I am happy to report that I am no longer as cranky as I was in my last post. We have had a beautiful day today with cooler temperatures, so I have been able to get most of my plants into the ground finally and all the containers are finished. Of course, there is still weeding and trimming to do as well as numerous other chores to attend to, but the mad rush of planting is virtually over. Despite the harried feelings of last week, when best friend Beckie called that her cousin Tena was coming for the weekend and would I like to give them a "tour" of the Idea Garden on Saturday, I didn't hesitate for a second. Some of you Chicago Spring Flingers may remember the genial Tena who accompanied her sister Lisa to join our gardening exploits last May.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and the skies threatened to let loose with another downpour at any time, but we three intrepid gardeners were prepared and enjoyed a thorough inspection of the whole garden. I had to show off the Sensory Garden area first, as this is where I have spent much of my volunteer time.
The Sensory Garden is meant to be just what its name implies. But it also serves another purpose: it is specifically directed at people with disabilities. Those who have lost their sight can stop to smell the Bourbon rose in the first photo, the Meyer lilac which bloomed in May, or the heliotrope in the island planting above. A visitor can rub the fuzzy Lamb's Ears or the silken grasses throughout this area. Plant tags in this area also feature names in Braille. The raised bed above provides easy access for those who are physically handicapped, and the new pavers which will soon be put down on the path will make it even easier for handicapped accessibility. And of course, there are plenty of visual delights like the giant allium blooming in the second photo for everyone to enjoy.
The threat of rain meant we had the Garden almost to ourselves and time to enjoy it at our own pace. Beckie and Tena check out the tag on a plant they liked.
The other area I have helped with is the Annual Color Garden, which is assigned to all the new interns. This is just the west end of the Color Garden, which goes all around the potting shed, but this was the area where I spent most of my time on two hot Saturdays. I was so pleased to see how much it had filled out in such a short time. We were told during classes that the Color Garden got the leftover plants, but we must have been given 50 flats of "leftovers"! In fact, on the second Saturday we worked, three of us filled in the original planting with even more annuals just to use them all up.
The annuals are trial plants from Proven Winners, so one of our duties is to see how well these new varieties do in central Illinois. I wasn't able to volunteer in the greenhouse when these were planted, but I believe that seed plugs are sent from Proven Winners which are then grown in one of the greenhouses on the U of I campus.
Many of the cultivars are new ones that you won't be able to find in most nurseries this year, but I was happy to find this starflower, 'Beth's Blue,' at one of our local nurseries.
The Idea Garden is divided into twelve sections, with co-chairs and additional MG volunteers for each part. This is the North Border, which forms part of the perimeter planting around the fence.
Each year new annuals and some perennials are added, while some non-performers are relegated to the give-away pile. This oakleaf hydrangea no doubt will be a permanent fixture.
The West Border faces the main street and is the first impression that visitors and passersby see of the Garden.
Although I've spent quite a few hours working here this spring, most days I stick to one little area and the task at hand, whether pruning, dividing, or weeding. This was the first time this spring I was able to leisurely stroll around the Garden and see it all.
The Children's Garden is always a popular spot to visit with different whimsical touches, including this display of "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe." Many of her "children" pop up in the most unexpected places in this area:)
The Idea Garden is not an especially large garden as public gardens go, but it is jam-packed with a wide variety of plants and so many clever ideas that a gardener can adapt to her own garden. I always come away with a note for a new plant to add to my garden or a new combination of plantings to try. As lovely as this milkweed looks here and although I know it will attract so many butterflies, this is one plant that won't find its way into my garden, however . . . unless I hide it from my husband.
The three of us lingered the longest in the Rose Garden, where the roses were all in full bloom. A favorite of all of us was this multi-hued rose, "Love and Peace." Isn't she beautiful?
After our tour of the Idea Garden, Beckie treated us to lunch, and then we showed off our favorite garden center to Tena. She and I discovered some more plants that neither of us had realized how much we needed. It's a good thing we both showed restraint, because we filled Beckie's trunk to the brim.
Thanks to Beckie for giving me this early birthday present of a day out. And thanks to Tena for the beautiful Echinacea I've wanted for so long,'Big Sky Sundown,' as well as being such a good sport--I guess I had some kind of brain fog because I must have called her "Lisa" twenty times during the day:) Thanks, ladies, for a special day!