Garden ‘Surprise’ Party!

Hi Friends!

It feels just like a garden ‘party’ here in the Midwest ~ a bit of a ‘surprise’ party! These party plans seem to have been underway since February, when we had a stretch of unseasonably warm days. Shortly thereafter, gardeners began to notice foliage emerging from our sleepy, leaf-covered garden beds. I remember taking walks through my garden in late February and early March whispering, “Slow down. It’s much too early.”

Our garden party guests might be feeling confused, as well. Migratory birds and other wildlife have been caught by surprise. This week, I noticed a robin finishing her nest under the eaves, with a southern exposure. The University of Illinois Extension reports that plant growth is 15-20 days ahead of schedule in our area. By tracking growing degree days (GDD), researchers confirm that we are well ahead of normal. Insect populations are making an early appearance. Dandelions have already been in bloom for two weeks. Our usual gardenkeeping tasks seem completely off-schedule this Spring.

My Garden Joys 2017  journal has been capturing the memories of our early garden ‘surprise’ party!

Throughout April, I’ve been extra busy making changes to our front yard as I continue to ‘right-size’ our perennial gardens. A few weeks ago, I decided to eliminate an old stone planter that was a part of this garden long before I moved here. Over the past thirty years, I have enjoyed creating many different plant combinations in the old stone planter. Now it was time to carefully move many of the perennials to other garden beds and compost the rest. (It’s never easy to say goodbye, so I had to keep repeating the mantra ~ “These are not children or pets.’ ) In my heart, I knew that I was doing the right thing… and I always listen to my heart!

Fortunately, I saved many of the loose bricks to use in the backyard. I think they should have a place of honor in our ‘History Garden,’ near our 1922 garage. Using all of my strength, I just couldn’t budge the remaining bricks. So, we called our favorite Handyman, who came with his sledge hammer. What a job! He discovered three layers of stone and slate in the foundation beneath the soil. A very talented Mason had done an excellent job of building the stone planter so long ago!

Next, we hired three strong landscapers to carry the stones to their heavy duty truck and haul them to a business for recycling. We planted grass seed in its place. Now there will be a bit more to mow, but a lot less to weed. 🙂 It felt so great to cross this garden project off my l-o-n-g ‘To Do’ list early in the season!

Some of my most treasured memories are the years that our stone planter was filled with old-fashioned Hollyhocks, in the loveliest colors. They often grew taller than me! I’ll always remember collecting the Hollyhock seeds to make little packets of ‘Seeds of Friendship’ as small tokens of gratitude for our wedding shower. It was such a small way to share the abundance of my garden with special friends.  One summer, the hungry neighborhood groundhogs kept munching on the tops of each Hollyhock stem. That year, we had ‘miniature’ Hollyhocks, only 12 inches tall, in full bloom! Passersby would often stop to comment on our tiny Hollyhocks and I would always share our groundhog tales with them. Ahhh… the garden memories that filled our stone planter over the years!

This week, it was so surprising to see what was blooming in my garden each day! ⇧ We truly are weeks ahead of our typical bloom times. So, I’m scurrying to keep up with our garden ‘surprise’ party this Spring!  The Herb & Tea Garden beds no longer have their warm blanket of leaves. Along the insides of the white picket fence, my favorite, old-fashioned perennials are thriving in this Spring garden party.  The Bleeding Hearts, Cranesbill Geranium, and Anemones are in full bloom and the Coral Bells and Peonies already have buds.

I spent a recent afternoon tidying up the potting bench in the garage.  The garden tools and flower pots are ready and waiting. After I washed the window curtains above the potting bench, I made a simple bunting with flower seed packets. Doesn’t bunting make every surprise party more festive?  🙂

The past two weekends we enjoyed surprising summer-like temperatures just right for some nice, long walks. Last Saturday, we took a late afternoon walk through lovely Lilacia Park. This treasure has over 700 Lilacs and 25,000 Tulips ~ all blooming several weeks early. Instead of a quiet walk amongst the fragrant blossoms, we were surprised to find several wedding parties and crowds of Senior prom dates and their families enjoying the colorful garden party. So festive!

This weekend, however, we are staying cozy and warm inside. Mother Nature has surprised us again! This afternoon our temperatures are in the upper 30s. April showers, along with high winds, thunderstorms, and excessive rainfall totals all weekend are ending the month with more surprises

We wonder what the merry, merry month of May will bring…

What’s blooming in your garden or nearby park this week?

Have you noticed any garden surprises this month?

Enjoy the small wonders in each day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today. Hope you will join in the conversation…

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Walking in Peace…

Hi Friends!

A quiet walk in nature always soothes my soul. Especially during these uncertain, often frightening times in our world, it helps to seek out an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty. Just one hour of walking amidst the blessings of Springtime on a Sunday afternoon really lifted my spirits! I hope it will lighten your heart as well, as you walk along with us…

As we left home, we didn’t have a definite plan about where we might walk yesterday. April showers during the past week have made many of our favorite walking places very muddy. As we drove, it suddenly dawned on both of us ~ a beautiful place of quiet and peace where we have walked in the past ~ the 40-acre grounds of the National Center of the Theosophical Society in America.  Although the Theosophical Society is closed on Sundays, the grounds are open during daylight hours and visitors are always welcome to enjoy a quiet walk.

So, we set off on our peaceful walk…

We wandered past the historic library building,

under the willow trees, across a tiny creek,

to the Perkins Pond at the south end of the campus.

A few feathered friends entertained us as we watched families of Canadian geese and ducks enjoying a relaxing, afternoon swim. Benches along the quiet pond invite visitors to pause and meditate, or sit and reflect upon the quiet beauty.

As we walked under the tall pines, following moss-covered stone paths,

we meandered from patch to patch of colorful Spring flowers,

deep in thought…

A bright patch of yellow

led us to our next peaceful place.

As we looked up, beyond the daffodils,

tucked in amongst the tall trees,

a sight stopped us in our tracks…

Our hearts smiled, as we carefully stepped

between the Spring blossoms

for a closer look.

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We lingered in this peaceful spot for a few moments,

speaking very softly,

not wanting to disturb the stillness.

Then we continued on our walk,

past an area filled with busy bee hives,

a prairie garden restoration underway,

across the squishy, rain-soaked grass,

and past a peaceful shrine

with candles aglow.

In the distance, I could see

the quiet oasis

where we have walked before.

In the middle of the peaceful, grassy area is a Cretan labyrinth. The large stepping stones set upon a field of pebbles is unicursal in design. Entering from the bottom of the labyrinth, visitors can walk its single, winding path from the circumference to the center and back out again.

Many years ago, we walked this labyrinth with a large, meditation group. I have also walked this labyrinth in quiet, private meditation. Since there is only one path to the center of the labyrinth and back out, it helps to quiet the mind while walking.

On Sunday afternoon we walked the labyrinth

peacefully,

on our own,

following the long, winding stone path.

While walking,

we lost track of direction,

of the outside world,

and although our feet were moving

our minds felt still.

Before leaving the grounds, we enjoyed a stop at the Quest Book Shop. It is a fascinating place to linger and explore, filled with books and other resources for meditation, yoga, health, metaphysics, psychology, and science encompassing beliefs from around the world.

 

Love.

Hope.

Nature.

Friendship.

Understanding.

Harmony.

Stillness.

Peace.

Namaste,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for stopping to visit today. ♥ Where do you enjoy walking in nature?

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A Burst of Spring Color!

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day.”

~ Robert Frost

Hi Friends!

With the arrival of April rainstorms and warmer temperatures, our Midwest garden is displaying its first burst of color. Gardening season is just beginning here… but garden happiness is in full bloom!  Wherever you live, I hope you can feel the excitement of new beginnings, too!

Springtime is definitely my favorite season in the garden. I can see the changes each day as new foliage emerges from the dark, wet soil. The burst of color from each blossom lights up early Spring garden beds! I love to take slow, daily walks through the garden, just to take note of all of the new growth. On the heels of our cold, snowy Winter, this burst of new growth feels like a miracle. Each Spring, my heart is simply filled with delight!

Come take a peek at the early Springtime colors in our garden this week….

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The garden is all abloom, with tiny bursts of early Springtime blossoms! (Top: Crocus, Daffodil, Crocus; Bottom: Scilla, Miniature Iris, Pulmonaria)

Just last week, hidden beneath a clump of dried leaves, I spotted miniature Iris in full bloom. I couldn’t help doing a ‘happy dance’ right in the garden! Seriously! Day after day, the parade of color has continued ~ Crocus, Daffodil, Scilla, and today I discovered Pulmonaria in bloom.

Beauty is in the details ~ especially in the Springtime!

This week, I wanted to spotlight two of these early Spring bloomers.

They always bring a bright burst of color and it’s really fascinating to watch them grow!

Scilla siberica  {Photo Credit}

A few years ago, I planted several tiny bulbs of the eye-catching blue Scilla siberica (also known as: Siberian squill). Unlike my other Spring flowers, Scilla blooms while it is emerging from the soil. It’s such fun to see a tiny, blue blossom practically touching the soil. Growing to 8 inches in height, Scilla lifts its bloom as it grows. Within a few days, the blue, star-like flowers are dancing in the April breeze!

Pulmunaria officinalis  {Photo Credit}

For many years, I have enjoyed growing Pulmonaria officinalis (Common name: lungwort) in my garden. This shade-loving plant grows happily beneath our towering pine trees. It spreads very slowly from the original clump and thrives in soil rich with organic matter. I am always fascinated by the pink and blue flowers growing on the same stem in early Spring. Cutting off the leaves immediately after the bloom time encourages new white-speckled leaves to grow.

This Spring celebrates my 28th year of gardening happiness! It warms my heart to look back on all of the changes in my garden over the years. The ‘seasons’ of my gardening life have brought big changes to my gardening style. I learned to garden by planting flats of annuals, providing bright, season-long color throughout the garden. Neat and tidy, growing in staggered rows, annuals filled my border beds with instant color. Annuals were a perfect choice for a brand new gardener!

When I began visiting our Wednesday farmer’s market, I would treat myself to a new perennial each week. Before long, my neat, tidy annual beds evolved into old-fashioned perennial cottage gardens. What could be sweeter surrounding a cozy 1922 Bungalow? I adored the crowded, old-fashioned look of big, beautiful blossoms all tumbling together in my garden beds. There were so many flowers filling my collection of vases, that I began using stoneware crocks and pitchers to display the garden blossoms!

After several years of happily growing cottage gardens, my style changed again. I wanted to enjoy the beautiful form and unique foliage of each of my perennial charmers. I think I spent that entire summer digging ~ dividing and moving the perennials to different parts of the garden, allowing space to walk amongst the flowers. I made repeated trips to the garden center to buy bags of mulch, stacking six bags of mulch into my small car each time. Ahhhh, it felt wonderful to have room to breathe in my cottage gardens.

This long journey has been brimming over with garden happiness!  My garden teaches me wondrous, new things every day. I truly love my perennial, cottage-style beds. Now I enjoy them so much more, with freshly mulched paths, encouraging me to walk through the garden admiring each individual plant. On Summer mornings, you will often find me walking amongst the blossoms, with my snips, and a basket filled with flowers. It is so exciting when the gardener grows…  along with the garden!

Garden happiness will be in full bloom soon.

It all begins with a burst of Spring color!

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What is your favorite gardening style? How have your gardens evolved over the years?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I always enjoy our visits in the garden!

Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

Lilac Time!

Come celebrate Lilac Time 2014.

Hi Friends!

It’s Lilac time in the Midwest!  Our cool, rainy Spring brought a few hours of sunshine this week. So, I knew it was the perfect time to visit one of my favorite places ~ Lilacia Park! This little gem of a park is the home to over 700 Lilacs and 25,000 Tulips. During mid-May, the park is at its blooming best!

Lilacia Park is an 8.5 acre horticultural gem, just steps away from downtown Lombard, Illinois.

Lilacia Park is an 8.5 acre horticultural treasure, just steps away from downtown Lombard, Illinois.

All I needed was a jacket and my camera! Lots of other visitors had the very same idea. There were toddlers, just as tall the as tulips, wandering through the flowers. Two preschoolers danced along the park paths singing, “Oh, I love nature!” ♬  I couldn’t resist joining in with a group of kindergarteners on a class Nature Walk, as they sniffed the Lilacs. (Once a teacher, always a teacher!♡)  There were small groups of gardening experts studying the abundant variety of plants. We had all come for the same reasons… the heavenly colors and scent of Lilacs!

Today, let’s visit Lilacia Park together. Feel free to bring a cup of tea for our walk through the park…

'Abraham Lincoln'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Abraham Lincoln’

'Alba'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Alba’

The lovely scent of Lilacs are simply intoxicating!  The Tulip beds, planted last Autumn, are also at their prime this week.

'Prairie Fire' Crabapple blossoms highlight the river of Tulips flowing along the walking path.

‘Prairie Fire’ Crabapple blossoms highlight the river of Tulips flowing along our walking path.

What a breathtaking sight to behold!

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‘Martha Stewart’ in the midst of a sea of pink and white Tulips

Allium

Allium in various stages of bloom

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Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Pocahontas’

The Tulips were as eye-catching as the Lilacs in bloom!

The Tulips are as eye-catching as the Lilacs this week!

Tulips 'Sun Lover'

Tulips ‘Sun Lover’

Tulips waving in the gentle breeze.

Tulips waving in the gentle breeze.

There are many other Springtime treasures to admire along the way…

Daffodils 'Tahiti'

Daffodils ‘Tahiti’

Fritillaria imperialis with its stunning blooms

Fritillaria imperialis, with its stunning blooms

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Syringa vulgaris 'Macrostachya'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Macrostachya’

Syringa x persica

Syringa x persica

'Green Wave' Parrot Tulip

‘Green Wave’ Parrot Tulip

Syringa vulgaris 'Primrose'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Primrose’

Groupings of Lilacs in stunning colors are everywhere.

 

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So much color inspiration! We are planning to plant three small Lilacs in our yard this year, to celebrate the fond memories of  the Lilacs that surrounded my husband’s childhood home. I can just imagine an antique enamelware pitcher, overflowing with purple, pink, and white Lilacs, on the front porch. Next Spring, we hope to celebrate Lilac Time right here ~ at our little ‘Home Sweet Home!’

It was delightful to stroll through Lilacia Park together. I’m so happy that you could come along!

Wishing you colorful, fragrant Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What flowers remind you of your childhood home?

New Beginnings!

 

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Iris Reticulata were the first to bloom this Spring!

Hi Friends!

Springtime is just filled with new beginnings! Tiny, green shoots are emerging in the garden after a very long winter. Early Spring flowers brighten each day! So many new techniques are helping me grow as a cardmaker. The small moments of each day are the perfect times to enjoy the quiet, simple joys of life ~ a cup of tea, a long letter from a friend, a lovely quilt, or the time worn patina and stories of a treasured antique.

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Daffodils are like rays of sunshine in the Springtime!

 

 

 

 

This Spring also celebrates my first steps as a new blogger! It has been such fun to create a little place where kindred spirits can gather, learn, and share. I look forward to sharing my love of gardening, paper crafting, and the simple pleasures that make life sweet.

 

Come visit often! I hope each post will feel like a letter from a friend… and that you will leave a little comment.   I look forward to hearing from you!

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