Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Much Mulch?

Cold and windy.

What do I think I will need for materials this spring?  I have always bought as needed throughout the season, getting expensive bags of mulch and compost from Moscarillo's or Bosco's, but avoiding a delivery charge and avoiding the big pile of stuff in the driveway all spring and summer.

this is what 6 cubic yards looks like

I just can't get it all spread in a week or two, and don't even know how much to get up front until I start using it.  But.

Here are the prices from Envirocycle, and delivery was not that expensive.  It's just that I have to get the pile of dirt all at once.

Envirocycle - 860-242-2325
61 E. Dudley Town Rd.

2012 Price List
Per cubic yard (Delivery extra, it was about $50 for one truck)
   Premium Bark Mulch: Pine = $37  Spruce = $39
   Organic Compost: $19
   Soil / Compost Blend: $27

So, 5 cubic yards of spruce mulch would be $195, plus maybe $50 for delivery ($245).  That would be 67 bags from Moscarillo's, or $475.  Five or six car trips.

I probably don't need more than 2 cubic yards of compost to add to existing gardens (mostly Meadow's Edge and building up some areas).  That's $38 and the delivery fee would be greater than the materials unless it just was added to a truck bringing mulch.  Four or five car trips to carry 54 small bags.

I need to refresh all gardens with mulch and add compost. 
For new projects ---
  • maybe mulch over the walkway between the dry creekbed and spruce berm.  It is always so wet, and needs a pathway there.
  • maybe expand the east side a bit and fill the edges to build them up.
  • will I need compost for the expanded area in front of the berm where the yellowroot will be moved out?

Monday, January 30, 2012

No Snow Cover

Temps have been variable, quite warm in the 50s for a while, now back in the 30s.  There is no snow cover, although we did get a few inches last week, which melted when it got so warm.

The snowdrops continue to bloom in the front garden under the Japanese maple.  Eventually the kinnikinnik will spread to cover the area where they are, and I hope they are tall enough to peek through!  You have to really look for them as it is.
I am utterly unable to take a decent photo of my Galanthus nivalis, so here's a free picture from Morgue File. Such pretty things but I have to be looking for them to notice them.

Jim says he can make me a nice sturdy cedar tool closet like this one that I found on This Old House diy plans:
It would be smaller, just 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall, to fit under the kitchen window next to the potting bench.
At three feet wide, it would probably have only one door, but I could still put the garden shovels in there, and then have a narrow set of shelves for gloves, pruners, and small items that need to be out of the rain.

Big bulky items like potting soil bags and work buckets will still be in the garage, but the day to day stuff that I need at hand can be right next to the potting bench, kept dry, and that will be a big help!

Can't wait to see this project underway.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Plant Orders

I placed several plant (and seed) orders for spring today.

The full list, with prices and notes about where I want to put some of this stuff is here.

I got free shipping on the items from Bluestone Perennials, since they are added to a back order from last year.  And 15% off to boot for ordering early.

Wayside gave $20 off for ordering early.

Here's a summary of the plants I'm going to get:

Burpee (seeds)
   Salvia    Lady in Red - 1 packet
   Zinnia    Cut & Come Again 1 packet
   Sunflower    Sunny Hybrid - 1 packet
   Nasturtium    Double Gleam Mix - 1 packet
   Petunia    Baby Duck - 1 packet
   Lobelia Ruby Slippers (backordered from last fall)
   Salvia  Black & Blue  
   Lobelia  cardinalis
   Baptisia Carolina Moonbeam
   Chamaecyparis  Just Dandy
   Tuliptree  Little Volunteer
Whiteflower Farm 
   Thymus serpyllum Albus
   Crocosmia  Lucifer
   Basil Pistou
   Lettuce trio
   Angelonia Archangel trio of colors
   Aster Raydon's Favorite
   Zenobia  Woodlander's Blue
   Spicebush Lindera benzoin
      And, did not order yet:
Brushwood Nursery   
   Clematis  Roko Kolla (out of stock) 
      but hold off to see if Roko Kolla comes in -- could get Henryi instead
   Thunbergia  Sunlady
Broken Arrow retail to pick up in spring
   Comptonia peregrina
   Rhus  Gro Low
   Rosa  glauca
   Ilex opaca female select 
     + persimmon? 3 gal. for $49   
     + sassafras? 3 gal. for $49   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Garden Tour

The date is set and the class is advertised for next July 15, two hours for the New England Wildflower Society to tour my garden.

Click to see the course posting on the New England Wildflower Society site

Diversity on a Connecticut Suburban Lot

Find out how the homeowner, working on a ½-acre property within a Homeowner’s Association-controlled subdivision, has managed to create a beautiful, ecologically-friendly garden habitat. Be inspired by the replacement of a large expanse of lawn with groupings of native trees, shrubs and perennials, creating a variety of attractive habitats that support wildlife, including migrating songbirds, rare butterflies and moths. The garden abuts a covenant-protected natural area that is a buffer zone to nearby roads, but opinions vary about how this "common area" should be managed. Should it be left to grow in its natural state (now mostly invasive plants), mowed like lawn, or carefully managed to encourage regeneration of native plant populations? Join the discussion, it may be lively!

Sunday, July 15, 2012, 1-3 p.m.
Location: Bloomfield, CT
Course Code: hdt3010
Instructor: Ellen Sousa
Fee: $22 (Member) / $25 (Nonmember)
Limit: 16   Credit: Field HD/Adv. HD

It's from 1 to 3 pm, the worst time to traipse around this unshady yard in July.  Will I need to supply refreshments and have people in the house to cool off or use the bathroom?  It looks like the limit is 16 visitors, so that's not too bad.

July 15 is on the calendar!  So much to do to get ready . . . .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Some Alternatives

Snow on Saturday, about 3 inches.  The yard looks nice now.  Temps have stayed in the low twenties.

I found a possible alternative to building the mesh cones for protecting seedlings.

Purchase pre-made twig wreaths, then fasten them with long willow branches for triangular supports.  Found this on Pinterest, natch.

This could work?

The originals are British and cost about $30, too much, and they don't ship or deliver anyway (you have to pick them up in England!).  But I could make them with wreaths and willow branches, you think?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Seedling Cones

Snow last night, and it is cold and sunny and windy today.  We got just an inch or two. The plug for the heated birdbath stopped working last fall.

I spent yesterday trying to build the protective sleeves for the sunflower seedlings that I want to plant out in the meadow.

The idea is to direct sow the seeds, then cover each emerging seedling with a tomato cage wrapped in mesh.  I used bird netting and planned to clip it on with little plastic orchid clips.

Well, it was a bear to work with the netting.  It caught on everything, was hard to see, tangled . . . . aaaagh.  The clips worked great, except I only bought 3 dozen, and each tomato cage needed about 15 to hold the netting on.  So I ended up tying the netting on with twist ties, then clipping only where the fabric was bunchy or loose.

The whole thing was awful to construct, and I have 4 more to do (10 total).  Would chicken wire work better?  Why do the cages have to be awkwardly cone shaped, why not straight cylinders?  Why isn't there a pre-made product out there like this?

It's nice to see the snow coating everything now.  It's been so bare and brown all January so far.  The blueberry bushes are so easy to see now, with their branches against the snow.  In summer they are overtaken by the amsonias.

Really need to move them!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I joined Pinterest so I could easily snip ideas from web sites and blogs when I see a picture that inspires or gives me an idea.  I just wanted an easy way to grab ideas, quicker and more organized than the ideas tab at the top of this journal.

I discovered it is as addicting as everyone says.  I am constantly cruising pictures, getting a little reward every time I see a pretty photo, and every time someone re-pins what I put up.  It's like getting blog comments, only random and instantaneous and fleeting.

I can see what photos from my blogs are being pinned and who is grabbing them by going to pinterest.com/source/laurries.blogspot.com.  It's interesting to see what people have pulled off my blogs.

On another blog tech note, I tried to search this journal the other day for info on what allium bulbs I planted, but because my settings are private, it is not searchable.  The whole idea of keeping this journal online was so I could search for whatever I needed without having to remember what I called it or when I made note of it.

So. . . .
I can go back to using labels and make sure I am comprehensive about that so I can find what I tagged.  Not that efficient.
or, in order to search everything I've posted, I'll have to publish as a publicly viewed blog.

I can't simply turn that setting on and off just when I want to find something --- it takes days for google to re-cache and re-index my entries (even though the "search" gadget is looking for results only from this blog, it is actually accessing them through the whole dang world wide web).  So to use the search gadget, the blog has to be publicly out there for a good while.  Who knew?

I'm a little concerned about making this public because I have pulled photos without attributing them, thinking they were only for my personal journal use, and just for ideas.  Now Pinterest fills that need, and automatically attributes photos that are pinned, but there are still some here on my "private" blog that don't have a source.

And finally, another blog tech update --- I added pages to the top of my Plant Inventory blog  to show the evolution of each garden over time, and added all the new gardens we created last year.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I want to plant sunflowers in a row in the meadow, behind the buckeyes.  Last year I direct sowed the seeds and each little seedling was eaten as soon as it came up.

This year I want to try again.

I will get tomato cages, wrap them around in bird netting or fine chicken wire, and set those over the seeds.  The netting or wire should keep the eaters out, and the tomato cage can offer support as the stalks grow.

The picture above shows a tomato cage with blue yarn wrapped around it, but I would use netting.

This seems like the easiest and cheapest way. 

I've looked at cloches and all kinds of re-purposed items such as wire mesh baskets, but a tomato cage and bird netting appears to be the least complicated, and the netting is probably easier to work with than wire mesh or chicken wire.  (Hardware cloth was unbearable to cut and wrap.)  So today I ordered 10 three foot high cages, some netting and clips from Amazon.

I could tie the netting on with twist ties.  But these cheap little spring clips, which are called orchid clips, will do the trick easily.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hinoki False Cypress

Cold, windy in the 30s today.

Now that the voles are gone from the front strip, I really want to re-plant the soft little buns of Hinoki false cypresses that I liked there before.  But I have no idea what dwarf cultivar they were!
in 2010 a neat clean look
Here are some possibilities:

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana' --- this is the bun shaped low form.  It grows 1 foot to two feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.  Diminutive, dark green.  It's possible that this is what I had before, it was pretty widely available.

'Jean Iseli' is similar to 'Nana', but turns a little amber in winter.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Just Dandy' --- this is a bun shaped low form.  It grows 1 foot to 18 inches tall and one foot to two feet wide.  Mid green.  A rounded mound that grows a little wider than tall.  The mid green color looks more like what I had, and it is faster growing.

Wayside Gardens has this in their catalog.  Should I get them?  Plant three next to right of the Gold Cone juniper?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Had a Plan . . .

40s today, part sun.  Still no snow at all.

In early May of 2010 I spent hours and hours trucking buckets of soil up to the "saddle" at the top of the back hill where there is a depression by the road.  I planted three rosebay rhododendrons there with the idea that they would eventually form an evergreen screen in the woods at the edge of the road.
some evergreen rhododendrons along the swale at the top would hide the house and traffic

In 2010 I had to water and water them during the drought, no small feat to get water up to the very top of the hill.

After the 2011 October snowstorm the utility road crews left piles of branches all over the little struggling rosebays, and I finally went up today to check on them.

Gone.  Not just buried under branch debris, but one was actually decapitated (may regrow from the roots?), one was uprooted with the fine roots sticking up in the air, and one was completely under a heavy log that fell smack on top of it.

Oh well, I had a plan, and it didn't work out so well.

That area at the top of the hill is not really a woodland, it's a roadside danger zone.  With snowplows, salt, road crew work, etc., none of it is really an environment to grow woodland plants in!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Warm and Unusual

After some bitter cold a few days ago it is back to being warm, unseasonably so.  60 degrees today!  And in the 50s the past couple days.  No snow, and it's all so unusual.

The tulips in pots on the porch are coming up.  Snowdrops are up.  Daffodils are sending up shoots.  It's early January!

It was so warm out that we could do garden chores easily.  We finally got the clamp off the Japanese maple in front, and drilled a hole through the broken stem, glued the center and added a 4 inch bolt.  Awkward work, but we got it done.  The clamp is back on to hold the glue in place, but I'll need to remove it soon.  I could see where it had damaged the outer bark quite a bit from being held in place all year.

I also tied up the side branch on the Diane witch hazel.  It completely lost its center in the October storm, and I'm trying to get the horizontal side branch that remains into a more upright position.

Also staked and tied the leaning sweetbay magnolia outside the bedroom window.  It did not lose any branches in the October storm, but it had quite a lean afterwards.  The ground was soft enough to pound in a metal stake!

And I re-tied the sourwood, it still leans.

snowdrops are so hard to photograph!
It felt wonderful to be out in the yard in springtime temperatures, puttering and fixing things.  But really.  It's January.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Thoughts

8 degrees this morning when I got up.  Yikes.  Sunny today, clear but very very cold!

This is the time of year to pore over catalogs, make plans and lists and think about what I want to change or add.

One thing has bothered me: the golden hops vine did nothing for the corner of the front garden last year.  
It was too rampant and unshapely, it outgrew the support, and it was not as interesting as I thought it would be.  Not golden at all.  The foliage is rough and coarse.

One option is to create a larger support --- either long strings up to the gutter for it to climb straight up, or simply a much larger trellis (where to get that?)

But my winter thoughts tend toward getting rid of it.  I don't like it, and my experience with the knockout roses is that I should eliminate what isn't working for me.  

This isn't working.

I can always try the Jackmanii clematis there instead.  It's in a pot now and can be moved.  Whaddya think?

Maybe, move the hops vine to the side of the garage and let it climb to the pergola on the right side?  I've been waiting for six years for the climbing hydrangea to get to the pergola, and it's close, but the hops vine would cover the right side in a season.  The pergola is the only structure big enough for this climber, but I'm not crazy about putting it in that small corner.

In any event, it comes out of the front garden this spring.

Monday, January 2, 2012