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Thursday, May 22, 2008

more color inspiration…

Barbara Kay writes, talking about the sweater color in the last post: “…Actually, I was thinking “it’s Crepe Myrtle pink”. Crepe Myrtles do come in a lovely cotton-candy pink, and in white. However, the most planted here (perhaps the hardiest?) is the color of your sweater. (Here is south Louisiana).”

This comment made me so sentimental! When I first started gardening, years ago (after seeing one in LA), I fell in love with the Crepe Myrtle and tried to plant one in my front yard. Our *Zone* (5b) is just a little too cold (erm, it’s 43° right now in the morning) and it was not to be! Back then, I didn’t know anything about matching plants to the weather conditions of an area, so I was mystified and so disappointed when my little tree didn’t come back in the Spring…

Chicago loves its plants! I’m often at City Hall and there are now huge planters, curbside and in the large windows, full of the most fabulous seasonal flowers and more!

Up top you see that wonderful shade of Fuschia, this time in a Buttercup! Or, for you horticulturalists out there, Ranunculus Fuschia (factoids on Ranucnculus Bulbs). I came face to face with this beauty while parking my car and couldn’t resist a shot with ye olde camera. Here’s two of my color obsessions in the wild, together and quite stunning, but WAIT.

Isn’t that lovely green in the background Lettuce?

Indeed, lettuce (and kelp kale) are favorite cool-weather ornamentals here in the Big Windy. I used to throw seed out as soon as you could poke the ground at my old place and it makes a wonderful, frothy companion to the Bulbs of Spring and other cool variety flowers.

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Here at the Hall, you see pansies, johnny-jump-ups, snap dragons (another favorite of moi), tulips, and the whimsical lettuce.

Our Chicago Park District Flower people are some of the finest in the world! Many of the things planted in the various municipal boxes, planters, hangers and parks are started from seed and lovingly tended at the Lincoln or Garfield Park hothouses, then planted out at several times during the year. This way, we Up Norths get to enjoy the lush beauty of the southern regions’ more bountiful varieties.

Sometimes, they get a little too envious of the tropics—a few years ago, at Roosevelt and Michigan, there was a huge plant-out of Palm Trees, Banana Plants, and other imported deep south region trees and flowers. The mighty Citizens of Chicago rejected it out of hand, dubbing the area “Gilligan’s Island” and insisted that the City money would’ve been better spent on something we were used to looking at! Looking back, that planting did appear woe-begone and lonely in front of all the Boul Mich skyscrapers and the experiment was never, ever repeated!

That event, however, hasn’t prevented the Park folk from sticking Bamboo every/anywhere they can fit it in :) The appeal is lost on me most of the time…

But just look at this lovely bunch the City fashioned for us:

15 responses to “Thursday, May 22, 2008”

  1. Oh. Be still, my heart! Fave flower; fave colour too! alas…here in the GWN (Great White North), we are still working on daffodils…

  2. Jennifer says:

    Oh my, the colors are wonderful. I love the way lettuce looks growing, and nothing tastes better than fresh lettuce! 43 here too. Chilly springs, every year.

  3. Karen B. says:

    We do live up to our motto, “Urbs In Horto!”

  4. Bonne Marie says:

    Ah, yes! Urbs In Horto, in other words: City in a Garden!

  5. Laura K. says:

    Lettuce amongst the bulbs..brilliant! I have to remember that for next year.

  6. ~S says:

    I <3 Ranunculus but our winters aren’t cold enough for it to love our area. I do however have lavender and red crepe myrtles in my yard. Also I have a couple of snap dragons that came back this Spring after making it through our 100 degree summer last year. Go figure. Let’s hope your park folk are careful with their bamboo selections, here it can be quite invasive and can sour friendly neighbor relations when it escapes the yard it was planted in. :)

  7. Kate G. says:

    Gosh, it’s beautiful this year. I wish I was there. Here in Shaky City the flowering grove has already gone to fruit. Drat!

  8. Kim says:

    Kelp? Like seaweed? Or is it kale? I know that around here, in NW Washington State, lots of people plant kale in with their mums in the fall…’s so pretty! Your fuschia cardi is just as gorgeous as the fuschia ranunculus, btw.

  9. Bonne Marie says:

    I’m a silly rabbit!@ I meant KALE!

    But of course, it would be miraculous to see kelp growing out of water ;p

  10. Barbara-Kay says:

    Glad you enjoyed. Yes, we have crepe myrtles (I saw them first near Williamsburg, VA, at the Carter Plantation. Big as oaks, and lining the driveway! Those were pale pink, thank you very much!) However, the trade-off is that we are too WARM/HOT for apples, peonies, and lilacs. Tulips can be grown, but they must be refrigerated for 1-2 months, then planted afresh each year.

    Our winter plantings? Purple ornamental cabbage, and pansies.

  11. Bonne Marie says:

    Oh, YES! Peonies!

    I don’t have any in my yard right now, but I grew up with the most wonderful *bushes* in Mom’s and Grandpa’s gardens.

    Now, I go to the New Leaf shop on Wells St to see BUCKETS full of cut peonies that are just thrilling.

    Sometimes, the early Farmer’s Markets will have them too :)

  12. ~S says:

    We have both herbaceous and tree peonies that grow here, do the herbaceous ones do well up you way? I have had better luck with the tree variety since they can live in semi-shade.

  13. Bonne Marie says:

    We’ve been lucky with both types! My Mom has some bush-types in her garden that have to be over 75 years old. They used to go visit our country cousins and stop by the roadside to *rescue* peonies from abandoned farms.

    There is one that is white with pink edges that is glorious and another a little deeper fuschia than the buttercups here that I remember came from a drive-by :)

  14. Debbie says:

    You said, “Back then, I didn’t know anything about matching plants to the weather conditions of an area, so I was mystified and so disappointed when my little tree didn’t come back in the Spring…”

    Heh. Substitute ‘yarn’ for ‘plants’ and ‘gauge’ for ‘weather conditions’, and you describe the first few years of my knitting experience perfectly. ;-) It took me awhile to realize things would fit better if I paid attention to gauge as well as yarn color.

    And I would LOVE to find some yarn with both those pinks and greens!

  15. Bonne Marie says:

    Debi! That is so spot on!

    As they say, it’s all in the details and actually I love the fact that there is always always more and more to learn…

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