Category Archives: Central Ohio

Landscaping Can Be An Obsession

When landscaping our yards we tend to select plants and colors that we like. I’ve done that, too! My colors are dark green, Chartreuse, burgundy/bronze, yellow/orange and white. By keeping with a theme, it allows me to move plants around when dividing overgrown plants or putting them in a more desirable location.

The East side of my home gets a lot of hot cooking-type of sun until about 2:00 in the afternoon. It also gets less rain since the house shields it. So on this side the plants need little care and minimum water. I had landscapers add the large stones to help with erosion from the slope. There are various varieties of sedums

East side - dry area plants

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including the popular Autumn Joy Sedum which honey bees LOVE! There is a Dappled Willow shrub in between two of the Golden Globe arborvitae. I severely prune it before winter then it regrows to 8-10ft each year, reaching the top of that window. The burgundy Barberries are medium-sized so don’t require much pruning to keep them small.

Sunny West Side plants

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The West side of the home gets 2-3 hours of afternoon sun. I planted 3 full sized Barberries years ago. The Hostas were originally planted when there was a Cherry tree at the corner for shade. I have to keep them watered during the heat if there is minimal rain. I’ve divided them a few times, giving some friends. The Vicary privet was planted by the builder 23 yrs ago. The Blue Spruce to the right is a Bakerii Dwarf Blue Spruce so it has remained 8-10 ft.

Trees for privacy

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The Back Yard has been in for many years. The Viburnums have now reached about 12ft and are a wonderful privacy screen. The birds congregate in these shrubs. The Norway Spruces are VERY tall now as is the Callery Pear. The plant in the lower front left is a Varigated Virginia Creeper vine. It is on a 3-section metal fence that hides the A/C.

New plants fronting spruce trees

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The space in front of the large Spruces has been a problem. Over the years I’ve tried three different types of plants in this area. None has survived or thrived. This Spring I tried again with plants that “may be” more tolerant of dappled shade from the pear tree. The new plants L-R are: Sweet Flag, Fireworks Fountain Grass, Coral Bells and Bonfire Cushion Spurge

Newly planted back of house

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I’m still working on the area next to the back of the house. Since I lost two of the Ninebarks to their powdery mildew problem and needed to move the Ligularia to a larger spot, I’ve had to select different plants. Late last summer I put in two Cinnamon Ferns. Two years ago I put in a Vanilla Spice Summersweet. I’m still trying to save the one remaining Ninebark. I added the Creeping Jenny a couple weeks ago to eventually provide colorful groundcover and help with maintaining moisture.

pyracantha

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This Pyracantha is many years old now. It’s huge and is a refuge for dozens of little birds. I no longer get the pretty orange berries in the fall because the mass of birds knock the berries off before they have a chance to mature to the orange color. It does have pretty white flowers in late Spring.

I wanted to somewhat conceal my back steps so I selected Karl Foerster Reed Grass  to grow in front of it. I put it in last summer so this year is its first to grow as planned. Per

Karl Foerster Reed Grass

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the photos I’ve viewed on the Internet, the fronds start as white then turn yellow then rust. It has a columnar growth and “per the photos” shouldn’t outgrow this space.

Backyard overview

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Every year I say, “now I’m done”, but who knows if this is the year I’m REALLY done!

Coppertina Ninebark is disease free so far this year

Last July I wrote about “buyer beware” when deciding to plant Ninebarks in the landscape. I originally planted three Coppertina Ninebarks in May 2015. Two of them succumbed to powdery mildew and witch’s broom. Last fall I had some leftover mix of a disease control that I had used for a couple other plants. I took what was left in the Ortho sprayer and dumped it around the base of the remaining Ninebark shrub. (yes, I know that’s not according to package label directions!)

Coppertina Ninebark

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When the leaves came out this Spring, I watched for recurrence of the mildew. Surprisingly I didn’t see any. So far – June – there is still no mildew and the shrub is thriving with lots of new growth and the color that the nursery websites show it to have.

I’m still leery of this shrub but if the mildew stays away, it may prove to be a very nice shrub. It is about a foot taller than last year and about 2-feet wider.

I’m tickled!

Lemon Licorice is my new favorite plant

Two years ago I bought an “interesting” annual to put in some of my outdoor flower pots. There was no plant identifier stake so I had no idea what I was buying. I really liked what the plant “did” so I bought it again last year. Again no identifying stake was in the little pot. FINALLY this year when I bought it again, there was an ID stake! It’s called Lemon Licorice (helichrysum petiolarre). The stake says it needs Full Sun to Part Sun and grows 8-12″. That growth statement is misleading.

Here’s a pic of the plant I just bought next to two Marigolds.
Lemon Licorice annual plant

Here’s a pic of last year’s fully mature plant. It’s way beyond 8-12″!
Lemon Licorice annual plant

I planted the Licorice in the brown pot last year and it totally covered the pot all the way down to the ground and onto the sidewalk! It requires no care and little/normal water. That’s my kind of plant! An added bonus is that it still looks somewhat OK all during winter. It doesn’t grow then but it turns to a velvety light gray color, keeps its form and adds some interest during the winter.

I previously used Sweet Potato vines when I wanted a flowing plant. But I got tired of the stink bugs and the huge sweet potato growths in the soil that soon crowded out the other plants in the pot. Lemon Licorice is far superior to those vines. The only insect I’ve seen on the Licorice is a Praying Mantis that totally blended in with the plant’s color. Give it a try when you want a trailing plant for your pots.

Warning if you buy gift cards from Walmart!

Walmart

I’m not a fan of Walmart for a variety of reasons. There is one near my home but I only occasionally go there. Today I just wanted to pick up some gift cards for people who helped me during my recent hospital stay. Usually I buy gift cards from Giant Eagle when I’m there, but today decided to just run up to Walmart. I picked out the cards then proceeded to check-out. I inserted a credit card to pay for them. Surprisingly the credit card was denied!

Cashier said I couldn’t use a credit card to pay for gift cards – nor could I use a check. Cashier said only cash or a debit card can be used at Walmart!!!!

With the credit card transaction denied, she then rang the cards up again and I inserted my debit card. Same issue as before. The card was denied!. The supervisor came over to help with the problem. She determined that the Visa phone line was down so couldn’t activate the cards. After about half an hour, we learned the register system had deducted the money from my account but still wouldn’t allow the sale of the gift cards. The supervisor gave me cash for the amount the register had deducted from my debit account and I left – without any gift cards.

My bank is in the same shopping center so I went there to deposit the cash that the supervisor returned to me.

Next I went to the Kroger store – same center – to buy cards. There I was able to buy the gift cards with a credit card with no problem.

UPDATE: I just checked my credit card to see if the first Walmart transaction that failed was by chance also charged to my account like it did the debit card. YUP! It was charged as well. Now tomorrow I must go back and “try” to get the charge off my credit card!!#*%#@%^*!

ANOTHER UPDATE 4/7: So today I went back to Walmart to get the charge off the credit card. I went to the “Customer Service” desk where the same supervisor was working. I showed her my paperwork that showed the charge against my credit card. She said she would have to get the Assistant Manager to approve. I waited 50 MINUTES for the Assistant Manager to finally show up. She said she couldn’t issue a credit since the transaction showed as “Pending” and that it might still be cancelled. So now I must wait till the transaction no longer shows as “Pending” so I have proof that Walmart did indeed double charge me the $271! I kept my cool – sort of!!!!

ANOTHER UPDATE 4/9:I checked my credit card account this morning and the $271 charge was no longer pending but had become an actual transaction. So I went back to the store for my refund. In the interim days, the Assistant Manager had pulled off register tape for the two transactions. From it she learned the cashier had voided 3 of the cards but not the 4th. Thus the register tape showed a “Refund” of $164. But I was still charged $106. I noted that the $164 was NOT a “Pending” transaction and thus suspect. She called the Store Manager and of course, he agreed with her and wanted to wait for the “Return” to show on my account. He said it usually takes banks longer to post payments/returns than the actual charge. He would not take the charge off my credit card! So I must wait even more days to see what – if anything – is recorded to my account. What makes me so angry is this is due to Walmart’s policy and screw-ups at the register. My only fault was trying to buy Gift Cards at Walmart!

FINAL UPDATE 4/11: I checked my credit card this morning to see if a Walmart refund had been issued for $164. It had – YAY! So I printed off the paperwork and returned to the store for the final refund of $106. Neither the Assistant Manager nor the Store Manager were there, so Customer Service called another Assistant Manager. That Manager wanted to know all the details of why he was being requested before he walked to the Service desk. When he arrived I explained the saga to him. He’s only authorized to approve $100 refund! He called the Store Manager to verify that I did indeed have substantiating paperwork. The Store Manager approved the return. The Customer Service agent then gave me the refund in cash – not allowed to take it off the credit card. ???

I suggested they might want to put a sign on the Gift Card display to advise people that they can’t use a credit card for the purchase because surely I’m not the first person to inadvertently use one for a Gift Card purchase. He indicated that it had sometimes been a problem. He said that people use Gift Cards as a way to launder money. I responded that all the Managers had treated me as if I were a thief and I didn’t appreciate that. He said that a lot of Walmart customers try to scam the company so they must be careful. I guess Walmart considers its customers guilty until proven innocent! For me, Walmart Customer Service was a big FAIL!

Hospital and Rehab not pleasant

In all my years I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had to be hospitalized only four times and two of those times were to give birth to my daughters. But at the end of February I had to be admitted for emergency surgery in the middle of the night. I had diverticulitis with a substantial amount of infection (sepsis). The surgeon removed parts of my small intestine and established an ileostomy which will be “undone” with more surgery later in April. Thank goodness! I’m very lucky in that regard!

While I was at one of the top hospitals in the Columbus area, I noticed some changes versus the past times I was hospitalized. I’m not sure all the differences are positive. Naturally everything is computerized. Nurses ask questions then spend time on the room’s computer entering all my answers. Every time they gave me medication or a piece of equipment they scanned my ID bracelet. I assumed that was a ca-ching to charge my bill.

The main difference I noticed was with the nursing staff. They seemed to be understaffed. Too many patients – too few nurses. But the main concern was that about 1/3 were wearing hijabs and had a language/communication issue. A couple times they tried to give me medication that I knew was inappropriate per the surgeon’s orders. I wonder what happens to patients that aren’t fully aware! The housekeeping staff and meal delivery staff were mostly non-American given their lack of language skills. It’s sad that these jobs are no longer going to Americans, but rather foreigners working for lower wages.

After two weeks in the hospital, I transferred to a rehab facility for 1-1/2 weeks. The nurse to patient ratio was even worse than at the hospital! I had substantial problems with the ileostomy and finding a satisfactory pouch to adhere to it. The nurses weren’t adequately trained to care for, properly prepare the area and apply the pouch. Basically it was a mess and my skin paid the price. One morning I was left sitting in a “mess” naked for two hours as nurses changed shift and aides had to deliver breakfast trays to the dining room patients. Again I feel sorry for patients who either can’t speak up or don’t have family to check on them. Those are the horrors of elderly care. I just did everything I could to convince the Surgeon that I would be better off at home.

I’ve heard many people – especially politicians – complain about the medical industry. I suspect political involvement in the medical industry is the cause of many of the negatives I experienced. The need to cut costs and time spent filling out the computer work required by the government. That takes time away that nurses and aides can spend giving care to patients. Not good!

NEXT DOOR App Works Great!

Last year a neighbor told me about an app used by other neighbors. Her two dogs had escaped their fenced yard. They made their way to the deck of another neighbor several streets away. Eventually my neighbor retrieved the “escapees” thanks to the NEXT DOOR app. So I loaded the app on my phone.

It’s a very helpful app for subdivisions to stay in touch with neighbors to alert of happenings, HOA issues, lost cats & dogs, or in some cases crime or “suspicious” characters. During the Hurricane that hit Texas last year, I heard reporters mention that people used the NEXT DOOR app to alert others to those needing rescued.

So far in my neighborhood, it’s been a lot of roaming cats in other people’s yards. City rules say cats have the same rules as dogs – not out of the yard unless on lease – but cat owners often think it’s OK to let their cat roam, kill birds, and poop in our landscape beds. A couple weeks ago a neighbor alerted us that a young golden retriever had escaped and they couldn’t catch him. It was an extremely bitter cold night with substantial snow cover. Everyone knew there was a chance the dog couldn’t survive overnight so various people got in their cars and slowly drove the streets hoping to find the pup. Half the homes are on wooded, ravine lots making many places for the dog to escape notice. It was amazing the outpouring of support as people stayed in touch with the app. The dog finally returned home the next morning but offered no explanation of what he’d been up to. BTW, the dog’s name is appropriately CHASE!

Our small city posts informative items and the police post important notices. People can also post items for sale or FREE when they want to get rid of something. It’s a great place for “handymen” or “who knows a good plumber/electrician”. My subdivision has 366 homes so we have a decent sized group, however, we can expand our posts to other surrounding areas if we choose.

It’s a great little app and so handy. Best part is it’s a FREE app! Here’s the link to NextDoor website, but to put it on your phone, go to the app store.