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Can you believe it’s June 1st already?! Sorry to have been out of touch…planting season…our farmhouse gardens to be photographed for Country Gardens Magazine
Country Gardens magazine’s photographer shooting June garden
…family…volunteerism…Leah’s college graduation…technical issues with this website…such a busy time of the year. Even the local wildlife is busy. When I drove into our driveway today, there were six (!) chipmunks running around like nut cases on the asphalt. They were glutinous, eating the seeds of maples, a phenom I had never seen before. BTW, we are assured that those little seed nuggets are entirely edible, tasting like peas. You first.
Gardening world good news: tulips, redbuds, and big lilacs are done, but smaller (Syringa meyeri Palibin, Miss Kim, and ‘Boomerang’) lilacs are blooming with the azaleas. Huge amounts of foliage clothe all the shrubs and trees this year–even a lot of the ash trees aren’t as dead as I expected them to be. Wild geraniums, iris, wild phlox, hawthorns, variegated Solomon’s Seal, shooting stars, tree peonies, primroses and dogwoods are glorious. Fringe tree [Chionanthus virginicus] is about to “feather”. Did I mention the foliage and growth of the Beech trees–amazing! The bad news is that my (formerly) incredibly shaped Seven Sons Flower tree (Heptacodium miconoides–I love saying the name of this amazing tree which you must put in your garden) took a big hit from the winter wind (I think) and I had to chop it all to hell. Also, a big Redbud, a fragrant Viburnum carlesii, and a Juniper s. ‘Skyrocket’ died from drowning.
Did I mention the elegance of my all-time favorite shrub: Viburnum plicatum? Read more
Three weekends ago I planted 15 potatoes in our vegetable garden. I bought the seed potatoes at Paquesi’s Garden Center, and was drawn to these packages because they carried the “certified organic” label of the USDA. Never one to trust, I discovered that they are packed by Irish Eyes Garden Seeds. Here’s how I think: Irish? Potatoes? Starvation?
If you are strapped for space, experiment with growing potatoes in a container: http://info.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/index.php/grow-100-lb-of-potatoes-4sqft. This looks like a lot of work to me, but hey, it also promises to yield a bumper crop of spuds. And you could use the extra cash, right?
By the way, the varieties I planted are: Purple Majesty (purple fingerlings for soups and salads); Sangre Red (round, hot pink, good for roasting); and Yellow Finn (sweet buttery taste). Some “new potatoes” (yum!) should be ready in our garden by August, but by letting the vines die and not watering much, I read that harvests are more plentiful, later. I must also remember to hill them up every two weeks (OMG: I have to do this immediately–the plants are already “plants”!) and water the foliage with seawood fertilizer (I added cottonseed meal to the soil when planting). Go organic! Go Irish! Don’t starve! ## Read more
This morning’s simpering heat, combined with a brief uptick in the wind and quickly clouding dark skies, made it easy to think about the tornadoes that ripped across Oklahoma and Kansas yesterday. Sadly, more tornadoes, hail storms, and slow-moving thunderstorms (ie a lot of rain in one place), including some aimed near Joplin, Missouri and north to Minnesota, may occur today (Monday). Remember that the Chicago region [link to map] is already in a Federal Disaster Zone because of the devastating rain storms of April 18th, just a month ago. Lots of Chicagoans are still mopping up and cleaning out, unfortunately. [Here's a link about how you can help and/or donate to Chicago flood clean-up efforts by the American Red Cross.]
Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees
There’s good news and bad news about the amazingly full blossoms you are noticing this year on crabapple trees and other fruit trees. Read more
Oh, here’s another great event for you to attend. This is WONDERFUL because of the sponsors, Rich & Susan Eyre, who have a personal goal (already partially realized because of YOU gardeners!) of building 100 new hospitals in Bolivia. Buy hosta, build hospitals. Can’t improve on that idea! [BTW, if you have a personal charity that is in any way related to gardening or conservation, please tell me so all our readers can learn about it and help you achieve your dream! This website is about gardening and conservation, true, but it’s really about supporting each other’s passions.).
Hosta Sale and Fundraiser
Saturday June 8, 2013 9am-4pm
Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc
11618 McConnell Road Woodstock IL 60098
All proceeds benefit Heifer International and Mano a Mano International Partners. Cash or check only! Read more
Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).
Here are some snippets:
- Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
- Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
- A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?
Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##
Oh, if you can re-arrange your whole life to attend the Rare Breeds show at Garfield Farm Museum (west of St. Charles) on this Sunday, by all means you should do so. If you love animals, you will love this show. The show features some kind of Colorado Mountain horse that is the prettiest thing I ever saw. I’m going to try and go to this show because our farm really really needs some new chickens (we now only have one, poor lonesome hen) and Garfield is where Black Java chickens were bred back into existence. Besides, if you’ve never been to Garfield, you don’t know nuthin’ about Chicago and you should be ashamed of yourself!
Here’s what Jerry Johnson, Exec Dir of Garfield, informs: “Staff and volunteers have been busy setting up for Sunday’s Rare Breeds Livestock & Poultry Show. Over 27 exhibitors plan to come and there will be lectures and demonstrations on Lippitt Morgans, dog sheep herding, and sheep shearing. The schedule for lectures and demos is as follows:
Gate Opens: 11:00 AM Lunch by Inglenook Pantry
Tours of the Inn: 12-4 PM
Sheep shearing: 11:30 am until done.
Demos/Talks 11:30:am Lippitt Morgan demo
12:00 pm Dog sheep herding
12:30 pm Lippitt Morgan demo
1:00 pm Dog sheep herding
1:30 pm Lippitt Morgan Lecture (1842 Barn)
1:30 pm Ox Driving in Paddock
2:00 pm Dog sheep herding
2:30 pm Lippitt Morgan Lecture (1842 Barn)
3 & 3:30 pm Dog sheep herding
MAKE THE EFFORT. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.##
I do not promise to report every plant sale or garden tour, but if they look oh-so-interesting, I will post them as you alert me to them. Here are a few:
- Ending May 19 : Tour a Showcase House of a never-before-seen 1916 David Adler-designed 15,000 sq ft villa on Lake Michigan, and see the gardens designed to benefit the work of the Infant Welfare Society. Among other landscape designers, you will see work by landscape architects Deidre Toner, Craig Bergmann, North Shore Turf [847-945-2738, website in design], Fertile, Ltd, Brent Riechers Landscape, and Landscape Artistry. My dear friend, interior designer Randy Heller, also designed a superb room in the house…
Nautilus by Deidre Toner
- May 18: Native Plant Sale to benefit Lake Forest Open Lands Association. I just came home from attending LFOLA’s Annual Meeting. This is a land trust whose organization should be emulated nationwide. Amazing programming and ability to excite people about land conservation. Anyway, one reason to come to this plant sale is to see the original gates and gate house to the famed Armour Estate, “Mellody Farm”. (The original mansion is at Lake Forest Academy–find it off Route 60) and to walk on some beautiful trails. The original estate was designed by landscape architects O.C. Simonds and Jens Jensen. [Please help Queen Bee to promote the preservation of the amazing original brick/green tile capped wall that is getting destroyed by sending a note to the Lake Forest Academy.]
Gates at LF Openlands “Mellody Farm”
Gate House at Mellody Farm
Save this amazing brick wall!
- June 27:Tour of Ragdale. Ooooh, I swoon when I visit Ragdale, the summer home of iconic architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and now an international writers retreat. Sponsored by the Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Historical Society, this tour is a rare chance to see this “farm”. BTW, thanks to all who are donating toward the $3m restoration of the original Ragdale house. Make sure to see the beautiful elm tree with branches that drape to the ground, the amazing vegetable garden, the log cabin and the original Shaw prairie.
- June 30: A bike tour of the former Lasker Estate is not to be missed. Get your tickets asap from the Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Historical Society. Albert Lasker was the founder of modern advertising. He invented copywriting that convinced consumers that products could work magic: for example, Lucky Strikes could make women skinny. His radio campaigns for Pepsodent, Palmolive, and Kotex added up to a 480 acre gentleman’s estate and 18 hole golf course in Lake Forest. Thirteen of the buildings, including the original mansion, still exist. I’ve been on this tour (sans bicycle) and it is fabulous.
- July 13: Come meet…MOI! The Queen and King Bee’s 7 acre farm in Richmond, IL will be on a tour hosted by the McHenry County Master Gardeners. Here’s a photo of our “weedpatch” to whet your appetite. Our house was built in 1852, so that in itself makes our landscape auspicious, yet still a modest farm-ish place.##
Thanks to subscriber Nancy Coolley for photographing this stunning Baltimore oriole [Icterus galbula] in her backyard. Look at the clever rig Nancy devised for hanging the oranges. Great idea! And after they eat the oranges in early May, they want a chaser of grape jelly, but how in the world do you hang up the jar?
This bird has probably the prettiest nest of all our northern birds. It’s a finely-woven silvery pouch that hangs about 25′ up on the branches of oaks, lindens, elms, maples and birch trees. The Orioles return to the same site year after year. These birds love to eat insects, especially caterpillars (ie tent caterpillars-ugh), aphids, borers (ash borers!), ants and beetles. They also eat the delicious berries of Serviceberry [Amelanchier], red mulberry, wild cherry, and blueberry. By the way, the blueberry is a highly underutilized shrub in the landscape. It is beautiful red in the fall!
The Baltimore oriole is the state bird of Maryland. Why? Because it was named for Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baron of Baltimore, who thought Maryland (named either for the King’s wife or the mother of Jesus, or both, no one seems to know) would be a fine place for English Catholics such as himself. The colors on his family crest were…orange and black. As it would happen, everyone who arrived from England to work tobacco was either Protestant or criminal, but the English Catholics got to be in charge. Anyway, the good news is that in 1649, Maryland passed the first law ever to guarantee the right to worship regardless of denomination. So whenever you see this beautiful bird, please also appreciate the idea of religious toleration.
Oh, there are three books I like about “birdscaping”: Wild About Birds: the DNR Bird Feeding Guide; Birdscaping Your Garden by George Adams; and The Bird Garden by Stephen W. Kress. Oldies but goodies, just like me.##