How to Build a Large-Scale Rain Garden

We have a client that has two rain gardens (really drainage swales) installed by another company and after 3 years, it had reverted to all cattails (Typha latifolia). Not that they are the worst thing in the world, however they were a boring sight for our clients who wished for colorful blooms.

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Booooring cat tails…. Meow.

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Ooh, one spark of color!

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Colorful rain garden wishes. This is a bioswale in Wisconsin.

There are differences between bioswales, drainage swales, and rain gardens. You should know the differences before you decide to plant. Once you’re a bit educated and would like to build your own, here’s a great link to the Wisconsin Extension Natural Resources Departments “Guide to Bioswales and Rain Gardens”, one of the best I’ve scoped out. It has ‘recipes’ for rain gardens that supply all the names of plants that do well in different types of soils and light requirements.

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After we had our plan, it was time to bring in the big guns. Luckily, the entwined roots of the cat tails were easily removed like ripping up a carpet. If you know what tubers are (kind of like a potato)  This is not normal, usually this is a very difficult task. We got verrrry lucky.

We brought in a few truckloads of soil and re-graded the basin to drain towards the outlet.

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It was the fun time now! Installation of the plants. I gave the crew a general planting guide (tall in center, graduating in height to ends) which they transferred via spray paint to the beds. We used 2 1/2 inch plugs for the project. We had about 2,700 square feet (sqft.) to cover and I had purchased 2,300 plants. Most were planted at a 12″ inch center, meaning 1 per sqft., however some of the larger plants we placed at 18″ centers.

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SHORT MEDIUM TALL
ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSA ACORUS CALAMUS EUPATORIUM MACULATUM
GEUM TRIFLORUM ASTER ERICOIDES LIATRIS PYCNOSTACHYA
HEUCHERA RICHARDSONII ERYNGIUM YUCCIFOLIUM RATIBIDA PINNATA
MIMULUS RINGENS MONARDA FISTULOSA RUDBECKIA SUBTOMENTOSA
RUDBECKIA HIRTA PHYSOSTEGIA VIRGINIANA SPARGANIUM EURYCARPUM
BAPTISIA LEUCANTHA PYCNANTHEMUM VIRGINIANUM ASTER NOVAE-ANGLIAE
SAGITTARIA LATIFOLIA HIBISCUS PALUSTRIS
SOLIDAGO OHIOENSIS
VERBENA HASTATA
AMORPHA CANESCENS
CAREX VULPINOIDEA
SCIRPUS PENDULUS
HYSTRIX PATULA
ASCLEPIAS INCARNATA
LIATRIS SPICATA
LOBELIA CARDINALIS
LOBELIA SIPHILITICA
TRADESCANTIA OHIENSIS

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I was told by the homeowner, builder and my boss that these basins are never full, just a bit of water from the sump-pumps and some run-off. Although I was born at night, I was not born last night… Why would these be required by the village to be so large if the potential for filling wasn’t there??? The above photo is basically what I was told would be the extent of the water level. I did choose plants that were able to be submerged for a short period of time… HOWEVER….

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I wasn’t exactly expecting THIS!

At this point, although we had no floaters, we will all have to wait to see if everyone survived next spring!

To be CONTINUED…..

Drawing Sunflowers

I had a great idea last spring to try to better my drawing skills. Or perhaps, to find any form of drawing skill !! I am really good at drawing the extremely, symmetrical 2D shapes that are necessary in drawing landscape plans, however, throw in that last dimension and I’m lost. I figured I wanted to try drawing from a photo first, as it is already in 2D. Not sure if that helped or hurt, but these are my first few attempts.

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These were actually water-color pencils. I’ve never worked with them before. I felt like a little kid again, as I remember that newspapers sometimes used to include paint-by-numbers with ‘paint’ included on the paper. Just use a wet brush on the paint which activated it and you were able to paint your picture. These pencils work in the same manner, as you use a wet brush on them after you’ve drawn. I think it makes the drawing look smoother & I can hide all my gorilla strokes with the pencil.

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Messin’ with camera setting….

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Here’s the funny part… My husband is a double art major that attended college at an art institute… I don’t know if I really want to ask for advice. Has anyone had success in having their spouse teach them something without anyone loosing any limbs? =-D

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-21-2014

Happy Tuesday to you all!!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!

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If you can figure out what I was taking a picture of here, I will send you the booby-prize!!

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Cool thistle heads.

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Helenium autumnale – Sneezeweed… Achooooo!

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Helenium autumnale – Sneezeweed

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Milkweed seeds – Blowing n the wind!

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Gentainella quinquefolia – Stiff Gentian

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I know it is an aster – never seen one with a purple center, tho.

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Solidago nemoralis – Gray goldenrod

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I loved the fall color of this, however can’t ID it. =-(

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More asters I can’t ID.

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Monarda didyma – A bit of a late riser!

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Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-20-2014

Happy Monday Again.
Does it ever become any easier to wake-up and get out of the house on a Monday??

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year.

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Autumn pot annuals

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Grass seedheads!

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Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia creeper

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Aster ericoides – Heath aster

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Catmint and daylily

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Cool annual grass!

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Chasmanthium latifolium – Northern Sea oaks

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 Anemone × hybrida ‘September Charm’

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Oxalis triangularis – False Shamrock

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Ampelopsis brevipedunculata var. maximowiczii ‘Elegans’ - Porcelain Vine

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Tricyrtis formosana – Toad Lily

I love this one, so beautiful!

How Leaves Cha-Cha-Cha-Change Colors For Autumn

Autumn is when every tree is in bloom ~ Ilex Farrell

leavesTo be able to explain why tree leaves change their color in the fall, you must understand the basic physiology of the leaf itself.

Leaves are green because of chlorophylls that function by capturing the sun’s energy and to manufacture food for the plant or photosynthesis. All of this takes place in the plastids (specialized cells). During the growing season, the green color of these chlorophylls masks out all the other colors that may be present. So all you see is green.

As the growing season slows in autumn, chlorophyll production slows and the green-color dominance lowers to reveal the other colors of the leaf. Many influences such as amount of water, sunlight, temperature, and microclimate can manipulate the timing of the color changes.  A couple of weeks of bright sunny days mixed with clear, cool nights seem to bring out the best fall colors.

There are two pigments responsible for fall color:

Carotenoids – provide the yellow, orange, and brown colors.
This one provides the coloring for carrots, corn, and daffodils. Just like chlorophyll, these carotenoids are found in the plastids of the leaf. Some trees that turn hues of yellow or orange are: hickory, beech, black maple, aspen, and birch.

Anthocyanins – responsible for the red and purple hues.
This pigment develops in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf. They are created by a response to bright light and too much plant sugars left in leaf cells. Anthocyanins also tint young leaves in spring and allow for the bright colors of red apples, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries. Trees that tend to be colored red to purple are: oaks, dogwoods, red maple, sourwood, and black tupelo.

Both pigments can vary due to many degrees in a leaf, along with outside influences, that cause color ranges that are endless.

Circumhorizontal Arc – Rainbow Halos!!

These rainbows aren’t made from raindrops…
For a Circumhorizontal arc (CA) to be visible, the Sun must be at least 58 degrees high in the sky and where cirrus clouds are present. Additionally, the copious, flat, hexagonal ice-crystals that compose the cirrus cloud must be aligned horizontally to properly refract sunlight in a collectively similar manner. In principle, a CA is a type of halo. These happen a few times a year here in the Midwest. Other lower latitudes don’t get to see these at all.

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Cabbage White – Pieris rapae

These are cute, however I don’t appreciate biting into a larvae that has hidden in my cabbage! Eeeeaw!
Girls have two spots, boys have one. So, this little boy was enjoying sipping nectar from my knautia.
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Larvae feed widely on plants in the family Cruciferae, however occasionally on a few other plant families that contain mustard oils.
Commonly attacked vegetable crops:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Nasturtium
  • Sweet alyssum

Adults sip nectar from flowers, and are commonly seen feeding at a number of plants.

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Sadly, within a quarter century of its appearance in this country, rapid and widespread colonization of P. rapae had resulted in massive crop losses, mainly to cabbage. Attempts to control or eradicate the Cabbage White have led to a series of biological debacles. The disastrous consequences are well documented of the widespread use of chlorinated hydrocarbons including D.D.T., during the period following World War II. Of late, a more “progressive” approach has employed the use of biological controls using other organisms, often exotic, introduced species, to parasitize or otherwise prey on the pest organism.
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This is how you do it to it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-15-2014

Happy Wednesday.
Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!

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Rodgersia aesculifolia – Rodgers flower

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Same pot from summer – at the train station

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Cool unidentified seedhead – Solidago – Goldenrod

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Liatris spicata – Blazing star

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Grass seed

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Echinacea – Coneflower

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Verbena

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Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’

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Malus – Crabapple

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Solidago speciosa – Showy Goldenrod

Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-14-2014

Happy Tuesday!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!

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Asparagus seeds

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Helianthus tuberosus – Jerusalem artichoke also called sunroot, sunchoke

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Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia creeper growing on Picea abies – Norway Spruce

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Picea Abies – Norway Spruce cones

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Solanum dulcamara – Bittersweet Nightshade

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Euonymus fortunei ‘Colorata’ – Wintercreeper – Beautiful fall color

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Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ – Burning Bush 

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Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ – These don’t normally turn this pink tinge. Very cool tho!!

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Dog in the Storage Shelf

Happy Native American Day!!
Mr. Christopher Columbus was a very bad man. Read about his true story and how he treated the people around him.

We had some nasty, autumn storms come through last weekend. I’ll be cutting down (storing) the magical, miracle sunflower soon so I can bring it out this winter for the furries and featheries to snack upon it.

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So?

Where does my Breck go for safety? Our storage shelves work for him!!

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plants