Tag Archive | Happiness

OMG Asparagus… In April!

I think the earliest we’ve ever had asparagus was late April in 2015. Granted, this is one the first one to pop-up, however the others are never far behind. I’m so looking forward to fresh asparagus!

It was my first Friday back at work last week. The four months of three day weekends are officially over. Sad face. Only clocked in 46.5 hours. It’s still early.

Due to my co-worker’s health issue, I will going out in the field this year to plant the annual container flowers. How sick is it to be happy to be out in the field? I’m only doing it due to her bad health?  Sadly, that’s how life rolls.

Enjoy your Sunday! It’s going to be a beautiful one in the Midwest! I’ll have some beautiful pix from some of the pots we’ll be planting soon.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Show


Reed-Turner Woodland Preserve – Spring Blooming Flowers 4-5-2017

Last weekend, my hubby allowed himself to get talked into a quick jaunt around Reed-Turner Woodland Preserve in Long Grove, Illinois. It’s a pretty small preserve at 36 acres. It was donated to the Long Grove Park District by Barbara Reed-Turner. It’s a fabulous little gem with so much diversity and wildlife to see. The town of Long Grove does have many activities such as Strawberry & Apple Fests, along with it’s quaint feel, makes for a great day trip. All of the following flowers were captured at the preserve. Since I’ve not had another blooming flowers in the past that’s remotely close to this one, I’m not linking back to any past blooming posts.

Winter aconites – Eranthis hyemalis

Aren’t they adorable? They look like little ballerinas.

Pussy willows ~ Salix discolor

Scilla Siberica – Siberian Squill or Wood Squill

Vinca minor ~ Periwinkle

Salem Lake

Bird Log – Lots of birds fly through here!!

Natural Stadium Seating

More Squill

Indian Creek

The only bird I can pick-out here is the White-breasted Nuthatch. An maaaybe a red-breasted. Their noise is a bit higher pitched.

I hear Redwinged Blackbirds, Robins and many loud ‘Clicky’ birds. I could see it was a midsize bird, but that’s it with the dank gray skies.

Lots of clean-up going on this spring.

Common snowdrops ~ Galanthus nivalis


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl


cryingeyeLightning illuminates the raindrops upon my lashes with the crash of thunder forcing me to open my lids to the grim reality of the vision of you through the glistening orbs as opposed to seeing you through my own eyes as thoughts of you dance upon my mind my skin tingles from the yearning of your touch and my heart drops down to the pit of my stomach where the ache has become unbearable from the painful emotions buried deep inside my soul burning to bring themselves out and envelop the very essence of your being that has taken over my heart that longs so much to have you possess it and bring it back from its despairing hollow state of worthlessness that has encased me for too long but with my own mind’s eye I see the love you send me through only your words and the clouds clear to show the rays though the silver linings of your soul completely filling the empty parts of my body with joy and the nurturing you have so much to offer my heart that to share your soul would mean my ultimate happiness.

© 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

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

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-24-2016

Revisit history ~ see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Arisaema atrorubens ~ Jack in the Pulpit   /   Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Herman’s pride’ ~ Yellow Archangel

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Osmunda cinnamomea ‘Cinnamon fern’  /  Dicentra spectabilis ~ Bleeding hearts


I love these! My perennial nursery teased me with the possibility of getting YELLOW one this year…. But, the liners didn’t come in. Oh well, maybe next year!

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Juust the beginning of an azalea  /  Thlaspi arvense ~ field pennycress

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Armeria maritima ~ thrift or sea pink  /  Waldsteinia ternata ~ Barren strawberry


Malus x domestica ~ Apple



© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Annuals for Containers 2016


Every year, Mother Nature likes to play April Fools jokes on us Midwesterners. In 2012, I had lilacs blooming on April 13th and it was 76F that day. In 2013, it was 16F and snowing the day our annuals arrived. In 2014, the weather wasn’t that bad and hovered around the 50’s. Last year, again it was nice when the flowers got planted, however a fast cold snap killed a few of our client’s pots. That’s what happens when you force your landscape company to plant something earlier than they feel it’s safe to do. The client is mad and we get paid twice to do their pots.

Here are some basic tips to make your Spring season pots wonderful!

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Just like autumn pots, these don’t grow any larger than they are now. So design accordingly.

Here are some Spring displays from 2015, 2014 & 2013.

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Bellis English Daisies – So cute! New this year for us.

IMG_6210 IMG_0977 May 09 3 May 09 2 IMG_0565 IMG_7917 IMG_3604 IMG_7636 IMG_7677 IMG_6273_1 IMG_1293 IMG_7673

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Welcome Little Violet – Viola sororia

imageI saw this little guy on the top of my south facing swale. It gets a bunch of sun and tends to warm up quickly there. These beauties are really low and were tucked protectively into the grass. If you put weed killer on your lawn in the spring, you’ll miss out on having them bless you in the spring.

There are many health benefits of violets. Leaves of violets contain twice as much vitamin C as the same weight of an orange and over twice the amount of vitamin A when compared with spinach. Bam! Early Native Americans have used violets for treating different cancers and the American Natural Cancer Institute has recognized this and have joined forces. Violets may also be useful in the therapy of disorders related to an overactive immune system.

Here are a few spring tea recipes including violets:

Nutritious Tea
Use equal amounts of the dried leaves of nettle, dandelion, red clover, violet and mint.

Mineral Rich Tea
Steep violet leaves with alfalfa, horsetail, oatstraw, red clover, hawthorn leaf and flower, chamomile, and raspberry leaves. This tea is jam-packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

Combine violet leaves with blue vervain, linden leaf and linden flower with elderberry flower.

These cutie-faces are native east of Kansas. They are the state flower for Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Treat Time!

imageDog spelled backwards is god.

I did not get my first dog until I was 17.

I was first trusted with the guppies I found in the nearby pond. Then, goldfish. Next, I had hamsters and a lone guinea pig, but had missed out on the companionship of a canine. My parents loved dogs. My mother grew-up with a train of chihuahuas, all named Pepe. My dad didn’t have a pet directly, but his aunt’s chow-chow was next door most of his childhood.

When I was a child, my dad worked for United Airlines and we did have lots of opportunity to travel. He didn’t want to have to kennel a dog and my mom really didn’t want to get stuck taking care of it either.

imageNow after having Breck & Oreo in my life, I seriously cannot live without them. They are so fulfilling to be around. Oreo isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but he sure is full of gumption. Breck is a very smart boy. However, he only learns things for his own benefit.

He has my Monday through Friday routine down pat. He learned it by learning each step, backwards, from the time I gave him the treat. He knows I open the curtains directly before going to the treat door. Previous to that, I’ve put my coffee cup in the dishwasher, after brushing my teeth. While I’m brushing my teeth, he’s dancing with his tail swinging wide. Fwap, fwap, fwap! (Any other activity at the sink is ignored). Before that I was fixing my hair and dressing. Preceding that I showered. Breck loves the fact I use coconut oil before I dry off. He loves it. I have to wipe it on his paws so he doesn’t lick me. He’s usually wandered off to lick off the coconut and leaves me alone to dry off and dress.

Weekends are a whole nother schedule. He still gets confused, however knows how to work the system pretty well and still get what he wants.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl