Tag Archives: arborvitae

Enough of February 2015

February is finally done and it was quite a month for much of the country. It finished here in Chicago as tied with 1875 for the coldest February ever, with an average temperature of 14.6°F, and the third snowiest with just under 27 inches. The Chicago NWS has some great graphics on all the record breaking winter data here. I hope March will not be anywhere near as record breaking.

I took the last day of the month to go around with Daisy and see how things were looking. Snowy would be the best description.


I have no idea how the plants are faring this year. I’ll have to just be patient and wait and see.

This is what I call the “sparrow corner”. The sparrows love having their own feeder filled with inexpensive food, and have spent all winter flitting back and forth from the viburnum to the feeder. Keeps them occupied and away from the other feeders.



Like most winters, the arborvitae and yews took the worst beating. The “privacy fence” of  arborvitae are actually beginning to look better than they did earlier this month, so maybe it’ll last another year.


The yews still show winter burn and snow damage from last year, and I’m expecting that they’ll look worse this year. They’ve been crushed by all the snow once again. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. and they’ll bounce back. Or it’ll give me chance to start over again 🙂



The vegetable gardens in the back and side yards are well insulated and just waiting for spring, which can’t come fast enough. The sticks mark the overwintering garlic.



This birdhouse doesn’t look very inviting. Last year I put them out too late, so no one made it their home. Hopefully this spring.


My feeders on the feeder pole have been a hit (This Birthday Was For The Birds)! Cardinals, red-breasted nuthatches, white-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, goldfinches, purple finches and house finches are daily visitors. Juncoes happily scavenge anything that spills on the ground.


At least it’s been a lot sunnier lately and my solar snowman finally cheerfully lights up the night.

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How are your plants faring? Are you worried?

Problem Areas

Everyone has problem areas in their yard.  This week, I’m going to show some of ours and some of the solutions we’ve finally come up with.  First was an area off the corner of the house.  When we first moved in, the landscaper designed the space to have 3 large Austrian Pines in the corner with some yews and junipers in front of the window.

Little did we know that a self-planted maple was growing right next to it in my neighbors yard. It grew extremely rapidly to become one of the biggest trees around the property. It was so dense that it created too much shade for the Austrian Pines to grow properly (and killed off all her shrubs as well). So, last year we finally threw in the towel and had our trees removed to try and fix up this very noticeable part of the garden and house. In the process, we also took out the creeping junipers that were half dead as well from lack of sun.


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In the new garden we wanted some type of visual distraction from the neighbors fence since that’s where your eyes would go as you walk up the front walk. But, also wanted to keep it fairly low budget and therefore decided on 3  Arborvitaes. They’re one of the few evergreens that will tolerate shade, although their growth will be very slow. We didn’t want a full privacy hedge, just something to distract your eyes.  We happened to have 4 Annabelle hydrangeas on the side of the house that are far too big for the space and by mid season flop over into the main brick walkway to the back of the house. In this new shade garden we created, the hydrangeas would be a perfect plant. They can obviously tolerate the shade and can finally just grow as they want in an appropriate space. Of course, to fill in the rest, I moved some hostas from elsewhere in the yard. We also had some boxwoods added to give the space a more finished, less wild look.





We think this was a great improvement to the front yard. The only problem we had was that everything was planted/transplanted right before the drought hit last summer. I did a lot of watering to keep all the plants alive and they all survived the drought and the winter.