Sunday, November 6, 2016

Poisonous Plants

199 Poisonous PlantsIt is always a good idea to know what you're growing in your yard. Kids and pets are unpredictable, you never know what they will taste. As the growing season has come to an end. As we bring our plants back inside I will use this opportunity to share this lovely info graphic of poisonous plants from

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cherry Blossoms at the Japan House

Brisk Spring mornings are the best for taking inventory in a garden. The Idea Garden at the University of Illinois Arboretum is very charming and it is great to see the plants returning from winter hibernation. This morning was a little more brisk with 35 mph winds, but the sunshine and my windbreaker worked in perfect harmony.

Cherry trees at the Japan House, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I took advantage of the early morning and walked over to the Japan House to see the Cherry trees in blossom.  The question on every visitor's mind was will the trees still have flowers? They were just opening up and holding on strongly to their petals even with the blast of winds.

James Bier (donor, designer and helps maintain the Japan House gardens) and Laura Hayden (me) with Cherry trees in the background.

I feel very fortunate to know one of the men behind the Japan House garden plans James Bier (last name pronounced 'bye-er'). He just happened to be there at the same time checking on the trees. We chatted a bit and he kindly agreed to a selfie with me. If you have the time join one of the educational events at the Japan House, or take a walk through the gardens. This is a gem of green space with gardens and walking paths close to the University of Illinois campus. Not to be missed.

Want to visit?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Master Gardeners: That's how they stroll

Demonstration garden, Idea garden, call it what you will, these gems are great places to stroll through and get brilliant gardening ideas. Ideas that you may not have previously considered. Master Gardeners are a passionate bunch with various interests with gardening bringing them together.

A recent visit with family took me to a lovely garden in Springfield, Missouri. The Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. It was more than lovely and not little at all. It was quite a great surprise. The Greene County gardeners were wrapping up after a long day. They had held their annual fund raiser plant sale. People started lining up as early as 6:30 a.m. for the 7:30 a.m. sale, and the gardeners were up much earlier than that.

By the time we arrived, the sale was wrapping up. There were a few plants left and the gardeners were jubilantly beat. The sale seemed to have been a success.

Greene County, MO Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens and Plant Sale

If you have an opportunity to participate in one of the fundraisers for any Master Gardeners, know that you are supporting more than garden fanatics. Our Champaign County, IL Master Gardeners support display gardens, rehabilitation gardens, a garden for a crisis day care provider, and more. So much education, sharing, and caring goes into what Master Gardeners do.

Hate gardening but like gardens? Enjoy the bounty of their work by visiting a demonstration garden or attending a fundraiser event like the Champaign County Master Gardener Garden Walk, here in Illinois in June.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring at MoBot

I had an opportunity to spend a few hours alone in a sea of strangers at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and couldn't have felt more at home. Spring is a great time to visit the garden* and the surroundings were the very makings of a Monet painting.

If you haven't had the opportunity, this is an easily accessed garden with a little something for everyone. The azaleas, crabapples, and dogwoods were in full bloom. The tulips were finishing up; cherry blossoms showed only a hint of what I suspect was a glorious show; and the irises were just teasing at what was to come.

I only wish I could go there more often or lived closer.

Painters in the Azalea garden.

Conifer garden

Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding heart)

Red and white Tulips.

Pink flowering dogwood framing up the lake in the Japanese garden.

"Garden of pure, clear harmony and peace"

Japanese garden

*Full disclosure: I'm completely biased about visiting the MotBot garden. I've visited in the dead of winter to look at buds and bark and had just as much fun as I did this Spring. Oh, and the only gift to me on this trip was from my husband. It was the gift of a few hours of peace and quiet to myself in a garden. All photos were taken with my iPhone (also, not a gift).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Waking up the gardener to wake up the garden

Well, I’ve taken a long hiatus from blogging. I lost the passion for talking about gardening and taking photos after experiencing a litany of back injuries and tennis elbow. These injuries weren’t caused by the gardening, but by something much more sinister: the job that makes my gardening possible!

I sit behind a computer the majority of the day. Let’s face it, the majority of people do. For me work is on a computer. Blogging, news, photography, all use a computer. Even recreational movies are on a computer. Many of my passions had moved to a technology that only allows for sitting, possibly standing. Sure I can shift locations or positions, but in the end if I wanted to participate in these, I had to be stationary. And in order to write about my passion for gardening, I was right back here again – at my computer, which felt very much like work.

I’ve heard a lot about walking desks. I’m fully impressed by those who have walking desks and are successful. My ability to walk in a straight line, type and not fall is akin to the inability of walking and chewing gum. Yep, I’m one of those people.

My officemate sent out an email with the ominous subject, “sitting=death!” Well, it hasn’t killed me yet, but it has taken a toll. After experiencing muscle strains in my lower back, tennis elbow in my dominant arm, and now bulged disks in my cervical spine I have been concentrating on gentle movements and re-gaining my strength.

Now when I watch a movie or read, I walk on a treadmill. It’s become enough of a habit where one doesn’t feel right without the other. This has built more strength, but it also is helping me strike down the demons of my sedentary work life one mile at a time.

Where I thought my gardening life was doomed, I’ve found that with appropriate attention I have very little difficulty doing the physical labor of gardening that I love. Gone are the days where I can pick up cinder blocks with one hand, but hopefully that is not a necessity anymore. If it does become a necessity, I have a loving husband and mostly cooperative 7-year old boy who can help me.

My work has changed as well. Until just over a year ago, I was one of the soldiers in the trenches – going about my day pushing pixels as a web designer. My immediate supervisor moved out of state, and I was tapped to take his supervisory position and the learning curve and rapid shift to a different way of working has also taken its toll.

As many of us often do, I looked to my garden as a way to reset my brain from the long hours at work, but when it came to sharing things as The Durable Gardener, I had lost that focus. I won’t beat around the bush – I was gardening for me because I needed it and I wasn’t blogging because I didn’t need to spend more time in front of my computer…I needed to eliminate the wires as much as I needed to eliminate the weeds.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Durable performers: Bellflower - Campanula 'Ringsabell Mulberry Rose'

I received this Bellflower from Skagit Garden in 2012. Named Campanula 'Ringsabell Mulberry Rose', it has established well and become very lovely in just one season.

This year the bells are very attractive 1.5" long on a delicate stems with medium green leaves. The leaves on my plant stay nice and compact at about 4", while the flowering stems can reach up to 15" high! Very showy. It flowers in late spring through summer. Because of the shipping, it was a little rough around the edges at the start, but it has been an exceptional performer this year.

I received this plant from Skagit Nursery Inc. in 2012. There was no request or obligation to review this vendor's products. This review is in response to my own findings in working directly with the plant.

What is a Durable Performer?
Why do I consider this a durable performer? Because my plants don't get much in the way of love. They need to be planted and grow with only the slightest intervention. No hugs, kisses or Christmas cards here. In 2012 there was a serious drought, so I did water to keep things alive, but that was it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I thank Mary for my Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'

While I was at a Hosta club sale in 2012, I was checking out the plants and containers other gardeners were able to score. I saw some Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' in one of the containers my friend Mary bought. I had been looking for this durable little hosta for quite some time. They didn't have more available at the sale. Lamenting about this, she quickly separated out 5 mature divisions spreading about 10" wide. The caveat was that I had to return the favor the following year by giving her some of the divisions back. I thought Mary was off her rocker, but agreed.

It's disappointing that I don't typically find this little charmer in local garden centers. Recently, I did find Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' at a garden center, on sale even. After a quick glance at the plants and the price, I was not compelled to buy these plants at all. The plants were unhealthy, small and way over-priced. I'm not scientific about my limit of cost to desire, but this plant (pictured here) was well in the limit. This problem is all too common.

Would you pay for a plant that is typically a high performer but is in visible distress? I'm not an economics major, but I know there's an equation for this. I frequently go to end-of-season sales and sweep up the perennials that have died back into the pot. It is common for me to buy the kind of plant that a normal (perhaps even sane) home owner would walk by as if it were garbage. I buy these because I know that they will perform. I do it because I see that the roots are still healthy and the plant has completed its season. I do it for the deal. This is my kind of deal. But I could not convince myself, and I tried hard, to buy any of these hostas. Would you?

This year, true to her word, Mary asked for a small division of the Blue Mouse Ears back. I was able to give her almost the same amount of plant back as she gave me in the first place. It was because the plants were healthy to begin with. These little hostas are true performers. They multiply very well. These 6" tall plants haven't needed extra love. No fertilizer has been added for their performance. They are slug resistant and have strong purple flowers. I highly recommend them for front borders or containers.

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