Thursday, March 31, 2011


I know, it looks like major damage, but I had to do it now or forget about it for another year.  This is my Rhus Aromatica that can grow three feet tall by eight feet wide, winding its way along a border.  I am not sure I would have planted this if not recommended by a garden designer.  It has had scale and takes a great deal of pruning throughout the season to keep it within bounds.  I should have known it was not a plant for my garden when I saw it at several local shopping centers.

Rhus Aromatica Gro Low

I have rejuvenated it by pruning out all of the sucker branches and bringing it down to about a foot above ground level.  The dormant oil for the scale has already been applied so I am hoping to salvage this border planting before I give up.

Rhus Aromatica Gro Low Pruned
It crawls and winds along the border.

Don't be afraid to rejuvenate or renew shrubbery, looks drastic but soon leafs out to become a better plant.  Rejuvenating is to remove everything down to four to six inches above ground, renewal is to take out the largest stems every two to three years to stimulate new growth.  I think I did something in between going down to about ten inches and removing a lot of the smaller branches.

I did purchase a product this year by Bayer that lists the ability to eradicate scale insects.  I will put this on in May when these insects emerge from their covering.  If I didn't get them with the dormant spray, hopefully this will do the trick.

I have also noticed scale on my Limelight Hydrangea, wondered why there were several eaten leaves last year, so I will dormant spray this also.

The first crocus, the only crocus, I gave up planting them several years ago when they were eaten as fast as I put them in the ground!

Pink Meidiland Rose has buds.

I have already spread my Espoma Organic Fertilizer 5-3-3.  Try to stay away from the high nitrogen fertilizers because of their tendency to produce more leaf growth than flowers.  The acid loving plants have also been fed with Espoma 4-3-4, going to cease using the high nitrogen Miracid and see if this makes a difference with the flowering ability of Endless Summer Hydrangea.

Early Sensation is a great first bloomer of all the daffodils.

Dicentra Spectablis peeking through

First year I have seen this color combo in a pansy, loved them as violas

Daylilies poking through

The hyacinths can't wait!

We have all been a bit down in these colder climates, and I think as gardeners we live for the anticipation of life and growth.  I feel better, it's beginning!

Visit Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Discoveries

An Art Institute excursion into the city led to the exciting discovery of two new museums on the University of Chicago Campus in Hyde Park.  Yes, this is the location of our President's home, street blocked off and only a corner of the house is visible because of the many tall evergreens bordering the property.

We first visited The Smart Museum named after the family who published Esquire magazine.  It contains artwork spanning five thousand years.  Admission is free and it survives on donations and the generosity of several foundations.

The largest ink painting ever created by Bingyi covers the wall behind the stainless steel sculpture in the entrance of The Smart Museum.  The sculpture is by Zahn Wang from China.

Our tour begins in the Contemporary Room with some works that make us ponder the meaning.

There were several of these enclosed dome collections of scientific materials sort of like visible time capsules.

Fiber Art Hangings

Dining Room Set (with post lights) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Four Arts Ball (1929)
Guy Pene Du Bois

There is artwork for every taste in this museum, contemporary, sculpture, furniture, baroque, religious, etc.  The most stunning exhibition was The Tragic Muse of which I was not allowed to photograph, so please excuse the photos from the brochure.

The Tragic Actor (Rouviere as Hamlet) 1866 by Edouard Manet
This is a very large oil estimating about nine feet tall by five feet wide.

The Child's Grave (1857)
By Joshua Hargrave Sams Mann

The colors in this collection were magnificent so life like and well preserved through the centuries, many dating back to the 1500's.

After the Smart Museum we stopped for lunch at Cedars Mediterranean restaurant which began with pita bread and two different types of hummus, a ground garbanzo bean meatball and then a wonderful salad, rice, two vegetarian dishes, ground lamb with spices and lemon chicken.  The dessert was a tasty rice pudding and baklava.

Now we were on to the Oriental Museum which is part of the University of Chicago's Archeology Department.  It was founded in 1919 by James Henry Brested (supposedly the model for Indiana Jones) and partially funded by John D. Rockfeller housed in a beautiful art deco building completed in 1930.  They have several digging sites throughout the middle east and continually send artifacts back to the university to be studied and processed.

The Striding Lions
On color glazed brick flanking the sides of the road leading out from the City of Babylon

One of a pair of carved stone bull heads. missing the horns, weighing ten tons, repaired after being shipped back to Chicago

The Man/Bull sat at the top of columns holding up the ceiling of a building in Iran - made of limestone

Sandals from 1600 BC, and we thought we invented flip flops!

A child's pull toy from 2300 BC

A thirty-two year old woman that they have done a CAT scan on (results were that she appeared healthy with two broken bones, no cause of death detected)

King Tut (there are small feet to the side which were thought to be part of the statue of his wife - you can see where her whole form had been broken off)

Part of two long walls leading into the King's palace, color has been worn away through the years

I had never been to this museum and certainly was not able to digest even a small portion of what it contains.  Because the building and its decor takes you back to the art deco period, one feels like they are on the set of an Indiana Jones movie!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lights On!

Grow lights I mean, they must stay on for at least another six weeks.  I have them on a sixteen hour timer in my utility room and this is when the real work begins.  After sprouting, it is very important that those spindley little plants do not dry out.  I keep a plastic dome on each planting tray until they sprout and begin to grow.

Zinnia Highlight Seedlings

Zinnia Highlight

Zinnia Zahara Double Fire

Zinnia Zahara Double Fire

Amaranthus Seedlings (red and green)

I will have to thin these out by cutting off the extras.

Amaranthus Red

Amaranthus  Green

Snapdragon La Bella Seedlings

So small and delicate, it is diffiicult to believe that they will become 18 inch tall plantings.

Snapdragon La Bella

The seedlings require more water now and need to be checked on daily because of the heat of the lights.

Petunia Silver Tidal Wave Seedlings

Silver Tidal Wave Petunia

I will begin giving them a light dilution of fertilizer next week just to boost their strength and in about four or five weeks will begin a hardening off process that may last at least two weeks.

I had forgotten how much care these young seedlings take, like taking care of those little babies in the beginning rewarding but very time intensive.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Search Of Spring

I am on a mission to find spring this year.  Looking out the window I see nothing that would announce its arrival, but on closer examination, it is just waiting to explode!

The buds on the Rhodies are puffing up but gives no hint of that beautiful pink color beneath.

PJM Rhododendron

The fuzzy little buds on the Star Magnolia look plentiful this year after a severe limbing up last fall so we could walk on the narrow path.  I think it will be fine if we control it each year, hate to do this but the alternative is taking it out.

Star Magnolia

There are daffodils, hyacinths and tulips poking through.

Daffodil Itzim

Daffodil Early Sensation

I had a chance to spray my Euonymus Wintercreepter and Rhus Armomatica with a dormant oil spray to control the scale which is always one step ahead of me.

This is my only Hellebore coming up on the north side of the house.  I am redoing this area with a combination of shade plants among the hosta.  I have ordered some more hellebores for planting this spring.

This is how Heuchera Southern Comfort looks now after a winter under the snow.  This is certainly a four season plant in zone 5!

I decided I needed to have a little more spring outside so I headed to Home Depot.

Pansies are quite cold hardy and will survive temperatures below freezing even with a little snow covering them.  However, in my zone, they will not take high heat so do not put them in too late in the spring.

I kept going with this spring theme and brought some indoors - I feel much better about all of this waiting and waiting.

Iris on the kitchen table and purple candles, purple candles?

Tulips on the dining room table

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not A Trend In Sight

Each year I try to attend the local Wannamaker's Garden Show just to see what they do with this space in an attached greenhouse.  It was a blustery day so it was a treat to go inside among the plants and ponds.

They are known for their supply of colorful containers and there are hundreds more on racks outside.  I do see lots of tall containers, maybe I do see a trend!

Do these remind you of the sculptures at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show? 

The show is small and draws in local people from surrounding suburbs.  Wannamakers is about twenty miles west of Chicago and is an easy ride on the expressway from the city.

They bring in some well known vendors like Proven Winners, Baileys and Monrovia.  There are many others who represent garden equipment, small growers, seed companies, ponds and barbecues.

Self-contained pond (operates like a fountain but you can grow plants in it)

This is the only type of deer we would enjoy seeing in our gardens.

This is a new annual Phlox called Intensia Blueberry from Proven Winners

Sunsatia Nemesia (improved variety stands up to summer heat) from Proven Winners

I did spot some tropicals in the Monrovia display, but the rep didn't seem to know this was a new trend.  The prices are high because these containers are gallon size ($20)


A variety of succulents from Monrovia in smaller containers so maybe the pricing is more appealing.

On the way out I stopped in another area to select a trellis (they were on sale just during the show) as was just about everything else in the store.



Resin Containers

Spring is definitely around the corner!