Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spring 13 Blooms

Here's what's happening in my garden these days:

These irises usually don't bloom till July!  And they have spread so much in one year!  I didn't plan that.

The irises are lighter this year.  Usually they're very dark purple, nearly black.  Did this happen because I divided them?

New plant.
To the left in the same bed as the irises.  DH's weather station, and the hostas, aka "bunny salad bar," doing better this year.
The crabapple tree!  Nicely trimmed and top still bearing fruit.  Still provides lots of shade, but in a better way.

Under the crabtree, there's this downspout on the corner of the sun room.  We have had so many problems.  Hopefully, this will help resolve them.  I am concerned about varmints climbing up the spout like a little ladder.  Any suggestions?  It's about 5" diameter.

On east-facing wall of back of the garage.  I planted catnip here; I hope the cats will scare the rabbits away!  Should grow about a foot or two high, hide the ugliness, and attract the kitties.

My patio pots.  The fuschia isn't standing upright, but I love 'em this year.

Two years ago we had terrible flooding.  Last year we had terrible drought and heat.  This year it is beautiful weather, including just enough evening rain so that we haven't had to run the sprinkler.  The squirrel diggings were reseeded, and look full and lush (look behind the patio pots; that was all dug up last fall).

Here in Nebraska, we tend to complain about the bitter cold of winter, then turn around and complain about the oppressive humid heat of summer.  I've been purposely not doing that, and these days it's easy to just enjoy the blessings of the weather.  Husker Sangrias on the shaded evening patio at 78 degrees?  Yes, please!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cheap Fix for Stumps!

Not sure what happened with the stump contractor.  We had to reschedule a few times.  The guy is related to the guy who cut the trees.  I sent payment and never heard back.

Then, as we were waiting for better weather, I noticed the stump area in the back, where the tree was removed last fall, still had shoots coming up.  Messages were left at both businesses asking if I should retreat with stump rot before they come, after they come, or what, and never heard back.

The stumps were small, one about 6" diameter, the other about 5".  But we didn't like them just ... there.  I searched the Interwebz for info on DIY stump removal.   We didn't want to dig huge holes in the yard, and then have to refill them. We sure weren't going to set them on fire!  Renting a grinder was not in our best interest.  How were we going to address this?

We turned to DIY, but we didn't "grind" them.  The stump rot had done its job on the backyard stump, and time had done its job on the side yard stump.  We had #1 Son take his ya-yas out on the stumps with an axe, to about 2" below the surface.  Then just to be sure, we treated them again with stump rot ($8 at Westlake Ace), and covered with topsoil (1.97 at Westlake Ace).  DH is going to reseed in the fall.  I noticed the shoots have already gotten weaker.

So, for about $10, and without use of a gargantuan machine which would have dug up the lawn IF we could have gotten it through the gate, we took care of our stump issue.  It'll be a couple of years before the hump in the backyard is flattened, sure, but we can live with that.

Can't beat free!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Garden Too-Soggy-Day: Can't Do Nothin'

There is lots to be done in my garden, but this wicked weather won't cooperate.  Rain, hail, sump pump, rain, sump pump, snow, rain, sump pump, rain, sunshine?  Yay!  Rain and snow predicted for tomorrow.  I drove down West Dodge at 7:30 this morning, and it was a night. mare.  I'm trying to get a feel for what this might mean for summer weather.

The tree stump grinding has been rescheduled twice, the crabtree pruning is still on hold, the sprinkler guys cancelled this morning due to rain and lightning.  And, of course, I need to have Brad the bug guy out, but since he sprays outside, too, that has to all be coordinated.

The Purple Martin Scout Report shows Nebraska covered with purple dots.  Still no takers in my yard, though.  Even the sparrows are avoiding the bird house this year so far.  I don't get it.  Looks like it's in line for being sold this fall.  Any takers in Omaha?

Hope the weather is great in your neck of the woods.  Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden Tuesday on Wednesday -- Heeere, Birdie, Birdie!

The Purple Martin Scout Report shows the Omaha area covered with sightings.  I awoke the day before Easter to the song of the martin, and assumed they were a block away at my neighbor's colony. I quickly put up the pole and house, thrilled that this might be The Year!

The pole is telescoping, with four sections held in place with tension clips.  They've worked so well in past years that it's been difficult to slide them down as needed.  Wouldn't you know it, the third pole keeps sliding down.  I've fixed it four times, and each time it's down within a day.  I know I wouldn't like it if my house kept dropping three feet.  Sometimes it takes a while to get out there to fix it.  Once this nasty cold rain stops and things dry out a little, I'll go out there and try a few tricks to get it to stay up.

Speaking of weather, I hope you all survived the unexpected golf ball sized hail yesterday evening.  Wasn't that scary?  I talked with someone this morning who drove through it.  All the rain kept our sump pump running all. night. long.  (We need a new check valve.)

 Shared on Facebook by Sempeck's Bowling & Entertainment

Anyway, the birds have not taken up residence in my yard yet.  The good news is that the sparrows haven't, either.  Since we're still going to have the crabtree extensively pruned, maybe this year it will bear less fruit and the sparrows will go elsewhere.  We have many more robins this year than I remember seeing in the time we've lived here.

The forsythia are just starting to show tips of their yellow blooms.  The bright yellow daffodils got pelted with the hail, so I hope they come back.  No grape hyacinth budding yet.  I suppose I should go out there and clean up what I didn't get to in the iris bed last fall (they hang on forever and it snows over them).  I'm hoping to see healthy and lovely hosta this year.

And, of course, there is Peter Rabbit.  There are two distinct rabbit paths across our backyard.  One hits an area of the fence where I cannot find an opening through or under it.  The other goes to a definite under-fence escape route, and I will enlist the help of my boys in carrying some old concrete (from fixing the fence posts) back there to bury and block the opening.  I haven't seen Pete yet this year, but I know he's out there.  Heeeeere, Hawkie, Hawkie, Hawkie!

That's what's happening in our yard.  Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Weird Outside Week

Single-digit wind chills early in the week, 68 degrees yesterday..... welcome to Omaha weather!  It's been difficult to plan because of odd weather patterns.  Last year it was consistently in the high 70s and low 80s at this time -- I remember explaining to our European exchange student that no, this was not typical weather, but yes, enjoy it while you can.

The grass is suffering from the pushme-pullyou weather, with brown patches and footprint freezing.  And trash blown about on Wednesdays always ends up in our north side yard (that's what boy children are for, right?).  No buds on the trees yet, and no bulbs pushing up, either, which surprises me.

I'll try to clean up two back flower beds, the one closest to the house/windows and the one that hosts the bird house, this weekend or maybe Monday while #1 is still home on spring break.

My DH kindly brought the purple martin house and pole down from the outside attic last weekend.  Today I'll will wipe it off, and get out in the yard to clean up the pole hole where it will be raised.  Saturday it must go up.  April 1 (Monday) is the theorized arrival date of scouts to the Omaha area.  I doubt they'll be here then, because they're smart birds, but I want to put out the welcome mat. Plus, there haven't been many posted sightings yet in southeast Nebraska.

This year we have one less tree in the backyard, which opens up a flight path.  In that same area a few years ago, the fence was knocked down by a "non-tornado" and I saw purple martins enjoying their freedom until the fence section went back up.  So I have high hopes this year!

And if they choose not to take advantage of the amenities I provide again this year, then I believe I will sell the house and pole and wipe the dust off my feet.  We'll also plant a replacement tree.

That's what's happening in our yard.  Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Less Gardening For Me This Year

I'm making a lot of changes in my life these days.  Among them are measures to make my life easier.  Last fall I decided to ditch the decrepit square foot containers and skip that this year.

My tomatoes didn't really produce the last couple of years.  And last year I bought better quality plants.  *shaking head*  The lettuce was iffy.  The carrots never grew, nor the onions.  We're eating more organics these days, but I'm finding great deals in the stores that make vegetable gardening moot.  Sort of.

I do, however, enjoy fresh herbs.  I bought a healthy chive plant from the grocery store last fall, but I put it at the kitchen window, which faces north, and it died from low light and cold.  I have no south-facing windows, by the way, except a skylight in the boys' bathroom (ew!).  So this year I decided to start thyme and rosemary from seeds, and they are just beginning to come up, by an east-facing window, hidden behind the TV.  (I tell you, this house is just not set up for plants!)  I used organic seed starter potting mix with fertilizer.  Sounds like an oxymoron, but it's working well.

Also starting are aubrieta, which are perennials, so a good start will assure years of beauty, right?  RIGHT?  The package shows purple flowers, which will go nicely with the rest of the yard.  Fingers crossed.

I want to share what my DH got me for my birthday.  It's the perfect thing!

It's a stepping stone!  There are some really cool things about this.  Our house is medium/dark green with cream trim and patio awning; there is a faux green finish to the "stone" with creamy-gold accents.  We have bright orange day lilies in our yard; this brings that element to another part of the yard.  Many of the accent flowers in our yard are purple; the purple butterfly is perfect.  And who knows....maybe that butterfly will finally attract purple martins to the house!  We do have a stepping-stone path through the flower bed under the crabapple tree.  There is a bare spot in another part of that bed, and this will fit it just fine, thankyouverymuch.  Thanks, Honey!

Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Purple Martin Scout Report

Here's the Purple Martin Scout Report for 2013.  Looks like 3-4 weeks away as of today!

Squirrel Mischief!

Omigosh!  I'm so sorry, garden peeps!  Things got really, REALLY crazy last fall, and I dropped the ball.  Sorry!

First, let me share with you some squirrel mischief! Yes, more rodents to join the rabbitsssss.  Here's what they did to our lawn in one day/night/morning in October.

We weren't sure what exactly did it at first.  But a friend in another part of town actually caught a squirrel in the act, doing the same in his yard!  In broad daylight!  The grass is pulled up and peeled back, exposing the soil and roots, and we don't know why.  The grass surrounding the digging is weirdly dead.  We have not had issues with grubs in this area, the lawn was quite healthy, and there were no nuts buried there.

I tamped down the "squirrel divots" and prayed for the best.  But the darn animal came back night after night.  Are squirrels really nocturnal?  Anyway, we overseeded, but the turf is still a mess.  So we decided to have a lawn care company take care of our grub control and fertilizing this year, to be sure the right stuff goes down at the right time, in the right spots.  We crunched the numbers and found it's a good deal for us this year, especially with visitors coming in May and some other work being done.

The playfort is gone, and we had the small tree taken down, as well.  The little purple tree never really flourished in the 12 years we've been here (planted before we got here); arborist said the species is prone to infestation.  Next month we'll have its stump ground, along with an older stump outside the fence.  I was encouraged to plant another tree about 5 feet from where the other one was, so we'll be getting a real tree (not a sapling this time) in the ground, too.

And we will have the crabapple tree addressed.  This year it gets a long-overdue haircut (or rather, amputation) by the arborist.  I was told last fall that it wouldn't hurt it to cut way back.  Another interesting thing is about the bark.  Remember how I was concerned about it splitting?  The tree guy said it was okay, and normal, even.  Okie-dokie, then.  He was more interested in the amount of fruit.  Well, it's all gone now, thanks to the Nebraska winds.

So we start the spring season (okay, it's a week away) with big projects.  I've got herb and flower seedlings started inside, but that's another post.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Garden Tuesday: Speaking of Bugs

Ick, ick, ick!  It's been a couple weeks of dealing with bugs.  We finally got some rain (yay!), and "normal" temperatures, and it brought out the bugs.  Lucky me to discover their abundance.

For starters, that lovely spider web (yes, I know it's an arachnid, not an insect, but it's still a bug) in the crabapple tree belonged to the ugliest darn thing!  He was huge, bulbous, cream-colored, and menacing.  He came down with some of the upper-branch fruits that needed to be trimmed away.  He's gone now, but I'm having nightmares.

And the mosquitoes found their way to human flesh.  That scares me because of the West Nile virus, so we're just being extra careful.

I discovered two large ant hole openings near the back patio (building up their doorways for a storm).  Inside, I found hundreds of dead tiny ants, which came in during the last 3-4 weeks.  (The area is behind the TV/game station, and I get it once a month.)  So the barrier spray is working as it should, although the buggers are trying to get in.

But the most disturbing insect to this homeowner is the carpenter ant.  Talk about your nightmares! {shudder}  We "gave away" the playfort over the weekend; actually, it fell apart as it was being taken down.

We had no idea it wasn't going to be usable!  (Those carpenter ants are pretty sneaky, with their damage on the inside.)  The taker was kind enough to haul away the unusable wood and keep the plastic parts, so after we helped him load up, we took a look at the vacant area.  The hardwood mulch and the wooden structure had been a palace and playground for some of the largest ants I've seen in Nebraska.  We were going to rake up and reuse the hardwood mulch, but I think now it's going to be purged.

There is a smaller tree also in the backyard that I noticed this spring was infested with insects, which I now realize is the same carpenter ant.  It's dead halfway up, and the top portion did not leaf out well this year.  I had already planned to have an arborist out this fall to address that (take it down).

One call to Brad the bug guy, and he came out assess the situation.  Fortunately, he said they're far enough away from the house that they likely won't head for it, and our fall spraying in a month or so should be sufficient.  He said they may go to the fence (better than the house, but still not good). We've been through carpenter ants before, and termites, and they are quite destructive, so I hope they just go away.  HA!  I sprayed the area anyway with ant stuff.

At least the bugs are staying outside.  The ones I see inside have met their end; the flies that get in are gone quickly, and there are very few other carcasses I vacuum up.  (Except those tiny ants.) We're supposed to get 100-degree weather again tomorrow, but after this round, and with the next cool-down, I'll get out there and start preparing the garden for fall.  Little by little.

How are the bugs in your yard?  Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday and Bloomin' Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Garden Tuesday: Around the Yard

Today I'm presenting the Back River Birch.  It's in the backyard, gets runoff from the downspout, as well as sprinkler water, and gets full sun.

The watering can is for size perspective, and the pic was taken at 8:15 am.  Three years ago, this was literally a twig with roots.  Now, it's easily 7-8' tall, filling out, and is really healthy!  I worried about the river birches because of the drought, but I am pleasantly surprised!  There are green shoots at the top, probably due to some cooler weather this week, and a tiny bit of evening rain.  Eventually, this tree should get to be 75' high or taller, and will shade corner windows (to the left just outside the pic).

This area of the yard was landscaped designed as a large tree/flower bed that would accomplish form and function.  The former owners left us the plan so we could finish it out.  We've had irrigation issues, and installing the bed was not on our priority list when we had the system installed.  So the idea became a tree, rather than a bed that would entail redoing the sprinklers. I plan to fertilize again this fall, as that worked well last time.  Hopefully, he'll double in height again next year.

I am very proud of the trees I planted a few years ago.  They were saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation, and we got a nice variety.  The red maple went in the front yard for shade from the evening sun.  Two river birches were planted on opposite sides of the house, each to shield large windows.  Two quaking aspen were planted just outside the side fence, in a triangle with one inside the fence to make a "grove"; the inside one was an Arbor Day giveaway to my son 8 years ago, and while they told the kids they probably wouldn't grow, ours took off and is easily 100' high now (not kidding).

Also around my yard today, I took a look at the neglected flower bed along the fence behind this tree.

I did weed and mulch it this spring, but with the extreme heat, I did not go back out.  My poor drooping irises!  Must tend to those soon.  They're late bloomers and kind of hidden now, so I don't usually remember to take care of them after the blooms.  And usually the flowers are abundant, but the heat/drought quashed that, too.

I took a pic of an awesome huge spider web from the crabapple tree drip line down to the mini azaleas.  But it doesn't translate well in the camera.  Yes, the insects are buzzing and crawling quite happily now that it's below 100 degrees.  There were pretty big mosquitoes out last night.

Oh, I did get two more small tomatoes from my plants.  There are two more green ones on one plant, and blooms but no fruit on the other.  More disappointing each year.  I may give up on that garden and just concentrate on perennials and trees from now on.

How's your yard coming along?  Share your garden pics and enjoy the others at  Garden Tuesday, and Garden Party and Bloomin' Tuesday.