Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dum Dum Candy Sucker Topiary Tree with Supplies

I was searching online for something to do with suckers or lollipops and I came across a photo of a topiary tree or large flower made out of lots of individual dum dum suckers. I'm not very crafty - the only other craft I've really tried is a money Christmas tree. Here is my supply list so you know what supplies you'll need if you want to try to make it (I had to run back out to get extra suckers), and a few photos to show the steps I took along the way. No biggie!

make a sucker ball on a stem like a flower
The final product, this dum-dum lollipop topiary tree stands 22 inches tall. It's rather top heavy because it has almost 3 pounds of suckers on top.

You can use whatever you want, it will probably turn out just fine, but here's what I used if you're curious:

  • Clay flower pot (4 1/2 inch diameter)
  • Green foam block (the kind used for fake flower arrangements)
  • Green Easter grass
  • Wooden rod (1/2 inch diameter) 16 inches long (or however tall you want it)
  • Double sided ribbon
  • Green foam sphere (Hobby Lobby flower arranging section)
  • 3 lbs of Dum-Dums (3x 1 lb bags = approximately 70 per bag or around 210 suckers)
  • Hot glue gun (to hold the wooden rod tight, not to glue the suckers in)
Quick suggestion, get way more suckers than you think you'll need! The surface area of the sphere is deceptive, and I had to run out to buy more suckers. Get a huge bag just in case. 

Okay here is what I did...

green flower arranging foam in pot
I cut the sides off the green foam block and shoved it down into the flower pot, then I cut a little more out so it didn't stick over the top.

sucker topiary tree supplies
Gathered up more of my supplies, including the foam ball, suckers, Easter grass, and nice double sided ribbon

stick dum dums into foam ball
I started sticking the suckers in very close together, then realized the ball got top heavy, so I set it on top of the pot and kept sticking more in. If you go very close together, you better buy extra suckers. I have a little space between mine because it's fine either way, it still has the overall look.

hot glue rod into foam ball with suckers
I anchored the ribbon to the wood with glue, then wrapped the rod and glued it down to keep it tight. I tied a bow around the rod and used a dab of glue to hold it down. I stuck a letter opener into the foam ball and twisted it to make a hole, then jammed the rod into it with some hot glue on the end.

lollipop topiary close up photo
I jammed the rod into the foam block in the pot then glued it to hold it in place. This thing is very top heavy, so I'm a little worried about the base coming loose. I used a very tiny amount of Easter grass just to cover the foam block. The hardest part was keeping it straight up and down while the glue dried. Remember it doesn't have to be perfect!

Any questions? Like I said, I'm not a huge craft guy, but you can leave a comment and I'll answer. I've got to drive this in to work for a work party, and I'm going to bring a bunch of extra suckers in case these fall out. The suckers aren't actually glued in they're just stuck in place. 

Pinus 'Louie' and SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

I always try to take photos of cool plants in the stores even if I don't have approval from the purchasing department (aka my family). Here are a couple nice ones I saw recently. Something has to be pretty cool for me to stop and say 'ooh, I'm gonna post about that' so this is just some favorites.

SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus caught my eye with the large ruffled flowers with striking white borders. I became a fan of dianthus after my 'lavender lace' bloomed for 3 months straight last summer.

SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus
SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

Next, I've been eyeing white pines on car trips - enjoying the north woods vibe without the obtrusive pyramid shape of a spruce. I like them tall and skinny with wispy soft needles. Here is a pine that caught my eye at Allisonville Nursery the other day, Pinus strobus 'Louie'.

Pinus strobus 'Louie' - Louie's Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus 'Louie' - Louie's Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus 'Louie' - Louie's Eastern White Pine

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Purple Dome Aster Divisions and Moving Plants Around

backyard move plants
Here's an overview of all the moves I made today. I moved a lot more than I had planned, but hopefully we get some rain and everyone settles in. 

Spent a few hours today moving things around in the back yard and mulching the side yard. Some of the more significant moves to mention, I moved a dianthus over to the edge by the patio to give some year round structure. I like my salvia, but I don't like how they die to the ground and basically disappear. After the move, I'm liking how the right side of the bed looks almost complete.

backyard move plantsbackyard move plants

I moved my sale table Blue Marvel salvia over to the middle. The middle of the bed is like my holding zone, not sure what I want to do with it just yet.

This was also my first time doing divisions of my Purple Dome aster. This all-star plant has been killing it the past 2 seasons, and I learned that you can cut them up and divide them like a hosta. Let's see if my little sprouts turn into whole new plants (for free). I remember when I got them in the mail I was surprised how small it was, and it turned into a purple dome in the first season.

purple dome aster transplant
Purple Dome aster division (super tiny sprouts)

purple dome aster transplant
Added some purple dome aster divisions to the front utility box bed too because I'm not sure if the Gaura are coming back. 
big side yard mulch bedblue fescue out of season

I did some 'cosmetic mulching' in other parts of the yard - you know, when you just dust some mulch over the top so it looks like you mulched and the colors match.

Friday, March 17, 2017

2017 Indiana Flower and Patio Show Favorites

The Indiana Flower and Patio Show is a sure sign that Spring is right around the corner. It's a nice escape from the cold and usually dreary March weather to explore the show gardens and features in a heated building at the state fairgrounds.

This year I got half price tickets online just by typing a bunch of different 4 letter words into the coupon code box, score!

Last time I went to the show it was during the closing weekend, this time I was there for opening day. I was a little disappointed - I thought everything would look super fresh for opening day, but I realized that most of the bulbs and things weren't quite open yet since they probably are intended to last all week.

I noticed a lot of repetition of the same plant varieties throughout the show, and it made me wonder if they had one landscape company come in and dress the feature areas all at once or something. Or maybe the similarities are just because those are the kinds of plants that look attractive this time of the year, or that were available from local wholesalers.

Overall, I was a little turned off by the prevalence of non-flower-and-patio-related vendors. I mean, I can understand the roofing companies and the hot tub companies because those are outdoor related, even the carpet companies and kitchen counter companies because those are at least home improvement related - but what gives with the blender company giving demos with a headset microphone, and the Xfinity high speed internet booth, ugh.

Anyway, I did see some cool things that stood out as highlights:

gas fire that looks like campfire
I just love this gas fire that looks like a campfire, with metal beams for kindling stacked in a loose teepee shape
modern farmhouse flower arrangements
This was a nice display sticking with mostly white flowers and lots of glossy foliage. I recognized star magnolia. 

garden show pathtall birch vase with pearl flower arrangement

conifer with yellow needle tips
Zack and I agree, we loved the detail on this unnamed sunburst spruce. We even asked the guy at the display and he had no idea what it was. Come on!

conifer with yellow needle tips

Miniature Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'kilmarnock')
Flower detail for Kilmarnock Miniature Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'kilmarnock'), saw several of these, it was a popular selection for the displays.

Miniature Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'kilmarnock')

Taxus baccata 'Amersfoort'
This little guy would have been easy to overlook, but it was actually one of my favorite things I saw during the day. It's a taxus but it has round needles so it looks almost like a boxwood. Neat! Label said Taxus baccata 'Amersfoort'. 

green japanese maple and hot tub

Deschampsia Goldtau
Deschampsia Goldtau

cloud form pine at garden show
Some kind of cloud form pine, also missing a plant label (frowny face). 

Chirimen Hinoki Cypress
Very interesting Chirimen Hinoki Cypress

bjd plant
Not sure what this is, it was just labeled 'BJD' - any help? It almost looks like a rhododendron ground cover.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring Mulch Before Week of Freezing Temps

I got around and mulched the utility box bed and the west side yard (aka wet shade side), and I had a little bit of mulch left to go around my green panda bamboo, which survived another winter but had some dead tips I trimmed off.

I have crocus about to open - if we had another 24 hours above freezing I think it would open, but we have about a week of freezing temps upon us. It's a high of 34ºF today and low of 14 tonight, so it's not feeling much like spring at all.

I wanted to show my spring mulch and clean up a bit, these will hopefully make some great "before" pictures for later this season. I also wanted to show what my Gladiator allium look like first emerging. I think we got 5 out of 6 to come up, with one MIA.

crocus with rain drops
Crocus about to open up! If only we had one more day of warm temps!

Day before a hard freeze, don't expect these guys to stick around unfortunately

gladiator allium
My favorite mystery sedum and an emerging Gladiator allium

gladiator allium
Gladiator allium poking through

green panda bamboo winter
Green panda hardy clumping bamboo with a new haircut

small side yard mulch bed
Coral bell in a rabbit cage

small side yard mulch bed
Side yard looking pretty barren, I could use some structural plants

small side yard mulch bed
Coral bell that the rabbits nibbled down to a nub is coming back with protection. Notice the Japanese andromeda staying green all winter and already flowering. You the real MVP!

utility box early spring
Utility box bed. Not sure if the Gaura are going to come back, so I'm devising some plans for what else I could put up here. 

small side yard

purple hosta eye
Hosta eye checking things out, trying to see if it's safe to come up yet (hint: it's not). 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

First Crocus 2017 and Mulching in February Because I Can

Crocus vigil 2017 began with the first sighting on February 12, this little guy was poking through the mulch when I got back from my trip to Washington DC.

first crocus 2017
Crocus watch 2017 - first one poking through on February 12, probably emerged a couple days before. 
Still no blooms. We had a cold snap come through and everything pretty much stopped where it was. Here's a status update:

dazzleberry early spring
Sedum 'Dazzleberry' on February 24, 2017

royal candles early spring
Royal Candles also on February 24

sedum in rocks
Unknown creeping sedum in the rocks looking pretty gorgeous, February 24

surprise lily
Surprise Lily - February 24, 2017, these things are early risers ready to go!
small backyard island with rocks
Mulching on this unusually warm day in February

21 Inch Tall Rabbit Fence with Zip Ties

So I wrote a whole blog post about adding a 9 inch tall welded wire fence around the base of my aluminum fence in order to keep my small dog(s) in the yard. The aluminum fence is attractive, but the rungs are a little to wide to keep the dogs in if they are motivated to wiggle out. The 9 inch tall addition did the trick no problem, but I noticed that it did absolutely nothing about the rabbits. I was aggravated to no end all last spring, especially when they decapitated my Dusseldorf Pride.

I would let the dogs out at night and watch the rabbits run away and simply jump the 9 inch fence between the rungs, no problem. Since I actually watched them hop it a few times, I was guessing that 21 inches would be enough to prevent them from getting in. They might be able to clear 21 inches if it were out in the open, but since they also have to aim through the vertical rungs I'm hoping this will be tall enough to stop them. The whole point of having an attractive aluminum fence is so you don't have to have this wire mesh or chain link. I think at 21 inches tall, it's still subtle enough that the overall impression of the fence isn't too tacky.

This spring, I'm not messing around, I bought the same kind of fence from last time: 16 gauge black vinyl coated welded wire fence with 2"x3" rectangles. I used zip ties to hold it in place, just like last time. With a little help from my super handy room mate, we installed it in a couple hours.

install rabbit fence with zip ties
Each rectangle is 3 inches tall so we have 7 rectangles vertical for 21 inch fence that should be enough to keep the rabbits from simply jumping over. They might be able to clear 21 inches if it were out in the open, but along with the aluminum fence it should be enough of an obstacle - fingers crossed. 

rabbit fence supplies

Of course after the fence was in place, it only took the rabbits a day or so to find the gaps around the bottom where they could just duck under and get in. So then I took a spare piece of fence and stuck it into the ground temporarily blocking the low spot where they got in.

rabbit dig under fence
Rabbits found the low spot, and slipped under the temporary block with this spare piece of fence. My next step was to dig the tongs 3 inches into the ground and add some fill to actually raise the ground level in this spot. 

As you can see from the photo, they actually dug under that and bent the tong back that was touching the ground. Arrrg! That does it! I cut off a strip and stuck the wires 3 inches into the ground and had extra rectangles at the top, then I filled that in with some left over soil and sod scraps to actually raise the level of the ground up to the fence. So far so good, no rabbit poop in the yard since adding the bottom layer in these particular low spots.