Revisiting mom's garden

I've been visiting my ill mother in Chicago quite a bit since last autumn, and this past weekend I finally got to see her garden in late spring/early summer form.


She's always grown flowers in these beds between the house and the driveway, and back in 2006 I gave them a makeover using plants from my own garden. On this last trip I brought more plants to fill in the holes that have developed over the past nine years. (How could it have been so long already?)


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So today's post shows her garden after the update.


For comparison, here's the bed in 2008:


The Rudbeckia is gone, the Echinacea has moved to the front (I added a few more plants this weekend), and the creeping Jenny has really spread out.

The Clematis is really doing great here, although it didn't bloom this spring for some reason...


...hopefully there will be blooms later.

I added two clematis (as well as the trellises which I made with my brother) to the front of the house on my Mother's Day visit this year:


And I have to say that this one variety is quite amazing. Look how attractive the seed heads (I can't remember the correct term!) are even after the petals fall!



I think I might have to get this one for my own garden... if I can remember what it is called! (My mom still has the plant tag so I'll have to ask her.)

Without deer or woodchucks and just a few rabbits here and there, my mom can grow things that only survive in my garden if they're hidden or lucky, like the Liatris spicata (gayfeather)...


...which has formed an impressive colony! Too bad it wasn't blooming yet.


Other feather foliage provided by Artemesia 'Tangerine'...


...and 'Filligran Russian sage (I think that's the cultivar I planted):


Mom loves garden ornaments, many of which she got for free from her years working at Ace Hardware:



Blooms...







Although I wouldn't consider mom's garden to be a wildlife haven, there was some evidence of creature activity:


I show you the ant debris (there must be a large colony living under the concrete steps) because she in the Chicago area has much different ant species than I do here in St. Louis. For instance there are light-colored ants (almost orange) that smell strongly of lemons -- crazy!

Also this:


A crayfish hole in her backyard lawn! The nature reserve ("forest preserve" in Chicago-area terms) across the street has always had a healthy population of crayfish, but seeing them in her lawn is crazy!

Speaking of wildlife, the neighbor is doing his part in the "save the monarch" campaign...


...if putting a single Asclepias syriaca into your foundation planting shrubbery counts. Still, nice to see!

The plants that I added:


More Echinacea, some Persicaria 'Painters Palette', various elephant ears, a canna.

My brother and I also combined to create a new planting bed on the west side of the house -- he removed the bricks that had been there since the house was built and created the bed, and I divided a few of the plants from the other side and planted them.



Not much to look at now, but give it another year or two, right?

So that's an update on my mom's garden. It's fun to work in someone else's space once in a while!

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Mark and Gaz  – (June 22, 2015 at 10:15 AM)  

Indeed Alan! Your mum's garden looks sweet and the clematis looks great climbing up and covering a section of the brick wall. Your new addition would look just as good in a year or so I can imagine.

Maywyn Studio  – (June 22, 2015 at 12:01 PM)  

You and your brother are the sons moms dream off! Beautiful gardens. Every time she looks out, she can see and feel your love. Bravo!

Anonymous –   – (June 22, 2015 at 12:03 PM)  

I love the before/after shots. Your brotherly efforts demonstrate that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes, tucked away in odd spaces between sidewalks and under eaves. Love!

Lisa  – (June 22, 2015 at 4:38 PM)  

You're a good son, Alan! Your mom must feel your loving concern every time she sees her lovely garden!

danger garden  – (June 23, 2015 at 1:07 AM)  

Seriously? A crayfish hole? That's insane.

What a great gift for your mother. No doubt spiffed up planting spaces are a great spirit lifter, and time spent with her son is certainly a nice bonus...

Alan  – (June 23, 2015 at 6:48 AM)  

Loree: there were actually 2 holes, but if you've seen one crayfish hole you've seen them all... :)

My brother who lives 6 blocks away found a small crayfish on the street after it had rained and flooded briefly. So apparently it's crayfish central around there.

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