29 October 2018

Perry has grown

I looked in the top of the 33 one morning and thought: what is that foamy stuff? and then I realized: it's Perry making a bubble nest! or trying, at least- the bubbles are in patches here and there. "Ho!" I said out loud, "Perry is feeling flirtatious!"

I've been watching their behavior at the dividing wall closely. They don't seem to bite at each other as much now- and usually it's Lady trying to bite. Perry tends to hold himself broadside and display, or sit just under his little bubble patch and fan his fins wide. I tried to get a few pictures to compare- I do think he's nearly the same size as the female, now.

Poorly, backlit photos due to the window- this one taken from the couch:
from closer:
When I pointed out to my seven-year-old that Perry was nearly Lady's size and perhaps it would work to take the wall away, she egged me on immediately: "do it, do it!" But I think it's safer to wait until Perry is obviously larger than Lady.

28 October 2018

tank updates

Big news is that a week ago I pulled my aponogeton capuroni out of the window tank- and split its bulb in half- yikes.
I planted it into a plastic tray with slotted sides near the bottom and extra pinholes, and fed with a root tab.
Moved it to the back of my 45, next to the other tray that holds the crypts balansae.
after a week it's settling in: new leaf already! It's just to the left of stick in this picture
Just behind/under the foreground anubias leaf, in this one:
Hard to see, but from top view, the other apono is also sprouting a new leaf- it's just to the right of that central pale anubias leaf in this pic. I was worried how well the plant would take being split- if the bulb would rot. But it seems to be responding to the division and change really well. (I cut all the older, largest leaves off that anubias so I could have a better view of the apono and keep an eye on it)
The other question is what does my fish think. I thought I would see him (her?) gliding between the narrow ruffled plant leaves, but for now Mr. Beautiful just swims above all the plant foliage to get around to the opposite corner.
Fish has still been shy- pale and hiding sometimes- but more often colored up with stripes now. I made a few changes to try and avoid startling it so much. I shifted the light strip back on the lid, so it sits just behind the hinge and I don't have to move it every time I open the top. I think the light moving (and sliding sound) used to scare the angels a lot. Also when I come downstairs if I remember, I pause before walking through the hallway, so the fish can see and recognize me. If Mr. Beautiful notices me first, swims to the front glass with an eager tail wiggle. If I walk in suddenly, used to panic and dash all around. It seems to be helping- this week only once did I see the angelfish panic (it was the day my teenager ran down the stairs in a hurry to do her laundry).

My husband asked me why the fish turns to us at the tank front, instead of keeping its body sideways, are the eyes actually on the front of its head? he said. I pointed out how the fish can rotate them, so if its eyes are rotated front, it has binocular vision (I'm guessing) after all, it is a predator. Here's a funny pic of that front view.
The other angel, Skye, is doing better and better. Can move its lips now to suck in food, eats very eagerly, comes up to see people. Mr. Beautiful is consistently a bit stout, wider in body that Skye, even though I've cut back on his/her food a bit. I keep seeing the fish nibble at plant and stick surfaces- I really wonder if Beautiful is gravid and wanted to spawn and Skye wasn't responding. After all, Skye has been the smaller fish- maybe not mature yet. I wonder if I wait for Skye to grow larger, if it would be worth attempting to re-introduce them...

In other tanks, my tenner got another trim of rotalas this week. I cut back a few of the rotala indica and replanted tops, pulled more of the smaller-leaved rotala rotundifolia. Most of those I moved to the far left rear corner, around the heater- some went into the 20H.
And the temporary 10g with the serpaes finally finished cycling, so I don't have to do daily water changes on that one any more (whew!) I noticed suddenly one morning that the tetras were showing off to each other, and some chasing behavior which I hadn't seen since they were in here. Tested the water and yep, nitrites finally zero. Did a 50% wc and relaxed about it.

27 October 2018

I bought a camellia!

With birthday gift my mother sent. I have been nostalgic for this plant- one grows by my mother's front door. I've thought over the past few years how nicely a camellia would go in the corner my compost pile occupies. Plus it would have all the richness that has worked into the soil on that spot. Well, here it is!
For once, I was able to do a proper planting job for a shrub. The years of composting on this spot have softened the soil- even though it was still clay down there, I dug a hole twice the pot size easily (compared to the struggle in the rhododendron's spot). Soaked the hole before I set the plant in, and loosened the bottom of its root mass with my fingers.
I raked up all the leavings from the turned compost pile- which naturally formed a raised ring- and that's supposed to help retain moisture around the roots for the first while.
Finally, leaf mulch and another watering.
I tell you, I am really going to be pampering this plant. It might need protection from winter winds, to prevent bud damage- the man in the nursery told me I can buy a spray that puts a wax covering on it, I wonder if I can just blanket it during the worst weather?
A step back- here's the space it will fill. It's supposed to get up to 8' in spread- so I planted it four feet out from the fence on one side, and property line on the other (behind compost bin). I'll have to move my stepping-stone path and shift some echinacea if it really gets that size, no biggie.
It's a 'pink perfection' japanese camellia. I love the prospects of having a nice, dark attractive shrub that will (hopefully) reach the height of these fences and fill in the corner. And give me beautiful flowers that look very like roses, without all the fuss of a rose bush. I want to get it well established. It should become a permanent plant in the yard. In japan there are some camellias that are five hundred years old, I've read. Wow. No wonder the price tag.

transplants and plans

I dug two volunteer viburnum out of my back garden, and planted them in the naked side yard (downhill from the nandina).
They were right next to this patch of 'scat plant' I've stuck in the ground as cuttings. Surprised me how well they did. My leaf pile has shifted, since I emptied it out mulching the garden further. I moved the fencing to this blank area of the back perennial bed, figure it will feed the soil well for whatever I decide to plant there next year. Already filling up from raking the yard, it kind of makes a wall behind everything now.
The potted 'scat plant' I upended and planted on one edge of the herb bed- with two small cuttings on either side. I am still not sure how well it will survive winter, but already learned I can't stand the odor if it's in the house. So it has to live outside anyway.
On the other side of the herb bed is the rue. It's grown amazingly, around three feet high now. For all the heucherella and hosta get munched in other parts of my yard, nothing nibbles near the vegetable garden (except the bugs) so I am pretty darn sure this plant -and/or the 'scat plant'- is keeping the culprits away. (Squirrel doesn't seem to care, still digs everywhere, gah).
So- in spring I plant to buy more of this! or take cuttings and start more. I want to plant it in my front yard, on either side of the back perennial bed, next to my hydrangeas (something has been nipping the ends of stems off), in the side yard where the gladiolas grow and the naked side yard where I think the deer pass through. Maybe deer hate rue.

26 October 2018

new plants!

I bought myself another rhododendron.
Waiting for its spot- I dug a hole the same place one failed me last year. This has nice roots- I checked they were growing vigorously from the bottom of pot before I purchased.
Mulched and fed with compost. It's the same variety as my others, but twice the size at purchase date!
I am trying to -gradually- make a nice stand of shrubbery across the back of my yard for backdrop, 'structure' and winter evergreen color. It's a very slow process because I can't afford to buy shrubs all at once. So it's nice to see, when I stand against the back fence, the line of green from my rhodies and summersweet through the tree line. Farthest off in the corner is the forsythia.
Closeup of the summersweet- I wanted to put another one in this year, but couldn't find a specimen
I also bought a few new hostas- planted in front of the holly. I had some planted under it before, but they aren't doing so great, so I moved a few to other spots.
Also this large-leaved brighter green one. I misplaced the tag-
but I think it's the same variety as these grand ones I've got alongside the house now (transplanted last year)

24 October 2018


Bird visitor. A ton of them started chirping all over and flocking into the yard when I turned the compost pile. I saw jays, sparrows, chickadees, the wren and robins. Caught a photo of one. There was also a bird with greenish back- I assumed a (female?) goldfinch as it was picking among the echinacea. (I think they don't have brilliant yellow colors outside the breeding season).
I found an empty nest in the euonymus bush.
It's small- maybe from the wren?

compost cake!

turned the pile and dug in few days ago
recipients around the yard: first the young shrubs. I've quit feeding my mature euonymus at all- I think if I just give the shrubs a light leaf litter mulch in fall, they'll be fine without the richness of compost. I have a few of the offspring going well now, but don't want to keep pulling up more seedlings! Here's two of the young ones I transplanted, and turtlehead off to the left.
Largest is starting to look like a decent little bush. There's three more between the next two trees, but they aren't as large. Maybe too shaded.
Turtlehead! This patch did well this year, after I got mealybug off it. Turtlehead around my garden plot did great, too. And the other patch in the rear of the yard got broken- stepped on it looks like. But it will come back.
Hostas. My favorite blue ones- with huecherella off to the side.
I had to clear some encroaching mock strawberry away to give the heucherella some mulch feeding. It's doing better here now.
My other heucherellas- the purplish one in the other side yard- are doing poorly. Bitten by the rabbit or deer, but I have a plan for that...
Mock strawberry is overtaking the lawn in that corner, btw. It does better than grass where there's shade. So far I don't mind just mowing it back- here it crowds against the garden plot edge.
Gladiolas- all falling over. I think they've doubled in number this year!
Salvia 'black and blue'
All the yellow salvias
Sedums 'autumn joy' around the lilac- um, these plants don't at all look like what I'd imagined. I think I bought the wrong variety. I wanted the shorter one that has paler leaves and stays compact. These grow tall and fell over. Maybe if I cut them back hard, they'll do better next year? Or I'll move them and find something else for this spot.
Little sedums (stonecrop) against the retaining wall and around the front yard stump. These I cleaned up last week, cutting off all the dead flower heads that made it look untidy.
Nandina. One of these appears to have grown larger this year,
the other I can't quite tell (it's half the size)
Native lilies-of-the-valley- sporting a few orange berries
Arum- I love how lush these look, coming up around the sad end-of-year rhubarb
Hellebores, of course
Heartleaf brunnera- they look sad. Got hit hard by the bugs this year
My newer ones didn't seem to grow much, either
Columbine. This is the main plant. One of the seedlings I moved to another spot in the yard survived it.
Their colors were really striking- lighting just right
Also fed, but not pictured: forsythia, rhododendrons, monarda, summersweet, peonies, lilac, etc etc.