Saturday, December 26, 2015

Golden Gate Ficus Trim and Shower

Last year I got Chris this Golden Gate Ficus bonsai tree for Valentine's day, and it arrived by mail in pretty good shape. I saw it putting out new leaves all throughout the summer, but I guess I didn't realize just how well it was doing until I compared it to the previous post.

We've had a rainy warm December, so I decided to give it a quick shower in the rain and then bring it back inside. I don't think it's supposed to get below 55°F but a quick rain in 46°F won't hurt anything. The rain also dusted off the leaves for me, and now they look waxy and gorgeous. 

I gave the leaves a quick trim to round out the shape and make it look more like a tree and less like a bush. I don't know what true bonsai trimming looks like, but I think as long as it looks like a mini tree I'm on the right track. 

golden gate ficus
Bonsai form Golden Gate Ficus after a quick trim. Before and after shots are another reason why I'm glad I keep this journal: Compare it to when it first arrived!

When I cut the thicker branches, some milk white sap came out of the tips. 

white sapwhite sap

 I didn't take much off, just a few of the larger leaves. I tried to give it an overall rounded profile.

trim golden gate ficus bonsai
Golden Gate Ficus leaves trimmed up

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice Yard Update

It's been a warm December so far, drizzly and 50's all week and predicted high of 64 on Wednesday. It always seems wild, but then again I remember playing golf on Christmas Day before - so that's just Midwest weather. Today is the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year. I was going to put a rock out to mark the shadow of the fence at noon and compare that to the shadow in summer, but it's gray and cloudy.

I did stroll around my yard, and wanted to post some photos of things I thought were interesting.

lavendar wee one in winterPinus mugo var. pumilio

First up (above) I like the color contrast of my dwarf mugo pine [Pinus mugo var. pumilio] turning slightly golden yellow in winter alongside this dwarf lavender [Lavandula angustifolia 'Wee One'] that is an icy blue. Very nice!

Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains'
Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' looking a little less than stellar but still alive

I checked in with my favorite little Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains' and it's not looking so hot. I'll probably order another and try to get it in the ground quickly this spring so it can have as good a chance as possible. Maybe this one will bounce back, it's rated for much colder zones so maybe it will be fine. 

yard storm drain
I took the erosion barrier off the storm drain at the bottom corner of the yard. The grass still has to grow in around it, but it already looks nicer not having that 3 foot tall black square in the yard. I'm thinking about putting a few clumps of iris around it to see if they take off in the damp low spot.

vole holes in yard
At the bottom of the yard we've got vole holes in the tallish grass near the neighbor's fence. They're all aiming toward the neighbor's yard, so I bet they have more tall grass on the other side. You can even see some hamster size poops outside the hole on the right.
Now this is pretty cool. When I got the iris clumps from my dad they came with little tiny succulents that were long and stringy probably from the shade. I had them in the side yard all last year and they remained long and stringy (big surprise). I took a couple pieces and broke them off, and put them in the rocks. What do you know! They took and now I have a couple little succulent babies in full sun so they look much nicer, darker, and like little buttons. Hope they last the winter!

unknown succulents in winter
Unknown succulents hitchhiked from Ohio on some iris, now I have to identify them. Can't believe they are dark green and thriving in December here in central Indiana.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Indoor ZZ Plant with One Leaf Turning Yellow

My ZZ Plants are extremely slow growing, but require next to no attention at all. I'll go weeks without thinking twice about them, and then remember that they are alive and need water. I divided one clump that I bought into 2 pots, and put one in the bathroom and one in the front office. The bathroom only has a tiny 3 ft x 6 in window, so I'm amazed these plants are able to thrive and put on new growth in such dark dry conditions.

zz plant yellow leaf
Only the 2nd new sprout on this plant in about 11 months!


The one in the front office is putting up a new shoot. This is always exciting because it's only happened 4 times in the year that I've owned them. They are succulents and store energy in a massive bulb under the soil - then when they build up enough resources to launch a new sprout it shoots up relatively quickly.

zz plant yellow leaf
Slow growing ZZ plant with yellow leaf on the very oldest stem


I have 1 conspicuous yellow leaf on the plant in the office. It looks a little bizarre. It's from the oldest sprout on the plant, so probably just letting it go to favor the new growth. It isn't a blotchy yellow like some photos I've seen online, it's a total yellowing. I hear these things sometimes lose leaves seasonally as well, but this is my first one.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Trying to Stay Green During December Heat Wave

We had a couple days of upper 60's weekend, so I got a little bit of yard work done around the utility box bed. I also snapped a few photos of my yard status showing how it's trying to stay green as long as possible into the winter. It darn well should because I paid for extra treatments from the fertilizer company. I'm wishing I did some autumn mulching in places, but overall not too bad.

green grass next to yellow grass
Can you tell which yard is mine?
This was the first year where the utility box bed in the front grew in all the way. In fact, the Russian sage went a little crazy - I'm glad it was considered a smaller version of Russian sage 'Little Spire' because I can't imagine how out of hand it would have been if it was a fuller version.

The Karl Foerster grass grew in nicely - very early riser in Spring and looked nice all year long. The only problem was that I didn't plan the mulch bed wide enough to acomodate the grass hanging over the edge a bit. I'm torn because I don't want to expand the mulch too much because it looks weird in winter to have this giant bare spot - but in the summer I don't like trying to mow under an ornamental grass and I don't want it to look crowded.

I'm also hoping my cone flower self-seed and multiply because the little pop of color is definitely nice so it's not JUST Russian sage getting all the attention.

hide utility box landscapehide utility box landscape

Special shout out to Shasta daisy keeping dark green leaves this far into December. I got them over the 4th of July from my parents and it looks like they rooted in really well. My neighbors said I could go ahead and landscape their side of the box too. I know the Shasta daisy will spread but hopefully they don't mind - right now they just have a little tiny strip of mulch on their side.

shasta daisy

Finally, and I know I've talked about it before, but I've got some serious white fungus on the grass in my side yard. In fact, when my roommate Kenny walked along the side yard I could see a little cloud of white powder get kicked up at his feet. Wooooow. I might have to re-seed that whole side yard come Spring.

white tips on grass fungus
White powder mildew on grass in both side yards now

Mugo Pine Used in Commercial Landscaping?

I went to check out the new Cabela's store in Noblesville yesterday. Since it just opened this Fall, the landscaping was pretty on point. I did notice something a little unusual though - so much that it made me want to take a picture. Instead of the usual boxwood or sweetspire, they were using what looked like mugo pine as evergreen shrubs.

mugo pine in commercial landscapemugo pine in commercial landscape

I've never seen mugo pine used in commercial landscapes like this. Look, a whole row of them! Not that it has never been done before, it is just uncommon in my area. And probably more expensive than the usual options.

They're very cute - I wonder how big they are going to get.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Frozen Fog Frosted Tips

November has some cool frozen fog, which left my Northwind switchgrass with crystal white frosted tips. I was hoping they would jingle in the breeze, but no such luck. Nevertheless, they look very cool. The stems don't have any frost on them at all, but the dried seeds up top gathered tiny droplets of condensation in the fog that froze into a thin white layer of frost that contrasts with the dry yellow stems.

frozen white northwind switch grass

I was looking forward to seeing the yellow dry grass contrasting against white snow, but we've already had one snowfall and it's already starting to make the grass fall over. I don't think it's going to stay upright all winter - but I don't want to cut it down yet because it looks nice and blocks the storm drain cover.
frozen northwind switch grasswinter northwind switch grass
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