Maggie and Kristen were headed to Gaelic Park after church to play with the Irish Musicians Association at noon. I knew I should go to support the cause, but I desperately wanted to work in the garden. The weather was supposed to have cleared today, but instead a new line of drenching storms were headed this way. That meant neither the garden nor Irish Fest were a good idea. The only other option was to stay inside and that would make me crazy. Once the warm, or in this year’s case, less cold weather arrives, I can barely stand to even sleep inside.
While trying to make the decision, the TV weather alerts caught my attention and I realized I would have to go to Gaelic Park just in case I had to save Maggie from the storm. I don’t have new and funky wellies so I put on my garden wellies (which don’t look very cool, but they do the job) and a rain jacket, and headed out with Jeanne (Kristen’s mom), hoping to beat the storm.
We got to the tent in time and as we approached, the strains of the music changed my soaking wet attitude toward life. It’s hard to be in a melancholy mood surrounded by happy people listening to happy music and watching happy step dancers. The musicians were just about done when the deluge began, accompanied by lightening, thunder, and a fair amount of wind. This is where my wellies came in handy as the tent began to fill with water. Not having to care or tiptoe through the rushing water was quite liberating. I think I’ll buy myself a fancy pair especially since all of the old Irish guys kept complementing me for being smart. At 56 yrs. old, I’ll take smart.
During the thick of the storm Jeanne and I began to get a little nervous, but as we looked around it appeared that the guys with the brogues were nonplussed. At one point, one of the Irish ladies sitting with us, became concerned for the 20 or so Irish dancers getting ready to take the stage after the musicians and asked one of the gents in charge, “Do you think it is possible for this tent to come down?” His response – “Yes, it could.” Still, no one seemed worried and the dance parents shepherded their kids through the rushing water and onto the stage. Ok then.
The musicians scooted out of the tent over to the tent next door which was the Tea Room. And there we sat having tea and scones and I never would have guessed that this wet and soggy day would turn out to be so delightful.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
I think I have to admit that I have an obsession with hostas. Until I moved to Palos Heights and experienced shade from real trees, I never knew what a hosta was. My obsession with these plants began slowly. My yard was surrounded by trees and we could barely get anything to grow. My children’s piano teacher, Carol Miller, had a beautiful garden that she and her husband tended to religiously. It was in that garden, while waiting for the lessons to be over, that I became acquainted with hostas. Just like most folks in Palos, the Millers had quite a few trees and had to cultivate their garden with that in mind. Carol had some monster hostas under her trees and when they had reached the size of small bushes, she and her husband dug them up and split them in thirds. The extras were sitting in her yard in plastic bags. She practically begged me to take them if I could find a place for them. And thus it began.
I lined the back of my lot with these beauties, the proper names of which, I do not know. They quickly doubled in size and I was proud that I could finally grow something in the shade. Little did I know that my hostas represented just one cultivar of maybe hundreds.
As time went by, the trees that lined the back of my property were cut down (scrub trees – nothing worth saving) to make way for new houses. This left me with something entirely unfamiliar – sunshine. I spent that summer digging out my hostas and moving them to the still shady corners of my lot. I replaced them with coneflowers, wild phlox, gloriosa daisy, and lilies from a catalog. What fun. I also ordered some fancy-looking hostas from Spring Hill for those still grassless places under the oaks
As my penchant for gardening increased, I was no longer satisfied with grooming – in a wild sort of way – my own property and then began expanding out into the adjacent, city-owned lot which was a tangle of every invasive European plant known to frustrated forest-preservers in the area. My neighbor on the other side of this lot, which was intended to be a side-street way back in 1954, was also grooming this thicket now that our children were growing and not interested in building “forts” and exploring. Slowly, fern by fern, hosta by hosta, lily by lily, we pushed back against the invasive buckthorn and mustard garlic. We had almost met in the middle when our city offered the lot for sale to each of us for $1 per square foot. Louise and I were so excited. Our husbands – not so much. This meant we were now the proud owners of 12 oak, 1 ash, and 3 mulberry/cherry trees between us.
Undaunted, Louise and I plowed full steam ahead. We have since eliminated the weeds and undergrowth. We spend an ungodly amount of time moving plants around in order to get just the right plant in the right spot to take advantage of what little sun gets through the canopy. Which brings me back to hostas. After a visit to my sister-in- law’s heavenly garden in Rockford, I discovered that there is a whole world of hosta varieties out there that I had never imagined. I had never seen such odd and beautiful types of plaintains before and since I could not be traveling up to the Rockford area nurseries to buy these, I started looking online and guess what I found? I found http://www.bridgewoodgardens.com/.
This website is for me what seed catalogs are for gardeners who have sunlight.
Their Home Page carries a warning which I think was written with me in mind:
A warning to casual Hosta users:
Many of us, when we first started using Hostas, thought we could stop whenever we wanted. What begins as casual experimentation can quickly develop into a serious addiction. If you find that you actually want to know the differences between ‘Inniswood’ and ‘Paul’s Glory’, if you tell your spouse that you paid less than you really did for a new introduction, but brag to other gardeners that you paid more, or if you no longer care what your spouse thinks, you need help.
Help is available from Bridgewood Gardens, a nursery that specializes in caring for gardeners afflicted with Hostas.