Sunday, January 30, 2011

It Was a "Rockin" Day

The Art Institute of Chicago has a study group which has some really neat side trips that do not always involve going into Chicago.

Last Thursday's trip was to  a suburb of Chicago where there is a lapidary museum call the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art.  Joseph Lizzadro came from Italy around the turn of the last century as a young child.  He rose in the business world to become the chairman of the board of Meade Electric all the while having a passion for lapidary (the cutting and polishing of stone).

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

This is a Florentine mosaic of Joseph Lizzadro.  These are all separate pieces of stone fitted together to look like a painting, took four years to complete.

Florentine Mosaic

Joseph collected throughout his lifetime not only antique stone but more important stones that were cut with expertise and creativity.

A most rare and expensive color

A rare blue color but not as desired as the green Jadeite

Wow!  I was totally bowled over by all of the precious gems and minerals on display at this very small museum.  These are all things that come from this earth after millions of years of impact on the soils that we as gardeners work in each year. 

Copper from Michigan


A Gemologist guided us on our tour explaining the difference between rocks and gems, rocks being made from more than one mineral and gems usually having just one  major component.  Lapis happens to be a rock that is also classified as a gem.

Mr Lizzadro began collecting back in the 1920's mostly pieces that were not necessarily antique but of the utmost quality as far as carving and formation.  He was an artist in regard to producing finely carved pieces and jewelry. 

He purchased many pieces from China that were of the Jadeite and Nephrite quality many priceless today.

Nephrite Jade
Older than Jadeite

Jadeite Candlesticks

All of these colors were contained within one full piece of Jade

I am ashamed to say that I went many years to college across the way from this unique museum and never ventured over for a visit.  I said to myself, rocks,? why would I be interested in rocks?  Well, I finally got here and probably appreciate it much more than I would have then.

This is a screen made entirely of stones all pieced together like a wonderful painting given to the Emperor of China in his "white eyebrow birthday year" (assumed to be about 70 years old) in 1736.   The background is all made of cinnabar in multiple patterns.

The Lizzadro has dioramas that line the walls filled with unique carvings that both children and adults love to look at.

He was the longest living elephant from the Brookfield Zoo.  When he died in 1972 they used his tusks for this carving.  He is carved from Obsidian and ivory.

The parrot is carved from Jasper and Malachite

There is a full wall of snuff bottles, snuff being powdered tobacco, which was used from the 1600's until about 1912.  It was at this time that cigarettes replaced the snuff.

In the background, we kept hearing this typewriter typing, I mean a real typewriter with the return and the sound of the return going back and forth.  We were all laughing wondering if it was the sound of the new iPad or Netbook!  As we moved closer to the desk area I spied that it was an IBM Selectric circa 1964, we all thought we had somehow been sucked into "Back To The Future."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Can We Possibly Choose?

Visit Tootsie today for Fertilizer Friday!

Before a new hydrangea takes hold, there is another new one replacing it touting much better qualities than it's predecessor which may be only one or two years old.  Bella Anna will supposedly challenge Annabelle Invincibelle Spirit in regard to characteristics and performance.

Hydrangea Bella Anna
Part of the Endless Summer Collection
3 -5 feet

Hydrangea Invincibelle Spirit
A pink form of Annabelle 3-5 feet

Little Lime is a small version of Limelight and the Cityline and Let's Dance series give us the option of growing small compact hydrangeas in just about every part of our gardens.

Hydrangea Little Lime
3 -5 foot version of Limelight

Do you remember when Endless Summer first came out, we had never seen anything like it before, pink, blue, repeat blooming.  But, for many of us it has not lived up to our expectations so we approach all of these new varieties with trepidation.

I have Let's Dance Starlight along my front walk, struggling from the hottest summer ever, so we will see how it performs this year.  I would love to purchase a few more for the other side if it does well because it will add much needed color to the front of my home and pick up the blue tones in the walkway.

Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight
2 - 3 feet

Let's Dance Moonlight
2 - 3 feet

I love these small ones because they bloom on new wood and can be cut down low so bulbs can bloom between them before they leaf out.  When they do leaf out they will cover the bulb foliage.

Cityline Hydrangeas are a newer group that produces larger heads on short stems, many growing only one to three feet tall.

Hydrangea Cityline Mars
1 - 3 feet

Cityline Rio
2 - 3 feet

Hydrangea Edgy Hearts
2 - 4 feet

I have only shown one or two in each category, check out to see the full line of hydrangeas by *Proven Winners.  Hydrangea Bella Anna has been introduced by Bailey Nurseries.

Hydrangeas five feet and below have been highlighted in this post but there are also new introductions that grow from six to eight feet.  Check out the above website.

*no remuneration from mentioned nurseries or companies

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Proven Winners Home Run Rose

We gathered for lunch looking out on Lake Michigan to hear hybridizer Tom Carruth tell us the history of two new rose introductions Home Run Red and Home Run Pink.  Our group was a mix of landscape designers, garden writers of blogs, books and newspapers and representatives of the plant growing and marketing industry.

This rose has been marketed in limited supply by Weeks Roses (who does not sell to the public) and now will be marketed on a large scale to the general public by Proven Winners Color Choice.

Home Run Red

Home Run Red is a cross of City of San Francisco and Baby Love, with their offspring then being crossed with the original Knockout Rose.  The result is the best of all worlds,  The new Home Run Red is a brighter truer red, resists powdery mildew (which the original Knockout did not) and black spot, shrub-like growth habit, quick repeat flowers, first rose to bloom in spring and fragrant buds.

City of San Francisco

Baby Love

The foliage is a deeper glossy green, more compact and hardier than the original Knockout.  The growth is spiky at first and with continued growth becomes shrub-like.  I was surprised that Home Run can set hips but does not stop flowering.

Original Knockout

The one thing that all rose people will have to remember with this plant, no deadheading recommended!  The new buds form right where the spent flower falls off so any deadheading will cut down on the continual flower display.

Home Run Red should be plentiful this year but the pink (a sport of Home Run Red) is still only offered in small pots through online nurseries.  If the pink one (which would be my choice) is your desire try these nurseries, and

These are the websites that were given to me that would possibly be marketing small containers of Home Run Pink.  In checking them at this time only Great Garden Plants is carrying Home Run Red.  I guess we can check back later to see if they are added to their websites.

Home Run Pink

Check out Mr. Brown Thumb's Blog for another look at Tom Carruth the hybridizer of Home Run.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Invitation

About a month ago I received an invitation from a representative of Proven Winners to attend a luncheon in Chicago associated with the Mid-America Horticultural Trade Show in Chicago which has been held here for the past thirty-five years.  At first I thought it was a come-on but decided to check it out.  Proven Winners is one of my favorite companies for annuals, perennials and new introductions (no remunerations for saying this).

Navy Pier extends out into Lake Michigan, changing from an open air pier with boats docking along it's sides, a carnival like atmosphere in the summer with outdoor antique markets, to an enclosed building that goes on for blocks.  Top notch restaurants line the long walk from one end to the other, retail stores of every description and fast food to die for all with the view of the big ships docked at the side for the winter.

Look what's coming in March!  I wonder if they would want a Garden Blogger to cover this?

My contact said they would like to have some garden writers (bloggers) attend, interview the speaker, etc.  Wow, someone actually wants a Garden Blogger to take photos and interview without worrying about being on the Internet!

The I Max Theatre on one side and Harry Carey's Tavern on the other.

I realized this was not an invite to the trade show so I emailed the Communications Director of the show and told her about my lunch and asked if I could possibly attend the trade show as a garden writer.  The answer was yes with the stipulation that I send her a link to my blog and subsequent posts about the show.  A few days later I received via email scanable entrance passes to the show.

It was quite a trek getting there, an hour on the train, another twenty minutes on a bus but I had arrived wide-eyed like a squirrel in a newly planted tulip bulb garden.  I didn't know where to strike first, exhibitors everywhere.  I could have looked at the exhibitor map online before the show and I would have been better prepared, knowing I would not have time to see everything.

The Smith Museum of Stained Glass is housed at Navy Pier and is worth a visit just to see this beauty.

This is only a small sampling of the beautiful stained glass, goes on for at least the equivalent of two blocks.

Chicagoland Grows is an organization that partners with the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum to make the community aware of new introductions and appropriate plants for our area.

I have never seen so many mulch selections!

Rooftop Gardens

I love Stepables

A great display of David Austin Roses

This has been a very positive experience for me, we are seen as professionals in the industry, our opinions are are considered important and we do influence opinion.  I guess I have been concerned about being accepted by the wrong choir (the general public) when the music is resounding in my own element, writing about gardening.

I'll be back on this subject, haven't even talked about the new introductions and who I met!

Visit Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Plant Of The Year

In my garden the 2010 Plant of the Year was Phlox Paniculata.  I don't have a very large property, so I am limited in regard to how many varieties I can grow.
Phlox Blue Paradise

Phlox Blue Paradise in part shade - this is a phlox that can change colors during the day, from a very deep blue to a lighter magenta to a lighter blue.

Phlox Eva Cullum

Phlox David
I think I will be moving this one into the border.  It is in a very narrow planting area and is not growing to the size it should.

Phlox Franz Schubert

Phlox Laura

Phlox Franz Schubert and Phlox Laura

Phlox Miracle Grace
This is a new one planted last fall

Volcano Phlox Pink With White Eye
New last fall

Phlox Bubblegum Pink
This was an expensive one planted new last fall.

Phlox was not the only good performer last season, daylilies, lillies and heucheras were all stars.  However, phlox was a surprise adding not only color but a softness to the garden with many repeat blooms after deadheading.