Tag Archive | outdoor

Evergreen Winter Seasonal Pots 2016

It’s that time again!! Wiiiinter pots!!

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We pre-fab these at the office and the crews deliver these to the client’s homes. You can skip many of the next steps if you already have a prepared pot of soil. We make them this way so we don’t have to stand outside and do it! I think this almost falls into that category of, ‘Lazy man works the hardest!’ Ha!

We use nursery pots that closely fit the size of our client’s containers. Cut a plastic sheet to fit over the bottom holes. This slows or stops the water from draining and helps freeze the display in place. Next, add florist foam to the middle for stability of the larger ‘thriller’ items, as these could be rather large birch poles. Then fill the rest of the pot with a 50/50 soil/sand mixture. Be sure to really stuff that soil into the pot. The better packed soil helps hold the display in place from precipitation, the weight of snow and wind.

The design is the standard, Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large sprig/evergreen, center piece, or for this season, mostly sticks. Filler are those mid-range sized pieces of evergreen, or other material that is generally wider and less tall that the thriller material. Spiller is just that, floppy evergreen, weaker-stemmed items that hang over the edge of the pot.

A few often overlooked hints and tips:

  • Fresh cut ALL of your greens right before sticking into the pot. It does make a huge difference as to how long the greens will stay green and especially how long the holly berries will stay on the branches.
  • After you have created your masterpiece, wet the display down well. It will freeze and hold all the stuff in place. It will also give some moisture to the cuttings.
  • Before using hydrangea, pre-treat them to a blast of clear spray paint to help them keep their form.
  • If your display becomes covered in snow, be sure to clear it by hitting the branches in an UPWARD motion. If you push too hard on them downward, they may break. A broom does a great job.

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Eastern Gray Treefrog ~ Hyla versicolor

The eastern gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) common gray treefrog or tetraploid gray treefrog is only different from the Cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) in distribution, call and chromosomal count.

You can listen to the subtle differences in their calls below:
Eastern Grey Tree Frog – Hyla versicolor

Copes Grey Tree Frog – Hyla chrysoscelis

They are comparatively small compared to other North American frog species, with an average size of 1.5” to 2” inches (3.8 to 5.1 cm).

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He blends right into the tree bark!

As the scientific name implies, gray treefrogs are variable in color from gray to green, depending on what they are attached to. These guys can camouflage themselves like karma chameleons! They change color at a slower rate than chameleons, however they can change from nearly black to nearly white.

Treefrogs have a cupped toes and glands that produce a sticky mucous within them that allows them to climb high into the trees, sometimes being found 50′ feet high (16M).

These frogs rarely ever descend from high treetops except for breeding and hibernation*.

In the winter, they hibernate near the surface, just under the leaf litter. They are capable of surviving freezing temperatures as low as 18F (-8C). Special proteins in their blood, called ‘nucleating proteins’, cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice, intakes most of the water out of the frog’s cells. Meanwhile, the frog’s liver produces large amounts of glucose (sugar) which flows into the cells to keep them from collapsing.

In my opinion, a pretty cool trick 😉

*or to say hello to his friend, Ilex!


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 9-20-2016

He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time. ~ Oscar Wilde

No need to be punctual in seeing what I found blooming in 201320142015.

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Hardy mum ~ Don’t see many ‘rund here     ||     Monarda seedhead

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Purple hosta      ||       Liatris aspera ~ Rough blazingstar

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Solidago rigida(or Oligoneuron rigidum) ~ Stiff Goldenrod   ||   I’m confused & maybe this plant is also. This looks like roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), however its blooming now. Anyone with thoughts??

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Spiraea ~ Spirea     ||     Heptacodium miconioides ~ Seven Son Flower

Ironically, there are no fun stories about this tree, however after it finishes blooming, the calex turn bright red, giving it a second bloom time! This is in my yard, so I’ll be sure to let you see soon.

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Flies like nectar too! (on mint)    ||    A quick bouquet for my neighbor =-)

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Rose hips

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Aster     ||     A hosta with a large flower


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 9-14-2016

Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away

LINKIN PARK ~ “In the End” Hybrid Theory

Swing here instead to see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Eutrochium purpureum ~ Joe Pye weed     ||     Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ ~ Turtlehead

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Phlox paniculata ~ Not sure of flavor

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More Phlox. This one is ‘Bright eyes’      ||     Veronica Longifolia ‘First Lady’ ~ Speedwell

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Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’
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Sambucus canadensis ~ Elderberry    ||     Errr…..

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Boltonia asteroides ~ false chamomile or false aster     ||      Strike 2

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Coronilla varia ~ Crown vetch     ||      Petasites frigidus ~ coltsfoot

I had never seen this leaf, so I had to take a pix to figure out when it would bloom next year (early spring)


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

1 Down – 632,764,231,897,752 To Go!

imageGoodness!

It is March 14th, 2016 and I just killed a mosquito that was going to snack on me. Here is what was left of the bitch after I got through with her. Makes you want to think twice about messing with me 😉

She is a pretty powerful beast and I’m not tooting my own horn here, however she is considered one of the most deadly animals in the world! (Most likely just under human). She can transmit infections such as malaria, yellow feverwest Nile virus, Chikungunya, dengue fever, filariasis, Zika virus and other arboviruses.

I’m sure our recent bout with over 50F degree temps woke her up from her hibernation. Yes, these bitches hibernate.

Those bloodsuckers can smell their dinner from a distance of up to 100 yards via carbon dioxide. Other things that tend to attract them include:

  • People with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin attract mosquitoes. That doesn’t mean that these dive-bombers prey on people with higher, internal levels of cholesterol, but those people who have more of the byproducts of processing cholesterol, which remain on the skin’s surface.
  • People who produce a higher amount of certain acids, such as uric acid, can trigger a skeeters olfactory glands, luring them in.
  • So can Uncle Bob and his application of a half a bottle of Old Spice.
  • People wearing darker clothing.
  • People with type O Blood tend to get snacked on more, followed by B, with A coming in last.
  • People moving around and sweating, compared to the folks lounging on chaises.
  • The Drunks will get attacked more over the Sobers as alcohol raises temperatures and causes more flailing of the arms 😉
  • That being said about the sweating above, more specifically, these whores like old sweat. Bacteria on your skin will change odor after it has been snacking on chemicals in your sweat. So, if you had a rough day of activities, then slow down for a seat at the campfire that evening without showering, you’re essentially screaming ‘Bite Me!’.
  • Another fav smell of the incarnates of evil are smelly feet! It’s the double-latte-three-shot-espresso version of old sweat. You may not attract any human females with that stench, but the mozzie females will go nuts. Don’t eat Limburger cheese either. Did you know it was the same bacteria that makes your feet smell. Eauuuu!
  • Stop eating bananas, the added potassium makes you more attractive to bite.  Eat more garlic and vitamin B1 instead.

I wish you the best in the upcoming season of itch.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Know, Know, Know Your Oaks

I was taught this song in my college trees class. The student that shared it with the class said she had learned it Girl Scouts.
There are several species or types of oaks. The White Oak is the state tree of Illinois, among other states. Sing this song to the tune of “Row, row, row your boat” to try to identify what type of oak you are looking at. The branching structures will match the song.

musicKnow, know know your oaks,

Look at how they grow

Red Oak (make a ‘V’ with your arms above your head)

red oak

White Oak (hold your arms straight out from your shoulders)

white oak

Pin Oak (make an upside down “V” with your arms pointing toward the ground)

Quercus palustris

Bur Oak (make your arms twist in different directions)

Quercus macrocarpa

And the acorns down below! (wiggle your fingers and point to the ground)

Photo credits: David Lee, Bugwood.org & David Stephens, Bugwood.org

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Winter Greens Containers – 2015

Ah, another year of landscaping is coming to a close for me. I always feel a bit melon-collie at Winter pot time around the office.

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We pre-fab these at the office and the crews deliver these to the client’s homes. You can skip many of the next steps if you already have a prepared pot of soil. We make them this way so we don’t have to stand outside and do it! I think this almost falls into that category of, ‘Lazy man works the hardest!’ Ha!

We use nursery pots that closely fit the size of our client’s containers. Cut a plastic sheet to fit over the bottom holes. This slows or stops the water from draining and helps freeze the display in place. Next, add florist foam to the middle for stability of the larger ‘thriller’ items, as these could be rather large birch poles. Then fill the rest of the pot with a 50/50 soil/sand mixture. Be sure to really stuff that soil into the pot. The better packed soil helps hold the display in place from precipitation, the weight of snow and wind.

The design is the standard, Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large sprig/evergreen, center piece, or for this season, mostly sticks. Filler are those mid-range sized pieces of evergreen, or other material that is generally wider and less tall that the thriller material. Spiller is just that, floppy evergreen, weaker-stemmed items that hang over the edge of the pot.

A few often overlooked hints and tips:

  • Fresh cut ALL of your greens right before sticking into the pot. It does make a huge difference as to how long the greens will stay green and especially how long the holly berries will stay on the branches.
  • After you have created your masterpiece, wet the display down well. It will freeze and hold all the stuff in place. It will also give some moisture to the cuttings.
  • Before using hydrangea, pre-treat them to a blast of  clear spray paint to help them keep their form.

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I truly love making winter containers!!

Want more?

Click HERE to see 2014 Winter Containers – This link has a few more visual ‘How-to’s’ if needed.

Click HERE to see 2013 Winter Containers

 

Copyright – Ilex Farrell

Piggy Roast!

Here’s the long, awaited piggy roast photos.  I was a bit busy with being a hostess of the mostest, so photos were not my first priority…

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Mmm. My hubby cooks up a wonderful pig.  He toils for hours prepping it the night before.  He shaves it, salts the insides and stuffs garlic in all the nooks. He starts the fires early to get the natural wood coals going. Ironically,  the coal needed to cook it costs more than the pig!
5 bags of coal = $220.
38# pig = $128.
Ouch!

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L U C K Y Dogs, huh?!?
They got to lick off the butchering table after all the pig was served. Not like they didn’t get plenty of handouts from the guests.  They have begging down 100%.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl