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Garden Markers: The Best Product Yet

Who among you hasn’t been really really irked about plant “markers”? You know, the ubiquitous white plastic tags that snap in half after a season stuck in the dirt next to your plant? Or the sales tags that don’t offer botanical names and are stapled to pots? Or the ones that are threaded thru a slot in the pot and break off when you try to remove them (and/or are bigger than the plant itself)?

plant markerOr…there’s the disappearing marker. I have never actually caught one of our dogs making off with a white plastic tag, but I find them lying all over the garden, but never near the plant they are supposed to be identifying. If not the dogs, who then? Squirrels? Chipmunks? Or do the tags spontaneously jump out of the ground on their own?

And don’t get me going on the metal tags that bend, twist and tear, or the stakes that do the same. Or the “permanent” Sharpies that fade…or the waxy pencils that are too fat to write legibly.

Or did I mention the “helper” I hired who decided to “tidy up” the garden and removed every marker from every tree, shrub and plant?  I still have most of these tags in a box (retrieved from the garbage bin that I just happened to look in) because I haven’t the vaguest idea on which hosta or dwarf conifer they belong. Need I say that the relationship with my helper ended rather…abruptly?

Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that the best garden marking system I’ve found (well, yes, I would like to own an embossing machine like those used by botanic gardens but I’d rather fly to Europe with the same money) is from IDeal Garden Markers. The system is comprised of a unbendable steel stake, a rigid black plastic nameplate, and a white fine-point paint pen. I bought the 11 inch, 45 degree stake for most plants; the 7 inch, 90 degree stake for ground hugging plants especially miniature hostas; the “small” size black nameplate, and 4 marking pens (I bought extras because I’ve learned that sometimes the nib gets crushed when writing). After a summer and a harsh winter of use, my IDeal Garden Markers look just fine. I’m re-ordering!

Of course, then there’s the far more irksome phenom: when the tag survives the winter but the plant does not…as in the expensive Primrose in this photo. Why was it sold here if it’s not hardy? Let’s not even THINK about that! Grrrrr…..##plant marker 2

Where’s the darn Primrose I bought last year?

 

Trout Lilies: Durable Little Woodland Stalwarts

This is a very sweet and interesting post about our woodland Trout lilies by Elgin blogger Pat Hill, who is also the author of the 2007 book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden which you can buy via her website, naturalmidwestgarden.com. I don’t think I’ve ever met Pat, but judging from her website, we are complete birds-of-a-feather. She was nice enough to feature on her website another new Chicago blogger, Monica Buckley.

Monica is owner of Red Stem Landscapes in Chicago. About her company, she says, “With the encouragement, shared secrets, and guidance of so many, including most notably several years with Art Gara as the oldest intern ever at Art and Linda’s Wildflowers, I left the publishing world to found Red Stem Native Landscapes, Inc., following my passion for creating settings where natives, wildlife, and people can thrive in gardens all over Chicago’s North Side and near suburbs”. Hurrah for her, a fellow member of the Landscape Design Association whereby all of you can find and hire fabulous designers to help you plan, install, and maintain gardens.

For her blog debut, Monica interviewed another favorite person of mine (because he loves plants just about more than anybody on earth), famed botanist Jerry Wilhelm. Please read this interview. Here’s a snippet of what Wilhelm warns us to do in Monica’s article:

“It’s almost as if the whole earth skin has third degree burns… If we don’t put organic matter back into the soil and allow natural thermo-regulation to occur, we will keep having broad climate fluxes, we will face extinctions, and we will be in for a very bad time. Slowly but surely, we have to go in that direction, to preserve the remnants that are left, and to try to return health to the soil. But the remnants are important, you have to have some living tissue, you can’t start it from nothing.”

I am helping as time allows to raise money for finishing the work on Wilhelm’s 5th Edition of Plants of the Chicago Region, which most of you will recognize as the bible of native plantspeople throughout the Chicago region (by which I mean the 25 or so counties in WI, IL, IN, and MI that surround Chicago, plantwise). Now this amazing book will also include the insects, butterflies, and birds that hang out with individual species of plant. Isn’t that just astonishing? So go to Wilhelm’s website, look for sponsorship information, donate $50, $100, $1000 or whatever you can spare, and feel like you are contributing to the preservation of the earth, because you are. Thanks!##

[PS John and I just returned from Cuba–yes, amazing head trip type place–and now we are off to see the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where Rachel Carson once hung out. I think I should become a garden and history travel writer who also loves to find places to stay that are worth leaving home for, especially in spring. Or maybe I just want to avoid gardening in the cold and damp.]

 

A March Sunset just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean…

“They captured in their ramble all the mysteries and magics of a March evening. Very still and mild it was, wrapped in a great, white, brooding silence — a silence which was yet threaded through with many little silvery sounds which you could hear if you hearkened as much with your soul as your ears. The girls wandered down a long pineland aisle that seemed to lead right out into the heart of a deep-red, overflowing winter sunset.”  ― Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942), author of Anne of Green Gables and 19 other books which extol Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Thanks to WG reader Dr. Kate Drummond for sending this photo of a Cape Cod evening in March:

sunset

Not a Centerfold, but Close!

I’ve always wanted to be a magazine centerfold, fodder for the tabloids, or a great read for your time in line at the grocery store. And this is as close as I may ever get:

Country Gardens cover 3-10-2014 1-56-20 PM 1920x2560

Country Gardens inside 3-10-2014 1-55-57 PM 2560x1920

Thank you to Better Homes and Gardens editor James Baggett, my longtime friend and garden “personality”/writer Shirley Remes, writer and editor Beth Botts, and photographer Bob Stefko for making our farm in Richmond, Illinois seem like the most romantic old farm EVER!

Please find and buy a copy–and then ask me to autograph it so that I can get the full experience of bein’ a glamour girl. A STAR IS BORN! A STAR IS BORN! Move over Meryl and Julia and Sandra and Angelina and all you glamour has-been’s: Rommy has launched! ##

The Indiana Dunes National Seashore: Homes and Homesteads

P1080946 ranger

Have you been to the Indiana Dunes National Seashore lately? In October, we took the short drive to Indiana to tour the “Houses of Tomorrow” from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: Century of Progress that were hauled by barge to Indiana’s lakeshore as part of a housing developer’s promotion. The Federal government now owns the homes (located near Beverly Shores) but leases them to people who agree to restore them to their 1933 “glory”. This is easier said than done. Seems to me like the homes would be in better condition if the Federal government did all the restoration itself, as it has done with other Federal buildings in the National Park…Nonetheless, here are photos of three of the five 1933 homes:

P1080954 house of steelA House of Steel

P1080958 florida art decoCome to Florida and You’ll Live in Art Deco Splendor!

P1080960 hangarPark Your Airplane in Your “Home Hangar”

Nearby in the 15,000 acre National Park, we also visited the Chellberg Farm, a Swedish family’s homestead from 1900.

P1080976 swedish

Next, we happened upon the 1822-1917 Bailly Homestead. Such a surprise to find this “mansion” in the remote and beautiful woods.

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And all just about an hour southeast of Chicago… What a wonderful place that was preserved, starting in 1899, for our enjoyment and for the sake of ecology.#