Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Trip to Moss Mountain

Sometime in August, just for fun I submitted a photo to a Garden Safe photo contest. Three winners would receive a weekend trip to P. Allen Smith's Garden Home Retreat outside Little Rock, Arkansas on a ridge called Moss Mountain for an October harvest festival celebrating the (organic) harvest from the farm, and celebrating local food. Those of you who know me, know a local, organic food harvest festival is right up my alley.

Much to my surprise, I was one of the three contest winners. Last weekend The Lawn Man and I flew into Little Rock National Airport to stay at the beautiful, historic, 5-Star Capital Hotel, (with an elevator big enough to accommodate, as the concierge explained, General Grant and his horse.)

Everything was world-class. Every detail was attended to. It was an absolutely wonderful experience from the turbulence-free flight late Saturday morning until we crossed the threshold of Home Sweet Home late Sunday afternoon.

Thank you to Garden Safe for sponsoring this event, and thank you P. Allen Smith for an absolutely wonderful time, fantastic company, delicious food and drink, beautiful sights, great music, gorgeous weather, . . . all of it. Such a memorable experience!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Late Bloomers

Lobelia siphilitica

It might be fitting that this Wildflower Wednesday post on our late bloomers is a little late too. The late blooms are welcome, while the cold I picked up this week, draining sinuses and energy and delaying posting, has been far less welcome.

Lobelia siphilitica
would typically be finished blooming before now. This one, started from seed this spring, decided to surprise us with a few late-season blooms. (Notice the cluster of buds on the ground, complements of the bunnies?)

female winterberry holly

The winterberry holly Ilex verticillata is unlikely to have any berries left by winter. Here, birds enjoy them in October. Winterberry hollies need both male and female plants for pollination and berries. While the berries are toxic to humans, winterberry hollies are easy-care native shrubs great for a wildlife garden. Although the blooms are inconspicuous, the berries are ornamental and the foliage has nice fall color.

male winterberry holly in a less sheltered spot, showing its fall color

Possibly Symphyotrichum racemosum, these are the last asters, and the last wildflower blooms of the season in our garden. Asters are rabbit food here, and are fenced to protect them from the bunnies so they may be enjoyed by pollinators and us.

Over this season a number of new native plants found homes in our garden. Some were started from seeds like blue lobelias and a lone new prairie smoke. Others were started from cuttings: another blue lobelia, a purple milkweed, and two more Indian pinks. Still others, like wild ginger, Short's aster, blazing star, spiderwort, and sweet woodruff were passalongs from gardening friends. It's been a good year for wildflowers in our garden in spite of our hot, dry midsummer and the usual rodent shenanigans. As the season draws to a close here in Chicagoland, we're savoring the late bloomers and looking forward to spring.

For more Wildflower Wednesday posts, please visit our gracious host, Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Bloom Day

Happy Bloom Day from Chicago's blustery south suburbs, where tomatoes are still ripening and top-heavy pots have been moved to sheltered spots. Wind is blowing, leaves are falling, and the summery first week of October is but a memory now.

hardy cyclamen

It's time for moving and dividing, harvesting and preserving, and time for bringing in tender plants and cuttings for rooting.

This fall the garden saw a major overhaul as lots of stuff was moved around to create a path. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It's fortunate the amount of work it would take was underestimated, for otherwise it surely would have remained undone yet another season.

Short's aster, new this year, nearly naked complements of the bunnies,
valiantly blooming anyway.

the last rudbeckias


Chocolate Joe Pye Weed blowing in the wind

First-ever toad lily

'Autumn Joy' in the shade

purple oxalis

Strawberries - :) seeds courtesy of Renee's Garden.

a lone geranium ('striatum') bloom

'Autumn Bride' heuchera, my friend Meg's signature plant

I hope you're enjoying beautiful autumn weather and the pleasures of autumn (or spring, if you're visiting from the southern hemisphere,) gardening. Happy Bloom Day, and thank you for visiting. For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.