Morton Arboretum Illuminations – So Much More Than You Would Expect

Morton Arboretum’s Illuminations isn’t your typical Christmas light show. No ho ho ho Santa. No Candy Cane Lane. No lighted dancing elves, plastic snowmen, Snoopy decked out for the holiday, or toy soldiers.

No reason to go then? Not so! Illuminations is a sensory treat you don’t want to miss.
Visitor Center and Lake

It’s this…Blue and purple lights

And this…Green and purple lights

And this…Magenta

Illuminations is filled with magical moments for all of your senses.

Regine hugs a treeHug a tree and the light color changes, with green nicely demonstrated in this picture with my friend Regine.

Sing to a tree, and it provides a light show.

Savor the chili at the Ginkgo Restaurant. Maybe even catch live entertainment inside or out.

There are also musical memories to be enjoyed outside at Symphony Woods, as the tree lights dance to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.



Illuminations is a joy for young and old. Mike and Regine consented to go because it was official “Be Nice to Carol Day”, so I got to pick. I ordered our $12.00 tickets on-line. It was a fun hour and a half. Even ‘Mikey’ liked it, as you can see from this picture in the gift shop. OK, so you can’t tell that from the picture. You’ll have to trust me.

What you can tell from the pictures is that Illuminations is amazing.

Morton provides options to keep you warm during the mile long walk along the lake. They have fires, heaters, tents, even s’mores and hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps.

Don’t let the cold stop you. The experience will warm your heart.

A Christmas tree tip from Mike: It’s always hard to tell if the tree needs water or not. You have to get up close and personal to the tree stand to see the water level. Mike put a few pieces of easy to see Styrofoam in the stand. If they float high, the level is good. If they aren’t floating at all, run, don’t walk, for the watering can.

The Dahlia Family Garden Party

Invite by GlueMeetsPaper on Pinterest

Invite by GlueMeetsPaper on Pinterest

We had quite the garden party this year, with over a hundred notable guests. They were all from the same family, one with quite a bit of inbreeding I must admit. Did I mention they were all dahlias? 76 varieties were invited, with 113 plants in attendance.

It helped that the weather was so accommodating this summer. Our guests stayed long and looked mahvelous, dahling, mahvelous.


Our guest list included Ben, Emory Paul, and Dan.

Ben Huston

Ben Huston

Emory Paul

Emory Paul

Trooper Dan

Trooper Dan








We had a Harvey, a Harry, and a Helen.

Harvey Koop

Harvey Koop

Harry Meggos

Harry Meggos

Helen Richmond

Helen Richmond








They hailed from across the globe, with appearances by Normandy Sweet Lucy, Colorado Classic, and Spartacus.

Normandy Sweet Lucy

Normandy Sweet Lucy

Colorado Classic

Colorado Classic










There was a Drummer Boy for entertainment, and a Duet. It was quite a Fiesta.

Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy



Carmen Fiesta

Carmen Fiesta







We feasted on Salmon with Ketchup and Mustard, enjoying Honey Dew for dessert.

Wynns King Salmon

Wynns King Salmon

Ketchup and Mustard

Ketchup and Mustard

Honey Dew

Honey Dew








Our party started in August. The guests stayed long enough to see a Tahiti Sunrise, Bill’s Sunset and Wanda’s Moonlight.

Tahiti sunrise

Tahiti sunrise

Bills Sunset

Bills Sunset

Wandas Moonlight

Wandas Moonlight








One group was rather caddy, choosing to move on to a party at Willow Creek Church. We took 32 vases to church that day. Here’s a group picture. A very close family. Many others choose to stay behind and I have to admit there were so many guests left that our defectors weren’t missed.

Basket of Dahlias

Basket of Dahlias


It’s really a rather exclusive guest list, fine-tuned over a 10 year period. Mike still finds new varieties that he wants to grow, and he has to say goodbye to old friends to make way for his new acquaintance, new acquaintances who have to prove themselves to be invited back next year. A dahlia, for example, that has a beautiful bloom, but produces few of them, won’t find an invite in the mail from Mike next year.

Wanda’s Aurora will be on our guest list. She’s beautiful, and quite the repeat bloomer.

Wandas Aurora

Wandas Aurora

To everyone’s chagrin, the good time had to end. Our guests called it quits when there was a hard frost. It was time to bring them in to rest a bit over the winter, then we will start planning next year’s party.

Pioneer Day Scarecrow Factory – OhWhata Photo Op, Part 4

Why a part 4? What was so special about this year’s Scarecrow Factory that these last 2 pictures deserve a blog of their own? Why, its the new opportunity for getting your haircut while you are at our annual event. In this shot, Joan was considering a change.

Joan IMG_4281

Ann took out her trusty hair cutting scissors and Joan got a new hair-do!
Joan gets a hair cut from Ann  IMG_4357

So if you were thinking of stopping by this year, but didn’t quite make it, you now have a new incentive to visit next year.

If you are wondering what other pictures were posted from this event, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and My Favorite Scarecrow Of The Day Is…

Pioneer Day Scarecrow Factory – OhWhata Photo Op, Part 3

This is it! Almost the last batch of smilers from the Elk Grove Garden Club’s Scarecrow Factory! There will be one more posting just so you can see the something new that we added to this year’s event.









Don IMG_4322

Carol and Ann IMG_4288

Bob, Joann, Carol IMG_4298

If you are wondering what other pictures were posted from this event, check out Part 1, Part 2, and My Favorite Scarecrow Of The Day Is…

Pioneer Day Scarecrow Factory – OhWhata Photo Op, Part 2

I’ve got more pictures of smiles to show you. Like the pictures I posted yesterday, these are from the Scarecrow Factory at Elk Grove Village’s Pioneer Days. Smiles brought to you compliments of the Elk Grove Garden Club.

One more set of pictures to follow later this week.


Mike and Sally and grandkids IMG_4366



Mike glues a head IMG_4321IMG_4393





















Pioneer Day Scarecrow Factory – OhWhata Photo Op, Part 1

Make a scarecrow sign IMG_4301

There were a lot of smiles at the Elk Grove Garden Club’s Scarecrow Factory last weekend. That’s because our scarecrows came with smiles, lots of smiles. Start counting with one smile per scarecrow, which makes our initial smile count 95. Add 1 smile per Garden Club member who helped that day and you’ve got another 20 smiles. It was infectious – all of the families making scarecrows had smiles, as did everyone passing by as they visited other Pioneer Day events. That’s a lot of smiles.

Smiles are what I like best about our annual Scarecrow Factory. Sure, the scarecrows are incredibly cute. But they pale in comparison to the smiles. Here are some of the pictures to prove it.

If you are wondering what other pictures were posted from this event, check out Part 2, and My Favorite Scarecrow Of The Day Is…




Heather, Zooey, and a little girl IMG_4394

Kevin, with Zooey in a hat IMG_4397









Michelle decorates a hat IMG_4361


If you are wondering what other pictures were posted from this event, check out Part 1, and Part 2, and My Favorite Scarecrow Of The Day Is…

And My Favorite Scarecrow Of The Day Is…

The Scarecrow Factory at Pioneer Days has become quite a tradition in Elk Grove Village. This family event is held every September. The Garden Club has sooooo much fun watching and helping everyone with their scarecrows. Creativity abounds! Here I present to you my absolute favorite scarecrow of the day.

My Favorite scarecrow of the day

If you are wondering what other pictures were posted from this event, check out Part 1, and Part 2. More to come soon.

You Call It Goldenrod, I Call It ‘Gone’

Invasive only begins to describe goldenrod. An accurate description would need some adjectives; highly invasive, completely invasive, utterly invasive. Think of the kind of invasive that Attila the Hun was. That is the kind of invasive that Goldenrod is. Drive by a local forest preserve and you’ll know what I mean. Goldenrod will not share the late summer expanse of field, it will usurp it. Goldenrod stands tall and wide. Of its territory, Goldenrod says ‘I WILL have it all.’.

Not all goldenrod has such bad manners. Mine wasn’t invasive at first, and some of it still isn’t. I had Solidago Fireworks planted in two places. One has stayed in a nice clump and gets about 3’ tall. The other, well, something went awry. Its 6’ tall and everywhere. Trustworthy is apparently not a goldenrod quality. At first it was rather impressive as a companion for the Sneezeweed.

Sneezeweek and goldenrod IMG_3910 (640x427)

Then it was done and flopped all over the place. Not so impressive. I’m not going to show you that embarrassing picture.

Mike said it should go. I said no. I was wrong. (He likes to hear that so I’ll say it again.) I was wrong. After much effort on a humid day, I had three garbage cans full of Goldenrod and an empty canvas where overgrown had been. Oh, so empty. So empty that when I was done moving Karl Foerster grass from nearby and planting three new Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas that I even used a mirror on the back fence to make it look more full.

Front 40 - new - mirror - sneezeweed - hydrangea - zinnia - mum - nice IMG_4058 (640x427)

Brilliant! At $12.50 from a garage sale, the mirror reflected nicely on my ability to have an impactful new vignette at a very reasonable price.

Front 40 - new - mirror IMG_4055 (640x427)

Cardboard Castle – You Can Do This! Just Add Kids

I really really like my garden, Mike’s dahlias, our koi. But I’ve got to tell ya, none of it comes anywhere close to loving grandkids. So sure this is a garden blog, but today I have to show you what John & Heather and the kids did. Its a cardboard castle! Pretty cool huh?

Cardboard castle by John & Heather, Allie and Cam

The castle and those 2 cuties below are in California. We’re not. He is Cameron, age 2. She is Allie, starting Kindergarten tomorrow, and yes, that is a front tooth missing.

Cardboard castle with Cam and Allie

We’ll see the castle a bit closer tomorrow thanks to Skype. I’ve never Skyped with anyone who was in a castle before. And we get a fashion show too so we can see the new school clothes. Maybe Allie will even show us the missing tooth area by hanging over the top of the computer again. You haven’t lived till a 5 year old gets that up close and personal and upside down to smile at you. Want to really live? Get some super-sized boxes, a couple of grandkids, an overactive imagination, and love the moment.

Teaching Your Plants To Read Pays Off

We’ve all heard that plants appreciate being talked to. You may not believe it, but you’ve heard it. Now I’m taking that to a new level. After a huge time investment I have been successful in teaching one of my plants to read. You don’t believe that either? Well, read on…

This poor rose was languishing. I taught it to read and look what happened!
Grow darn it grow

Oh, I also trimmed back the phlox that was totally blocking it from the sun. Still, I’m sure it was the sign that did it.

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