Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lilium 'Tiny Pearl' Seed Pods

My Lilium 'Tiny Pearl' is way past blooming and has mature seed pods on the dried up stalks. They split open and rattle if you touch the stems. Tiny thin seeds fly out of the dried pods. I thought, "wow wouldn't it be cool to grow some more from seed?" Well, after finding this video, I realized that might not be so easy. 

lilium tiny pearl seeds

Oriental lilies can take weeks to germinate, and then months in the fridge to get ready for next season. No thanks! I'd rather buy them for $2 in September when they're just slightly out of season but growing just fine. 

lily seedslilium tiny pearl seeds

Friday, September 25, 2015

Beautiful Pinus strobus 'Pendula' at Butler University

I was on campus for a meeting at Butler University today and I was a little early so I thought I would take a stroll and check out the formal gardens and other plants on campus. The landscaping overall was beautiful, but I had heard plenty about the formal gardens so I wanted to check them out especially.

Pinus strobus 'Pendula' at Butler University
Pinus strobus 'Pendula' at Butler University

Pinus strobus 'Pendula' at Butler University
Pinus strobus 'Pendula' at Butler University


My favorite was the belltower tucked along the edge of the woods on a hill overlooking a pond, and 3 absolutely gorgeous shaggy weeping white pine trees [Pinus strobus 'Pendula'] out in front of their HRC building.

butler university
Beneath the bell tower at Butler University

butler university
Had to crank the brightness on this photo to make up for the shade and backlight

The bell tower was really cool, and it was right by the pond in the woods near the observatory (the only other building on campus I've been inside).

purple and white flowers

formal garden
Rows of flowers and a grassy lawn with a groomed evergreen hedge
bed of flowers
Rows of flowers in large beds on both sides of the grassy lawn

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Addition Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'

This is my first miniature Hosta, it's a little tiny Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' that I'm trying out in my dry side yard and hoping to divide and fill in little spaces in both of my shade gardens. It only gets to be about a foot wide and 8 inches tall. Reading up on it a little, I'm thinking I may have to keep it watered quite well on the dry shade side until it is established.

hosta blue mouse ears
This hosta is considered 'blue' because it is dark blue/green in contrast to other types that are lime green or yellow

blue mouse ears plantain lily
Tiny blue mouse ear leaves!

dry shade garden
This miniature hosta is a perfect size for my dry shade garden that curves in to only 9 inches wide at the narrowest point (to give me access to the water spigot).
Speaking of tiny Hostas, I noticed what I believe to be Hosta 'Libby' sprouting a baby. Rather than dividing this entire plant, I cut the baby off and planted it in a new spot. I'm not sure if all Hostas have babies like this, but I didn't notice the same thing happening with my Hosta 'Patriot'.

hosta libby
What I think is Hosta 'Libby' with a little baby off-shoot. I harvested this one instead of dividing the entire plant for a new division.

tiny hosta
Free plants, can't beat it! Let's see if this one survives the winter.
Update 9-20-2015: The next morning I found that a rabbit had immediately enjoyed the young hosta leaves from my baby transplant (not my store bought Mouse Ears thankfully). I had my first sighting of the actual rabbit as well! He was hiding in the Russian sage by my utility box and went running. I sprinkled some Animal B Gon all around the bed and the utility box and I haven't seen him since.

rabbit ate hosta
My divided baby off-shoot hosta immediately became rabbit breakfast

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'

My Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass' is about to bloom! It's growing a tall central stalk that is already about 8 or 9 feet tall. In the photos below for reference the fence is 4 feet tall. Wow!

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass' with a tall stalk but not yet blooming


The central stalk has nodes along the way up that look like bamboo, I'm assuming to provide rigid structure to hold this massive stem up so high into the wind. It sways constantly in the breeze. Think of the amount of resources going into producing these 2 tall plumes (there is another smaller one on the way).

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
I'm in love with the little hairs at each node

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
A total of 2 fruiting stalks are growing, you can tell because they are much thicker and have a red hue


Update 9-27-2015: The seed plume is blooming on top of the long stalk, slowly opening and drying in the sun. I used my telephoto lens to try to get a detail picture of the top from side view because it's out of reach for an iPhone photo.

Hardy Pampas Grass
Hardy Pampas Grass blooming with it's seed plume opening

Hardy Pampas Grass
Hardy pampas grass in the morning sun

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2015

'Purple Dome' indeed, these New England asters seem to be peaking right now. I can't believe they grew from little tiny 2 inch plugs back in early Spring. They've grown into nice globular shapes and they're covered in purple daisy-like flowers. I've heard they have problems with powdery mildew - I treated them with neem oil and so far haven't seen any signs of it.

They're absolutely bursting! From the looks of it, there are plenty more waiting to open, so hopefully I have these wonderful purple blooms for weeks.

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for September 2015! This might be the last of the flowers, but I'll definitely have some grasses blooming next month. My hardy pampas grass is already taller than I am!

new england asternew england aster

new england aster

Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'
One last hoorah from the Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'

purple late summer blooms
My collection of purple late-summer blooms: 'Purple Dome' aster, variegated liriope, 'Wee One' dwarf lavender, 'Little Night' salvia, and 'Little Spire' Russian sage

Toad in the Hole

toad in a hole

It's not just a "traditional British dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter" (source) - because I found a real toad in a hole hiding in the mulch. That explains where they've been going during the dry spells.

I hope they come out at night and continue to eat spiders.

I think I've seen enough critters now to justify a new tag on my blog posts for critters. I'm keeping an eye out for rabbits.

I saw about 5 monarch butterflies today sipping water off my grass presumably on their way from Canada to Mexico? I couldn't get close enough for an iPhone photo of them, so I don't know if they were real monarchs or not.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Closer Look at Critter Ridder and Animal B Gon

Something's been nibbling my Japanese forest grass, my ostrich fern that is just trying to re-emerge, and my European wild ginger. My dad told me about these products that you sprinkle on the ground and it deters rabbits by the smell and taste of the powder. I ordered a shaker of Animal B Gon [Ortho], and he brought me a half can of Critter Ridder [Havahart]. There are similarities and differences I thought I would point out here in case anyone is Googling these products.


I'm pretty sure my culprit is a rabbit, but I haven't seen it to be sure - so I think a "critter" repellent is a safer bet than something marketed as rabbit-only. Both products use essential oils rather than chemicals to repel or deter small mammals. I started with the Critter Ridder and if that doesn't work I'll also try the Animal B Gon.

critter ridder
Critter Ridder 2-lb size, it doesn't specifically mention rabbits on the label
I also realized I could use it to keep my dog from digging in the mulch in this one specific spot she always goes to, so I sprinkled some there as well.

The rabbits aren't particularly aggressive, and I don't have tomatoes or any produce, so I'm just trying to make it inconvenient enough for them to not nibble the meager emerging stalks of my transplanted plants. I don't need them to run screaming, I just need them to find my plants a little too spicy for their liking.

critter ridder ingredients
Critter Ridder is a spicy mix of oil of black pepper, piperine, and capsaicin. It smells like a really strong dry rub for barbecue. It actually doesn't smell that strong, and I'm hoping it will really keep animals away for weeks. Hopefully the rabbits don't thank me for seasoning their salads!

critter ridder looks like pepper
Smells and looks like strong black pepper

critter ridder top
Shaker top looks like something from the spice rack with both a shaker side and a spoon side

Animal B Gon (I keep wanting to type Animal B Gone) by Ortho is a different scent but also uses oil extracts rather than other chemicals or animal urine. This one is a pleasant mix of peppermint, cinnamon, and rosemary. It's actually kinda nice, but it made my cheeks feel puffy after I took a big whiff.

animal b gon
Animal B Gon specifically includes rabbits on the label

animal b gon ingredients
A strong but pleasant mix of rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, and putrescent (rotting) eggs. It smells like cinnamon and peppermint and made my cheeks tingle after taking a whiff

animal b gone
Looks like fine grain cat litter

animal b gone
Animal B Gon shaker top snaps on, not as secure as the top on Critter Ridder that screws on
So there you go. I know this isn't exactly a 'review' of the products, but a closer look. I thought people might want to read the active ingredients and see what the product looks and smells like before buying it. Overall reviews of these types of products are hit or miss, people seem to love them or think they don't work at all. If they keep the last 3 leaves on my Japanese forest grass from being eaten, I'll be a fan!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rainy Day Off New Additions: Dwarf Mugo Pine and Tiny Invader

I'm having a nice rainy day off work, and it's starting to feel like Fall. I woke up to upper 50s, overcast, low humidity - it was splendid. I guess the weather got me in the mood to look for deals at Lowe's so after two cups of coffee, I grabbed my umbrella and strolled around the garden center for a bit.

My backyard is seriously lacking evergreen, so I wanted to get some kind of conifer. I had my eye on a dwarf mugo pine for a while, but I wasn't sure how big they'd get. There seems to be a lot of variety, anywhere from 5 feet to 10 feet tall and wide.

Pinus mugo var. pumilio
Pinus mugo var. pumilio
I also saw some color on the sale table and went to check it out. I found this Tiny Invader Asiatic Lily for Chris, because he loves his Asiatic Lilies and there was a gap I had to fill by the downspout. It's orange but not too orange, it has purple spots and magenta hue to it in certain light.

Lilium ‘Tiny Invader’
Lilium ‘Tiny Invader’
I put the Tiny Invader over by the downspout because it likes semi moist conditions. It still has one flower left on it, but other than that I'm basically saying "see ya next year" until it comes up again in the spring. I hope the colors don't clash with my other lilies - or I hope they come up at slightly different times so we have more weeks of color.


lilium tiny invader


I was obsessing a little bit about my dwarf mugo placement. I wanted to put it by the patio, but I don't want it to take over. I mean, if it really gets up to 10 feet wide there's no way it can stay here. I watered it in, then changed my mind and moved it about 2 inches and watered it in again. It's trunk is lined up with the arborvitae on the other side of the patio - about 25 inches from the side of the house.

dwarf mugo pine
Adorable, I can see why people get obsessed and start collecting dwarf conifers

Pinus mugo var. pumilio
It's so tiny! My dad recommended naming it Milton the Mugo Pine

dwarf mugo placement
I got it in the ground and knew that I would keep dwelling on it until I moved it that extra 2 inches. I can almost see it with a 4-5 foot spread fitting perfectly. I'll have to keep an eye on the new candles and keep them tight.
It might take years to fill the space I've allowed for it, but I'd rather it grow into the space than immediately overwhelm the space. In the meantime maybe I can plant some annuals to finish the front of the border.

My dad also said I should watch out for little green caterpillars that eat the pine needles because they can clear a bush in days! Oh no!

Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' Turning Brown

I have a special place in my heart for Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' because it's so super cute and it was $10 for 4 square inches of this stuff. It's recommended for the dryer western states, but I'm giving it a go in Indiana. This was probably the worst summer to try something normally suited for high elevation. We had record rainfall in June, and now we have humid hot weather with very little actual rainfall - even the lawns are turning crispy brown up and down the street.

So that's where we currently find my Wallowa Mountains, turning brown probably from getting full southern sun all day with temps in the 80s-90s and sticky humid.

Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' Turning Brown
This side of the plant seems to be doing okay, I wonder if it rooted in better or if it avoids some of the direct sun.

Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' Turning Brown
Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' Turning Brown

On the High Country Gardens website (where I ordered mine from) another customer wrote a review. His name is Denny and he's in southern Michigan which is pretty close to my same weather. He wrote "Plant may partially die off, but be patient. It will grow into an attractive plant." That pretty much sums it up! I wish I could get in contact with him to get more information, but we'll see what happens.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What's Eating My Japanese Forest Grass?

Haven't you ever heard of picking on someone your own size? This poor Japanese forest grass has been through a lot. It's just barely hanging on after being transplanted on July 4, and it was just starting to sprout a new shoot - when what do I find?? Chew marks! Snipped stems!

My guess is this is a sure sign of rabbits.

teeth marks from something eating japanese forest grass
Looks like teeth marks to me

rabbit ate japanese forest grass
They bit off one of the 3 green stems, that's a big hit to this struggling plant!

rabbit ate japanese forest grass
Sliced clean through
We haven't had any rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, or any other mammals move into our neighborhood yet. When they built all the houses, they basically stripped the whole area down to clay. Since then we are seeing plenty of bugs, worms, even frogs and toads - but no signs of mammals until now.

Since other blogs indicate rabbits eat Japanese forest grass, and since this plant is in my side yard and not protected by my dog fence, it seems like the best answer.

japanese forest grass new shoot
This was the new growth coming through a couple days ago, but this morning it was sliced clean to the ground. I'm hoping at least the roots are strong enough to make it through the winter, because above ground we are down to just 2 green stems and a few leaves!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Emerald Green Arborvitae One Year Growth Before and After

I got this Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green' arborvitae on sale at Lowe's late last summer. It didn't put on any new growth until this Spring. When it did start growing, it really took off (relatively speaking). It's slow growing so it's hard to tell just by looking at it, but looking back to photos from when it was first put in, it's obvious that it has been filling out.

When I got it, the leader at the top was brown so I snipped it off. Using this point as the old 'top' I put the ruler on top of the cut leader, and see that this Emerald Green has put on about 7 inches of vertical growth this year.

Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'
I put the ruler on top of the old leader that I cut off, and this shows I have about 7 inches of new stringy growth

Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'
The overall shape and color has filled out this summer, so I think it's finally rooted in and growing nicely.
emerald green 1 season growth
September 21, 2014 (before) to September 6, 2015 (after)
It's so handy to take an obscene number of photos of your own yard, because then when you want to dig one out of the archives to compare a year later, you have it! It is definitely a lot fuller, but it will still be a few years before it actually blocks the view of my neighbor's patio.

I'm still very pleased with the placement, when it's full grown it will just about fill this whole planter - and it's far enough away from the house that it shouldn't knock into the gutter on the roof.
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