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I almost forgot . . .

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. . . it is National Pollinator Week.

Information and source of image is here.

IMG_0953Slogging about the mire and mud which has captured our lawn, I caught a bit of sunshine illuminating the lemon grass.

The lemon grass was one of several plants we brought home one fine day almost two years ago. They were from the Herb Garden which needed to be excavated for pipes and such when the conservatory was refurbished.

Last summer, the lemon grass struggled a bit to claim the soil, wilting and tilting, but, hanging on. This year, it has a good grasp and is established, waving among the other grasses and, in this photo, next to an indigo (baptista), which is trying to bloom in spite of the wind and rain. The indigo was one of few purchases for this area, our wildlife habitat/grassy knoll/prairie garden. Most of the plants beyond the arbor were divisions from friends, Herb Garden transplants, from my garden club’s member plant sale, or gifts.

This was two years ago. A mound of what has become known as the Thor Hill. Our friend Thor gave us day lilies which were planted on the hill.  I had just added some lemon balm here, escapees from the front island. grass-areamayThis is the same area, right after the first big planting from the Herb Garden and some grasses from our neighbor, dscn2682 My friend Jan has given us many divisions of grasses that are seen here, but also populate other areas of the yard. Friend Phyllis has also shared grasses and several clematis, which are currently twisting their way up both sides of the arbor.

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Donna gifted us with a plant called Bear’s Breaches two summers ago. It is the white flowering plant and it stands seven feet tall with the most heavenly scented blooms, just beyond the thalictrum, which is approaching eight feet in height.

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This garden has been a continuing delight. Native ageratum were divisions from Jane and have multiplied ten-fold, as has the oat grass in the center, descendants of one plant that was a Father’s Day for Tom. Several varieties of Joe Pye Weed are just starting to show blooms.

Forgive me for rambling on. It is just that I love this garden so. It has been so rewarding, in part for how fast it has grown, and more so because it is alive with the orphans and rambunctious plants of gardening friends. We have attempted to put as many natives in the garden and have among the native Joe Pye Weed a Big Blue Stem, spiderwort and further back a compass plant, which is just starting to show buds.

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Under the Sky Above Us

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After a meaningful afternoon at a Blue Star Marker dedication, the daily purging of weeds, and a stop at the store, we decided to attend a Saturday worship service at our church. It was the culmination of a day filled with outdoor activities, which we were not able to attend. We sometimes worship on Saturday night and the pull of worshipping outdoors was beckoning us, so, we packed a few chairs into the car and off we went.

There is something about worshipping outside that appeals to both of us, and perhaps to you as well. It doesn’t happen all-that-often in a midwest climate, but many houses of worship fit a picnic or social or some other activity outdoors with a service to the Lord included. Whether in a forest preserve or on a field, along a gurgling stream, or atop a mountain, or even in a parking lot, there is a sense of wonder and awe saying a prayer or giving thanks under the sky above us.

As we sang and prayed, the clouds were doing their own liturgy above us. I really WAS paying attention, but, just could not resist taking a few clouds home with me.

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To Bee or not to Bee

DSCN8676I sometimes wonder if my fascination with bees started with Romper Room and Mr. Do-Bee. I was a serious child, my head often between the covers of  books  – or playing school – which never quite worked out as planned. I was usually the teacher with everyone else declaring recess within minutes of me writing on a pretend blackboard.

First paragraph in and I already digress.

I always wanted to be a “do bee”; make the right choices, behave, be polite, etc. Words still slip out of my mouth when a young child needs a little guidance, buzzing phrases like “is that what a do bee does?”.

Growing up, there were always lots of bees buzzing about Yia Yia’s zinnias and zucchini plants. I knew to be respectful of the bees from an early age, mostly to avoid a sting.

It wasn’t until my late-blooming years of the past decade or so that the plight of the bumble bee has caught my attention, especially the last several years of news of colony collapse and the overall lack of pollinators. The past several years it has been evident in my own garden that the bees are in trouble. Where blooms used to bow under the weight of bees, few came, so, it has been my utter delight to find three bees enjoying happy hour on the perennial Salvia, which have been ravishing this year.

Upon reading Dawn’s delightful post at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes., I found a shallow bowl and a few rocks to place inside a small bowl, and headed out to my bee-friendly island of flowers and herbs with a bee bath.

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Then, there was this charming post about tickle bees. I already knew that some bees burrow underground, for one autumn day some year’s past, I unwittingly dug up a hive – and paid the price in a series of stings. Tickle bees, however, are quite docile, at least in spring after a long winter’s nap.

As we become increasingly concerned over the very real loss of bees and how this threatens our food supply, we are encouraged to invite them into our gardens with bee-friendly plants. Organizations, such as the National Garden Clubs, partner with various bee-keepers to erect bee boxes, and while we all can’t be bee-keepers, we can put out simple houses to attract Mason bees, which are great pollinators, though they do not produce honey.

I’ve been thinking about setting a bee box out, maybe even putting a bug in my Antler Man’s ear to construct something similar to what a boy scout troop did with this bee-dominium, just steps away from the Herb Garden in Wilder Park.

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If you are interested, you can see a short video here on tickle bees.

 

IMG_0771 - Version 2A toad lives under our house. Not exactly UNDER the house, but in that threshold of habitation between the screen door and the sill. One of those smallest of spaces that tend to inhabit a creaky old house in a cut off woods where deer wander and chew up the scenery like a hungry ham on vaudeville stage and where toads and frogs and walking sticks can find opportune spots to survive.

This is the third year, or is it fourth?,  that we have discovered toads residing under the doorsill, even though I plant toad houses in and about the garden beds. I forget their cohabitation all the time, then squeal in surprise, then delight, when they hop into view – just as I’m carrying in a bag of groceries or a china tea cup full of hot tea as I mosey on out to the arbor.

I sometimes wonder who laughs more , me or my toad, for I do laugh. You know I do. My sense of humor about life’s little things often pops up like a frog on a threshold.

Take last Saturday, for instance.

There I was, heading home, driving through the western suburbs of Chicagoland. It was mid-afternoon on a most magnificent June day, when I spotted two women in a front yard. Both were of “a certain age”, only even older that. They were rather pear shaped, more Bartlett than Bosc. Rather like me. There they were in plain view. One of the women was pushing an old push mower. The other women was pushing the woman pushing the mower.

I laughed out loud. Not a LOL, but a real, hearty, tear-producing laugh out loud. I admired their spunk and their ingenuity at getting the job done, but, I must confess that I laughed, all the way home, then more, much more, as I tried to explain to my family, who know my eccentric ways, exactly what it was that had tickled my funny bone.

I had other things I wanted to tell you, but this old stone is gathering moss, so off I go to pull some weeds, hunt for four-leaf clovers, and wander along this road called life.

Nesting

I’ve been nesting.

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4:43 am.

The birds are already singing.

How do they know it is time to wake up – way before the alarm goes off?  My internal alarm starting beeping several hours ago.It was one of those nights that had me roaming the rooms, putting this and that away, and brewing a cup of tea for comfort.

As I wandered about, I looked out the windows for deer, finding none in sight, but, knowing they were grazing and that there is a fawn frolicking about the Cutoff.

I put a few errand cups and glasses into the dishwasher and turned it on. It is humming and swishing and splashing the remains of several meals as I watch these letters crawl like ants upon the computer screen and still the birds sing on. Mr. Cardinal has crooned his entire repertoire, many times,. Have you ever heard a cardinal sing? Their voices are as joyous as their gowns of red.

My latest read is at my elbow; a Maisie Dobbs mystery. I’ve fallen behind on her adventures and have set it upon myself to catch up over the summer.

The sky is bluing, now; as soft and hopeful as a newborn day should be

The Elmhurst College Arboretum has tulip trees blossoming right now and the Black Crowned Night Heron has once again set up housekeeping along Salt Creek. A few craft fairs are going on this weekend, the wandering paths of the local forest preserves should be dry after so much rain, making it a possibility for a walk to see what new treasures the forest floor is offering, and I’m sure the birds will still be singing, flitting about, building their nests.

 I think I’ll keep on nesting.

Iris

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I am so excited that the Northern Illinois Iris Society will once again be participating at the Elmhurst Garden Club’s annual Garden Walk and Faire on July 12, and am quite grateful that I was able to attend their flower show at the Morton Arboretum on Saturday.  It was a cold, windy, rainy day  –  the perfect time and place for an indoor viewing of some one hundred  iris blooms. Each one was exquisite, as were the floral arrangements in which both adults and youth had entries following a theme of shoes.

As I walked around the exhibition room,  I hard the soft tones of admiration within along with the pattering of rain without. I was in awe of the elegant beauty of so many irises. My favorite tree, the Copper Beech, was a backdrop for a few of the blooms through the windows. The small courtyard outside was set up for a wedding ceremony. It was such a cold and wet day, but a bride and groom managed to come inside and had a few wedding photos taken among the floral splendor.

Enough fairy tales. These, dear reader, are a but a few of the irises that were on display. If you ever have a chance to see a flower show from a garden club or society in your area, I strongly encourage you to go.

 

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