Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beautiful Destruction

Louisville was hit by a major winter storm over the last several days. Several inches of freezing rain were followed by several more of snow. Trees and limbs have fallen everywhere, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes, blocking roads, and causing untold damage. While the ice has done irrevocable damage to Kentucky, some of it is ironicly beautiful.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Poisonous Creatures in the Garden

Most of us have had the experience of being stung or bitten by the denizens that reside in our gardens. Landscapers and professional gardeners find themselves far more likely to experience the plight. I have found that while it isn't often popular, it is better to take the time to check your surroundings and take preventative measures wherever possible. This lesson was driven home to me recently when I met-up with a black widow in a client's garden bed. Luckily, I did take the time to check under the rock I was about to pick up and move. Here is a link to my other blog, The Yodeling Rabbit, and pictures of the widow.

Here are more links to relatively common sources of potential pain.

Insects and Arachnids

Centipede/House Centipede: info, pictures
Wolf Spider: info and pics
Brown Recluse: info, picture
Trapdoor Spider: pictures (please note that this is the California Trapdoor only)
Paper Wasp: info, pics
Yellow Jacket/ Bald-faced Wasps: info
Assassin Bug/Wheel Bug: info, pics
Deer Tick: info and pics


Copperhead: info, pic
Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin: info, info, pics, pics
Pygmy Rattlesnake: info and pics
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake: info and pics, info
Timber Rattlesnake/Massasauga: info, info and pics

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Question On Fencing

A friend recently called me up and asked about having a fence built in his yard. He was considering a cedar fence and asked my opinion. Here's what I told him from a fence-builder's perspective. Cedar is a beautiful and aromatic wood, but it is very porous. As such, it should be sealed or stained immediately. Cedar will also discolor rapidly if not sealed. There are also different levels of cedar, with heartwood being the most water and insect resistant. Heartwood is cost-prohibitive for most people, however. The lower quality, outer wood that is used for most construction is not best for fence building, at least not for posts or any panels that will touch the ground. These will wick water and will rot relatively quickly. A beautiful and sturdily built cedar fence may fall over in five years!

I recommended to my friend that he should go with a "micro" pressure-treated pine, which retains a rather natural appearance and will stand-up as long as other pressure treated wood. This can be sealed or stained and still reveal the wood-grain. A cedar or redwood stain looks quite handsome on this type of wood. The clear sealant might be avoided because of its upkeep requirements (one or two applications per year vs. one application every two to three years with the darker stains). A fence built this way, if maintained regularly, should last 25-50 years!

Recent Trip to Wisconsin

Here are some pictures of wildflowers growing in Northern Wisconsin. My wife and I took a trip there recently to spend sometime on Stormy Lake (Conover/Eagle River area) with family.

This is called "devil's paintbrush" and is actually an introduced species.

I could not find a picture to positively identify this little yellow ray-flower. I would love it if someone would identify it for me.

These are ox-eye daisies - another import from central Europe.

This is a native yarrow.

This is creeping bellflower, related to bluebells.

Here are some related sites.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Louisville Spring Flowering Trees

One thing that my wife and I love most about the South is the flowering trees. There is a week or two where they are absolutely gorgeous. Here is just a taste.

From top to bottom: forsythia, tulip magnolia, star magnolia, bradford pear, weeping pink cherry.

Spring Planting

Well I finally get around to writing. Spring arrived a few weeks ago, and we have had great thunderstorms followed by warm (75-80 degrees f) and sunny weather here in Louisville. Perfect for spring flowers.

The few bulbs I planted late last fall have performed perfectly. I have a pink hyacinth and a number of crocuses poking up. My Iris divisions have also performed rather well. We are currently living in an apartment and our garden is small. I am also sharing space with our downstairs neighbors. This is a great arrangement, though. I get to amend the soil and put in a few bulbs, herbs, and perennials, and out neighbors by a batch of different perennials and annuals. Now we have coneflowers, peonies, wild asters, penstamons, gallarda, bluebeards, violets, and a few other little clumps. My mint, lavender and parsley are all growing back, too.

Here are a few pictures. The garden needs a good weeding, but here is the progress, so far.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spring Planting

Well, except for the recent freak snowstorm, things have begun to feel a little like spring. As we have more and more warm days, many are going to start planting here in the mideast states. My recommendation is to hold off. The danger of frost is usually not over, here, until the middle to end of March. Those in the Midwest (North of Missouri) should wait until the end of April or beginning of May.

Some landscapers, desperate for work, will likely plant anything you'd like, but the likelihood of the plantings' survival, especially of exotic ornamentals, is very low. Last year even established Japanese Maples were killed off by a freak March ice storm. My suggestion is that you wait until there are regular periods of 60+ degree weather, no frost at night, and the ground is no longer frozen (dig down 3-5" with a trowel to look for ice crystals). Good luck and happy planting this year!