Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014


At the tail end of a week of spring thunderstorms and showers, the hail hit us Friday evening.  Rachel and I were both home, and watched in amazement at the windows.  The hail was furious, as if someone was throwing rocks at the house.  Some hailstones were as big as a quarter.  As it was happening, I knew that it was bad in many ways, but I was excited and amazed at the ferocity of it. 

 I could see leaves coming down from the trees around us.  I grew up on a farm; I know what hail does.  I feared for the worst.

It was tough on the fleshy echeverias...

...and the orchid.  Throughout the garden things were pruned by the hail.  Broken stems and buds were everywhere.  The hostas looked like they'd been hit with shotguns.  The garden is a mess, but will recover.

The hail took out almost exactly half of our string lightbulbs.

I won't even post pictures of our cars.  I'll save those for the insurance adjuster.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring springing

I realized that I started this post about 10 days ago and never finished it.  Sorry it's out of order now.  Think early May as you read this. Cerastium tomentosum above.

Pink Phlox and semps

Same pink phlox, different trough.

Purple pulsatilla

Red trillium

Purple rock cress

Cerastium again.  Love it.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Trough Jewels

It's that time of the year...when the alpines in the troughs really shine.  It makes sense that a lot of these plants are spring bloomers.  They have such short growing seasons in their native habitats that they need to get on with the business of reproduction before winter returns.  Above is taxus cuspidata 'Nana Aurescens', a dwarf Golden Japanese Yew.  The new growth is so yellow that it looks like it's blooming.

In the same trough is veronica whitelyi, having its blue moment.

Aubrieta x cultorum 'Joy', a purple rock cress.  I've got to remember to take cuttings of this one for insurance.

Genitana acaulis (thanks, Ray!)

This is lewisia cotyledon 'Little Mango'.  I've gotten smarter about growing lewisias and now give them a really lean, mean mix of gravel and granite chips, some sand, a handful of Turface, and only a little topsoil.  I also cover them in the winter to keep them from getting soggy.  It's always a treat to me to get a lewisia to re-bloom.

I experimented with planting a lewisia vertically last year, in a hole that I cast in the side of a rectangular trough.  It seems to love this situation and is gearing up to bloom soon.

Light pink phlox and a darker pink saxifrage from Home Depot.

Pass-along draba from Ray.

Red pulsatilla vulgarism with new blue growth of sedum sieboldii behind.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Series of Tubes

At work one day this winter I found a 20" diameter by 24" long cardboard tube.  I had no idea what it had been used for, but that little hypertufa lightbulb in my head went "ding".

I brought the home and took it into the house because I thought our son (five at the time) might enjoy playing with it for a day or two.  He was thrilled beyond belief, and spent the whole evening in his pillow-filled "reading hole", as he called it.  The next day he told me that it was "the best thing I'd ever given him".  My daughter was miffed that she didn't get one.

Lucky for me, I found another one at work the next day.  When I brought the second one home there was peace in the house.  The kids could now go to their respective holes and hide...or launch pillows at each other.

Then they figured out how to lay the tubes on their sides, climb in, and roll around the kitchen.  What could I say, it was winter.
A couple days later I came home to find that they had decorated the tubes with markers: Grace's read "Home Sweet Home" and "Keep Out".  I felt so guilty, knowing that the tubes were headed for destruction in the spring.  For weeks I tried to get the tubes shuffled of to the garage but the kids objected.  I finally put them in the basement and hoped the kids forget about them.

With a heavy heart I laid them on the table saw a couple weeks ago and cut them into rings.  Sorry kids!
The tubes were so stiff that packing the hypertufa mix against the sides was a breeze.  I included a couple short pieces of 1" tube for drainage holes in the bottom.  

This photo was taken a week after casting.  I unwrapped it for the photo and then rewrapped it for another 3 weeks to cure.

This is a different trough then the one above, but cast using a similar slice of the tube.

I've got a few more round troughs to make.  I just hope that the kids don't see any incriminating evidence in the garage.