You may find this hard to believe, but only 37% of the folks in Chicagoland have a flower garden. Of that 37%, only 13% have lilacs. Of those 13%, only 7% cut the flowers to make bouquets.
Ok, so I made up the statistics, but the principal is true – not everyone has lilacs. With your help, we can wipe out the sad state of lilac-less-ness for one and all in our fair city. I’m doing my share by bringing in cut stems to work. Won’t you help by sharing yours too?
I’d show you pictures of our lilac bushes themselves, but that would be embarrassing. Did you know you are supposed to cut them back after they bloom? I did. But we haven’t done it.
Some of our lilacs are as big as a tree, needing Mike to do most of the bloom cutting for me. Even our Sensation lilac is a gangly sad looking thing. Both situations are our fault and need to be remedied after this year’s blooms are done. We should have been cutting out the stems that are bigger than 2″ in diameter. That would have given us a balance of new and old stems. The bush would have topped out at about 8’ and provided an abundance of flowers that I could reach. Oops.
This is the year we’ll do better. The pruning needs to be done right after they bloom. I’m putting in on my calendar. We won’t wait long as that would result in destruction of next year’s buds. We can rejuvenate the Sensation lilac by cutting out up to 1/3 of the stems. Some are overgrown, some are butting up against another bush, some are rubbing against each other, and some are just plain old unattractive.
The other lilacs are hiding out back where we forget about them. They are horrendously overgrown. Perhaps that is why they are hiding. Getting those back in shape will take more effort. Lots more effort. We should cut them almost to the ground and hope they recover to bloom in a few years. I’m not sure I have the courage for that.
For now, I’m going to fill some more vases and enjoy the moment.
Do you want to know what else is blooming in the May garden? To see what other bloggers have blooming on the 15th of every month, visit May Dreams Gardens – Bloom Day for our Garden Bloggers’ Bloom day entries.
How can it be time for Favorites on the Fifth again? Can today really be the 5th? Can it really be May? Doesn’t the world know I’m busy tagging, sorting, inventorying, and selling dahlias and can’t spend time at my computer? Is Erik Johansson really flattened onto the ironing board you see below? Ok, now I have your attention.
I’m gonna make it easy on myself, and I’m just going to send you off to see some really fun photos. I’m not even going to be concerned that the photos are not gardening related. Erik Johansson is a photographer and retouch artist from Sweden, and as you can see from his pictures below, he gets up close and personal with creativity.
Believe it or not, spring is coming. And so are plant sales! Our dahlias are hardening off outside, with some 400 of them going to various sales. Another 100 will be planted in our garden.
You might ask why — why the obsession with dahlias? That question is easy to answer with pictures. Feast your eyes on Cinnabar.
And Drummer Boy.
Yes, these are all pictures from our yard, actually Mike’s part of our yard.
As President of the Central States Dahlia Society, he is intimately involved with all aspects of dahlia growing. That includes making sure that you can grow them too. He recently spoke about dahlias for the Arlington Heights Garden Club, and will soon do the same for Rolling Meadows.
Please come to the sales and share the joy of passionate growers like Mike. His passion gets plants to you that are ready to go into the ground. They’ll flower starting in August, way earlier than if you plant tubers in the ground yourself in mid-May.
Upcoming sales include:
Here is a screen shot of general plant sales I received recently from the Garden Clubs of Illinois:
Mike and I knew that we’d eventually have to get some of the wild mulberry trees cut down. They were among the trees that line the back of our yard; at least they were till about a week ago. Now three of them are gone. There were others that could have gone too, but my heart and my wallet said no.
Not everyone cuts down a tree just because it has a split in it. This tree in Yosemite has a bit of a split, and they didn’t cut it down. Mike wasn’t convinced that was good logic for us. Yosemite didn’t have power lines, a fence, and a neighbor’s shed right behind the tree. Ours did, and the mulberries would have come down themselves if we didn’t help them along.
I really liked having the whole row of trees that you see below. The mulberries were on the far left.
They were pretty tall, and did a good job of creating a forested look in the summer. As you can see, Mike helped.
Now it’s back to the drawing board. We may put something really big in again, or maybe we’ll just go for something smaller. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
In the interim, someone has to go outside in this lovely weather to start moving shade plants to new homes. That would be me! Out I go.
Morning snow flurries are not enough to stop an afternoon gardener. After all, it is April and I am itching to get outside. I need to see what is trying to bloom for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. I need to finish getting those grasses cut down. I need to plant the Pansies. I need. I need. I need. My inner gardener pretty much doesn’t care what the outside temperature is. I’m goin’ out there.
My coal bucket experiment has certainly been a success. I planted my coal buckets up last December and put them in the garage. Mike watered them a few times, but basically, we ignored them. We noticed some sprouts in early March and moved the coal buckets outside. Fearing for the life of my little sprouts, we often brought them in on really cold nights. It worked! I have the only blooming hyacinths and tulips in sight.
I do have a few (and I do mean few) other candidates for today’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. I’m going to count the pansies as blooming, even though I can only take credit for buying them.
A lonely crocus is blooming.
The daffodils are trying.
The scilla is beginning to make a statement. It has naturalized under a large tree in the front, and soon the periwinkle it cohabitates with will join the party.
I know it’s not much, but I’m not going to complain. It’s all relative…and speaking of relatives, we have one in Door County. Debbie’s yard looked like this just a few weeks ago. Suddenly our spring doesn’t seem so bad.
Do you want to know what else is blooming in the April garden? To see what other bloggers have blooming on the 15th of every month, visit May Dreams Gardens – Bloom Day for our Garden Bloggers’ Bloom day entries.
Session after session after session after session. As the On-Site Seminar Manager for the Chicago Flower and Garden show, you’ve got to figure I have some takeaways to share. No, not leftover plants from the displays (darn). For this month’s Favorites on the Fifth, I’ll share my list of favorite informational takeaways from the show.
#1 – Best Quote
A quote from Rich Eyre at Foxwillow Pines:
“The sound of falling water is worth three psychiatrists.”
#2 – Best Gardens
Nearby places I want to see:
-The Chicago Art Institute garden designed by Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennials. Roy’s philosophy fully embraces native plantings.
- The Chicago Shedd Aquarium garden that won an Illinois Landscaper Construction Association (ILCA) Excellence award
#3 – Words of Wisdom
Tips from Chris Olsen, Landscape and Design Guru:
- Group 3 planters together. CRAM them full and SHOVE them together.
- Let your neighbors know when you are having a big party. Apologize for the cars and traffic. Then watch them all clean up their yards.
#4 – Attracting Monarchs
Pat Miller is a conservation specialist for Monarch Watch. She is a Master Naturalist and Plant Technician for the Morton Arboretum. Per Pat:
- Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed. Milkweed is the only thing the monarch caterpillar eats. If you want monarchs, get milkweed.
- Most monarchs live about 4 weeks, but the monarchs towards the end of summer are built for the migration to Mexico and live up to 9 months. They ride the winds like hawks. Even the monarchs from Canada make the 3000 mile trip to Mexico.
Monarch caterpillar photo by Bette Watson
#5 – Best Book
Jeanne Pinsof Nolan does monthly organic garden workshops at Lincoln Park for Green City Market, as well as school programs. If she had to pick one gardening book, it would be “Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening”.
#6 Local Flowers
Debra Prinzing’s new book “The 50 Mile Bouquet” promotes making your arrangements with plants from local growers. It surprised me to learn:
- 80% of cut flowers come from South America.
- 97% of Valentine roses come from South America.
- Only 2 floats in the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade had American grown flowers this year.
#7 – Best Photography Tip
Mike Caplan may be best known as the WLS Meteoroligist, but to me he is a photographer. His photography session taught me to pretend there is a grid on my viewer when I am deciding what the focal point of my picture is. Think of it like a game of tic tac toe. The focus generally belongs at a grid intersection; only occasionally does the subject belong in the middle of the picture.
#8 – Best Lawn Care Tips
These tips come from Tom Tiddens of Chicago Botanic Gardens:
- Sharpen your lawnmower blade at least annually.
- Core aerate 1 – 2 times a year, late spring, early fall. Decreases compaction, Increases drainage, increases rooting, breaks thatch layer, and it’s then a great time to seed.
#9 – Best Bulb Tip
Jennifer Brennan’s and Mike Nowak’s “Dig In” Chicago TV show returns on April 27th to WCIU 26.
- Jennifer suggests starting summer bulbs inside now, just like you would start seeds now.
- We’ve taken that to a whole different level with over 150 dahlias currently growing in our basement. By the time Mike is done, we’ll have 400 – 500 for sales and for our yard.
#10 – Sad But True
Tony Fulmer of Chalet Nursery sadly acknowledges that Impatiens Downy Mildew (IDM) is here.
- IDM attacks regular impatiens, not New Guinea impatiens, or anything else.
- The plants lose all leaves and flowers.
- Spores are airborne and stay in the ground 5 – 10 years, so even if the plants are disease free when you get them, they are still very likely to die.
- Solution: Use alternatives like the new huge begonias that are available.
I’m big on tradition for holiday recipes, but sometimes even I come across a recipe I’m willing to add to a special occasion menu. This one uses Quinoa. When I first told Mom about Quinoa last year, I pronounced it Quin-o-ah. I was so proud of myself for discovering this healthy grain. Pride goeth before the fall, as others (like Mom) had already embraced quinoa, and knew how to pronounce it: Keen-wah. Quinoa is great as a side dish with a regular meal, and it’s nice for guests as it can be prepared ahead.
Quinoa Salad with Apples and Almonds
(Originally from Family Fun Magazine)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup peeled, diced tart apple, such as Granny Smith
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
Coarse salt and pepper
1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the quinoa and water, then bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, stir, and let it cool completely.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon juice, and salt. Gradually whisk in the oil until blended.
3. Add the apple, celery, raisins, parsley, and almonds to the quinoa and toss the ingredients well. Add the dressing and toss once more to coat the salad. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.
Poor me. I’ve been gone all day every day this week and couldn’t take pictures of my yard for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th.
Poor me. I leave when it’s getting light.
Poor me. I get back when it’s dark.
Poor me. I’ve had to spend every day at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.
Oops. I guess that last line ended any opportunity to get sympathy from you. Somehow working at the Flower and Garden Show isn’t like working. It’s more like dying and going to flower heaven.
Last week I posted some pictures that I took as the show was being built. I thought it would be fun to show some of those along with this week’s companion pictures of the same area.
Yes, it’s been a rough week. But someone had to do it. So glad it was (and continues to be) me!
Do you want to know what else is blooming in the March garden? To see what other bloggers have blooming on the 15th of every month, visit May Dreams Gardens – Bloom Day for our Garden Bloggers’ Bloom day entries.
And now…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the opening of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Wait!!!! It’s not time. It’s too early. It’s even too early for the Friday evening preview to be previewing. So I won’t take the mystery out of the show, but a sneak peak could be fun. A sneak preview of the work in process that is.
I was at Navy Pier Wednesday, getting instructions for my job as the On-Site Seminar Manager. I also got the really nice Columbia Fleece that forevermore states that I was on staff at the show. Here I am modeling it (far right) with Rebecca, Tracey, Lauro, Andrew, Jeylu, and Merideth as we got our marching orders.
The big boys with the big toys were busy building the giant jigsaw puzzle soon to be known as the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Here are some pictures for those of you who wonder how the wonderment happens.
The Chicago Flower and Garden Show starts tomorrow, Saturday, at 10 AM, and runs through next Sunday, March 17th. Remember, I’m speaking on Tuesday at 2:45 on Creativity in the Garden. Hope to see you there.
I love this quote that Beth Burden sent out to all of the speakers at this year’s Chicago Flower and Garden Show…
IF YOU ARE DELAYED FOR ANY REASON: please call Carol, our on-site seminar manager.
Yep. Me. On-site seminar manager at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show that runs March 9 – 17 at Navy Pier. We have our team meeting tomorrow so I’ll get to see the show being built. You’ll have to settle for seeing behind the scenes pictures on FaceBook.
I’m speaking too. Gee, I wonder what nice things the on-site seminar manager will say when she introduces me? My presentation on ‘Creativity in the Garden’ is all set to go, and I even tied it to the Art theme of the show. If you’ve ever wondered how I made the 3′ x 8′ mosaic that graces the banner of this blog, this will be your chance to find out. Join me at the show on Tuesday, March 12th, at 2:45.
Come to the Show to see what Salvador Dalí has to say about creativy
Nearly two dozen display gardens will provide inspiration with vertical plant walls, water features, edible gardens, outdoor living rooms, a “Kids’ Activity Garden,” an “Art of Floral” interpretive exhibit, and much more! The all-new “How to Garden” demonstration studio will offer practical tips on all things green, and experts will be available to help cure horticulture headaches.
Glean even more great ideas from the Chicago Flower & Garden Show’s professionally-designed “Tablescapes” exhibition, watch daily demos from award-winning “Garden Gourmet” chefs at the kitchen amphitheater and buy must-have garden and lawn-care products, plants and tools from top suppliers in the show’s extensive “Marketplace.”
The stroller-friendly show will inspire, educate and motivate gardeners and gourmets of all ages and abilities. You can get $2 off the box office price for each adult ticket purchased by ordering on-line. Check the website for parking and public transportation options. Show parking starts as low as $10 at the Navy Pier East and West garages.
So here we are on ‘Favorites on the Fifth’ and I didn’t have to look far to find my favorite this month. Look out Chicago Flower and Garden Show, here I come!