A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

The Backyard is Smokin’

It’s so nice to finally start working outside again. Pete just dragged out the Adirondack chairs, so I’m ready to soak in some morning sunshine and cool breezes.

The backyard, between the house and garage, has filled in the most overall since we started planting last year. Most of the arborvitae (background) are doing well, except for one: the branches are almost all dead, but only on the northern half facing the neighbor. I don’t know how that could have happened as the others are fine.

One of the dogwoods, in front of the arborvitae, had some dead branches which I cut away, so it’s not as big as the other two. Wouldn’t you know it has to be the middle one? I’m not crazy about these bushes anyway.

In a momentary lapse of weakness I went with Pete’s preference of these variegated dogwood instead of the native variety. Late last summer they seemed to get some moldy spots on the leaves, and I just don’t think they look that great. They have never seemed to fill in very well. Sigh. Of course they are the “fancier” cultivars — the native variety may not be as showy, but it’d probably be a lot healthier. Live and learn.

The Elderberry bush, on the other hand, is doing fantastic! It has really filled in to cover the vinyl siding on the garage.

One of the plants I’m enjoying immensely this spring is Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum). It started blooming several weeks ago and still seems to be going strong. It makes a great border plant and I ended up buying a few more at the Plant Sale last weekend.

I cut out more of the lawn and added the new ones behind the Northern Dropseed grasses (shown foreground, above) next to the garage.

The really cool thing about these plants is the “smoke” that is left behind after it flowers and starts to go to seed:


  1. Karen Anne on May 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    That prairie smoke is very striking.

    You know arborvitae get huge, yes?

  2. denise on May 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Yes, I do know they can get rather big; according to my sources, this variety grows 20-30 feet. There’s always hedge trimmers to keep them in line. 🙂

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