Thursday, May 29, 2008

As promised

Mixologist's bleeding heart. So many blooms!

And yes, Temp, I would be happy to snap some peony pics when/if they bloom. If mine don't (they were *really* stressed last year by being moved...) I'll just stalk someone else's in the neighborhood.

Garden babble. Lots of garden babble.

Spring has been a long time in coming, but the balloon flowers are coming up, so I think it's fair to take stock here and say anything in my garden that still looks dead is probably dead.

1. My zone 5 experiment. Yes, one of the cherry trees (the one that gets 10+ hours of sun a day) is alive and leafy. It's the one that gave me cherry blossoms earlier and made the whole attempt worthwhile. Unfortunately, it won't ever do anything without a cross-pollinator...which brings us to the other cherry tree. It lived through the winter. It started to bud at almost the same time as the first one, but it never took off, and the cold spring zapped the buds. It's still alive in there, but without leaves for energy, it's only a matter of time. The peach tree is also still alive, but struggling mightily. The higher-up leaves are shriveling, and it was sending up panic suckers like mad. Considering this was all just an experiment anyway, I think they're all going to come out to make way for a different plan. (The live cherry can stick around until I get to that part of the yard, but eventually it'll go.)
2. The Minnetonka rhododendron. This one really makes me sad. It was such a beautiful shrub, and I was so excited when Puck found it for me at the Plant Sale. I actually think I killed this one last summer — it wasn't getting enough water from rain because of the neighbor's tree, and I didn't realize it until it got really wilty. (That whole "Hey, the sun is at an angle but rain comes straight down, so sunny /= no canopy" revelation...) I watered it diligently after that, but apparently it was too late. The other possibility is that this was a variety of rhodie that really dislikes sun. I might try "White Lights" at some time, but otherwise it looks like it's good ol' PJM for me.
3. Bugleweed. This one has Puck and me at something of a loss. Everyone talks about what a splendid, easy (even potentially invasive) groundcover bugleweed is, and we just can't keep it alive. A couple of the Ajuga 'chocolate chip' we put in have come back, but they're smaller every year, dwindling down to nothing. Care tips say anything from full sun to full shade, drought-tolerant, acid to slightly alkaline soil, can be pruned with a lawnmower. And yet we can't grow it. Boo.

1. Geranium. How much do I love this plant? Various garden blogs tell me it's dull and unfashionable, but I don't care. I want about 50 of these bastards. Aside: Geranium is the Latin for this plant, common name 'cranesbill', but the plant we all think of as a geranium (those red things) is the common name for pelargoniums. Between that and the fact that daylilies aren't lilies, plant language has a lot to answer for.
2. Polygonatum (Solomon's Seal). It's spreading politely but noticeably each year and makes me happy.
3. The fenceline shrubs (lilac, viburnum, variegated dogwood) have grown fast the past couple years, making our backyard feel more enclosed, private and cozy.
4. The physocarpus (ninebark) 'summer wine' is doing really well and developing some pretty, arched branches.
5. Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' — the grass clump has easily tripled in size from when we planted it last year. I need more ornamental grasses.
6. Puck's clematis! Finally! This poor thing. It's been barely surviving year after year, the victim of rodents, the lawnmower, frequent moves, too much sun, you name it. But it seems to love its new home on the north fence and is already as tall as it's ever been.
7. Blueberries. Despite being eaten to the ground by rodents over the winter, all three blueberry plants are making a surging comeback. Must protect them next winter....

Of course, anything that lives is a success in my world. Oh, and Mixologist? Your bleeding heart is gorgeous again this year. It's, like, 3' tall and 4'wide. I'll post a picture soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Explain this please

Okay, so I'm in my car listening to Radio K on the AM dial. There's faint static, but nothing too disturbing. Then I accelerate, and the static gets way worse. Take my foot off the pedal, and it goes back down to normal. Like, every time. I even tried little quick step/release bursts on the gas pedal, and the static went sshBZZZZshshhhhhhhhBZZZZZZZZZZshhBZZshshhhhBZZZZ ... well, you get the idea.

Aside from the fact that I find this tremendously, inexplicably entertaining, can anyone explain to me why this happens or am I going to have to call Click & Clack?

(Edited to remove that last option so y'all will answer my question!)

Monday, May 19, 2008


I hope to post pictures again in August or thereabouts when it's all grown in and pretty, but here's the newly laid patio.

First, the clever ramp Puck set up to get the gravel underlayment from the driveway (where it was delivered) down to the patio base.

Here it is in-process, with most of the stones dry-laid.

And here's the finished view from above. That big pile of really nice garden dirt that we got excavating for the base is ready anytime you are, Syl! Also, this view really points out how crappy the back walk looks, but that will have to wait until another year.


We have a patio under the arbor. Flagstone is heavy. And pretty. And did I mention heavy? Advil is my friend. Now I need to buy some screening plants, and the grape vines have to grow so we have some privacy and shade. And we need patio furniture. Oh, yeah, I'm doing great at this saving up for a new car thing. Right.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yeah, I'm never on time

Happy belated mother's day to all the terrific moms I know!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Okay, I've signed up for Twitter as cheese_pusher. I pretty much hate it so far, as it has been slow, unresponsive, and tells me I'm only following one person despite the fact that I just wasted 25 minutes signing up to follow three (see "slow, unresponsive").

Here's hoping actually using the thing is better than the setup, or this will be a short-lived experiment.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Plant Sale List! Arbor!

We have an arbor! Many thanks to Jaysan for coming over Saturday and helping with all the lifting, ladder-climbing, and use of power tools. Now we just need to excavate and build the patio under it, but that's not going to happen for a while.

I also have less lawn! Thanks to Suzuri, too, for coming over Sunday and playing in the dirt with me. (By "playing in the dirt", I mean the rather grueling process of sod removal.) Other than the little triangle of grass I was too tuckered to tackle, I'm all ready to piss off the neighbors by growing ugly tomato vines right out in the front yard.

Tomatoes that I will purchase at Saturday's PLANT SALE! The plant list is finally, finally up here. (Link to pdf download) Who all is in for the plant sale this year?

Speaking of the plant sale, I might need a ride. Still haven't heard from the garage as to whether my car will be drivable or not, though they did tell me they haven't found any signs of another massive leak so it might just be burning oil, in which case I could limp it along for a while. *crosses fingers and tells Environmentalist Guilt to shut the hell up* But if not, Puck is going to take the Subaru to southern Wisconsin this weekend so I'll need some kind soul to cart me to the plant sale and cart back me and my dozen tomato plants.

In yet more gardening news, I'm irrationally happy to report that I have cherry blossoms! One of the twigs I planted last year popped out five tiny, delicate flowers yesterday. Yay.