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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

First, the woody stems swell,


then a tight bud pushes forth and changes,

a petal at a time,

from winter wear into a silken skirt. Stylish Springtime flair..

Tree Peonies.

The epitome of how to dress for tea.

half a mind
to dress up and bow down
to the peony
~ Shiki

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We used to make popcorn in a pan. The bigger the pan –  the more popcorn. The pan would be put on the stove top, the burner ignited, a few tablespoons  of oil and two or three kernels of popcorn would be added. Then, we would wait for those three kernels to pop, which often seemed like forever.

POP!  POP!  POP!

It seemed like forever to children waiting for an after school treat and to grown-ups needing a late-night snack. Eventually, that signature triad of pops indicating that the oil was hot enough would erupt and we knew it was THE MOMENT to put a cup or so of kernels into the pot, put on the lid, and pop the corn.

 Spring has felt much like that long wait for the first kernels of popcorn to pop.

Here in the Chicagoland area, we have had hot days and cold, stunning sunshine followed by endless days of gray and gloom and rain. It was actually been one of the warmest of Aprils with early blooming of seasonal bulbs, ephemerals and flowering trees. May Day, however, brought cool weather in the 40’s and endless rain. Creeks are filled to overflowing, rivers rush past well beyond their banks.

The many trails and paths I wander have been closed off, but, there are spots where the pavement is clear and evidence of springtime is apparent.

In our own little neck of the woods, the celandine poppies have been welcome bursts of sunshine, the tree peonies are ready to unfurl and the brunnera have not forgotten us.

Spring is always such a hopeful season to me. In spite of the weather, the turmoil that bubbles around the globe and the troubles that intrude into our lives, Spring eventually shows up!

So, dear readers, here’s to Spring (or Autumn) wherever you are planted – and here’s to popping corn!

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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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