Tag Archives: hostas

Signs That Man Has Been in the Woods


Coneflower about to bloom–not unusual in Iowa, but this one is in the woods behind my house, the first I’ve ever seen there.

Remember that scene in “Bambi” when the father deer warns his son, “man is in the woods?” You could play the Darth Vader theme under those words.

Well, this man was in the woods briefly today, and they don’t seem to have suffered much from my presence.

I was doing some minor yard work—I installed a new swing set not long ago, and today put some paving blocks under the legs to keep them from digging into the soil. I spread some wood chips, too, and put some new sand in the sandbox.

I also weeded, a bit, which for a forgetful gardener like me can be a bit too exciting. “Is this supposed to be growing here? Did I plant it?”

Anyway, I noted a young oak tree in my back yard, and rather than just leave it and mow it off, I decided to move it to what I call the “deer salad bar,” aka, the woods behind my fence.


Oak tree in the yard.


The same oak tree, now in the woods, ready to be eaten by Bambi.

Man is in the woods. Planting tasty trees that Bambi and his deer tribe will shortly take advantage of. I’ve planted hundreds of volunteer oaks in the woods—doomed ashes largely comprise those woods—and deer have feasted on them.

And I just walked about the woods a bit, and was a bit taken aback.

I’ve lived in this house for 15 years, and in that time I’ve wasted countless wildflower seeds and young oak trees in these woods. Whatever I plant seems to not germinate, get chocked out by the competition, or is eaten by Bambi and friends.

What took me aback was evidence that I had been here before—in the form of three plants that would not be in these woods without me.

A coneflower is getting ready to bloom. I’ve never seen coneflowers growing in these woods before, but I’ve planted many a seed—one must have finally sprouted.

A Catalpa tree has reached a height of 5 feet. Again, there were no Catalpa back here before, but maybe they don’t taste as good to Bambi as Oaks do. I’ve collected some Catalpa seeds from a neighborhood tree, and put them back here among the many other seeds I’ve planted.


Catalpa in the woods.

Finally, and most exciting, at the edge of the woods in the sunshine and tall grass, a Milkweed is growing. Well, cool. I’ve been scattering Milkweed seeds at the sunny edge of the woods for years, and this is the first plant I’ve seen.

May it spread by seed and roots.



Finally, after planting my Oak and photographing my woodsy baby plants, I made a few photographs in the yard of flowers and insects, just because I can it and was that kind of day.

Man has been in the woods, and the gardens. And I hope that both are better for it.

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Hosta la Vista, Deer


Deer behind my back fence shot with 200 mm lens June 20, 2011

Just a few nature photos—deer shot behind my fence June 20, 2011, and some bushes and hostas blooming the same day. The photography was a nice interlude during a very hot mow of the lawn. It’s good I got it done, because we had some storms rumble through last night.

Yes, yes, I know the Spanish phrase is “hasta la vista,” jus doing a little Spanish pun.

By the way, keep commenting on my earlier post. Photo caption contest is still open!


Hosta in my yard. If it were back behind the fence where the deer roam, it would be hasta la vista, baby!

Shadow bush

Shadow-friendly bush in yard starting to bloom, one we got from the farm, I think.


The hedge bushes are starting to get past prime, but there still bee flowers ....

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Mid-April, Buds Show How The World Will Change


Fern ready to unfurl, looks like it could be an alien about to bite

Crocus have been in bloom and many are already faded. Daffodils are coming into their own, and all kinds of flowers/plants are starting to show themselves.

It’s mid-April, an in between time in the garden. The early phase, the first signs of life, are ending, and some serious plant sex is ready to kick into gear.

Here I present a few images shot during a quick tour of my backyard in the morning of April 14. Your taxes are due tomorrow, and by this time next week, green and shade will start to dominate my temporarily sunny yard.

In my quick loop this morning, I was struck by how odd the ferns look, which is why “Fernie” gets the main spot. Before their fronds unfurl fully, they look a bit like the evil plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

New lilac


Lilacs will be a mixed bag, which they always are. A fairly young one that we planted 2 years ago and that bloomed last year looks like it’s going to bloom its heart out. As you can see, at least one other bush will be in a reproductive frenzy, too. But looking down at the bud nearer the ground—well, this pretty white lilac doesn’t seem to have any flower buds yet. Next spring, I hope. A few other shy bushes seem like they’ll continue their shy ways. Oh well, I’m going to have plenty of lilacs to see and smell (and chances are, I’ll need them).

Some of the traditional peonies are showing well, but not budded yet. The frilly early ones have formed buds already and should bloom soon.

Lily of the valley and hostas, which always seem like the last flowers to awaken, are just starting to poke their conical first folded leaves above the ground.

Crab apple trees have their tiny early leaves, which means they are getting set to bloom very soon. Redbuds are swollen with pink buds that will be gorgeous tiny flowers in a matter of days.


Pear tree. May be a bit stinky ....

Sadly, the pear tree that bloomed just a little last year looks ready to put on a real show—with pears, that’s sometimes a stinky show, too. I hope the scent of lilac proves more robust than the pear stench.

And a few other early flowers, plants that are part of the end of “wave 1” of spring.

Grass will need mowing soon. New grass is starting to sprout. The larger trees are still fitfully snoozing, but showing signs too, with maples long since flowered and buds swelling on oak and ash.

The in between time is poised to give way to dramatic new flowers shortly! Hooray, spring!


Side view of Fern. Scary looking little monster, but will be pretty plant.


Traditional color lilac near house.

Moscow lilac

Pretty little Moscow lilac, will bloom white. But not this year.


Both redbuds, older one and young pup, are going to be very showy this spring.


Another view of pear buds.

Shady groundcover.

Shady plant in bloom.

Early flower.

Early flower in garden by deck.


Final photo, daffodil in bloom.

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The Garden, One Year Later

Day Lily with coneflower in background--it's the larger, store flowe. The lily is a tall day lily, probably 2 feet or so, the cone flower is a foot taller. A flower of this particular day lily caused a dramatic effect, the color "ran" in the rain and splotched a stella de oro lily nearby, looking as if one flower were bleeding or crying on the other. Did not catch that in a picture, sadly.

A year ago, I was putting in a new garden made necessary by my neighbor’s installation of a giant white plastic wall.

One year later, how is it doing?

Quite well. The mysterious blue flowers did not come back this year, but just about everything else did. A pink peony failed to bloom, but the plant looks OK, so I have hopes for next year. As it turned out, the cone flower I purchased from the store is a bit different from the free ones I got from Katy’s sidewalks—not really radically different in color, but both the flowers and plant of the store one are much bigger, perhaps twice the size.

One of the "volunteer" coneflowers. The background is pea gravel that I covered the narrow stretch of garden beside the walkway with, which should help reduce weeding and looks good, too. Although light is limited in this garden, it is also mid-day light, which means this coneflower is getting along with hostas and lily of the valley--not usual garden companions.

I added a few things this year. I planted my token annuals, in the form of moon flowers and morning glories. The jury is still out, but I think we’ll see more flowers this year. I also added white coneflowers, which are nice. I would like to get a few cuttings of red coneflowers from Cate and Paulette’s garden, but we’ll see.

I like the “look” of this garden. It is a bit crowded, but there is a lot of variety. As you can see from the photos, at the moment it’s a day lily/cone flower garden.

All in all, year two is very nice.

Other garden news:

  • There are some strange, slightly obscene looking, mushrooms sprouting in back. I’ve seen these orange phallic monsters before, but with the incredible damp this year, there are just many more of them.
  • I put in a nice blue flower in back, picture shown. Also added the final bush to the new front garden, picture not shown.
  • Finally, a Father’s Day gnome rang the doorbell that Sunday. Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, the gnoming occurred when Ben was returning from Target. Anyway, the gnome is at home in the wall garden.

One of the "Katy" coneflowers. Morning glories on near trellis are not very high yet, but have reached top of far one.

Farther's Day gnome in wall garden. The door bell rang, Audrey excitedly told me "someone is at the door for you!" and Ben was chucklin by the Beetle. Conspiracy?

New white coneflower. Put in two near other coneflowers.

Not the wall garden--this is the back yard. Some years I see one or two of these odd orange phallic mushrooms--this year there may be around 10. They are usually by the magnolia, whcih this cluster is, but some are showing up by the tulip tree, too.

New flower, back garden by clothesline, will add name later if I remember to check. Hope it does not taste good to bunnies.

Final image--hosta in wall garden. As Pat noted in a comment on an earlier post, not all hostal flowers are white. this one looks magical to me, due to soft colors on white background.


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Lillies, For the Most Part

Iowa "tiger" lily in backyard garden.

While we were in Puerto Rico, a number of new flowers showed up in the gardens, many of them daylilies or the native Iowa “tiger” lily. I didn’t photograph them until Saturday, a day after we got back, so I missed some “stella de oro” daylilies, which are starting to bloom again, but you’ve all seen those yellow daylilies. Pretty, but very, very common.

Anyway, the bulk of this blog post is just the following photos:

Daylilies in bloom--these are at the top of the wall in back, near trellis and Sargant crab apple.

Rose in new garden. It was badly chewed up insects, but still is blooming like a champ.

Tiger Lily II--this time in the front garden.

Hosta in the back yard along the back fence, near baby Linden tree and baby Oak.

Asian Lily in the front garden. Some yellow ones are in bloom in back, but did not bloom while we were in Puerto Rico so will not be shown in this post.

Hollyhock in back. One of two plants of this color. I planted some new pink, red and white ones this year, but the plants are tiny and unlikely to bloom. The twin of this hollyhock was pretty much eaten to a nub by our resident bunny.

Lily in front garden. The nice plant Theresa gave us suffered a bit from transplant shock and the foilage is in mixed condition. Flowers bloomed quickly while we were gone and were fading by the time we got back. I suspect it will be a spectacular plant next year.

Astilbe or Astible (I always spell it badly) in shady narrow part of new garden. This was the plant that didn't bloom when beside the house in a dryer spot, it likes this garden more.

Tiger Lily III--this one is by the fence on the east side of the back yard.


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