Great day in Madison and so many other cities around the country and the world as women marched with friends, lovers, families, co-workers, neighbors and strangers to let Donald Trump know the whole world is watching.
About 16,000 people in Madison said they were attending the event via the organizers' FB page. Madison police prepared for double that number to show up. When they saw the actual crowds they changed their estimate to 75,000 - 100,000! Having been at the massive protests at our State Capitol in 2011-12, I'm going with the higher figure. And I must note that — unlike those protests — this crowd skewed young which was one of the most encouraging things about the day.
Mark took over 500 photos. These are a few of my favorites.
Knowing that the crowd would be a sea of pink . . .
I wore my bright yellow beret so my group could use it to find me at our meeting place! Worked like a charm.
The scene in Madison via The Wisconsin State Journal newspaper.
Loree Bohl, who blogs at Danger Garden, has been keeping track of weather information at the end of her almost daily postings. She decided the blog was the most sensible spot to put such information and be able to find it again.
I commented that I think most gardeners become interested, if not obsessed, with tracking weather information. I tend to write it all down in my paper garden journals. I mostly note whatever is noteworthy at the moment: heat, cold, rain, snow, storms etc. But for a few months in 2008 I tracked each day's high and low temperature and then charted them.
I borrowed this idea from Hannah Hinchman, whose book "A Trail Through Leaves," is about nature journaling. I used the temperatures from the daily newspaper since I felt those numbers — unlike rain or snowfall amounts — would essentially be the same at my house as at the local airport where they were recorded.
This turned out to be one of the most engrossing little projects I've ever done. Double click on the photo so you can read it more clearly. The graph shows the high and low temperature every day from March 1st to May 12th, 2008.
But look at what this information tells you when you see it visually like this rather than just individual numbers on each page in a garden journal: There are tremendous temperature swings as the season changes and Spring arrives. The dotted line going across the pages is 32 degrees F. Look at how cold it was in March that year! If you are as obsessive about weather conditions as I am, I highly recommend trying this yourself.
Unless I decide to buy some flowers, for the next couple of months my Monday vases are not going to be be vases at all. This week my container is a box filled with items collected mostly from my garden. A few are souvenirs from various outings.
This little plastic box (above and directly below) has the contents listed on a pre-printed grid inside the lid. I would be hard pressed to identify some of these seeds and pods without this chart. I'm glad I took the time to make these notes, brief as they are, when I knew what everything was and where I found it.
Today's vases and location will be nothing new to you if you've ever stopped here on a Monday meme morning. The two Heath vases on the ends and the central container are among my top favorites and spend a lot of time on this windowsill above the kitchen sink.
What's noteworthy is that the contents are leaves and cuttings from my November garden that are still going strong in January, which is not an easy thing to make happen here in Wisconsin. Interspersing the vases are a salt shaker snowman (he cries salty tears!) and a ceramic snowman with twiggy arms.
The vases at the edges of the display hold cuttings I took from an annual Hibiscus plant that was in a pot by the front door all summer long. They've sent out roots so I am probably going to try to pot them up one of these days. The vase with the face holds a variety of foliage from Hellebores, Heuchera and Tiarella with one odd Geranium cutting. The rather spiky khaki-colored leaf is a Hellebore that was bluish-green when I clipped it. It's slowly turned this very pretty tone.
Nothing too unusual here except that I can partake of Cathy's "In a Vase on Monday meme" in January without trying to come up with something I've pulled together in the absence of flowers from my own garden. Stop by Rambling in the Garden to see what other gardeners are putting in a vase today.
2016 was an ambitious gardening year for both Mark and me with a list of projects and tours that got us off to an early start. The weather, the plants and Mark and I all cooperated to make for a growing season that left us with mostly pleasant memories to get us through the winter. Here's my recap.
NOTEWORTHY WEATHER: Unlike much of the country, we had good weather throughout the seasons along with consistent moisture and few serious weather "events." What this winter will bring no one knows, but many times during the last 12 months I've made myself slow down and acknowledge how lucky we were to enjoy so many lovely days. Here you can see what happens when we get heavy rain in a short time period. The pond overflows in this corner and the dry stream directs the water out to the street along the property line between our house and our neighbors. The water in the stream always soaks in and disappears as soon as the rain lets up.
TOUR TIME: 2016 was the year of the tours. I think the final count was 13 tours in 19 weeks. That included everything from friends visiting from out of town to the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society to the garden editors from a couple of national magazines. It was fun and rather heady. But perhaps the best thing about it was that it inspired us to complete projects that had been sitting unfinished for years, like dealing with the water and electric lines by the Tea House. At this point, any new projects that get proposed are just the icing on the cake which is a very satisfying feeling.
MAIL ORDER MADNESS: Winter in Wisconsin tends to send this gardener on-line in search of plants: pictures of them, stories about them and catalogs that sell them. 2016 saw me order more plants from more different nurseries than I've ever done before. I used our upcoming garden tours as my excuse. It was a fun, fascinating experience but not something I will do again. I did take advantage of the situation to write about all the nurseries and to do a post on mail order plants: what I learned.
PERFECT PLANT PERFORMANCE: All the new plants I put in in the fall of 2015, like Eremurus, bloomed right on cue. My Ladyslipper Orchid and "Molly the Witch" Peony (below) also bloomed for the first time ever. My first attempt at growing a Dahlia was so successful that I am now hooked on trying more of them.
RAMPAGEOUS RABBITS: It wouldn't be gardening without a few problems. This year the rabbits were everywhere eating everything. Important shrubs and new plants spent much of the season caged for protection. I'd pull the cages off every time we had visitors and they'd go back on the minute the guests got in their cars. When I planted a small group of fall blooming crocus, the bunnies ate the first one that bloomed. I was out of cages and energy so I resorted to covering the clump of flowers with a plastic milk carton. Effective if not exactly charming. My task this winter is to put out Have-a-Heart traps to try to reduce the rabbit population. That and pray that a fox moves into my garden!
NEW ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: For the first time in many years we did not buy a couple of truckloads of mulch from Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Last Spring, the Gardens put out a notice that they were temporarily suspending the sale with input from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the City of Madison, and other invasive species experts. They did this because the DNR recommended that leaves not be moved through Dane County due to the possibility of spreading invasive jumping worms.
Unfortunately many of us who garden in Dane County, including me, have already found the dreaded jumping worms in our gardens. Jumping worm cocoons appear to be able to survive Wisconsin's winters and can be spread through soil, compost, and mulch (hardwood and leaf). When we did our driveway project in 2015 we bought soil and mulch from commercial sources and that may be where the worms in my garden came from. Who knows? But this is a huge issue with the potential for serious habitat destruction. It's the one thing that put a damper on all the great aspects of the 2016 garden year.
The photo above shows Mark in 2010 with a load of Olbrich mulch.
My first printed garden catalog of 2017 — from White Flower Farm — has arrived and an order has been placed. For the last few years I waited too long to place my order thus missing out on Eryngium giganteum (below), aka "Miss Willmott's Ghost." But no more. The ghostly sea holly will grace my garden from now on — as it's a re-seeding biennial.
While I was paging through the WFF catalog I came across a Radler rose with a double Wisconsin provenance that might be of interest to midwestern gardeners, and perhaps others as well. Bill Radler is a national treasure who lives just outside of Milwaukee. If you grow roses you know him as the breeder of the famed Knock Out® Roses.
Radler released his first one in 2000 and the rest, as they say, is history. His Knock Out® Rose is the "most commercially successful rose of all time," according to a 2014 story on UrbanMilwaukee. Radler's roses got their name from their behavior: non-stop blooming, disease resistant and almost maintenance-free.
His latest lovely creation (above) is named in honor of another treasure: "Milwaukee's Calatrava." (below). The flower has a citrus scent and its soft white color made me think of all the marble in the Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The flower blushes when the weather turns cold.
In Mark's photos you can see the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed exhibit space. According to the museum's website, the Brise Soleil — which has a wingspan comparable to that of a Boeing 747-400 — is "unprecedented in American architecture."
It is a gorgeous piece of work and amazing to see in person. The museum has a terrific permanent collection and highly-regarded changing exhibits and is worth visiting for that alone. But the Brise Soleil makes a visit even more of a special event. There's a brief YouTube video of the Brise Soleil in action here.
Some people are so closely twined with the major events of one's adult life that it's hard to imagine a wold without them. Tom Hayden was surely one of those people. I never knew him and only heard him speak in person a couple of times. Those instances were inspirational and informative, filled with the kind of wisdom that citizens of this country need to hear again and again. I will always remember him standing in a shaft of sunlight in the Capitol Rotunda, here in Madison in 2011, as we added our voices to the still-ongoing noontime protest with the Solidarity Sing Along. Hayden's obituary can be found here.
Our weather has been so warm and sunny that I've almost forgotten that Halloween and the end of October are fast approaching. I decided it was time to get my seasonal decorations out. As is so often the case with my vases, the best spot for viewing is on the pair of Chinese wine tables that fill the wall at one end of our living room.
Yes, this grouping does include an actual vase.
I clipped a few stems of Royal fern (Osmunda regalis) which had turned this wonderful cinnamon color. Also in the vase is a dried flowerhead of Astilbe (back right), a Martagon lily seedpod next to the dark seed heads of Penstemon 'Dark Tower' (front left) and the big shaggy blob that was a Dahlia. I have been letting every Dahlia I cut for vases slowly dry up like this. It may be my favorite moment in the life cycle of those flowers.
The vase itself is one we've found many year ago at the UW Hospital gift shop. It was made by a young woman who changed careers midstream from nursing to ceramics. We have a few of her pieces and we've always hoped that decision proved to be the right one for her. This arrangement also includes this pumpkin-shaped gourd decorated with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. We found this at the Cathedral Square Farmers Market in Milwaukee a few years ago. The other "pumpkin" is a bronze Japanese container that I visited in a consignment shop for a year before I finally bought it. It wasn't that expensive, I just felt like I really didn't need to add more things to my already full house. But eventually I couldn't resist it any longer and brought it home.
Going down the line are bits of rusty metal — souvenirs of a desert hike, a raku bowl by Wisconsin artist Karl Burgeon and a glass plate whose origins I've forgotten.
Potter Karl Borgeson is still producing beautiful work but it is quite different from this raku piece that I bought at the late Art Independent gallery in Lake Geneva. I love everything about it: the uneven edge like piecrust when you roll it out, the splashes of brilliant color, the bits of geomentric motif and the calligraphic brush work. A piece I treasure. This is my favorite kind of arrangement with a mix of color and especially texture, but bound together by shape. If you notice, everything is round.
To see what other gardeners have put in a vase today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this meme that we all love so much. Cathy makes me look forward to Monday morning!