May 16, 2016


Always a day late for me.....with chasing squirrels off the bird feeders, bunnies off the hostas and chipmunks out of my pots, who has the time?  I'm just thankful my suburban garden does not have deer.
Happy (belated) Bloom Day, everyone!  Here in Central Illinois, zone 5b, the weather has mostly been beautiful.  A nice Spring....until just a few days ago.  We are in the middle of cold snap and back to wearing heavy clothes and cold toes.  We've had a few days of rain, so it is too soggy and cold to plant anything right now.  But, I can admire the colors with a warm cup of coffee.

One of my favorite additions are my 3 Magic Carpet Spireas.  This is my first Spring with them, and I think they are just showing off.

'Magic Carpet 'Spirea with Zebra grass and 'Silver Dragon' Lirirope Muscari May 2016 @
'Magic Carpet 'Spirea with Zebra grass and 'Silver Dragon' Lirirope Muscari May 2016 

Zebra Grass and 'Magic Carpet' Spirea @
Zebra grass and 'Magic Carpet' Spirea

The Flower buds make the leaves look electric

Magic Carpet Spirea May 2016 @
Spirea Flower buds

Mar 15, 2016

GBBD....Things Are Poking Through

I had a perfect morning here in Central Illinois Zone 5b (some say 5 some say 6).  I could not sleep because my daughter announced she is moving out 5 months earlier than expected, so I was up at 5am.  Funny, because the time change happened yesterday, so it still felt like 4.
Actually I don't know what 4am feels like - only that it's wrong.

I got up, made coffee and did hours worth of work when I would normally be blissfully unproductive.  By the time my 'real morning' started, I was a head of the game, and as the sun came up the day meandered in with a misty fog.
Creeping Jenny  in Spring Garden @ edgy
Creeping Jenny
Overly productive + foggy morning = Garden Photos.  And this, the day before Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

Thank you Jesus.

Through the scattered mulch, leaves and remnants of last years growth I see hints of greenery.  Tulip, Daffodil, Alium, Day Lilly, Iris, Geranium, Clusterd Bellflower, Clematis, Sedum, Elderberry, Fern, Lady's Mantle, Lamium, Achillea, Hellebore, Columbine, Spirea, Clematis, Spirea......they are coming

The thoughts that vexed me throughout the night dissolve when I'm in the garden.  Maybe they don't totally evaporate, but at least they receed giving my mind and emotions some reprieve.  This mental distance then makes room for perspective.

My first daughter is leaving.

I feel as if I'm no longer needed.
This is entirely not fair, because I did the same to my mother and she also, to hers.  We married and moved away.  This should evoke pride and a sense of accomplishment, that I was able to grow something strong and bold, and installed enough strength to take flight.  MY plan was for her to fly across town.  Not another state.  Alas, with my garden and with my daughters, it's never my plan that is carried out.

Tulips, Daffodils and Creeping Jenny  in Spring Garden @ edgy
Tulips, Daffodils and Creeping Jenny
My children,  The Heavens and the furry creatures that roam about have their own agenda, and it is up to me to adapt rather than sulk & wallow in my own passed over plans.  Give me a few days and I will muster the strength to adapt.  Today, I wish to look forward to the change in my garden as well as mourn a little over the change in my life.  Just for today.

Daffodil in Spring Garden @ edgy

Clustered Bellflower in Spring Garden @ edgy
Clusterd BellFLower

Mar 6, 2016

Is Winter Over Yet?

The temperatures are bouncing from the low 70's to the high 20's.  It's a brutal swing.  My hankering for the grip of a trowel is almost unbearable.  I see small hints of tulips, daffodils and sedums poking through.  I have Hellebores about to bloom.  It is my first season with the Hellebore, I am anxious to meet the fella and to find out if the real estate is acceptable.

Arborvitaes and Mr Bowling Balls covered in snow @
Arborvitaes and Mr Bowling Ball evergreens covered in snow 
I have tried to keep busy looking through catalogs, reading blogs and making garden designs on graph paper, but I've had just about enough.  I need green. And I need it now!!
These photos are from a few weeks ago.  It is early March in Illinois and we have not seen snow this month, but I am not convinced it has run it's course.

Inside the garden trellis under the snow, Arborvitae, Mr Bowling Ball, 'Halfway to Arkansas' Amsonia, 'Vanilla Strawberry' Hydrangea and Obediant plant

I added a small number of Evergreens last year so they would hold the snow on days just like this one.  With out some mishappen shapes and void of any color I can forget what lies dormant.  Everything I seem to choose is slow growing, so, other than the Arbs, the others aren't doing much to create a scene.  They were too puny to even dress with Christmas lights.  I'll give them time and more friends.

Mar 5, 2016

Garden Walk: Rockford, Il (Post 5)

It's March...which to very far from May.
It was almost 60 degrees out last week and now the fever is high and I am eager to get my hands dirty.
During the unexpected heat wave I cleaned my tools, pruned some hydrangeas and group 2 clematis's.  I never really know if I'm doing it right.  Once it was too windy to function, I came in to look at photos and plan my Spring chores.
I have a lot of design work to do this year, so I wanted to re visit one of the Garden walks last summer that I never posted.    Actually, whenever I was working with the photos to post, I put my face as close to the computer screen as I could and was studying every minute detail.  And then I would just get lost.......This was my favorite spot of the Rockford, IL Garden tour.  I did not want to leave this home.
I must have walked through 3 times, seeing new vignettes each time.
I wish I could have met the homeowner.  I might have thrown her in the back of the car and whisked her 4 hours south, plopped her down in my backyard and said; "Ok.  Do it again - HERE."
Luckily, for her, I couldn't find her.
This is the Sunquist Garden in Rockford on Carmella.  The creative gardener has lived in her home for 25 years and when she started, there was nothing but a creek in the backyard.

Takeaway #1: You can have more than one trellis.  You can have more than one EVEN if they are in view of one another. YAY!!!!  This opened up a lot of options for me.

Takeaway #2: Different ways to use edging and boulders.  The beds' boundaries seem to be made of a number of different materials.  I liked it.  Boulders would be placed at the base of a structure, as an edging, or to show off a plant or pot...

Oct 14, 2015

Autumnal Pinks in the West Bed

The summer pinks that pull me in and beg for me to take them home are now responding to the chill by going deeper into their hue.  I enjoy the bright crisp of yellow, orange, red and rust of the fall trees and potted mums, but the soft pinks and rose colors are still where my eyes happily rest.

Frosty Morn Sedum Hybrid flower in the fall
'Frosty Morn' Sedum Hybrid
The variegated leaves and tall stature of this Sedum has been a joy all year.  I did have to pull a few stems that were solid green to avoid the entire plant reverting to its original color.  One of the plants split in the middle and the long stems were close to the ground, only because I didn't get to it soon enough to correct the issue.
NOTE TO SELF: Keep it growing upright by trimming back anything that grows sideways instead of upright.

Frosty Morn Sedum Hybrid
'Frosty Morn' Sedum Hybrid
The Sedum Hybrid sits behind my Weigela.  And this is the first rush of blooms I've had on these shrubs.  I had a few flowers over the summer, but nothing like this display.  My only complaint is that they are floppy.  I would like to contain them a bit more - starting with some pruning in the Spring.

Rubies and Gold Weigela in the fall
'Rubies & Gold' Weigela
No complaints about the cute little flowers that pack a punch

Aug 8, 2015

Garden Walk: Rockford, IL (Post 4)

I went on this garden walk waaay over a month ago, and I loved it.  I just had no time to finish th post.  It's been so long now, half my brain says "Who cares." But the other half is bothered by it being unfinished and that I didn't even get to my favorite spot!  So, I'm determined to wrap it up and finish, then get back to my own garden. I've misplaced the booklet, so I can't name the gardens.  When I find it, I'll edit the post.

This was a very creative spot.  They did a great job of hiding their pool among the garden beds.  I really felt the pool was there to show off the greens instead of the other way around. If you were to float in the pool facing away from the house, you may be tricked into feeling you are far far away from the state of Illinois.

Theme of the day, once again...weeping evergreens.

Jul 2, 2015

Garden Walk: Rockford, IL (Post 3)

Our 3rd stop on the Garden Walk was the Benedict Garden.  This was more my style and more similar to the space I have to work with.  Many of the flowers and plants were shade tolerant selections.  Our 1st 2 stops were Chateau Neuf de Fleuve and the Durkee Gardens.
Here was the write up in our guide.

'Whether large or small, ornate or simple, a garden calms one.  Ten years ago the owner began creating a garden along an old fence line filled with garlic mustard, wild flowers and weed trees. The plan focused on a low budget, sweat equity, no design help and favorite plants.  The shade garden features a wide variety of plants including hostas, ferns, heucheras, hydrangeas and hemlocks along a winding path for easy viewing.  The grandchildren enjoy playing in the garden as it highlights a piece of garden are for each.  Later, garden areas were added for sun perennials, dry microclimate and a small spot for tomatoes and herbs.  Today the garden requires little work as the perennials are compact and unless dry, watering in not required."

Garden in shade and and sun

 This was the only garden I've visited that has that 6 foot wooden fence to soften and somewhat hide dilemma.  The fact that they have ALLL that down to pretty much water free and little work is absolutely amazing!!

The driveway entrance is colorful and interesting.  Another weeping evergreen was spotted!  I don't know if I only notice them once I decide I want one or they are really as unique as I hoped they were and it's just a fluke that 3 out of 3 gardens had one. Hmmm...
Notice the purple combinations.

Blood grass, Salvia, bell flower (I think) and the weeping evergreen

I liked the way the fenced was planted then the back of the property was dissected by a host island with paths on either side.  Very peaceful place

Jun 30, 2015

Garden Walk: Rockford, IL (Post 2)

The 2nd Garden Mom and I visited was the Durkee Garden in Rockford, IL (see our first stop at Chateau Neuf de Fleuve here)

This was the write up in our guide:
"Come experience this backyard oasis!  This English garden has the inmate appeal of an island.   One you've entered through the arbor you will be surrounded by beds of culinary, medical and ornamental herbs.  Stroll along stone paths that lead to a perennial border, dry stream, woodland, garden, bird sanctuary, can container garden.  Sit awhile in one of two patio areas and enjoy the sights and smells of an herb garden grown entirely in baskets.  Or wander to the pond in hops of viewing our resident blue heron."

Takeaway #1 - Yes. Yes Yes.  I truly, madly and deeply love Arbor entrances.

Lovely Arbor entrance to Durkee Garden, Rockford IL

Takeaway #2 - Further confirmation that metal accents and plant labels make a huge difference.  
I fuss and fret over where to put my accents and what kind of labels will look the best (and hold up to my midwest winters), but I've gleamed from the days explorations that where ever I put a piece of art in the garden -it will look like it was meant to be there - because who else will know all the choices I had?  I think too much
IDEA - hang baskets on metal fences (Love It)

Metal art and plant labels 

The pretty salvia 'cage', the hanging candle, the metal flower suet feeder...useful AND crafty

Jun 28, 2015

Garden Walk: Rockford, IL (Post 1)

My mom called to let me know she had found a Garden Walk in Rockford, Illinois.   She lives just over an hour away from Rockford, so I drove up to meet her.  Mom was not feeling very good, but she was a trooper the whole day and barley winced.  Come to find out she had had a misplaced rib poking her lung!!  I think she's pretty tough!

With all that she walked and enjoyed the different scenes for their creativeness, serenity and even some innovation.

First stop: Greenlee Gardens, or Chateau Neuf de Fleuve
    I was so very impressed with these gardens for so many reasons, and the very first one was the giant etched namesake! I could blab for miles regaling my contemplations, emotions and inspriations, but I'll try and say very little (except when I'm making myself notes) and concentrate on my takeaways. 'Chateau Neuf de Fleuve'  translates from French to 'New House on the Little River.  This garden is 8 years old!! That piece of info is very important to me because it gives me hope while I stare and my evergreen only ankle high!!

This Garden in Belvedere, IL has a primary objective of using indigenous species and having something in bloom from early Spring to late fall while maintaining asymmetry and a variety of textures throughout. The abundance of deer in the area influence plant selection.
(That's what the write up says) 

The beds are tightly packed with robust plantings.  Lots and lots of textures.  And really a small variety of plants used in very large numbers.  The front pond and waterfall begs you to stop along the driveway and peek into all the happenings in the water.    This place was a fern paradise!  The middle bottom photo is there because I like the spirea with the mugo pine and ajuga.  I'm always looking to see where I can put more evergreens.  Mugo Pine is on my list, as well as, in the photo below the weeping Lerch (or weeping Norway....I don't know which one she/he has)

Jun 16, 2015

GBBD June 15

Another Garden Blogger's Bloom Day! (always a day late) Thank you to Carol @ May Dreams Gardens Come for hosting.  Check out her blog and the link to ALL the other Bloom Day Bloggers.  Always amazing and inspirational stuff!

I'm in a hurry to get this post out.  I'm driving up to spend 2 days with my mom and go on a Garden walk in Rockford Il.  I'm hoping to have lots of photos to share, so I kind of wanted this out of the way (and my camera SD card cleared!)

Here in Central Illinois, zone 5b, it's more humid than hot and it's been raining a bit everyday for a week.  Hubby is in Texas so the grass needs mowed but I'm feeling pretty good about the dirt I'm tending to.  We started some large beds this year so things are small and un mulched.  I wanted to photograph it all - from a distance to get good before and afters, but the rain forced me indoors before I could get to it.  I'm promising myself to do it later.
Always Later.  My favorite word.

My shade bed that I expanded (even past my own lot lines - but no one has complained).  I've started taking my guarding magazines out with me and copying some of the plant combinations.  There are blue pots that need to be planted (columbine I found discounted to $3.00 - I could not say no...)
The painter's pallet in the middle of the photo far left side was given to me by a client.  He told me to not let it touch the ground or I will be sorry.  I listed to him for 5 years.  Then I forgot.  And I was sorry.
It's now back in a pot and I'm pulling little leaves EVERY time I go out to the garden.  I may never get rid of it.  We call it the Batman Plant because the purple markings look like batman's signal.  In my house, I think we all agree the TRUE batman is Christian Bale.

Painters Pallet, Fern, Astilbe 'Fanal' Heuchera 'Cintronelli', hostas, white Astilbe, Japanese forest grass

 A view down the other side.  My Bleeding Heart is taking up a lot of room.  Never knew they could get so big.

Jun 14, 2015

June 10: Blooming Vignettes

We are in a lull.  A hush.  A hiatus.
The space between Spring and Summer is almost like the anticipation of Spring.  While my early blooms are fading, and I'm anxious to chop them to the ground because there presence no longer thrills me.
"OFF WITH THEI HEADS!" So sayeth the Queen
To aggravate the unsightliness of the fallen Spring stars, I mis calculated my bloom times and there is very little to look at.  I have big mounds starting to push up future blooms, but they are not ready to be seen.             So I wait.
This is why I may want to start planting more annuals amidst my beds.  The sharp edge of this thought is it goes against my effort to decrease the amount I buy every year.  Each Spring I tell my Hubby, "Once I get the beds going, it won't cost this much...I'm planting perennials mostly...even in my pots."  I say this EACH SPRING.  Maybe I have to rethink or reorganize.

One vignette crammed together in front of my early blooming clematis is the Sundrops, Asiatic Lilies and, the one who set is all off is the Heuchera.

Onethera fruticosa 'Fireworks (sundrops), Lilium Asiatic Lily "Orange Matrix',  Heuchera 'Blackberry Ice'

I'll show more pots later (maybe on GB's Bloom Day).  Because it's been so cool, my pots have not taken off. They all look pretty young.  This one is doing very well.  They were not well thought out this year, like normal.  I was desperate to get them planted before my daughters graduation so I just threw the cheap stuff in the cart, then haphazardly threw them in pots when I got home.
So far, I'm okay with it

Coleus 'Marooned' and 'The Flume', Oxalis, Creeping Thyme

Jumping over to the shade garden.  I've had Creeping Jenny planted in pots for years.  It always comes back and I just add annuals (trying to replace with perennials) to it.  A few years ago, my pots were so thick with lime green tendrils that I ripped most of it out to give others breathing room.  This year, I've spread them out all around the pots in my beds, trying to have some cohesive coloring.  I go back and forth whether or not I want it in the beds. Might be too aggressive and choke out it's companions, or jump over the edging and root in the grass (BAD).  But here, it does it's job of keeping things bright splendidly.

Jun 8, 2015

Tradescantia Spiderwort 'Blue N Gold': aka 'THE MONSTER"

I've mentioned this guy before.  I'm perplexed what to do with him.

I'm supposed to say this has bright golden - yellow grass like foliage that beautifully shows off the violet-blue flowers which are open most of the day but close in the evening.  The flowers shrink back into a cluster of pods that will leave purple juice on your skin if you brush past them.  Loves full sun and will tolerate clay soil (yay).

This is what it looked like when I bought it.  See the brightest grass like plant in the photo?  It was a head turner.  This is Spring 2013 (see post here).

It was planted and for awhile it performed like it should and I was happy and proud of my choice.  Then, it started to revert to it's original color - Garden Green.  I don't want to diss the color green AT ALL - but I don't dream of a sea of the same color in my garden.  That's what grass lawns are for!  The plant developed some rust spots.  It got floppy.  I cut it back - thought I'd sentenced it to death - and it came back.
It came back with a purpose.  Taller, wider and more blooms.  Excepts - now it's half and half.  Half yellow - gold and half garden green.

That's the bullet point version of my trial with my Spiderwort.  Now this is what it looks like in June.

Tradescantia Spiderwort 'Blue and Gold'
Again with with rust spots and the flopping over.  I' wish I could just let it be natural and be crazy and wild like it seems to want to be.  But I think it upsets the tranquility of everything else.  (Maybe i should plant it nest to 'Miss Manners' Obedient plant for some lessons).
Maybe it flopped because it got too dry for a day to 2, maybe it needs to fed more, maybe this is just what it does.

Jun 7, 2015

Graduation Day June 6

My 2nd child walks the path today and receives her High School diploma.  It's a bit anti-climactic because she left High School in December to start college early.  She had all the required credits to graduate PLUS enough college credits to start college as a 2nd semester Freshman (woot woot)!
Where does she get such ambition?
This beautiful creature came from the woman sitting on the couch in PJ's drinking coffee and garden blogging while there is dog hair all over the carpet, crumbs on the kitchen floor, and pictures leaning on the wall waiting to be hung and no lunch plans.  Oh yeah - and family in town to celebrate the Big Day!!  Good thing I married a Go-Getter!!
I sit here and continue on because no one is awake yet to judge me (hee hee)
If not sitting with my coffee on my comfy couch I'd rather be in the garden.  And although I'm so very proud of my head strong daughter, I feel a slight intrusion on my weekend gardening time.
(Gasp) There I said it.
I will selfishly steal this morning time to read garden blogs and document my own for a little while then turn my attention to the days festivities, and the pre cursor chores - so I don't embarrass myself.

 Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerta 'Clustered bellflower' Superba ) from my Mom's sunny garden in Northern Illinois.  The 3 that she brought me last year made such a nice colony this summer that I took a few and put them in the front of the house.

Campanula glomerta 'Clustered bellflower' Superba

Just a few blooms left on my 'Nelly Moser' Clematis

Clematis 'Nelly Moser'

I may be a collector of hose guides.   I can't help but think they are so cute.  But it's not just he cuteness - it's a practical need.   I've ripped a few hoses out of the house by pulling and tugging and trying to reach the farthest places - instead of getting out ANOTHER hose on the other side of the house. I received some stern finger wagging at that!  When I trek my way back to the house, hose in tow, I realize the affects of my brutal force and lament over all the the broken stems and crushed blooms.  Now my hose guides gallantly protect my border plants and are increasing in numbers each month.  They don't have to be expensive, and I have no problem buying them from Ace Hardware.  I like them all different.   If only I could find them in my favorite movie characters.  Seriously, someone somewhere has had to have made a Yoda hose guide!  Abe Lincoln?  An ice cream cone?

May 27, 2015

Plant Profile: Sundrops or Evening Primrose

Hello little pretties!  They opened their blooms on Memorial Day this year.  I've gone back and forth, calling them Sundrops and Evening Primrose.  Cindy and Cora gifted me a small clump 2 years ago, and they were not sure of the name.  So I did some research....and I learned a few things.  Why does it bother me so that I don't have a clear classification?  Because, after all "What's in a name?"

In 2 years they have languorously multiplied and spread inside the middle of my narrow Rooster bed.  The clump is as high as my mid thigh and is behind 'Orange Matrix" Oriental Lily and in front of my 'Pink Champaign' Clematis and 3 or 4 Tiger Lilies.  The Clematis flowers faded and disappeared a few days before the Yellow show started, and as you can see in the photo the lily tribe is holding back.
I wanted them to be an Evening Primrose (because I like the character, Prim, in Hunger Games - I know it's silly), but they don't open in the evening.  My little pretties are DIURNAL - which means they flower during the day.  I learned a new word.  So, based on THAT simple truth, I am convinced these are Sundrops.
Now which Sundrop is it, and why does it matter so much to me?

May 24 Sundrop blooms

I live in Central Illinois in zone 5b (some say 6) so I went to Chicago Botanical Garden site to try and classify my Sundrops.
I have determined that I have Oenothera fruticosa 'Fyrverkeri' ('Fireworks') 
Here's why: 1. The bud clusters are orange/red and 2. the stems die back (or maybe I cut them back...I don't remember) down to basal rosettes and turn reddish - purple in the fall and through the winter.
And by the way - Oenothera (Sundrops or Suncups) is a member of the Evening Primrose family - which makes me feel OK about being confused (geesh!!).

May 18, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2015

As always...a few days late.  It was raining on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but even if it was clear, I would not have been on time.  That is the way of it!
The weather here in Central Illinois has been wonderful for my gardens.  A few thunderstorms here and there delivering bolts of nitrogen and cool nights with sunny days.  This is our 3rd Spring at Appleton, and things are finally starting to fill in.  Some mornings I wake up and hold my coffee and marvel at the sight.  I love to walk through in the morning and silently speak the names of all the plants budding, spreading and blooming.
This Spring has been starting the front foundation planting.  It's been difficult not to throw some things in the shade bed or get a new Coneflower color for the Arbor Bed....I know it will pay off, but starting from scratch takes so long! I did not photograph the front.  I was in a hurry and there are still so many awkward holes.  I'm having a hard time choosing those few specimens to decorate the space all people driving by will see.  I wish I could hold auditions.

Amsonia 'Halfway to Arkansas'
The blooms on my  'Nelly Moser' Clematis are mostly bleached out.  I didn't think they did this last year.  I wonder if they are getting too much sun, or they need some nutrients....

Clematis 'Nelly Moser' behind Arborvitae 'Mr Bowling Ball' 

My Amsonia is 3x the size of last year, but still leggy.  I read I'm supposed to trim down after the bloom to promote thicker plant.  I thought this plant would lay down and spread, maybe that is just the 'Blue Star' variety.

Arborvitae 'Mr Bowling Ball', Clematis 'Nelly Moser', Cluster bellfower 'Superba' and Amsonia 'Halfway to Arkansas'