Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lily and Daylily Flower Show

Daylily Flower Arrangement
This past weekend I attended the Day Lily and Lily show at the Chicago Botanic Garden sponsored by Sponsored by the Northshore Iris and Daylily Society and Wisconsin-Illinois Lily Society respectively

At Chicago Botanic garden flower shows - there is placement of only one stem with one flower each submitted by member of the sponsoring society. In the lily show they had also purchased some for display. The layout gets you close to each flower to see the differences up.

I have been jaded by the overwhelming plantings of tawny daylily plants which are considered invasive in my area and many surrounding states. This is 
Ditch Lilies in Illinois
Hemerocallis fulva here is a shot of them in my garden.  Included in this are the Stella De Oro variety. They are pretty but, for me,  no longer pack a "WOW" in the garden.  They even varry the name "ditch lilies" because they can be seen by roadsides. It seems every year there are dozens of people giving them away for free - which is exactly where I pickup up most of mine. I was super pleased to see the potential and so many different varieties of both Hemerocallis and true lily (Lilium) . 

Please  enjoy the photos.  I'm not sure the colors are 100% true, but here are the shots of my favorites :)


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Invasive Plant: Buckthorn identification and control

Common Buckthorn Hedge  
Buckthorn trees are taking over the woodlands and hedges around my neighborhood, my town, my state and the country. Darn invasive species are so good at that. 

While some people love what a robust hedge Buckthorn can make. I hate them and enjoy ripping them out. Many states and towns have designated Buckthorn as a restricted, noxious weed. My town has an active free removal process and will haul away any Buckthorn cut down.  For me clearing out buckthorn is an effort worth undertaking. I love seeing a nice forest with Oaks and other native plants. 

Why remove Buckthorn trees?  I'm taking them out to restore a woodland area.  I've posted a few blogs on my woodland restoration.  Some of the pictures here are from that process. But long before I started that restoration effort I had challenges removing Buckthorn from my yard. They were creeping in at the corners, under the phone lines, along the house line all the places that nothing else wanted to grow - these little beasts were thriving! I never liked how they looked as trees. So many other great options. 
Buckthorn crowding the woodland

Here are some reasons why you might consider removing buckthorn too:
  1. Buckthorn squeezes out native plants for nutrients, sunlight, and moisture. These invasive trees choke out surrounding vegetation including other trees and makes it impossible for any new growth to take root under its cancerous canopy of dense vegetation. They leaf out earlier in the spring that anything else and they hold onto their leaves longer in the fall. That means less light and water for everything around it. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Garden Inspiration - Residential Wonder

Front entry - circular drive
I had the opportunity to tour a residential garden in Northern Chicago area today.  The home was built in the early 1920's and was one of the largest in the area.  Over the years the estate was subdivided, but this home maintains nearly 2 acres of grounds.  It felt a bit like a European estate - maybe Italian  or English.  The old brick work, bit of moss, vibrant color all welcomed me.

I was so appreciative of the opportunity! The homeowner says that it is her garden that makes her happy - and I could tell. While it looked wonderful to me, I'll tell you that she had a little project for each area I photographed.  Like all of us who continually move things around in our gardens - that's half the fun! 

I hope these photos inspire you as they did me.


Pear trees, hosta and groundcover along roadway

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Urban Vegetable Gardening - Grow Your Own

What do you need to grow your own vegetables - space, soil, water, light. Sometimes that can be a challenge in the middle of a city. A few solutions are container gardening (see prior posts and links here) as then there are raised beds. If you have any trepidation about what may be in your soil or the composition of your soil - there are steps you can take to get in the right direction. These include "lasagna gardening", "raised bed gardening", and "vertical gardening."

Let's explore these last options - and I'll use photos taken June 2014 at the Garfield Park Conservatory and prior blogs to illustrate.  The outdoor Urban Demonstration Garden at the conservatory is a purposeful example of an Urban Vegetable Garden.
Panorama of Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory, Urban Demonstration Garden June 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Children's Urban Gardening - Making do with small spaces

Urban Children's Herb & Vegetable Garden
I had the opportunity to visit Creative Little Minds, a bilingual day care on Chicago's Northside. I was pleasantly surprised to see how the owner, Gloria, is incorporating gardening into the regular activities for everyone. This is with very little space in a city block. Here's the integration of Urban Gardening, Community Gardening, Children's Gardening and education all in one.   

Maybe these are some best practices:
1) Select clear garden spot with easy access for kids.  There is no threat to other garden plants or outdoor furniture or breakable objects. I think the use of the fence and walkway on the side of the house (pictured right) is a great idea. Although I wondered if there was enough sun for mature plants. 

2) Plants, pots, and tools are all placed within easy reach and at their level. I can imagine that it is easy for kids to inspect their plant growth every day.  The planters on the fence are at multiple heights - based on each child's abilities.