Tag Archive | Spring

Monday Memories

This also gets me off the hook for fresh material on the busiest day of the week  😉

The Willows are starting to turn yellow here. wpid-20140304_070015_richtonehdr.jpg

This is right on schedule with last year. This photo is from last year and had I taken a new one last Friday, it would have been void of snow. However Mr. Jack Frost is not done wit us yet! We’ve got 3-5 inches predicted for this evening! (Technically, I’m writing this Sunday night ~ We’ll see in the comments if I’m right!)

Summer blend gas is on order.

Our gas prices are starting to rise, even though the cost of a barrel of oil is going down. Yeah, living by a large city is awesome!! Not. So even though there is plenty of gas made and ready to go, the refineries have to make summer blend for the area that drives the price up almost double. $2.97 per gallon now will be $4.50 in June.

The upside is usually the price of diesel stays the same price throughout the year at about $2.70 per gallon. This is good when we are camping and driving a bit to get where were plopping for the weekend.

s daliDaylight Savings Time

This was a few weeks ago, however I think it’s important to understand where these notions come from and just why do we do it?!?

Many think this was all done to try to save resources, energy and money… However, environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, found that the Daylight saving did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings… HOWEVER, higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.

rain barrel35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  2. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  3. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

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99 Edible Plants for the Midwest Forager

Many young weeds are great for food! Take a look at this list and get ready for fresh, free veggies!

Plants can be your best bet for long term survival or your short ride to being plant food. Here’s another wonderful site: Plants For a Future that lists over 7,000 plants and their medicinal purposes, really really great stuff going on there.

Asclepias spp. – Milkweed ~ Young pods, before they set seed*

Asimina triloba – Pawpaw ~ fruits (I’m dying to try these)

Artium spp. – Burdock ~ The root

Barbarea spp. – Winter Cress ~ The young leaves & flower

Betula spp. – Birch ~ The sap, inner bark, twigs

Brassica spp. – Wild Mustards ~ The young leaves, flowerbuds, & seeds

Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepard’s Purse ~ The young leaves, seedpods

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Hurry Up, Already! Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough for Me!

Although I really can’t complain about our Midwestern winter this year, its still lasting too long for me. I’m hoping for an early spring, however it usually doesn’t happen like that when we’ve been teased so early in the year.  In mid-February, we had a week of 60F / 16C… That was just crazy weird! Of course the convertible top was down all of those days =-D We got a lot of yard work done that weekend. My front garden is all pruned and ready to be posted about. (I’ve been holding out on ya’all regarding showing you my whole front foundation bed!)

I’ve been out checking the status of the daffy and tulip bulbs, along with the buds on the lilac bush. The bulbs are barely out of the ground and no action on the lilac. I used to have a fair amount of crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths in my lawn. I haven’t replenished them in a few years and I think the squirrels have accidentally dug them up or they’ve perished, as I don’t see any yet. That’s OK. When things decide to pop, they tend to do so in a hurried manner. Spring bloomers, to me, are like the ocean or a 2 year old… turn your back on them for one second and they quickly change their status from OK to OH!

My quince are starting to bud. I love quince. Such a vibrant display of color. These shrubs are quite small right now, however as part of my front bed, I’m not planning on letting them get too large. I’m focusing on pruning them to be fuller shrubs. Quince can be quite leggy without proper pruning early in their lives. Since the blooms tend to be in the lower, inside regions of the plant, the more inside area, the more numerous the blooms. Same goes for my mock orange. These are a dwarf variety, however they have the same blooming location as the quince. Proper pruning will give these guys a thicker branching structure, lower in the plant. Of course you don’t want to get too crowded of a crown, that promotes less air circulation which lead to other problems. Like Goldilocks’s liking… not too much, not too little 🙂 This is a great argument for purchasing smaller, younger plants… so you are able to prune and train them to your liking.

This may be my last Friday off this Spring. Sad face. Although I am writing this post on St. Paddy’s Day, these photos were taken before the snow… There is still about 3″ (9cm) of snow on the shady parts of the yard. I’m going to try to eek one more Friday out of this month, however that’s pushing it. I’m actually doing rain/bad weather dances, as that will delay any construction / clean-ups until April 1, when our contracts actually start.

I finally got a real nice, competent co-worker to fill a much needed gap in our company. She’s very young, however hungry to learn. Who knows? Maybe she’ll like horticulture and follow that into college. Maybe not. I just hope she stays long enough to straighten this place out a bit. After only three weeks, she’s proved herself immensely in keeping all the records straight. You just don’t understand how stress relieving she is to me! I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not an office manager!! 😉 I’m hopefully going to get out into the field a bit more because someone is there to man the office. Sadly, I did get my wish last Tuesday and had to drive to the North Shore in a snowstorm for an emergency tree locate. That was super!! NOT. In the end, it wasn’t that bad and I proved myself where 2 other ‘Master Arborists’* failed. Three’s a charm, they say…

As it is Spring around here… A time for new beginnings and all that. I’m going to try to get my life in a bit more order. First, I need to get myself in better health. I don’t know how I got so fat. I hope I don’t have a heart attack when I go out planting Spring flowers in three weeks =-O

Next, I need an income plan. Life at my job right now is pretty awesome (along with the pay), I’m not going to leave anytime soon. Yes, I have complained about it in the past (who doesn’t???), however now that I’ve got some well needed help, I can focus on what I consider more fun and that is working with plants.

Yes, I will continue with my blogging here. Honestly, during the flowering season, posts write themselves with all the photos. It only takes me a second to stop and shoot the flowers.. Haha!! I’m still hoping for that perfect writing job. Ya know…. The one that pays you enough to actually eat better than Ramon noodles? That is another reason I keep the blog going. It is a portfolio of sorts. It also shows I’m capable of finding stuff to write about.

Speaking of which… I thought of a great ‘Tuesday’ feature, that will also showcase some of the awesome blogs I follow. It’s a win / win. I’m not an ‘Awards Blog’, however I understand that they are around to try to promote each other’s blogs and share. I’m just not a big sharer of personal info, that’s all. However, I’m all for promoting each other! I’m not going to give the premise away just yet… They say you should always leave your audience wanting more….

 

*I’m only a test away from ‘Master Arborist’ status. It requires 10 years of active service, educational goals and passing a test.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-10-2016

Happy Monday!

I hoped everyone had a wonderful Mother’s day.

Take two steps forward and one step back to see what I found blooming in 201320142015.

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Uvularia grandiflora – large-flowered bellwort or merrybells  |  Polemonium caeruleum – Jacob’s Ladder

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Fothergilla gardenii  |  Mertensia virginica – Virginia bluebells

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Geum coccineum ‘Cooky’ ~ Avens  |  Centaurea montana ~ Mountain bluet

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Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’ – Quince

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Chaenomeles japonica ‘Orange Delight’ – Quince

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-26-2016

I like how spring is unfolding here. Lots of things are at least starting to show growth and or if it has survived the winter. I had a bunch of stuff die in my front beds. See, even professionals have issues sometimes! I had a whole row of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’ or ‘Amber Jubilee’ croak on me. Gaaa! Those were $45. even at wholesale. I have still to see on some late emerging stuff, but after another couple of weeks, the truth will be told what is making a comeback..

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

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Stylophorum diphyllum ~ celandine-poppy, wood poppy, poppywort  |  Chionanthus virginicus ~ fringetree

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Chaenomeles speciosa ~ Texas scarlet quince
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Sanguinaria canadensis ~ bloodroot  |  Viburnum Carlsii ~ Koreanspice viburnum

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Rhododendron ‘Karens’ ~ Karen’s azalea

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Malus ~ Crabapple

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Viburnum dentatum ~ Arrowwood vibrunum  |  Glechoma hederacea ~ Creeping Charlie

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Draba verna ~ Whitlow-grass


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

A Day in the Life of Me

Before Spring Sprungs, I have to visit nurseries to look at the quality of stock I’ll be ordering. I used to do this in fall, however I don’t know how bad the winter is going to be and I don’t want to chance stock not surviving. Many nurseries don’t want to drive in their fields when it’s this wet. I know it seems silly, but there is so many things bad with driving in a farm-like setting like this. Soil structure is lost, compaction, pests and disease is spread, flooding, possible irrigation accidents, causes future driving issues… the list is endless.

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Of course, this kind of stuff doesn’t mean a thing to pushy clients or money hungry bosses. They wonder why I wasn’t out there last month tagging. Hmmm, lets see. A sleeping tree looks the same as a dead tree in winter. Unless you want me testing it by scratching the bark and bending and snapping twigs, maybe you just want to wait until Mid-to-Late April and see if they bud??? Just a thought from a professional horticulturist. Remember, I’m here for the betterment of the plant, not for you, evil human.
imageOne nursery didn’t care about all the above mentioned disasters and welcomed me for my own, personal mud derby! I hung tightly to the door that I felt was surely going to fall off the hinges at any moment. The ride was actually quite fun as Juan knew his routes and could keep the speed above 25 MPH. He actually had to gun it a few times to make it through the flooded ruts. Wheee! Mud everywhere!! Because the mud was sucking my calf-high boots off my feet with each step, I really slacked getting the photos I really needed to show my boss. I did have to get out for the spruce though. They are my bosses favorite.

Look! I can see my feet! This spot that wasn’t that bad!

 

 

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Annuals for Containers 2016

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Every year, Mother Nature likes to play April Fools jokes on us Midwesterners. In 2012, I had lilacs blooming on April 13th and it was 76F that day. In 2013, it was 16F and snowing the day our annuals arrived. In 2014, the weather wasn’t that bad and hovered around the 50’s. Last year, again it was nice when the flowers got planted, however a fast cold snap killed a few of our client’s pots. That’s what happens when you force your landscape company to plant something earlier than they feel it’s safe to do. The client is mad and we get paid twice to do their pots.

Here are some basic tips to make your Spring season pots wonderful!

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Just like autumn pots, these don’t grow any larger than they are now. So design accordingly.

Here are some Spring displays from 2015, 2014 & 2013.

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Bellis English Daisies – So cute! New this year for us.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl