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A Potpourri of News…

Can you believe it’s June 1st already?! Sorry to have been out of touch…planting season…our farmhouse gardens to be photographed for Country Gardens Magazine

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…family…volunteerism…Leah’s college graduation…technical issues with this website…such a busy time of the year. Even the local wildlife is busy. When I drove into our driveway today, there were six (!) chipmunks running around like nut cases on the asphalt. They were glutinous, eating the seeds of maples, a phenom I had never seen before.  BTW, we are assured that those little seed nuggets are entirely edible, tasting like peas. You first.

Gardening world good news: tulips, redbuds, and big lilacs are done, but smaller (Syringa meyeri Palibin, Miss Kim, and ‘Boomerang’) lilacs are blooming with the azaleas. Huge amounts of foliage clothe all the shrubs and trees this year–even a lot of the ash trees aren’t as dead as I expected them to be. Wild geraniums, iris, wild phlox, hawthorns, variegated Solomon’s Seal, shooting stars, tree peonies, primroses and dogwoods are glorious. Fringe tree [Chionanthus virginicus] is about to “feather”. Did I mention the foliage and growth of the Beech trees–amazing! The bad news is that my (formerly) incredibly shaped Seven Sons Flower tree (Heptacodium miconoides–I love saying the name of this amazing tree which you must put in your garden) took a big hit from the winter wind (I think) and I had to chop it all to hell. Also, a big Redbud, a fragrant Viburnum carlesii, and a Juniper s. ‘Skyrocket’ died from drowning.

Did I mention the elegance of my all-time favorite shrub: Viburnum plicatum?Look at how beautiful this shrub is:

Viburnum plicatum Mariesii close up

Sometimes (well, ok, so often that I’m shocked not to have caused an accident) I’m driving around and see a sight that I am compelled to photograph. For example, this small conifer garden outside the investment house of VennWell in Lake Forest is fantastic. Small, deceptively simple, and a great contrast in textures. Voila! This is really all one needs to enjoy a garden. Kudos to its designer, Brent Markus, who specializes in four-season landscapes featuring Japanese maples and dwarf conifers. Brent mostly specializes in finding the most unique trees. I nearly drove off the road when I saw Acer palmatum ‘Lions Head’–a fantastic mop of leaves with red seeds that Dr. Seuss would love. Look at this crazy wonderful tree:

Acer palmatum Lions Head

Acer palmatum Lions Head

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ALERT! PERENNIALS ON SALE: Didier Farms in Lincolnshire has a wonderful selection of perennials–not limited to the “usual suspects”. Those very same perennials are on sale for $6.99 through July 12. Which makes me a little crazee because I just paid retail for some plants at Didier for one of my design customers. (Well, I couldn’t find the plants anywhere else at wholesalers.) But I’m definitely making another run to Didier’s soon…cool stuff.

Now I have to go outside to wrap our pear tree in nets so maybe the squirrels will be deterred. Last year, they managed to get in and eat all the pears despite the nets. Maybe this year will be different?##

Little Bird, Big Threat

KildeerThis little Kildeer was very upset with me when I walked too close last evening in the Middlefork Nature Preserve in Lake Forest. He (she?) spread its tailfeathers and kept lurching at me–a sure sign that it wanted me–gone! Story of my life….

Here’s what Cornell says about this ubiquitous shorebird: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/id. Listen to its call as well. I can’t pick up the sound of “Kil-deer, Kil-deer” but maybe you can?

 

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!##