Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day Parade

Today, we remember the hundreds of thousands
of brave men and women
who have fought in our wars and died for our country.

Veteran's Memorial

Take some time today to remember these heros.
They gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free.

Salute.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cleaning the Pond

View from Kitchen Window

It was finally warm enough last weekend to tackle the yearly garden chore I dread most: cleaning the pond! It's an all day chore, but when it's done, it's so worth it!

Sparrows

I won't bore you with shots of the pond being cleaned, but rather, let you enjoy the beauty that occurs after.

View From The Top

I built the pond eight years ago to be used by the wildlife that visit our garden. I designed it with shallow pebbled areas for birds to bathe and deeper areas to sink water plants.

Frog Spitter

A biofilter waterfall helps aerate and circulate the water, as does a powerful pump and pre-filter.

Waterfall

Now for the cleaning. I started by pulling any weeds around the perimeter, and removing any dead plant materials left over from winter.

Pond Edge2

Next comes the testing of the pond pump, connecting it to the garden hose, and draining out all the old, stale water. The rushes need to be removed and trimmed, and the water lilies need to be divided.

Toad on Lilypad

Water lily rhizomes are buried in mesh pots filled with stones to weigh them down, and dirt that turns to virtual muck when waterlogged. The rhizomes themselves dye your hands a blackish-purple color, and the stain is hard to remove.

Waterlily

The next step is to get inside the nearly-drained pond and scoop out as much muck and black scum as possible. I carry buckets full of this matter to the compost heaps to recycle it. It's very smelly and slippery, and no matter how careful I am, I always end up covered from head to toe with it!

2011 Pond

Next, I use the hose to spray the remaining nooks and crannies of the pond and surrounding pebbles and rocks to dislodge any remaining debris. Then I begin refilling with fresh water.

Pond Edge

It's important to always leave some of the old water, with it's bacteria and bugs that thrive there. This helps keep the pond balanced, and inoculates the filtration system with a colony of helpful bacteria that actually help keep the pond clean.

Blackbird

I make sure the waterfall is draining completely back into the pond, and that water isn't leaking out from various area between the rocks. This is a common occurrence, as the pesky raccoons overturn the rocks at night, looking for little critters to eat.

Bird on Waterfall

When the pump is working, the waterfall is cascading, and the birds are drinking and bathing, it's a beautiful thing!

Blue Jay

And here's how the pond looks and sounds after it's been cleaned and prepared for summer!



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bring Me My Smelling Salts!

Last evening,
after visiting and commenting on all your wonderful blogs,
I forgot to log out of my blog account.

My dear husband Terry decided to post something,
thinking he was in his OWN blog account!

He didn't inform me of this until today.

GASP!!

So forgive me if you saw a music review
of a modern rock band on Eastlake Victorian today!

OUR SINCERE APOLOGIES!

Unless, of course, you enjoyed it.
In that case, there's more like it at

:-) Pam of Eastlake Victorian

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fragrant Spring Blooms!

I so look forward to the weekends! But this weekend has been unseasonably cold and gloomy.

Lily-of-the-Valley 4

So I decided to bring a little bit of spring beauty indoors!

Lily-of-the-Valley 1

I love fragrance in the garden, and I love to bring it indoors whenever I can. Today, I picked some lily-of-the-valley. The fragrance has always been one of my favorites!

Lily-of-the-Valley 2

I love their little nodding heads!

Lily-of-the-Valley 3

The grape hyacinths are past their prime, but still have some buds left at the tops.

Grape Hyacinths 1

I thought they would look nice in this tiny blue 3-vase set!

Grape Hyacinths 3

Grape hyacinths really do smell like grapes!

Grape Hyacinths 4

Grape Hyacinths 2

I threw in some Siberian bugloss as well. No fragrance, but very airy and abundant in the garden.

Siberian Bugloss

And, of course, some lilacs!

Lilacs 1

The blue milk bottle vase looks prettier in the window!

Lilacs 2

There are two types of lilacs in our garden.

Lilacs 8

The lighter, bluish ones are from a woody, older lilac that was growing at the house when I moved in.

Lilacs 4

The more purply ones are from a Persian lilac I planted 17 years ago.

Lilacs 5

Lilacs don't last long in a vase, so I can only enjoy them for a day before I have to go out and pick more!


Lilacs 3

Lilacs are another one of my favorite scents!

Lilacs 7

I hope you're all enjoying the sights and smells of Spring!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note that many of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers are poisonous to cats! We love our two kitties too much to leave these flowers anywhere that would pique their curiosity. Even dropped petals, if eaten, can be deadly. So please take precautions, and if you bring in any plants, don't take chances. Put them behind glass or in locked areas away from your kitties!

Here's a helpful list of plants that are poisonous to cats:


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mothers! Don't you think the holiday should include all women? I do!

Ma
My mom! These beautiful tulips were the first thing we saw while entering the parking lot.

The weather was beautiful here in the Chicago area on Sunday, in the 60's and sunny. We decided to take my mom to Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois!

My Mom and Me
My mom and I at Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum was established in 1922 by Joy Morton, the founder of Morton Salt. He used the original 750 acres of his Thornhill Estate to establish the arboretum, which has grown to 1700 acres of beautiful trees and plant specimens from all over the world.

Arboretum Pillars

The arboretum tests, develops and studies trees, shrubs and other plants for hardiness and diseases. It's aim is to educate people about the beauty of nature and present it in all it's glory.

Arboretum Pillars 2
The Hedge Garden features four 20-foot white pillars

We try to visit once a year. Spring is our favorite time! We love the flowering trees and the pretty spring bulbs.

Daffodils

The scents wafting through the air were heavenly! Flowering fruit trees, magnolias, lilacs, viburnums, mock oranges and boxwoods were some of the items we sunk our noses into!

Crabapple

Spirea

Every time we visit, we see something we've never seen before, like this tree:

Tree Tag

The beautiful reddish peeling bark and patchy scales were so unique and textural!

Paper-Barked Maple

We also saw this walking path made out recycled chips of colored glass. It really sparkled in the sun!

Recycled Glass Walkway

We also noticed more and more yellow-colored magnolias. Pink Saucer Magnolias and Star Magnolias do well in our area, but we're thinking yellow must be a newer variety developed for hardiness in our zone 4.

Yellow Magnolia 2

Yellow Magnolia

Of course, we always love the older, twisted tree specimens. Look at those cool roots!

Terry vs. Tree

Now, where did Terry go?

Where's Terry

Lots of mothers were enjoying their special day at the Arboretum today. The Visitor's Center and the Ginko Restaurant had a grill set up in the courtyard. Our grilled burgers tasted even better outdoors in the warm sun, with the gentle spring breeze blowing.

Woodlands in Spring

Most of the trees are just beginning to leaf out and the woodland areas were still waking up. If you're a tree-hugger, be sure to visit Morton Arboretum if you're ever in the area. There's something for everyone!

Happy Mother's Day!

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