Friday, March 11, 2005

March Madness

I just got back from a trip to Dallas, where it seems to be spring from November to April! It was nice to see trees with leaves, although a good number were still in their dormancy phase.

Back in my neck of the woods, the time since my last post in January has been spent watching the weather ping pong back and forth between relatively balmy winter days to deep freezes. Hopefully now the end of winter is in sight. Overall, it has been a fairly good winter with respect to animal damage to our plant material. The bunnies (so far, knock on wood) have spared the beech trees and viburnums from any serious damage, opting instead this winter to munch on the Snowmound Spireas. Thankfully, they were kind enough to prune only the backsides of the plants, leaving the front-facing portions relatively full and shapely.

I will be ordering my first rush of plants soon, continuing to build the castle wall around our property. More on that in the weeks ahead.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

January Update

It has been a strange month already as far as winter weather is concerned. A week ago is was +18C, now we have had a stretch of four or five days with temps nearing -40C at times. Serious business. One day of deadly freezing rain came (naturally) on the day I was supposed to go to the 2005 Landscape Ontario trade show. This is the big Canadian landscaping industry show open only to people in the trades. I really look forward to it each year. Fortunately I had some colleagues pick up information for me, but it would have been nice to have been there in person.

With these killer temperatures, I will certainly know in the spring if the newly planted borderline plant materials can survive temperatures and exposure of this magnitude. Of particular interest (as I have mentioned before) is the Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) in front of our home.

In the meantime, I have been spending a lot of time this winter playing guitar and writing songs (and wordworking) -- my other interests. I am working with a young country singer named Alysha. She is quite good. Her Website is located at or

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

This is my obligatory Happy New Year post.

The new year came in like a lamb on the landscaping front. After an unheard of amount of snow one week ago (which allowed us to have a big tobogganing party on the hill in our backyard on Christmas Day), the winds of change brought unseasonably mild temperatures that promptly melted all of the snow (11C or somewhere around 50F). I took advantage of the big melt to survey the landscape. Nothing of great note, except a few stakes needed to be hammered a bit deeper into the soft earth. No bunny damage yet, so that's good.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Cold and Snow

Not much to report on the day before Christmas. A week ago we had bone-chilling cold, with temperatures reaching -30C (-22F)! Yesterday it was a big snowstorm that made headlines by dropping about six to eight inches of snow in one day. But this ensures a white Christmas.

I never did get a chance to wrap my young Staghorn Sumacs (Rhus typhina) to protect them from bunny snacking. So, I'll have to wait and see if they get attacked. On the other hand, the forecast is calling for temperatures to go back up above freezing next week, so the seesaw weather continues. The bone-chilling cold temps were the first real test for my handful of borderline hardy specimens -- most notably of which is the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). I am really hoping that that one makes it through the winter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Winter's Setting In

Slowly but surely, winter is starting to take hold in our neck of the woods. We have some persistent snow on the ground (maybe an inch or so), but it sure has been cold the past few days -- below zero on pretty regular basis. The pond has a thin sheet of ice on it, but the bubbler is keeping a section clear. No fish in there, so it's not as critical as it might be. There are a number of potted plants on the pond bottom, however, so I can't have it freezing solid.

This winter I will also be closely watching my Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) to see if it survives the cold. It is right on its border here in Z5, so we are really pulling for it. It is such a nice tree and it is in a very visible front yard location. If it sadly does not make it, I will have to search for something similar to replace it.

The wind has been nothing short of brutal on a couple of occasions over the past month or so -- much worse than when we had the remnants of a few hurricanes blow through our area a few months back. Many people had many things blow over. In our case, a large and heavy cedar arbor bench that I built went down. This had the unfortunate side effects of shattering two lights that were on it and ripping in half the Dutchman's Pipe vines that were planted on either side. Fortunately they did not rip out of the ground, but they will be starting from about six inches tall next spring. I have weighted the arbor bench with some large bricks for the time being and when the ground thaws I will drive a couple of steel spikes into the ground behind the bench and attach the bench to the spikes so that this doesn't happen again. The vines will overgrow the stakes in short order and they won't be visible from the front regardless.

That's all for now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Taking Stock

The fall maintenance is now basically complete. I finally finished cutting down an acre's worth of wildflowers and brush with my brushcutter. Some of these plants, such as the Evening Primrose, can get very thick stalks -- easily close to one-inch thick. I generally let the cut plants lay where they fall as they will decompose fairly rapidly and add a surface to the otherwise bare soil.

A couple of things I noted while cutting down the brush: the first thing is that it looks like I may lose one of the young Austrian Pines that I planted this season. The top two-thirds of the tree (which is roughly five feet tall) looks like it's dead. Strangely, the bottom third looks green and healthy. I'll keep an eye on it to see what happens. The second thing I noticed is that there is a spot near the top of the big hill that is eroding and I will need to tackle that area (with rocks and ground cover most likely) in the spring.

Still left to do... wrap those darn Sumacs so the rabbits don't kill them by eating the bark and move a couple of 15' Black Poplars (which I planted bare-root in the spring, so it shouldn't be too difficult). I may have to wait until early spring (pre-bud-break) for that one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Spring Planting List: Trees and Shrubs

There's no time like the present to start planning for what to plant next spring. With the fall clean-up pretty much nearing its completion and with most of the leaves now fallen, it's a good time to take a look at your yard to determine potential locations in need of some planting attention.

Everything looks much more stark and barren at this point in the year -- unless you have done an excellent job of maintaining a high percentage of coniferous and evergreen material. In my case, that is an area that I will definitely be improving in the spring. So bearing in mind that my landscape objectives are privacy and a woodland setting, here is what I am currently looking at planting in the early spring of 2005:

- Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust), approximately 70 in the 5' to 8' range;
- Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive), 10 shrubs in the 3' to 4' range;
- Acer campestre (Hedge Maple), five in the 10' to 12' range;
- Bamboo - nuda, 10 of these;
- Acer platanoides (Norway Maple), haven't picked the variety yet, but looking at 10 or so;
- Pyrus calleryana, probably Chanticleer, need 3 of these; and
- Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar), the species, at least 30 of these.

The bamboo will be a bit of a test for me. I'm curious to see how it takes in our conditions. The Black Locust and Eastern Red Cedar are my two main privacy plants and these 100 or so trees will primarily be going close to the perimeter of the property, to further aid in privacy landscaping and also to kick-start my woodland even more. Both of these are native and abundant in my area.

I am also planning on a large perennial area (75' x 125') so I will be working on plant selection for that in the near future.
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