Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Often, myself included, forget that this holiday weekend is about much more than an extra day off of work. Regardless of how we feel about war this is a day to remember and pay tribute to all of the men and women that have given up so much to defend our country that the rights of others.

There is a story I often think of when I look out at my garden and at the white cabbage butterflies darting and dancing among my flowers. The story is of a gentle baby boy that since birth, seemed to always have small white butterflies hover around him and follow him wherever he went. This phenomenon continued as he grew up. This young man went off to war and sadly he was killed in the line of duty. To his family’s additional distress, his body was never recovered. In memory of their son they took a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As they approached the site to their disbelief they saw a flurry of white butterflies floating and dancing above the grave.

I have no idea if this story is true, I only know that the white cabbage butterfly has ever since meant more than the advent of summer. It has been a steady reminder of what so many others have done for me and the loss their lives have meant to their families.

I hope you and your families have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day.
***Please note, the photo above is the property of and be sure to go to his site to see other examples of his wonderful work. ****

PlanTrivia : Bloodroot

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is part of the poppy family and considered a wildflower in my region. The blooms, just as the traditional poppies, last only a few days. Native Americans used the red sap emitted from the stems (thus the name Bloodroot) as war paint and a dye for fabrics. Early settlers also used it as a red dye, adding oak bark to set the color.

This information is found in Door County’s Wildflowers, A Field Guide For The Curious by Frances M. Burton and Aurelia M. Stampp.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tourist for a Day: The Art Institute of Chicago – The Modern Wing Opening

One of my favorite things is to play tourist in my home town of Chicago. There is something about walking the streets and seeing the sites through a newbie’s eyes. I had a wonderful opportunity and reason to go into the city last week and that was for the opening of The Art Institute of Chicago’s - The Modern Wing. Above is In the Magic Mirror, 1934 by Paul Klee (German)

The building is simply magnificent. The design, lighting (both natural and artificial) and view of Millennium Park alone were worth the visit.

Inside Lobby, a wonderful space.

Outdoor Pavilion
Still under construction. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

The views of Millennium Park from almost every room are amazing.

And then there is the art…. Below are a few of my favorites.

Sleeping Muse, 1910 by Constantin Brancusi (French)
And no, I have no idea who these ladies are.

Sketch by Salvador Dali
When I think of Dali I think of twisted delusions. Here is a beautiful sketch of a woman’s face. Very small in scale to the framing drawing your eye in.

Woman, 1934 Joan Miro (Spanish)
Okay, I love this painting. However, I like to call it “My Inner Child”

Reclining Woman, 1922 by Fernand Leger (French) and my mom

Spoon Woman, 1926-27 by Alberto Giacometti (Swiss)

After touring the museum my mother and I had lunch at the Park Grill in Millennium Park. It was a perfect day to sit out under a sidewalk umbrella having Thyme Roasted Scallops and French bread with an Olive Tapenade.

Here are a few shots of the gardens in bloom in the park.

I love the image of the lone gardener in a field of flowers with the city mirroring her silhouette.

When I look at these photos I can’t help but think of the scene from the Wizard of Oz as they are running through the poppy fields trying to reach the Emerald City.

Instead of emerald green, Chicago evokes blue of Lake Michigan mixed with steel and stone.

If you haven’t been to Chicago lately…isn’t it about time?

***Please be aware all images are the property of Liane Doxey and are not to be copied or distributed with permission.****

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

PlanTrivia - Lily of the Valley

Convallaria majalis means “you will find happiness”

I’m also told, according to Christian Legend, it is called Our Lady's Tears. According to this legend, the lily of the valley came into being from Eve's tears after she was driven with Adam from the Garden of Eden.

Either way, after blooming you can dig up these lovely plants, separate them, and place it in your most infertile locations. As long as you keep it moist it will do well. So far I have only one small clump. Here’s hoping this highly perfumed flower finds it home in many corners of my landscape.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Had a wonderful Mother’s Day. My parents came out for the afternoon. They picked many of the seedlings I started for them…Salpiglossis, 3 foot Snapdragons, Zeolights, Larkspur, Stock, French Ribbon Lavender, Green Envy Zinnia, Apricot Blush Zinnia….too many to list. They also picked up their tomatoes including Pink Beauty, Heirloom Marvel Stripe, Heirloom Consoluto and Orange Valencia. It’s exciting and a little sad to say goodbye to all those baby plants I’ve coaxed along all this time.

Also dusted off my cookware which was fun. I made Pad Thai and an Asian Slaw with Sea Scallops and a Cilantro Vinagerette. For dessert, a homemade Ginger Ice Cream and a Chocolate Sauce. Both recipes are from San Francisco Restaurant Cookbook called China Moon. I’d been wanting to make this ice cream for years and finally did. The ice was actually quite wonderful. Very delicately flavored with a ginger infusion. To be honest the ice cream was a little overpowered by the Chocolate Sauce…but my Mother adores chocolate, as do I, so we had it anyway.

One of her gifts was a little bird pin from a wonderful Etsy store called AnnaRubyKing, shipped and packaged beautifully from Australia. Very sweet and my parents have been catering to the birds in their neighborhood for years. Appropriate I thought.

We ended the day with a tour of my garden. We had a great afternoon. I must say, I always have a great time with my parents. Especially as I’ve gotten older, they have actually become my best friends.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Before Dawn

One of my favorite things about sleeping with windows open is waking to the sound of the birds singing. This is especially so in the spring after a long winter. There are few better things to me than making a cup of tea and planting myself in front of a window with my garden journal as the sun is coming up. It reminds me of one of my very favorite quotes called Before Dawn by Brian Andreas.

Before Dawn
I’ve always liked the time before dawn
because there is no one around
to remind of who I’m supposed to be.
So it’s easier
to remember
who I am.
-Brian Andreas

Monday, May 4, 2009

Master Gardener

My Master Gardener class courses are complete. I loved reading about one of my favorite subjects, gardening, but I must admit I’m relieved to be done with the course work. Not because I didn’t love it but with my day job, my Prairie Garden Store, my Prairie Garden Studio, my own garden to weed (and weed, and weed some more) have me at the end of an exhausted rope.

Now I have my volunteer work for the remainder of my internship. Actually the volunteer work will be the continuity of the Master Garden Program as giving back to the community is really what the program is all about. Last Saturday was my first time volunteering. I worked at the Oak Park Conservatory Plant Sale and had a wonderful time. It was great to meet other avid gardeners and talk with customers discovering some new plants for the first time. It brought me back to my retail days as a store manager for Williams Sonoma….back when they were devoted to hiring only true gourmets. Talking to customers who truly want to discuss and learn more about their passion is a wonderful way to spend time. My cookware is a bit dusty, but my shovel and trowel surely are not….in fact I think I’ve already misplaced my trowel. I keep scanning the garden looking for the red handle poking up in the dirt! …I’ll keep you posted on my progress….