This is the time of year when the media always looks back at the past year and reviews the top stories. Nothing newsworthy happened in my life this year, but there certainly were some highlights in the garden. Instead of thinking about world events or economic crises, here is a restropect of my life in the garden in 2010:
|The East Border of the Idea Garden in mid-summer.|
|A small part of the County Nursing Home Garden in the spring. Next year I will have to take more photos of this beautiful garden!|
In March Beckie and I made our second annual trek to Chicago to see the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Beckie and I always have a great time together, but nothing beats a road trip for quality time and nonstop girl talk. The Chicago show didn't disappoint with its fantastic displays, but the drive home through dense fog was a scary experience I hope I never have to repeat.
An even longer trip was made in March to Arizona to visit Older Daughter and her fiance. While there, I had the chance to visit once again one of my favorite places in Phoenix, the Desert Botanic Gardens.
It's always a treat to leave the cold behind and soak up some warm sunshine while viewing wildflowers in bloom and the different flora of the desert Southwest.
Once the warm weather finally arrived in Illinois in April, garden work began in earnest. I had begun digging up an area for a new flowerbed last fall, but didn't get it finished until spring. Intended as a garden area to showcase my growing collection of lilies, it wasn't long before it filled up with other plants as well. I think I must have spent 3/4 of my time on this area alone, but it's always fun to start a new garden, and hopefully next year it will be more low-maintenance.
Spring planting was interrupted for a week while I made yet another trip in early May--this time to visit Youngest Daughter in Portland, Oregon. Many precious hours were spent catching up as I hadn't seen her in nearly nine months! But her busy schedule left me with lots of free time, too, so I entertained myself several days by taking in the sights. It was too early in the season for many roses to be in bloom yet at the famous International Rose Garden, but the show of azaleas made up for it--gorgeous, huge blooms everywhere!
I spent another afternoon enjoying the small but beautiful classical Chinese Garden in the heart of the city and learning about the essential elements of this ancient style of gardening.
|L to R: Beckie, Cheryl, and Lisa|
The highlight of the year had to be meeting long-time blogging friend Cheryl in person in September. Cheryl and her delightful husband came all the way from the UK to visit the Midwest, stopping for a few days to visit with Beckie and me. Lisa and her DB also came up from Indiana to meet Cheryl. What a wonderful few days we had! Filled with visits to different gardens in the area, there was also ample time for non-stop gardening talk. Friendships were strengthened and memories were made that will never be forgotten.
Later in September Beckie and I made another road trip to Chicago where we met up with a few other blogging friends. Together with Monica, Linda, and Diane, we spent a leisurely day strolling through the Chicago Botanic Garden enjoying the beautiful early autumn displays. And, of course, there was non-stop gardening talk as well:)
Gardeners are almost as obsessed with the weather as farmers are, and a review of the past year wouldn't be complete without looking back at weather conditions in 2010:
The year began bitterly cold and snowy.
Spring was a welcome relief from the long winter and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for gardening. April surprised us here by being one of the warmest Aprils I can ever recall.
Instead of the usual April showers, we had continual days of sunshine, giving me ample time to get a headstart on the garden. The unusually warm temperatures meant the spring bloomers were fleeting, but they were a glorious show of color while they lasted.
|Soybean field in June|
The warm and, for the most part, dry conditions lasted through May, but by June the showers arrived, and I thought they would never end. Not only were the farmers' fields standing in water, but my roadside garden was flooded for awhile, too, drowning out all my zinnia seeds.
But the top weather story of the year had to be the relentless heat of the summer and the drought that came with it. By July the rains ended and didn't return until November. Constant temperatures in the nineties that lasted well into September stressed many plants and created challenges for the gardener. The blossoms on a new Hydrangea paniculata 'Pink Diamond,' which I planted in late August, turned brown in a matter of two short days. I thought I had lost it, but I cut off most of the blooms and watered it faithfully after that. It seemed to recover, putting out new green leaves, but I'm anxious to see if it returns next spring.
In spite of the drought, the vegetable garden survived, for the most part, producing the usual bounty of tomatoes.
In late August and early September, I spent many hours preserving some of the harvest, including a successful attempt at bread and butter pickles, which my husband loves.
Lack of moisture all summer long meant a more subdued autumn, but there was still enough fall color to enjoy a scenic drive or just to look out to my front yard. Milder weather that lasted until mid-November meant I had more time than usual to get some fall chores done, including planting some new shrubs in front of the house and preparing a new garden bed for next spring.