This is almost like January in July where I find myself nearly housebound. I hate to admit it in print, but I prefer snow to extreme heat. I really do. Snow I can handle, you can shovel it. Right now a thunderstorm is pounding the house with high winds and heavy rain, I'm just hoping the flying ice cubes they are also predicting are a bit of hype. I guess I could shovel hail, too, but I'd really rather not, thank you very much. The rain is a blessing, we can really use it, but WOW (that was a close lightning strike....!) the 4th of July is over, we don't need such an industrial light show.
|Joel was out taking pictures and just came in...here's the advance lightning at 10 pm tonight.|
We finally located a store that still had a supply of outdoor bug spray left on the shelves and tonight it was our plan to spray for the mosquitoes, but luckily we didn't get around to it. If we had sprayed the yard earlier, it wouldn't have done any good since it's raining so hard now. We don't normally have to resort to spraying the yard but this year is just as bad as last year, we have to or you just can't even stand still for a second without being bitten.
Earlier this evening, I went out to take pictures of the garden. I kind of had a feeling with this heat wave that storms might pop up and there might not be much to look at afterward. If you can walk really, REALLY fast, you can almost keep ahead of the mosquitoes as we go on this just-before- sunset walk around the gardens tonight.
We've bought a bunch of urns over the years. The one that got us started was from a recycling center Carl's dad had found about 35 years ago. Someone had brought this one in for scrap metal. I'm so glad Carl's dad decided to rescue it and doubly glad when one day he decided to give it to us to put in the gardens.
|I was almost melted down for scrap.|
The planter below has dark purple coleus, some pink petunias, 'Red Rooster' grass, an overwintered pink geranium and a purple sweet potato vine.
I know matching plantings would be more restful and soothing to the eye and harmonious-- yes, I know that, but if there's one thing we get a lot of in Wisconsin, it's one uniform color for most of the year---a blanket of white for up to and beyond five months. I get starved for color during that time, so when it comes to flowers, everything goes.
Remember those light shade pots perched on the old cast iron rollers from a junk yard? These are our homemade urns.
The hostas are coming into bloom: now here's a topic for debate: many gardeners detest hosta blooms and remove them immediately before they flower. Some gardeners leave the blooms to fade and then remove them and some gardeners let their hostas set seed and try to grow them on for new plants. I was tempted to deadhead mine before they bloomed, but when I saw how many hummingbirds and honeybees were flocking to the blooms, I didn't have the heart to take them down anymore. I'll let them finish flowering first.
|Ernie earlier this morning, no clue what he looks like now after the storm.|
We bought Ernie from our friend, Jan who owned a greenhouse a few miles from us, the same place the smaller urns came from. When our boys were little, we would make the rounds of the greenhouses just like we do now. We met Jan shortly after he bought an older greenhouse after the previous owners sold when a tornado destroyed much of the business. Joel and Dave were around ten and six years old and Jan would put them to work deadheading geraniums for him while we shopped. When we left the greenhouse, each boy could take a geranium of his choice home with them. I thought that was so generous of Jan, and the boys were pleased, too.
We went to his greenhouse several times every year, it was always a highlight of the planting season and as time went on, Jan perfected his ability to create something new with flowers the likes of which had never been seen around here before. Jan was from Poland and his European gardening skills were evident in everything he designed. He really brought imaginative style and finesse to our local gardening scene. Every time we went to his greenhouse we were inspired.
Mayflower Greenhouse grew and so did Jan's reputation as an artist with plants. He was a frequent guest on all the local TV stations during their garden segments and also on Wisconsin Gardener many, many times as a guest showing the newest and the best in gardening, especially container gardening. Jan always remembered us, though, and was one of the people instrumental in getting our garden featured on Wisconsin Gardener, too.
We noticed that Jan had the big plant urn in inventory for quite some time; could have been as early as 2006. Finally he decided to start marking it down and we'd keep looking at it and scratching our heads. We'd bought the smaller matching urns a few years earlier, and always drooled over the Big One but the price was out of our budget. Finally, it was marked down over 60% and we splurged.
When we came into the greenhouse that Sunday afternoon in July 2010, Jan said, "I knew you would buy it eventually."
He personally helped us load the urn (took all three of us as Ernie is a Big Boy, well over 250+ pounds) and we sat on our trailer for awhile afterward just chatting. It was the longest I had ever seen Jan sit still in all the years I'd known him. It was a hot afternoon and almost closing time, so he wasn't in much of a hurry for once and we had a nice visit that day.
Little did we know it would be the last time we would visit with Jan. He passed away in April 2011 of a sudden heart attack. When I heard the news, it was a shock. Such a vibrant, inventive man who had some of the most cutting-edge garden ideas we've ever seen, it just didn't seem possible he was gone. We had just talked about heading over to Mayflower for the first time this year when we heard the news of his passing. That's why we have to savor every moment in life, right?
Jan always said you should fill a container with a Thriller, a Spiller and a Filler.
|Ernie in 2010|
Every time I walk by Ernie the Urn, I think of Jan wistfully and smile.
|Just a random shot of the Pachyberm.|
The Trumpet Vine is really in full bloom Sunday morning.
The daylilies are just getting a good start, so if there's any left after the storm tonight, I'll take some pictures tomorrow. Here's a sneak peek:
|Love the pattern on this one, too.|