Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday Gloves

Her name evokes memories of growing up in the early-to-mid 1960's, back when ladies young and old dressed in their Sunday best for church. Proper attire included hats or lacy mantillas, dresses or skirts, (females wearing slacks, or, gasp. . . jeans were unheard of in church,) "dress" shoes, (mine were patent leather,) and of course, pristine, pure white gloves.

'Sunday Gloves' is no ordinary daylily. Her very fragrant, creamy white blooms are over five inches across. and she's a rebloomer. Added to the garden five years ago, this is the first time she's bloomed. She's been moved three times at season's end in search of a sunny enough spot, most recently last fall.

Eureka! We've found the sweet spot, and finally patience and determination are rewarded. Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday - Indian Pinks

Although not thought to be native in the northern part of the state, Spigelia marilandica, commonly known as Indian pink or woodland pinkroot is native to moist woodlands in Illinois, and much of the southeast United States.

With our rainy spring, this year it's growing in moist soil. Last summer, its first here, it thrived even our typically dry shade garden. Since it was new, it received supplemental watering every week we didn't have a good, soaking rain.

Indian pinks are slow to emerge in spring, and I'm glad I left last year's dead stems. The stems are sturdy, even a little woody, making it easy to find even though it's a late sleeper. Indian Pinks grow to 1-2 feet tall with a spread of up to 1-1/2 feet, and are hardy in zones 5a to 9b.

The tubular crimson blooms with their sunny yellow throats and star-shaped lobes are an excellent source of nectar for hummingbirds when they bloom in June. Operation Rubythroat lists this sweet wildflower as one of the top ten native hummingbird plants.

(Gratuitous Hummingbird video ;)

The seeds ripen in July, when the capsules become black on top and black-green on the bottom. Within a day or two of ripening, the capsules explode and the seeds scatter. We had no seedlings this year, so once they're finished blooming I'll try the pantyhose trick, wrapping some of the capsules in a piece of old hose to capture some seeds.

Indian pinks aren't easy to find in nurseries. I found this one last summer during a visit to Gethsemane Garden Center with my fellow Chicago Spring Fling Organizers. I'm glad it was in bloom at the time. I may not otherwise have noticed it among all the wonderful plants Gethsemane stocks.

Wildflower Wednesday is the brainchild of garden blogger extraordinaire, Gail at Clay and Limestone. For more native plants posts, hurry on over and visit her blog today!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Bloom Day

It's hard to believe it's already mid-June - time for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, when garden bloggers around the globe play show and tell with what's blooming in their gardens on the 15th of each month. June has been by turns, hot, humid, and sunny, other times, cool, humid, and rainy. It's been one of those Junes when we've had plenty of rain, and even the pots have needed little to no supplemental watering.

This pot was overwintered in the basement, primarily for the geranium, (in the center of the pot, budding.) The surprise here is the Spring Fling petunia (swag from Proven Winners.) I never expected it to be happy in the basement over the winter. I had cut it back severely, and left it in the pot to see what would happen. THIS is what happened! The geranium looks a bit lost, and the petunia spread, rooting itself in three places in the pot, making a nice second-year memento of Chicago Spring Fling.

Rocky Mountain columbine is almost finished. Columbines have been blooming here since early April.

I tried Diamond Frost euphorbia for the first time in the center of a few double impatiens baskets a few years ago. They're overwintered in the basement too. Each year they get larger and more glorious, blooming sweetly and adding their airy loveliness in pots and hanging baskets, and even in the ground. Easy-care, drought-tolerant and blooming well even in our dry shade, they're favorites here.

Happy returns daylilies start blooming in late May, and have continued, with intermittent rests through frost. Last season they never rested. I hope for the same performance this year.

Walker's Low catmint is nice, but a bit too large, sprawling, and spreading for this spot. This is Nepeta x faassenii 'Blue Wonder.' Shorter than Walker's Low by at least a foot, it blooms respectably in part sun.

I love Dragon wing begonias. A cross between wax and angel wing begonias, they have nice foliage, graceful form, and bloom all season. There are a few here that are overwintered indoors, where they continue the show until they're cut back in winter. Within weeks, they're blooming again.

Penstemon 'Husker Red' was moved last fall. This spot is (normally) a little sunnier than where they were before. They're happier and more upright than they were in their previous spot.

Indian Pinks are natives. New to the garden last year, I fell in love with their unique, adorable blooms when the Chicago Spring Fling committee got together last summer for a reunion lunch date and trip to Gethsemane Garden Center on Chicago's north side.

Speaking of Spring Fling, I was inspired by alliums in the gardens we visited. I'd never grown them here - didn't think they'd be happy with so little sun. The purples are finished blooming, and their seedheads are wonderful. The whites, whose foliage is nicer than the purples, are just getting started. Time will tell if we have enough sun to keep them happily blooming in future years.


'Rozanne' is my favorite geranium. It starts blooming in late May here, and will continue non-stop until frost. I love long-blooming perennials, especially those that are happy in our mostly-shady garden.

It's been a wonderful spring for astilbes with all the rain we've had. There are pink and white ones blooming here.

The red mini-rose continues to hang on. They're sweet, yet short-lived. This is the last of five the Lawn Man gave me a few years ago. It's the same one that bloomed, covered with snow, in December last year.

The last foxglove blooms. (See those seed pods, Monica?)

This geranium is one of the few plants that made it here from my last garden. (Chicago Gardeners shouldn't move in February!)

I was thrilled to see the first nasturtium bloom! Renee's Garden provided free seeds for a group of about 40 bloggers participating in the Seed GROW project. We're sharing our trials and triumphs, all growing this 'Spitfire' Nasturtium. On Renee's advice, I thinned this pot a little. Too cute to kill, I carefully lifted a few and transplanted them to one of the veggie beds, where they'll mingle with peas and cukes on the trellis.

It's supposed to be a TALL bellflower, but the rabbits have chewed them all down almost to the ground. They're still hanging in there, and finally started blooming. Our garden is beginning to look kinda funny with all the little fences I've put up trying to protect the most vulnerable plants. One might think a crazy plant woman lives here.

This little sundrop was found blooming in the wayback yard behind the Cornelian cherry hedge. It was discovered about this time last year, and moved into the garden where it struggled and wilted the rest of the season. I was happy to see it come back this spring. I think it's some kind of primrose. They have such bright, cheery blooms, I'm happy to have these (sometimes considered) lowly blooms in our garden. The first time I had these in a garden was nearly 30 years ago when an elderly neighbor shared some from her garden. She just called them sundrops, so I will too. It's a fitting name for them.

Also blooming are single and double impatiens, perennial bachelor's buttons, peas, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, arugula, wax begonias, fuchsia, cyclamen, lilies, other hardy geraniums, Johnny-jump-ups, several kinds of coral bells, feverfew, a hellebore that holds onto its blooms until after frost, celandine poppies, a few sporadic old-fashioned (pink) bleedinghearts, wax begonias, and a white blogalong passalong penstemon from a dear blogging friend. Thank you Gail!

For more June blooms from gardeners around the globe, please visit the host of Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In Meg's Garden

I visited Meg's garden last weekend, the first time since her death.

Her long-time companion called, asking for help identifying plants, and guidance in their care. He arrived bearing farmers-market annuals - a few of Meg's favorites she ran out of time to pick up.

There were alot of self-seeded annuals, herbs, and veggies blooming exuberantly. Meg didn't have a separate veggie bed - perennial and annual ornamentals, edibles, and medicinals mingle and naturalize freely in a large bed near the back door. Many of her favorites - calendula, tomato, fennel, dill, eggplant, squash, arugula, green, purple, and variegated lettuces, chards, and her signature heirloom pumpkins and gourds are growing, as if Meg had planted them herself.

I am soothed by the movement of leaves, the touch of the breeze, the gentle interplay of light and shadow. . . As the days pass, I'm grateful for the support of the earth. . . and for friends who have held me up when my heart was heavy.

She saw potential in a tired, run-down, but adorable vintage dollhouse - how she loved this place! In three short years she transformed the interior and nearly-featureless lawn into a lovely, loved home and gardens, overflowing with personality and reflective of an artist's soul. This place is a part of her living on, where her spirit, joy, exuberance, love and imagination are felt, her smile seen, her laughter heard.

A life lived well is ultimately measured not by the momentous occasions of that life, but by how those moments have been spent.

She created a series of meandering beds and borders, unearthing long-buried rocks and flagstones, using them to create garden rooms. Flat-topped rocks and tree stumps became seating, and pedestals for pieces of her quirky collection of found objects and her own artwork. She had a gift for seeing beauty and usefulness in almost anything.

Meg called Autumn Bride heuchera her signature plant. It was in the gardens of nearly all her clients.

Her gardens are thriving - even the pansies she planted this spring are still lovely.

Another name for violets is heartsease - pansies may also be referred to by this common name. The leaves of violets or the flowers of pansies can help ease emotional as well as physical afflictions of the heart.

Friends, family, and neighbors come by regularly to weed and water the garden, and feed the cats - her indoor kitties, and the strays she fed on the front porch. On arrival, I found one of her neighbors, here with Bruno, her doggie companion, finding solace in Meg's garden, pulling creeping charlie in a sunny bed. I smiled, remembering countless hours spent with Meg pulling creeping charlie - hours spent in quiet companionship, lively and deep conversation, humor and playfulness - enjoying the warm, open, easy, close connection Meg shared with everyone she knew.

Meg was a kind, gentle soul. She left a legacy of wisdom, love, compassion, acceptance, deep spirituality, and, beautiful, poignant, comforting memories of the best kind of friendship.

The paradox I am wrestling with is how I can allow myself to be fully connected in love, knowing that loss. . . is always, eventually, inevitable. For me, the answer is that what exists in love becomes eternal. It will always be present as part of me, and through me, as part of the world. . . To paraphrase Tennyson, it is better to mourn the loss of that which we have loved in this world than to mourn the passing of each opportunity to love. . .

(The quotes are all Meg's. Besides being a gardener extraordinaire, and an artist, she was also a prolific writer, with published articles on gardening, herbs, and spirituality, and many personal, unpublished journals, essays, and poems. She would have been an awesome garden blogger.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rainy-Day Shade Garden

Rainy days are perfect for enjoying the garden from indoors.

The second-floor views are among my favorites of the shade garden.

These photos were taken from our guest room and guest bathroom.

Where are your favorite rainy-day places to see your garden?