Archive for October, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Bug in the heart

I am an Oak Park tree killer, and I’m not (too) ashamed of it. This week, Davis Tree Care came out and removed the gigantic magnolia tree that dominated our side yard. This makes the 4th tree that we’ve had Davis remove for us. I love trees, but what the heck can you do with: a 30-foot high magnolia in a 10-foot wide area between our house and the neighbor’s, an Ailanthus (tree of heaven – say no more), a Siberian elm right by the garage door (and the garage was brand new, too!), and a pie cherry tree right in the middle of the back yard.   Who plants invasive trees like this?  Who puts in a new garage by squeezing it between two existing Siberian elms?  Ah well, I’m sure future owners of this house will puzzle over why we put in a fish pond!

So many leaves...where's the tree?

Do not think that I will leave the side yard empty, although the poor plants that have struggled in the shade of the magnolia and houses might welcome it. I want to plant some shrubs or small trees, but nothing so large that we suffer the same problems that the oversized magnolia caused. Candidate shrubs so far are:

  • spicebush – Lindera benzoin
  • witch hazel – Hamamelis virginiana
  • bladdernut – Staphylea trifolia
  • one or more native Viburnum

I might plant multiple species, but I also have to be mindful that it’s a small space.  I’ve been lusting after spicebush for a while, but witch hazel’s fall blooming sounds really good about now.  Whatever I pick has to be a shade plant that can handle clay soil, and I am going to be sure that they are not going to grow more than 15 feet tall, nor interfere with the neighbor’s sidewalk.  Anyone out there have positive or negative experiences with any of these?  I’m going to keep looking at Possibility Place‘s online catalog too, and dream about replacing our remaining Siberian elm with an oak.

Peak color

Basswood at peak color

I believe we’ve just passed peak color here in NE Oak Park. It was glorious this year – check out the parkway basswood!

What happens after peak color

The leaves have come off quickly this week with all the wind and rain we’ve had. What comes after peak color? Raking and vacuuming/shredding, of course. Next up, the story of the one tree that is no longer there…

Bulb planting day

Lots of crabapples this year

The cold and rainy weather got me feeling as if bulb planting was overdue (more experienced gardeners have told me that I’m overreacting), so I got some bulbs planted in the front yard today: snowdrops and crocus. Since the gas company had to rip up the parkway to put in new pipes on our block, I didn’t have to do quite as much hard digging as in the past. I’m not sure how attractive these bulbs are to the local squirrel and raccoon population: we’ll know come March!

wild geranium's fall colors

The garden gets less and less lush by the day.  We’re definitely having a good tree color year in Chicago, although we haven’t had quite enough dry days to appreciate them.  And the Caroline raspberry is still yielding a few sweet berries – winter is still a few weeks away.

Autumn Brilliance

Serviceberry 'Autumn Brilliance' - afternoon

The serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’ is living up to its name today.

Serviceberry 'Autumn Brilliance' - morning

The other cultivars (I assume) I see around are more yellow to light orange; ‘Autumn Brilliance’ has a lot of red and purple in it.

Serviceberry 'Autumn Brilliance' - afternoon

Nothing says fall (or autumn) like a red tree against a blue sky!

Bloom Day – October 2009

Grape woodbine by the pond

The grape woodbine doesn’t have a lot of berries left, but it does have a lot of color.

I apologize for neglecting this blog for several weeks.  Not only is the garden not all that inspiring right now (except for the everbearing Caroline raspberries, which continue to be delicious), but I keep putting off taking more photos because I haven’t done anything with the vacation photos I took in mid-September.  But no more: it’s picture time!

In bloom:

    Fall blooms on calendula

  • calendula
  • Volunteer aster

  • volunteer aster that popped up by our patio this year (Aster novae-angliae?)
  • White woodland aster

  • white woodland aster (Aster divaricatus)
  • Marsh marigold blooms spring & fall

  • marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • petunia
  • sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

In fruit:

  • raspberry ‘Caroline’
  • Lots of crabapples this year

  • crabapples
  • grape woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)
  • Ripe berries on Solomon's plume

  • Solomon’s plume (Maianthemum racemosum)

And pretty foliage:

    Oakleaf hydrangea in fall

  • oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)