Tag Archive | plants

Plant Kaleidoscope ~ Take III

This is our third trip to the Nicholas Conservancy & Gardens, where we always seek out the plant kaleidoscope! See past visits here and here =-)

I’m so making one of these!! With all the craziness that’s going on in my brain including menopause, mental illness, needing to change careers… I can’t forget about my hubby’s needs also. He has been without a studio to do his artwork in for years. He tends to do large sculpture projects and needs space. We have the room, just need to remove all the crap from the room. Once that is done this winter, I hope to be able to use it to build one of these for my yard. Mine will be ‘junk art’ and will utilize things I can find at the junkyard/antique shops. I sometimes don’t understand how something so simple can give me such entertainment!!

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© 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

Monday Memories

It’s another Monday Memories post! Bringing you things to think about during this time in horticulture =-)

Ilex VS The Asparagus Beetle


The spotted asparagus beetle – Crioceris duodecimpunctata.


Mother Nature sure knew what she was doing when she created asparagus.

Asparagus is low in calories & sodium. It is a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, protein, vitamins B, A, C, E, & K, rutin, thiamin, fiber, potassium, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, copper, niacin, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that heightens the ability of insulin to transfer glucose from the bloodstream in cells. The amino acid asparagine derives its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is rich in this compound.

There are two kinds of asparagus beetle, the common asparagus beetle, Crioceris asparagi & the spotted asparagus beetle, Crioceris duodecimpunctata. Both feed on the tender young tips of the spear, but the spotted beetles larva tend to only eat the berries. How nice of them! =-)

The easiest way to catch these buggers is to have a cup of water ready. As you move towards them, they move to the other side of the stalk (quite funny to watch!) Put the cup under them & wave your hand near them. Their instinct is to drop to the ground, but instead, the cup of water will catch them. The larva and eggs aren’t as easy to remove. It’s the same method I use for typing… Hunt & peck.

Grasses for Fall Color

Grasses offering BURGUNDY fall colors:fall grasses

  • Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ – red switch grass – 3-4 feet high – Foliage emerges green with red tips, depending on the weather, may develop burgundy hue – Scarlet-red panicles emerge in mid summer
  • Panicum ‘Shenandoah’ – red switch grass – 4 feet high – Foliage develops burgundy tips in early summer – Burgundy panicles appear in mid summer
  • Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ – variegated maiden grass – Foliage remains variegated – Burgundy plumes fade to cream color
  • Miscanthus ‘Silver Feather’ or ‘Silberfeder’ – maiden grass – Foliage blends into burgundy, purple, and gold – Silver plumes in late summer

For more colors, please visit the full post!

 Salvias – Sage

salviaThese are very versatile plants. Members of the mint family, thus the interesting square stems. These have a long blooming time of May through October in shades of purple and pink. Salvia love sun and are fairly drought tolerant after about a year of establishment. The do like drained soils, so no wet sites. Mints tend to be deer resistant, for those who share their space with these guys. If cut back after flowering, a second flush of blooms will follow. Sweet!



35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

rain barrel

  1. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when the ground is dry.

  2. Use sprinklers that toss big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist can drift onto non-target areas or evaporate before they hit the ground.

  3. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  4. Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.

  5. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps reduce soil compaction from raindrops and helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.

  6. Purchase a rain barrel and install below your gutter downspout and you’ll capture a little more than half a gallon of water for every square foot of roof during a one-inch rainfall—that means a 90-square-foot roof would completely fill a 55-gallon barrel! You can use that bounty to water your ornamental garden. Don’t use on your veggies, too many contaminants!!

  7. Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. It will save time, money and water.

  8. Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.

  9. Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.

  10. Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal*, which requires a lot of water to work properly. Use the compost to improve the quality and water holding capacity of your soil. *Save yourself from having the plumber out also!!

  11. Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. 15-20 minutes is generally enough time.

  12. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.

  13. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.

  14. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.

  15. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.

  16. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as cleaning or watering a plant or garden. For example, collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants; or when cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.

  17. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro, drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.

  18. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted so water flows only as needed. When finished, turn the water off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.

  19. Use hose washers on water hoses and attachments to eliminate leaks.

  20. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  21. Verify that your home is leak free. Homes can have hidden water leaks that may be noticeable indoors, but outside can go undetected. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

  22. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.

  23. Go with splashes of color instead of mass plantings of annuals. Yes, they’re beautiful, but annuals (such as petunias and impatiens) typically require more water than most perennials.

  24. Rethink your lawn layout. If you live in a dry climate, you’ll need a lot of sprinkler activity to maintain a huge grassy swath. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel, which also reduces runoff.

  25. Collect shower/bath “warm-up” water in a bucket for use in watering plants

  26. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

  27. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.

  28. Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.

  29. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption. A heavy layer of thatch can be hydrophobic, so de-thatching might help.

  30. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape. Check your timing devices regularly too to be sure they operate properly.

  31. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. I recommend 1′ of water per week.

  32. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.

  33. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.

  34. Wash your car and pets on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.

  35. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plants

Arrowhead Plant – Syngonium podophyllum Nephthytis

I got these two Arrowhead plants from work about 3 years ago. They love their location in the South window, however they hang high and don’t get a full dose of good ‘ol sol. They don’t mind less light either.

These are relatives of the Philodendron, another easy plant to grow. They like moist soils, but don’t over-soak them. They like a light 10-10-10 fertilizer.


Pruning is a bit tricky. You don’t want to cut all the way down to the split or you will nip the tip of the new leaf off. As you look at the stem that branches off, you will notice there is a bulge in the stem, this is where the next leaf is curled up in it’s stem.


A still rolled up leaf.

These guys can get spider mites. These don’t get moved outside during the summer, so they’ve been insect free.


The plant will start to shoot ‘runners’ (l o n g branches) after a few years. If you like them, keep them. I’ve got one that is about 15 feet long. I just want to see how long it will actually get! To keep the plant bushy, these should be pruned off. If you do this during the summer months, place the piece, now known as a ‘cutting’, into water and it should soon root, then plant it in a light mix.


This is the start of a runner. See the thick ends of the leaf stem at the main branch? Don’t cut below this.


After it grows out, the brown dried-up stem can be cut, do not peel it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Phriday Photo Phavorites – Part Two

Last Friday, I decided to start sharing favorite photos.
I hope to share some oldies with my longest friends and share some old stories with my new friends. Enjoy!

Doors. Why do they fascinate me so? I can’t handle not knowing what’s on the other side.. My mind goes wild with the possibilities! This one was at a Wollersheim Winery.

I still haven’t IDed this one, however I just love the symmetry of it.

This is leaf borers in columbine leaves. These work in the same manner as bark borers, however not even close as destructive.

When I first saw these guys, I thought they were hummingbirds, I’m sure you’ll agree there are similarities! I shot video and figured out later these are Humming Bird Moths (Hemaris thysbe). They are sucking on Jewelweed, a cure for poison Ivy! Crush leaves and rub on rash.

This is a Circumhorizontal Arc or Rainbow Halo. They are supposed to be common here in the Midwest, however this is the first time I’ve seen one.

Scabiosa. This was my beginning steps of learning macro photography. Macro meaning Reeeeeeallly close-up!

This is the Kishwaukee River that runs through a favorite, nearby campground.

Oreo sporting a tiara. Shhh, don’t tell him I posted this!!

This view is from the Mafolie Hotel in Saint Thomas Virgin Islands… See the cruise ships in the distance? We eloped here!

This was a shot from our room.

This is my Brothers dog Raven. Such a cute mug!!

Phriday Photo Phavorites

Winter is upon me and my post materials are starting to dry-up a bit. =-( I’ve got my ‘brain hamster’ running on high to think of something interesting to post for my loyal followers… I haven’t done any RaNDoM PhOtO PoStS the whole season! I think I will take the opportunity to search my media folder and share some of my phavorite photos phrom the past!!

Butterfly magnolia – I’m so getting one next spring.

Here’s my Calamondin (miniature orange). I think I was trying to mimick an eclipse….

We built this while camping at Illinois State Beach Park. This was inspired by other rock stacking artists with much more talent and time on their hands!!

Bleeding Hearts are in my top ten fav perennials. This shot was almost my home page photo, however it wasn’t fitting in there just right.

This gardenia is probably the best, quality photo I’ve ever taken, IMO. I’ll say that even to this day. It is so perfect on it’s own and I just got lucky to capture it.

These Douglas Fir cones are so unique. The Indian legend about this tree is equally interesting.

Aaaaand here is my avatar, full view. Again, this blanket flower is in my top 10 fav flowers.

Bernies fountain
My husband made this fountain for a friend of ours. I love the reuse of the copper pots in this piece.

I awoke one morning and this is what my cantaloupe plant looked like. I’ve not seen it do this since.

Not sure exactly what the fascination was with this one. . I think it is because of where this is located. This is in a forest preserve near my home. I walk here often and see this during my hike. I think it is just the familiarity of the area that draws my attention. Sadly, there is purple loosestrife in the photo, which is a very invasive plant here

How to Build a Large-Scale Rain Garden

We have a client that has two rain gardens (really drainage swales) installed by another company and after 3 years, it had reverted to all cattails (Typha latifolia). Not that they are the worst thing in the world, however they were a boring sight for our clients who wished for colorful blooms.


Booooring cat tails…. Meow.


Ooh, one spark of color!

2007 june 27a

Colorful rain garden wishes. This is a bioswale in Wisconsin.

There are differences between bioswales, drainage swales, and rain gardens. You should know the differences before you decide to plant. Once you’re a bit educated and would like to build your own, here’s a great link to the Wisconsin Extension Natural Resources Departments “Guide to Bioswales and Rain Gardens”, one of the best I’ve scoped out. It has ‘recipes’ for rain gardens that supply all the names of plants that do well in different types of soils and light requirements.


After we had our plan, it was time to bring in the big guns. Luckily, the entwined roots of the cat tails were easily removed like ripping up a carpet. If you know what tubers are (kind of like a potato)  This is not normal, usually this is a very difficult task. We got verrrry lucky.

We brought in a few truckloads of soil and re-graded the basin to drain towards the outlet.

photo 2

It was the fun time now! Installation of the plants. I gave the crew a general planting guide (tall in center, graduating in height to ends) which they transferred via spray paint to the beds. We used 2 1/2 inch plugs for the project. We had about 2,700 square feet (sqft.) to cover and I had purchased 2,300 plants. Most were planted at a 12″ inch center, meaning 1 per sqft., however some of the larger plants we placed at 18″ centers.

photo 3




I was told by the homeowner, builder and my boss that these basins are never full, just a bit of water from the sump-pumps and some run-off. Although I was born at night, I was not born last night… Why would these be required by the village to be so large if the potential for filling wasn’t there??? The above photo is basically what I was told would be the extent of the water level. I did choose plants that were able to be submerged for a short period of time… HOWEVER….

full raingarden

I wasn’t exactly expecting THIS!

At this point, although we had no floaters, we will all have to wait to see if everyone survived next spring!


Summer Blooming Flowers 8-19-2014

Tantalizing Tuesday to you all!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!


Astilbe ‘Visions in Pink’ – False spirea


Astilbe japonica  ‘Red sentinel’ – False Spirea


Echinacea ‘Sundown’ or ‘Evan Saul’ – Coneflower

You notice this has two names. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before however, plants are big business also. Just because these are ornamental plants and you don’t eat them, they can be patented. It does get a bit dicey when dealing with herbal supplements, but that is another story. Back to ornamentals… When this plant Echinacea ‘Evan Saul’ was developed, a company that scours the world for new and upcoming plants called Monrovia liked it and wanted it. Bad. Bad enough to pay the developer of ‘Evan Saul’ to reproduce this DNA strain of the flower and rename it ‘Sundown’, part of the Big Sky Series™

So, just like Monsanto and their chemically-enhanced, patented foods, if you get caught growing it without permission from Monrovia, you be in big trouble!!


Platycodon grandafloris ‘Fuji pink’ – Balloon flower


AND Platycodon grandafloris ‘Fuji blue’ – Balloon flower

This photo shows the ‘before full bloom’ stage that resembles a balloon.


Hemerocallis ‘Rosy Returns’ – Daylilly


Many pretty flowers waiting to find homes!


Phlox paniculata ‘David’ – Tall garden phlox


Phlox paniculata ‘Red riding hood’ – Tall garden phlox


Aster ‘Woods blue’

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-18-2014

Happy Monday to you all!!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!image

Ajuga ‘Catlin’s giant’ – bugleweed


Acanthus spinosus – spiny bear’s breeches

Bear’s breeches are native to the Mediterranean region and are cultivated in Britain, although some appear to have naturalized in Cornwall. In the 17th century, these were called Brank-ursine, meaning bear’s claws, which referred, possibly, to the shape of the flowers. They contain mucilage and tannin, which makes or rather made them useful in traditional medicine systems in Europe.

The plant has been used as a wound healer and internally taken to soothe the mucous membranes in the digestive and urinary tracts. The crushed leaves have been used in poultices and placed on burns or scalds to relieve the pain. The plant has astringent qualities and has been used to treat diarrhea and to heal wounds, as well as being used to clean wounds. It has been taken internally to purify the blood and to calm the stomach. It is also said to have expectorant properties.


Eupatorium dubium – Baby Joe Pye weed


Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’


Coreopsis ‘Center Stage’ – Tickseed


Ferns, ferns, ferns! Their eeeeverywhere!


Rodgersia aesculifolia – Rodger’s flower


Tricyrtis hirta ‘Variegata’ – Toad lily


Dicentra spectabilis – Bleeding hearts

They are a bit confused at their blooming time. These were recently propagated at the nursery.


Euphorbia amygdaloides – wood spurge

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants