Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-21-2016

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Nelson Mandela

Here’s a few flowers that decided to hang onto summer and continue to bloom. Screw you cold weather!!

Do right by me and see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Beautiful fall planter   ||  Perovskia atriplicifolia ~ Russian Sage


Beautiful yellow carpet roses


Lovely Fall Scene




Unknown red blooming grass… Beautiful!!!


Hydrangea macrocarpa



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Myrica pennsylvanica ~ Bayberry (The berries are so cool!!)    ||  Unknown grass


Chelone ~ Turtlehead


A nicely done swale


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bunk’ ~ Quickfire Hydrangea

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Dump Shit Here ~~~>

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) claims this was an ‘honest mistake’. Seriously? How does ANYONE think dumping shit on the ground is OK*?!? Excusing something like this is why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. I would have thrown the driver……….. (wait for it) UNDER THE BUS on this one and said, “Sorry we hired a moron to drive our bus, it won’t happen again.”

The whole situation reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas movies.

*EDDIE DOES!!! HaHa!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…. Into the Future

imageHello, faithful friends of Midwestern Plants!!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that autumn brings less and less topics to write about, let alone that season of white groundcover! =-O It is time for me to hibernate to a three posts a week schedule. It’s a sad situation for me, as I do truly love to write.

I have kicked around starting another blog, however the topics I want to write about are a bit more sensitive than plants. I follow so many ‘upbeat’ blogs about being happy, and how to change your life to be more happy. Yes, they’ve helped me somewhat. However, I feel the need to rant!! I’m not totally sure about this, however I feel that if I could get things off my mind, and there are possibly folks out there that feel the same, I would feel better. The topics would not be happy ones or following the norm.

I’m not going to make any mention of this other blog on MP, as I don’t want to get a ‘cross-contamination’ of followers… ‘Trolls’ are what I’m talking about😉

Otherwise, my life has been filled with wanting to find a different career. I religiously (nightly) search the job offers in the non-profit field and can’t find anything over $10 an hour. I GET IT! It is non-profit work, and it’s not money that brings you to this field, it’s wanting to make the world a better place. However, I make well more than that now, and can’t take that huge of a pay cut. I’m still looking and I’ve also signed up for more intense grant writing classes.

Another passion would be writing. I look for those job offers, however making $2 per blog post is fruitless also. There are so many scam websites out there, it’s hard to weed through all of them. Getting there. Do I write a book then??? Hmmm.

Worst case, I ask my boss for a raise and an ‘official’ promotion. After our designer died in 2013, I’ve been doing her job, for the most part. We have a contracted landscape architect, who draws the plans in AutoCAD (I use DynaSCAPE), then I tell him what plants I want. I don’t get to visit the site, I use Google Earth and other photos of the area, which is LUNACY! I recently got to go out and ‘set’ plants, because the original design got a bit off because of how the hardscape was laid out. It was a lot of fun, however the exposure (sun/shade) was completely off from what I was told (deep shade). I don’t feel our clients are getting the amount of service they should be getting for the price they are paying. This may be a HAIL MARY for me. As if he tells me he’s not willing to do this, well, then I may need to leave. I’m sure he knows I’m underpaid for this position, I should be getting another $15,000 a year for the job I do according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Otherwise, life has been pretty good to us this past year. We got to do a lot of camping at new and interesting places. By far, Door County was our favorite trip and we’ll be back there next 4th of July. Most of our trips have focused on areas where we could kayak. We even had fun at Merrick State Park, where the freight trains, about 100 feet away, would blow their horns (and sometimes shake the camper!) as they traveled by every hour. Kickapoo State Park near Danville, IL was a fun trip, because we were able to kayak every day we were there. Nice! Even better, I had read last summer that the park was doing to be closed, due to Illinois broke-ass status. Welp, money must have been found somewhere, as I just looked at the statuses of the forest preserves here, and many are not closing! Yeah!!!

My husband just told his boss he was free to work every Saturday in November… hmmm. That might mean I’d be free to do that 50,000 words challenge (NaNonFiWriMo) National Nonfiction Writing Month.

I’ve also been looking into all the ‘free’ college courses that are popping up as apps. EdX is one in trying now. Hopefully, going to learn some CSS styling 😃 Neither of these activities could be done if I was posting M-F.

On a sad note, a close friend of mine died this last Sunday of lung cancer. He was only 51. A few weeks ago his doctor told him he only had a few more weeks, so throw a Par-Tay! And a party he did throw! He’s part of a group of musicians that travel to different churches to play, so a stage was set up in the garage and everyone rotated up to play. It was awesome and sad at the same time. I would think because of his faith, he didn’t have much to fear. He knows he’s going to the good place =-)

Lastly, I’d really like to thank all of you blogging buddies that make writing here such a pleasant experience! I looked into many other blogging sites available (Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr… ) and felt WP was the most friendly and easy to use. I think we chose wisely!

So, on that note, I will leave to you continue on through your reader =-)

PS – IF anyone in the non-profit sector would like to throw me a bone about getting involved, please send me an email!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 10-17-2016

How to Grow Garlic in the Midwest

scapesBreak up the garlic bulb into cloves. You don’t need to pull off the papery covering like in cooking. To get them off to a good start and protect them from fungal diseases, soak them in enough water to cover, containing one tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed for a few hours before planting. Garlic should be planted in the fall. Timing of planting should be within two weeks of the first frost (32°F) so they develop roots, but do not emerge above ground.

Cloves should be planted with the flat or root end down and pointed end up, 2 inches beneath the soil. Set the cloves about 6 to 8 inches apart. Top the soil with 6 inches of mulch; leaf, straw or dried grass clippings work well.

Time to Protect Shrubs for WinterScan_Pic0003

Smaller shrubs like rhododendrons, will benefit from using fresh cut branches of conifers [spruce, pine]. Direct the thick end into the ground near the crown of the plant, and intermingle the branches together. This will provide a windbreak and help stop branch breakage from the weight of snow. If the shrub is taller than the conifer branches, tie them together at different heights to protect the whole shrub.

Another method of providing protection is to use horticultural fleece, plastic, wind-break netting or commercially made covers like below. This method should be used on all late-season planted evergreens, as they may not have developed an adequate root system yet, and can dry out from harsh winds.

How to Make New Planting Beds in the Midwest

double digging 1New planting beds should begin in autumn in the Midwest because the freeze/thaw cycles of winter, work to break up the clods of clay.

Most soils in the Midwestern region are alkaline and consist of high concentrations of clay. Contrary to some opinions, there are more plants available for this soil type than any other.

Choose a location that meets the criteria for the types of plants being chosen i.e. sunny location for annuals and vegetables, or a shady location for a woodland garden.

General Pruning Techniques for Trees and ShrubsAcer x f. Autumn Blaze® 'Jeffersred' 1

Many factors must be considered when pruning any type of shrub or tree.  Proper pruning technique is necessary, and is described further at Trees are Good. Identification of the plant, along with knowing it’s growth or habit, flowering schedule, and reason for pruning, is also imperative.

Pruning of dead, dying, or diseased limbs should be done at anytime. The 3 D’s! Many problems can be avoided if the problems are not allowed to spread throughout the tree or even to the neighboring trees.

How to Prepare Your Houseplants to Come Back in For the Winter

imageMy houseplants enjoy their summers outside on the porch. I feel the living room looks a bit bare when they get moved out, however, I don’t spend much time in the house during the summer either!!
When it’s time to bring everyone back into the house, there are a few things that need to be done to insure a safe, pest-free winter. Otherwise, things can go bad fast

I then make sure the pot drains correctly and that the pot is rinsed off of dirt or any other cling-ons. This will become difficult to do if you can’t bring it outside to correct.

Some of my plants need amendments, like my orange tree prefers acid soil in this land of limestone well water. I add the garden sulfur as directed and water it in thoroughly. Again this is something you really can’t do after the plant is inside with only a reservoir under the pot. I do give some of them a bit of fertilizer, however I only give it sparingly.

25 Ways to Kill A Tree

Kill a TreeMechanical damage and improper tree maintenance kills more trees than any insects or diseases. This how-to guide will hopefully teach you how NOT to treat your tree friends. .. However, if you’re the sadistic type and love spending money replacing trees, this is a great read for you also!

1 – “Top” the tree which promotes watersprouts that weaken trees and encourage pests and disease.

Do not top trees. Tree heights can be lessened by proper crown reduction that doesn’t stimulate watersprout growth.

2 – Leave co-dominant leaders to promote “V” growth and splitting during winds and storms.

When a tree is young, select one or the other of the competing upright branches to be the main branch and cut the other off. Do not buy a tree with these characteristics.

3 – Leave crossing branches to rub protective bark and create wounds.

Prune branches that cross and rub in order to prevent bark wounds.

Click the links for the full articles!!

The Names of the Full Moons

Native American Indians gave the Full Moons characteristic names to kept track of the seasons. The names vary a bit between the different Tribes and locations. This list was compiled from the most commonly used names by all the North American Tribes and offers variations within it.

Click here and enter your location to find out when the next moon is happening in your area.

January ~ The Wolf Moon
The howling of wolves can be heard echoing through the snow filled woods, hanging in the cold still air. Some tribes call this moon the Snow Moon, however most often it was used for the next month.

February ~ The Snow Moon
Usually by February, more snow has piled unto the land, thus giving this moon its name. Although tribes that use Snow Moon for the January moon, the February moon is called the Hunger Moon, due to difficult hunting conditions.

March ~ The Worm Moon
As the snow begins to melt, the ground softens and earthworms begin to move about, thus their castings or fecal matter can be found on the ground. Other signs of Spring also were giving to this months moon; the cawing of crows (the Crow Moon); the formation of crusts on the snow from recurrent thawing and freezing (the Crust Moon); and the time for tapping maple trees (the Sap Moon).

April ~ The Pink Moon
Flowers begin to appear, many of them pink including, phlox, pig squeak, lamium, pulmonaria and helleborus, to name a few. Other names for the April Moon are consistent with signs of full spring, such as Egg Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon and Fish Moon (from coastal tribes).

May ~ The Flower Moon
Many flowers are in full bloom and maize (corn) is ready to plant. Variations of this moon’s name are, the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

June ~ The Strawberry Moon
Every berry lover knows it’s strawberry-picking season here in the Midwest! This is one of the few names that was universal to all Algonquin tribes. Many Algonquin Tribes originated in the Midwest.

July ~ The Buck Moon
Male deer start to grow their velvety, hair-covered antlers in the Northern areas during July. In the New England area, steady thunderstorms also resulted in the name Thunder Moon. Also the harvesting of hay resulted in Hay Moon.

August ~ The Sturgeon Moon
Sturgeon are a prized, large fish, common to Midwestern area lakes. During August, sturgeon begin to become more active due to it’s spawning time, thus making them easier to catch. Some tribes call it the Red Moon, due to it’s common reddening during the heat of this month. Other names include the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

September ~ The Harvest Moon
The Harvest Moon, by far, is the most recognized moon of the seasons. Many staple foods, such as corn, apples, pumpkins, squash, beans, and rice, are ripe for the picking. The Harvest Moon does not always occur in September. Traditionally, the name goes to the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, which falls during October once or twice a decade. Sometimes the September full moon was called the Corn Moon.

October ~The Hunter’s Moon
After the fields have been harvested and the leaves begin to fall, hunters can spot game animals more easily. Sometimes, the Harvest Moon falls in October instead of September.

November ~ The Beaver Moon
Beavers are very active preparing for winter at this time; thus it’s easy to trap them and secure warm fur for the winter. Some tribes called this the Frosty Moon.

December ~ The Cold Moon
Winter has truly arrived with cold temperatures and bad weather. Many tribes also call it the Long Night Moon, because the moon spends more time above the horizon paired with a low sun.

The Blue Moon
Due to a steady, 29-day lunar cycle and the changing Georgian calendar containing months with 28, 29, 30 or 31 days, the exact dates of the full moon move every year. Most seasons have three full moons, however because the cycles don’t match, some seasons have four full moons. The term “Blue Moon” is used to identify these extra moons. These are pretty infrequent, thus the term, “Once in a Blue Moon” is coined for other rare occurrences.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Halyomorpha halys ~ Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

imageThe Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a true bug in the insect family Pentatomidae. It is an agricultural pest in its native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Recently (in 2000), the BMSB has become a serious pests of fruit, vegetables and farm crops in the Mid-Atlantic region and it has been spotted in other states as well.

As with all true insects, it feeds by using its proboscis to pierce the host plant. The BMSB feeds on many ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, tree fruits and berries. Their feeding on tree fruits such as apples or peaches results in damage called, “cat facing,” and renders the fruit unmarketable.

Here in the U.S., there are generally only one generation hatched per summer, however in their native range, 4 to 6 generations could hatch in a season.

The BMSB also likes to share your warm home with you in the winter. Just like ladybugs and boxelder bugs, they will flock near your doors, waiting for you to open one just long enough for them to fly in.

As their name states their business quite clearly, don’t smash these guys or vacuum them up while removing them from your home. I use the ‘cup and card’ method of catching them and throwing them outside to avoid the smell!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

What to Do If a Bird Hits the Window

imageSo, here I am working on my ‘puter when I here BLAM! I know that sound. Even though I try to warn the birds with colored clings and special ‘bird eyes only’ clings, a few still don’t see the warnings and connect. Most times, they shake it off and fly away. This time, Mr. Mourning Dove was seeing stars and planets, and was just sitting quietly on the ground. As there have been many birds of prey around lately, I didn’t want him to be a sitting duck, err, dove. I had to something to help the little, dazed guy out.

This is not my first rodeo when it comes to head injuries… I’ve had a few of my own 8-D

If the bird hasn’t moved in a few minutes, it may have a concussion. This guy was toootally out of it, he could hardly stand-up and was wobbly. Many websites tell you to put the bird in a brown paper bag and put it in a dark place… I liked my box idea, as it gave him a shelter, a place with little to no stimulation.. Basically a safe place to chill-out. Of course it was open so he could leave when his world stopped spinning. I didn’t try to give him food or water, as that could have caused a whole ‘nother rash of problems.

I came and checked on the little, window rapper every half hour. He seemed fine under the paper towel, while he tried to make sense of which way was up. After about 2 1/2 hours, he was gone.

I didn’t feel there was anything else wrong with this guy, so I didn’t feel the need to try to contact a bird sanctuary. Sadly, these guys are very common and on top of it, it’s dove season here!!

Now, if you come across a bird (or any other animal) that is clearly injured (broken wing, you see blood…), you will need to contact a professional wildlife rehabilitation or you’re gonna be in big trouble. Unless you’re trained, you cannot possess a wild animal. It stops idiots from trying to keep wild animals as pets. There is a great need for rehabbers! Wanna learn how?

Rehabers are very easy to find via a web search. It’s best to do this ahead of time, so when you do see an injured animal, you know what to do and time is precious when injuries are involved. Sadly, I toootally understand rehabers are far and few between, usually have little help and do god’s work, however in the four times I’ve needed them, only once did I get through to someone and they actually helped me (with a barn sparrow). You can try a local veterinarian, however be prepared to accept the bills also.

My best piece of advice, be prepared that your ward may die on your watch. It’s sad, but that’s life. Bury them in a nice part of the garden and remember them fondly when the nearby flowers bloom. That’s how I’m getting it done. Au Natural.

Post publishing:
Sherry Felix gave me a great link to help injured birds in general. This link discusses what to do with any injured bird. Thank you again, Sherry!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Autumn Blooming Flowers 10-10-2016

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Douglas Adams

Click to see the beautiful see flowers I found blooming in 20132014 2015


Agastache ‘Black Adder’


Humulus lupulus ~ Common Hop plant

Hops are mistakenly called a “vine”, although it is technically a bine; unlike vines, which use tendrils, suckers, and other appendages for attaching themselves, bines have stout stems with stiff hairs to help it climb structures.

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Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Miss’~ Maiden Grass    ||    Tricyrtis formosana ‘Samurai’ ~ Toad Lily

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Heptacodium miconioides ~ Seven Sons Flower   ||    Solanum ~ Nightshade

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Helianthus tuberosus ~ Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot, sunchoke or topinambour  ||  Panicum virgatum Hot Rod

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Buddleia davidii ~ Butterfly Bush   ||   Hibiscus syriacus ‘Aphrodite’ ~ Rose of Sharon


Possessed rose bush growing one pink rose on a shrub of white.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Pennsylvania Leatherwing – Chauliognathus pensylvanicus

imageThis little, native warrior princess was visiting my marigolds last week. I just had to snap a photo and share her with you.

This Northeastern girl is from Pennsylvania and is part of the assassin beetle family. She’s closely related to the lightning bug. Unlike most beetles that have a hard shell protecting their wings, hers are a tough skin, hence the ‘leatherwing’ name. 

Her favorite pollen is from the goldenrod flower which gives her another common name of ‘Goldenrod Soldier Beetle’. Her snacking on the pollen helps to pollinate the goldenrod, among the other flowers she visits.

If she’s bothered, she’ll emits droplets of white viscous fluid from pores along her sides. Chemical analysis has shown the secretion contains (Z)-dihydromatricaria acid, an acetylenic compound. This makes her taste kinda yucky, however she does end up on the dinner plate for many birds, bats and other small mammals.

So, next time you see her in your garden, blow her a kiss, ‘cuz she’s looking out for your flowers.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl