Tuesday, July 27, 2010

so, when do pumpkin plants stop growing?

Just asking. I'm hoping that the plant reaches some kind of equlibrium before it takes over the yard. It has already blocked the sidewalk and has reached the driveway. Next year I'll plant it further away. There are 8 good sized pumpkins that we can see from the edge. The solar lights still work. How about that. I can't get to the water feature any more. It's in there someplace.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Burning River Fest

Last Saturday Pat and I went to the Burning River Fest. Somehow gardening and the environment kind of go together.The fest was started by the folks at the Great Lakes Brewery as a celebration of our river, our lake and environmental awareness (I think this is where I have to insert a disclaimer. Pat and I are avid consumers of Great Lakes beer). The fest was held at the closed Coast Guard Station off Wendy Park on Whiskey Island. Bands played pretty much non-stop, the food and beer were great and the views were magnificent. The old boat house had various displays about water conservation.

This is the fire boat that fought the infamous 1969 fire for which our fair city got a bad name. It wasn't that big of a fire. Fires in the 50's were bigger.

the old neighborhood

We spent the last week back in Downers Grove visiting my mom. Joining us were our oldest daughter, Kathryn, our son-in-law, Sean, and Aunt Kay and Uncle Bernie from Minnesota. My mom’s house hasn’t been that crowded since all my brothers and sisters were kids. The visit did us all a world of good. Katie got a crash course on our Minnesota heritage and Aunt Kay added a wonderful amount of detail to the story. I scanned pictures like crazy.
Pat and I walked around the neighborhood of my youth looking at gardens. Funny how I never spent a second thinking about gardens when I was growing up; lawns were for mowing. Now I take a pocket camera with me wherever we walk. Katie and Sean started the walk with us. I was telling stories about growing up and shoveling snow (me and every other kid in the neighborhood) in the pre snow blower age. About 2 blocks into the walk we came upon a gardened parkway and front lawn. I heard Pat tell Katie that we were going to be a while because “you know your father and gardens” and that she and Sean should keep going.
We were in luck. Greg Widmar, the homeowner was watering. We started talking and next thing we knew, we were on a tour. The front yard has only a postage size lawn. The rest is filled with hydrangeas, sedum, day lilies and a bunch of other stuff. The front yard yelled that serious gardeners lived here. Greg invited us to the back yard and all I could say was WOW. Vegetables were mixed in with the flowers, paths meandered around the yard. I had garden envy. The pictures tell a better story than I can.

Notice the water barrel in the corner of this house.

When I was younger, way younger, we used to play in the swamp that Barth pond started life out as. In the winter we ice skated there. Now Patriots Park is a wonderful nature area with walking paths and a ton of perennial flowers.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Better than meeting the Pope

The highlight of a weekend full of highlights was the trip to the home of Mike Shadrack and Kathy Guest Shadrack. They are both renowned authors and live in a woodland wonderland near Hamburg NY. Their house is built over a creek, a creek for crying out loud. How cool is that?
When I got off the bus I was stunned, in awe, fill in the blank. I think it was Melissa from Houston Garden Girl who said “breathe Jim, breathe.” There was hosta as far as I could see. Beautiful green hosta. Hosta in pots, hosta in planters, hosta in the ground; a cornucopia of hosta. I had arrived at the Graceland of hosta.
There were gardens to tour. One was Kathy Guest Shadrack's wonderful sun garden with the most beautiful lilies. It is built on a hill with paths that meander through the beds. You could get lost in the open, being overwhelmed by the beauty. Pat and I next visited the mini hosta garden which is set in the woods (as opposed to the rest of the property, which is also set in the woods). The hostas were in nooks and crannies, growing in rotting wood -- they were everywhere I looked. It was beautiful, like wandering through the Cuyahoga National Park, but better. We hiked along the woodland paths moving up the hill, seeing more hostas, till we pumped into a deer fence. That explains why I didn’t see any teeth marks on the hosta. Pat and I sacrifice hosta every year to deer.
The ultimate wow moment occurred when I got my picture taken with Mike Shadrack. It was better than meeting the pope.

Happy as a little kid who just met Santa.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

"Horto in Urbe' means Buffalo

Way up in the sky the little birds fly. While down on the ground garden bloggers descended upon the streets of Buffalo NY like bees on flowers. Buffa10 was a wonderful experience. Friday started with a tour of the cottage district in the rain. Gardens look so nice in the rain and who hasn't gardened in the rain? The neighborhood dates from the Civil War. It was a wow moment. We went from one wonderful garden to the next. It seems that critical mass has been achieved. I've never seen so many wonderful gardens in a neighborhood. This record lasted all of one day till we saw more great neighborhood gardens.

The street curbs are cut stone. The city could have replaced them with concrete years ago. It is a tribute to the City of Buffalo that they did not. The cut stone curbs enhance the neighborhoods look.

I am jealous of tree lawn gardens. These narrow gardens next to the street were prevalent where ever we walked. We also saw them during our off hours touring. If Pat and I tried this we'd be taken away in cuffs by the yard police.

The Urban Roots Garden Center is the only coop garden center in the country. What a place. One of our hosts, Jim Charlier sits on its board. He told us that Urban Roots is the only garden center in the city and it caters to the local population in plant selection. It also has local artists' lawn ornamentation. There were a couple of pieces that were calling my name as soon as we got off the bus, so I gave them homes.

We stopped at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society to visit the Japanese Garden. The Historical society has a bronze statue of Lincoln. As a native son of the Land of Lincoln, while Pat toured the garden I investigated the Lincoln story. Lincoln visited Buffalo twice. He stopped in Buffalo on the way to Washington after the election and his funeral train stopped on the way back to Springfield 4 years later.