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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The morning was bright and clear with dashes of sunshine stroking my life. Decorations were scattered about our rambling abode; angels rested on high, books stacked within reach, and there were even a few batches of cookies stored in decorative tins. A rare December day with no meetings on the calendar, a tank full of gas and a list of wonders that I wanted to see, so, off I went with a purpose in mind.

My first stop was to see an exhibit about one of my favorite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life,  at the Elmhurst History Museum. Alas and alack, I arrived to discover it would not open for several more hours, so . . . I promptly reversed my plans and headed, first, to the Wilder Park Conservatory. The Conservatory is an oasis of growth and warmth, history and soulful nourishment nestled into an award-winning park in the western suburbs.

Opening the door, a couple I have known were exiting, two charming grandsons toddling out with them. These two youngsters informed me that there were “fishes” and “elves” inside.

Well, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but, elves here and there and everywhere in the conservatory, along with this poinsettia tree and a cheerful display of the plants all around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In need of a “cuppa” of something warm and a bit of bite to eat, I headed to the north end of town and Brewpoint Coffee and Roastery where I had a tasty blueberry scone and a hot mocha (called Sacagawea).

As luck would have it, on a day filled with good luck, a perfect parking spot awaited me smack dab in the center of town. Like many suburbs around Chicago, parking is at a premium, so I quickly signaled my intent to park, claiming my curbside cradle. My first stop was The Pink Elephant, a well stocked charity shop. I chatted for quite sometime with a woman I did not know as we good-naturedly tried to talk each other into buying something we did not need. Do you ever do that? As a result, this caroler sang her way into my arms and followed me home.

I stopped at a new store, Bread and Butter, where I had purchased a darling pair of earrings a few weeks earlier. It is such a cute shop and the owner, a enterprising young woman, is as delightful as her products. I left with these cute stocking caps meant for bottles that Rudolf absconded with to keep his antlers warm.

My final stop, which was my first on what became a delightful circuitous route, was a tour of the exhibit at the Elmhurst History MuseumIt’s a Wonderful Life. Posters and “stills” from the movie lined the museum’s wall with informative narratives describing scenes, props, biographical information and other tidbits of knowledge about a beloved movie.

Included in this exhibition are photos and information about Elmhurst’s own Christmas traditions and photos of the city around the time depicted in It’s a Wonderful Life.

I did not take many photos, in part to maintain the integrity of the exhibition, and in part to lure you into the museum if you live in the area or are visiting. It is truly worth the visit and is within a short walking distance of not only the conservatory, but, of the renowned Elmhurst Art Museum.

Here are two characters from the movie, the original Bert and Ernie, and another character you might recall, Toots, with her earrings dangling and her infamous red coat.

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. . . more precisely, three miles.

I was lost. I could hear voices and I knew “kinda sorta” where I was, but, lost none-the-less. Not-to-worry. I was safe, had my cell phone, and this gaping natural marker to lead me back to where I needed to be.

My proclivity to veering off-road once again steered me into an adventure – this time in Lyman Woods. In my defense, I was scoping out the location for a possible field trip for our garden club. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. These woods are in plain sight on a fairly well-traveled road. I had visited once before, discovering a charmed woods and a Little Free Library, which you can find more information about here.

So there I was, on my way home from church, when my car impulsively turned into the parking lot of Lyman Woods and onto the path to the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center which has a green roof and is on a plot where one of thirty or so houses once stood. While visible from the street, it does not have the look of most nature centers in this area. I find it not only refreshing, but, forward thinking in its purpose and style.

This is the walkway up to the Interpretive Center, from a parking lot that cautions visitors to not let their cars idle, a sign of caution and care for the environment and the preserve I was about to enter.

The roof is carpeted in prairie plants and serves several environmental purposes, including reducing storm water runoff. Here’s another look as well as the interpretive signage. The center hosts a variety of programs for children and adults throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beekeeping, to habitats for butterflies, hummingbirds and hummingbird moths, migratory birds, deer, coyote and more, these woods are a substantial refuge surrounded by well-travelled roads, a university, a large hospital complex, high-rising business buildings and luxurious home

Before I got lost in the woods, I was lost in this garden plot, packed with flowers and vegetables, beehives and scarecrows! I stood for quite some time, and I hopped about in my happy dance as goldfinch flitted about and a hummingbird rested upon a wire. The bee population was active, as were several hummingbird moths. I would love to try the honey harvested here and will go back and look for some in Autumn.

 


 

 

 I decided to take a short walk after a delightful couple and their small child showed me to way to the marsh telling me to “just follow the path then turn right and then left and there is the marsh where migrating birds come“.

I passed the tree with yawning stump, taking some photos  – just because – and wandered about, a leisurely stroll on a warm Sunday afternoon, the canopy of trees sheltering me and a soft breeze to keep me company.

I found a bench looking out toward the marsh, but, no pathway to it. No matter, I kept walking, and walking and walking. A stout rabbit watched me along the path, hopping into the brush when I got closer, surely wondering what this lady with a camera was doing. Well, taking photos, of course, along the prairie teeming with life and woods with their primal sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I passed the back of the university and doubled around (or so I thought) past a wetland and then reaching the very end of the trail. Not THE END, of course, for I needed to work my way back to the beginning. Good thing I took so many photos. They became my Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs as I wandered past the wetland and university’s back yard, the bunny path and the prairie. I heard the wail of siren bringing someone to the nearby hospital and saw the lush view of the marsh, made a slow turn at a junction, walked a bit more and then, there it was, the stumpy foot of the tree that seemed to be spilling out words to me “oh, hey there, lady wanderer, here’s the way back” – and it was!

I love these simple moments of discovery and adventure and respect those who have found ways to save these living sanctuaries.

How about you? Have you wandered somewhere new lately – or somewhere familiar that rides the tides of time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is significant business – the bustling and buzzing and brushing of pollen from one flower to the next, insuring seed production needed for plant species to survive. It is laborious and focused work with little rest for bees and moths and butterflies. For pollinators, danger is always lurking, yet, here they are, and here we hope they will remain – the movers and shakers of pollen.

In the garden and on my walks, I see them. I watch them. I hope I honor their presence by thanking them silently in my heart, these agents of pollination, as they visit my tomatoes and your cucumbers and all that surrounds us. These many pollinators manufacture the honey of the hives and they help bring forth all the flowers that we grow and arrange and appreciate. Whether the bumblebee on a warm summer’s day or a nocturnal moth when all else is dark, they are the link to our food supply and to all the beauty that surrounds us.

My collection of words is weak this day, but, I do have a packet of pollinator pictures. I hope you won’t mind if I share them here. Please click onto the photos, especially the bottom one, which has a variety of pollinators on it.

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, what pollinators are you seeing? My Southern Hemisphere friends, who are in winter now, what are you looking forward to with the renewal of spring?


 

 


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Following a rather busy June and early July, I decided to make the most of some much appreciated down time to just be me.

This, of course, translates easily into me wandering off to explore nature.

So it was on an overcast Saturday afternoon that the I opted for a walk at the Dean Nature Sanctuary in Oak Brook.

The sanctuary is a wildlife habitat – hidden in plain view. It was through the generous endowment of one of the early founding residents of Oak Brook, Dorothy Dean. With the assistance of the Conservation Foundation, Dorothy Dean generously donated this expanse of land to the Oak Brook Park District.

The story of this sanctuary is an interesting history lesson as well as a unique example of land preservation and stewardship. It also provides insight into the personality and foresight of Dorothy Dean, who used the advance of the Illinois Tollway system to her – and now our – advantage and resulted in the large pond at the site which is a refuge to waterfowl and wildlife. The story is rendered with more perfection than I can do here on my little blog. I encourage you to click on the link below to learn more.

Under the threat of rain, I parked the car, and scurried to one of the paths to make a quick loop around the pond and to rejoice in midst of a riot of prairie bloom! Cone flowers and bergamot, Culver’s root and brown-eyed Susan were bending in the breeze – or stretching toward sunlight, while a

 pair of mourning doves shared a branch high atop of tree.

As I walked, I noticed plant stems bending ever-so-slowly to the will of pollinators; bees and wasps and butterflies spreading the secrets of summer. From stem-to-stem they worked their way among the blooms of the sanctuary, while a heron stalked the edge of the pond and red-winged blackbirds taunted each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I often walk the paths of the Dean Nature Sanctuary, it seemed particularly special for me on Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed getting some exercise, clearing my mind, and observing the living things surrounding me. A dog was walking its master while a gaggle of pre-teen girls passed by, giggling at something on one of their phones. Something splashed loudly in the pond and a hawk circled overhead, looking for dinner, I supposed. I needed to head home to do the same so headed to my car feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Later, at home, checking out the website for the Dean Nature Sanctuary, a visual caught my eye. Oh! Bee Parks Honey. The Oak Brook Park District was selling honey harvested from the Dean Nature Sanctuary! I prefer to use local honey whenever I can, as you may recall, and dug a little deeper into the site. I sent an email to the Park District, and promptly received a very nice response thanking me for my inquiry and informing me that I could buy the honey at the park district office. All honey money (my term) will be used to support their universal playground project. I wish them well in this endeavor. Parks that are accessible to everyone benefit all of us.

Guess where I went the next afternoon?


https://www.obparks.org/history

 

 

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Dawn could not have arrived any more brilliantly than it did on the second Sunday in July!

Clear skies, pleasant temperatures, and low humidity greeted the Chair of the Faire (I just like how that rings) and a dedicated group of members. Elmhurst Park District staff were already on site and on task. Red Barn Greenhouse, a long-time participant in the event, were diligently unloading their plants in a display of horticultural splendor that is eagerly anticipated every July.

While there is a great deal of prep work leading up to the opening of the Faire, it is also exciting to watch the vendors unload their wares as tents and tables and a strong sense of purpose transforms Wilder Park into an elegant affair.

Concurrently, a small contingent of counterparts were at another park, Marjorie Davis, were the newly established community gardens would be one of the featured stops on the Garden Walk. How enlightening it was to have one of our members, Chloe, give us her own personal historical reference of Marjorie Davis, a beloved educator at Roosevelt School, and of Roosevelt School, which once stood at this location. Another member, Mary, who grows her vegetables in one of the plots, gave insight and information on the gardens.

. . . on to the five private gardens!

(Honestly, these gardens were so spectacular I’m tempted to just do posts, but, will not and hope these photos do them justice.)

This garden gave visitors a pleasant surprise as they walked down a long driveway and paradise opened up before their eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an interesting feature. If you click onto the photo, you can see the bowl of the a birdbath. A vine (clematis?) has been trained around wired and supports to enclose the mechanics of the birdbath, giving birds a safe place to stop while enhancing the garden. It resembles a very lush basket to me. How clever!

A renovated two-flat, the homeowners repurposed salvage, especially bricks, and used other reclaimed items in their charming garden.

This garden was a big attraction, with an expansive lawn, custom crafted deck, and the historical interest of the home, which is a Sears Roebuck kit house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a charmer this garden was. With a sedate and welcoming front garden, it is the tranquil, surprisingly large garden beyond the garden gate that entranced visitors.

From a large vegetable garden that replaced a swimming pool, to every manner of repurposed artifacts along with plants, trees, and bushes, this was certainly a garden that illustrated for all in attendance that garden walks are for both men and women!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a wonderful day it was and how gratifying for all to know that we will be able to grant scholarships again this year. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos.

Bye, bye!

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On the first Sunday in July, Elmhurst Garden Club members begin to monitor the weather forecast. The Garden Guide has gone to print, posters and yard signs have blossomed like daisies in the summer heat, and a “buzz” is in the air. Up and down the streets of Elmhurst, inside businesses, on fences  and road signs, visuals remind locals and visitors alike that this annual gardening event is about to bloom. Phone calls, emails and texts inquire “where can I get a ticket” as boutique vendors replenish their inventory of plants, jewelry, yard art, and all things garden related for the elegant Faire in Wilder Park.

Proceeds from Walk benefit worthy students of horticulture and science related studies, as well as many local endeavors. To date, the Elmhurst Garden Club has raised more than $150,000.

Streams and ponds, a Sears Roebuck kit house and a “scrabbled” vegetable garden are features amid landscape, hardscape, plantscape and more to provide a feast for the senses. There is something for everyone on Sunday, July 8th at the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire.

If you are in the Chicagoland area on the second Sunday in July, July 8, please join us for An Afternoon in the Garden.

Information: Elmhurst Garden Club

Is there a garden walk where you live? 

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When I noticed a few “dots” on the leaves, I guarded myself against excitement. I had been fooled many times before. Still-in-all, most mornings and afternoons, in between raindrops and temperature variations, dawn or dusk, I tiptoed around the milkweed. I was hoping no one could see me amid the giant ferns and parked car, in my pajamas and yellow rain slicker, or my Sunday best. The neighbors are accustomed to my quirky behavior. If they noticed me, on the very first morn, hopping about and squealing with glee, they have not mentioned it – at least not to me.

On that first, dewy morn, huddled inside the yet un-opened leaves, were two, very small, Monarch caterpillars! They were slowly, methodically munching away, feasting on milkweed, an early June surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you might imagine, I followed their journey, my camera in hand. From leaf to leaf., often together, they munched. They also ventured, separately, to other milkweed plants. Like Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, they ate and ate and grew, doubling and tripling their size. From June 2 until June 12, they ate, in what is the larval stage. On July 12, at dusk, I found them both at rest on separate leaves and on different milkweed plants.

 

Early in the morning,  on July 13, I could not find them. They might have been frightened by my newly acquired mosquito repellent.

I went inside, made a cup of tea, sweetened it liberally, just because, then went out again, in search of the caterpillars – and I found them!  Can you?

 

Here is one, closer up, on the floor of the garden.

They were not far from each other, but much harder to see as they traveled, inch by inch, looking for the perfect spot to enter the next stage. Chrysalis.

 

Last night, June 13, and again this morning, the two caterpillars are nowhere to be found. I have carefully, but unsuccessfully, looked for a chrysalis. All I can do is hope that they have both found a place to hang out for a bit, to grow, change, and emerge.

Here’s hoping to see a Monarch, or two, flitting about in a few weeks. I promise to let you know.

In-the-meantime, I am carefully watching what I DID find on the meadow rue – a swallowtail caterpillar!

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