Archive for April, 2009

Serviceberry in bloom

Last year, I didn’t get a picture of the “Autumn Brilliance” serviceberry while it was in bloom, and vowed not to let that happen again.

Serviceberry in bloom

I was all set to make a post showing just how quickly the blossoms fade, and darn it all if they haven’t lasted for the past 5 days!

Serviceberry blooms

Unlike last year, when they came and went within 12 hours, the blooms this year have been prolonged by (I presume) the cold and damp weather that’s been alternating with warm and damp weather the past couple of weeks.  They’re just about done now, though, and I hope we still get a bumper crop of berries for the birds come June.


Pond gunk and prettier stuff

In my previous post about the annual pond cleanout, I neglected to show the nasty pond gunk that convinced me that it was time to get cracking:

Pond cleanout: gunk from the bottom

Now imagine that you could pull up about 10 times that amount each time you swept a net over the bottom of the pond, and no matter how much you pulled out, the next day there would be even more. It becomes pretty clear that it’s time to clean it out! Now that the cleanout is complete and I’m doing a twice a day bacteria seeding of the biofalls, this was about the worst of it. It’ll keep getting better as it warms up and the bacteria get to work.

Daffodils and hyacinths

Meanwhile, in the rest of the garden, it’s starting to look nice. Not lush, but nice.

Serviceberry ready to bloom

The Autumn Brilliance serviceberry looks like it’s about to bloom, although the buds are photogenic as well.  I missed the short window of blooms last year, but I’m determined to get pictures this year.

Pond Cleanout Day

On Saturday, I had to duck out of a fun meetup with Garden Faerie, Garden Girl, and Mr. Brown Thumb at the Macy’s Garden Show because earlier that morning I found that the pond needed its annual cleanout NOW.

Pond full of algae

The whole pond looked a little too much like that – string algae was everywhere. Given I had just cleaned a bunch out a few days before and it was all back again, it was time to spring into action.

Pond cleanout: muddy lava rock bags

Here’s the top of the biofalls after we turned the pump off and took off the rocks around the top.

Pond cleanout: biofalls filters, full of mud

Once you take out and clean out the two mesh bags full of lava rock, you then take out the filters. Their weight was doubled or tripled by the amount of muck clinging to them.

And then there’s the skimmer filter…but see how different it looks after it gets cleaned out!  Note how the dirty filter is sagging and the clean one isn’t: that’s the weight of the mud.

Pond cleanout: muddy skimmer filter

Pond cleanout: cleaned skimmer filter

We didn’t try to suck up any of the muck on the bottom of the pond in this go-round.  We’re going to do the twice-daily seeding of the pond with bacteria and enzymes for two weeks, and then re-clean the skimmer filter.  That should really clean things up nicely; if not, then time to clean the bottom of the pond.

Bloom Day – April 2009

It’s definitely bloomier than March was, but this chilly April is far from lush!  The good news about a cool spring is that flowers last a long time.

Just finished blooming:

Now blooming:

  • Daffodils (Rijnveld’s Early Sensation and Tete a Tete)
  • Daffapalooza

  • Hyacinth
  • Hyacinth

  • Grape hyacinth
  • Grape hyacinth

  • Marsh marigold
  • Marsh marigold loves the spring

  • Scilla
  • Front yard scilla

  • Forsythia, sort of…
  • A lonely forsythia blossom

Coming soon:

  • Forsythia
  • Serviceberry
  • Virginia bluebells

Lazy Urban Composting, Part 5: Not *That* Lazy!

As demonstrated by the dearth of posts in the past year under lazy urban composting, all I’ve done in the past year is to toss stuff on the pile, including a lot of rotten vegetables.  That…was not the best idea I’ve ever had.  I finally dug it out, and there was precious little that had composted down enough to use.  While I banned sticks from my compost pile a while ago, there were a lot of stems and potatoes and other relatively hard objects that survived a year in the pile without doing anything.

So, this year, I’m going to try to chop up anything that’s not a leaf going into the pile.  Cutting back on our CSA subscription should also help, since we really didn’t need it in the middle of summer and would tend to only eat the vegetables we picked out at the farmers market.  And I need to turn it at least once a month, particularly since my definition of turning is “hack at it with a rake for 2 minutes”.  Even a lazy gardener should be able to do that!

Chilly Blooms

The garden keeps growing, even though we’re in a chilly spell.

Front yard scilla

The scilla in the front yard look really nice this year. I’m not sure why since we had a hard winter (which should have encouraged squirrels snacking on them), but perhaps they spread last summer when it was nice and moist.

Marsh marigold loves the spring

The marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) is huge this spring. It’s just rooted in the pebbles at the edge of the pond, so it’s amazing that the winter cold didn’t seem to affect it. Then again, it’s a zone 3 plant, so a sheltered backyard in northeast Illinois is probably not a big challenge.

Crocus explosion

Yeah, my photos have been a little crocus heavy, but what else can you do in early spring?


The daffodils are also making a good showing. The hyacinths should be out by Bloom Day.

The Vagaries of Spring

Volunteer crocuses

Big purple volunteer crocuses emerged in the backyard around March 20 and are still blooming.

Allegheny spurge

The native Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) has spread considerably, and doesn’t seem to be fazed by the temperature swings.

First daffodils, last snow

As is nearly always the case in Chicago, there’s a depressing late snowfall. It happened right as the first daffodil blooms appeared this past weekend. The snow was gone within a day, which is also typical!