Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weather, chickens, insects & people

Since I am always behind during planting season, this post will range...

First: the B & W photos are from the class Tommy Hillwertz and I taught on May 26th for the Summer Green Tech U Seminar Series at CCGT (Chicago Center for Green Technology). We did it off-site at a typical Chicago bungalow so we could show chickens (coop & Tommy: top image) and rain barrels (hidden in image #2). 3rd image is neighbor's collection of porch stuff.

I have to express gratitude that we finally had a real soaking rain today. Memorial Day saw record-breaking temps of 95. WGN meteorologist, Tom Skilling says: "Spring 2012 is to go down in the record books as Chicago's warmest in 142 years running a stunning 9-degrees above normal!" When I walked in the park at the lake, the turf grass looked like high summer. Also, we are seeing amazing amounts of pests and diseases which can't be divorced from our non-winter and unseasonably high temps and lack of precipitation. Due to these facts plus the plants running about a month ahead, I am likely adjusting our installation schedule and stopping for our summer break earlier than normal, especially when we have plants to's gonna be an interesting season if I can manage to remain detached and put on my scientific hat.

So it was nice to have people attend a class that explored the myths and realities of sustainable gardening. A pleasant experience to have folk interested in gardening period and sustainability, second. And of course: we learned more than we taught from the great group of people active in their communities.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foliage Rules for Memorial Day!

Foliage provides architecture...

and color.
Use flowers as exclamations!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Disappearing Ash...

TOP: Dead Ash tree straight on. Note diseased Ash to left (lakefront SE Evanston).

MIDDLE: Detail of Diseased Ash.

BOTTOM: Remnant vapor likely from NATO jet trail (image goes with 5.16.12 post).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flight Patterns: Migratory Birds & NATO Jets

What I wished I could show images of, I cannot. Either because I am not fast enough or my camera phone is not sharp enough or because I walk without my phone...

The photos would have shown the migratory birds I've noticed, but cannot ID, when I take my rare, spring morning walks along the Evanston lakefront. Today, I saw a bird with scalloped brown markings (grouse-like, but not), a long beak and a bright red patch towards the neck and breast. Anybody know what it might have been?

Since the NATO Summit occurs in Chicago this Sunday and Monday, the region has been heavily inundated by security measures...the Secret Service is in charge, but Chicago Police don't conjure up sweet memories regarding protestors either. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the Chicago City Council, has put in place some extreme security measures that will become permanent laws. One would prefer a balance that manages security without repression and civil rights violations.

So, my second image would have shown all the jet-trails above the city and Lake Michigan this morning...instead, I give you a pattern where you can see numerous lines connecting points.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My $10. Garden Splurge

Since the roofers began the 3-year project at our condo, I've had to shelve my grand plans for my tiny garden space since it changed from shade to sun with the demise of the Bradford Pear on the parkway. So this is what I did instead...

Our poor town of Evanston! The unseasonably warm winter (who knows if it will become the new normal in face of Climate Change) seems to have accelerated the pace of Emerald Ash Borer's spread.  Any Ash tree not yet dead appears that it will be by Spring's end. Thus, with all the replacements, we were lucky that the city recently planted our choice of a new tree: Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin Oak).

P.S. That's a volunteer Clematis that will soon be climbing the blue will manage to support the vine for at least a year, I hope.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Creating Bird-Friendly Spaces: Evanston Green Drinks 5.8.12

It's been a lot of fun to explore more deeply the levels we can go to create more bird-friendly landscapes. This Tuesday evening, I will be part of a panel addressing this at Evanston Green Drinks 5.8.12.

Above you can see an urban garden we installed in Chicago 11 months ago. We're looking through a Sumac at a Serviceberry, both native plants that birds like as food sources. Note how we have pulled that bird bath away from ledges/perches/trees that predators can use as launch pads. 

After visiting this client, I attended the Wicker Park Garden Club's Annual Plant Sale. I was going just to photograph, but ended up buying a few plants I couldn't get for clients plus a hanging basket of Clerodendron thomsoniae (Glory bower) whose white flowers will be perfect for my north-facing back porch with a little reflected light. First, you can see how amazing the white iris look against emerging roses at Wicker Park. The Hawthorne in the background is a great native bird plant: its thorns help protect smaller birds from larger predators. 

Below you can see some engaged customers at the sale where many bird-friendly plants were available. While this Wicker Park Garden Club event is past for 2012, check out their many other community programs. Readers of this blog already know what high esteem I hold these gardeners and community activists.