My Love Affair With Autumn

Ah, Autumn. I have a bittersweet love affair with him. He sneaks into my life when I’m out enjoying the asters in the prairie…. when I’m watching the birds pass to the south…. when I rub my arms because my body is chilled.

He surrounds me.

Surrounds me with his rich tones of emotion that float in the air….

never wanting to land,

for then,

then he must leave.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Cactus Terrarium

image My husband and I were at thewpid-wp-1443303724211.jpg Dollar Store and he saw these terrariums for sale. He just HAD to have one! Funny, I’m the one that usually goes for this stuff. His eyes lit up when I said he could have it.

I really didn’t think it was going to grow. I know the USDA stamps seeds for sale and figured it wouldn’t have this and confirm my suspicions that nothing will grow. I was very surprised to see the seal of approval on the bottom! OK, I now move up the chances of germination from 50/50 to 70/30.

My sweety meticulously read the directions and planted the  seeds it came with including the Giant Saguaro, Golden Barrel, Organ Pipe Cactus, and the Fishhook Barrel Cactus. We placed it on the kitchen window sill and waited. And waited… It tat a speck? it IS!! Turns out, after about 10 days, we had one out of five grow. We think it’s the Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi) that survived.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Araneus diadematus Cross Orbweaver

Orbwevers are common in the U.S. and prefer woodlands and gardens. Females build circular orb webs and can be found either sitting at the center of the web or hanging from a ‘motion detector signal line’ a short distance from the web itself. When triggered, the prey is then quickly captured and wrapped in silk before being eaten. When they are threatened, they rapidly shake themselves and the web up and down and may drop to the ground via a silk thread. Orb Spiders are said to eat their webs each night along with many of the small insects stuck to it. They have been observed doing this within a couple of minutes. A new web is then spun in the morning.

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The young spiders emerge from the cocoon in spring  where they gather into dense groups until after their first molt,  they scatter by ‘ballooning’, a form of dispersal in which the spiderlings are carried on the wind by a thread of silk. I always thought this would be a wonderful way to travel!!


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 9-28-2015

Happy Monday!!

How Leaves Cha-cha-cha-Change Colors in Autumn

leavesLeaves are green because of chlorophylls that function by capturing the sun’s energy and to manufacture food for the plant or photosynthesis. All of this takes place in the plastids (specialized cells). During the growing season, the green color of these chlorophylls masks out all the other colors that may be present. So all you see is green.

As the growing season slows in autumn, chlorophyll production slows and the green-color dominance lowers to reveal the other colors of the leaf. Many influences such as amount of water, sunlight, temperature, and microclimate can manipulate the timing of the color changes.  A couple of weeks of bright sunny days mixed with clear, cool nights seem to bring out the best fall colors.


Thatch LayerFall is the Time to Dethatch Lawns in the Midwest

The most common cause of thatch is compacted soils. Grass roots will seek air at the soil surface and then die. Other causes:

  • Overuse of fast-acting nitrogen fertilizers causes rapid growth at the expense of a good root system. These also tend to acidify the soil, repelling beneficial thatch-eating earthworms.
  • Overwatering drowns microorganisms in the soil that decompose thatch
  • Mowing too closely or taking off more than one-third of the blade causes more thatch


Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park

imageThe Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan features momentous works of art within a variety of natural settings that are connected by waterways, winding paths, meadows and quiet walkways. Masters such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Mark di Suvero, Richard Serra, Roxy Paine and many others have sculptures across the Meijer Gardens. This was one of my favorites by Jaume Plensa.

There are other parts of the museum. See some photos:

Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park – Inside the Tropics

Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park – Arid / Predatory Rooms



Anderson Japanese Gardens – Rockford, Illinois

Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu. In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.


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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl