Posts tagged gardens

Taste of Heritage Gardens in Iowa City

         The Johnson County Master Gardeners will host their 14th annual Taste of the Heritage Gardens on Wednesday, July 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove Historic Site, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City.

        For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will receive a taste of 19th recipes for soups, salads, vegetable dishes, breads, drinks and desserts prepared by the Master Gardeners. In addition, the audience will be entertained by the Senior Center Horn band, and there will be guided tours of the gardens and 1844 Lucas house.

         There will be a drawing for door prizes and recipe booklets will be available. Free parking is available on site.

         The proceeds from this event go to garden maintenance and Kirkwood scholarships. In case of bad weather, the event will be held at Building C at the Johnson County Fair Grounds. Further information is available at 351-4903.

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Pond and garden walks

     

Pond at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Pond, and wildlife, at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

 Larry and Erma Thompson have an entire room in their home dedicated to Larry’s fish hobby, but it’s outside where his love of fish really shines. Twenty-two koi in 20 varieties spend the entire year (cold Iowa winters, too) in a well-kept pond at the couple’s home in Cedar Rapids. Goldfish are in a separate pond. Larry Thompson was awarded the Koi Person of the Year for Iowa, a regional award given at the Associated Koi Clubs of America during February’s koi show in San Diego, California. The award is a testament not only to his koi expertise, but dedication to the craft and volunteer hours he donates to community projects. Larry gives credit to his wife for her support and the beautiful plants that surround their ponds.  “Anything pretty is Erma’s,” he said. “The functional stuff is mine.”

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

      Their home will be one of the stops on a pond tour next weekend. Following is info from the Eastern Iowa Pond Society and other groups holding garden walks next weekend.

    Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s  Eastern Iowa Pond Society annual pond tour, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009, rain or shine. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. They will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.eips.org

 Here are other garden walks coming up next weekend:

      Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11, 2009. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.    Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331 To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Also on Sunday, July 12, Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.    Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray .  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org

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A look at rain gardens

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Our flood anniversary tribute continues with a look at rain gardens. Several people I interviewed for the article in the Sunday, June 14, 2009, Gazette said while rain gardens would not have prevented last year’s devastating floods in Iowa, they could have helped. Lucy Hershberger, co-owner of Forever Green Landscaping & Garden Center in Coralville showed me the well-kept rain garden in front of their site on Forevergreen Road, near North Liberty. Yellow and blue flag iris, native grasses, coneflower, liatris and dwarf arctic blue willow were planted when the rain garden was installed in September. It’s obvious that Hershberger’s  enthusiasm goes beyond trying to sell customers on a new fad. She has conducted free seminars on rain gardens for people to learn more and to better take care of their little corner of the environment. Hershberger remembers the interest in rain gardens and rain barrels in the early 1990s, at that time because of costs associated with watering. “Now it’s because of the awareness of stormwater management,” she said. “It’s not cost-driven.”

Blue flag iris

Blue flag iris

The following list of plants is from Iowa’s Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual Native Plant Favorites for Soils with Good Percolation Rates:

Common Name Height Comments

Blue grama 1-2 ft makes a good border

Bottle gentian 1 ft novel purple flowers

Butterfly milkweed 1-4 ft emerges late spring; no milky sap

Columbine 1-2 ft orange flower stalk may add 1 ft

Culver’s root 3-6 ft can get tall; for moderatley moist soils

Fox sedge 1-3 ft may not tolerate drought

Golden alexander 1-3 ft yellow dill-like flower, mod moist soils

Little bluestem 2 ft nice rusty color all winter

Mountain mint 1-3 ft for moist soils

Nodding onion 1-2 ft for moderately moist soils

Pale purple coneflower 4 ft most overused native; only in S. Iowa

Prairie blazing star 2-5 ft for moist soils

Prairie smoke 1 ft makes a good border

Sideoats grama 2-3 ft red anthers; not as tidy as little bluestem

Silky aster 1-2 ft loved by rabbits

Websites with native plant lists for rain gardens:

http://prrcd.org/inl/recommended_plants.htm

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/rg/plants/PlantListing.html

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Inspiration from living landscape history

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

The following is from Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

     I am in a constant state of wonder and awe at Brucemore; every direction I turn stimulates the senses. The birds’ twittering in the wisteria vine mingles with a slight scent of early blooming clematis growing along the grape arbor.  New growth is making its appearance throughout the gardens, as vividly illustrated by the lime-colored sprouts starkly contrasting against the dark green of existing foliage on the old Norway spruce.  Here on the Brucemore grounds, the new and old, past and present are demanding attention, clamoring to be experienced and shared.

     In an effort to appease my senses but also to share Brucemore’s role in American landscape history, I am leading a historic landscape tour. Wear walking shoes and bring a water bottle, this tour will cover a lot of ground and encourage discovery of this quiet, park-like space in the middle of Cedar Rapids.  Brucemore’s 100 years of Prairie landscape history, paired with the burgeoning spring plants, will make for an inspiring hike. Woven into the trek through the 26 acres of grounds will also be discussion of plants (mostly natives), theories of the original design, Brucemore family stories, and issues pertaining to current preservation and property use.

 Brucemore’s Historic Landscape Tour

Tuesday, May 26 & Thursday, May 28 at 6:00 p.m.  and Saturday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m. at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE.

Admission is $10 per person and $7 per Brucemore member. Please call (319) 362-7375 to register. See: www.brucemore.org

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Another snowstorm? Look here for spring

As Iowa braces for what could be another spring snowstorm this weekend, Deb Engmark, head gardener at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, sent the following observations and photos from the historic Brucemore estate:

From the Brucemore Gardens

 

It would have been a glorious first snow fall of the season had the snow fallen sometime between November 27th and December 30th. With four to six

 inches on the ground, my week of vacation coming to an end, and not nearly enough yard work finished, it sure made Sunday hard to take. On the bright side, on Monday morning the little bit of green that was evident in the landscape at the end of last week was much more abundant and vibrant. I also noticed the swelling of the buds on many of the shrubs and some of the trees here at Brucemore have expanded close to the point of explosion. Many buds have popped and the leaves are extended toward the sun.

 

 The honeysuckle bushes along Linden Drive opened sometime between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30p.m.on Monday, as did the first scillas on the property, revealing the sweet essence of  spring along with the reliable blues many visitors associate with older neighborhoods. The snowdrops are always an early sign of winters waning. Shining in the woods for a few weeks already and now many of the white nodding heads have opened to reveal the upside down v-shape of green marking the inside bell and if you are able to get close enough, it too carries a fresh scent of spring.   

 

Out in the formal garden the crocus are blooming and other bulbs are making their presence known as are some of the undesirables dandelions, violas and the creeping charlie seem to have survived the winter just fine, lucky us.

 

Now, before spring has totally sprung, is a great time to take notice of that which is often overlooked – trees. We are fortunate here at Brucemore to have a few grand specimens to appreciate. Across the road from the formal garden, west of the old greenhouse is a mature red maple and a stately old red oak.  Roger Johnson, our building and grounds superintendent, believes they are some of the oldest trees on the property. He estimates that they are well over 100 years old due to their height, trunk diameter, and the texture of the bark.  Oaks are slow growing, long-lived, and require a century to mature, and will often live undisturbed for two to three centuries or more. The red maple upon maturity develops a unique bark texture. Flat gray ridges like fins begin to wave and flake while spiraling up to the multitude of branches. A bit of the oaks’ structural supremacy and the mature maples textured bark is softened after the emergence of the leaf canopy in spring.

 

As I finish this typing Tuesday afternoon, the landscape has changed once again adding more colors, hues and tones in every passing moment.

 

I would love to hear what you are doing also!  Please feel free to send me any suggestions, ideas, or tips from your own gardens and explorations.

 

 

Deb Engmark                            

Brucemore Head Gardener                     

2160 Linden Dr. SE

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

deb@brucemore.org

www.brucemore.org

 

 

Blue scilla

Blue scilla

 

Snowdrops at Brucemore

Snowdrops at Brucemore

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Deconstruction vs. demolition: a green way to handle flooded homes?

Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill/Jackson Neighborhood Association, has been working on a “Good Jobs/Green Garages” effort since the floods. Some of that is detailed in an article in the Sunday, March 8, 2009, issue of the Gazette:

 

http://tinyurl.com/bdn94m

 

Here is more from Michael about those efforts:

 

   “We have added a very important layer of innovation and action to Good Jobs/Green Garages:

   As Neighborhood Assn. President, I have been approached by flooded residents in their 70s and 80s that do not have the time, energy or financing to Rehab/Rebuild.   We are pairing these elderly residents with former Metro High students that are now in their mid twenties, energetic, employed and ready to engage limited money with “sweat equity” to gain first time home ownership by rehab and retrofit of these flooded homes they are purchasing from the above noted elderly flood victims.  We have one rehab/retrofit  Next Generation Home Ownership project already underway in Oakhill Jackson.   We have also paired an elderly resident/ and a young new homeowner in Time Check to work with  this model of community recovery.

   My goal is this:  Create the working model. Then, if the City Government wants to get on board, fine, if not, well, we’ll keep working away to rebuild this city one step at a time from the ground up.”

 

 

   From Cindy, again: Rod Scott, who is also featured in the Gazette article, realizes not every flooded home can be saved. But he questions why so many that could be rebuilt are being torn down. He asks if it’s because the city is encouraging demolition, especially of homes in modest-income neighborhoods. Rod, who is president of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, notes that many of the homes are structurally sound. “They’re just flooded buildings,” he said. “They can be cleaned up and rebuilt.”

 

 

   Cedar Rapids City Council member  Tom Podzimek added to the city’s discussion of sustainability when it comes to rebuilding from the floods in one area that hit home. For city gardeners, it might not be a popular idea, but a suggestion that has been proposed in the past would be to sell land that has city gardens – presumably the Squaw Creek gardens, as the Ellis area often floods – and allow developers to build private housing there. The tradeoff would be offering leased city gardens in the city’s new green zone, where flooded homes have been bought out and removed. “Why get in a car and drive five miles?” Podzimek asked, when the “greener” model would be having gardens located near the people who use them.

   Other ideas for the green zone have included soccer and baseball fields and dog parks. Podzimek said some residents want those entities in areas not prone to flooding, but he said it makes more sense to have homes and structures built away from flood zones and use the 250 acres or so of new green space for those “flood resilient” projects, such as ball fields.

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Time for city gardens

  I renewed my city garden lease yesterday and talked to a few other people who were doing the same. Cedar Rapids has leased garden plots – 20-by-50-feet of land each – at Ellis, Squaw Creek and Tuma parks. Cost is $20 annually. Renewals run through March 2, and after that, the plots can be leased to other people. Gardeners must go to the Ambroz Recreation Center, 2000 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, to reserve a garden. Ambroz is open 8-5, Monday through Friday.

Butterfly on milkweed at Cindy's city-leased garden in July 2008.

Butterfly on milkweed at Cindy's city-leased garden in July 2008.

 

  

   Last year wasn’t the best for gardening, with temperatures too cold to get the plants going in the spring, and then, of course, the rain. All of the gardeners at Ellis were completely washed out for the season due to the June flood (except for a couple of die-hards who returned after the water receded.) But soil tests conducted on the land have shown it’s not contaminated, according to the city, and gardeners are eager to try again.

 

   Chris Pliszka, who has leased a garden at Ellis for about five years, asked city workers about possible chemicals that were left behind by the floods.

Chris said he was comfortable going back after being told it wasn’t contaminated. Like other gardeners, he’s looking forward to growing fresh vegetables to eat from his garden. “The taste is amazing,” he said. Chris tries to get to his garden every day during the season, which brings up an important point about the leased gardens. The last two years, with gas prices high, I thought spending one solid day every week in my garden would be more practical than going a few times a week. The weeds proved too powerful and it became a constant battle between their overwhelming forces and my less-than-overwhelming hoe. Many people use tillers and some use chemical means to control their weeds. I’m going to try to be more aggressive with my mulching system and see if the weedy powers-that-be can be overcome this year.

 

 

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