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The Polish Garden Writers Club (2 members so far)

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Books, Social Impact of Horticulture, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I have a friend named Mike Nowak, a fellow hale & hearty Pole and (hail and hardy) garden writer (although Mike is way way way more prodigious than I). He just sent me his new book, in which he wrote the following inscription (which I suspect he writes in every book he autographs, even when the book was not written by him): “To _____: who is almost as funny as I am”. This made me laugh. A rare thing, these days, what with beheadings, floods, social injustice, and difficulty finding the Alpo dog food my dogs prefer.

Um, back to Mike’s book. One thing I realized about myself after I read most of his essays is that I mostly read backwards. That is, I don’t start at the beginning and go forward. Instead, I randomly thumb through a book, breaking the spine at not-the-middle, let my eye alight on a line of text, and then I read from that point forward. If I like it (which in this case I did, a lot), I will page back to the first paragraph of the essay and then read all the way through. This bad habit probably started in college when I learned to read only the first chapter, last chapter, and last paragraph of every chapter in a book. This trick sped up the Russian Revolution considerably….

Mike also helped me discover another bad habit: I am a page corner “folder-over”. (Hmm, maybe it’s “fold-over-er”?) That’s how, like a dog, I mark territory I like. And I folded over an awful lot of pages in this book. Not because I was learning anything about gardening (no one, not even Mike Nowak, actually KNOWS anything about gardening), but because so many pages are very funny. Out loud funny. Being Polish, of course, I especially enjoyed his description of his long-departed relative, Telewizja Kablowa “Cable TV” Nowakowa, who, operating out of a small village near Krakow, is said to have created cooking recipes for over 12,000 insect species…” This made me guffaw, which in Polish, is spelled, guffav. Or guffow. Never mind.

Last, I found out that Mike and I have distinctly different views of only one thing: the color pink in the garden. Oddly, I spent yesterday taking photos of pink flowers to show you in their dazzling array. Then I opened Mike’s book and read that pink is “ubiquitous, relentless, abhorrent, insidious, formidable, unyielding, despotic, and pitiless.” Tell us what you really think, eh, Mike? Mike blames his horror of pink flowers on early color TV sets, but I? I LOVE pink. PINK, PINK, PINK. PINKETY PINK PINK, can’t have enough. It’s a word that’s fun to say! It’s fun to wear (ok, not if you are manly Mike Nowak.) Or maybe I came to love pink flowers because “I Love Lucy’s” hair was so extraordinarily PINK and GREEN on our tv… Nonetheless, I present PINK IN THE GARDEN:

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What more can I say about Mike’s book, Attack of the Killer Asparagus and Other Lessons Not Learned in the Garden? I can say that if I was inclined to spend a lot of time in a bathroom, this would be the book I would want to read there. (Way way better than Reader’s Digest.) Instead, I think I’ll take it to bed with me and let my husband try to figure out why I’m laughing. Out loud. This time.#

[Buy many copies of Mike's book here: http://www.aroundtheblockpress.com/Onlinestore.htm]

 

Pity the Poor Arboretum

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Sign of the Times” (or not). Imagine the woe of the arborist who collected and lovingly tended this collection at the Boerner Botanical Gardens, only to see it possibly destroyed  by a bug. Perhaps the Gardens have committed to long-term treatment of the trees with pesticide? ##.

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Darn Those Landscape Architects!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Conservation and Ecology, Environmental Protection, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Public Gardens and Parks | 2 Comments

If I heard it once, I heard it a million times: “The final landscape plan shall strive to be a model for the community with a focus on removal of invasive species and planting of indigenous species”.

And then something like this follows: “Species Palette: Birch, Eastern Red Cedar…” NOT indigenous (birch) except maybe to a ravine, and thisclose to invasive (cedar).

Or I read, “Our plant palette includes coneflowers, black eyed susans, sky blue asters, and prairie dropseed”, as if they were the only plants in a woods, a wetland, or a prairie. Could we at least hear that you are planting a milkweed for the Monarch butterflies?

AAAAAGHHHHH. Can you landscape architects get it right, please? Do you ever crack a book on ecology or take a botany seminar?

Landscape architects and municipal foresters who let landscape architects get away with nonsense should know better and do WAY better. And they should stop planting crap in our ecosystems. Especially when saying that they are “models” of ecologic design.

Between Forest Park, Northwestern Hospital, and Whole Foods–all in Lake Forest–I can’t even fathom what might be happening in the larger region. Help us all to call their bluff: the Emperor has no clothes.##

Sure Signs of Summer

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Plants | 2 Comments

9:33 am. Location: Lake Forest backyard, sunny perfect day, having coffee and reading Chicago Historical Society journal and the NYTimes, while texting to see if anyone wants to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream with me tonight (no one (so far) does, how is that possible!?) being staged by Lake Forest Openlands Association and Citadel Theater Company.

Action: a movement across the way, in the birdbath, a robin taking a rambunctious bath, lots of splashing, flies off.

9:35 am. Same Location. Same circumstances.

Action: a movement across the way, in the birdbath, Mr. Cardinal takes a bath, but with longer and more restrained splashing than the robin’s. Flies to pine tree, misses, flies on to tulip tree.

Thought: Do birds schedule their bath times for 9:30 on Sundays?

Here are a few more signs that it is, indeed, summer in Chicago:

Currants in a Bowl

Currants from my Garden: Muffins to Follow

Daylilies Ernst 7-17-2014 1-49-59 PM 1510x1952

Daylilies in Ernst Harboe’s parkway, Northfield, IL

Male Widow Skimmer Dragonfly. Check out midewinrestoration.net

Male Widow Skimmer Dragonfly at Richmond, IL. Check out midewinrestoration.net for more info

Thank You to Bernard Rosauer, landscape architect, for this photo, taken in Genoa City, WI

Thank You to Bernard Rosauer, landscape architect, for this photo, taken in Genoa City, WI

Last but not least, here’s the start of peach and blueberry cobbler. Thank you, God, for summer!##

Peaches

 

 

Upcoming Garden Tour(s) in Lake Forest: Cultural Landscape Foundation

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Events, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of my favorite reference books is Pioneers of American Landscape Design, edited (2000) by two luminaries of landscape history, Charles Birnbaum and Robin Karson. They began compiling biographies of noted landscape architects back in 1992 (about the time I started publishing The Weedpatch Gazette and wondering why it was so difficult to find histories of people like Alfred Caldwell and Jens Jensen) and never looked back. Today Charles and Robin run the prestigious and impressive organizations, The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Library of American Landscape History.

Next weekend, two garden tours will be held in Lake Forest to raise money for The Cultural Landscape Foundation. You are invited! I hope you will put aside the time. I have recently visited both homes and gardens, and they are an incredible treat to see, especially as they are tucked way down long private driveways where prying gardeners like me fear to tread. Here’s a snap I took of an entry to the Ellen Biddle Shipman garden, which was rehabilitated by landscape designer Craig Bergmann (whose own garden is a tour de force for posterity), on Lake Michigan:

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Reserve a spot on the tours via this website:  http://tclf.org/event/garden-dialogues-chicago-lake-forest

Enjoy!##

How Did July Come Around So Fast?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Conservation and Ecology, Environmental Protection, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanks for your patience, everyone, while I (and others) wrestled with a developer who wants to bring Whole Foods to Lake Forest. Yes, the same Whole Foods which, “in an effort to save trees” doesn’t publish quarterly shareholder reports, is asking us to let them (wait for it) CHOP DOWN 400 mature oaks and hickories to build a new store. The company also wants to DEMOLISH a landmarked house. There are technicalities in the zoning law that might still allow the developer to build WF’s store (and others ie a bank drive through), but for the moment the Lake Forest City Council agreed with us that a large green setback from Route 60 cannot be decreased by the developer.

If you want to write to Whole Foods (550 Bowie St, Austin, TX 78703) or you happen to know Chicago real estate moguls Mike Supera and Bernard Leviton (who are the owners of the property in question) tell them the world CONSERVES oak woods now. Clear cutting is sooo…OVER. Here’s what they want to demolish (house plus 8.5 acres of trees):

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See why the idea made many Lake Foresters crazy?!

But here we are with July practically done. How is that possible? Anyway, as I type this, I am looking through the window at 7′ tall single pink hollyhocks swaying in the wind next to pure white Asiatic lilies. Pure loveliness…

Hollyhocks and Lilies 2 horizontal

This is the best year ever for Chinese trumpet lilies in our garden. They are amazingly majestic–maybe 8 or 9′ tall, strong stemmed (no staking), and full of buds. They have names like, ‘Pink Perfection’ and ‘Golden Splendor’. All I can say is, “order some” for your own garden. I get mine from Van Engelen Bulbs. #

 

 

Field Notes

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

As I walk past the towering lilies backlit with sun

and enter the field messy with helianthus and brambles

I hear the raucous yells of crows

in the woods near the old spring. What did they find?

Are they mad or jubilant?

Then silence.

Walking down the mowed path I come across one, then two,

then three feathers, turkey by the looks of ‘em.

And suddenly, a rustle. Then many beating wings

flying, flying up into the oaks. Six, seven, eight maybe twelve turkey fledglings

and their mother, scared and startled by human intrusion.

Then silence.#

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Watch Jens Jens Documentary (complete with his voice) TONIGHT

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture, Social Impact of Horticulture, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hi, Weedpatch fans. So sorry I’ve been SO SO out of touch: I am devoting a lot (!) of time to trying to save 400 mature and reproducing oak and hickory trees on an 8 acre site in Lake Forest. A shopping center developer, Bill Shiner, has arrived in town and wants us to waive or s-t-r-e-t-c-h every ordinance to accomodate four outbuildings (maybe Chase Bank, Starbucks, ChickFilA, don’t know he’s not sayin’) plus Whole Foods (maybe). The lure of tax $$ is great, but to me the lure of saving trees and protecting our laws should be greater. Anyway, it’s taking a lot of time. Please help out by making comments on Whole Foods’ website: how come the company says it’s “sustainable” if it wants to take paradise (did I mention demolishing a landmarked mansion?) and put up a parking lot?

Of course, if you are a responsible gardener in the Chicago region, you must know the name, Jens Jensen. Last night I saw on WTTW a preview of what looks to be a wonderful documentary on the contributions of Jens Jensen (1860-1951) to parks and landscape in the Chicago region. The documentary airs tonight, both on TV and at Millenium Park. Here’s the link: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/06/18/film-documents-life-and-work-jens-jensen

Please watch and share what you learned. Thanks for hanging in there with me while I lash myself to yet another 200 year old oak tree. Could this really be happening–in Lake Forest? Don’t they call it “slash and burn” or “deforestation” in other countries? Sigh. Pretty depressing.

Here’s a photo I took today of a landscape in Lake Forest which was designed by the Olmsted Brothers and later Jens Jensen…

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Garden Markers: The Best Product Yet

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who among you hasn’t been really really irked about plant “markers”? You know, the ubiquitous white plastic tags that snap in half after a season stuck in the dirt next to your plant? Or the sales tags that don’t offer botanical names and are stapled to pots? Or the ones that are threaded thru a slot in the pot and break off when you try to remove them (and/or are bigger than the plant itself)?

Or…there’s the disappearing marker. I have never actually caught one of our dogs making off with a white plastic tag, but I find them lying all over the garden, but never near the plant they are supposed to be identifying. If not the dogs, who then? Squirrels? Chipmunks? Or do the tags spontaneously jump out of the ground on their own?

And don’t get me going on the metal tags that bend, twist and tear, or the stakes that do the same. Or the “permanent” Sharpies that fade…or the waxy pencils that are too fat to write legibly.

Or did I mention the “helper” I hired who decided to “tidy up” the garden and removed every marker from every tree, shrub and plant?  I still have most of these tags in a box (retrieved from the garbage bin that I just happened to look in) because I haven’t the vaguest idea on which hosta or dwarf conifer they belong. Need I say that the relationship with my helper ended rather…abruptly?

Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that the best garden marking system I’ve found (well, yes, I would like to own an embossing machine like those used by botanic gardens but I’d rather fly to Europe with the same money) is from IDeal Garden Markers. The system is comprised of a unbendable steel stake, a rigid black plastic nameplate, and a white fine-point paint pen. I bought the 11 inch, 45 degree stake for most plants; the 7 inch, 90 degree stake for ground hugging plants especially miniature hostas; the “small” size black nameplate, and 4 marking pens (I bought extras because I’ve learned that sometimes the nib gets crushed when writing). After a summer and a harsh winter of use, my IDeal Garden Markers look just fine. I’m re-ordering!

Of course, then there’s the far more irksome phenom: when the tag survives the winter but the plant does not…as in the expensive Primrose in this photo. Why was it sold here if it’s not hardy? Let’s not even THINK about that! Grrrrr…..##

Where’s the darn Primrose I bought last year?

 

Trout Lilies: Durable Little Woodland Stalwarts

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This is a very sweet and interesting post about our woodland Trout lilies by Elgin blogger Pat Hill, who is also the author of the 2007 book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden which you can buy via her website, naturalmidwestgarden.com. I don’t think I’ve ever met Pat, but judging from her website, we are complete birds-of-a-feather. She was nice enough to feature on her website another new Chicago blogger, Monica Buckley.

Monica is owner of Red Stem Landscapes in Chicago. About her company, she says, “With the encouragement, shared secrets, and guidance of so many, including most notably several years with Art Gara as the oldest intern ever at Art and Linda’s Wildflowers, I left the publishing world to found Red Stem Native Landscapes, Inc., following my passion for creating settings where natives, wildlife, and people can thrive in gardens all over Chicago’s North Side and near suburbs”. Hurrah for her, a fellow member of the Landscape Design Association whereby all of you can find and hire fabulous designers to help you plan, install, and maintain gardens.

For her blog debut, Monica interviewed another favorite person of mine (because he loves plants just about more than anybody on earth), famed botanist Jerry Wilhelm. Please read this interview. Here’s a snippet of what Wilhelm warns us to do in Monica’s article:

“It’s almost as if the whole earth skin has third degree burns… If we don’t put organic matter back into the soil and allow natural thermo-regulation to occur, we will keep having broad climate fluxes, we will face extinctions, and we will be in for a very bad time. Slowly but surely, we have to go in that direction, to preserve the remnants that are left, and to try to return health to the soil. But the remnants are important, you have to have some living tissue, you can’t start it from nothing.”

I am helping as time allows to raise money for finishing the work on Wilhelm’s 5th Edition of Plants of the Chicago Region, which most of you will recognize as the bible of native plantspeople throughout the Chicago region (by which I mean the 25 or so counties in WI, IL, IN, and MI that surround Chicago, plantwise). Now this amazing book will also include the insects, butterflies, and birds that hang out with individual species of plant. Isn’t that just astonishing? So go to Wilhelm’s website, look for sponsorship information, donate $50, $100, $1000 or whatever you can spare, and feel like you are contributing to the preservation of the earth, because you are. Thanks!##

[PS John and I just returned from Cuba--yes, amazing head trip type place--and now we are off to see the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where Rachel Carson once hung out. I think I should become a garden and history travel writer who also loves to find places to stay that are worth leaving home for, especially in spring. Or maybe I just want to avoid gardening in the cold and damp.]

 

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