and on our way home, we stopped at Block's Nursery on Eureka Road and Middlebelt; right by the airport.  We picked up flats of Impatiens, a hanging basket of pink Geraniums and three English Lavender plants...more planting in our future, but not the near future since you need to wait until Mother's Day to plant annuals - hopefully by then the threat of frost will have passed and all our other planting will be done.

While in Florida, we made some events in our calendar called "KEEP CLEAR", so that if we are invited somewhere in the next month, we can honestly say that we are busy.  Six weekend days have this notation, so I hope that the weatherman will cooperate and make those days free of rain and wind.

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, we've got company coming and so, we've got to get busy and get to these things...

We have other things we need to complete this year.  Finally finish the scraping, sanding and painting of all the windows in the house...and now it looks like the paint on the eves of the roof need to be scraped again and painted.

Plus, we never got to creating that vegetable garden that we had planned up last year.  The ideas are still flowing about that and these other things are proving to be in our way.

One day...

OH! And I saw this great idea on Pinterest of doing some moss graffiti on our concrete garage wall (outside of course).  But I'd really like to do this.  I found a nice garden-y quote that I printed out and I'll have to stencil on the side of the garage.  I hope it works.  The quote I found was "Gardens are a form of autobiography".  It's short and sweet and to the point.  I like.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a garden is continually changing...

I have a laundry list of things to do this spring, before it becomes too late.  I want to move all the Daffodil's to one area at the front of the property so that it makes more of a statement every spring.

I seem to have some Lungwort plants that could be moved to an area where they will thrive - along with that I have some Pachysandra that I've moved several times and I still don't have the right spot for them.

I want to trim the flowering bushes; Forsythia and Star Magnolia, before they start to build up their buds for the following year.

I need to trim my rose bushes...they are growing like crazy!

We went to Home Depot over the weekend to pick up some mulch, but instead we used our gift card to buy 24 Boxwoods for at the end of the driveway.  I still need plenty more and they are currently on sale for $4 a piece - almost $3 in savings from its normal price.

We went to Kroger to pick up some more gift cards for Home Depot, so we will buy the mulch later this week.  I need to get all the other things accomplished before we put down the mulch.

Every year we put down some mulch since it doesn't seem to last all that long.  This year we are trying to get the place looking presentable because my cousin from Belgium is coming for her first visit at the beginning of June and then we are hosting a "pre-nup party" at our place for our niece Erin and her fiance Chris.  They live out east and it won't be easy for all the Michigan family to attend their wedding in July in Plymouth Massachusetts.

Why did we buy gift cards for Home Depot at Kroger?  If you buy gift cards at Kroger, you get points toward Kroger Fuel.  Right now we are saving $1 per gallon on nearly every fill up by having purchased gift cards over the past month.  During the month of March, you were earning double the points for each gift card purchased.  Every little bit helps.  And, we're kind of double dipping.  We purchase the gift cards using our Speedway MasterCard and earn 10 points per $1 spent.  Once you get to 190,000 points, you get a $200 Fuel Card from Speedway.  We use our MC for all of our purchases and so we earn a $200 gift card on average every 4-5 months.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


...killed the Magnolia blooms :(

and the Azalea blooms...

Funny, the Star Magnolia's were also bloomed and even though they are delicate, their blooms were fine in the colder temperatures.

Normally the Magnolia would bloom mid-May.  It was nearly 2 months early this year because of the 80 degree temperature!  Isn't that alarming?  I think it is.

Now the temps are more normal, so all the spring blooming trees (other than the delicate Magnolia's and Azalea's) are holding on to their blooms longer.  It's like when you have cut flowers at a florist and they put them in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

dry, dry, dry...

The garden is rain for days.  The rain barrel is nearly empty.  Things are looking pretty sad.  Even though we don't typically sprinkle our grass or plants, I had to for the last two weeks, otherwise some of the nice plants we purchased earlier this year would have shriveled up and died.  But even with that, it's still looking dry and brown.

One good news item.  We have put down GrubX twice this year and we've seen only a few Japanese Beetles!!!  MUCH IMPROVED!  One more application this year and then 3 times a year for the next two years and we should be all clear.  Plus that should make it so those pesky moles move on.

Oh, and an update on the veggie garden.  There isn't one.  Not yet.  We've been real busy this year and haven't found the time required to invest in this project.  I believe it will be started this year before the winter, but who knows?  We still have several windows to paint and that project started about 4 years ago.  We really need to focus, but we are just jam-packed with things to do until probably November!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

strawberry anatomy...

Being that this is essentially the first time that I've grown strawberries, I am observing some things that are rather me.

I had noticed last year that each plant sends out shooters (called stolon or runners) that will then create a whole new plant and once the plant is established, the shooter dies.  It's like an umbilical cord for strawberries.  This has made the strawberry hill very crowded and in need of pruning.  I can share the plants if anyone would like any...I don't like to just throw away good, healthy plants.

On to my scientific observations...this year we've finally had enough strawberries to harvest and I am busy picking them on a daily basis.  Sometimes upwards of 17 berries a day!  However, all of that is coming to an end because these are June bearers...anyway, I was mentioning to Jbo last night about a couple of things I've observed ~ 

There seems to be a main stem on the strawberry fruit cluster.  That stem is thicker and stronger than the other stems.  The fruit on that stem is large and has a nice shape, whereas the fruits on the thinner stems are much smaller and in a lot of cases, a bit deformed.

A little internet investigation confirmed my discovery.  In the F. Fruit cluster: a, primary fruit; b, secondary fruit; c, tertiary fruit.

Since we never see small berries at the grocery store or even farmer's markets, I'd wondered aloud to Jbo if it might be possible that strawberry farmers only sell as individual fruit the primary and then use the secondary and tertiary fruit for jams and jellies and Jbo thought maybe for frozen strawberries.
Another thing I've observed is that there is a beetle bug that seems to like the strawberries and must inject some kind of agent into the fruit which makes the flesh a gray color and the fruit becomes smooshy.  I have found one or two on an infected fruit.  So, not only do I have to watch out for the chippy's but also these beetle bugs.

Again, in the same page I found out about the different levels of fruit, I also found out about all the different insect strawberry predators.  I think mine is the Strawberry Weevil, but there are plenty to choose from.  

We've only lost a dozen or so fruits to the bug and about the same to the dreaded chippy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

tis the season for pickin' strawberries...

Last year I believe we only produced a half dozen strawberries from the plants that I ordered from Gurney's.

This year the plants looked very healthy and in some cases they were taking over.  I had to do a lot of pulling out and replanting, otherwise it would have taken over the whole hill.  Strawberry Hill.

At this point, the plants are in all the different stages of growth; some are ready to pick, all the way to some that only have their flowers so far.

We had a little incident with a chipmunk who thought the strawberries were planted for him.

But no worries, Smokey the Hunter maimed him yesterday - and by now he must be dead. I really wish she'd stick to other types of rodents and leave the cute ones alone.

Anyway, we're averaging about 8-10 strawberries a day!
Us 14 ~ Chippy 3

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

working hard in the yard...

Why are we never done???

Constant maintenance!  I was still outside power washing the driveway at 11:30pm last night!  And I'm not done!

We've been adding rock edges to beds and seeding areas, moving things, planting things, pulling things...there is a lot to do at all times.  We finally took a moment to take a bike ride yesterday, but it was a forced bike ride with thoughts of power washing dancing in my head.
Is your yard like this?  Do you spend forever in the yard making things better?  Or at least you hope it's better.

I've always wondered why it seems that when we go to my SIL's houses for birthday parties, etc. that their houses are oh so clean.  I mean really clean and totally ready for the party in a very clean way.  I clean.  My house is clean, but not like their houses.  Grass is greener syndrome?  Maybe.  But last night Jerome had an epiphany about the "why" was sweet.  He told me that the reason is because with them, that's all they do - they clean the house and take care of indoor stuff, whereas I do it all.  He said you would never see them outside power washing the driveway at 11:30 at night, or moving a bunch of boulders or cutting the lawn unless it was a "well, since HE didn't do it, I guess I'LL have to cut the lawn"...whereas I am "I'll cut the lawn (because I like to)"...I'll move boulders, etc.  Because we share all things, inside and out.  He cooks and grocery shops, I do the laundry, hang and fold.  He messes up, I clean...haha (had to throw that in there!)...I should be nice since he was nice and complimented me that way.

Well, anyway, we're never done (reviving an old theme).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

anyone for a hosta salad?...

So, over the weekend, Jbo and I spent every waking minute outside working in the yard.  Still not done.  But closer. We are done with planting the new stuff that we bought last week.  In fact, we planted half the plants on Saturday and then the other half on Sunday.

Prior to planting the second half, I went out to wander and check out our new plantings and imagine how beautiful they will be in the summer...and that's when I saw it...oh the carnage!
after the deer...

what this hosta should look like.

6 of the 12 hostas we planted were eaten!  Nearly down to the ground!!  Also several tulip blooms.  At closer examination, I spied deer tracks.

Those pesky, cute little things had a tasty salad, made up of our freshly planted hostas!  A mixed salad with colorful tulip heads!  UGH!  It had been a while since I sprayed the "fox urine" onto the plants to keep them away.  That'll teach me.
coral bells

candytuft lower left

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

and it's gonna take money - a whole lotta spending money...

It's gonna take plenty of money to do it right child ~ It's gonna take time a whole lotta precious time ~ It's gonna take patience and time mmm to do it to do it to do it to do it to do it to do it right child.

Over the weekend, as we have pretty much since we've purchased this house, we had a discussion about the landscaping. Things we'd like to eliminate and things we'd like to add.

We'd like to eliminate more of the ground cover in the boulder garden in the back of the house and we'd like to see the bed along the driveway have more of a WOW factor.

Problem is - I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to landscape design.  I'm good with decorating the house; picking the colors that we both like that complement each other and placement of items, but when it comes to the garden - I really have no clue.

It's so vast and we'd really like to have a full, colorful, organized garden like those that you see in magazines - and also certain neighbors have really got it together too.

Over the years that we've lived there, we've gotten rid of a lot of invasive plants that were taking over.  So, now the space is pretty blank.  Well, right now there are plenty of crocus, tulips, daffodils, squill and other springtime plants, but once they are gone - that's about it.

So, we found ourselves again in the middle of an argument (sort of) this weekend about what we should do.  I've been piecemealing the garden together; buying things that are on sale at the end of the year and then putting them where I think they would work - one item at a time.  This is not working to get the lush garden of our dreams.

In order to do that, it is going to take money.

I have been talking about getting a landscape designer out here to take a look and suggest some things and draw up a plan.  But this is always met with obstinate disagreement from the other person who lives at the house...who will remain nameless for the moment.

At least I got him to agree that he needs to help and be a part of the decision.  It's not that hard to have him agree to something like that, but to put the plan in motion is a little harder.  I'd much rather him be on board with something that will cost some bucks rather than me spending and feeling guilty about the amount I'm buying or spending.

One of my most favorite places to visit and buy plants is Block's Stand & Greenhouse.  They have tons of selection, acres of greenhouses and "rock bottom" prices.  I've been going there since Jerome's colleague told him about it back in 2003.  Back then, I worked at JTE on Plymouth Road and Schaffer in not a very long haul to get there from work.

I found out yesterday that they opened for the season on Monday and that they had some specials going on.  So, I emailed Jbo to ask him if he would like to go there after work.  He was fine with it and so we went.  Total trip from work to Block's to home (according to Google) 104 miles; 2 hours 11 about 3.5 gallons of fuel at around $14.  But it was well worth it.  It was Jerome's first time there and he was overwhelmed at how big it was and all the choices.

We ended up buying quite a bit and hopefully it will fill in a bunch of the empty spaces.  Here's the list:
2 Azalea bushes
2 Rhododendron bushes
2 Red Current fruit bushes
1 Hanging Fuchsia basket
2 Flats of Violas
3 Containers of Coral Bells
3 Containers of Lupine - which I've been trying to grow from seed...not working very well.
3 Containers of Garden Phlox
6 Containers of Candytuft
24 Containers of 4 varieties of Hosta
24 Containers of Stella De Oro Daylilies

It's a start.  Oh, and all of that fit in the back of a VW Golf!

Not to make this post much longer, but on our way home we stopped in at the Lawndale Market.  It was a stop highlighted by my birthday present ~ Roadside America for the Garmin GPS.  If you click on the Lawndale Market link, you can read all about it.

And as we continued our way home, we passed by none other than SANTA!!!  He looked pretty authentic, but didn't seem amused that I was trying to capture him in pictures...this one was the best I could do.  As I told Jerome, if you've come to terms with the fact that you have a belly like a bowl full of jelly, you may as well grow your hair and beard out and become an authentic looking Santa Claus.

And this is everything we purchased at Block's.  We're going to have a busy weekend.  I still don't know what I'm doing, so I hope we do it right child.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

michigan weather...

I didn't know which blog to post this to, but I guess it's about outside so it should go in the garden blog.

Yesterday I spent a good couple two-three hours working in the yard; sweeping out the garage and cleaning up some of the flower beds.  The temp was pretty nice in order to work outside - it was close to 60 degrees at times.
This is the before shot...but I didn't think to get an after :(
A little sowbug killer spider that I unearthed while removing leaves.
It's not like we don't still have snow on the ground up here.  Yep, we live "up north" and we still have plenty of snow on the ground in areas that are in the shadows.  Yesterday, I only worked the areas that didn't have snow anymore. 
All the snow we still have + a little layer from today's snow.
And then today...!  Today I went to the movies with my friend Deepa.  While driving there it was a near white-out!  When I got home from the movies, I had to shovel my driveway and throw all that snow into the flower beds that I just clean up yesterday!
I was thinking bunny, but I believe these are squeaky (squirrel) tracks.
Yesterday 60's, today 30's and snow.
One of the beds I cleaned yesterday.
 * * *
Also, I had noticed some tire tracks in the snow on our driveway when I came home from the movies, but didn't pay any attention to them.  I thought someone had just pulled in to turn around or something.  Finishing up shoveling at the bottom of the driveway by the road is when I saw that someone had just recently dug a hole in my flower bed along the driveway.  Kinda big hole.  I guess it was the person who belonged to these tire tracks.  Curious.  Now I'm wondering if the person who did this has anything to do with the gas company's project that is supposed to start tomorrow.  Maybe checking to see if the ground is still frozen...or...did someone just steal some of my tulips? 
This is the hole that someone dug just before I got home from the movies.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

crocus in an ice storm...

My crocuses were flowering over a week ago already - then we got hit with another snow storm on Tuesday night and this time it was a very heavy snow, mixed with rain.  We enjoyed being dumped on an additional 4" that night...I mean in addition to all the snow that we've received this year already.  The fact is, most of the snow had already melted and we were feeling like spring was just around the corner...and not just the official start of spring, but springtime temps and blooming flowers and all.  But no, Mother Nature had other ideas and realistically, we can pretty much count on the possibility of snow for nearly another month.

Anyway, I took the first picture on March 18th and the second picture this evening...a couple of days after the snow/ice storm.  I really thought my crocuses were done for...but as it turns out, I was wrong.

And then my favorite...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

look what what hiding under the snow...

This photo was taken this morning at around 11:30am.  At 6pm, it started snowing again.  I'm thinking that this year we've had record snow fall.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the demise of the forsythia...

A friend of mine suggested that I post the demise of the forsythia, so I am obliging him.

...yeah, they don't last long...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

one step closer...

Well, I did it.  I stopped by one of my favorite nursery stores (Wiegand's) and bought veggie seeds for our up-and-coming veggie garden!  YAY!

I think I got everything that I had on the list.  All seeds were 50% off and with every 2 packets you purchased, you'd get a free packet of miscellaneous seeds.  That meant that I didn't have to purchase any tomato seeds, cuz I got a free packet.  Also got a free packet of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, then a packet of flower seeds.

Thinking about garden markers and I think that I'll have Jerome laminate the seed envelopes (at work) and then I will punch some holes in the bottom and use the little plastic sign holders that you find on your lawn after Scott's has come and sprayed.  I have a ton of those because I was collecting them for when we plan a road rally and we need to indicate where the next clue is located.

It will still be a while before we are able to begin construction on our garden since we still have a good 12"  (or more) of snowdrift in the garden area.  I really hope we can concentrate on this project and get it done in time for me to plant and for us to harvest (whenever that may be).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

force-ythia; last photo...

force-ythia; photo 6 & 7...

The last couple of days, things have been happening pretty quickly.  The flowers on the branches are not completely open, but by the end of the day they will be.

photo 6; friday evening

photo 7; saturday morning

Thursday, February 24, 2011


btw, snowed 2 more inches overnight.  I'm kinda done with so much snow.

force-ythia; photo 5

This photo was taken pretty late - like around 7pm or so.  I use a point-n-shoot and so it was pretty difficult to take a photo with anything in focus.  I turned on every light possible and it's still so dark, but with all of that being said, you can still see clearly that there is some budding going on.