Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The Rockford Park District has an uncanny ability to know when the January thaw will occur and select that exact time to host the annual snow sculpture event. This year sculptors worked in temperatures approaching 40-degrees F. On the day of the judging, it rained. I felt so sorry for all those who had worked so hard to create art that lasted only hours.Add Image

So here they are, the crisp details already dripping off:

Where the Wild Things Char

Vagan til Valhalla II

Save our Home

Refuge in the Shadow of His Wings

Mr Toad's Not So Wild Ride

Mommoth Masticator

How Many Buffalo Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb

Happy Together

Fish Out of Water

Who Are You

Happy Together was a crowd favorite and mine too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More June garden club walk

Talk about curb appeal. This pretty bank of rock, perennials, daylilies and shrubs runs along the highway for about 200 feet. Simple but elegant.

When visiting gardens for the first time, I tend to photograph unusual things that catch my eye.

In the photo below, a thrifty gardener created an old fashioned well from chunks of used concrete.

This succulent tower was made from an old 60's style kitchen chair frame and a piece of wood to give height to the back. Wire mesh encloses sphagnum moss and holds the plants in place.

A Toad Hall resident sits in this sunny garden.

This is a catalpa tree. Very striking.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We have had so much snow this winter and not much of it has melted. Last Friday the snow was over the tops of my Uggs:)

Northern Illinois isn't alone when it comes to bad weather. According to the national news, two thirds of the country is experiencing unseasonable temperatures, snows or floods. There is some good news in the forecast. The jet stream has shifted and temperatures are supposed to be on the rise for most of the country.

White are the far-off plains,
And white the fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree
Falls down, scarce audibly.
The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound.

~ From Loreena McKennitt's Snow

A panoramic view of the fields around my house.

Winter is taking a toll on wildlife. Deer, rabbits, and birds are not able to dig through the deep snow to reach food. I have hundreds of birds in the yard where I ground-feed to make sure the doves, cardinals and juncos get their share.

The house finches are constantly pushing and shoving to get a better seat at the table.

I thought seeing some scenes from warmer days might cheer me up. Here are a few "then and now" pictures. The snow photos were taken Thursday.

The wren house with it's tiny resident carrying home dinner.

Much less inviting now with a thick covering of snow.

Colorful helenium Mardi Gras on a bright summer day.

Now just a collection of twigs.

A clump of miscanthus amoung the glowing maple leaves.

Now only a few brown stalks remain to catch the whirling snow.

Cats have the most wonderful imaginations. Perhaps today Toby sees himself as a snow leopard. Leaping into drifts, tunneling, rolling, never bothered by the cold. I had to cut his snow time short when he refused to stop harassing the birds.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This is a home from a June garden walk. I try to snap photos of elements that are unusual or interesting. With the exception of the Khlem gardens (which I will show in a future post), all garden walk yards are designed maintained by the homeowners.

A tiny bungalow with only a retaining wall and porch in front. The backyard was postage stamp size, about 20 x 30. Not really much in the way of plantings but a pleasant area with some ideas for creating outdoor living space.

Creeping Jenny trails over the retaining wall. A few flower accents and some metal artwork adds and interesting element to the wall. Shrubs are all pruned up to better show the plants beneath.

A brightly colored deck attached to the house holds some art, stuffed flamingos and an assortment of chairs and tables.

A mustard colored fence and bright stepping blocks accent the tiny lawn and a few plants.

Trellises frame the seating area and a painting hangs on the fence. Planters dot the patio and odds and ends are are positioned in any available space.

This is the garage door.

One wall of the garage is a startling blue with metal artwork accents. The stock tank is painted a bright copper and the hydrangeas are artificial.

More artwork hangs on the house’s rear wall. The woman in the white hat is the owner/artist.

A dead tree brightly painted to give it a few more years of usefulness.

A hanging swing becomes a planter.

The driveway, colorful sidewalk and boxed trees.