June 26, 2005

Discontent of June

Travel and other commitments have put the garden well behind schedule this summer. Worst of all, however, is the immense heat and lack of rain this summer. Things are in a rather sad state, so no pictures to follow.

A few notes:
I imported a number of plants from Indiana around Memorial Day, but sadly they aren't doing well. I'm not sure if it's the weather or the change of soil, but most are just barely hanging on. This is very sad.

Planted a bunch of caladium bulbs in the front yard and also at the back of the Southern Annex (pictured in last entry). Nothing has emerged yet, but we should see plants soon. Until we do, things look a bit barren.

The containers are doing beautifully, to my relief.

Sad to report that the Ravenswood Manor Garden Club will not be holding a garden walk this year, due to lack of volunteers and the fact that "it is difficult to justify the activity as an integral part of the Club’s mission," according to their Web site. This was one of my favorite events last year, so I'm sorry to see it cancelled. Other garden walks listed here and here.

KJ Gardens goes on vacation this week and prays for rain.

Posted at 09:25 AM | az

June 18, 2005

KJ Southern Rework

KJ Southern Rework 2
Originally uploaded by esinclai.

There's been ongoing work at the KJ Southern Annex. After inspection, the work has been approved. Let the patio enjoyment commence!
Posted at 03:37 PM | Eric

May 23, 2005

KJ Gardens 2005: A Running Start

The gardening has been a bit behind schedule this year, what with dodgy weather and the storage space cleaning project detailed here. But we are off to a great start.

Had good luck plant shopping (we are on a meager condo association budget) at Home Depot on a windy, cool Friday night. On Saturday the weather was fine, however, and I got started with a palette of petunia, coleus, New Guinea impatiens, and various foliage like potato vines.

Containers on the West side of the building. Everything looks tiny and tenuous here, but we'll see.

On the East side of the building, last year's purple sage and hosta are on fire. Although I pruned them thoroughly last fall, the sage plants have already grown to last year's full size.

Honestly, I have not done a thing here.

I think I'll like this one a lot, assuming the coleus do well.

Henry James wrote a book called Daisy Miller. I wish there had been a sequel about her brother, Dusty.

Hostas spring eternal.
In the eternally problematic center bed, I have pinned my hopes on two nice-looking hosta. Filled in with a few New Guinea impatiens, which we had great luck with in 2002 and indifferent luck ever since.

This silver vine, which I can't remember the name of, came back with a vengeance this year. I cut it back somewhat and added a few things to duke it out therein.

Full speed ahead with petunias.
They did well in this very spot last year.

Speaking of doing well...
The pulmonaria in the dark, mossy West bed has come back with a vengeance. I may well try a third in the space where the silver dragon did not return.

Let's hope for a good year!

Posted at 07:00 PM | az

April 07, 2005

Joy of Bulbs

Uncharacteristically warm weather means spring has already sprung here in the KittyJoyce Zone. For the first time ever, I am experiencing the joy of bulbs, which means I have forgotten what got planted where. In other words, surprises--mostly pleasant--are everywhere.

Daffodils and hyacinths are sprightly in the center bed.

And the pulmonaria is back. It didn't bloom last year, so at first I didn't recognize it.

Posted at 06:52 PM | az

March 29, 2005


Spring is clearing its throat in my garden. Preliminarily, but clearing nonetheless.

Posted at 07:09 PM | az

March 27, 2005

Palm Saturday

It's springtime, but springtime tasks start later in Chicago than they do in the rest of the world.

Here in KJ Garden's we're in the process of sorting some new landscaping and yard needs for the Southern Annex, but were impressed by FOKJ Scott's recent yard work. Heavy Equipment + Greenery!

Posted at 03:42 PM | Eric

October 31, 2004

Soon it Will Be November

September and October were quiet garden months. During this time I was traveling a lot and battled a cold as well, so time outdoors was limited. I pretty much let the garden do as it pleased, with the expected results.

On Friday I did an informal census of what worked and what didn't.

What worked:
Most of the things in my containers, most notably the magilla perilla, which grew into a lovely if somewhat outsized plant.
After a summer of struggling, the alyssum staged a late-game comeback. Results shown here:

The calladium and elephant ear added late-summer color.
The salvia in the sunny bed was a raving success. This was not due to me, as I only recently learned that it requires pruning. So it ran a bit amok until I finally pruned it (hopefully not too hard).

What didn't work:
The celosia never thrived and just didn't seem to be worth the trouble. We'll try something else next year.
Lamb's ear: too invasive and sort of ugly, this lost its charm early in the summer.

Jury still out on:
The hypoestes, a plant I liked but which seemed to require more care than I could reasonably give it. It's not dead, just sort of scruffy.
The begonias were a nice touch, although perhaps I overdid it. They seem to be growing taller than nature intended here:

On Saturday, as 40 mph winds blasted Chicago, I determined to put in daffodil, crocus, tulip and hyacinth bulbs for the spring. Adverse conditions may have made this a sloppier job than I intended. But we'll see what happens.

Despite disappointments, I've found my time in the garden to be very rewarding. It's not a quiet place--people are always walking by with dogs or kids or driving past in oversize trucks quaking with sound. But it functions as a quiet place for me, and that's what matters.

October sky seen from my garden. (That green floating thing is a pizza flyer stuck in the fence. Ah, urban living!)

Posted at 06:37 PM | az

Weeding out the Comments

This site has become a frequent target for comment spam. I'm not sure how or why this happened, since it doesn't get that much traffic and doesn't attract very many legitimate comments. But I am tired of mopping up after these people, so I am closing comments here for the time being.

Posted at 06:34 PM | az

October 06, 2004

KJ in England

Part of my excuse for the long silence is the 10-day trip we took to London in September. The vacation included two day trips into Kent, where we investigated the gardens at Sissinghurst and Chartwell.

Sissinghurst Castle is the former home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson. Over the course of a couple of decades, they created a truly remarkable garden. An an unapologetic Bloomsburyist, I found the whole trip fascinating.

A-bustle in the hedgerow, with tower in background.

The sheer size and scope of the grounds can be intimidating for novice gardeners like me, but the plants were largely well marked, so we didn't feel too lost. One really needs a flock of employees to follow in Vita's footsteps today. But seeing an exhibit of her handwritten garden planning notes (including my favorite line, 'What is the matter with the lilac?') made me feel a little less at sea after all.

The lime walk, consisting of lime trees trained to grow together, is a striking sight.

More links about Sissinghurst garden design here. More about Vita and Harold here.

We also took a day's trip to Chartwell, former home of Winston Churchill. The garden was a welcome respite from the overwhelming 'Churchill cult of personality' that the place seems imbued with. It's hard not to like a place that greets you with this giant rhubarb-like plant (not labeled, alas).

This plant is as tall as a person, although there's no relative scale shown here.

The Chartwell gardens are somewhat more traditional than at Sissinghurst and in some places they are still being restored. The golden rose garden, shown here, was a peaceful place.

The husband stays in the picture.

More about Chartwell here.

Posted at 08:58 PM | az | Comments (1)

October 03, 2004

Never Can Say Goodbye

To my great surprise, it is October and the garden has marched on.

August and early September were good months, with frequent rain, and I daresay things looked the best they'd ever been. Then I went on vacation and a drought set in, and the garden suffered in my absence. Now there's a chill in the air and the flowers are rapidly preparing to say goodbye. I knew autumn was on the march when I took my potted geraniums inside in a panic last night.

As this article shows, they'll need to be trimmed back a good bit. Will I have the nerve? Stay tuned.

Posted at 06:05 PM | az