Category Archives: Gardening

A morning at Itasca State Park

I always try to plan a trip to the cabin while Minnesota’s state flower, the showy lady’s slipper, is blooming in northern Minnesota. I believe they’re in bloom for about two weeks around the end of June and beginning of July(more information about our state flower and a little more information ). Itasca State Park is 40 miles from the family cabin and we went there the last weekend in June seeking the lovely orchid during our three day stay at the cabin. We hoped our timing worked and it did! The blooms seemed very much at peak. Score!!

There’s a spot near Douglas Lodge within the park where there are many lady’s slippers so we always walk down the many steps then back up again just to see their loveliness. But they also grow throughout the park and we drove around the entire park searching for them. Here’s a link to the map for perspective. We did find one small group of lady’s slippers, drove right past them and then I exclaimed “there’s some!!” so we backed up and I got out to photograph them. They really blend in with the scenery so are kind of hard to spot in a moving car but I did find one patch!

No trip to Itasca is complete without visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi. Yep, the mighty Mississippi River starts in Itasca which is a huge tourist draw. My first gallery contains general park photos as well as the headwaters.

In this next gallery are the photos I took of the group of lady’s slippers that we found on the Wilderness Drive. To me, it looks like this group is further along than the blooms near Douglas Lodge.

And here are the photos from the large group of lady’s slippers down the hill from Douglas Lodge. The colors on these flowers are more vibrant than the previous gallery, wouldn’t you agree? Very curious. Maybe it has something to do with sunlight or lack thereof.

I’ll close with some sunset photos from the cabin which is the most relaxing place on earth. If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, or if you live here, do plan a visit to this fabulous state park. There is something for everyone there.

I like that there’s still enough sun to form shadows in this one:

I think this is my favorite of the ones I took between three different nights(sans shadows):

And this is 15 minutes later than the previous photo. Look how much the colors changed in just 15 minutes:

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Mid to late spring in the twin cities

Ready for another photo tour of what’s been blooming the past couple of weeks? Note: I started this about three weeks before I published it and now it’s summer! Better late than never though eh?

While working from home (due to the pandemic) and ever since the weather got warm, I started a new walking routine. I try to do either two walks or a walk and a bike ride each week day.  I have a few routes that I take from my house.  My favorite is the walk to Willow Pond. If I walk on the Willow Pond path all the way to the brown house  with the interesting garden, that’s 7-8 minutes, so round trip it’s nearly a mile. It’s a fairly quiet path in my neighborhood with occasionally one to three other walkers.  I enjoy photographing the flowers as well as the reflections in the pond when it’s calm. I included one other photo with reflections from our local park in this gallery.

I took a lot of photos of lilacs this year! I never tire of them.

And iris too.

When we walk to the park we either walk there and back, circling around the amphitheatre, or we go all the way around the lake.  The latter takes about 40 minutes and it’s a good hike. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some wild life. The other day I saw an egret as I rode my bike around the lake.

Several of my neighbors have rain gardens and they’re between our house and the park, I’ve taken photos of these too.  I thought my neighbor said that the city helped them with theirs. So I was curious and found information about their purpose and benefits as well as the Ramsey-Washington County Metro Watershed District. I’m thinking my neighbors may have benefited from the Stewardship Grants program.  The gardens in my neighborhood are all a bit different and it’s fun to see their progress throughout the season. My neighbors to the south have the largest on the block and it’s full of flowers! Here are some rain gardens on the way to and from the park.

We also have a vegetable/fruit garden. During the winter we had some wood delivered which was stored in this garden space. We haven’t had a garden in that spot for a couple of years so the first project was moving the wood.  In the next gallery are photos of this garden when it was first planted and then a little later and it’s easy to see the difference. We planted basil, green pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and another, regular size tomato but I forget which variety.

And of course there’s the monster rhubarb plant. It’s since been pruned.

time to harvest! this was before the wood was moved.

This year I also took photos of the cottonwood trees and their blossoms. I was on a walk by myself and yep, it’s that time of year where you keep your mouth shut so as not to collect cottonwood blossoms in your mouth. Yuck. But I realized that I didn’t know what a cottonwood tree looked like.  So I followed where the blossoms were coming from and finally I know what a cottonwood tree looks like.

To close here’s a gallery of a few more things in my garden. I have columbine that grows in the cracks of the patio. I now have three of them! Other photos are of lamium which is a nice ground cover and it pretty much blooms the entire season. But beware, it will take over if you let it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of spring in the twin cities. I’ll be back soon with summer blooms!

 

 

 

 

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Early spring blooms, pandemic version

I know, the pandemic has nothing to do with spring blooms but I felt that since this is the year of the pandemic, I could designate this year’s posts to it? Instead of the boring year like I do most of the time. Must think of more creative titles….

But back to the point of my post. The pandemic news is just awful so I’m taking you away from it if momentarily to share what’s been growing and blooming here in the frozen tundra in the past month or so. I managed to capture my rhubarb plant just as it started poking through the ground. That plant is so hardy, comes back every year. And we’ve already had our first rhubarb crisp. I have another recipe for pork tenderloin with a rhubarb chutney that we just made for the first time this season and it is yummy.  I always have more rhubarb than I need and in years past I would bring a lot of it to work for people to use. I guess I can’t do that this year huh? The awful pandemic :(

The bleeding hearts just started to get going last week. They are so lovely and unique. And they grow likes weeds in my yard, no joke!! They are also very hardy and every year it seems I have a few more plants than I had the year before. The next gallery contains bleeding hearts and others flowers in my garden.

We’re planning to have a vegetable garden this year. Hubby got most of the firewood that was stacked over the winter in the vegetable garden space stacked in the garage. There was a small pile left so we had our (hopefully) last fire of the season last weekend to use that up. Yes, it’s still been a little chilly around here of late so the fire was really nice. But back to the garden.  We always have tomatoes, so probably a cherry and a regular sized tomato. Perhaps cucumbers. I would like fresh basil and we have room for one more veggie. What will it be?

I also wanted to share a few photos of snow on Easter because these are the only photos I have of the “purplies”. That’s what we call these early blooming delicate little bells. Their real name is scillia and they are so lovely and such a delight every spring. It turns out that the only photos I have of them was the day it snowed. Please enjoy ducks ducking for food with one duck’s butt in the air :) Obviously the ducks have nothing to do with plants and flowers. We just found them amusing so I thought I would share.

The final photo is a close-up of buds of a crab apple tree in the park down the street. We walk and bike there frequently and this was on a walk last weekend. Stay safe out there and enjoy your spring.

 

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Water lilies at Como Park

Every summer about the end of July, beginning of August there blooms these exotic water lilies in ponds near the conservatory at Como Park.  I don’t always remember to go look at them but something on my phone reminded me that the last time I photographed them was 8/1/15.  In fact, I created a post about that visit. Do check it out, I think you’ll like it.

I had been thinking about these gorgeous flowers but didn’t take the next step to go look at the dates on the photos to remember when they bloom.  Instead I was reminded via current technology.  Smart phones are great tools!!

And so I give you this year’s version of the dazzling beauties that are the water lilies at Como Park in St. Paul Minnesota.  I hope you enjoy!

One last one full size on its own. I’m so glad I got to see them this year!

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University of Minnesota Trial Garden 2017

My next posts are going to be mainly photos.  I’ve been taking many so far this summer.  Many are from my walks either about campus or in my neighborhood.

This post contains photos of the trial garden at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus.  It’s a perfect place to take a break at work and I walk there periodically throughout spring, summer and fall.  Have a look-see of some early summer blooms and plants, even a bunch of grapes. I didn’t know the vine that grows there is a grape vine. I wonder how those grapes taste.

I hope you’ll come back next week to see more summer blooms.  Enjoy!!

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Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – a summer visit

Most folks here in the twin cities know about the Arboretum and I had heard about it but, for some reason, I didn’t make it out there until I had been living here 25 years. I finally got to see it in person last year.  Since I work for the University of Minnesota I get emails from all kinds of different departments and luckily for me, the Landscape Arboretum was in that stack. I took advantage of the employee discount and became a member last year.  It is well worth the price.

What caught my eye last year in one of the emails was a garden tour.  I asked my friend Ruth if she’d be interested, she said yes and we had a marvelous time.  Ruth and I were just commenting on what fun that was last year and we decided to go again next year.  It’s a tour of fabulous gardens near the Arboretum.  I wrote about it so do check out the link to see more gorgeous blooms and plants from the southwestern suburbs of the twin cities.

We have been trying to go back to see more of the Arboretum because we didn’t get a chance to last year.  After our garden tour we got treated to a nice brunch on their patio and it was a bit warm and we were tuckered out from our busy morning so decided to come back another time. Well, it took almost a year to get back but we were so glad that we did!!  Oh my goodness, it takes your breath away.  Beautiful plants and flowers everywhere and it goes on for miles.  There are many gardens surrounding the visitor center that are easy to get to on foot.  Click here to see the map.

There are many types of gardens to explore: roses,  lilies and day lilies, herbs, annuals and perennials. There is a Japenese garden that we didn’t get to. We checked out the wildflower garden. It must have been between bloom times as we didn’t see any wildflowers but we did see a handful of turkeys! After wandering around on foot, we got in the car and explored even more on the 3 mile drive. There is a trolley that you could ride as well. There are more gardens in these outer areas of the Arb and I’d like to go back to see the Sculpture and Maze gardens. It’s utterly amazing all the plants and trees that are there! You really can’t see everything in one visit, so return I must.   It is now on my “must do” list for twin cities visitors.  There’s a reason it won the best botanical garden contest recently.  Please have a look at what we saw on a summer afternoon in July.  I hope you’ll enjoy!

First some roses, clematis and some annuals and perennials too.

I took some photos of the grounds as well.  There were rows and rows of gorgeous lilies of all types and just general beauty everywhere.

Now for the rest of what I selected to display.  I took 86 photos so I had to trim it down a little.  If you’ve never been to the Arb and you live here, do make it a point to visit.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.  And if you’re visiting the twin cities, same instructions. You won’t be disappointed! Check out more information at this link.  There is so much to explore there and I can’t wait to go back again.

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Spring 2017

I better get a post in before May ends! My poor little blog.  I’ve neglected you so….. Without further ado, here are some of my best spring photos.  Included in my gallery are my first and second rhubarb crisps this year with two different recipes.  My rhubarb plant always does very well.  I hope you enjoy!!

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