Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decorations

40s today, calm, with no breeze.

It was delightful to work outside today, and I put up all the outdoor Christmas decorations.  I wrapped the light post in a (fake) pine garland with white lights.

I put white lights on the little Alberta Spruce in front of the front porch.

I also hung wreaths at the garage doors, on the front door, and the lighted wreath between the garage windows.

I even hung a lighted kissing ball outside on the stand that holds the hummingbird feeder.  It has multiple flashing light settings!

I also brought in the two pots of amaryllis, watered them and set them on the sunny half wall in the living room.  Will I get blooms by New Years?  I don't know which is which now, so it will be fun to see them bloom --- one crimson red, the other striped red and white.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's Left in the Garden

40s, sunny, windy.

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and the wind kicked up last night after a mild couple days.  What is still out there in the garden in the last week in November?

The winterberry hollies are shining with red berries.  Leaves have now dropped, and the berries stand out.  Some nice snow would really set them off, but they tend to get completely stripped before Christmas.

The new 'Ogon' spirea will keep its foliage til Christmas.  Right now it is a bronzy golden and waves nicely in the breezes.

The Callery pear held its leaves until last night.  Golden yellow, but it doesn't get the tinges of burgundy that others get, it's a muddier color.  As of yesterday it lost all its leaves, and is holding little orange fruits.

The new iteas ('Little Sprich') in the front walk still have all their leaves; a deep, deep mahogany color.  The voles have tunneled beneath them and they are tilted and unstable now --- I hope there is something left next spring.

In the Birch Garden the larger iteas ('Henry's Garnet') also are holding their leaves late, and they are deep red, but about half have blown off, so it's a sparser look.  The front walk is more protected from the winds.

The glossy abelia 'Edward Goucher' still keeps its shiny reddish foliage.

The sweetgums held their leaves very late, until last night's wind.  Especially the one at the road cut; that was pretty full until yesterday.

The 'Honeycomb' and 'Blue Chip' butterfly bushes are all green and full; they look like they do in the summer... except you can see them more clearly now with everything around them down.  No damage to the leaves, and no leaf drop at all!
Blue Chip the day before Thanksgiving

The 'Diane' witch hazel still has its leaves, some are tinged with brown but most are still fairly green, and all are still hanging on.

The dappled willows on the east side still have their leaves, a nice golden tan.  With the wind last night they are a little thinner, but still quite full and gracefully waving.

The grasses look lovely: the miscanthus by the garage door is willowy and fluffy and wild looking.  The Hakone grass is golden.

It's the red winterberries that really catch the eye, though!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Sunny, 50s, but windy.  The last of the leaves (except the Callery pears) are blowing down.

Today I poured peppermint oil on the front walk garden, and put some on cotton balls that I stuffed down the vole tunnels.  Mice are supposed to be driven away by the scent of peppermint.  Boy do I smell like an ice cream sundae now!

As I walked on the soil of that small strip by the front walk, it is apparent that the new iteas are sitting in airpockets, and the little gingko too.  There is nothing below their roots.  The 4 chaemacyparis "buns" are also excavated below ground.  What I don't know is whether their roots have been eaten, or if the roots are intact but the tunnels have loosened the soil around them.  They look alive above ground.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Still fighting voles

Sunny today, calm and in the low 60s.  Very pleasant for this late in the season.

I cut back the baptisias today.  Although we have had frosts and even a light snow last Monday, the baptisia foliage was still pretty green on the Twilite Prairieblues under the bedroom window.  In the Birch Garden the 'Alba' had blackened.  But it's only a matter of time before they both look black and destroyed, so they came out today.  I love the rattly sound of the seedpods.

Voles are still tunneling in the front garden, so I put more Espoma gravel down, especially deep into their tunnels.  They've dug right below the small chaemycyparis and into their roots.

I also sprayed the area with a cinnamon scented repellant, and doused some of the other gardens too.  I hate sprays.  They never work right, they get on your hands no matter what precautions you take, and they are just awful to use.  I hate them.  I don't even think they are effective.

The aronias have beautiful deep red berries this year.  Really nice.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November Day

Lovely day today, in the low 60s with sun.

I cleaned up the edges of the kinnikinnik and the cotoneaster whose woody stems had spilled out into the walk.  Jim needs it cut back for snowblowing this winter.

The October Glory red maples continue to be just stunning:

And the Crimson Queen Japanese maple has gone from its brown summer color to bright red:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tree Inspection

Cold and blustery, real November weather.  In the 40s.

Yesterday Mike DeSanto from Bartlett came to give me an estimate on some pruning work for winter.  I had asked to have them prune the two maples (to be able to walk under them, and to have the canopies thinned and shaped).  The dogwood in front and the Norway maple also need some shaping.

While he was here we had a nice tour of the gardens.  He is so sweet... asking about all my plants.  I love talking to him.  He actually took notes on some things I have that he wants to try in his own garden!  He asked about some perennials and seems to really value my expertise.  He was very complimentary of how everything is looking in my yard.  What an ego trip for me.

I asked him to look at the flat topped black gum out back.  He showed me something I had never noticed:  it had its leader cut a long time ago and has not reestablished a vertical shoot to take its place.
It was this way when I bought it (I looked at the photo I took when it was first planted and sure enough, there is the sideways top shoot, angled off from the top).

My only hope is to try to stake it so the top side branch is pulled upward, and over time it may lock into that position.

It really needs some kind of help, look at how flat it has been growing.  I can't believe I never saw that chopped off leader in the container plant I bought!

And here it is after my pathetic staking effort today.  It was impossible to drive the big wooden spike into the ground, even though the soil was damp.  And the velcro straps are ugly.  It will need to stay like this for several seasons.

I also did some pruning of the paperbark maple, to cut off a side branch on the left that was making  it unbalanced on that side.  A before and after photo follows:

before pruning the branch on the left

Today I did some more clean up: cut back the iris and the crocosmia foliage.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Raw Monday morning.  Snow, with some accumulation on the colder mulch areas.  Rain and ice, in the 30s.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tucking In Plants

Partly sunny today, cold.  In the 50s, quite chilly, but once I got going and moving around it was nice.

I pulled out all the huge parsley "shrubs" around the birdbath today.  What immense root systems they had.  Like trees almost!  What a lovely spicy scent as I crushed the foliage and tore them out and put them on the compost pile.

I pulled in all the containers, and they are all sitting on the porch now.  The amaryllis and the big pot with the hydrangea are in the garage.  The rest are crowded on the glassed-in porch.  We'll see how some of the tender ones overwinter there.

I cleaned up the spent sage blossoms and the sundrops.  The sundrop leaves were a nice red fall color this year.

I tried painting Tanglefoot on the stems of the shrubs that the rabbits and voles gnaw in winter. to deter them. No, no, no.  It was too cold and all I got was stiff gummy glue that would not attach to anything.  I tried microwaving some in a cup, but it got too runny, then solidified again when I went outside.  It must have to be the perfect temperature, and even then it's probably too messy to deal with. 

It did deter the ants from crawling up the hummingbird feeder pole though.

The Espoma gravel in the front walk seems to have deterred any more vole tunnels for now.  I'll have to rely on gravel spread around the vulnerable shrubs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A hard frost last night.  We've had several very light frosts, but last night was the first real one that coated everything evenly and zapped the tender plants.  The zinnias blackened and the marigolds are gone.  40s today, but sunny and nice.

A beautiful frosty sunrise this morning.  Unfortunately the window glass caught the flash.

I took out the blackened annuals, cleaned up a lot of daylily foliage.

The big baptisia in Northern Exposure still looks good and green, but that will go soon.

I have almost all the containers inside on the porch, but still have a few more to bring in.

Love the amsonia in the low afternoon light.  I just wish the blueberries in front of it would keep their leaves into fall and turn scarlet like the others I have seen.

October Glory is starting to color up now in November, but it's not at its peak yet.  Look how stripped and clean the garden below looks now.

15 years ago today, November 3rd.