How High’s the Temperature Papa?

She said it’s 8° and Rise’n

A cold, but sunny, New Year’s Eve.  A temperature of 8° with some overnight snow .. the morning sun, low in the winter sky, made everything glisten.  A good day for hot chocolate and a couple of Johnny Cash albums on the turntable.


A scattering of tree trimmings, drying out for a future bonfire



Tree trimmings ready for a spring project – what to construct with these?


An organic art installation – eat your heart out Morton Arboretum


‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea, a native cultivar adding interest to the winter garden


Wild Quinine still standing strong with caps of snow


Rudbecka laciniata – Golden Glow, the finches love the seeds, I love their drama


Switchgrass – still young, but looking good and catching some rays



The birds are not hungry enough to eat the asparagus berries yet


Some winterized Woodland Sunflower, Helianthus strumosus


Oh my, Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ .. a non-native charmer


Bits of unearthed construction debris stacked for a future project


Granite cobbles, as art, until needed for some other use


Neptune does not look happy – he never does, but he still makes me smile


White Pines and Cup-plant – lovely in winter too

When nature surrounds your home, there is always something that inspires awe – a kiss of winter sunbeams and a dusting of snow makes it all a bit more magical.


Happy New Year copy

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The Ornamental Grass Garden in Grant Park


This past August I noticed a new garden along South Michigan Avenue, just south of Jackson Street, in downtown Chicago, and while most of the landscape beds along the commercial district of Michigan Avenue are filled with seasonal flowers, these beds were more reflective of the nearby gardens designed by Roy Diblik at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium, and Piet Oudolf’s Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, two blocks north; the beds were planted entirely in ornamental grasses, including some Midwest native grasses.


The parkway beds, shown fallow in spring, once held seasonal displays of annual flowers
– Google streetview

These beds once held petunias, angelonias and other summer annuals.  The new plantings of ornamental grasses are not only a better economic solution, they beautifully give a nod to the unique Midwest prairie landscape.


Over a dozen varieties of grasses and sedges make up the plantings, the various species form a block-long tapestry of complementary and contrasting texture and color.  Below is a list of the grasses that I identified, some cultivars are a “best guess.”

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Having been only recently planted, the grasses are not yet mature, but are looking good during their first August.






Some Autumn Images of the Garden



The purple of the Regal Mist Grass had turned a warm straw color in November



An aluminum figure stands among the grasses, part of a larger art installation called “Borders” by Icelandic sculptor, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir.


A Ribbon of rose colored Little Bluestem runs through the center of this bed in November

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Photo taken in Mid-August

Some of the grasses show a dramatic color change, such as the Little Bluestem.  Shown above in its summer blue-gray foliage, and below in its autumnal copper-rose hue.  Also notice, also, how much the ‘Red Rooster’ sedge has grown since August – the “hair plug” look is gone.


Photo taken in Mid-November

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