Archive for June, 2010


I just love what these nodding onions get into. One day soon they will flower, then seed, and I won't find them so darling.

Tag! You’re it! These two have been playing a rousing game of tag for almost a week and I, the roving photographer, have been capturing their antics. I think even the Antler Man has been taking pictures.

We didn’t plant the nodding onions in our tear drop of a flower island. The previous owners did, most likely to deter the deer. So far, so good.

The echinacea we did plant and the deer, thus tar, have left them alone, though I caught a chipmunk swinging on one not too long ago. I chuckled a bit before yelling out the door “get out of my garden!”.

Taking pictures at day’s end made me think of long-ago summers and the games we played as children in the neighborhood, after supper, when the temperatures cooled, in the long summer hours before the streetlights came on.

Hide and Seek. Red Rover. Crack the Whip. Red Light, Green Light. Mother, May I?

I wonder what games our grandchild will learn to play.

What games did you play in summertime?

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1934 Cadillac with touring basket taken by Tom at the Oak Brook Car Show on Father's Day.

The lure of a cooing baby sent us up north for a brief visit after we finished a busy weekend. We packed a few things to eat on the road and off we went.

Penny took a picture of the basket on the other side.

Can you imagine a Sunday afternoon, these baskets filled with home cooked delights, the whole day ahead in this vintage automobile? A pie, perhaps, tucked inside one of the baskets. Some hand squeezed lemonade. Sandwiches. Snickerdoodles. A blanket and a parasol.

What would you pack in these baskets for a long ride on a Sunday afternoon?

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It’s all in a day

The first year I gardened in our first house, ages upon ages ago it seems now, I was such a novice. I had no idea what a daylily was from an Asiatic lily or a calla lily, but, the cover on the box from Frank’s Nursery with a bunch of leaves sticking out looked pretty and seemed like something that would look nice against our then white garage. I bought it and plopped it into the soil, watered it and checked it each day. Lo and behold, just like a fairy tale, it grew and grew and grew. Buds formed and then one bloomed. It was so lovely. I snipped it and put it in a bowl, where it sat on the kitchen counter for most of the day – until it started to fade and shrivel and die. What had I done wrong?

This was before the internet and 24 hour library hotlines and long before I knew anything about flowers. I lamented over the telephone, the kind with a long cord that allowed you to wash dishes while you were talking and not have to worry about dropping it. I lamented and my friend asked if it could have anything to do with its name.

Daylily. Duh? It lasts one day.

I love the way the buds look as they take turns each day unfurling. The look rather like a bunch of bananas, don't you agree? The pesky fly, sleeping on a petal, must think so as well as I could not get him to go elsewhere.

I’ve learned a lot more about plants since then. The daylily has made great strides as well from the common, bright orange, roadside plant that is prevalent in much of the US. I’ve learned a great deal and remain eager to learn more and to grow like my flowers do.

I love these daylilies, flowering now in our front island. Our neighbors refer to it as the teardrop garden, a remembrance of when it was first put in by the previous owners. Our teardrop island, where wonders appear each and every day of the year. It is lush this summer from the heavy rainfalls and there is a new surprise out there every single day.

How about you? How does your garden grow, or, if you don’t have a garden, what would like to grow if you could? Have you ever been as foolish as I when I cut a daylily, thinking it would last for a while?

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Stachys Hummelo. Lamb's Ear.

Lamb’s Ear.

I love them in the garden. Those gray, fuzzy leaves that feel so soft and captivate children who love to rub them, pretending they are real lamb’s ears. They also have a cool appearance and texture that shows up nicely late in the day, making their companions look even nicer.

I don’t care much for their flowers, however, and snip them off.

When I saw Stachys Hummelo in a garden a few years ago with their lovely purple blooms en masse, I knew I had to some.

Stachys Hummelo is a delightful variety of lamb’s ear with slender, ridged leaves and tall stems with purple flowers.

Two years after planting, we needed to divide them. They like it here, it seems, and I had placed them too close together for comfort. We put some in another location, not as sunny, to see what would happen. I’m pleased to say they are performing just as well in both locations and have rather enjoyed having more room to wiggle their toes.

This year, they are just divine.

Late in the afternoon I went out on my daily walk-about in the garden and discovered them hosting a swarm of bumblebees. Each floral clump had five or six bees buzzing around, weighing the stems down with their sated heaviness.

Happy hour on the cutoff!

The bee’s knees!

Now, if only I could get the chipmunks to behave!

Do you think she knows that we dug up the impatients?

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Charles Schultz

The tornado warning siren was blaring across the cutoff and beyond. Warning, warning, warning! Take cover now, it droned!  We had just started dinner. Not being the type to let a possible twister stop our evening meal, we grabbed our plates, a few candles, and the birdcage and trotted downstairs, put on the television, and continued, secure, with our meal.

Maya, the bird, ate too. Happy to be settled after the rushed trip down the stairs, he pecked away, whistled a cat call I so smartly taught him, and told us over and over again what a pretty bird he is. He slipped off of his perch as well. Maya is as clumsy as I an. Every so often we will hear a thump, his crown askew, and up he perks, looks around like nothing has happened, and starts fluffing his feathers once more.

Tom heard the phone, rushed to get it, and I was suddenly talking to a reporter from one of the local newspapers about the Elmhurst Garden Walk. I have been emailing them for weeks and weeks trying to get some coverage and a call finally comes during the storm. I told her that the bigger story at the moment was the one going on outside. She said she could call back, but I, anxious to secure some publicity for the event, was not about to let a reporter go. So, says I, “No, I can talk. If the roof comes off of the house you’ll know where I am”.

She was very nice and professional and we actually had a lovely nice chat as I chattered on and on about the garden walk. As I hung up, panic struck. The storm had passed, dinner was eaten, Maya was whistling, and Tom had an incredulous look of  “I can’t believe you just gave an interview”.  I felt a sense of panic, hoping I had said everything I needed to and nothing embarrassing . . .

. . . well, just in case I blew it as the winds were churning here on the cutoff, www.elmhurstgardenwalk.com/ will tell you more about it.

I hope wherever you are, you are weathering these summer storms.

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Did you ever forget where you got an image? I did with this one, saved in a file for use on a "didgaever" day.

Did you ever write with a twig in the sand – a heart or your name or the name of another?Did you ever draw simple squares on a sidewalk or driveway with a piece of gravel, or a chunk of chalk and play hopscotch with a friend all afternoon? Did you ever watch a storm come in, over a lake or down a highway? Did you ever catch a lightning bug and cup it in your hand, ever-so-tight and then peak in to see if it would light up for you? Did you ever curl up under a tree or in a lawn chair or in front of a fan and read a book you never wanted to end?

One summer I read Heidi by Johanna Spyri. A neighbor had given my sister and me a box of books that her children had read. Heidi was one of the books. I loved the story and the old grandfather and Peter and Peter’s blind grandmother and I cried when Heidi was taken away to live with Clara, though I loved Clara. I remember trying to pace myself – one chapter at a time. I failed. I failed and soon Heidi was done.

I read the two sequels, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children, though they were written by Spyri’s English translator. They took me through a good part of the summer and they took me to the Alps until I found The Bobbsey Twins. Although I was a little old for them at the time, I didn’t care, and I read and I read until my eyes burned and my grandmother told me to go outside and play. Instead, I found Winnie-the-Pooh, which in my estimation is much more fun to read to oneself than aloud, though I’m not quite sure why, and Treasure Island, which I must read again someday. Our neighbor’s gift was a big magic box to me when summer days seemed so long.

How about you? Did you read books in summer as a child? What did you read? What are you reading now?

When someone says”How do you do,” just say you didn’t. Eeyore

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Endless Summer (or is it endless rain?)

At long last, my Endless Summer hydrangea are blooming. All the winter snow and the endless rain here are pure bliss to the hydrangea family. Now, if we can keep the deer at bay . . .

Endless Summer on the cutoff.

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A cup of good cheer!

I am captivated by the smallest drops of water on a leaf or a petal. They seem to hold so much within them and magnify the smallest vein of a leaf or the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. They remind me that there is so much more to life than my petty annoyances, big picture worries, and narrow view. They keep me humble.

I needed to take a little walk late in the morning to clear my head and take in a bit of nature around us. My walking companion is often my camera. I have long enjoyed taking pictures of nature and of my own garden. It serves as a pictorial log of what grows here along the cutoff. The instant feature of picture to screen with a digital is exciting and I love to see what I miss that the camera’s eye captures.

I was looking at the hosta, their  leaves cupping upward and holding rainwater like a ladle in a bowl. The picture above is a hosta leaf and it held yesterday’s storm like fine wine in a stemmed glass. There in the cup danced the reflection of maple leaves hanging from a tree nearby. My eye could clearly see the leaves upon the water, but it didn’t see the faint hint of a rainbow arching to the east, like most rainbows do. It took the eye of my camera to capture it.

Have you seen some bits of nature lately that make you stop and sigh, delighted at the discovery?

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It is raining here right now. Pouring, in fact. Pouring with lightening and rumbles of thunder. I still have pots to plant and hoped to finish the job on this longest day of the year. Instead, I’ll stay put and work on my garden descriptions for the walk. First, I wanted to tell you about last night.

Last night was clear with perfect temperatures around 65° and low humidity. A half-moon night with stars emerging over the tops of the trees as we sat on lawn chairs, eating a picnic supper and listening to familiar strains of Kenny Loggins. Jennifer graciously joined to celebrate Father’s Day with a outdoor concert at the Morton Arboretum.

I love the Morton. It brings nature and joy to so many who live in the region and to so many others who visit from faraway lands. Last year we visited the

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, spring '09.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and as we rolled in to the ticket gate, we flashed our Morton’s card, and were waved right in to “oh, yes, the Morton Arboretum, no charge”. Wherever you live, consider belonging to an arboretum or zoo in your region. You will help keep their efforts going in all things of nature, and your membership card will be a guest passport on your travels. We make a point of visiting our arboretum at least once each season – our rationale for the membership fee. We use it much, much more, however, as we drive out for a Sunday breakfast and walk after church or a slow, picturesque drive on New Year’s Day in the cold and snow. We walk around the Children’s Garden and can’t wait for the time that our Kezzie will be able to see all the tadpoles in spring and rearrange the rocks in the waterfall.

Last night we trudged up a hill with lawn chairs and cooler and all things picnic and waited in line for the gate to open. The “gate” was actually one of the Steelroot sculptures by Tobin that are throughout the arboretum this summer.

The second song was  “Return to Pooh Corner” that Tom so often sang to his girls, a Pooh Bear in hand, Eyore and Roo hiding somewhere, silliness and tickles at bedtime, squeals of “one more time, Daddy”. Good timing by Kenny on a Father’s Day night. Some of the songs were long – too long for the crowd on the lawn, but, the night bore on and the sky darkened and the tunes familiar. Swallows darted back and forth across the deepening day, and it was so pleasant to have Kenny and crew “Celebrate Me Home” and an encore into ” Danger Zone”, commercial jets, their lights visible, eerily flying high in the night sky. All too soon it was deeply dark, the crowd growing tired and starting to think about finding the car in the dark, piney woods. Time to get back to the house at Pooh Corner. Yep, time for everybody to cut loose!

This one is for you, Jennifer!

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Antler Man . . .

Here's to Antler Man!

Some years ago, when the girls were quite young, and for that matter, so was I, my Tom did one of the many special things he has done over our long journey together. One of the girls needed some tests. Medical tests. The kind that are done with strong advice and possibly dire consequences. We were both concerned and I wasn’t sleeping well; shedding my tears of worry when no one could hear me.

Someone did hear me, however. It is hard to hide such things in a house where there is love.

I went to work the next day, my heart heavy, my responsibilities equally so. I parked in the employee garage, went on about my job, and decided to go out at lunchtime and just drive around a bit. When I got to my car, which was parked in a random spot in a big garage, there was something on the seat. Somewhere in time, between leaving for work and going out to lunch, the dear father of our children managed a bouquet of flowers, wrote a note saying everything would be okay, drove over to my office complex, found the car, and slipped a sprig of tenderness into my day.

That is the kind of daddy our girls have had.

Happy Father’s Day!

My Antler Man, goofing off!

P.S. Everything did turn out okay!

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