Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's pink or green or silver all over?

About a month ago my friend Amy and I checked out Fabulous Flamingos: A Whimsical Garden Display at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. As you probably recall, I'm crazy about pink flamingos (or maybe just crazy), so this was a delight to see. (For proof, here's Pinky, one of my own flamingos.)

The flamingos were decorated by community members, students, and Matthaei staff. You could vote for your favorite, and this creative dragon was mine. It's made of the handyman's secret weapon (duct tape, holla Lisa!) and I liked its smile. Maybe the red protrusion is a flame, but I like to think of it as a tongue!

There were a lot of flamingos to admire.

In all kinds of decorations.

Yes, I'll be making Pinky ear muffs this winter!

Many creations were well matched to their surroundings.

I love the pink flame. Rawwwwr!

I'm rough and tumble from previous fights. I keel you.

♫ One of these things is not like the others... Does provide a kind of shared context for the dragons, though!

Of course we walked the rest of the grounds, too. I love the Alexandra Hicks Herb Garden.

Such a peaceful setting, and people do sit down there.

Delphinium, ahhhh. A plant that hates my garden, so I'm reduced to stalking it elsewhere.

You just know I'm gonna say it: Noogie! I mean, seriously.

I love Nicotiana, especially 'Lime Green.'

The edges of these stringy-petaled Echinacea pallida almost look like they were cut with tiny pinking shears. (Hands up anyone who is amazed I know what pinking shears are.)

Of course we had to go in the conservatory as well. I just love pitcher plants. I think this will enlarge if you click it.

Loved the sentiment on this t-shirt hanging outside the gift shop (or perhaps that's shoppe), but was of course too cheap to buy it!

I hope none of you have suffered stress-related injuries from the shock of my recent frequent updates!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Amy's Musings: Belleville Garden Walk

After grudgingly (kicking and screamingly) accepting the fact that blog posts are never going to write themselves, I decided the next best thing is to con unsuspecting real-life friends into writing some guest posts.

Today, Amy Bruhn (avid gardener, master gardener volunteer since 1996, and fellow cat fancier) takes us on a Garden Walk she attended on July 18 in Belleville, Michigan.

Last Sunday, the Garden Faerie chose to go all the way to Chicago on a fancy-schmanzy Dearborn Garden Walk instead of driving to the local Dearborn (Michigan) and going on a garden walk with me. Shows me how I rate, eh? But no worries, I asked Tonja, the new president of the master gardener group I belong to and who I don’t know very well yet, if she’d like to go along with me and she said yes. And then the Garden Faerie said I could write a guest blog so she could see a little bit of what she missed. Let’s just say it was a lot different than the garden walk she went on.

The garden walk was in Belleville, a rural community that is the halfway point between my house in Dearborn and the Garden Faerie’s house in Ann Arbor. This was the fifth annual garden walk hosted by the Belleville Area District Library. The theme was “Country Gardens” and the five gardens on the walk were all very large. The smallest was just over one acre and the largest one was on ten acres. Fortunately they gave us a map and Tonja brought her husband’s GPS to help us navigate the back roads, many of which were dirt.

Since I didn’t know I would be doing this guest blog at the time, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and just enjoyed strolling through the gardens and relaxing in their beauty. But there were some things that called out to me and insisted that I take their picture, such as some of the antiques that were tucked into of the beds in the first garden.

I loved this small chair used as a plant stand. No, it’s not a full-sized chair, because could you imagine how huge the Hosta next to it would have been?

And I think a bird cage such as this would look fantastic hanging in my weeping cherry tree. Looks like I need to start hanging out on eBay again…

This garden had so much stuff tucked everywhere that it almost made my head hurt. I think they must have worked for a paver brick company because they had more brick than grass. I understand the concept about reducing the size of your lawn, but they went too far with so much hardscaping (in my opinion, at least).

I liked that they added a blue heron statue next to their pond. I wonder if it keeps the other blue herons away? We have a blue heron here in the suburbs who preys on all of my friends’ ponds, so maybe they should try a blue heron scarecrow.

See what I mean about all the brick pavers? In addition to the bricks there was an over abundance of rocks and statues, which threw it all out of balance and overwhelmed what greenery they did have. (GF: The views expressed in this entry are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the right to sue me. Please direct any correspondence directly to

This bed was larger and didn’t have quite the high ratio of statues and other objects in it, but I still didn’t find it to evoke a relaxing or peaceful feeling, which is what I want out of a garden.

But what I did really like was this guy in the tree in the photo above. Here’s a somewhat blurry close-up. I swear he’s the spittin’ image of my friend Judy’s husband! (GF: You know I have at least three regular readers--what if they know Judy?!)

I thought of the Garden Faerie at the next house. I don’t think she actually has a little fairy garden, but don’t you think she should? (GF: She doesn't. But she was under the impression that fairies are woodland creatures and is amused by the lighthouse. And by referring to herself in third person.)

And I loved the scarecrow in this vegetable garden. The garden was huge and probably could have used an entire family of scarecrows. Mom, Dad, Junior, Sissy, and there’d still be room for Grandma and Grandpa!

And whenever I see chairs or benches in a flower bed I stop and wonder if gardeners actually ever sit down in those chairs or benches. Do any of us ever get to really take a break and enjoy the product of our gardening labors? I need to learn how to do that because on the rare occasion I do sit down, I always see flowers that need dead-heading, bushes that need pruning, beds that need weeding, and others that need mulching. But I must enjoy it, or I wouldn’t keep doing it, right?

This garden was lined with long flower beds and also had large island bed plantings. Each of them was bordered by annuals – petunias in the sun and impatiens in the shade. I couldn’t imagine planting all of those annuals and assumed they must hire help to plant them and also to keep everything so well-manicured.

Here’s a closer view of the darling fountain and one of the planters on a pedestal.

They had beautiful planters interspersed throughout all of the flower beds, but they were classy and enhanced the beds and didn’t overpower them. Along with planting all those annuals, I couldn’t imagine watering all of those planters. (GF: Lazy Water-conscious gardening rules!)

This was perhaps my favorite statue. (GF: My friend Nita, who may be conned into guest posting on native and prairie plants, has the exact same one!) It gave me an idea… maybe if I gave Shadow or Faith a shovel they would help me in the garden. For some reason I doubt that would ever happen. Perhaps the Garden Faerie would have better luck with James and Fiona. (GF: Ha ha ha ha! If I could train James to spray on weeds, that could work, especially now his output is radioactive!)

Whenever I go on a garden walk I see plants that I know I should know the names of, or that I once knew but have forgotten. And I often take pictures so I can show them to the Garden Faerie and have her ID them for me. But I never do. (GF: Which saves a lot of time in me needing to admit I don't know them!) But this time, since I’m writing a guest blog, I can sneak those pictures right into the blog!

I love the shape on these purple flowers and this would make a great replacement for the loosestrife that I’m still trying to eradicate from my flower bed. So what is it? (GF: I had to cheat tweet to find out this is a perennial lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica--thanks to all the tweeps who responded. It is a cutie.)

And while I hate grasses, I really like the shape of this one. I know the Garden Faerie told me the name of it when we were in Columbus last year, but I have since forgotten the name. Help! (GF: It's Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'). And what? You don't like grasses? How could I not know this about you?! Thud! That's me falling over. My Little Blue Stem and I are going to pout for a good 20 minutes!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dearborn Garden Walk

Last Sunday I attended the Dearborn Garden Walk in the Gold Coast region of Chicago. It's a lovely neighborhood with gorgeous brick and stone homes; a quiet enclave of calm civility tucked inside the otherwise bustling shiny steely big city. It seemed so much like another world, I hoped I wouldn't need my passport. It was a scorcher day, so hot and steamy I worried I might be cited as a public nuisance for sweating too profusely. In the end, I think it was my uncharacteristically dressy blouse and Liz Claiborne necklace and shiny bracelet that saved me from embarrassing myself.

The ever-patient friend who invited me on the tour covered the event in a style I couldn't hope to match, so I'm mostly just going to show you photos.

This elegant wood structure with copper filials is a tool shed. A shed!...

...and check out this doorknob!

This is also a garden shed...

...I love the bamboo.

Are you seeing this? The garage doors are wood. Real wood!

And look at this classy sidewalk! (Cool shadow patterns thrown in free.)

Can you see the escapist cuke?

We're so not in Kansas any more.

Green roof at the Latin School...

...looks out on a park and Lake Michigan!

Grasses and sedum were interplanted on the roof...

...with veggie containers maintained by students around the edges.

Why, no, I would never lay down on the ground to get a closeup of noogie sedum and to show the edging specifically designed to hold in the green roof soil media. Why do you ask?

Digging the colors in a stairwell at the Latin School.

I wonder how hard it would be for you to guess my favorite photo? I'd be tickled if you tried. Big hints: It's not the glass bowls or the orange bouquet! I'll dig around and see what I can send the winner! Don't hold back now!