Last week was a wet one as you all have heard and water is the lifeblood of the garden. I love the beauty of raindrops and dew which accentuate and highlight a plant's details. You can see a whole world in a raindrop.
This past week's weather has well prepared me for the trip I am taking to Cornwall, England. It has been misty and wet with no end in sight. Even Tucker looks a bit discouraged and the peonies have not seen dry days in quite a while. They have spent their life, this year, wet and bedraggled which does encourage one to cut them and bring them inside to enjoy. I have put a bouquet on the table and enjoy their heady fragrance when I come inside from some outside task or work.
An English garden tour has long been on the agenda and I can't wait to share the pictures with all of you. It is a difficult time to leave the garden as there is much left undone but peak week in a New England Garden, at least my garden, is the first week in July and given all the gray June weather we have had plus the rain, I should return to a changed environment. I will post a couple of times during my absence so please leave a comment. Comments are so appreciated.
High 72 F
Low 60 F
I have planted many foxglove in the garden. Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, Digitalis grandiflora, and Digitalis mertonensis, are just some of the species which I have planted. There are over twenty species and the name derives from the Latin, digitalis, which means finger. The flowers do fit over fingers which is ill advised given the poisonous nature of this plant. This plant is native to Europe, Asia and parts of Africa and it is hardy in Zones 4-10 giving it a wide range of distribution. I have found that its most particular requirement is winter drainage. I have one self-seeded plant growing in a couple of inches of soil perched on a rock ledge. No fertilizer, no attention, just this plant in pure white, a gift of the fairies, a random breeze or the weeds which were thrown over the wall. The plants blooming in my garden now, with the exception of the yellow foxglove, Digitalis grandiflora, are gifts. They are blooming here and there scattered just as the above white one was on the ledge. Since they are biennial, again with the exception of the yellow aforementioned, D. grandiflora, they are somewhat of a surprise when their burly foliage greens up in the early spring and their appearance in the garden becomes known. I don't try to move them around but leave them where they have chosen to grow. I planted about a dozen in one area four or five years ago. There is only one left, a son or daughter of the original planting. It is worth getting a close up view of the flowers. There is a distinctive trail leading towards the center of the flower, the path to pollination guaranteeing fertilization of the flowers. Nature's tiny intricacies are often invisible to most of us as we rush through our days. Most gardeners are familiar with this trail hidden inside each foxglove flower. Each trail is as individual as a fingerprint. How many of your family members have ever noticed this little phenomena? Ask them and point it out if you have foxglove flowers to share. I would not encourage putting the flowers on fingertips since they are toxic but I might just sneak out and try it myself followed by a good hand washing.
'Pat Austin' rose
June is the month of roses and if the sun ever comes out again, they will dry off their resplendent petticoats and join the party. In spite of the rain, David Austin's apricot 'Pat Austin' rose is blooming. I love the flowers but this shrub rose is just not very vigorous here in my garden. I am using liquid fish fertilizer in the hope of increasing the overall vigor of this shrub rose. It does have quite a few blooms on it right now. The sawfly larvae, little green wormlike critters, have had their way with the foliage on this rose. I can't seem to spray them enough (NEEM) and, from a distance, they don't look too bad so I will put up with a bit of damage over a strong chemical. I am thinking I need to cut them for a bouquet as the rain is making them drippy and droopy. Not the best look for a rose.
Next, blooming in the garden is the always beautiful Rosa glauca. This rose needs no blooms to be beautiful as the foliage can stand alone. It is burgundy with a blue blush and when it does flower the single pink blossoms dance above the crowd.
Rosa cv. 'Complicata'
This Gallica rose not only looks good but it smells divine. This is planted in the entry garden at Tower Hill Botanical Garden which is a Zone 5 location on the top of a hill overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir. It is hardy and the Gallica roses are among some of the most hardy roses with a range of zone 4-8a. I am not sure why I don't have one of these shrub roses. It takes up quite a bit of room in this garden but the form and texture are nice. I will have to head back to Tower Hill to take a picture of the hips. June is the time of year which reminds me to add more roses to the garden.
One of the best things about going away for a bit is actually coming home. Loved ones have missed you and have been missed and life must somehow return to normal. The gardens change and grow in June every few days and the dog, well, the dog smiles and is happy. The morning walk is always a chance to explore and Tucker much prefers the fields to the flowers although he will dutifully sit for scale. He is not smiling in the first picture is he. Once we hit the back field, he is much happier. I think there are more smells in the fields than in the garden area. The grass is getting quite high but Tucker doesn't mind. He knows that we will probably end up down at the water hole in the woods. Today, he is right and as I take a picture he slips in for his morning dip. That dog loves water.
High 72 F
Low 52 F
Click on picture to enlarge
I have saved the best for last. Pictures and impressions of my fellow garden bloggers and plant enthusiasts but, I have found, people with so much more in their lives. Multi-dimensional people from all walks of life sharing at least one common passion, gardening. What a treat to get to speak to these individuals and know them just a bit better. Glimpses of their everyday lives and families and their special qualities were what made the trip to Chicago most memorable for me. The first person I met at Chicago Spring Fling was Diana from Sharing Nature's Garden. Diana greeted me with a smile which rarely leaves her face. She has the warm, open nature of an Austinite, and an energy which envelops her and surrounds all in her presence. I hear she speaks fluent German (missed that trip to Trudy's) and she loves dogs. Pam from Digging was not far behind Diana. I feel that I know Pam as we shared my travel woes last year and then we spoke on the radio show, The Garden Guys, last summer. Pam is serenity to me. Never flustered, always in a good mood and a joy to be around. From here on in, bloggers arrived in droves and the early arrivals traveled to Barbara's garden. Somehow, I don't have a group picture of them but Barbara of Mr. McGregor's Daughter, made arrangements to pick us all up at the train station and shuttle us to her home and then off to Rich's Foxwillow Pines. She has more energy than most which is a requirement for any Mother of young children. Barbara's hospitality will not soon be forgotten nor will the serenity of the garden she has created. The top picture shows the group on the trolley which shuttled us from the train to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Can you see who is in the back of the bus? They look remarkably serene don't they?
Cindy and Diana take a moment to pose in the Walled Garden. Cindy is great fun to be around with her Texas drawl and perfect French accent. We prowled many of the gardens together and dallied a bit too long (is that possible) in the vegetable garden.
Here is a familiar threesome standing just short of the zig zag bridge. I enjoyed my time with Jean of Dig, Grow,Compost, Blog and since she is driving north in July I do hope to show her my garden this summer. Perhaps by the time she gets here I will have all the beds cleaned up and ready for visitors. She loved the veggie garden also and I will remember her desire to stop and stock up on produce at one of the major grocery stores which feature organics and which I call 'Whole Paycheck'.
Here is my friend, Frances. She is a bit blurry in this picture as she never is in life, up close and personal. Frances is fun, witty and friendly and we share more than just gardening as a hobby. I hope Frances comes north soon so we can have more fun but, fair warning Frances, if you don't, I am headed south! Waiting for the trolley to take us back to the train shows many still in good humor after endless walking among beautiful gardens and who is more playful than this group? Dee is thinking 'I wonder where Bill and the kids are right now', Carol is contemplating the next hoe for her collection and Mary Ann is holding her tongue (for once, and I mean that kindly) and just plain entertaining!
These pictures of the group were taken at Rick Bayless's garden. Rick doesn't really realize that he named his daughter after moi but when he does, I am sure there will be an invite to his restaurant for his NBF and all of her friends. I digress.... All are listening intently to Bill and I just know I could keep him very busy here at L & G. Robin (just a small side shot in the picture up above this one) did ask me how big my gardening staff is as she had heard me mention the Equipment Manager. My garden staff! Staff of one full time and the EM, my beloved, part time when there is something major to be done. This was also a time to dispel misconceptions which resulted in much laughter. Robin and I had many discussions which are to be continued! She encouraged me to join the GWA. Thanks, Robin. Here is a quick pic of Kylee of Our Little Acre and she is intent on getting just the right shot. Why don't I have one of her Mom, Louise? I loved speaking with both of these gardeners. Katie of GardenPunks is looking cool, intent, and is politely listening to our host. Katie told me that this garden exemplifies what she would like to accomplish in her own garden. I always enjoy her posts and look forward to seeing her garden develop.
We were off from this garden to Carolyn Gail's garden and home. She graciously opened both for us to see and I don't have a picture of our hostess, my apologies. I've posted about the garden but the house should have a post all of its' own. Christopher C. of Outside Clyde posed playfully for me as we were looking at the faux stained glass windows and doors and I caught him with his glasses pulled up on his head. Christoper can do anything as evidenced by the skills shown on his blog and I know I will see an attempt at the faux stained glass in his new cozy cottage. I enjoyed hangin' with you, Christopher!
The last day of my visit to Chicago, Gail and I went to the Museum Garden and the Lurie Garden. Gail has visited my garden as her son is studying in RI. Susan Harris and Frances met up with us in the Lurie Garden after their boat trip and we walked around the city enjoying gardens, architecture, lunch and each other. I hadn't met Susan and only knew her through 'Rant'. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussions. Susan is a thinker and a person who gets things done. She also has a great collection of T shirts which express her style and individuality. Sometimes it is hard to find the right size isn't it Susan? Who knew we both would take an XL! I am not at all sure why I have no picture of Elizabeth from Gardening While Intoxicated (love that title). I saw quite a bit of her and, long ago,one of her posts introduced me to the delicious St. Germain made from elderberry flowers. I thank her for that and for the champagne. I will be bringing some to Buffalo next year!
I realize I am missing quite a few faces although most are in the group shot in many other blogs but still, I won't let that happen again. I so enjoyed speaking with Rose of Prairie Rose and her friend Becky. Patsy of Oh Grow Up was a dinner companion and rode to the airport in the van with me and I somehow don't have a picture of you Patsy but you are in my mind's eye. Linda of Garden Girl graciously came into the city very early Sunday to speak with The Garden Guys and share Chicago with the Boston listeners. Linda, it was an honor!
I do apologize for not having pictures of everyone but I have learned from this and will make sure that flingers are the priority next year. To the Chicago Spring Fling Committee, many thanks for your efforts, I had a great time and to all others, it was a privilege to share Chicago with all of you.
High 72 F
Low 50 F
Phlox pilosa in Barbara's front garden-click on picture to enlarge
The first garden on the Spring Fling agenda for early arrivals was Barbara's garden. Barbara of Mr. McGregor's Daughter went above and beyond hostess duties as she fetched us from the train station and brought several of us to her home. She has a lovely garden full of lush green groundcovers and inviting winding paths which lead to the lawn area bordered by beds of perennials. They were very well behaved. How unusual is that? This is a gem of a garden and Barbara's love of all things horticultural is quite evident. Many thanks Barbara I so enjoyed this glimpse into your world. You are the true jewel in your garden!
Rich's Foxwillow Pine's Nursery was the next stop and it had an abundant selection of conifers and unusual speciman trees and perennials. Rich was a gracious host even though he looks like he is sleeping. He personally showed us around the nursery with enthusiasm.
Linnaeus looks over the trough planters in the Systematic Garden
The Chicago Botanical Garden could keep one busy for weeks. I am trying not to post duplicate pictures but the poppies were magical. These little girls ran up and down the hill and one asked her mother why everyone was staring at her. I hope that Mom didn't burst her bubble and tell her that it was the poppies that were the draw although I must say she and her sister were cute. The veggie garden had interesting beds(must grow chicory). Who doesn't love a wall of tools? Not too many hoes though. The tapestry borders were exhilarating with monochromatic color schemes and a sweep of pink, blue and silver. The woodland trail invited one in along paths lined with spring bloomers and ephemerals.
Next on the list was Rick Bayless's garden which was a quiet haven in the middle of the city. I wish I had his full time gardener for one season. It is still early in the vegetable garden but the greens have sprouted and in another two weeks I would bet there will be little soil showing.
Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home Chicago has a way with architecture and color. She graciously invited all of us into her garden and it was a cozy and enjoyable fit. There was so much to see in this garden and she even had flowers artfully arranged on the table under the pergola. She pays attention to the little details. Thank you Carolyn.
I loved the Ginkgo Organic Community Garden. Raised beds, recycled materials, and the surrounding walls of the buildings give a cozy, homespun feeling to a worthy endeavor. Planting beds are lined with chicken wire to keep out nature's nibblers.
The museum gardens combined form and texture with sculpture. Delightful!
All that is left is the Lurie Garden and it has been well covered in other posts. This shot is one I have not seen with the Peony and Gillenia which will always remind me of sitting here in the sun with Gail, discussing life and plants and enjoying Spring Fling Chicago. I am saving the best for last, Chicago - The Bloggers!
igh 63 F
Low 45 F
The Architecture-First installment
"....Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:..."
Excerpted from Carl Sandburg's poem 'Chicago' which can be found here, the city does seem to rest on the shoulders of 'The Cloud Gate' in which nary a cloud is seen on this gorgeous May day during the recent Chicago Spring Fling for garden bloggers. The attraction of this sculpture is not just the sleek smoothness of its' stainless steel shell or the reflective quality but, for me, it is watching the people react to this sculpture and the reaction is repeated in uncanny repetition as each person approaches the bean. First, the total reflection of the city is observed, then the reflection of the individual (evidenced by the wave or dance motions), then the touch although some are cognizant of the many hands and thus germs living on the surface and so the fingers reach out to stop just short of the surface. This skyline cannot be beat can it? The Jay Pritzker Pavillion within Millennium Park is also an interesting architectural gem and one can't help but be fascinated by the lines.
At the entrance to the park there are two water tower sculptures called the Crown Fountain made of glass block. The water towers look stark and uninteresting from a distance but as I approached them and saw the children laughing, running, and playing along with their parents and the changing faces displayed on the inside of the towers I couldn't help but sit and watch the activities with fascination.
I know all of us will post a picture of the Lurie Garden and its' famous drifts of color and texture. I cannot resist and I never tire of seeing this view. Construction seems to be ongoing in Chicago and the architecture of this old building contrasts with the contemporary design of this new structure. The skyscrapers define this city and they evoke a sense of majesty and awe when viewed from beneath their canopy. As a country girl, I enjoy the city view and this is one that should not be missed. I must say that I am enjoying all the posts on Chicago and look forward to reading more. There is so much to share and see in each other's apertures. Tomorrow....the gardens.