Making Shade While the Sun Shines

We lost our dogwood this year.  It was a nice tree and fit the area where we had it beautifully, proving light shade for some truly lovely hostas and other shade-lovers, but it was our third dogwood to die from some kind of scale, so we decided to try a small magnolia to replace it.  Unfortunately the largest we could find in tree form was only a #10 pot, and it may be a few years before it provides enough shade for the plants that were under the dogwood.  Meanwhile, it wasn’t even that hot yet and they were already beginning to show signs of scorching.  We found a “shade sail” at Costco and it’s doing a good job of providing some shade while the tree grows.  It’s actually kind of cool looking too.

Also in this picture you can see the final decision on non-cypress mulch.  We’re really happy with the look of our hardwood-only bark mulch.  It’s a warm brown that we like even better than the red hues of the cypress.  It was kind of pricey, but worth it to help save those cypress groves.

Shade Sail

Hummingbird Arrival

We first noticed our hummingbird on May 19, same day as last year!  However, last year on that date I was marveling at tulip buds, but the tulips are done already this year.  Unfortunately, some of them were ruined by the hail storm.

Planting Time

We’ve decided we need more perennials in our beds and want to do some serious planting this spring.  I found an interesting publication from the U of MN Extension.  I’m always amazed at the wealth of information available on that website.  Tap or click on the image to go to the site.  And because it’s from the U of Mn I know all the plants will be appropriate for this region.

Monthly Garden Tips – May

 

MN Landscape Arboretum


 http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/maygardeningtips.aspx

All Hail the Garden

We had a sudden storm last night. I’m mean, sudden.  Within a 15 minute period we went from 80° and sunny to this:  

 Yes those are ice balls.  After the storm the temp was still a balmy 75° and steam was wafting from the deck.  The lower right photo was taken 2 hours later when the hail was still hanging around and the temps had dropped to 59°.  All those lovely pink petals were on the tree before the storm.

This morning we have the aftermath to deal with.

 

The upper deck (right picture) was “protected” by a huge awning that was lowered during the storm to form a sort of lean-to.  All that got in under the tent.  All the mulch beds are covered with broken leaves.  The good news is that it’s sunny and warm, and once all the mess dries up it should be fairly easy to blow it into a pile.

Crab Grass Prevention

We don’t try to achieve organic status with our lawn.  We do, however, try to limit the amount of chemicals we use and purchase environmentally friendly options when available.  Thanks to a really helpful timing model from Michigan State University, I’m guessing we almost always waste our time, money and chemical footprint when we apply our crab grass preventer because we usually wait too long.  Note:  MSU has only verified the tracker for the Great Lakes region.

To use the model, enter your zip code at the top.  It shows a map with color zones indicating optimal times for applying the pre-emergent.  Since the effectiveness of pre-emergents is related to temperature, these recommendations are based on current weather conditions (GDD – growing degree days) and are more reliable than using a fixed date every year.  For example, I live in a little pocket that says it’s already too late for this year.  Great.

CrabgrassPrevention

Also very useful is an article from Purdue University that helps explain the results and what to do about it.  For example, if you’re late like we are, you can try a preventer with a different active ingredient that may still be a viable alternative.

Along the right of the map there are links to other timers such as Japanese Beetle emergence, weed flowering, etc.  The tracker is focused primarily on lawn care professionals, so it’s a little heavy on the use of chemicals, but it can be helpful for all types of prevention and control.

Spring is Bustin’ Out

This azalea had been pretty sparse in its old location so we transplanted it a few years ago.  Over the subsequent seasons it’s been slowly looking better, and this year we’re finally seeing what it’s capable of!  It now looks happy enough to survive some shaping after the flower show.

  

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