Monday, July 25, 2011

Hardiness and Heat Tolerance - Rays of Change

As a teenager I could remember all the times in my life the temperature got over 85 degrees. Maybe it was that I grew up in Wisconsin, and maybe it was just less common then. I now look at both  U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Hardiness Zone Map to see if my plants will survive the winter and the American Horticultural Society Heat Zone Map to see if my plants will survive the summer!

Yes, I do believe in global warming.  Both zone maps were revised in 2003-2006 to reflect the hotter summers and more moderate winters. Case in point, I used to use this website to identify my zone. It lets you put in your zip code and shows the map with very nice detail.  That was until I noticed that it said that days over 88 Degrees were "rare" - Ha! not!   The city of Chicago has plans in development - really scary representation of the estimated climate change by 2090 and the impact on plants and animals.   So much so that I heard the city revised it's tree planting recommendations and not putting in more native trees like White oak because of heat/water considerations.

Differences between 1990 USDA hardiness zones and 2006 hardiness zones (wiki)

I'm only caring for my garden for a little time, I wonder what it will look like in 100 years? Wow I always wanted palm trees....

Today I'm singing "Hot Hot Hot"

Happy Gardening

Teresa Marie

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hosta Pests - Fungus?

I am having three problems with hosta this year. I think it is fungus and / or viral.  Let me share pictures and what I have attempted to date for pest management. Any advice welcome, as you can see from prior post, since I have tons of hosta and would like to get ahead of these problems.  BTW I love this guide to hosta pests from IA extension.

PROBLEM 1: Brown Leaf spot, early spring issue

Brown spots on Hosta -Spring 2011

I LOVE Hostas! - Perfect Shade Garden Perennial

I must have over 20 different types of hostas.  Most have been collected through craigslist or freecycle. Although I have purchased some of the unusual varieties.  I was surprised to learn that hostas are native to Japan. I've been reading up on them and will provide a post of more interesting tidbits at a later date.

For now, please enjoy a virtual tour around my yard - focusing on hostas.

Back yard bed - 5 varieties. Love the large erect blue hosta for pop!

Hosta bed - including miniatures like Mouse Ears (small blue hosta) - 8 varieties

East Hosta bed - initially plant here to see the form, and how they take.

Giant Blue Hosta - on the porch. Added impact.

 Large Blue Hosta - up close. American Beauty in the back.

Night Garden - two types of green/white Hosta and Hydrangea.

You can see I make use of lots of different types. One of these summers I am going to divide and move around to get better impact.  In some places, I have the white edged varieties next to the chartreusse edged ones and I think that diminishes the impact of both. Overall there is also perhaps too much crowding.

Nonetheless, not sure what I would have done with all this shade without these lovely plants!  Also interesting to note that there are many types of hostas that are sun tolerant. I've even been reading lately about a winter hosta - that being one that comes up through the snow! How cool is that?

The song in my head today is At Last by Etta James

Teresa Marie

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Easy Composting Bin from Garbage Can

It's something I've been doing my whole life. My Grandfather got me involved.  My mother and father were fans. Now it's just part of life - yup, that save the earth trend of composting.
We have always taken all grass clippings, leaves, and plant food scraps and put them into compost in our yard. Then each spring and fall it gets rototilled into the vegetable garden, and that soil also gets dispersed around the yard.  Over the years it's really helped improve the soil (and the crops!)  in addition to reducing the amount of trash.  Then, our village recently increased their attention to our "compost pile" and despite the best intentions, some neighbors were complaining that it was unsightly.  So rather than pay for yard waste bags and stickers, we sought a creative and frugal outlet. 
We already had one container and had previously tried a tumbler without success.  I never did tumble the materials - so that was not a good investment.  Some of the containers are so fancy and expensive.   I readily admit that I am not savvy in the ways of composting.  I just put stuff in, it rots, I use it ;)  My dad had a compost container made out of wire stretched around large cement blocks.  He never turned it or minded it much at all, and that worked just fine. I know that I'm not doing this the best way - but it gets the job done, and we don't have to get fancy.  Looking around for raw materials - we immediately thought of two large garbage container that the village had deemed too large for use.  Eureka - we made our own compost bins from recycled garbage cans!

Making Holes for Air Flow - July 2011
 One thing to keep in mind is that as the plant matter starts to decay it will generate heat and moisture.  Here you can see we are putting holes in the bottom of the container to allow moisture to drain out.  I think there is probably a balance between wanting it to drain and not to dry out.  I'll have to see how that goes.
Finished Garbage Can Compost Bin
This is the final garbage can compost bin - we ended up putting about 100 holes around all side and on the bottom.  I like that this container is on wheels, which will help us get the compost to the garden.  We also considered just cutting the bottom off the garbage can all together. I think if we do fill this up with compost it might be too darn heavy to tip over. We can always make that adjustment next year if we need to do so. 
Store bought Bin, and new re-purposed bin ready for duty.

We hid the second container on the side of our yard and will use that one exclusively for grass cuttings and other yard waste. It is tucked up behind some honeysuckle and big hostas, so I'm hoping that our neighbors of the city don't mind too much.

Today I'm singing something trashy! LOL

Any advice let me know!

Teresa Marie

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garfield Conservatory Devastated - Needs your help!

As many of you know I am a passionate supporter of the Garfield Park Conservatory, a historic landmark and pillar to landscape architecture in Chicago.   What you may not know is that this past week, the conservatory sustained significant damage to the oldest parts of the structure and is closed until further notice.  

Photo from Garfield Park Conservatory Website

I’ve talked with many of the staff and personally share their shock and sense of helplessness.  There is damage to over 60% of the glass roof.  The oldest parts of the conservatory, which had never been upgraded to tempered glass, were hardest hit including the Fern Room, the Show House, and the desert house.  All the propagation greenhouses were impacted as you can clearly see on the video on Fox news with aerial footage. 

While it’s helpful that the temperatures are not too cold so the collections won’t freeze, there are significant challenges. In several rooms the sun may burn and damage plants.   All the water from the rain which will now get into the conservatory  is also likely to overflow the ponds and create additional pest and plant cultivation problems.  Also with restrictions on staff and volunteer access until clean-up, programming and plant management is restricted. Luckily, the Chicago Park District has a disaster plan in place and teams are already mobilized to shore up the structure, clean out the glass, and protect the collections.  (Thank goodness they don’t need to wait for the city procurement process!)  However, it’s going to be a long and challenging road!

A letter from President Eunita Rushing to members called this a "major catastrophe." Other reports indicate that there is risk of loss of over 50% of the collection.

Extensive damage to Greenhouses - Garfield Conservatory July 2011

The Garfield Park Conservatory will be putting a capital campaign in place to cope with this emergency.  I imagine that page will show up on the site in the next day or so.  Until then, if you are so inclined please use the “donate now” button on their site to contribute.  Also anyone out there with a blog, facebook page or other social media connections - please help get the word out.

Today I'm singing the blues

Teresa Marie