Wild Times at Garden in a City
The north side Chicago chapter of Wild Ones, an organization of native plant enthusiasts, came to our garden today. They were on their triennial garden tour. As I wrote in my last post, I was working hard to prepare for this visit, partly by spiffing up the garden and partly by obsessing over all its fatal imperfections.
The latter activity, as I knew well in the rational part of my brain, was a completely pointless exercise. The Wild Ones are a good natured bunch, and highly appreciative. They were full of questions and positive comments, and it was a pleasure to talk plants with them.
An added bonus was that I got to meet two blogger friends face-to-face for the first time: Nicole of My Garden Diaries and Abby from Woodchuck Acres. Neither live in the area and drove some distance to take part in the tour. (Both blogs are really worth reading.)
Closer to home, I also got to meet two like-minded Evanston gardeners, Bill and Geri. I hope to see their gardens soon for myself.
I’d say the plant that generated the most comments and excitement was the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). This is not native to our region (it’s originally from Mexico and Central America), but it is truly fantastic for pollinators.
I’m beginning to feel I should be get a commendation from the American Tithonia Society for promoting this plant. Unfortunately, there is no such organization, but I may get it started in order to receive the recognition I deserve.
Other plants that generated interest in the sunny front garden were the Yellow Coneflower (Ratbida pinnata), Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), the Joe Pye Weeds (Eutrochium purpureum and E. maculatum), and the various Monardas.
Overall, the garden was as well-tended as it has ever been (or at least as it has been since it was last on a garden tour). Unfortunately the Monarch Butterflies did not make an appearance but there was a hummingbird dashing about. Also, the Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) in the front containers was satisfyingly fragrant.
In the back Judy had set out ice tea, water and coffee cake cut in little pieces. Happily people were not too shy to help themselves.
There was a lot of interest in the American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa) – I need to write a post on this plant in the near future.
And in a happy bit of good timing, the ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental Lilies had just begun to bloom, so that the whole back area was filled with sweet scent.
In under 40 minutes the Wild Ones had to get back on the bus. I had wanted to join them for the rest of the tour, but resisted because 1) I was pooped; and 2) I had some stuff I had to work on for my job.
Normally on weekends I spend the days doing garden chores. However, this Saturday all the chores had already been done. It was a nice day, warm but not humid, and the mosquitoes were mostly on vacation.
So Judy and I spent a couple of hours sitting and reading in the back garden, enjoying what we are often too busy working on or photographing to really experience. And then I took a nap.
Gardening is a funny mix of solitary and social. Even if no one else ever saw our garden, I would take great pleasure in it. But the pleasure is deeper when you can share it with others, whether they be sidewalk passersby or touring Wild Ones.