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The Garden Snoop’s Calendar…

I do not promise to report every plant sale or garden tour, but if they look oh-so-interesting, I will post them as you alert me to them. Here are a few:


Nautilus by Deidre Toner

Nautilus by Deidre Toner

Adler Pike House 955 street shot 5-16-2013 1-23-40 PM 512x341


  • May 18: Native Plant Sale to benefit Lake Forest Open Lands Association. I just came home from attending LFOLA’s Annual Meeting. This is a land trust whose organization should be emulated nationwide. Amazing programming and ability to excite people about land conservation. Anyway, one reason to come to this plant sale is to see the original gates and gate house to the famed Armour Estate, “Mellody Farm”. (The original mansion is at Lake Forest Academy–find it off Route 60) and to walk on some beautiful trails. The original estate was designed by landscape architects O.C. Simonds and Jens Jensen. [Please help Queen Bee to promote the preservation of the amazing original brick/green tile capped wall that is getting destroyed by sending a note to the Lake Forest Academy.]
Gates at LF Openlands "Mellody Farm"

Gates at LF Openlands “Mellody Farm”

Gate House at Mellody Farm

Gate House at Mellody Farm

Save this amazing brick wall!

Save this amazing brick wall!

  • June 27:Tour of Ragdale. Ooooh, I swoon when I visit Ragdale, the summer home of iconic architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and now an international writers retreat. Sponsored by the Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Historical Society, this tour is a rare chance to see this “farm”. BTW, thanks to all who are donating toward the $3m restoration of the original Ragdale house. Make sure to see the beautiful elm tree with branches that drape to the ground, the amazing vegetable garden, the log cabin and the original Shaw prairie.
  • June 30: A bike tour of the former Lasker Estate is not to be missed. Get your tickets asap from the Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Historical Society. Albert Lasker was the founder of modern advertising. He invented copywriting that convinced consumers that products could work magic: for example, Lucky Strikes could make women skinny. His radio campaigns for Pepsodent, Palmolive, and Kotex added up to a 480 acre gentleman’s estate and 18 hole golf course in Lake Forest. Thirteen of the buildings, including the original mansion, still exist. I’ve been on this tour (sans bicycle) and it is fabulous.
  • July 13: Come meet…MOI! The Queen and King Bee’s 7 acre farm in Richmond, IL will be on a tour hosted by the McHenry County Master Gardeners. Here’s a photo of our “weedpatch” to whet your appetite. Our house was built in 1852, so that in itself makes our landscape auspicious, yet still a modest farm-ish place.##

Richmond Veggie Garden 5-14-2013 1-58-31 PM 4320x3240

Get Thee to the Dane County (that’s Madison, WI) Farmers Market!

I am such a dope sometimes. I’ve been writing The Weedpatch Gazette since 1991 and yet never took the time to visit the Farmers Market in Madison. How is that possible? But I’ve now made up for lost time and, even as early in the year as it is for northern gardeners, the market was stupendous. So many vendors! So many hippies! Like my own personal favorite time machine…

Having had the fun of visiting farmers markets in Santa Monica, CA; Carlsbad, CA; Asheville, NC’s (where it’s called a “tailgate market”); Coconut Grove, FL; Chicago’s; many towns in Provence; and Union Square in Manhattan, I think this one rocks them all. Maybe it’s because it’s just so, so “Wisconsin”. Care for some cheese bread, cheese head?

P1040599 P1040598 P1040594 P1040591 P1040589 P1040585

AND I had the extra added pleasure of re-meeting David Nedveck. He and his wife, Nancy, own The Flower Factory in Stoughton, Wisconsin. It is THE BEST GARDEN CENTER for a plant maniac. Don’t believe me? How about that they have 234 new plants for 2013?! Their catalog is my Bible. I go there with a trailer on my car. If this place were any closer, I would be in deep, deep financial trouble…

So…drive up to Madison for a long weekend. Go on Friday, visit all 15 species of the world’s cranes at the International Crane Foundation. See Devil’s Lake and learn about glacial geology and see quartzite rocks. Check into a bed & breakfast. On Saturday, go to the Farmers Market and load up with veggies and jams and puzzle through the weird guy’s argument that 9/11 was a conspiracy of the US government. Take a break and hike over to the Daily Scoop at the UW Student Union to slurp some homemade Ag School (motto: “cheese will not be shipped until after October 1st!”) ice cream (which is available at this site on the internet by the way). Then on Sunday go to the Flower Factory and spend the whole day, 9-6, in heaven. That’s the same as going to church, n’est-ce pas?##

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

That Little Blue Flower From Siberia. Or Not.


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.


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!

Ice in March

 Ice in March“Every winter the liquid and trembling surface of the pond, which was so sensitive to every breath, and reflected every light and shadow…closes its eyes and becomes dormant for three months or more. Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture among the hills, I cut my way through the snow and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by the softened light as through a window of ground glass… there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants. Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

–Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden, written 1854.  Icy Patch