Oreo’s Dew Claw Disaster

imagemicrocynah-reg-woundI’ve never had a dog of mine injure their dew claw until Oreo did last week. When Chris saw it, it was bent sideways and sticking out. The nail was not bleeding, so Chris went to work. He’s not the nurse of the family… When I got ready to look at it. Sometime during the day, Oreo had ripped it off. I could see the pink, pulsating quick in there, thankfully holding back the blood. I trimmed the hair away from the nail so I could see what I was doing! The nail had cracked not too far down, just above the quick. It looks like a clean break. I gave a shout out to Easy’s Staff, because the big lug has gotten his claws in snag once or twice before.  His staff told me to use Vetericyn. I looked for it at my nearby pet heath food store and she told me this was comparable.

I’ve been spraying it on Oreo’s nail for the past few days and it has healed up so well! Easy’s staff  told me this stuff is great for hoomans also! I had a hangnail, it didn’t sting spraying it on and it has also taken a big swing in healing. It doesn’t kill the good cells only the bad.

Why have I suffered with the sting of peroxide or the gooiness of antibiotic ointment? This stuff is awesome!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl



Vixen ~ Yes, I dressed like this!

Back in the 80’s, when heavy metal was big and my hair even bigger… I wanted to be a rock star! Many of my friends were musicians and I crashed stages often singing duets with my buddies. I have a pretty good set of lungs, and my favorite duet song to sing to was “Gimmie Shelter” by the Stones. I’ve also been spotted onstage speaking in my best operator voice, “Yes, a collect call for Mrs. Floyd from Mr. Floyd. Will you accept the charges from United States? Is there supposed to be someone else there besides your wife there to answer?” I was completely in my element back then.

As a budding musician with only my voice as an instrument, I had to add to my talent by writing lyrics. I wrote many lyrics for my fellow bands, however none have made it to the big times. Some still putter around playing cover tunes at the local watering holes. However, the ‘music scene’ in Chicago isn’t what it used to be.

Back when I was young and spry, it was rare to go to a bar and hear cover tunes. Maybe a couple sprinkled into a set, however not a full night of covers. Only a few ‘special tribute’ bands were popular, like ‘The Wall’ (Pink Floyd tribute), ‘Yellow Submarine’ (Beetles tribute) and a great band called ‘Dread Zeppelin’, which had an Elvis impersonator singing Led Zeppelin songs to a reggae beat! Very odd combo there.

I tend to love songs that have catchy lines. Although I’m not much of a country fan, I love their lyrics!

“I want to be the man who checks you for ticks.”

“Cause I’ve got friends in low places, Where the whiskey drowns and there beer chases my blues away”

 “Save a horse, ride a cowboy”

Those songs crack me up and are so catchy! I’ll admit they are in my playlist. I’m also a sucker for spins or twists in the songs. Like Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. I aspire to write this way. I also love to put puzzles into my poems. I wrote this for a man I had feelings for, but he reeeally wasn’t getting the hint. This was written about 26 years ago.

So, starting today, with more to come in the future, I present some real poetry. Not just a haiku😉 Also, without the long explanations.


You say enticing your mind is like great sex.

Don’t underestimate the strength of your heart.

Have the power to give me more than brain waves.

To be with me, you can’t just order à la carte.

Look through your minds-eye through the reflection of mine.

This may be the solution to the puzzle.

Hard to think it could be so easy.

To me, your shell is your only obstacle.

Find a way to let the bright sunshine in.

Love reflects directly from hence it came.

I’m calling your bluff  Mr. Rumpelstiltskin.

Right to the left of this two dimensional page.

In between the lines the answer can be found.

Front and center, you have to find the reason why.

Of the reason you don’t already know it.

You are the only one that can verify.


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Rock Stack Pondless Fountain

This fountain may look familiar to you if you were around when I first started my blog in 2013. It was one of my first few posts. What started this whole fascination with pondless fountains was my husband bringing home a large clay pot from a client’s house. I looked at it, thinking to myself, “Gee, this would look cool laying on it’s side, spilling out water.” And the rest is history.

After having him install that first fountain, we were addicted. When I started my garden design business, I was approached by a client wondering if I installed these type fountains. I said, “Heck yeah!” and showed her the clay fountain we had installed. She had found some copper pots and hoped my artist hubby could figure something out for her. He did and it is so unique. (check out the link above to see it).

Since then, he’s been putzing around with other designs. He likes the ‘rock-stacked’ look and this one was created. I love it! It was placed in the front of my house. When the windows are open, I can hear the splish-splash of the water. I like to sit in the window on weekends and see all the wildlife that visits it. Bees, wasps, birds of all sizes (saw my first flicker!!), squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks all take their turns enjoying the water.

I was so excited to reinstall it after having to temporarily remove it so I could redesign the front garden. After two long years, its back in operation at the Farrell house! Woo-Hoo!!



I’m not the only one to see it back in operation!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Unknown Common Brown Skipper

This poor guy was so beat-up I couldn’t figure out an ID for him. I’m going to guess Hayhurst’s Scallopwing (Staphylus hayhurstii), however I wasn’t ballsy enough to put it in the title. I am confident that he is a skipper of some sort, so I’ll discuss some skipper traits.

The skipper butterfly is part of the Hesperiidae butterfly family and is subdivided into seven subfamilies: Hesperiinae (grass skippers),  Coeliadinae, Euschemoninae, Eudaminae (dicot skippers), Pyrginae (spreadwings),  Heteropterinae (monocot skippers), and Trapezitinae (found only in Oceania).

Skippers wings appear small because of their much thicker body. The typical skipper butterfly shape is a thick body, large head and short triangular-shaped forewings.  Antennae are separated at the base and the tips appear very bulbous and curved.

They are called skippers due to their pattern of flight fly. They skip from flower to flower in a quick, erratic manner rather than a graceful flight pattern like other butterfly species. Kind like me when I’ve had too much coffee!

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Skipper on trillium.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-24-2016


First, I had time, but no money; then I had money, but no time. Finally, I had time and money, but no health to make use of my wealth.

It’s quick and free to see what I found blooming in 201320142015



Limelight Hydrangea

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Weedy, but cute    ||    Unique Hydrangea


Leucistic House Finch – Always glad to see her.


Campsis radicans ~ trumpet vine, trumpet creeper, cow itch vine or hummingbird vine

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘ILVOBO’  ~ Bobo Hydrangea   ||   Cornus sericea ~ Red twig dogwood berries. The seeds are edible, but not that palatable.

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Hydrangea Incrediball   ||   Hydrangea Endless Summer

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Weed… Maybe in salvia family?   ||   The gall of it all! On maple.


Hmmm. A thistle…

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Coloring for your Stressed Brain


The practice of coloring generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity. 

My favorite days at work are when I need to color plans for the plant install crews to follow. The landscape architect my boss hired under contract, is great at some things (seeing grade, focal points and balance), however he has a bit of trouble with using the same symbol for different plants and lack of labels. As I’ve scoured over the plan during the estimating process, I know the plan very well and can easily color code it for others.

Coloring is not a passive act, coloring involves logic to make creative decisions about which colors to use and focus on not going over the lines. During this process, other parts of your mind are freed up that allow you to become more creative.  This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.

I’ve seen a plethra of adult coloring books hit the market in the past few years. My hubby even got one from his Mom last Christmas. They are not what you think of when you think of the coloring books you used as a child. These adult books use intriquit designs and adult themes to keep us older folks interested. See below.

owl coloring page

Coloring isn’t just for relaxation either. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose. They can provide the person with dementia — as well as caregivers — an opportunity for self-expression.”

Although, when considering coloring as an activity for your elderly loved one or someone suffering with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, it’s important to present the activity correctly.

  • Colored pencils are a better choice over crayons or markers.  Crayons may be perceived as childish or insulting, and colored markers can be messy or bleed through the pages.
  • Selecting a proper coloring book is important, as a coloring book for children could belittle a senior.
  • The theme of the coloring book should be thoughtfully considered.  Since adult coloring books have become increasingly popular, there are many with very busy, abstract or surreal images (like above) that may be unsettling to an already confused mind.

Now go out there and color!!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 8-22-2016

Midwestern Native Deer Resistant Trees, Deer Resistant Shrubs & Perennials

wpid-2012-11-03-15.19.36.jpgMidwestern residents have to deal with the grazing andwpid-20130702_160147.jpg trampling of their shrubs by Odocoileus virginianus or the white-tailed deer. There are many choices of ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials that are deer-resistant. These are links to some North American natives that will work in the Midwest. Remember, when the weather is sever enough, deer will eat just about anything.



How to Collect, Store and Grow Things From Seed

seed collection pix

Midwestern residents can save money by collecting their own seeds.

It’s an advantage to vegetable gardeners to harvest seeds from plants that did well in their garden. The plant would have grown accustomed to the particulars of the plot, and provided the same DNA to the seeds. Unfortunately, hybrid varieties do not keep their traits; don’t collect these unless one likes surprises.

It is illegal to gather seed in forest preserves, natural areas, or parks. It is legal to gather seed on rights-of-way, which are mostly along public highways. Do not take all of the seeds of a plant, please share with Mother Nature.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – Papilio glaucusimage


I don’t seem to see these guys until later in the season. Maybe because they like other areas better than mine? I don’t know. I’m just glad to see them when I do.
Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of various plants including wild cherry (Prunus), sweetbay (Magnolia), basswood (Tilia), tulip tree (Liriodendron), birch (Betula), ash (Fraxinus), cottonwood (Populus), mountain ash (Sorbus), and willow (Salix).
Adult Food: Nectar of flowers from a variety of plants including wild cherry and lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Milkweed (Asclepias) and Joe-Pye Weed [Eupatorium] are favorites in the summer months.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

A Happy Day for Ilex!

Last spring was a sad day for me. I lost an old friend. She had been around here a lot longer than me and boy, did she have the stories to tell!! She told me about the squirrels that ran around her trunk and the birds that have sat in her branches. She told me about how the guys don’t know how to prune her right and left her with disfiguring limbs. She also worried about the woodpeckers excavating bugs from her trunk. She had just cause for worry when I noticed her trunk had become two. She made me promise to plant another tree to love me when she was gone and I did just that.

It was a difficult choice to be made to pick just one tree, to be the one tree I will be looking at for a long time. It had to be tough, as it will be on the west side, it had to take a small amount of shade from the silver maple to the south and would have to be drought tolerant, as there is no irrigation here.

I also wanted a unique tree! Nothing normal for Ilex😉 Sorry maples, oaks and pears. Nope, no birch, hackberries or serviceberries. Not even a lilac, crabapple or linden. Not that all of these aren’t great trees, it’s just that they are pretty common. I finally decided upon a Black Tupelo or Nyssa sylvatica,  ‘nymph of the woods’.

imageZone: 3 to 9

Height: 30 to 50 feet

Spread: 20 to 30 feet

Growth: Slow

Form: Pyramidal when young; opens with age; some branches are pendulous; right angled branches are attractive in winter

Salt: Tolerant

Bloom Time: May to June, insignificant

Bloom Description: Greenish white

Fruit: 1/2″ blue drubes – edible but sour

Fall Color: yellow, orange, bright red and purple

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium to wet

Tolerate: Clay Soil, Wet Soil

This was a 3″ DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) tree. This is a good size to get, as it doesn’t stress the tree out too much when its dug at the nursery.

The flowers aren’t showy, however they are a great nectar source for bees. The honey that is produced by the bees using tupelo nectar is highly prized. The Apalachicola River (Georgia) is the center of Tupelo Honey production in the United States, with abundant growths of tupelos. Each spring, beekeepers place their hives on stands or riverboats in order to access this wonderful, light-colored honey that contains just a hint of lemon.

Flowering is a bit odd for this tree as its polybamodioecious, which is a big word meaning some trees have mostly male flowers while others have mostly female flowers, with most trees having a few perfect flowers. This would account for some trees with many berries, while others may only have a few. Thus, if you are planting this tree for its fruit, buy two, so it can cross pollinate.

Tupelo’s leaves change color early in the fall and it has been suggested that this signal might alert migrating birds to the presence of ripe fruits on the tree, a process known as foliar fruit flagging. This way the tree gets its seeds spread to farther distances.


Unripe fruits


Grow grow Mr. Tupelo tree. The squirrels have figured out how to get to the feeders!


It didn’t take long for the animals to discover their new roommate. Of course the squirrels liked the seeds!

I’ll be sure to post some fall color photos when he has his fall wardrobe change.
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Salt Tolerant Plants For the Midwest


I figured this would be good timing for a read like this, as the fall is the best time to plant trees. Now is the time to think about what type of tree you want and where you’re going to locate it.

It is common practice across the Midwest to use deicing salts (primarily sodium chloride) in winter to maintain safe roadways, sidewalks and driveways. Despite the benefits, deicing salts used near plants can cause extensive damage. Salt is spread to nearby plants from roads being plowed, meltwater runoff, splash, and aerial spray.

When air-borne salt lands on twigs, buds or needles, the salt draws moisture out of plant tissue, causing desiccation and scorch. On evergreens, salt spray causes die-back starting at the tips of needles. On deciduous plants, the symptoms of salt damage become visible during summer or hot dry weather, when leaf margins show scorching. Salt spray and excess soil salts can also cause branch die-back, stunted growth of stems and foliage, overall lack of vigor, and many times death. Turf along well-used sidewalks and streets usually show stress and dead areas due to excess soil salt.

Symptoms & Effects ~ Air-borne Salt:

• Plants damaged by aerial salts are more common than by soil salts in the Midwest.

• Salt damage is most severe within 50 feet of the roadway (farther if roadway speeds are higher), which decreases with distance, however sensitive plants can show scorch at distances of 1,000 feet or more.

• On evergreens, salt spray causes needles to turn brown or yellow and twig die-back, commonly only on the roadside portion of the plant.

• On deciduous plants, salt spray can kill or contort the buds and twigs. In the spring, new growth may appear as a clump of twigs known as a Witch’s Broom.

• Branches that are protected by snow, fencing, parked cars or other barriers are less likely to be injured.

Symptoms & Effects ~ Soil Salt:

• Soil salt collects in drainage systems adjacent to roadways where the salt-laden runoff is channeled or splashed. These systems can bring salt-laden water far away from where it was originally used.

•Snow that is filled with salt is many times plowed and shoveled directly on the root zone of plants to remove it from walkways and roads. This causes root dehydration.

• Soil salt damage causes browning along leaf edges, stunted growth, fewer and smaller leaves, less flowers, which means less fruit.

• Plants growing in soils high in salt generally are highly stressed, never look healthy and usually die early.

How to Minimize Salt Damage:

• Minimize or avoid using salt around landscape plants.

• Mix salt with fillers like sand, sawdust or cinders.

• Wait to apply a deicing salt until after shoveling or plowing.

• Avoid shoveling salt-laden snow on the root zones of plants.

• Construct temporary barriers made of burlap or fencing to protect low-growing plants susceptible to aerial salt damage.

• Keep plants healthy and correctly mulch (no mulch volcanoes!) to reduce water loss.

• Use salt-tolerant plants in exposed areas!

Here’s a list of plants that can tolerate salt. Plants in bold can handle more salt than the others. * means the plant can tolerate soil salt.

Deciduous Trees

Acer campestre – Hedge maple

Acer ginnala – Amur maple

Acer nigrum – Black maple

Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore maple

Acer saccharinum – Silver maple

Aesculus hippocastanum* – Horse-chestnut

Aesculus octandra – Yellow buckeye

Amelanchier x grandiflora – Apple serviceberry

Amelanchier canadensis – Serviceberry

Betula nigra – River birch

Carya cordiformis* – Bitternut hickory

Carya ovata – Shagbark hickory

Catalpa speciosa* – Northern catalpa

Celtis occidentalis* – Hackberry

Diospyros virginiana – Persimmon

Ginkgo biloba* – Ginkgo

Gleditsia triacanthos* – Honey locust

Gymnocladus dioicus* – Kentucky coffeetree

Juglans cinerea – Butternut

Juglans nigra* – Black walnut

Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden rain tree

Larix decidua – European larch

Larix laricina – American larch

Liquidambar styraciflua* – Sweet gum

Magnolia x soulangiana – Saucer magnolia

Malus (some cultivars) Crabapple  (x zumi ‘Calocarpa’, ‘Adams’, ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Prairifire’)

Nyssa sylvatica* – Tupelo

Ostrya virginiana – Ironwood

Platanus occidentalis* – Sycamore

Prunus maackii – Amur chokecherry

Prunus virginiana* – Choke cherry

Pyrus calleryana – Callery pear

Quercus alba – White oak

Quercus bicolor* – Swamp white oak

Quercus ellipsoidalis* – Northern pin oak

Quercus imbricaria – Shingle oak

Quercus macrocarpa* – Bur oak

Quercus robur – English oak

Sassafras albidum – Sassafras

Syringa amurensis* – Japanese tree lilac

Syringa pekinensis* – Peking lilac

Taxodium distichum* – Bald-cypress

Ulmus ‘Regal’* – Regal elm


Evergreen Trees

Juniperus chinensis* – Chinese juniper

Juniperus horizontalis* – Creeping juniper

Juniperus virginiana – Eastern red-cedar

Picea pungens* – Blue spruce

Pinus mugo* – Mugo pine

Thuja occidentalis* – Eastern arborvitae



Alnus rugosa – Speckled alder

Amorpha fruticosa* – Indigo-bush

Aronia arbutifolia – Red chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa – Black chokeberry

Berberis thunbergii – Japanese barberry

Buxus microphylla var. koreana – Korean boxwood

Caragana arborescens* – Siberian pea-shrub

Caragana fruticosa – Russian pea-shrub

Clethra alnifolia – Summersweet clethra

Comptonia peregrina – Sweet-fern

Cotoneaster species* Cotoneaster

Forsythia spp.* – Forsythia

Hamamelis virginiana – Witch-hazel

Hibiscus syriacus – Rose-of-Sharon

Hippophae rhamnoides* – Sea-buckthorn

Hydrangea spp. Hydrangea

Hypericum spp. – St. John’s wort

Ilex verticillata – Winterberry 3-9 M

Lespedeza bicolor Shrub – bush-clover

Myrica pensylvanica* – Bayberry

Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian-sage

Philadelphus coronarius – Mock-orange

Potentilla fruticosa – Shrubby cinquefoil

Prunus x cistena – Purpleleaf sand cherry

Pyracantha coccinea – Firethorn

Rhodotypos scandens – Black jetbead

Rhus aromatica* – Fragrant sumac

Rhus glabra* – Smooth sumac

Rhus typhina* -Staghorn sumac

Ribes alpinum* – Alpine currant

Robinia hispida* – Bristly locust 5-8 T

Rosa rugosa* – Rugosa rose

Sambucus canadensis – Elderberry

Shepherdia canadensis – Buffaloberry

Spiraea spp. (most) Spirea

Symphoricarpos albus – Snowberry

Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’* – Palibin lilac

Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’* – Miss Kim lilac 3-7 T

Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood viburnum

Viburnum lentago – Nannyberry

Viburnum prunifolium* – Blackhaw viburnum

Viburnum trilobum – American cranberry-bush

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl


Pearl Crescent ~ Phyciodes tharos

The Pearl Crescent is a very common butterfly in the eastern United States. It is also one of the hardest butterflies to identify with certainty, because of two very similar looking cousins, the Northern and Tawny Crescents. I’m hoping I picked the right one with this ID😉

They love to inhabit woodland edges, roadsides, and open fields. I saw this one at Illinois State Beach.

They usually have two broods a season. The first occurs from early May through early July, with the second brood occurring in August through mid September.

Caterpillars like to eat species of smooth-leaved true asters.
Nectar from a many of flowers feed the adults including shepherd’s needle, dogbane, swamp milkweeds, asters and winter cress.

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This one was enjoying some clover.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl