August 12, 2019

Imagine a Garden Framed by a Prairie


The garden of Linda Grosz, in Middleton, Wisconsin, is truly a special place. A ring of native prairie--planted from seed 20 years ago--surrounds her 1.75-acre property, acting as a pollinator haven, a native wildflower showcase, and a "sponge" for rainwater runoff. The garden actually appears much larger, with a "borrowed view" of a golf course beyond.

The sights, sounds, and scents are truly a feast for the senses. Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators are plentiful and active. Monarda, Silphiums, Helianthus, Ratibida, Asclepias, and many other genera happily bloom side-by-side.









Linda was kind enough to let me tour her garden twice this summer--the prairie was stunning both times, with different blooms on display. In late July, I was fortunate to see the native Turk's Cap Lilies (Lilium superbum) in full bloom.




In addition to the ring of prairie, Linda's garden offers other magical features, including her fairy garden, full of tiny props and tiny plants.


These miniature Hostas will always be just the right size for the fairy garden.


At the same time, an impressive collection of larger Hostas grace other areas of her garden.



A stream with waterfalls provides naturalistic movement.


Linda is very creative with plantings along a rocky berm.


And in her potted arrangements.



Of course, any garden with a pond full of blooming Water Lilies is truly special.


From Linda's elevated deck, you get a nice view of the full effect: large Willows and other trees, the prairie ring, stream, side gardens, pond, sitting areas, and more.


Another viewpoint...


And yet another.

This is a special place. Thank you, Linda, for your hospitality and for sharing your garden.

(This is one of many amazing gardens that will be included in next June's Madison-area Garden Bloggers Fling. For updates on this and other featured gardens and events, visit in the months ahead!)

July 29, 2019

Quick Picks for Simple Summer Vases

warm ones

It was hot yesterday, but I clipped a few blooms for some simple vases. I like to participate in the In a Vase on Monday meme--especially when I have homegrown flowers to share. As I gathered the lot and assessed, I realized I had two simple collections: one warm and one cool. I used a small Dutch-themed vase for the warm group, with the deep blue complementary to orange on the color wheel.


Rocket Ligularia (L. stenocephala) has been in this garden longer than I have (nearly 20 years), but I never thought to use it as a cut flower. That's embarrassing and too bad, because it works quite well, and some research told me it has a decent vase life. The flowers mature from the bottom up, and I've never liked the browning lower ones. So, I simply stripped them off before placing the stem in the water.


I always plant Zinnias for cut flowers, and my favorites are 'State Fair Mix' and 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.' The former give me large and tall blooms in a great mix of colors, while the latter are just delightful with their bright, hot colors. I also added Cosmos foliage to both vases.


The nice thing about Cosmos (C. bipinnatus 'Sensation Mix') is that the foliage is as fun as the flowers. Actually, there are many nice things about Cosmos: long vase life, pretty flowers, buds for continuous blooms, foliage that holds up under water, plants that grow and rebloom very many things....


As the Cosmos buds open, they'll fill this arrangement with more blooms. Maybe I'll find some more "fillers," too. Companions in this vase are Blazing Star Liatris (L. spicata) and a Tall Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus 'Rocket Mix') that was standing upright after a couple hours in cool water.

pink zinnia

Oh, and some cool pink Zinnias.


Earlier in the week, I'd picked some Stargazer Lilies (Lilium orientalis). I cheated with the background here, but they served out their time in a simple, single-stem glass vase.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at "Rambling in the Garden."

July 12, 2019

Pick a Colorado Plant, Any Plant

ice plants

At every Garden Bloggers Fling, attendees discuss which plant signifies that particular gathering and locale. It's always interesting to hear the ideas. Was it the multicolored Ice Plants (Delosperma spp.) blooming in so many of the gardens?

rock succulents

Or the tiny Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum spp.) and other low-growing succulent plants, which were also prevalent? These were particularly prominent in the many rock and crevice gardens in the Denver area.


The Ninebarks (Physocarpus opulifolius) were blooming: Who can argue with this beauty? But wait; this was one of the plants of the Toronto Fling, right?


The cold-hardy Agaves were happy in several gardens. (Is this A. havardiana?) Well, Agaves were also an Austin Fling plant.

Poppy 1

Oh my gosh, the Poppies (Papaver and Eschscholzia spp.)!

poppy 2

poppy 3

poppy 4

poppy 5

poppy 6

poppy 7

poppy 8

poppy 9

But Poppies are popular everywhere.

african daisies

Maybe it was the masses of African Daisies (Osteospermum spp.).

beaver tail cactus

Or the Cactuses, like this stunning, bright pink-blooming Beaver-Tail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris).


Personally, I'm always partial to delicate, but tough Astrantias (A. major).

apache plume 2

And an all-time favorite that's native only to the Southwest U.S. and Northern Mexico is the shrub Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa). It looks different at various stages and in different lighting.

apache plume 1

apache plume 3

apache plume 4

Apache Plume seedheads resemble those of Prairie Smoke (Geum troflorum); both are in the rose family.

fox tail lily 2

Many people felt that Foxtail Lilies (Eremurus robustus) were the Denver Fling signature plant.

fox tail lily 1

They were quite dramatic--like candelabra glowing over their garden beds.

rm penstemon 1

But perhaps the signature plant of the Denver Garden Bloggers Fling was the Rocky Mountain Penstemon (P. strictus). That color, that form, those "pollinator pockets"!

rm penstemon 2

rm penstemon 3

rm penstemon 4

How does one choose? All the Fling plants were fabulous!