Monday, March 30, 2009

Journeys In and Out of the Garden

I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend in your gardens. It was very wet here with lots of rain, wind, cold temperatures and even a few snow flurries. This is after a glorious Friday with highs in the upper sixties. Ah, March in Central Illinois!

The weather was much nicer today after a nasty frost last night. The sun was out and the wind was calm. The temp. reached 58 and would have been perfect to do a little more cleaning of garden beds. But as so often happens, life gets in the way.

I spent the better part of the day taking care of the last few details of moving my Dad. I made the decision a few weeks back that he really needed more help than I was able to give him. After his bout with Shingles, hospitalization for infection and then again for dehydration, I talked to a Social Services person. She suggested Assisted Living and gave me the name of a place. I called, went for a tour, and was VERY impressed. To make a long story short-everything fell into place very quickly and he has been ensconced in his lovely new apartment for a little over a week. Today I met, again, with the nurse and director to see how he was doing from their view point, to get his medications out of his apartment and into the CNAS' hands permanently and to give them a check for his first month's rent. ( Worth every penny!)

They assure me he is settling in very well, eating good and starting to mingle with some of the other residents. And I think he is. I stayed and had a great evening meal with him and he didn't even try to get any of those little 'digs' in that have been common the last couple of weeks.
This has been a very difficult time for the both of us. It is hard to see a parent become infirm and needing help-more help than family can give. While I have the approval of all the family, it is ultimately left to me, the oldest daughter, to make the final decisions where he is concerned. This is a heavy burden to bear. I will say, now that it's done, I am more at peace and know in my heart it was the right choice. As I said, everything fell into place so easily and quickly it was meant to be.
But on the other hand, I know this is has been extremely hard on Dad. The move represents a loss of independence-however little he did have. He is no longer driving as he could not afford his car there. That one fact takes away his 'freedom' to come and go as he pleases. I know I would be devastated if I were unable to go when and where I wanted. I know he is grieving for his former self. I will be patient and with the staff's help, he will get through this and hopefully adjust. Giving himself a chance, he will no longer be lonely, no longer lack the drive to get up in the morning and he will not have to face days with nothing to do. He will be with people who remember the things he does and his stories and theirs will provide him the opportunity to feel there is a reason to live. That is my hope for him-a chance to see he is still important to us his family and to others.

Thanks for listening to me. As I commented to Mary, who is also dealing with an aging father, writing this down and sharing it has been good therapy for me. Mary's therapy was also sharing her great photos of flowers and of course the Licker Sisters. So now, I will show you mine-flowers that is. :)
The daffodil above is in my garden. Tomorrow, I hope to see it in full bloom. And this evening while searching for that blooming daffodil, I found the tulip bud above. Just one though. I am hoping more will join it soon! On my errands, I noticed a few magnolia trees in bloom. I think the wind and heavy rains have hurt them some, but they are still a wonderful sight of spring.

This bud was just a perfect example. And besides, it gave me an excuse to usethe macro feature on my camera.

This of course is the magnolia bloom up close and personal. And another opportunity to try super macro. They really are very delicate looking-and oh so beautiful! I may frame this photo.

Okay, we've had photos in my garden and out of my garden and now we are inside my home in the garden window. My cactus, a Mammillaria Elongata is in bloom. And this year I can actually show you what the blooms look like. I posted last year on March 27th about it and showed some very blurry pictures here.

I hope you enjoy these much clearer photos. I am amazed by this cactus's innate ability to know when it is time to bloom.

Always in March, just as if it were in the desert of Arizona! Maybe Rose will see some of these in her travels out there this week.

Now I just need Aiyana to tell me how to transplant it!
Thanks for coming along with me on my journey with my Dad, and in and out of the garden. I hope you get to spend some time in your garden this week!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Walk in My Gardens

Cheryl at My Wildlife Sanctuary suggested that we all take time to enjoy our gardens today no matter the weather. Thankfully, the weather here was perfect. Sunny, a light breeze and a temp of about 60F. My kind of weather!

To all of you who are having bad weather-storms, blizzards and flooding, my heart and my prayers go out to you.

After doing some cleaning and clearing in the front garden beds and picking up sticks and limbs the recent winds blew down, I took my garden walk. And surprise! My vinca is blooming. I know we complain about this ground cover spreading everywhere and choking out other plants, but in the spring it is sooo lovely to see all it's delicate blue-lavender blooms. In a few more days I should have a cheery carpet of blooms against their dark green glossy leaves.

The daffodils are getting so close. I had hoped one would pop this afternoon so I could get a picture. I guess I will have to wait a few more days. Everyday, though I notice more are coming up. I think they are the ones we planted last fall when I had all the help from the kids and grand kids. Some may just be later, but I have a feeling some were planted a little deeper than recommended. Good help is so hard to find. :)

Lilacs are budding! I am so excited and can't wait for them to flower. I love the scent of lilac more even than hyacinths. This is the pale lavender that has the big blooms. Sorry no name.

This is the darker one that has smaller blooms, but oh such a heavenly scent! No name for this one either. I planted these long ago before I knew you were supposed to keep track of the names-silly me. I trimmed each of these bushes drastically last year. They were getting way too tall and all the blooms were high on the branches. I was a little worried they might not do to well this year, but they look great and are both loaded with buds all the way up.

This is oriental lily just pushing through the ground, reminds me of an artichoke!

The purple plum trees is also putting on buds. Soon the dark pink blossoms will appear and we should start seeing bees.

Does anyone else see the ragged edges of these tulip leaves as evidence of critters in my garden??? I shouldn't complain too much as I only saw a couple of these and the nibbles won't really hurt the blooms. But lets not make a salad out of my garden, please little rabbits!

This no name clematis is putting on leaves, another surprise. I hope it blooms this year so we can find out what it is.

The hen and chicks, Sempervivum Brannii I planted last year is a little worse for wear. But I think it will come back and fill in.

And now I need help. I think this was a pass along, but can't remember who or what it is? Anyone??

Same goes for this one.... I know I should have written down names and locations.

And finally we have this very healthy looking plant. It is coming up close to where I had the gorgeous blue delphinium last year. But is that what it is, or... is it just a very fast growing weed?
I hope you enjoyed the walk around my garden as much as I did. Spring is a wonderful time of the year-go on take a walk in your garden today!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Adventure with the Girls!

Today was a glorious spring day in Central Illinois! A high of 73, bright sun, blue skies and an outside just waiting to be enjoyed.

This past weekend was our weekend with the granddaughters and thanks to spring break at their schools, they were able to stay several more days. I love it when school holidays fall near our time with them! A couple of them were spending time with our daughter while 3 of them were with me. A visit to the Forest Preserve was just what the day seemed to call for- a chance to spend some quality time together and share in nature's delights.

Children of all ages seem to be drawn to the water. It must have a magical quality!

I can't quite find the right words to describe what I felt when I saw the shoes come off and the toes dabbling in the water. But it has to do with the idea that it's a time honored tradition that all kids seem to do. By the way, they were very surprised at how cold the water was!

After drying their toes, a walk on one of the many trails seemed in order. If you enlarge, you can see they all have walking sticks. Even Grandma had to have one which made picture taking a little awkward.

The forest is still very bare here. No wild flowers-not even a sign of them starting to grow yet. And because of the winds we didn't get to see or even hear any birds. Were we disappointed? Well, I was a little as I had hoped for more picture opportunities, but not the girls. They loved every minute of our adventure as evidenced by the smiles on their faces!
I hope you are getting to enjoy some glorious spring weather in or out of your gardens.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Early Spring Show and Tell!

I have had these pictures loaded for several days now-just haven't had the time to add narrative. But tonight, after reading so many spring blogs, I so wanted to add mine to the show and tell.

Isn't this a lovely flower? I love the blueness of it. Anybody want to take a guess as to what it is?

The forsythia stems my cousin sent home with me a couple of weeks ago have provided many smiles for me as I do the dishes. I have the vase sitting in my kitchen window and the bright yellow blooms are so cheery. (I am hoping they will take root!)

I did get a couple of flats planted on the 10th. I planted several varieties most of which came through the seed exchange or from very generous bloggers.

Sunflowers are up in 5 days.

As well as several others.

A week ago the these tulips were just a couple of inches tall.

60+ degree temps and they are growing very quickly!

All of the iris I transplanted from my Mother-in-Law's last summer have new growth. I am SOOO happy.
And in the few days since I loaded these pictures, I have seen day lilies sprouting, green shoots of yarrow, and new growth on the Silver Mound Artemisia! Yea spring. I think it is truly here.. :} I hope you are enjoying spring in your gardens.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

'Our World in Bloom'

This past Sunday and Monday, I experienced many 'firsts' in my life. In other words I had quite an adventure. And who best to share an adventure with than your best friend! Rose and I made our way to the Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier in Chicago. We rode a commuter train(a personal first), we rode a city bus (another first), saw and experienced Navy Pier(a first) and rode a trolley-you guessed it also a first. But the best first was actually getting to take in the Garden show!

Our World in Bloom is the theme for this year's Chicago Flower & Garden show. All of the feature gardens were excellent at portraying this theme.

This is the entrance to the show. Through out we saw many metal works depicting the world and blooms. This fountain was especially neat as they had dry ice in each corner that gave off a misty fog.

We saw many of the usual sights of spring. Forsythia was in bloom in all directions. I had many opportunities to try out the 'super macro' setting on my new camera.

Lots of spring colors! These cyclamen and daisies were stunning and in colors I rarely see.

Of course the hyacinths were in full bloom and smell. Every time we came to a new grouping I had to take a whiff! Although these show as blue, they were a deep purple and paired with white cyclamen were gorgeous.

This Victorian 'bedroom' was an eye-catching display. The living bedspread and the twig headboard were beautiful. There was also a twig rocker and a trunk filled with blooming flowers.

The bedspread was made up of simple everyday plants, but oh how beautiful!

I loved the iron works and this dinosaur really was unusual.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter showed some of this 'garden on her site. Done as an archaeological dig of the future, it was amusing but also thought provoking. To get a better idea of what they are saying click to enlarge.

One of the 'found' objects!

Foxgloves gave me another chance at super macro.

As did this wonderful hellebore.

I found this fascinating. A wall of plants. It looked like they had planted a flat with different plants and then simple turned it up and hung it on a lattice. But they are special planters that are sloped to keep the dirt , water and plants from falling out. Very simple but at the same time I found it so appealing.

Lots of the flowers we knew or could find an identifying sign. But not for this one. Does anyone know what this is? Besides beautiful that is. :}

One of my favorite garden colors is pink. And there were lots and lots of pink. ( I just love my new camera!)

These are a bi-colored snap dragon. We were told the name, but I have forgotten it. They are hard to find yet this year, though.

And of course hydrangea. These are grown mostly for florists. But wouldn't I love to have a bed like this!

More pink. Pinks and daisies in shades of pink. I am not usually a fan of 'gaudy' but fell in love with this lighted mosaic garden ball. Probably because of the color. But I can definitely see it in my garden in the future.

There were waterfalls galore. Rose and I were amazed at the sheer tonnage of rock it took to make this one. We decided there had to be some pretty big freight elevators to get all of these rock up to the second floor!

And fountains of all sizes and shapes. This was perhaps my favorite.

Lunch in a great sidewalk cafe-of course it was enclosed. But the warmth of the dim sun could be felt and enjoyed. Our waiter was kind enough to take our picture so we could have another reminder of our day.
I know Rose is going to post about the show as well. I am sure she will have many of the things I missed, so be sure to catch hers. It was a wonderful time made all the better because of the companionship of a dear friend who shares a passion for gardening. Thank you Rose for so many firsts and for such delightful company. And remember, 'What happens in Chicago-stays in Chicago!'