And a bit of history:
If nothing else, this monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom day project is showing me that I may have gone too far across the spectrum from “it’s all about the flowers” to “just worry about structure and foliage”. This garden doesn’t have a lot going from a flowering perspective. I’d blame it on the shade – but know I can have shade and flowers.
The lightpost bed is still the most colorful area of the garden. Huechera and Corydalis lutea are blooming, the barrel has filled in. Even the grass is adding some “flowers”. Over in the walnut bed, only things in bloom are the corydalis, and a small little hosta. That in this diminuitive form the flowers are kinda charming.
The blue/yellow container group by the driveway farm is beginning to fill in and look nice. And the driveway farm itself is rocking. The warm even hot days we’ve had the last couple of weeks have kicked the tomatoes into gear. Tons of flowers, and the beginnings of fruit.
The cool, wet spring (probably better described as long wet winter) combined with a significant amount of both work and personal travel has put me a bit behind on gardening. Did a bit of work a couple weeks ago, and this past weekend finally got out and got dirty – setting back up the driveway farm.
My yard and garden are heavily shaded with only a small area offering enough sun to successfully grow food. And that small spot is centered around and on my driveway. Last year I started experimenting with growing herbs and veggies in pots along the driveway edge. This experiment was mostly successful and has created what I call my driveway farm.
Flat Tire Decor is a Milwaukee (West Allis) based company that recycles/reuses old tires by turning them into footwear and other products. Milwaukee company and keeping tires out of landfills, how great is that? I received their largest basket, the ‘Newport’, a two handled trug-type shape that’s about 8″high with an 8″ base and 12″ top opening. (Milwaukee folks – you can get these at any of the 4 Elliott’s Ace Hardware stores)
Kiddo suggested I use the Newport to chill drinks. This is a great use. We like serving food buffet style, and are always looking for different ways to present guests with self serve options for many different beers, wines or soda. I know, I have one smart Kiddo, thanks for noticing. He earned a pack of his fav Sprecher Cream Soda as a reward for coming up with the idea.
My other favorite use was on the back of my bike. The stiff nature of the tires, allowed the sides to hold up to the bungee cords. The open top allowed me to safely carry plants and other farmer’s market finds which could get damaged in the pannier or messenger bags.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is the 15th of each month. The idea is to chronicle the progression of our garden’s through the seasons by taking pictures and creating a blog post on the 15th. This month I was halfway there. I got the pictures taken…but getting this post up, well, better late than never, right???
This long, cool, seemingly never ending spring (late winter???) has highlighted how badly my garden needs spring flowering bulbs. That will be an initiative of mine this fall. In the actual cultivated parts of the garden, there’s little in bloom. The garden is just waking up, beginning to kick into gear. The spring renewal of the garden provides a little treasure hunt for me as I wander. Reminding me of the plants I’ve added, remembering their origins.
The Amelanchier ‘Princess Diana’ purchased 4 years ago from the Missouri Botainc Garden plant sale as a tiny rooted cutting. Grown for 3 years in a pot, moved from house to house, and now in ground, taking shape as a small tree in this garden.
Thankfully, Mother Nature has my back, and is providing some glorious woodland natives. Throughout my woods, clusters of Arisaema triphyllum(Jack-in-the-Pulpit) pictured at the top of this post. Masses of trillium.
However, within this all lurks a bit of evil. Masses and masses of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a noxious weed, introduced from Europe and threatening native plants throughout the Midwest. And I do mean masses. In clusters together, between the other plants, Best controlled by pulling, which when at flowering height is easy. However, lurking below millions and millions of tiny seedlings. I’ve read a single plant can produce 50,000 seeds, seeds that remain viable in the soil for 6 years. Garlic Mustard plants are alleopathic producing chemicals in the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants.
I’m a huge fan of garden touring, be it private gardens, urban gardens or official Botanic gardens. I work this into my travels whenever and wherever possible. On my late March trip to San Antonio, I spent the afternoon at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. When I left Milwaukee we still had snow on the ground, so spending a few hours wandering around plants with flowers and trees with leaves was a much needed tonic for my soul.
The Botanical Garden is laid out on 38 acres with the most formal areas closest to the entrance. You enter through a carriage house, which includes an interesting looking restaurant and a nice gift shop. Restrooms are in the carriage house and in locations around the gardens.
Looking at the garden map, I decided on a clockwise circle around the garden, allowing me to explore all areas. Immediately on entering I was wowed by a stand of poppies in full bloom. I am a huge fan of poppies, but have never been successful in establishing them or growing them from seed in the masses I saw here.
Just past the formal garden was an area called the Watersaver Lane. An exhibit of 6 small “houses” each landscaped in a theme with notes about water and fertilizer required to maintain these. I loved the concept, but wish the wording on the waste of water and chemical need of a typical American lawn was spelled out even stronger.
Continuing around the path were more wild, natural areas planted in natives designed to mimic the East Texas piney woods and the South Texas hill country. Once past this area was the Childrens Vegetable Garden. This was one impressive teaching garden.
Next up was the fountain area and the Japanese Garden. I smiled at the rubber duckies in the fountain, but was told by an employee there were only there for spring break. In fact, she was removing them while I was there.
The Art in Bloom exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum provided a opportunity to spend real life time with a few of the garden bloggers whose 140 character insights I follow. Gayla Trail (@yougrowgirl), author of the books You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening and Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spacesand founder of the website You Grow Girl was going to be speaking. Meeting up were bloggers @mrbrownthumb of Chicago Garden, @snappyjdog of The Dig-it-yourself garden, @myskinnygarden of My Skinny Garden and @cobrahead of Cobrahead Tools.
As the Milwaukee host of the meet-up, I suggested we start at the Milwaukee Public Market. This is a great choice when needing something for everyone, not to mention a pleasant walk from the museum. The next two hours passed quickly; sharing stories of our gardens and community gardens, plus hearing Gayla talk about the challenges of writing garden books (and photographing not to mention growing everything needed).
We headed back to the museum so Gayla could prep for her talk, and we could visit the exhibit.
I hate to admit that not only had I not been to the Art Museum before, I also did not know what the Art in Bloom exhibit was all about. As we walked into the galleries, I thought, “hmm, how odd, just floral arrangements set around the museum”. Then this one, done in such a literal fashion, hit me……oh my, the floral exhibits are inspired by the paintings.
Brunch included a small reminder that we aren’t quite to spring yet in Milwaukee. A hail downpour. Unlike anything I’ve seen, small bits of hail, the size of Dipping Dots, quickly covering the ground. Fascinating to watch, and to walk in.
Milwaukee did itself proud with Art in Bloom. With all my travel – for business and pleasure, it’s good to be reminded every now and again of how much this great city I call home offers!
Early spring…..the time when gardeners in the upper-Midwest start itching for some greenery. It’s the beginnings of seed starting season, but still several long weeks from outdoor planting time.
So what’s a gardener to do? Visit a garden show or two. Which is exactly what I did. First up the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, held March 10-18th at Navy Pier. This one had an added bonus for me of a tweet-up with other Chicago area garden bloggers. A couple of weeks later closer to home, Hubby, Kiddo and I attended the Milwaukee Realtors Home and Garden Show, held March 25 – April 3rd at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds.
The theme for the Chicago Flower and Garden Show was “Sport of Gardening”. The display gardens all had some kind of sport theme, from the obvious such as giant croquet mallet and balls (made out of beautiful white orchids), backyard putting greens, and sailboats. Or the less obvious “sport” of backyard entertaining and chicken keeping. Even the decorated tablescapes/floral arrangements had a sports theme.
The display garden where I spent the most time was the garden featuring stone sculpture’s and plants (mainly woodies, both deciduous and evergreen) from Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock, IL. While we were visiting, the artist was actively working on a new piece. Watching him hand carve the stone was fascinating – as were the mainly examples of his craft woven throughout the garden.
But, of course, it was the plants that drew me in. Can’t wait to get down to Woodstock and check out this nursery located 65 miles southwest of me, 35 miles due west of my Mom, I have no excuse not to go. Based on the specimens in the garden (which were very nicely marked), this is a must see place for me.
One of my goals in 2011 is to up the amount of garden related content on this garden blog gone astray. I know I’ll never have a one topic blog. My life, my way of thinking just isn’t like that. Which for me is good. Hopefully, for the folks who check in from time to time, it’s good for them too.
Last year I noticed several of the garden blogs I follow doing a monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post. On the 15th of the month, bloggers share pictures of blooms around their garden. Seems like it would make a great chronicle of the year. This year I plan on adding my name to the list and participating. Of course, it’s January in Wisconsin. Not much actively growing outside, let alone blooming. Will have to stick with the indoors for now.
And unfortunately, I’m not much of an indoor gardener. So slim pickings.
Thankfully, kiddo had given me an orchid for Christmas. Intended for my new office with its wonderful bank of east facing windows. I hadn’t brought it into the office yet. An obvious place to start when hunting for blooms.
I regularly travel to Grand Rapids, MI on business. Of the cities in my usual travel rotation, it is one of my favorites. Pedestrian friendly downtown, good restaurants, nice hotel….not to mention productive business meetings (which after all are kinda the point of my being there). My first few trips I explored the downtown area in the evening, even doing this little photo essay. On a cab ride from the airport, I’d noticed a billboard for the Fredrick Meijer Sculpture Gardens. Hmmm, told myself that some trip I’ll need to work in a visit. What finally spurred me to action was this post from Garden Faerie about a Chihuly exhibit at the Meijer Garden.
I have been a fan of Chihuly for years. Made it to several exhibits – from indoors at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum to outdoors at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and several visits to the installation at the Missouri Botanic Garden. The “someday I need to try and work in a visit”, turned to “I *must* work in a visit”. Was glad to discover they were open late on Tuesday evenings, and could take advantage of the long sunlight hours in June for my first visit. Took hundreds of pictures, added that trip to my mental list of future blog topics…but never quite got around to putting up a post.
But it was the Chihuly sculptures I had come to see. His traditional glass, the neon he’s been doing the last few years, and the newer polyvitro forms:
Seeing not only the Chihuly but the entire gardens in two seasons was a treat. Often an entirely different look to the art because of the surrounding, the change in light. And in nearly every case, found the fall colors, fall foliage enhanced the art.
Visiting a botanic garden across the seasons is a lesson I learned while living in St. Louis. A very wise horticulturist suggested visiting Mobot (Missouri Botanic Garden….or as I wrote it up “The Garden”) monthly to help the home garden develop a full season, year round landscape. I made a point of doing this then. And suggest if you live near a public garden to do the same….break out of the habit of only visiting in the mid-summer flower power glory. See what you can see in the other seasons. It may surprise you!