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Too Much Water and a Cold Snap

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

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

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

Hmmm, yes, but what should we do to help?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Social Impact of Horticulture | 1 Comment

Here’s a link http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=221570 to an article in the Medill Journalism School website. I’m not sure we needed a gigantic study to know that black populations live where there are few trees. The article quotes a representative from Chicago’s Friends of the Parks and I have NO IDEA what that representative meant (if you figure it out, please comment). Anyway, this article makes me think that when nurseries donate trees to communities at the end of the summer season, perhaps instead of donating them to wealthier communities like the one I live in, they should donate them to tree-less communities. This makes me wonder how many nurseries donate trees at all, and where they are going. Does the IL Nurserymen’s Association know? If not, who does? If you are a nursery, do you donate? Do you have a nice story to tell us or a story about why you do not donate trees?## Read more

The Garden Snoop’s Calendar: one more thing…

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

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
815-338-7442  
coniflora@richsfoxwillowpines.com
All proceeds benefit Heifer International and Mano a Mano International Partners. Cash or check only! Read more

A Few News Briefs…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.##

 

 

 

 

Last Minute Garden Snoop Event…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Historic Places, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!

newinn

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.##

The Garden Snoop’s Calendar…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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:

 

Nautilus by Deidre Toner

Nautilus by Deidre Toner

Adler Pike House 955 street shot 5-16-2013 1-23-40 PM 512x341

 

  • 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"

Gates at LF Openlands “Mellody Farm”

Gate House at Mellody Farm

Gate House at Mellody Farm

Save this amazing brick wall!

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.##

Richmond Veggie Garden 5-14-2013 1-58-31 PM 4320x3240

The Baltimore Oriole is Back!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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?

Baltimore Oriole 5-12-2013 3-28-59 AM 480x360This 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.##

 

 

 

Redbud Trees: Try All the Flavors

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants | 8 Comments

Quick! Check your garden! Do you have all the Redbuds?

I thought we had ‘em all in our garden: regular “pink”, white, and purple-leaved. But last Thursday I found a new Redbud that puts the rest to shame. It’s called, ‘Appalachian Red’, and it is STUNNING (compare the 1st photo to the 2nd, “regular pink”). Like, let’s say, a Crepe myrtle pink for northern gardens. I gotta have it, but where oh where could I put another tree?  PS I found it at C.J. Fiore’s Nursery in Lake County (who else has it? please comment). ALSO, “pink” is a poor adjective for the color of a regular Redbud. What color is it really? Please comment on that too.##Edit

 

Red Appalachian Red

Redbud regular color

Redbud white about to bloom 5-12-2013 4-01-35 PM 3240x4320

 

Fave-rave spring plant, but what is it exactly?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

lathyrus 5-1-2013 12-02-36 PM 4320x3240

Listen up, people! Queen Bee orders you to purchase this plant: Lathyrus. But even the Queen, in all her excellence, does not know exactly which Everlasting Pea she is recommending. It is not a fragrant Sweet Pea [Lathyrus odoratus], as alas, this flower has no fragrance. It is not Lathyrus latifolius, which has no fragrance but is a vine. It could be Lathyrus vernus, aka Spring Vetchling, but the garden center catalog I’m consulting says that Spring Vetchling blooms in June-July, and my Lathyrus definitely blooms in April-May. And it blooms its little head off for weeks. Which is why it’s a favorite plant and you MUST HAVE IT.

[This is where garden centers are supposed to comment that they not only know it but they stock it.]

So…a little botanical background. This plant is cool because it is a Lathyrus. Which means it is a Pea, which means it is a Legume, which means it fixes nitrogen in the soil which everyone knows is important but no one knows why. Lathyrus is in the Fabaceae family of plants, putting it with cousins like chick peas and soybeans and clover and redbud trees and wisteria. Which makes it WAY BETTER company than my cousins, except for the evil Crown Vetch which has the same disqualifiers as my cousin Peter who is a real overreaching hanger-onner too. But I digress. If you consult a botanical tome, you will find out something wonderfully arcane but useful on the garden tour: the leaflets of legumes open in the day and close at night, but this sleepytime movement is actually a circadian phenomenon not dependent on light or dark. OOOH, that’s cool, man, what’s it smokin’?!

To continue, this is one great plant. It is one of the first to bloom in my garden. It throws off seed out of its green, then brown, seed pods and little babies are born and they transplant really easy and then you have my really really favorite thing: a FREE PLANT! What is not to like here, folks? And did I mention the pollination aspects? Oh, well I don’t know what those are because it’s too early for butterflies but possibly bumblebees are gulping its nectar. [Readers, inform me!]

PS What is not to like? Well, I’ll name one thing…if you follow Internet links far enough you may, as I did, come across the caution, “The seeds…if eaten in large quantity, can cause lathyrism.” Oh, really? What the heck is lathyrism and do I have it? Search some more, and Queen Bee will find out that apparently she has been ingesting a few too many Lathyrus peas. Uh-huh, uh-huh, we know this because lathyrism is the “inability to move the lower limbs and the atrophy of the gluteal muscles”. OMG: that’s why Queen Bee wants to lie on a couch and she got a saggin’ ass! But isn’t it nice to know that it’s the plant’s fault?!##

Lathyrus plant 5-12-2013 4-00-31 PM 4320x3240

Get Thee to the Dane County (that’s Madison, WI) Farmers Market!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

I am such a dope sometimes. I’ve been writing The Weedpatch Gazette since 1991 and yet never took the time to visit the Farmers Market in Madison. How is that possible? But I’ve now made up for lost time and, even as early in the year as it is for northern gardeners, the market was stupendous. So many vendors! So many hippies! Like my own personal favorite time machine…

Having had the fun of visiting farmers markets in Santa Monica, CA; Carlsbad, CA; Asheville, NC’s (where it’s called a “tailgate market”); Coconut Grove, FL; Chicago’s http://www.greencitymarket.org; many towns in Provence; and Union Square in Manhattan, I think this one rocks them all. Maybe it’s because it’s just so, so “Wisconsin”. Care for some cheese bread, cheese head?

P1040599 P1040598 P1040594 P1040591 P1040589 P1040585

AND I had the extra added pleasure of re-meeting David Nedveck. He and his wife, Nancy, own The Flower Factory in Stoughton, Wisconsin. It is THE BEST GARDEN CENTER for a plant maniac. Don’t believe me? How about that they have 234 new plants for 2013?! Their catalog is my Bible. I go there with a trailer on my car. If this place were any closer, I would be in deep, deep financial trouble…

So…drive up to Madison for a long weekend. Go on Friday, visit all 15 species of the world’s cranes at the International Crane Foundation. See Devil’s Lake and learn about glacial geology and see quartzite rocks. Check into a bed & breakfast. On Saturday, go to the Farmers Market and load up with veggies and jams and puzzle through the weird guy’s argument that 9/11 was a conspiracy of the US government. Take a break and hike over to the Daily Scoop at the UW Student Union to slurp some homemade Ag School (motto: “cheese will not be shipped until after October 1st!”) ice cream (which is available at this site on the internet by the way). Then on Sunday go to the Flower Factory and spend the whole day, 9-6, in heaven. That’s the same as going to church, n’est-ce pas?##