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Today’s Favorite Flower: Bloodroot

Bloodroot 4-27-2013 1-57-54 PM 4320x3240 I know each of you is walking around outside in this 80 degree weather–it’s actually HOT, almost unpleasant (it got really unpleasant when the Lawn Guy got me good with the leafblower. Was that deliberate or an accident?). Anyway, the bloodroot [Sanguinaria canadensis] have s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d their little faces to the sun and are delightful delightful. Do you have them in your woods? Or in your garden? Yes, of course you do or you will be driven out of the coven… Love, Rommy

How Many Inches of Rain Does It Take to Fill Lake Michigan?

This morning landscape architect Deidre Toner kindly forwarded information from The Morton Arboretum which said that 17.81″ of rain have fallen there in 2013. In April, the official count was 9.78″ of rain! I got pretty pumped thinking that must mean that Lake Michigan has completely recovered from being two feet below “normal”. But (duh), Queen Bee, think again and maybe have another cuppa coffee this morning. Seventeen inches translates to only two inches spread across Lake Michigan, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. If you are a weather freak, here’s the link to the Corps’ charts on Lake Michigan water levels: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/GreatLakesInformation/GreatLakesWaterLevels/WaterLevelForecast/WeeklyGreatLakesWaterLevels.aspx

Erosion on beach at Lake Road 4-19-2013 3-34-56 PM 4320x3240By the way, I’m posting this nasty photograph which shows how a significant slice of beach eroded in Lake Forest after the deluge of April 18, 2013. Water from municipal and private stormwater pipes ran so fast and furious down the narrow ravine leading to this section of beach that it cut this sharp gouge in the sand. There’s much to be done to solve these (highly solveable) erosion problems, but there is a dedicated team of people working on regional solutions. The Alliance for Lake Michigan has produced an excellent ravine webinar. You will not regret spending an hour listening–and if you are a ravine or bluff owner or if you are in the landscape contract and design trade, please sign up for their emails because the Alliance, together with Openlands and “Plants of Concern”, is working on creating brochures of plants appropriate for various ravine conditions, a “rapid response assessment program” for training gardeners in assessing ravine health, and educational ravine seminars at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Thank you, Alliance!##

 

Garden Columnist Anne Raver speaks up on Impatiens “Blight”

Impatiens-walleranaDo you read the New York Times? If you do, you have likely read the excellent writing of Anne Raver. Anne’s most recent column, “In the Garden”, describes at length the downy mildew that has killed Impatiens and which means you probably will not see it in garden centers this year. (Remember last year (?) when tomatoes were full of greenhouse disease?). Anyway, Anne’s opinion about Impatiens (“Impatiens is an overused plant I love to hate, so I am shedding crocodile tears…Maybe nature is doing us a favor by forcing those addicted to the plant to find an alternative.”) reminded me of the famous Chicago “Prairie School” landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. He was in his last years when he gave a keynote speech at the annual luncheon of Friends of the Parks. He showed some slides of his work, including one of a park he designed in Detroit. It was a recent slide, with red Impatiens figuring prominently in the shrub border. Mr. Caldwell looked hard at the slide, raised his cane and shook it angrily in the air, and cried, “Impatiens? RUBBISH!”. ##

That Little Blue Flower From Siberia. Or Not.

scilla-siberica

Isn’t this a lovely spring scene? And in looking at it, the “Queen of the Arcane” (as my friend Patti calls me) thought, “Ah, Scilla siberica”. Great name—fun to say—but I wonder. Did  it really originate in Siberia as its name implies?

This ridiculous question led me straight to Wikipedia, which let me know that I was barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, by thinking “Siberia”. Not even close. This little blue beauty is Persian, wouldn’t you know, with forays north into Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Which means it comes from a slice of the world north and south along the Volga River. Check it out—nothing to do with Siberia whatsoever.

map-siberia

But wait, there’s more! The Queen of the Arcane has an additional geography lesson based on that cute blue flower.  According to Wikipedia, there are 80 different species of Scilla. In addition to our little Siberian impersonator, several others have confusing geographies. For example, there’s Scilla mesopotamica, which seems geographically this.close to Siberica. This.close means they’re probably the same damn plant. And even more confusing? Scilla peruviana.  From Peru, right? Except that it’s called the Portugese squill by some and the Cuban Lily by others. Peru? Portugal? Cuba? Which is it? Maybe these Scilla botanists are simply as geographically challenged as most Americans.

But then there are my personal favorite species: the Scilla flaccidula and even better, Scilla haemorrhoidalis. So what countries do they come from? Or, put another way, what countries actually want to claim those two as natives?

SEND ME GREAT PHOTOS OF LARGE CARPETS OF SCILLA and don’t forget to say WHERE you took the photo… presumably not in Siberia!