Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lurie Garden: Macro & Micro Views

Here are images from a visit to Millennium Park a week ago. We love the Lurie Garden whose perennials were designed by Piet Oudolf. This is the first year I've seen the Salvia River, above, flow fully. Previously rabbits and leaks took their toll.

The south end of the Lurie holds a small native section. This time of year most of the native plants are smart (given our mid-May last frost date) and not blooming. But the Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke) was strutting its stuff and showing off why it gets its name.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Horizontal Viburnum's Many Joys

Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii' aka Doublefile Viburnum. This cultivar excellent albeit slow to achieve its form. This specimen about twenty years old, south facing, in the shade of some parkway trees: Red Oaks and the Evil Bradford Pear.

Here's the surprise below. I wondered if it was inhabited and my 6'5" neighbor wandered by at the right moment. So I must credit Eric for bottom photo and satisfying my curiosity.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ferny Muse

Altoon Sultan's recent blog (Studio & Garden) post on ferns inspired me to recollect. As you can see, our logo is modeled on a fern. And though I generally attempt to avoid making literal connections, this photo shows a good likeness. I had a memorable morning with ferns in a wildlife sanctuary, two years ago, while out east working for a client on Martha's Vineyard [see my post from 6/4/08].

During that trip, I also had the good fortune to hear William Cullina speak about his book, NATIVE FERNS, MOSSES & GRASSES. We had originally met when I spoke at the New England Wildflower Society, but he has since become the Plant & Garden Curator at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (which I hope to visit someday soon). Bill is exceptional at many levels. You can get a glimpse of his knowledge, wisdom, humor and vision in his book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Red Surround

Chicago Botanic Garden & Springs Preserve (Las Vegas).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plants, Music & Geese

Last week provided an unexpected opportunity to do a few things that are normally impossible during spring planting season: I got to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden while things were green and hear music by the incredible Ken Vandermark.

This all happened courtesy of Connie Cunningham, co-founder of MELA, who is presently running Sassafras Valley Farm (free range geese) down in Missouri, in the Ozarks where the Lewis & Clark trail begins. I had visited in 2008, but now it was Connie's turn to return the favor. Because I am married to a Swede, we were the hosts (along with another landscape designer, Vaso Powers) for a young Swedish woman minding the goslings down on Connie's farm. Can't imagine why Connie thought the young woman might want some urban distraction...

Above you can see two of the three Japanese islands at the Garden where people can stroll (humans are not allowed to visit the third except by sight and imagination). The islands are connected by the zigzag bridge whose premise lies in confusing the evil spirits that might be in swift pursuit of us.

Below find Ken Vandermark in a blur of saxophone wizardry. This was about the third or fourth time I've heard the MacArthur Award-winning composer/musician (part of a duo this time with the wild drummer, Tim Daisy on 5/6/10 at the Velvet Lounge). Vandermark's website describes his "primary creative focus" as "contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation." Every time I hear Ken Vandermark, I feel as if I am reconnected with some deep, essential part of myself and the larger world out there. I am reminded of what's real and present in life. This is good no matter what we practice, yes?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Humboldt Park Walk/Talk with Julie 5/27/10

On May 27th, a Thursday evening from 5 to 7 pm, I will initiate a series of 2010 Walks & Talks (yes, I do) in Chicago's Humboldt Park. We will meet at the Boathouse (above) and explore the Prairie River that the visionary landscape architect, Jens Jensen, created in the early 20th Century...since renovated. Design, History, Plants, Sustainability and Social Context will be explored. I will soon have further details on my website, but if you are interested, please send me an email. This year, we will focus on Public Gardens. We'll visit Humboldt Park (5/27 5 pm), the Lily Pond in Lincoln Park (Fri. 6/25 10 am), the Wicker Park Garden Club (and other nearby community gardens, Sat. 8/21 10 am) and the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park (Fri. 9/24 5 pm). We will then transition into the Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum as well as some private gardens for next year.

I must thank Amy Moses, Cheryl Bradford, Doug Woods and Judy Bramson for encouraging this idea. We will try different days and times and see how people respond. It will be fun!