Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dusseldorf Pride Encore Performance or Just Confused

I've already commented about the long bloom time of my Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride' and now it seems this adorable plant is putting out one last bud as sort of an encore performance. It's almost September, what the heck! So cute.

Dusseldorf Pride
Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride' - One last bud before saying goodnight for the Fall

Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'
Update 9/10/2015: A few more buds coming out, this thing is really confused! Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'

Speaking of "I can't believe it's still flowering" check these out:

Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'
Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night' - August 25, 2015
Lavandula angustifolia 'Wee One'
Lavandula angustifolia 'Wee One' - August 25, 2015

Japanese Forest Grass Finally Taking Root

I got this tiny Hakonechloa macra Japanese Forest Grass from my dad on the 4th of July, and it was very tiny and didn't have much of a root ball on it when it made the car trip from Dayton to Indianapolis. All things considered, this little guy held on for a couple months and didn't kick the bucket. 

Now, I'm super excited to see that it's actually putting up a tiny bamboo-looking sprig of new growth. This is surely a sign that root production has been going well, and the thing is actually going to start growing!

Here is a before and after from July 4 to August 25:

Hakonechloa macra Japanese Forest GrassHakonechloa macra Japanese Forest Grass

And here's a close up of the teenie tiny new growth:

Hakonechloa macra Japanese Forest Grass
Hakonechloa macra - Japanese Forest Grass putting on new growth for the first time since transplant

Monday, August 24, 2015

Purple Dome Aster Ready to Explode

My 'Purple Dome' New England Aster is ready to blow up, but will it bloom in August or wait until September? Side note, I can't believe it's almost September!!! This Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' has been growing and growing all summer, and started as a little 2 inch plug I got by mail.  Who knew it would grow into a bush like this in one season?

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' August 13, 2015
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
August 24, 2015 even closer to blooming!
purple dome aster small baby
Here's a baby photo from this Spring, holy cow!!

Variegated Liriope Blooming in August

My Variegated Liriope [Liriope muscari 'Variegata'] is starting to bloom here at the end of August. It's blooming around the same time as the hot weather grasses, such as Pampas Grass and Switchgrass - but remember Lily Turf is not a grass at all.

Variegated Liriope bloom time
Variegated Liriope starting to bloom in August
Even the divisions I cut for the side yard are starting to bloom (my East side yard or my dry shade side). I guess that means they rooted in, so that's good news! That also means that all of my divisions so far have survived: My Karl Foerster that I gave to the neighbor's side of the utility box, both of my hosta divisions, and these two liriope.

Variegated LiriopeVariegated Liriope

Update 9/11/2015: Here is another photo of the variegated liriope blooming a couple weeks later. Not bad! We didn't really plant it for color, but it's actually quite attractive and you can see it from across the yard even though the flowers are very small.

Variegated Liriope flowers
September update

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Brown Edge on River Birch Leaves

My young river birch have brown rusty edges on some of the lower leaves. It looks like a fungal infection, probably from the humid weather (and made worse when I water the lawn in the evening after work). I cut a few of the bottom branches off anyway to promote vertical growth, so that should get rid of a lot of the infected leaves. I'm also going to spray fungicide on the entire tree to hopefully prevent it from getting out of hand before Fall.

brown edge river birch leaves
Looks like rust, or advanced leaf blight, a fungal infection on the leaves from humid weather and watering in the evenings
brown edge river birch leaves
It's spreading! Only on the lower branches so far. The new leaves at the ends of the branches are fine, and the upper leaves look okay.
brown edge river birch leaves
Brown spots with a yellow halo, looks like a sure sign of leaf blight

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud

I saw a mature Ruby Falls weeping redbud in Metamora, IL while visiting family. It must have been 6-7 feet tall! Quite a nice specimen out by the side of the road in a river rock drainage ditch.

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud
Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud mature specimen, has been there for about 7 years
Let's compare this one to the one in front of my house. Mine is supposed to be 4 years old or so, and it's only a little more than 3 feet tall at the moment. Very cool tree, I'm glad I got it. It also looks great next to river rock, probably not a coincidence.

4 year old specimen Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud

Silver Heart Bouncing Back After July Floods

I love my little Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart' but it doesn't love the record rainy July we just had. It took a beating, but it's starting to show signs of bouncing back! I noticed little tiny furry leaflets forming at the base, and then eventually turned into little tiny healthy leaves. It's alive and on its way!

Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart'
'Silver Heart' still looks like crap since the flooding we had all July
Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart'
It's bouncing back!
Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart'
Little leaves! Welcome back to the world of the living little one

River Birch First Paper Bark Losing Juvenile Bark

My river birch in the backyard are beginning to lose their red juvenile bark, and beginning to peel into papering adult bark. It's starting at the bottom and moving up the tree. I'd say it's about 8 inches high so far.

The trees quickly put on about 1 1/2 feet of new vertical growth this summer, and now they're getting fatter trunks. I'm hoping for some more vertical growth before the Fall really sets in.

betula nigra young bark
First paper bark on a young river birch, losing its red juvenile bark
baby river birch bark

The Lawn Aeration Debacle

I signed up for Fall lawn aeration and over seeding. The afternoon of the aeration service, Chris and I were both scratching our heads because the internet was out. What the heck? What does this flashing blue light mean? No signal? I finally put two and two together and realized the lawn aeration must have cut the cable in the side yard. It was just under the sod, not down very deep at all.

lawn aeration cut cable
I dug up the old cable and followed it into the yard

lawn aeration cut cable
The cable pulled up and I saw a frayed end. I found the other end in the middle of an aeration hole. A perfect bulls-eye! What are the odds?

orange cable under sod
I ripped up the rest of the old cable, it was just under the sod so it was easy to pull up.

orange cable comcast box
Comcast came out and put in a new line, removed the old line, and stuck the plastic cover on.

orange cable comcast box
The cover doesn't go all the way down because the line isn't buried yet. I asked the tech if he could just run the line up under the plastic cylinder and he said no they have contractors that come do that. I asked if I could dig down with a trowel 6 inches real quick and have him run it under and he said no.

utility box landscaping
I don't want them to spray paint and dig up my whole utility box area, so I'm going to bury the cable myself except for the last bit where the box won't close.

buried cable
I used a square spade to slice an 8 inch deep trench through the lawn, wiggling it to allow the cable to slide down at least 6 inches or so. Since the ground is mostly clay I tried to form the clay over the top to close it up. I also watered it profusely to flood the trench, hopefully covering the cable with runoff.

buried cable
I used a row of rocks to mark where the cable runs under the flower bed.
Now I'm just waiting for this contractor to come out and run the cable 6 inches down under the lip of the cylinder. The tech said it would be 2-3 weeks. Sweet. If they come at all - my neighbor's cable isn't even buried, they left it on top of the grass until the thatch grew over it, so it's not even under the sod. Out of sight out of mind right?

I looked at the hookup inside the green Comcast cylinder and the coax cable is locked onto the connection - probably so people don't steal cable or mess with it - but it also means I can't just unhook it real quick to run it under the lip of the box. Sigh.

So who is to blame here? Is Comcast to blame for never burying their cable in the first place leading to me running it under the sod? Am I to blame for running it under the sod and not digging it down further? Is Lawn Pride to blame for puncturing it? Am I to blame for not marking my cable line before they aerated?

Shenandoah Switchgrass Natural Red vs. Fungus Rust

Shenandoah switch grass has a natural maroon red hue to it, which makes it a beautiful ornamental grass. But can you tell the difference between the natural maroon red tint on leaves, and a fungal infection that looks like rust?

I got this Shenandoah on sale for $1 because it was tiny and infected, I cut it all the way back and now it's thriving and free from fungus. It's even beginning the bloom, and develop some nice maroon leaves. Awesome!

shenandoah switch grass leaf color
Shenandoah switch grass healthy maroon purple leaf color
Rust fungal infection on Shenandoah switch grass

Let's take a look at the before and after from my $1 Shenandoah. This thing is a fighter, and it's getting lots of good growth in before the winter. These two pictures show 1 month difference. I am pretty optimistic about this bargain buy!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dead Head Shasta Daisy to Encourage More Flowers

If your Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are spent with wilting brown blooms, you can encourage re-blooming by removing the 'dead' flowers, also known as deadheading. You can go ahead and cut off the old flowers and it will encourage new ones to grow for a longer blooming period in the summer.

old brown daisy flowers
Cut them off as soon as they look bad - it's a judgement call and it's up to you just how spent they should be

If you see new buds forming, you want to cut above those to keep them. If you don't see any new buds, you can cut right above the top leaf (I go right above the top 'full' leaf and remove those tiny baby leaves right next to the flower).

where to cut old daisy flowers
I cut above the first big leaf and remove those puny tiny leaves closest to the flower. If you see buds, always cut above the new buds

remove dead daisy flowers
You are the weakest link, goodbye!

Bed Edge with Weed Whacker and Grass Killer

I normally edge my beds with a spade and go all the way around by jumping on the shovel and cutting a 4 inch deep slice all the way around the bed to give it a nice sharp edge and chop off the grass rhizomes trying to spread into the mulch. This takes a long time, and I probably only do it once a year. This new technique I'm using is a great option between more thorough bed edgings because it's quick and still leaves a nice clean result.

spray bed edge clean line
Clean bed edge where grass meets river rocks
I turned my weed whacker on its side in the edging configuration, like I'd use on the sidewalk, where the string trimmer is spinning vertically. I whacked all along the edge and actually had to beat back the grass in some places where it was not only growing horizontal over the edge it was actually creeping into the bed slowly. Once I whacked all the way around, I went back and sprayed some weed and grass killer very lightly right along the edge to hopefully kill off any rhizomes and deter the grass from growing into the mulch at least for a little while.

bed edge weed whackerclean mulch bed edge

The result was a nice clean edge, albeit with a border of brown from dead grass. You can go back and easily sweep or pull the dead grass away, and it was much easier than digging out rooted grass along the border.

Overall, meh, nice clean look - another option for a quick trim but I probably won't ditch the spade approach altogether. I'm sure I'm not the first person to do this, I consider it "chemical edging" or something like that by adding the spray. Emphasis on the light spray, you don't want a brown ring around your entire bed.

Compare Sun Burned to Fresh Annabelle Hydrangea Bloom

My backyard centerpiece, a row of Annabelle hydrangea, is looking a little sun burned. However, I noticed one of the plants put out a brand new bright white bloom. It really shows the contrast between the light green and brown blooms and what the fresh blooms are supposed to look like.

compare sun burn annabelle
Compare sun burned flowers to fresh white Annabelle bloom

annabelle new growth summer
Hello there new Annabelle blossom

I was encouraged to see this new growth in the middle of summer, and even a new bloom. I removed some spent flowers by dead heading and hopefully this will trigger some new growth in the other plants.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Neat Finds at Indiana Lowe's Garden Center

It's August 1st, let's see what's neat and cool at the Lowe's Garden Center. Move over mums, it looks like asters are in! I've got a 'Purple Dome' New England Aster at home that hasn't flowered yet, but I'm definitely in the aster spirit.

hazy aster
Hazy Aster
magic aster
Magic Aster
Denver Daisy Rudbeckia
Denver Daisy Rudbeckia

Burned Brown Sun Scorch on Annabelle Hydrangea

I love my Annabelle hydrangea row in the backyard, but unfortunately I have shitty clay soil and direct South-facing full sun until my river birch get big enough to provide some relief. I think eventually this will be a nice dappled shade berm next to my dry riverbed, but for now I've got to deal with sunburn on my nice white fluffy Annabelle blossoms.

sun burn Annabelle Hydrangea
Close up of Annabelle hydrangea flower turning brown in spots in direct sunlight

sun burn Annabelle Hydrangea
Flowers bent over during a month of wind and rain and never stood back up all the way - lookin kinda trashy!

brown flowers annabelle hydrangea
Flowers turning brown from burning direct sun and bad soil
Update: After further consideration, I don't believe anything is necessarily wrong with these Annabelle, but they bloomed early because of their direct sun. Now they are just going about the course of drying out - also earlier than usual - because they bloomed earlier as well. So the direct sun forced them to bloom early and now they are browning in late July and August rather than peaking.