Browsing Tag: landscaping


    Red October: My new favorite plant

    May 31, 2016


    I’m calling Red October my “new” favorite plant, but if I’m being honest, I don’t know that I have an “old” favorite plant. I do know that I love this one, which we planted in our front yard (the one you see above) and back yard (a half dozen of them in the landscaping along the back fence) late last summer, so we’re really now just getting our first look at it.

    I’m pretty sure we’re the first house in the Tri-Cities to have this plant on our property. As it grows in the spring, the leaves are a mix of deep green and burgundy — as you can see above. Later this year, when we have our first frost, the leaves are supposed to turn a bright, candy-apple red. I can’t wait to see that.

    Red October is a new breed developed in 2014 by a nursery in Illinois. I think I first stumbled on Red October on Pinterest. We were planning our landscaping and I wanted something colorful, but non-flowering (because I hate bees). I remember calling all of our local nurseries, but none of them had heard of Red October. I contacted the nursery in Illinois, but they only sell wholesale to other nurseries. I contacted a few nurseries around the country and found one in California that was ready to ship me a dozen plants, but they wanted to wait until last summer’s heat wave ended in order to give the plants a better shot at surviving the shipping up here. While we were in that holding pattern, our local nursery called and said they were finally able to order Red October and did we want to add it to our landscaping project? Yep, we did.

    So that’s a Red October at about two feet tall. I’m hoping to do another post this fall when the plant is maybe 4-6 feet tall and those leaves turn bright red. In the meantime, it’s cool to watch these things grow.


    The Horsetail Experiment is Over

    October 17, 2014


    You think I was kidding when I said I don’t have much of a green thumb? Get this: I can’t even grow weeds!

    It’s been almost three months since the horsetail reed experiment began on our front patio, and I’m pretty sure it’s time to throw the towel in.

    What happened?

    1.) Wrong planter. These things seem to survive best in really wet soil. That’s why you see them growing in the wild along the edges of rivers and streams. The Monrovia page makes several references to how these do well in water/pond situations.

    Well … the planter we have has four drainage holes in the bottom. I was able to reach under and plug two of them, but — as the photo above shows — water flowed freely out of the other two. I watered these things nearly every day, but the horsetail never really grew big and tall, and many of them flat-out died. (And now we have a water-stained front patio to clean, too.)

    2.) Too much wind. Wind? In the Tri-Cities? No way! (That’s sarcasm, you out-of-towners.) Since the horsetail wasn’t growing big and strong, they were really susceptible to wind damage. The planter is kinda tucked away, but there’s still enough wind around here to blow the reeds over.

    I took the photo above after the most recent day of 15-20 MPH winds. You can see a good chunk of them just laying down. And once these things bend, that’s it — they’re broken, and not gonna grow again. (Replacements grow pretty quickly, actually, but then those just get blown over by the next windstorm.)

    Next Year?

    I’m thinking we’ll just leave these in the planter over the winter, and I’ll water the survivors as needed. But come next year, it’ll be time to find something else to replace the horsetail reed. Hopefully something that can survive my lack of gardening skills….


    The Horsetail Reed Experiment

    July 25, 2014


    The experiment began at about 6:55 pm last night.

    That’s when I finished planting eight Horsetail Reed plants in a container on our front patio. It was a project that began a couple weeks ago when the fiberglass container arrived, and I started purchasing (and digging) rocks, soil and the plants. I worked on it a few hours here, a few hours there, and then it all finished last night when the plants, soil and top level of rock were put in.

    Horsetail is considered a weed in some circles. But I love it, especially when it’s fully grown and shooting straight up in the air.

    Why am I calling it an experiment?

    1. I’m terrible at growing anything, so this could go terribly wrong. I’ve read plenty of care instructions, but they really could be dead in a matter of days.
    2. Horsetail is very invasive so, if they do survive, I also have to make sure they don’t somehow start to magically grow in the front lawn, which is about 4-5 feet away.
    3. It often grows along the side of ponds/streams/canals and other bodies of water, but the experts say it can also grow in dryer soil. And that’s how I’m growing it: in regular organic potting soil on top of about 12-18 inches of rocks (which should allow for some air down in the bottom of the planter).

    So you know … fingers crossed, prayers said and all that. Let’s see how long these things stay alive, shall we?