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…







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’


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!


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


Allium in various stages of bloom


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


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.




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?