Monthly Archives: June 2010

9 ways my garden made me happy this week (GBBD June ’10)

I have been a neglectful gardener. I have been extremely neglectful garden blogger. My excuse is the Great Chefs Event, a huge fundraiser that benefits Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the research that will hopefully end childhood cancer someday. Huge success – 1000 people, 30+ famous chefs cooking and chatting, hundreds of thousands of dollars raised. My tiny little piece of that puzzle seemed to take over my life for the last few weeks, and my garden suffered. Probably my family suffered too, but fortunately, that is not the subject of this post. But that was last night. I’ve got the blisters on my toes to prove it (Somehow, I just couldn’t justify garden clogs with that great dress. Darned high heeled sandals!)

Today, I got to work in my garden. Ahhhhhhhh. And as I was puttering and watering and weeding, I realized that in the midst of my craziness, the garden has given me things to smile about. It continues to work, even when I can’t. So here are the ways my garden made me happy this week.


1. The monarda attracted the year’s first hummingbird. He joined us at dinner tonight. Bee balm? Maybe. Hummingbird balm? Definitely.

2. The lavender and the evening primrose bloomed simultaneously. Direct opposites on the color wheel, these complimentary beauties are textbook.

3. The salad I made to take to a friend’s this weekend called for fresh basil. I walked out the back door with a pair of scissors and had fresh basil.

4. A pair of goldfinches decided to make my feeder their home. They’ve been to visit daily.  Haven’t seen these guys since they were gray and gloomy in February.

5. I weeded the whole garden today in the time in took to roast a chicken. I know my yard’s not big, but 90 minutes is definitely a record for a whole garden weed. Hot weather? Lack of rain? Excessive mulching? I don’t know what’s keeping them down, but I’m smiling about it.

7. My sticks are blooming!!! Remember the bare root roses that I put in the ground while trying to muster the faith to believe that something would actually come of them? They’re showing off now boy.

8. The jackmanii clematis that I planted last month shriveled up and died.  Here’s to nurseries with guarantees! The new one is bigger and better. Whereas before I had one shoot that had made it 2 feet up the arbor, now I have three.

9. Hydrangeas. They ask so little, they give so much. (Mine are all real, by the way)

Clearly, my garden can live without me for a few weeks. True, it is the hours I spent last month, last year, three years ago that have set it up to produce without me, but I’m loving the return on my investment.

To see what’s blooming in other bloggers gardens this month, check out May Dreams Garden.

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The Fake Out. Would you do it??

Take a look at this luscious perennial border spotted this weekend in the idyllic Chicago suburb of Western Springs. See anything fishy? Anything out of the ordinary? Anything to make your obsessive gardener antennae quiver with discomfort?

How about in this close up that I took because the contrast was so eye catching?

What about in this planter, one of a pair that flanked the front walk to a really lovely home?

There is definitely something amiss here. Have you figured it out yet? Let me tell you how I got there. The house caught our attention first with its amazing wrap around porch and expansive lawn (everything is more expansive in the Midwest. I had forgotten that after 5 years of old city east coast living). My old friends C & L and I gawked at this beautiful border – lush with hosta and peony and ladies mantle. I whipped out my camera and told L that I would be featuring her neighborhood in my next blog post. I took a shot from one end. I took a shot from the other. I boldly stepped one foot into the border to get up close and personal with the nikko blue hydrangea and the white peony that were such a perfect contrast. Then I do what I always do with a plant I find especially lovely – I touched it.

It was plastic.

The hydrangea was plastic!! Wow. That’s surprising, we commented. Such a lovely border to have a fake plant stuck in the middle of it. Everything else was real. Everything else was lush. These bobbing blue heads were tucked in subtly among the other bloomers. They weren’t garish. They didn’t advertise their plasticity. How would your average passer-by even know that they weren’t real? (I mean, really. How many polite Western Springs residents would be cheeky enough to step into the middle of the border and lay hands on their neighbor’s flowers? Probably not many. Good thing I’m not a polite Midwesterner any more or we wouldn’t have anything to talk about right now).

We took a closer look at the rest of the garden. All real, except for a few sprigs of ill-timed forsythia in the entrance planters. They were a little more obvious, but still, mixed with the honest-to-goodness plants that filled the majority of the space, they could fool the casual observer.

So here’s my question for you. Your shade garden is fabulous, except for that one spot off to the right that really could use a jolt of color. Your sunny perennial bed looks stunning, but a tiny bit of that nikko blue would really do the trick between the phlox and the lavender. Would you fake it?

p.s. Apparently, I’m not the only one blogging about this phenomenon. Check out Christine in Alaska – she’s got some real beauties on this post!

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