Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Horticultural News

1. One of my Mother's Day presents (besides a mini shopping spree at my favorite Evanston boutique to find a substitute for the still AWOL knit top AND a fabulous brunch at Cite where I got nicely toasted on two peach bellinis that I never would have ordered had I known they were $16! apiece) is a new flowering tree for the side yard. See the empty spot below. We'll put it back by the fence.

I've been "researching" (looking around the neighborhood, checking out the CBG, browsing Chalet and Google images) and here were the finalists:

(Sal sez a vertical line is the new hot bullet for graphics people. You like? Moderny!)

|Witch Hazel is one of the earliest blooms of the year in our part of the Midwest. Its muted chartreuse blossoms, as I've mentioned before, are as showy as a Mormon pompom team. I'm partial to this plant because of a scene from Todd Hayne's Far From Heaven when landscaper Dennis Haysbert gives 1950's housewife Julianne Moore a cutting. "How lovely," she sighs.

|Prairie Fire Crabapple. Can't beat this color, developed at the U of Illinois. The crab apples have been spectacular this year, especially a stand at the Ladd Arboretum on McCormick Boulevard in Evanston.

|Redbud, pussy willow, lilac and magnolia are sentimental favorites from my childhood Kansas City backyard. Uncle Phil made me smile when he called the forsythia "For-Cynthia." But for a love of the new, I think I'm going with:

|Serviceberry. Amelanchier. A four-season interest - white blossoms in spring turn into edible berries in the summer that attract birds and can be made into pies. Brilliant red in the fall and the smooth gray bark is attractive in the winter.
But what sold me on this plant, beside being native to Illinois, was the back story of the name: supposedly when its flowers bloom, it was time for the itinerant ministers to schedule their wedding, christening and such duties since they knew snows would not return. Randy's father was a Presbyterian minister for decades and with his boundless energy and love of his work, found retirement difficult. So he began to accept interim positions with congregations who were in between permanent ministers. He worked in Arizona, Virginia and at several Florida churches. I love the idea of looking out our window to see the pretty tree and thinking of him.

2. I'm so green it hurts my eyes. I didn't rehire the landscapers this year, much to dear husband's chagrin. I was tired of the peace of Tuesday afternoons, usually moments after I had laid Nora down for a nap, being shattered by the invasion of the gas-powered lawnmowers and the roaring leaf-blowers. Our village has even banned the blowers for their noise and pollution from May to November.

So I bought a push mower at the Ace Mullen Hardware (celebrity sighting! Tiki Barber! Beautiful as all get out.) And I put it all together myself! And I whacked that yard into submission. It was so much fun. The sound of the spinning blades, like little scythes, is a total satisfaction in itself. And the swath of cut lawn behind you must be what keeps hair stylists and wax technicians loving their jobs.

It took me a few weekends, but I chopped down the towering stands of decorative grasses and the autumn clematis in the beds. Can you see the difference?

3. It's a proportion thing. I planted what felt like dozens of tiny anemone bulbs last fall. This is all that came up. One itsy plant. But the new alliums are developing into monsters. They looked like a pit of snakes when they first emerged.

4. We took the fairy furniture out in anticipation for their return from wintering in Fairyland.

5. From my uber-gardener friend Christina: Check out Budburst where you can help track global warming. Scientists are gathering bud, bloom, and seed times from people across the country, like you! And me!


MamaBird said...

OK, so much to comment on but - serviceberry pies?! I am so curious. Fruit tree definitely gets my vote. We are all over fairy furniture outside right now too. And props for the push mower -- esp for MacGyvering it together yourself! Awesome. $16 drinks are scarily tasty usually, imho...

MamaBird said...

oh, i forgot to say, i have submitted your potato seedling compost question to my much-superiorly-knowledgeable sil who's a master organic gardener. but i'd say turning your piles every now and then would aerate and keep seedlings down.

The Hen said...

You have a lovely yard -- and how lucky you are to have fairies! You have to tell me more about them. My Eleanor would be quite interested.

We are hard at work on our new yard as well. I bought an electric mover yesterday and plan to take it for a spin tommorrow. Wish me luck!

2KoP said...

My friend and former neighbor, Barbara, painted the pink sign for MarieParie. I wish I loved to garden. That will be in my next life. Or perhaps my next blog.