Shortly after our family moved from the north side of Chicago to the southwest suburbs, I first heard stories about Resurrection Mary. According to legend Mary was buried in Resurrection Cemetery, only blocks from our new home. You may have heard of Mary. This local legend has become famous worldwide, and the purported sightings of her continue to this day. Although it's been subsequently remodeled and expanded, the O'Henry Ballroom still stands, renamed Willowbrook Ballroom, and remains a popular dance venue in Chicago's southwest suburbs.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A parting shot from our visit to southwest Wisconsin -
Shortly after our arrival at the small potato farm, M&M (Mom and her Gardening Buddy,) are first to notice the old barn. Walking down the lane hand in hand, they're off for a closer look.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Oak leaves, with white birches in the background.
Wild asters were everywhere - pale lavenders,
and pristine whites.
The wild grape vines were a pretty, almost irridescent peachy-pink with touches of green.
This was the first time I'd visited M&M in October, but hopefully not the last. It's a beautiful time of year in the Wisconsin Driftless region.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I love old graveyards.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This is a view of the ridges, with a bit of meadow showing on the lower right. The meadows bloom with wild flowers of all sorts from early spring into fall. We keep parts of it mowed and use the mowings as mulch on our vegetable gardens. This past week has been "leaf rain" week, and my Gardening Buddy has been picking them up and piling them on the gardens for their winter blanket.
We've had a couple of light frosts with more to come. The 'life-changing garlic" has been planted, and today we are bringing in the last of the beets, carrots, and digging up the sweet potatoes. The brussels sprouts and kale will follow before the ground freezes.
The gardening cycle continues.
The open house was attended by a fascinating group of folks, including the hosts. The man of the house is an entomologist, and the woman of the house is a large animal veterinarian. Their young-adult sons were as interesting and interested as their parents. The whole family were wonderful hosts. The other guests were an eclectic, intelligent group of young and old folks including a used book seller, a couple of teachers, and a wedding minister. Conversations were lively, articulate, sometimes controversial, and always open-minded and friendly.
The views from their mountain top were beautiful, including this view of a neighboring farm.
During my exploration, I came across this piece of old, lichen-covered wood sprinkled with colorful leaves. It was a photo begging to be taken.
Shortly after our arrival, we were treated to a tour of the potato fields. The property is about fifty acres, and four of them are devoted to potato fields. These are not your ordinary potatoes - they're the little gourmet baby and fingerling potatoes that come in about every color of the rainbow. The potatoes are sold at a farmers' market in a larger town a ways south of here.
Please indulge me - I couldn't decide which of the two tractor shots to post, so I posted them both! I like the tractor more close up, but I liked this one with the wider vista too.
Besides the screened in back porch with a beautiful forest view, (which I didn't photograph,) there were a couple of other spots on this property that were simply enchanting. I'll share more from the small potato farm open house in a future post.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The large, distinctive, sweet-smelling blooms were gorgeous. Mom asked me if I knew what it was. I didn't, but was determined to find out. So I did some research and discovered they were brugmansias, plants that are definitely not hardy in M&M's zone 4 garden. They must have self-seeded from the previous year.
They didn't reseed the following year, and since then there have been no more brugmansia volunteers in their garden. Since first discovering them in M&M's garden, I've lusted after these beautiful, fragrant blooming plants. In all the years since, I'd never seen a brugmansia for sale in any of the nurseries around here, although I'd seen them in mail order catalogs. I never got one, as all parts of brugmansias are poisonous. Since our plant-eating cats have left home with my daughters as they struck out on their own after college, it's now safe to overwinter these tender plants inside.
Last year at the end of the season at the nursery, a coworker brought in two brugmansias she'd bought in the spring. She didn't want to overwinter them inside, and rather than let them die she brought them to work to give away. I was lucky enough to be able to take one of them home in exchange for some cuttings Mom & Pop, the nursery owners propagated to sell this year. Realizing how easy they were to start from cuttings, I started a new one myself in case the mother plant didn't make it over the winter in our basement greenhouse.
Both plants made it through the winter, and an un-variegated seedling or sucker had also grown in the pot of the mother plant. This spring I removed the sucker and put it in its own container. I tried all three plants in the sunniest part of our shady back yard garden hoping they'd bloom. They never did. Although I enjoyed the beautiful foliage, I wanted those huge, fragrant blooms! In early September I moved the brugs to our sunny front yard. A few weeks later they were budding. Pulling into the driveway after our weekend trip to Mom's recently, I was delighted to see the buds had opened. The brugs are now safely ensconced inside. I just couldn't put these blooming beauties in the basement! They're in sunny windows in our living room now. Every evening as the sun goes down, their gorgeous scent intensifies. They perfume the entire house all evening, and in the morning until the sun comes up. Every time I pass by the living room, I'm compelled to go in there and breathe deeply. Commonly known as Angel's trumpets for the shape of their blooms, brugmansias are also aptly named for their heavenly scent!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
An American Cranberry bush Viburnum is past its peak. I have a baby that's about a foot tall added to the garden this summer. This native shrub and its cultivars have beautiful lacecap flowers in spring as well as nice fall color and showy, edible berries persisting throughout the fall.
There are a number of water features in the gardens including ponds, waterfalls, and this creek. The visitor guide doesn't identify the creek. Since the gardens are located on Spring Creek Road, it might be a safe guess that this is Spring Creek. It bisects the gardens east to west. There are three picturesque pedestrian bridges connecting the two sections.Speaking of waterfalls. . .
The gardens look like they'd be beautiful in all seasons, and I hope to experience each. Only about 8 miles off the interstate, half way to Mom's, it will be a frequent stop in the future.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The gift shop sells food for the Koi. The ducks enjoy the fish food too! There were several people feeding the fish, including some delighted young children. I was struck by how much the children I saw seemed to enjoy this garden.
Couldn't resist getting a shot of this gorgeous Maple.
There were views like this around every corner. We didn't stay long enough to see the entire grounds, and that gives me good reason to stop here again on future trips to Mom's. The location of the gardens almost exactly 1/2 way between my house and Mom's makes it a perfect place to stop and stretch our legs with a stroll through a beautiful garden. The onsite restaurant serves delicious, authentic Asian food and makes a much nicer place to stop for lunch than the usual roadside fast food joints.
Friday, October 17, 2008
On the way to their place we stopped in Rockford, IL to see the Anderson Japanese Gardens we'd heard so much about.