Thursday, October 08, 2009

October: North Park Village

On the advice of Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I made time in between Home Depot and Bears game last Sunday to go see some fall color at my favorite neighborhood place, the North Park Village Nature Center. Located in Chicago at Pulaski and Peterson, it is a lovely place to unwind and experience forest, wetland, and prairie all at once. I always promise myself that I'll go more often and so far this year I've done a little better. This time, I took my camera...
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This praying mantis reminds visitors that smoking is bad for your health (unless you're a male mantis and your long-term health isn't really an issue); "hands" sculpture that used to be buried in the undergrowth but is now a prominent feature in the next section of woods to be restored

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American basswood trees; basswood sapling in a cage (they can be vicious, you know!)

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View across the wetland; more basswoods

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Buck snacking on savanna grasses, I'm sure to the irritation of the habitat restorers; the female of a pair of twin fawns that were nursing until mom got nervous and walked away, leaving both fawns looking rather bereft

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Again with the basswoods! Basswood leaves, just starting to turn (basswoods turn a lovely bright yellow in fall); red oak leaves

Bur oak and big bluestem - a classic Midwestern savanna

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October: In a hurry

What happened to my sunny, crisp October? We seem to have zipped from balmy September straight to blustery November. There is even a touch of snow in this weekend's forecast. Snow!! I try not to be a weather whiner but this is just silly. Last weekend, I had just one day to purchase and install some late-season bargain plants (and to watch the Bears game; very important). My spring fantasies of transforming my yard into a carefully planned drift of purple salvia a la the Lurie Garden by October were distilled to their most basic essence: "Home Depot has cheap salvias. Let's buy some and stick them somewhere!" This is how most of my gardening is done so I guess it's not all that noteworthy. Plan? What plan?

No, but seriously, where to put all these salvias? With daylight waning and a lot of busy weekends ahead of me, I didn't have the luxury of pondering the decision for long.  I had decided this summer that I'm tired of the overgrown spireas in front of my garage, so I took action:

Instant garden space!  In a flurry of activity that lasted two hours, I transformed the garage garden from this:
into, well, this mess:
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But somewhere in there is the groundwork for future success:  four salvias, two snowcap daisies, veronica, amsonia, and a daylily that appealed to me. Pretty much everything else was also dug up, moved, divided, or otherwise manhandled so it wouldn't feel left out. Then the sun set and the rest of the garden was spared. For now. Mwah-ha-ha.

Next year should be very interesting.

Assorted pretties from the McGarden:
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Obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana - a surprise bloom, hidden under the baptisia; aster NOID

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Another aster NOID, possibly ericoides; Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' turtlehead, still blooming happily next to the brown-eyed Susans

My one surviving mum, demonstrating just how obnoxious the spireas were getting.  This knockout shade of orange makes me so happy every time I see it.

For the record, plants I installed on October 4 or 5:
Leucanthemum superbum Snowcap Shasta daisy (1, divided)
Salvia nemorosa East friesland
Salvia nemorosa May Night (x2)
Salvia nemorosa Marcus
Veronica 'Goodness Grows'
Hemerocallis Pardon Me
Asclepias tuberosa butterfly weed (in wayback)
PRAIRIE NURSERY (wayback garden)
Eryngium yuccifolium, rattlesnake master
Amsonia hubrichtii (garage)
Ruellia humilis
Ex-aster novae-angliae
AMERICAN MEADOWS (front garden)
Asarum/wild ginger
white irises (foundation garden)
FARMER'S MARKET (late september sometime)
Tricyrtis 'Empress' (south edge border)