Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Break Birding

Posts are coming few and far between. Despite the cold weather, folks have their eye on summer and my landscape design clients are picking up. The GardenWorks Project is in full volunteer recruitment and planning mode for spring garden builds. Life has been full and good, even more so with the addition of our new family member, Ivy.

We adopted her from Casey's Safe Haven in Elburn, IL, and could not be happier. We weren't interested in a puppy, and so many adult dogs need homes. Ivy is a few months over one-year-old, and is said to be a beagle/shepherd mix. And no, her name has nothing to do with Wrigley Field; I couldn't care less about baseball, and hubby is a diehard Sox fan.

It's Spring Break here in our school district, and the kids and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather yesterday to give a few gifts to the birds. First, we used a mesh bag that previously held onions to fill with yarn and hang in our Viburnum. It's our hope that birds will take the yarn to use in their nests.

Then, we spread peanut butter on toilet paper rolls, and rolled them in birdseed to make a few birdfeeders.

The black-capped chickadees found them right away and had a bit of a party.

And today, it's cold again. But the daffodils and daylilies are pushing through, and things are coming back to life. We are making plans for the new vegetable garden, and can't wait to build it. Life is full, and good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Too nice! A review of The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden

I ripped through this book the first night after receiving it in the mail. Think this will be a positive review?

The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden ($34.95, Timber Press, 2014) by Roy Diblik is the follow up to his book, Small Perennial Gardens: The Know Maintenance™ Approach (out of print, American Nurseryman Publishing Co., 2008). Both books outline his Know Maintenance approach to landscape design - basically, if you know your plants and the conditions they thrive in, you'll be able to select the plants best suited to grow in the space where you wish to plant. This can reduce (not eliminate) a lot of the work that goes into maintaining a stunning four-season landscape. Common practices that increase maintenance include annually mulching perennial beds with wood chips, siting plants too far apart, and adding too much organic matter. You'll have to get the book to find out why these are bad, bad, bad things to do in the perennial garden.

The book highlights many of my favorite plants! Lucky me! Well, they are most likely my favorite because I took a few of Roy's plant communities classes in school and he taught many of these same plants because of their virtuous qualities. Allium angulosum 'Summer Beauty,' Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia, Baptisia sphaerocarpa, Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire,' Geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei,' Stachys officinalis 'Hummelo,' - they are all there, in brilliant color, and often shown in combination with other plants.

Lots of garden plans are included, based on a 140 square foot space. The plans can easily be modified for larger or smaller spaces, making the useful for any designer or homeowner. Diblik wraps up the book with a discussion on plant communities, and how to create a plant composition based on your personal style and site conditions. Full color pictures of individual plants, and of these gorgeous plant compositions appear throughout, along with Roy's signature exclamations of, "Too nice!" and "Too easy!" Note - shrubs and trees are not addressed, other than to say that they are not addressed!

In short, buy the book. A must for midwest gardeners and landscape designers looking to make bold statements in our plantings. To order, call Northwind Perennial Farm at 262-248-8229.  Roy will autograph it for you!

My other posts about Roy Diblik and Northwind Perennial Farm:
Wordless Wednesday: Garden Art at Northwind Perennial Farm
The Gardens of the Grand Geneva Resort
My Day with Roy Diblik
Roy Diblik's Northwind Perennial Farm