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Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea Munchkin Flowering - June 2020

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of a series of Oakleaf Hydrangeas that I planted in "priority area #1" - that included both traditional and a pair of "Munchkin" variety.  I've been trying to get these plants to get over their transplant shock by watering them pretty frequently.  And now, we've been rewarded with some year-one flowers on both of the Munchkins.  You can see one of them in the photo above - that shows off a series of flowers.

And below, is a close-up of the other one - further to the West - of the flowers that are opening.  They're a really nice lime color right now that (based on the nursery tags) are likely to be turning a bright white.


With the heat of the Summer coming on - coupled with some travel to Wisconsin - I'm thinking that I'll have to add a new soaker hose to these along with a timer to make sure they don't take a step backwards.

Mason Bee House - Some Occupancies - June 2020

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This is the third season with our Mason Bee house/hotel in our yard.  I was gifted it for my birthday in April 2018.  Hung it that year and documented the population/residents in May of 2018 when some of the cavities were filled.  That first year, there were 14 tubes filled or packed with mud.  And eggs.

I don't seem to have posted about the occupancy rate in 2019, but I'm happy to report that we're seeing a big jump in occupancy for 2020.  At the top of this post, you can see the bee hotel as it stands now.  I went ahead and made it easier on all of us with the annotated version of the photo below. 

It shows 36 little red circles that are filled with mud.  I haven't done a scientific analysis, but it seems that the larger bamboo is NOT being used - rather they seem to prefer a mid-sized bamboo piece or hole. But...with 36 sets packed in, that's a more than a 100% increase in occupancy.  Now, there's lots of coverage about the decline of bees, but just based o…

Hosta Moving (Teardown Hostas) by Hose Bib - June 2020

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On Friday, I posted some photos of how I removed and divided a very large Hosta from around our rear hose bib.  In that post, I mentioned that I wanted to dig up another of the hostas and move it East a couple of feet to make the spread of these a little bit more even.  And, that's what I did in the photo above.  There were four Hostas in this row.  I removed #3 (from the left) and relocated it.  I then dug up #2 (from the left) and moved it over to the right so the three remaining hostas are a little bit more evenly spread.   I'll water this in pretty hard to get it set up to succeed this Summer.  But, hoping that by next year, it will have totally recovered and we'll have a nice set of three spaced out here.

Mulberry Firewood - Checking - June 2020

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Back in the of last year, I took a bunch of rounds from hardwood trees that our neighbor took down to build their house.  That pile was mostly Ash trees, but there were also a few Mulberry rounds that were included.  I didn't really know what they were, but after I identified that Mulberry tree - I processed it the same way as the Ash.  However, that Mulberry was alive when they took it down and that meant that it was heavy and wet.  And...weirdly yellow.  I split it over a number of months this past Winter and by March, I had all that I was going to split up done for the Winter with just a few larger pieces left.  If you look at the bottom photo of this post, you'll see what the wood looked like when split.  In April, I started to work through a few more rounds including more Mulberry and found a yellow heartwood with purple under the bark.

Fast forward to today.  The pile that I had stacked came tumbling down a month or so back.  It wasn't stable, so one day, I found ab…

Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam Trees: 750 Days Difference

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Those are four of our eight Carpinus betulus Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam trees as they looked 750 days ago.  This was right after they were planted in the end of May 2018.  There is a lot to notice in this photo besides the trees.  The cedar fence was still showing some signs of brown in the color.  The mulch is, umm, perfect.  The grass next to the trees seems pretty stressed due to the planting.  Also, at the left of the photo, you can barely make out a tree with a TreeGator watering bag around the trunk.  As for the trees?  Well...they look pretty far spaced apart.

This, below, is what these same four (plus the Chanticleer Pear on the left) look like today.

There are plenty of things to pick up on in the latest photo, too.  The trees have filled out and are wider and thicker.  They've grown taller, but hard to say how much.  The hostas at their base are all new - compared to their planting day in 2018. 

And for an even more nuanced view, here's the 'in between'…

Cicada Holes in the Ground - Illinois - June 2020

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Back in the rear part of our property - where the soil was undisturbed during our construction, the ground is littered with these little holes - which I think are Cicada holes.  Why?  Because they're everywhere in our neighborhood.  This appears to be part of the 17-year cicadas that are in Northern Illinois.  From the University of Illinois Extension office, they label these cicadas - in 2020 - as the "Northern Illinois Sub-Brood (part of Marlatt's XIII)".

Note the inclusion of "sub-brood" in their name.  Turns out, the ones that are coming in 2024 - also on a 17-year cycle - are going to be more significant than this Summer.  Again...from the University of Illinois Extension office:
The northern Illinois brood, which will emerge in late May 2024, has a reputation for the largest emergence of cicadas known anywhere. This is due to the size of the emergence and the research and subsequent reporting over the years by entomologists Monte Lloyd and Henry Dyba…

Teardown Hostas - Removed, Divided and Relocated - June 2020

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A few days ago, I posted some photos of the teardown Hostas that I had planted around our hose bib outside our kitchen window and talked about how it was time to remove and relocate one of them to make room for the rest that had grown up and out.  I decided to yank the 'middle' of the three along the house out to start and divide it.  In the photo at the top here, you can see the gap that now exists with the largest of the hostas pulled out.  I plan on taking the Hosta on the left of the photo and moving it out - to space these out a little bit.

In that post, I mentioned that there were a few locations that need hostas including our front bed, by the screened porch, priority area 2 and 3. 

So, where did I put them?  None of those spots.

I ended up dividing that one Hosta into four smaller ones - and put a series of three of them just to the East of the 2nd largest Oak tree on the South Side of our lot.  You can see those below.  I wanted to put the third one around the front …