Sunday, June 29, 2008

Open Days Gardens

One of the girls that I work with (Michelle - she is our lead designer) always keeps up on what is going on in the area and any upcoming events. This year she found out about a national program that offers a day to walk through local private gardens. I happens in every state . . . she bought the directory and looked up Illinois and planned an outing for a few of us to go visit some of these magnificent gardens this weekend. This will be my "cliff notes" version of what I saw today. I took 187 pictures so this is just a very small sampling.

Gardens of Suzanne and Dennis Nyren

This home and garden is located in Lake Forest next to that Lake Forest Open Lands. This garden did a magnificent job of staying true to it's woodland neighbor.

With all of the green this orange was stunning!

The Carton Garden

This home was right behind the first one . . . it was originally part of the same piece of property and the previous home was the original on the property. The owner sold of the first portion and built a home on the remaining seven acres (approximately). This is where we began right by the kitchen.

This area opened up into a large lawn area with a stunning beech tree (which happened to be the tree of the day . . . everyone had one). Part of the beauty of this garden was it's ability to combine the formal with the wild and whimsy. Very natural plantings with perfect borders up to the turf or a perfectly shaped formal tree . . . really the combination was done perfectly.

The large lawn lead us back to the pool house and the secluded pool. The garden around it was fabulous . . . the pool was beautiful . . . the setting perfect . . . but the truly amazing show piece was the latticed espalier pears along the back wall! It was like nothing that I have ever seen before!

This lead us back into the garden area with more espalier fruit trees and ornaments hanging from the lines.This garden backed into a wooded fire pit area complete with furniture made from tree stumps . . . if only I had a place like this when I was in hig
h school . . . my friends and I would have had a fire every night.

As you exit the wooded area you come to the pond . . . once again a stunning beech tree was the focal point. A path lead you all the way around the pond in order to enjoy every single plant there in all of their glory.

This lead us back to the house, and just when we thought that we were done we realized that there was a side yard that we had not even seen. This area included a bog, theater, walking path, and backed right up to the golf course. Overall . . . we could have spent the whole day here exploring what this homeowner spent 50 years creating.

John V. Crowe Garden

This French style garden was designed by an English designer, Rosemary Verey. The formal tea roses by the pool with the perfect tree line and hedge are absolute examples of French formal design.

The lilac room had stunning beds where I got a lot of ideas of combinations for my own garden. To me the stunning feature was the red brick wall that enclosed one side of this garden room.

Lawn stairs are a rare find, but one that I truly enjoy. These were stunning in this large expanse of lawn!

The home is my dream house . . . the red brick and white colums are what I have dreamed of since I was small. It was wonderful to see my dream home in reality!

Markus Collection and Garden

All that I can really say about this garden is that I was curious when we went in based on the description . . . it sounded more like a specimen arboretum than a home landscape. I was stunned by what I saw . . . such a variety of conifers and maples . . . I have never seen that many together . . . and it was designed so perfectly that you didn't realize that you were looking at a specimen garden . . . the colors and textures worked together so well. See for yourself . . . but warning the pictures don't begin to do justice to how fabulous this was.

I have more pictures, but I thought that this was a good sample of how much color you can get with almost no flower, just foliage.

Nantucket Garden

I have never seen white and green beds work so well before. This gardener is good when it comes to working withing a pallet.

They made the best out of their low point (boggy area) and recently planted it with what will be even more beautiful as it matures.

As you move up the slope you find the soft color perennial garden.

This home showed a beautiful Nantucket style garden . . . it fit perfectly with the home.

Walled Retreat

At this home the landscape and the structure were truly one. It began on the side with this formal line of trees.

Next you pass through the doorway in the wall into the yard. The doorway with climbing hydrangea around it was a show piece all it's own.

I loved that this person has a fondness for bright pink flowers as much as I do.

Greta's Cotswold Cottage Garden

This gardener made the most out of a very small space. She created a fabulous colorful garden.

I loved the swing in the back. I can just imagine curling up in it with a good book on a lazy Saturday morning.

McKenna Garden

This Asian inspired garden was perfectly designed to move you through the garden and create different garden rooms. It began with the long hall leading to the red bench. I love red.

The next hallway leads you through columns with Chinese dog statues on them ending in a Asian style tea house.

From here you wind around the back where there sits a small patio table.

The containers here were fantastic. I just had to share.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I am not talented enough to take my own picture, but I really liked this image. Anyway . . . one of the things that I really love about summers in the midwest is . . . wait for it . . . THE HUMIDITY!! Ok, just kidding . . . what I really love are fireflies. And this year is even more fun because I have my own back yard where I can sit in a chair on the patio in the evening and just watch them . . . Cletus tries to chase them and catch them . . . he never does, but it doesn't stop him from trying. It is a very nice way to wind down at night and just relax. Love them!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My New Bed

I know it's been a while since I have blogged about anything, but give me a break . . . I've been busy. Work was crazy as always in the spring and I have been trying to get a few things done around the house. But I did finally finish one project . . . a new planter bed in my backyard. When I moved in there were a couple random small beds in the back yard, but other than that it was just not so good grass and weeds as far as the eye could see. I had to do something so I forced myself to get started on my own landscape . . . and actually doing some real landscaping and not just flower pots although I have plenty of those. I will post pictures of those later.

This was my starting point. It is an odd area of the ba
ckyard off the patio, but the gate between the porch steps and with the air conditioner. And to make things better there was a random little bed with two Arborvitaes and a Clematis in the middle. So I got started. First step was to buy the hot green marking paint so that I could mark out the bed and make sure that it was exactly where I wanted it. Yes, I know the easy way is with a garden hose, but that would not let me play with spray paint. Once I had the bed where I wanted it then came the round up. Gotta make sure that all of the grass and weeds were totally dead before I started to pull them out. Can't have grass filling it back in when I am done!! Then came the absolute brutal task of cutting out the sod by hand. It was tight spaces and not a big enough area to really use a sod cutter so the spade became my friend. OUCH!! I had blisters and my back hurt for days. Next step, was about 4" of compost. The soil was not so great so it really needed that layer of compost. Then came the planting . . . I had been thinking of what I wanted to plant for a while, then my growers didn't have everything that I wanted so I had to make some sacrifices. Anyway, the final plant list for this bed is Quick Fire Hydrangea, Knockout Rose, Allium Summer Beauty, Geranium Max Frei, Karl Foerester Grass, and then two flats of Apricot Cora Vinca (I had to have some annual flower space). In any case, that was my project for last week . . . now onto the next.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another Reminder . . .

So I bought this house in November and at that point all of the existing plant material was starting to go dormant not to mention I was too crazy busy to care to look and see what it was. But as Spring approached I had a huge desire to do something with my landscape and to find out more about what was already here.

I love home improvement stores so I go all of the time, and every time I have to go into the
garden center. As I have been looking at plants and bulbs I have had this huge urge to buy peonies. They are kind of an old fashioned flower, but for some reason I have this huge desire to have some. Then I realized it is because my mom has some and really loves them.

Anyway, my pleasant surprise this Spring was to discover that I already have some. There are two different ones in two different parts of the yard. They just started blooming and they are beautiful!