Tag Archive | landscape

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!!

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-10-2016

I have seen a flower blooming in beauty in a secluded vale, and, ere I had a chance to look again, a chilly breath of air had scattered its petals and left it a ruin. ~ Charles Lanman, “Musings,” 1840

You don’t have to search a secluded vale to what I found blooming in 201320142015


Echinacea ~ Coneflower (look familiar? See above!)

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Campsis radicans ~ Trumpet Vine   ||   Hemerocallis fulva ~ Ditch lilies or Tiger lilies


Maclura pomifera ~ Osage orange

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Silphium perfoliatum ~ Cup plant   ||   Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’ & ‘Floristan Violet’

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Lobelia cardinalis ~ Cardinal flowers   ||   Nepeta


Hibiscus syriacus ~ Rose of Sharon, althea or hardy hibiscus.

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We had a bit of rain recently. We rarely see our ditch filled, so of course I had to photograph it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-8-2016

Today is my hubby’s birthday!! Happy Birthday Honey!!pig roast

Ah, another fine year to celebrate. We’ll be having the pig roast party Saturday. Mmmmm. Bacon bread! What’s bacon bread, you ask? Well, we cook the pig above ground on a spit, opposed to the Hawaiian method of burying it in the ground with coals on top.  After the skin gets a bit crispy (thus ‘safe’ to eat) we take crusty bread and pat the pig with it. The bacon fat, mixed with the copious amounts of garlic and salt my hubby prepared the pig with flavors the bread like bacon. Oh my, I totally look like Homer over there!! You’re all invited! Email me for the address =-)

“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”  ― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

Face  what I found blooming in 201320142015


When you have flowers in your yard, you’re always ready to deliver a bouquet to a neighbor.

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Hosta   ||   Asclepias incarnata ~ Milkweed

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Look! Two bumble bees!!   ||   Hypericum perforatum ~ St. John’s Wort

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Potentilla fruticosa ~ Shrubby Cinquefoil   ||  Hmmm.

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Not sure    ||   Rudbeckia triloba  ~ Brown-eyed Susan


Asparagus!!!! All grown-up


Phemeranthus rugospermus ~ Rough-seeded Fameflower

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-3-2016

The laws of science do not distinguish between the past and the future.  Steven W. Hawking

Although the past reveals what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Lilium lancifolium ~ Tiger Lily    ||    Cichorium intybus ~ Common chicory. It’s a coffee substitute, if left trapped in the wild without a Starbucks…

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Ipomoea purpurea ~ Morning glory   ||    Lythrum salicaria ~ Purple loosestrife. Both of these plants don’t play nice in Illinois =-(

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Monarda didyma  Native, wild beebalm   ||   Eupatorium perfoliatum ~ Common Boneset

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A Rudbeckia, but which one…..    ||   Prunella vulgaris ~ Self heal


I’m not sure who this butterfly is, but I’m sure a post will follow in the cold, lean post months of the winter!

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Liatris aspera ~ Rough blazing star    ||   Breck and a Leadplant

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I’m not sure    ||    Saponaria officinalis ~ bouncingbet


Calamintha nepeta ssp. glandulosa ‘White Cloud’ ~ Catmint

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-1-2016

So, after mucho research, I finally decided on which new convertible laptop I was going to purchase and pulled the trigger last night. It was a tough decision, as we’re talking a jump in 2 operating systems, stupid things like MIA keypads, touchscreen capability and many more upgrades. I’m not a techno-phobe, I’m a geek, however I don’t want to be a guinea pig. I rarely buy new technology. I am not in line for the newest Galaxy when it comes out. Let them get a few system fixes under their belts, then I’m on. Example, Windows 8 or 8.1 we’re the first that integrated the new touchscreen capability. Not an operating system I’d want to buy. Like it or not, Windows 10  has got to be better, as it got all the input from the guinea pigs that used W8. Hence why they were giving W10 away! I hope so, that is, as I’m going to have to find out. No, I’m not a MAC, ipad or iphone fan, please don’t suggest.

I love my old W7 Acer laptop even tho:

  • The battery hasn’t worked in 2 years.
  • The keyboard has gaps that collect crap & when I shoot it with air, the letters fly off.
  • Now the T, E, O keys have to pressed extra hard for them to register. his causes many typs 😉
  • The thermostat doesn’t work well, and doesn’t turn the fan on until the unit gets fairly warm. Nice in winter, tho.

I think I’m a pretty easy customer, but then again, I still had my needs in a laptop. I wanted:

  • A large one, 15.6″ screen, at least. I’ve got a 10″ tab already, I want to be able to see the screen without readers 😎
  • A high quality screen. Back to the lack of vision dealio. Also for my landscape design program, better to see things with!
  • A keypad! The Lenovo Yoga @ 15.6″ didn’t have one! I fly through Excel spreadsheets by keying in with my left hand and mousing with my right. That was the deal-breaker on the Yoga for me =-( Many other laptops have ditched it also.
  • I wanted a convertible, which I know I’m taking a chance on this design, but I’ll be careful!  I promise.
  • Every other thing in a laptop was not a deal-breaker for me. Price limit was $900, however looking to save.

Without further adieu, I decided on an HP ENVY x360 with an i7 processor, 15.6″ screen, keypad, convertible laptop for $850. It should arrive later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes… Wish me luck 😉

What kind of ‘puter do you drive?

Time in its aging course teaches all things.  Aeschylus

Learn what I found blooming in 201320142015




Yarrow and echinacea

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Achillea ‘Moon Dust’ ~ Yarrow   ||   Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ ~ Windflower

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Gaillardia ‘Gallo Fire’ ~ Blanketflower   ||  Veronicastrum ‘Lavender Towers’ ~ Culver’s root or Black root

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Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Sentimental Blue’ ~ Balloon flower   ||   Achillea ‘Moonshine’ ~ Yarrow

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Acanthus mollis ~ bear’s breeches, sea dock, bearsfoot or oyster plant – I so want one!!!   ||     Amorpha canescens ~ Leadplant

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A thistle. One of these days I’ll get around to learning them… Along with asters!    ||   An elderberry bush planted itself in my yard!!! Mmmm!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-27-2016

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. Theophrastus (372 BC – 287 BC)

Hop on the wayback machine to see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Vernonia altissima ~ Ironweed    ||   Vicia villosa ~ Hairy vetch

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Silphium laciniatum ~ Compass Plant   ||    Verbena stricta


Amorpha canescens ~ Leadplant


These can’t be leucanthemum x superbum… The petals are small. A Helenium perhaps??

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Eryngium yuccifolium ~ Rattlesnake Master   ||  Filipendula rubra ~ Queen-of-the-prairie


Gypsophila paniculata ~ Baby’s Breath

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Ageratina altissima ~ White Snakeroot   ||       Asclepias tuberosa ~ Yellow milkweed


Dalea candida ~ White Prairie Clover


Queen of the Prairie – all grown up.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-26-2016

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.  Franklin P. Jones (I resemble this quote!)

I don’t normally do blog awards anymore, as they are a lot of work and I generally don’t want to share too many personal things about me. However, Paintdigi got me interested in doing the “Three Day Quote” Challenge as, well, it was easy 😉 I basically do a time related quote with each Blooming Flowers post. So, Thank you for the nomination Paintdigi! Please go and visit my blogging pal, he has some very interesting artwork!!

Do the back-stroke to see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Verbena simplex ~ Narrow-Leaved Vervain  ||  Silphium laciniatum ~ Compass Plant


Monarda ‘Marshall’s delight’

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Phlox paniculata ‘David’   ||   Hemerocallis ‘Mauna Loa’ ~ Daylily




Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’ (Dang rabbits keep eating him!!)

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Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’   ||   Knautia macedonica ‘Thunder & Lightning’


Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ ~ Betony

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 7-25-2016

It’s actually been a pretty weird year for plant pests this year. Many things that were plentiful last year, haven’t been seen, and many things I’ve never seen before are showing up like they’ve been here all the time. This teaches me that you can take nothing for granted in this world. The life span of a human is very short compared to the life span of the earth. Although we may say, “I’ve not seen that since I was knee-high to a grasshopper”, the phenomenon may have been taking place since the dawn of time. Humans tend to think of things in our lifetime, when we really have to broaden our outlook to include many generations.

Ilex vs. Rabbitsimage

Rabbit Deterrents:
•These trees have chicken fencing around them, but it’s right against the bark. It needs to be away (1 foot) from the trunk and at least 6 inches underground, as best as possible.
•There are commercial repellants to use, but need to be reapplied often & don’t generally work according to the experts.
•Spread blood meal, cayenne pepper, manure or dog or human hair around plants.
•Spray plants with a solution of hot pepper sauce and water or vinegar. Reapply the solution after each rain. This solution can be rinsed off of vegetables after harvest and will not affect the taste.
•Use a foul-tasting spray deterrent that contains bitrex. Do not use bitrex sprays on vegetable plants because it will affect the taste of the produce.
•The last solution is a fine rabbit stew. Mmm.

Ilex vs. Snails & Slugs

Euchemotrema hubrichtiPreventing damage should start from last year’s observations, if possible. Most likely, if you had them last year in your garden they will be back.
Clear leaf litter from around susceptible plants. Don’t give them a place to hide.
Make a barrier of eggshells, twigs, or ashes around the plants as they don’t like to crawl over rough or sharp material. Copper wire or pipe is also effective, relying on the premise that the copper delivers an electric shock to them.
Provide a halved orange upside down as bait at night, and remove the takers the next morning.
Use a shallow lid buried in the ground and fill with beer or lemonade. Slugs and snails cannot resist a free drink, and will come and drown in the pool.
For smaller plants, make a cloche by cutting the bottom off a plastic bottle, bury slightly, and remove the lid for ventilation.
Encourage frogs and birds to your garden as they can’t resist a meal of escargot!

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

disease Triangle

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

I’ve noticed many different types of fungus coming out in droves because of our weather this season. Some are fairly rare and hard to treat. I wish we could get over the ‘Perfect Lawn’ mentality and all just enjoy the clovers and other blooming weeds. =-)

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Green Bay in Lake Michigan

We had a wonderful time in Door County, Wisconsin. We were able to explore Lake Michigan via our kayaks in the tranquil Green Bay. We disembarked from Gills Rock and paddled south.

To quote myself, from my Door County post:

“The geology of this area is pretty unique. In a seriously, small nutshell: About 425 million years ago, there was a shallow sea in the Lake Michigan area. After the sea dried up and deposited all the Limestone, it was covered in a glacier. All the pressure & chemical reactions turned it in to dolomite. Many years of erosion made all the beautiful bluffs we see here today.”

Goodness! I just summed-up 425 million years in 5 sentences =-O I don’t believe I shared the utter beauty of the place with you. Here’s just a bit more info on the area.

NiagaraEscarpmentmap    image

The circular area in red is called the Niagara Escarpment, and stands taller than the surrounding areas. Green Bay and neighboring Door County run along the escarpment which extends in a wide arc from eastern Wisconsin through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, and through the Niagara Falls. I’ve not been to Niagara Falls, however now I know what to look forward to when I do visit.

While hiking, you get to enjoy the height of the cliffs looking out over the lake. However, while kayaking, you get to enjoy the cliffs looking up FROM the lake!

The trees have obviously been hanging onto the cliffs for years. It was so cool to look up into a tree’s roots.

The area was originally full of alder (Alnus), willow (Salix) and cedar (Juniperus) which has given way to forests dominated by spruce (Picea) and, then later, pine (Pinus). Mixed forests of eastern hemlock (Tsuga) and hardwoods such as beech (Fagus) and elm (Ulmus) became standard by about 7,500 years ago and have persisted. I saw many birch (Betula) and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus), like the ones in this photo.

There are many animals that rely on the cliffs for shelter and food. The gulls in the photos below soared just above the water looking for fish.

Although we did not see any, there are many bats that are indigenous to the area; little brown myotis, the northern myotis, the big brown bat, and the tri-colored bat. All four of these species are currently listed in Wisconsin as threatened. In addition, the forests above the escarpment provide summer homes for the migrating bat species, including the silver-haired, eastern red, and hoary.


Clean rocks among the dirty. It was only about 4′ (1.5M) deep here.

We were told by a bartender that there were Native American paintings on the cliffs near Gill’s Rock. We paddled south for about a mile, all the while staring at the walls. Finally! I don’t know what they used to paint the walls, however I’m really shocked me that it was still able to be seen. Doubly shocked that no one has desecrated it =-)

I did try to do some research into what tribe may have painted it, to no avail. The Potawatomi Indians are still around, however there were many other tribes in the area. I wasn’t even able to find these same paintings posted on-line. That’s strange. I can’t imagine I’m the first one to post these things. Either way, it was really cool to have seen them and experience them in a kayak, looking quite like them.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.* HeeHee!!

Washington Island

Rock slides are common.

There’s not really a beach where we were paddling. So much of the limestone has eroded and fallen into the lake. Although the lake works its magic quickly, the rocks were smooth and not too rough on the tootsi’s.

It is 25′ (8M) deep here. Scuba divers like to view the shipwrecks in this area. The small passage between the islands and Lake Michigan is called ‘Death’s Door’. Ironically, not because of all the shipwrecks (and there are many), but because of ancient Potawatomi legend. To learn more, click here!

Vessel Name: Fleetwing (1867)
National Register: Listed
Registry #:9883
Casualty: 10/26/1888, stranded
Vessel Type: Schooner
Built: 1867, Henry B. Burger, Manitowoc, WI
Owners: Andrew McGraw John Spry
Home Port: Chicago, IL
Cargo: Lumber (that is what you’re seeing in the above pix)


The photo of the tree was taken by me looking straight up the cliff.

I felt the water was a bit too chilly to swim in, although many folks were enjoying it.

The water was absolutely beautiful and clear.

I would highly recommend coming here for a paddle.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

*Gilligan’s Island

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-20-2016

“You may delay, but time will not.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Don’ delay! See what I found blooming in 201320142015


Hemerocallis ~ Daylily

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Coreopsis   ||  Echinacea

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Hydrangea macrophylla   ||  Allium

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Another allium   ||   Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’

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Achillea ‘Apple Blossom   ||  Garlic


Astilbe japonica ‘Montgomery’

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Astilbe   ||   Daucus carota ~ Queen Anne’s Lace
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl