“April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote;... I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, ... and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares?" Barbara Kingsolver. Read more...Read More
Baby blue eyes, Primlet sunrise, Skippy orange, Ballerina white. Just a few of the evocative names for the primrose, violets, tulips, and sedum that fill these hand-made arts and crafts garden troughs. Created to look like carved stone, each one is a border garden unto itself and perfect for shallow-rooted plants. They are a reminder that gardens don’t need to be big to pack a punch and imperfect, hand-made things can be beautiful.
Even better: these garden troughs can be made at home using equal portions of peat moss, perlite, and Portland cement. But don’t try substituting concrete mix for the Portland cement as I did. The mix won’t have enough holding power to compensate for the other added ingredients. The right ingredients will make warm containers that are more lightweight than concrete or stone. Otherwise, your containers will turn to powder over time-- as I learned the hard way. Instructions to make your own, just like these, can be found in the video below.
The set above are from Chicago’s Heritage Garden, part of the Chicago Botanic Garden. The Heritage Garden is dedicated to Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist and explorer who developed the “species and genus” scientific naming system that we use to identify plants today. This was the first classification approach based on the natural characteristics of a plant’s flower and fruit. The system had the capacity to accommodate the growing number of new plants being brought into Europe from far away trading posts; replacing other, more arbitrary attempts to classify plants. He shared his work through his book Species Plantarum, published in 1753.
The Heritage Garden is divided into seven beds that display plants based on their geographic origin, and 14 beds grouped by their classification. As opposed to a purely aesthetic garden, this space is essentially a dictionary of plants. The overall design references the world’s first botanical garden in Padua, Italy that dates from 1545.
When I visited the Heritage Garden recently, all of that history was interesting, but it was the garden troughs that stole the show.
Thanks for your emails and comments on the Lurie Garden post last week. Many of you asked for the names of the plants in the photos. After several failed attempts to do so myself, I realize that I could use your help in identifying these winter beauties. Please send me any plant names you recognize so that together we can solve this puzzle.
Either comment below or send me your thoughts at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For clues (or if you want to recreate a garden like this), the full planting plan for this garden is available here.