Monday, July 28, 2008

Meeting Monica from Michigan

A few weeks ago Monica from Garden Fairie's Musings emailed me to say she'd be in Chicago this weekend for a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden, and invited me to join her for the day on Saturday.

We had a wonderful time. The weather was beautiful - temperatures in the mid-80s and sunny. I have a garden glove tanline on my wrists, a sock tanline on my ankles since I garden in running shoes and socks, and now after our visit to the garden on Saturday, I have new camera-strap tan lines to go with the others.

It was a joy to meet Monica and spend the day with her. Her warmth, passion for plants and gardening, and her beautiful smile and easy laughter were infectious.

We were so busy walking, talking, and enjoying the beautiful garden displays, I didn't take as many pictures as I thought I would.

Does anyone know what the purple flower is? I know I've seen it before but am not sure I ever knew what it was called. We couldn't find one that was labeled, and we both thought it was beautiful.

I love the sunlight coming through the foliage on this banana.

This huge swath of Gateway Joe Pye Weed was just coming into bloom, as are mine planted last fall. It was neat to see how big and bold the plants in my garden could become as they mature.

Next time I'll post more pictures and show you my favorite parts of the gardens.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rosy Finally Returns

Rosy Returns was planted in spring three years ago, but never bloomed in the shadier part of the garden. Early this spring she was moved to a slightly sunnier spot, and voila! She bloomed for the first time. Rosy is a reblooming daylily. She's finished with this round of blooms - there was one more after this. Hopefully she'll put on another show later in the season.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hello Charlotte!

Give my regards to Wilbur, Templeton, and the rest of the gang!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Six Things About Me

Ewa has tagged me from her beautiful garden in Poland. Since I received this tag several months ago, I'll forgo tagging anyone else this time. But I don't mind listing six new, different random things about myself. (Last time it was ten, so six should be a piece of cake!)

The guidelines are as follows:
(I'll say guidelines, not rules. . . I don't like rules.)

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the guidelines on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post. (I won't be following this guideline.)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (or this one. . . )
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

The one thing anyone who's visited my blog or read my comments knows is that I tend to get a bit. . . ahem. . . wordy, shall we say? (If you don't believe me, ask my husband!) So what the heck, why should this post be any different?

1. My most serious injuries have occurred in the garden. They include almost severing part of my right middle finger with an electric hedge trimmer.
In my freshman year of high school I stepped on a pitchfork while working in our vegetable garden. One of the tines went between two toes and in pretty deeply. (I was barefoot.) I ended up with an abscess and missed the last week of school. I was teacher's pet in Earth Science, and my teacher, who was a hippie-type with long, flaming, curly red hair and a bushy red beard, gave me an A for my final exam grade even though I missed the final.

2. I used to have an awful phobia about blood, shots - pretty much any medical procedure involving needles, cutting, and/or blood. It started when I was little. Because I was kind of sickly as a small child, I had a lot of contact with doctors and unpleasant medical procedures. Eventually my fear developed into a full-blown phobia. Back when doctors made house calls, my doctor came to our house at least once a week, and I always got an injection. I'd try to run away when it was time for the shot. One time I locked myself in the bathroom. The doctor and my mom were on the other side of the door, and it took them a long time to coax me out. As I got older, I'd pass out at the sight of blood, or a needle. I've passed out in school during movies, at the doctor's office, at the dentist, and once almost dropped my newborn baby girl as I passed out when the oral surgeon was checking her father's mouth after his wisdom teeth had been removed. Even though he was just coming out of anesthesia, I had to hand her to him, because I was going down.

I worked on this phobia with an NLP Master (who happens to be my mom,) and with about two hours of therapy I was free of it. I haven't passed out at the sight of blood since. I even watched a PBS program that showed brain surgery in graphic detail to test my 'phobia cure,' and I got through it easily.In my HR manager position I did most of the first-aid treatment for the employees of the manufacturing firm where I worked, and patched up some pretty gory injuries before sending them off to the doctor or hospital. I would never have imagined I could so quickly and easily rid myself of a life-long phobia. But it worked, and it has stuck. I now get blood tests, novacaine, and have even undergone surgeries, and have taken them all in stride.

3. I love to bake - especially breads, cookies, and brownies. I don't really like to cook that much though. My husband does most of the cooking, and he's very good at it. He cooks, I clean up! Our second date was on New Year's Eve, and he cooked for me - a beautiful, romantic dinner. We shared a bottle of Dom Perignon. And that's been our New Year's Eve tradition every year since. New Year's Eve is at least as special to us as our anniversary. And since I met him, it's been my favorite holiday.

5. Between my husband and I we have five children, and they're all girls. His youngest daughter's first name is the same as my youngest daughter's middle name. We discovered many other coincidences as we were getting to know each other. Some examples: we both had a dog - both were labs - his chocolate, mine black. (George is actually a lab mix, but he looks almost all lab.) We were both driving the same make, model, and color car when we met. I named my very first dog, who I loved like no other pet before or since, the same name as my husband's middle name. Because he has the same first name as his father, he grew up being called by his middle name.

6. Our family is a mini-United Nations. We are English, Russian Jew, African American, Irish, Indian/Pakistani, German, Native American, Polish, Chinese, Greek, and more. Not all of those nationalities rolled into one person - we are a very diverse group of characters. My siblings and I grew up in a gem of a Chicago Northside neighborhood which was a mini-United Nations itself. The neighborhood in my eyes was idyllic, except for the requisite neighborhood bully. Our friends were Christian and Jew, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Greek, Italian, and Eastern European. I never thought twice about the differences, which were mostly only skin deep. We grew up seeing the people, not the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, their country of origin, their religion, their politics, or their disability.

We played with the boy with a club foot, the blind girl, a couple of developmentally-disabled kids on the block, and the three hearing-impaired sisters. I don't remember anyone ever being left out, and we figured out ways that everyone could play regardless of their limitations. The oldest hearing-impaired sister babysat for us. My mom didn't discriminate against her because she couldn't hear. She was competent and loving, and that was what mattered. Growing up in that environment and with the parents we had helped shape our values, those of our children, and hopefully future generations who will follow them.

(Photos courtesy of K, my oldest daughter, taken during her recent trip to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.)

post script. . . fact #4: Proofreading has never been my greatest skill.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Made in the Shade

It's been raining here the past couple of days. Mr. Froggy Rain Gauge says we've gotten over two inches. The rain has brought blessedly cooler temperatures, and the beautiful bloom of moss on the maples.
Have you ever looked at it up close?
Isn't it beautiful! Click on the picture to enlarge. The colors and textures amaze me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hangin' With Some Buds

Fuchsia 'Blackie' Echinacea 'Ruby Giant' - Purple Coneflower
Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' - Joe Pye Weed
Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne' - Green-eyed Coneflower
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' - Black-eyed Susan
. . . and excited over the prospect of meeting some garden-blogging friends live and in person this summer! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 2008 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

After blooming several months this winter and spring, this cyclamen rested about 6 weeks. I didn't think it would bloom again so soon, so I threw a few impatiens into the pot so it wouldn't look so boring while outside for the summer. The impatiens were on sale a couple weeks ago, and were leggy so I pinched them. In the meantime the cyclamen decided it wasn't going to be upstaged by some dime-a-dozen ordinary blooms like impatiens.

Monarda 'Jacob Cline' is just starting to bloom.

Heliotrope's been blooming over a month. The flowers are sweetly-scented and very long lasting.

Double impatiens. Still blooming.

A miniature rose. They're short-lived, but pretty while they last. It blooms a couple of times a season in part sun. Smaller than it was last year, nevertheless this one's in its third year. It's almost finished with round one of blooms.

After a hard pinch, the dragonwings are blooming again.

The hellebore was in bloom when purchased in April. The colors are faded, but it's still holding onto its blooms.

Sambac jasmine. Just two or three of these little blooms will scent the entire patio when the sun's shining on it.

Variegated begonia in a hanging basket. It was overwintered in the basement, along with the jasmine, heliotrope, and many other container plants.

Yellow snapdragons. (A little too sunny when I took this shot.)

Torenia still going strong.
Diamond Frost euphorbia. Several of these were overwintered in the basement too.
Happy Returns is still blooming.
Geranium sanguineum var. striatum.
A pass along astilbe.
Geranium Rozanne has lots of blooms, and will keep up the show until the fall.
Bridal Veil Astilbe

A cell-pack dahlia. The cell packs were mixed colors. There are red, a couple of different pinks, and a yellow or two.

Browallia Blue - blooms nicely in the shade.
Thank you Carol at May Dreams Gardens for dreaming up and hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Garden Makeover

Today, I thought I'd give you a peek into the business side of Garden Girl. Here's a garden makeover done for my very first client earlier this spring. This is before:My very first gardening client is mom to a childhood friend of the nursery owners. She wanted help with her garden, and asked Mom, (of Mom & Pop who own the nursery,) if she could recommend someone. That someone ended up being me. She wanted a lush, colorful perennial garden to replace her tired, developer-installed shrubs.

Tucked between and in front of these shrubs were phlox, peonies, spiderwort, cotoneaster, lamium, May Night salvia, a geranium, and daylilies my garden-loving client had planted over the years. We found homes for them in the new garden.

We contracted the shrub removal with a fellow new gardener. That was a job for someone bigger and stronger than me. The root balls with their heavy, wet clay weighed about 50 lbs. each.

Before and after the shrubs were removed, she and I shared several conversations about her garden wish list.

I measured, sketched, and selected samples of a variety of sun and part sun plants chosen for size, texture, attractive foliage, color, and long bloom times. And then. . . we went shopping! You know, the fun kind of shopping - plant shopping!

She liked my selections, so all that was left was to pull the plants. After helping fill her car with annuals she later planted in her front landscape, I gathered the quantities needed of each plant selection for her new back garden and moved them to a holding area at the nursery for installation the following week.

It took a full day for this installation. Here's the garden immediately after planting:

And this is the garden about six weeks later. My client added her own personal finishing touches.

Here's the 'before' of the smaller border on the opposite side of the patio.
There are iris, a delphinium, and some asters over here. The homeowner added annuals every year. She wanted more perennials here. This is how it looked after planting:
The homeowner added hosta divisions and impatiens, and this is how it looked six weeks later.
This lovely lady, my first client, has recommended me to several neighbors. Since her garden redo, three of her neighbors have become clients. All of them are the nicest people I could ever have imagined having as first clients.

The garden is thriving. She takes wonderful, loving care of it, and it shows. On days when I'm back in the neighborhood, she's often out watering, preening, and enjoying her new garden. I recently installed new front and back gardens for a neighbor who lives behind her. It's fun to walk the path behind her garden, watching it grow from a distance while working on her neighbor's new garden.

A couple of weeks ago I planted some knockout roses in her front landscape. She loves them. I'll be back sometime after frost this fall (shhhh!!!!! let's don't think about that now, ok?) to put the garden to bed for the winter. In the meantime, thanks to my first gardening client's referrals to her neighbors, I'll be seeing her around!