Sunday, June 28, 2009

Annual Garden Walk: "Rooms With a View"

On Saturday Beckie and I spent the day on the annual Garden Walk sponsored by the local Master Gardeners. The theme for this year's Walk was "A Room with a View," and we certainly weren't disappointed by the views we saw. Despite temperatures in the 90's, we had a great time and were joined this year by one of Beckie's granddaughters who was quite a trouper and made notes of her favorite things in each garden we visited.

I took lots of photos, so I'll try to be less verbose than usual and let you just enjoy the sights of the tour.

Three of the gardens were public spaces, all located near each other on the east edge of the University of Illinois campus. I've often driven by the University's President's house and admired the front gardens, but this was the first time I've ever seen all of the gardens close up.

Sweeping expanses of lawn with several garden areas are located in the back. Add to that the view of the nearby Arboretum, and you have a very pleasant vista from the back patio.

Beckie and I marvelled over the enormous Boston ferns placed around the wrap-around brick patio. Just a note--this President also grows vegetables--pots of tomatoes and herbs were located on a back porch.

Nearby is the Japan House with its traditional gardens, including a rock garden. A volunteer Master Gardener pointed out something I might have missed: when viewed from the front deck, you can see that the new plantings of shrubs and small trees here mirror the shape of the horizon beyond.

Walking into the tea garden, we were excited to meet the designer of the gardens. This area was begun only 8 years ago, and many of the plantings are only 6 years old, so it will be interesting to see how it develops over the years.

Since this was our last stop of the day, we took advantage of the time to go into the building itself. Japan House is used for various classes and workshops related to Japanese culture, including the tea ceremony and . . .

. . . classes in Ikebana, the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging.

The other public garden was the Idea Garden, maintained by the local Master Gardeners. Although Beckie and I visited this garden several times last year, this was our first opportunity to visit it this year.

We made sure her granddaughter saw the children's garden, which included some new displays this year, including this duck topiary.

And any little girl would enjoy the Jewel Box garden, complete with a princess in a jewel box filled with "Diamond Frost" Euphorbia.

But the best part of the garden on this hot, hot day was a vendor's display of whimsical sprinklers. The younger one wasn't the only one who took advantage of the cooling mist; Beckie and I also had to try them out. The Idea Garden is located in full sun, so our visit here was very brief--we'll come back another cool evening to check it out in a more leisurely visit.

My favorite gardens, though, were the private ones. These gardeners don't have a paid staff or a large group of volunteers maintaining their gardens, so it's inspiring to see what one gardener can accomplish. While I don't think I'll be talking my husband into building a pool and patio complete with fireplace and granite-topped cooking center like the home above, I did come away with new ideas, as I always do from these peeks into other people's gardens:

The Plants
A blue, blue delphinium "Summer Nights"

Unnamed daylily adds to my serious case of daylily envy

Lovely calla lily would be perfect in the shade garden.

And of course, hydrangeas, which were in full bloom.

Oakleaf hydrangeas lined the sloping edge of one garden, providing privacy from the street.

And, of course, the old-fashioned Annabelles that I fell in love with on last year's walk. One of these days I'm going to find the perfect place for them in my garden.

Even basic yews were used a little differently as in this circular maze in the center of one yard. Each garden is staffed by several volunteer Master Gardeners for this walk. At this home, I received some excellent tips from one volunteer on how best to trim my own overgrown yews.


I am always looking for new ideas for combinations for container plantings. This gardener provided some extra help by labeling each of the plants.

Beckie and I were both interested in this blooming succulent, Portulaca "Rio Rose."
Other planters weren't usually labelled, but still gave us ideas:

Garden Art

Just as gardening styles varied, so did the type and use of garden art. From the classical like this stone statue of Pan . . .

. . . or this bust on a pedestal . . .

. . . to the purely whimsical.

Combinations of wood and metal . . .

. . . or other materials, drawing the eye downward . . .

. . . or upward.

I don't have many art accents in my garden and would love to add more. But I realized when viewing all of these scenes that it's not just a matter of buying or making a piece of garden art, but it's also knowing how and where to place them. It takes a creative eye to place them in just the right place in the garden. Even stones and limbs can create a dramatic effect with some artistic vision.

These small blue chairs certainly draw the eye, but even more so when you found out that these belonged to the owners' two small dogs!

I wonder if the puppies also enjoyed watching the model railroads circle the garden area.

Even vegetables served as art in one garden!

But my favorite piece of all had to be this stone bench--isn't this beautiful?! Beckie and I thought it surely must have been imported from Italy, but we found out it had been purchased at one of our favorite garden centers in town. Maybe I could put this on my Christmas wish list--for the next several years:)

Of all the gardens we visited, my favorite was a large garden situated on a one and one-half acre lot. The program booklet described it as a park-like setting, and it was indeed a peaceful oasis.

When the owners moved in 18 years ago, all that existed were some very old trees.

This is not a new subdivision, but neither is it that old. I think it's wonderful that the developers recognized the value of these old trees and built around them. This huge example was actually in the neighbor's yard.
The size of this garden was impressive, but what made it even more so was how much the gardener at this home had accomplished in 18 years. All kinds of trees, shrubs, and perennials covered the acre and a half with more beds planned. I could have done a whole post on this garden alone!

For a moment I thought I had been transported to England . . .

. . . but the English garden was just one area of this garden.

The potting area, complete with large shed, was larger than some people's backyards!

Vegetables were included, too. Carol and Mr. McGregor's Daughter should take note: no critters of any kind should be able to get to this gardener's tomatoes!
All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I came home with some great ideas. As usual, I also came home with a serious case of garden envy, but looking at my own small garden I had to smile . . .

. . . the coneflowers are blooming!


  1. What a wonderful day you must have had. I loved the duck topiary and the stone bench. Thanks for sharing your pics.

  2. Oh Rose, it looks like you and Beckie saw some great inspriation in these gardens.

    I love the first photo. I have tried to get a circle going in my fenceline. I don't have something so pretty to look at though.

    You know I would love the train. FUN... All that you showed us was fun to see. I don't hardly see how you held up in that heat though. UGH.. It was horrible. You are a trooper too.

  3. I love tours Rose and yours was fun. The tours that mean the most are down to earth gardens created by folks with no staff! Like ours! Your photos are stellar...the daylily and oakleaf hydrangea shots were perfect! Nashville had a big craft fair and i couldn't make myself go out in the heat! I am ready for rain~~gail

  4. Rose thanks for taking us along with you and Beckie on this tour. I truly enjoyed it.

    Isn't it amazing what people can come up with? I love the idea of an outdoor fireplace but truthfully I don't think we would really use it.

    Everything looked so neat. All those containers were really nice.

  5. Nice tour Rose. Glad to see Master Gardeners working in these gardens. Love the children's garden with the music box and the ballerina. fun!

  6. "Free the tomatoes!" I would hope no critters could get into those cages, but wonder how the gardeners get in there!

    That was quite a tour, thanks for sharing it with us!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  7. What a lovely walk. So many gardens and I do admire you and Beckie's perseverance to walk it on a hot day. I am like you and like that last garden best, along with the Japanese garden. Love all the greens and textures. I got lots of ideas from all your pictures. What a day!

  8. Wow, Rose, what a lovely walk. Of all the wonderful sights, my favorite is the chair made of branches and that cute metal insect! My friends and I also went on a garden walk this Saturday, which I'll post about later this week. As much as I like going on real garden walks, I also like going on virtual ones in other cities--it's a lot less sweaty! ;-)

  9. Rose, I enjoyed this post immensely! One of these days I'd love to go on the garden tours around here.

  10. Hi Rose, wonderful garden walk. I like the potted plants and the garden art best, those things are unique to every garden. Loved those blue chairs. I have some plain white ones that might look better in a brighter color. The best thing about garden walks is all the ideas you come away with.

  11. Wow Rose, what a wonderful tour you took us on!!! And all from the comfort of my living room:))

  12. Oh my, now I must remember all i want to say!

    Love the duck!

    Are the Annabelles hydrangeas? I've never seen white before and I liked those much better than the usual.

    Art - I really want some in our garden too but can't decide what. I rather liked the whimsical i must say.

    A fireplace next to the pool?!!!

  13. Rose, I wish I could have joined you and Beckie ... it looks like a fun day for all! I hope some of the ideas you saw will find their way into your garden so you can share them with us!

  14. Kathi, I look forward to this garden walk every year; the stone bench was just beautiful.

    Lisa, We saw some wonderful gardens. The mirror is a convex mirror, really pretty with the cool blue of the pool reflected in it. We got an early start to the day to avoid as much of the heat as possible.

    Gail, I had been looking forward to this walk for some time, so I wasn't going to let the heat deter me. Lots of sunscreen and water!

    Susie, The outdoor room with the fireplace was gorgeous, but I don't think we'd use it much in the summer either...although a pool would be nice:)

    Janet, Whenever Beckie and I get to visit the Idea Garden again, I'll do a post. It's an amazing place.

    Carol, You know, I never looked to see how the gardener got inside:) When I saw it, though, I thought of you. I know this post was very long, but I couldn't figure out what to delete!

    Tina, The last garden was just amazing. So many shrubs and plants, I couldn't do it justice here.

    Monica, I'm with you! By the end of the day Saturday, my clothes were sticking to me, and my contacts burned from the sweat dripping into my eyes:)

    Robin, I do enjoy these garden walks. I usually come home with at least one idea that I use in my garden.

    Marnie, I agree. I'm not very creative, so my best use of accents in the garden come from other people--I'm pretty good at copying:)

    Flydragon, Glad you enjoyed the tour. I'm sure your living room was much cooler:)

    Liz, The Annabelles are hydrangeas, and they are just beautiful. A lot of homes here use them as a border in front of their house--that's a vision I have for mine someday. A pool and a fireplace do seem contradictory, don't they?:)

    Cindy, we would have loved for you to join us! Lots of great ideas.

  15. Hi Rose.....the coneflower are lovely...I dream that mine will someday look as good as yours....they are not doing well here...

    I love the daylily....absolutely stunning.....I have never seen any as beautiful as that one...

    I would love the garden seat made of wood....that would fit just perfectly in my little copse.....I could see myself sipping tea and watching the wildlife......

    An absolutely fabulous tour Rose...I enjoyed it very very much.....

    We hit 30C 92F today....way too hot for me....I am actually melting.......if it carries on, I may be just a puddle by the end of the week......

  16. What an great tour, such variety of styles and plantings. The blue chairs for the owner's dog made me smile. ;) That is whimsy for sure, lol. Kudos to you, Beckie & the young one for braving that heat.

  17. Wow! What a fabulous tour you ladies had!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I also liked the stone bench. Had to enlarge it to see the details. The little blue chairs were so cute and I really really liked the train!! May steal that idea for one of my grandsons.

    The coneflowers are pretty, the lily absolutely gorgeous. I don't think I've seen a two-toned one like that before.
    Happy Summer - where did June go??

  18. Rose, you did such a great job with the Garden Walk. Lots of good photos and a little of all we saw. Granddaughter and I enjoyed the time spent with you and I know she felt very grownup discussing the different gardens with us.

    I had planned on doing a post Sun. eve after hubby and the grands left, but it was so nice out. I did more mulching and it felt great to be out and not melt.

    Thanks again for such a fun day!

  19. I really like that bench too.

    Great tour.

  20. Thanks for sharing your walk! I was in the President's house when Shannon it rained that day..I did not notice the gardens all that much! I am impressed with all the photos you uploaded.....that must have taken you a LONG time! I enjoyed all the gardens.....makes me realize I have a long way to go! My coneflowers are ALMOST blooming and I did plant a my garden this year. I will see how it does. I have a very good friend who is a Master Gardener..I guess I am just not that dedicated but she sure has a wonderful garden as do you.
    And if it was as hot where you are last week as it was here.....I am super impressed that you did this!

  21. Rose, your verbosity is a big part of the appeal of reading your posts, glad to see you still managed a few words for each image. It was just liking being with you and Beckie and her grandaughter, you are so good at chatting with us. All the gardens were wonderful and there were ideas galore in just these shots of it. Hope you were writing down the things you liked best as well. :-)

  22. Wow! So many beautiful things to see! Thanks for the tour, I saw several things for my christmas list (s)!

  23. Oh my goodness, how beautiful. I now have 'Day lily envy' too!! Also garden Art envy.
    It is late here tonight and I wanted to visit before I went to bed but alas I am too tired to take it all in. I shall have to return tomorrow.
    Thanks for all the beautiful photos Rose

  24. Cheryl, It's much cooler here this week; I hope the heat doesn't stay too long for you. Perhaps coneflowers don't do well in your area, but you have so many other beautiful flowers!

    Racquel, There was a picture in the program of the two dogs sitting the chairs--so cute:)

    Wendy, June has flown by! Your grandsons would love the trains.

    Beckie, I had a great time, too and was so impressed by Granddaughter--she's a future gardener for sure.

    Sylvana, Thanks for stopping by!

    Neva, The walk takes place only once a year, so I was determined to go no matter how hot. I've been in the President's house once, but never outside. And yes, this post took a long time:)

    Frances, I'm glad you don't mind my chatting:) It was too hard to break this into two posts.

    Dawn, I have enough Christmas ideas for several years:)

    Suburbia, I come home from these walks with serious garden envy. Do get some rest; hope your Mum is doing ok.


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