Tag Archive | flowers

Our Garden – So Far

So far this year we’ve had a colorful show of flowers in our garden, with a couple of nice surprises and only one or two disappointments. The early spring bulbs in the rock garden did very well and the daffodils made a fine display.



The tulips, however, were a different story. I don’t know if it was because of the cold winter weather or if the bulbs are just getting past their best but most of the plants were stunted or just didn’t flower at all. I noticed in a couple of public gardens that they hadn’t seemed to do so well this year, so I didn’t feel too bad.  The ones that did manage to flower made up for the ones that didn’t.



Meanwhile, the lilac was a very pleasant surprise.  The shrub itself was starting to get very tall and ragged so at the end of last year I cut it right down to the ground, leaving just a couple of offshoots that I hoped might survive.  I hadn’t expected it to bloom again for at least another year or two but it put out some beautiful, fragrant blossoms.

Back in the rock garden, things continued to flower, the cushion spurge, dwarf iris Lil’ Red Devil and Japanese anemones providing a nice show.

I tried eradicating the chives from the garden last year as they were coming up everywhere, but I have to admit I was rather pleased that this bunch by the back doorstep managed to survive. I think I would have missed seeing these colorful flowers and the butterflies that they attract.

As I discovered the other day, this seemingly innocuous clump of pinks hides a massive ant hill. I must take care not to disturb it when I’m weeding this particular flower bed. I had enough trouble getting stung by the hornets last year, without getting bitten by ants!

We had a spell of very wet weather last week which produced a bumper crop of mushrooms – or whatever they are – in the lawn.

Things are drying out now and the sun, accompanied by warmer temperatures, has prompted the first iris (Lacy Snowflake) and the first poppy to bloom, while the queen of the garden, the pink Japanese tree peony continues to dazzle passersby with her beauty and fragrance.


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Elk Spotting

Maybe it’s because I’ve always driven by at the wrong time of day, but I had become increasingly concerned that I hadn’t seen any sign of the elk lately and feared that, owing to inevitable budget cuts, the Forest Preserve had decided to abandon the idea of maintaining the herd in Elk Grove Village.  It would surely be unthinkable!  But you never know, these days. I decided to stop and take a closer look.

I saw plenty of wild flowers including some red things that I think are trillium and some purple things which, as far as I’m concerned, must remain nameless. There were dozens of squirrels running about and a woodpecker was making quite a commotion up in the treetops while a few frogs gently burped in the background. Still no sign of the elk.

I walked up as far as the bridge that spans Higgins Road and then came back, keeping well to the side as some of the cyclists who use the path go speeding past dangerously fast. PLEASE! PEOPLE! Remember that pedestrians use this path too, some with small children.  Almost back to the parking lot and still no sign of the elk, but then, just as it seemed like my worst fears may be realized, there they were.

Phew! What a relief! They’re still with us, looking a bit ragged as they shed their winter coats but seemingly healthy. Elk Grove Village just wouldn’t be the same without the elk!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Place in the World

Ever since I was a little kid, growing up in post World War II London, I have loved gardens. We didn’t have a garden of our own until I was seven years old but some of my earliest memories are of playing in my great-aunt’s garden and visiting my grandma’s house in Hackney.

One of the things that stands out in my mind from those early days is the heady perfume of the flowers; roses in the rain and the gorgeous scent of lilac blossoms, which is why, every year when May comes around, I head to Lombard for the Lilac Festival. I may never be able to go home again but visiting Lilacia Park at lilac time is probably the next best thing.

The timing of a visit to Lombard is everything and, although I was a bit too early to catch all the lilacs in full bloom this year, I was able to see the accompanying tulips at their best. They always have an interesting variety of these spring flowers at the park, with names such as Yellow Pomponette, Copper Image, Orange Princess and  Dream Touch.

Of course, the lilacs are the stars of the show and their heavenly scent made me feel nostalgic, thinking of Mum and how she loved to visit Lombard in May, both of us missing home and remembering the long-ago days of lilacs, primroses and bluebells in the wood.

A beautiful garden will always lift my spirits though, and with the sun shining, making the colors come alive, I quickly set about capturing these images. I guess you could say that a garden is my most favorite place in the world, no matter where we are.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Place in the World

 

The Darling Buds of May

There was an abundance of buds, blossoms and blooms at The Chicago Botanic Garden this week, and with almost perfect weather conditions it was an ideal time to take some pictures.

As Shakespeare so aptly put it, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and summer’s lease hath all too short a date:” The flowers that we enjoy during these spring months only last for a brief spell so it’s good to get out to the Garden as often as possible in order not to miss anything. The daffodils are almost finished now, but azaleas are making a beautiful show and the tulips are still looking spectacular.

One of my favorite walks in the Garden is along the path by the Sensory Garden where primula, columbine and anemones among others, vie for attention in a colorful display. Christina Rossetti certainly got it right when she wrote, “There is no time like Spring, when life’s alive in everything,

There are plenty of seats available to rest awhile so relax and soak up some of that welcome spring sunshine and then on to the other end of the walk where the vibrant hues are just as breathtaking as the flowers all along the path.

At every turn, the Garden is aglow with color and when these flowers are spent there will be different ones to take their place.  It won’t be long before Summer is A- comin’ in!

Under The Domes

It’s been a long time since we last visited The Domes in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park, Wisconsin, but with the better weather now upon us, we thought we’d take a drive up there and see how things are doing.

First, a little bit of history and a few facts and figures.  The Domes were designed by Milwaukee architect Donald L. Grieb, and the first of the three domes, The Show Dome, was completed in 1964. First lady Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the facility to the people of Wisconsin in 1965.  Each dome is 140ft across and 85ft high and has 2,200 triangular panes of glass. No pesticides are used on the plants inside the domes so beneficial birds, insects and toads are used to keep things under control.

The theme for the Show Dome is changed five times a year and it’s usually closed for about two weeks in order to prepare for each show, so make sure you check ahead of time before you visit to make sure it’s up and running.  I didn’t think about that before we left home, but we were lucky in our timing.  The current theme is Shakespearean with famous quotes from many of his works dotted around the displays.

The colors were brilliant and the perfume from the lilies was intoxicating!  These shows may last anything up to fourteen weeks so they require constant attention. The plants are watered by hand every day and are changed out as needed.

 

Tucked away, in a shady area of the Show Dome is an interesting piece of history.  This stone lion was one of eight animal heads that stood watch over the Mitchell Park Sunken Garden and Water Mirror from 1904 to 1966. I’m glad they managed to save him from demolition. I must say that Mitchell Park itself is looking very run-down now compared to how it looked when we visited many years ago but I imagine keeping The Domes looking as impressive as they do must take a lot of funding and the focus has obviously shifted over the years from the outdoor gardens to these magnificent conservatories.

That being said, unfortunately, the future of The Domes seems uncertain. The park’s website has a page dedicated to forthcoming plans and it would seem that they are asking everyone to keep an open mind as far as options for going forward with regard to repairing and rebuilding, which, reading between the lines, doesn’t sound too promising.  So I would urge you to visit The Domes now and enjoy this amazing facility and, if possible, show your support for one of Milwaukee’s most beautiful attractions.

More on what’s under the other two domes in an upcoming post.

Weekly Photo Challenge – The Garden Awakening

It was good to see the Chicago Botanic Garden awakening from its long winter sleep today.  Stretching its arms and giving a bit of a yawn, it welcomed us back for another year of spectacular flowers and foliage.  Everything was neat and tidy, all the winter debris cleared away and emerging tulip leaves promise a beautiful show on the Esplanade in a few weeks.

Over in the English Walled Garden, a robin watched me as I stopped to take a picture or two.

The waterfall is yet to begin its cascade down towards the lake but the birds were singing and you could almost hear Mother Nature rolling up her sleeves, spitting on her hands and murmuring, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

A stroll around the immaculately-kept Japanese Garden showed me that it won’t be too long before the azaleas are in bloom.  All kinds of buds were showing on the branches of shrubs and trees.

If it’s true that “the earth laughs in flowers” then it was positively giggling like a giddy schoolgirl today as hundreds of brightly-colored crocus poked their heads out of the grass in front of the Carillon Tower.

Walking back through the Sensory Garden towards Spider Island, I was filled with anticipation, thinking about all the wonderful things that the garden will have to show us in the coming months now that it is finally awake.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Awakening

Weekly Photo Challenge – Favorite Place

When Cheri Lucas Rowlands asked us for our interpretation of our favorite place for this week’s Photo Challenge, it will come as no surprise to some of you that I chose the Chicago Botanic Garden. On so many levels and for so many different reasons this is my go-to place, the place that never ceases to enchant me and to bring back so many happy memories. And where else would I go to see so much of my favorite color, purple!

No matter what time of year you visit the Garden there is always something beautiful to see. I have been here in all weathers and all conditions and there has never been a time when I’ve said I wished I’d stayed at home.

Every aspect of the place is pleasing.  Every path you take presents a different and spectacular view.  And the flowers are sensational!

Combine fantastic foliage and flowers with the appeal of various fountains, waterfalls and lakes and you have the perfect place to spend the day.

My mother adored the Garden and we spent many happy days here right up until a few weeks before she passed away. Our favorite spot in this our favorite place to visit was, perhaps not surprisingly, the English Garden, mainly because it reminded us of home and the other favorite places that we left behind so many years ago.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Favorite Place