Monday, November 12, 2007

Christmas Walk

Saturday and Sunday was the Holiday Walk. I was assigned to the main Cabin, which was decorated following Gene's description of her 1917 Christmas. Gene decorated with fresh roses and lilies, and she draped Spanish moss from her chandeliers. The result was festive even if we do not think of these materials as traditional. Gene had a cedar tree on the conservatory porch decorated for the birds and so did we.

The Cabin rang with music both days, thanks to Nancy Blough and friends. Mountain dulcimers, harps, bass, auto harp, piano, percussion instruments were played by talented musicians, but Nancy enjoys involving the guests so there was also dancing, singing and keeping time with spoons.

And another Nancy spent both days baking zucchini bread in the kitchen and the smell drew guests right into the kitchen.

I was asked to decorate the garden shed. First, though, I had to pack up the tender bulbs for winter, bag up the seeds collected and sweep out a ton of dirt. Lisa and Carol helped me do that on Thursday. Then on Friday my sister came up and we decorated the Garden Shed tree and mausoleum. Here is the tree decorated with flowers from the garden and bird's nests from the site. (It wasn't possible to stage a good shot because this is a working garden shed and our "stuff" cluttered the background.)
The garden shed was used to make Christmas crafts. This year, Cheri (on the left with one of her helpers on the right) laid out nature items and boy were the guests creative!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Last Blooms of Summer, Part 2

Blogger wouldn't let me post all the pictures at once, so here are some more pictures from November 1, just before our first hard freeze. The first picture is the south end of the arbor where the impatiens have nestled into the rocks.
The bed of nasturtiums always do well in the long bed in the east garden. In the foreground are "cherry rose" nasturtiums and the rest are a jewel mix, one of which is shown in a close-up shot. This is one of my favorite fall beds in the garden.

The last blooms of summer

It is November 1 and the first hard frost will hit that evening, but the day is sunny and beautiful and the garden is still pushing out its blooms. The ageratum, volunteers from last year's planting, hasn't went to seed yet and is a brilliant blue.Of course, mums are the staple of the fall garden and the mum bed, on the west side of the arbor is still going strong, even though it's past its prime. This bed has hyacinths in the spring and iris in the summer.
The dahlias are still blooming and is the only tender bulb I haven't brought in for the winter. I just couldn't disappoint this late season bee.

The garden phlox started blooming in August and there are still quite a few blooming. The scent is wonderful.
The honeysuckle my son transplanted in the middle of summer last year just won't stop blooming. And we were worried that it would be too stressed to survive.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Baskets of Flowers

Sharon works part-time at the site, mostly outdoors, keeping the walks and porches swept, the pond clean, cutting out invasive plants in the woods. Whenever she has a spare moment, she pulls out her needle and thread. Curious, I asked her what she was making and she said she would bring it in. Here it is, partially finished.

I was nonplussed by the beauty of her work. This partially finished quilt is all hand stitched. The stitches are tiny and perfect. Her color selection is gorgeous. Look at how perfect the little hexagons are.

Here is a closer shot of one of the sections. This flowers in this basket are from material that I gave her from my mother's stash. I'm sure my mother would have been pleased to see how her material was used.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Miscellany with a frog theme

There was a little red frog in a bucket in the basement of the cabin this week. I think the bucket was catching drips from the water before it entered the water softener. We released the frog into Singing Waters aka The Frog Pond. Why was it red? Because of the iron in the water. There was one happy fella in the Pond that day.

I am working hard to get the garden ready for winter--digging tender bulbs, planting spring bulbs, removing spent foliage, collecting seeds, raking leaves, digging up wild onions and Star of Bethlehem bulbs. Volunteers are needed desperately since we are down to one part-time seasonal gardener (moi). Call the site for details. I have several faithful volunteers that are a Godsend. Could you be one also?

Speaking of frogs, one of the faithful volunteers, Lisa, adopted the herb beds and was working in them this week when she called me over. "Look at the frog that is colored like a toad or is a toad that is shaped like a frog?" She then spotted his big suction-cup toes and it was a large tree frog enjoying the santolina.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Unusual Fall Bloom

Yes, that is a dogwood blooming its little heart out in late October.

Walking into work

It was a beautiful fall morning and I drank in the beauty of the lake, the light, the leaves as I walked into work today. How did I ever spend 30 years working in an office?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Summer's End

Recently I sat at the picnic table at the north entry to the garden to make some garden notes and glanced up to see the grass and snapdragons in Bed 8 framed by the arbor and Tara Vine.

We have quite a selection of Arisaema or Jack-in-the-Pulpits (or is the plural Jacks-in-the-Pulpit?). The fruits are a cheerful cluster of bright red shiny berries. I collected one seed pod and planted the seeds in the nursery bed behind the Garden Shed to see how easy they are to cultivate. I've read that it will take 3 to 5 years to bloom.

The Jerusalem artichoke soars above all other plants, but this stately amaranthus is trying to hold its own.

We turned the compost and the bin in the foreground of the picture will be ready to use next spring. The middle bin is heating up nicely and may also be ready for spring. In the large bin at the end, we are accumulating the detritus from fall clean-up and waiting for the massive amount of leaves that will soon be available.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


One of the more unusual trilliums in the garden is this red nodding trillium, near the wildflower bed under a mock orange. You almost have to lay on the ground to see the bloom under the foliage.

I was delighted last Thursday when I saw a large red seed pod on this trillium, but today I didn't see it when I walked by it several times. Finally, I investigated the situation and found the dead foliage and the stem with an unusual mark at the end like the seed pod had been picked. My heart sank as I was looking forward to propagating this plant. I searched the debris and found the seed pod, half eaten. Even though the remaining seeds were not ready for harvest, I spread them on some soil in a pot. Let's hope it works.

I found this picture on the Internet. Last Thursday the seed pod looked like the one on the left and today it looked like the one on the right.

Update: I just did a little research and found trilliums take up to two years to germinate and then 5 more years to bloom. So I should have titled this entry Hope and Patience. I also learned that moist seeds, like the ones I sowed, germinate best.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Before and After

In April, we took all the plants out of this bed and attempted to remove the Star of Bethlehem invasive bulbs. Here's what it looked like then and now it's in full bloom. There is an old saying, which I have found to be true:
The first year they sleep.
The second year they creep.
And the third year they leap.
If these plants are sleeping now, I can't imagine what they will look like in two more years.

The "before" of this bed can be seen in the foreground and on the left. Last year, my husband constructed a three-bin compost pile at the site and this is the first batch finished. You can't believe how excited I was over the compost! I'm a firm believer that there is nothing better for a garden than compost (and plenty of water).

Here's a picture from last May, taken under the arbor, showing the dripping wisteria.

And a few months later, from the same angle, instead of bloom I see the seed pod.

Which is brighter, the filtered sunlight or the edges of this wisteria pod?

Mid-summer blooms

I took this daylily picture several weeks ago and the blooms are now gone. This is my second summer in the garden and I discovered we have more daylily cultivars than I remembered.

I love lilies. This one is not only beautiful but fragrant. We planted these bulbs in Bed 33 when we renovated it this spring.

There is a large stand of this lily in the lily bed and at the southern entrance to the garden.

I love spotted blooms and here is the second orange spotted bloom in today's post. It is blackberry lily. The pods are forming now and when they open, the fruit looks just like a blackberry.

Amaranthus or Love-Lies-Bleeding is putting on quite a show this summer. These are from seeds saved from last year. Now that I know they are viable and come true, I'll collect some for sale in the gift shop. Some of the "strings" are over four foot long.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Caching In...the woods

I normally don't work on the weekends, but I was at the site last Saturday when I received a call and discovered a fellow garden blogger was in the area. Here's Kylee's account of her visit and some pictures of the site.

I enjoyed showing the garden to Kylee; it was interesting to see the garden through her eyes. Sometimes all I see is what needs to be done--weeding, deadheading, redesigning. No matter what, though, I thoroughly love being there in the woods, along the water, in a garden.

I knew that there was one geocache at the site, as I talked to some geocachers last fall. I learned Saturday that there are two on the site. If this is your sport, don't look at the photos below because this cache is in a very distinctive place.


Here's Kylee honing in on the cache. Notice how another geocacher is leaning on the bole of this tree.

Here she is checking out the contents, and another view of the bole.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eacles Imperialis or Yellow Emporer

I was sitting on the bench in front of the Visitor's Center yesterday talking to Ed, the site naturalist, when his eyes got big and he pointed behind me. Here is what he saw. Note the eggs she laid on the doorframe. She left but we are still watching the eggs.

While it is an unusual moth for northern Indiana, what made this especially interesting is that Gene's best-selling book, A Girl of the Limberlost, centered on a young girl's search for this moth and...

Gene documented in words and photos the life cycle of what she called the Yellow Emperor in Moths of the Limberlost.

Here is a close shot of its head.

Look at the image on the back of the head. Doesn't it look like an angry face?

More restoration work

Earlier this summer, they restored the roof of the garden shed and now they are working on a new front porch to the cabin. I was amazed at the deep gaping cavern, maybe 12' deep, when they removed the rotted floorboards. Unfortunately, I had to maneuver over these joists to water the planters on the front porch. This picture may give you an idea of the scale.

The workers were very skilled and the floor looks wonderful. This is where the porch turns 90 degrees.

Hot and Cool

When the crocosmia is blooming, every visitor stops and asks about it. It is really a showstopper. I think it is large enough to divide, as there is room for a large drift of these hotties.

Another hot plant in the garden now is the gallardia.

Is this hot or cold? I love the blue and yellow combination. There are quite a few balloon flowers in the garden but I like this combination planting the best.

And the coolest plant of all now blooming? Globe thistle. An Amish women asked me why in the world I had a large thistle in the garden. I explained about globe thistle but she insisted that no thistle would ever be in her garden.


The daylilies are blooming. While there are a lot of daylilies in the garden, there is little variety. There is a rather large overgrown daylily bed with only two varieties; one variety is pictured in the middle and the other is a soft peach. One of our goals is to expand the collection of daylily cultivars with a longer bloom season in a reworked daylily bed.

Nonetheless, these are beautiful and add a lot to the garden mid-summer.


There are three genera of milkweeds in the gardens. This is the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), but it is growing well in a sunny dry location. Perhaps that is why it is over 5 feet when the reference books say it is 1-4' in height. The juice is less milky and it is less fragrant than the common milkweed.

This is butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), which attracts many butterflies with its showy bloom and is a favorite of Monarchs. When you visit, see if you can find the caterpillars on the plants.

As I was looking up the botanical names, I found this little factoid about the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae): "The unusual structure of the flower regulates pollination. Sacs of pollen snag on insects' legs, are pulled from the stamens and then must be precisely inserted in slits behind the crown. If inserted backwards, pollen grains germinate in the wrong direction and are wasted. This may explain why so few pods occur on most plants. Insects too small to pull free die trapped on the flower." (The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers--Eastern Region)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Aerial View

Check out the aerial view of the garden. It is definitely the most distinctive feature on the site from the air. Just yesterday we were discussing the need to reset the stones and align severeal beds. This photo confirms the need to align the two herb beds in the northern section of the eastern garden.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Orange and pink or pink and orange?

Blooming next to the cabin is a beautiful orange honeysuckle (above) and on the south end of the garden is a pink honeysuckle (below). I call the pink one Ron's honeysuckle, since my teenage son transplanted it from the driveway at the farmhouse in the middle of summer last year. It was growing poorly but I wasn't sure it would survive being moved. It is thriving.
So which one do you like best? The primarily orange bloom with hints of pink or the primarily pink one with hints of orange?