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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

I wish I could wear a hat with style.

My sister has a flair with hats. She knows right wear to position them and how to tilt the brim just so. My dear friend, Cori can pluck a plume laden bonnet from a rack in an antique store and, tada, she is THE model for the picture hat. Me? It’s more like trick-or-treat time.

It is what it is, and it doesn’t stop me from wearing a hat now and then, but, these hats, ah, these hat are worn in special a way.

Aren’t they creative?

This one held spring ephemerals from the garden.

These hats were a few that members created for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Oak Park and River Forest Country Club. I had the pleasure of attending this lovely affair, and hope they don’t me showing some.

This hat was planted with spring ephemerals currently blooming in the garden .

These lovely bonnets make me want to try and toss hat into the flower ring.

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Like a Lion

img_2807March arrived full of fury and growling thunder, with flashes of lightning and strong, gusty winds. He brought with him hail and havoc and fast rising rivers. March’s bravado –  the fiercest of  lions if ever there was.

As March exhibited the height of madness, the daily mail arrived. There were the usual bills and advertisements, a save-the-date announcement as well as a lovely invitation to a spring luncheon, which I set aside in a prominent place, a visual reminder to respond.

It was not, however, these usual postal suspects that caught my attention on this damp, dark day. It was the splash of color with petals and leaves on the covers of much-anticipated garden catalogues that brought the hope of Spring on an otherwise blustery day.

White Flower Farm continues to publish one of the finest catalogues with trusty perennials, plants, even gardening tools. It is, in fact, such a well crafted publication that it calls itself a garden book.

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One long ago and equally blustery day, though not a March day, I ordered a passel of spring bulbs from White Flower Farm. Tete-a-Tete and Thalia, King Alfred and other daffodillian royalty were purchased in bulk, planted in Fall, and filled the garden of our first house with delight the next spring and many springs thereafter.

The catalogue is exceptional, as is the staff at White Flower Farm. While ordering some plants on the phone, the helpful employee I spoke to patiently took my order. It was a bit lengthy. There was one plant, I no longer remember which one, but as I named the plant she advised me against purchasing it, stating it did not do well in my zone.  She then suggested a few similar plants that were suited for my area.

It has been several years now since I have ordered anything from White Flower Farm, but, this periodical “garden book” continues to arrive and it is something I always look forward to; not only for its beautiful photography and offerings, but, for the descriptions of plants and suggestions for where and how to settle them into a garden.

Then, there was this . . .

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. . . a new and welcome discovery!

Prairie Nursery’s publication is touted as an ecological gardening guide – and it is. Not only is it a worthy source of native and prairie plants, it is a welcome resource for those of us establishing prairie gardens, or just interested in learning more about the midwest prairie.

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The Table of Contents is amazing.

Most gardeners in the Midwest deal with some of these soil types listed. Here on the Cutoff, we actually contend with all of these soils – medium, clay, dry and sandy, moist, shade! I look forward to digging deeper into these pages and hope to establish some of the plants offered.

I was appreciative of sections of this guide that cover planting issues that include Protecting Water Quality, Hometown Habitat, Planting Guides, Land Restoration – and, of course, Deer Resistance.

These two gardening catalogues came just when I needed encouragement to tamp down the madness of the March lion – and think about a No Mow Lawn.

http://www.prairienursery.com

http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com

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when the bee stings,

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when I’m feeling sad

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I simply remember my favorite things

 

and then I don’t feel so bad.

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Just a few of my favorite things.

img_2151What things make you happy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. . . and so, dear ones, the traveling vase once again returned to our home.

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Jennifer arrived on Christmas with the latest floral arrangement to grace this simple glass bowl, which has been reigning on high in the dining room, catching candlelight and sunshine.

The sun was streaming in the windows this morning, and for a brief spell lingered on the alstroemeria and mums. I love the use of the beaded bumble-bee and am impressed with how Jennifer used foil wrapping paper to add dimension, color, and support to the stems inside the bowl.

Well done, Jennifer!

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Interested in our Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase?  Click here to start at the beginning.

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We often see only that which we perceive as perfect, unflawed, without blemish. Fashion models and model homes. Flawless complexions and svelte figures. Glossy advertisement and enhanced photography. It is, I think, human nature to appreciate beauty, but, we often are swayed as to what beauty is.  For instance, this bouquet. It caught my eye – for its perfect imperfection!

There is usually a floral arrangement at the information desk just inside the Visitor’s Center of the Morton Arboretum. It is most often a seasonally inspired collection of flowers, branches, leaves and more.  I believe the natural materials used are gathered from the grounds of the Arboretum. The arrangements are always an inviting and cheerful welcome to the Visitor’s Center; a handshake, if you will, to the vast acreage of Morton Arboretum.

On what was mostly a crisp and cloudy day, the sun suddenly appeared, just as I passed this Autumnal arrangement. I walked past, then pivoted around for a second look.

Some things are worth a second look.

It was the unusual color of the leaves that gave me pause. I am familiar with hosta leaves and their many variations, but, I was unfamiliar with this particular color combination. I stood a few feet across from the desk for a moment and admired it, before I stepped closer and took a few photos with my cell phone. It was then that I realized that these leaves were a bit past their prime. They were, in fact, fading , wrinkled – and beautiful!

I squealed (more a squeak) drawing a few quizzical glances.  “Oh, sorry. I was just admiring this arrangement and love that the leaves were left to fade a bit”.

The faded leaves, which I assume were originally a cream color, now mimicked the orange of the pumpkin. They told the story of their emergence from the once frozen soil and of their once tender leaves tasting the springtime air. They spoke of the long, hot summer with too much rain and not enough. Their natural, defining grooves had deepened as they matured, much like my own wrinkles and scars. The once deep green had softened and thinned but were still soaking up the water from the pumpkin pot. I found it brave and I thought it wise for these leaves to still be on display; a natural reflection of life as one season gives way to another.

~ Perfectly Imperfect ~

 

 

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Goji berries, rustic outdoor furniture, antique carts, solar panels, country charm and ingenuity; all this and more at Cherry Lane Farm, which was opened to visitors as part of the McHenry County Farm Stroll.

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Trudi Temple is a well-recognized gardener, entrepreneur, author and speaker, especially in the Chicagoland area. I have had the pleasure of touring her private garden in the western suburbs, reading her inspiring book, “Trudi’s Garden; The Story of Trudi Temple”, and, like many of you, I have ordered from Market Day@, which Trudi established.

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Cherry Lane Farm was our first stop on the Farm Stroll, and we were one of the first visitors. We parked the car and followed a path that meandered through a woodland garden, which was cloistered inside a handmade waddle fence. Bird houses dangled from stately trees and perched upon tree trunks.

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Age-old benches and found objects, heirloom plants and new introductions abound on Trudi’s farm; a living testament to what hard work, creativity and sustainability can yield.

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We wandered the paths, some under the multitude trees rooted on the property, others leading to the vegetable garden, or the wide pasture where a wind turbine was generating energy. We sat in a magnificent gazebo – surely a haven for family and friends. With all the nature and creativity that surrounded us, what impressed me the most was the evidence of the far-reaching visions of Trudi Temple. She is a remarkable woman whose respect for nature continues to grow and instructs all who find their way to Cherry Lane Farm.

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A barn houses plant materials that Trudi uses in arrangements, as well as a shop for antiques, books, dried floral arrangements and other delights. An outbuilding is creatively sided with reclaimed windows of different sizes and shapes. Inside sit long tables, for workshops, I assume, and a patchwork of quilts adorn the walls.

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It was such a pleasant day.

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We bumped into three members of my garden club, all in groups of their own and all pointing or asking if we had seen this or that, enthusiastically sharing what they had discovered. Even strangers were friends for the moments in time at Cherry Lane Farm. It isn’t often that a piece of land and a crop of buildings is so lovingly developed  that it creates such a wholesome sense of place.

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dairy-farmwalking-to-barnThe way to the barn was a well-worn, rutted path, uphill and scenic, past acres of pasture on a Illinois Centennial Farm, now in its 5th generation of dairy farmers. As we trudged up the path, we noticed most of the herd in the distance, congregating companionably under a brilliant sky. We headed toward one of the farm buildings. This was our third stop on the McHenry County Farm Stroll.

I first heard about this free event from a University of Illinois Master Gardener publication, which caught my attention. This year, 12 private farms would be opened to the public. The properties included orchard, vineyards, dairy farms, hobby farms, and the Loyola University Retreat and Farm campus.

Tom and I marked our calendars and bookmarked the event, intrigued by all the options available, familiar with the rolling hills and farmland in McHenry County, and knowing the wide and well-informed network of the University of Illinois Extension Services and Master Gardeners, as well as the McHenry County Farm Bureau.

We knew we would not be able to see all 12 farms, so, selected 4 that we were most interested in,  mapped out a route and off we went for a Sunday stroll.

This dairy farm was our 4th stop and different from the others. We soon found ourselves observing the cows and their bairn eating in the barn, followed by a very informative mini-lecture on hay and straw, how hay is harvested and stored, the often “iffy” reliance on erratic weather in the midwest. Our docent in the hay stall was from the Farm Bureau and she was a gifted and knowledgeable speaker who had all ages of visitors engaged in her subject matter.

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One of the farmers also walked us through a typical day of milking the cows with insight into small dairy farms versus large conglomerates, how he knows the names of all of his cows, and reminding us to check out his Guernsey cows and a calf just born who were just outside the barn.

I did take a few photos of the newborn Guernsey, which did not show well. It was not yet 24 hours old, curled into a brown ball of body and big eyes. If it had some spots I would have thought it was a fawn. Mom, however, was close by, keeping her eyes on the intruders passing by.

 

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So it was on this enlightening leg of our Farm Stroll, that we wandered back down the path, rutted with decades of use. Onward we went, headed toward our car. We stopped as we departed to thank the volunteers stationed there who asked how our visit was – and we were given a choice of carton of milk.

White or chocolate?

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We chose wisely.

 

 

 

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