Here’s an update on the front yard, which moves ever closer to beautiful. We’re trying hard for one of those “neighborhood beauty” signs. 

In this first picture you can see a new Japanes Black Pine at the leftmost edge of the planted/mulched area. The tree is ‘Pinus Thunbergii’ Thundercloud. I mail-ordered it from Sooner Plant Farm in Oklahoma. It’s about 3-4′ tall now, and has tons of new candles. 

Moving to the right is one of the Crepe Myrtles that were here. In late winter I cut all of them back hard. They (like most of the existing plants in this yard) were neglected and out of control. It took a while but they’ve all responded well and by next year I should have some great layered foliage pads on all of them.

Front and center in this picture is the Pin Oak we planted last fall. It’s doing great. The trunk base looks twice the diameter it was when first planted. There’s already new growth on some branches that’s nearly 12″, just from this year! 

Hard to see in this photo is the bed in the back. Diane planted it full of things that only she knows… I put in an Arborvitae, nearly hidden behind the Oak tree. There’s another Crepe Myrtle in the corner. The gate has been fixed with a new latch and handles on both sides.

The bed under the flag contains several azaleas, and groundcover plants that only Diane knows.


In this photo is the front bed that I’m most proud of. “The Dragon” on the far right is Pinus Mugo. It was here when we moved in, was completely overgrown, and neglected. All of it’s needles were on the top and outer branches. Last fall I cut it back hard. It responded well. Spring of this year I did some other refinements, some pruning cuts, some branches were wired and shaped, others were wired down to spread everything out, open it up and facilitate more back-budding on interior branches, which is happening now. It’s got a long way to go, but it’s doing great.

The small tree there is a Japanese Maple ‘Acer Palmatum’. There’s my first home-made faux boulder, and several pieces of this lovely sedum we found at the nursery. It’s going like gang-busters too. We love it. It’s got great variety of color and texture (see close-up below).

The new black pine and old Crepe Myrtle. Yes, I planted the pine at an angle. If you’re thinking, as one neighbor did, “why did you plant it at such an angle?” I do that because in 20 years this tree will look fantastic because of that and because of the way I will shape it and train it. Ordinary gardeners plant things straight and never touch them after that.  

Detail shot of the new growth on the Oak tree.  
Another one…  

The front bed…  

Enter the dragon. As I said it’s got a long way to go. However, in a few more years I’ll have lots of choices when refining the style of this tree. 
 Some of the ‘hard cuts’ I had to make on this tree last year… 

Bonsai Rescue 2015

The goal was to get my new bonsai out of its pot and directly into the soil of my terrarium. I had some other maintenance issues to do too. So this past Sunday was the day. I removed the ficus from its perch inside my aquarium garden where it had been living, in its own pot, elevated from the soil surface, since I bought it in May from Bonsai Boy of New York.

In this photo you can see the pile of leaves this bonsai had been shedding, and the pillars I used to elevate it from the surface for drainage. I took the whole thing out to the deck and began clipping, and cleaning, sifting and repositioning. 

I sifted the soil to get out the large peices of mulch.  My terrarium soil is a bonsai mix, and that has some mulch in it for organic matter. I get it from Merrifield Garden Center. I also get my terrarrium plants there. They have a whole terrarium section.

What a looker this one is….

The plants that were thriving were left alone, and most of them were. I had two leafy creepers (don’t recall the official names) that needed to be permanently planted, as they were also living for several months, in the terrarium but in their own little pots. These got planted near the front. I know they’re going to make a bee line to the back, where all the sunshine comes in from the window.

Here is the bonsai that still looks remarkably good given the number of leaves it has shed in the last month. It’s a Ficus Reticulosa.

I got everything in its place, and cleaned the glass really well, which always makes the garden look good. I placed some deadfall wood with moss and a few stones, then gave everybody a good bath and watering and took the whole thing back inside.


I turned the bonsai 90 degrees to put a bare spot towards the sunlight, hoping it will fill in. You can see that it’s still dropping leaves, but it also has a lot of new shoots. Time will tell if it survives. If it doesn’t I’m afraid I’m done (again) with bonsai. I’m just not that good at it.

Bad English

I hate to sound like a snob, or worse a word snob. But what is our society coming to? (OK, I know that’s a dangling participle, so shoot me and call me a hypocrite. Everybody talks like that.)

This is a post I recently came across from a 40-something social sub-group of a major online gathering site. Look at this post:

Not sure if my friend is coming…i would rather snowshoe/hike/cross country ski then tube.

You are going to be one tired puppy after all that activity. OK, I get it that we’re all friends here, and everything’s casual and expediency rules, but what you’ve said makes it sound as if you’re going to partake in all of these activities and simply disputing the chronology being proposed. When I know you’re stating a preference for cross country skiing over tubing. Your misspelling of “than” changes the whole meaning of what you’ve said.

And this one:

Not 100% my friend is coming…early to tell…I will let you know..Snow tubing is fun, but I rather do something more physical like snowshoe or hike. 🙂 Will eat dinner with the group regardless what I do!

Not 100% my friend is coming? Would it kill you to be grammatically correct, clear and type four more keys s*u*r*e?

Early to tell? At least you didn’t attempt clarity here and drop this famously misused gem “To early to tell”!

I rather do something more physical? You mean I’d rather…?

Will eat dinner with the group regardless what I do!? Do you really think this makes any sense?

After reading this, here is what I have to say:
Not 100% I want to be apart of this groop.