Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring! For Real ... (finally)

I cannot believe it's been 3 months since I last posted?!  To be honest, Mother Nature has been harsh in the Midwest - with a long lingering Winter in February & March.  Gardening has typically been the last thing on my mind (other than some rabid "Pinterest" action).  I follow many of you on your Facebook garden pages, along with the local Arboretum and garden nurseries, so that is a treat.

That didn't mean I didn't do periodic 'walk-arounds' in the gardens this Winter.  There were a few sad moments.  Bunnies have been busy, wreaking havoc again.  (You would think I learn?!)  They chewed through the 'bunny fence' protecting the Golden Privet and the Japanese Willow, then nipped all the branches off the former and stripped the bark off the latter.  They added "insult to injury", by leaving 'organic evidence' of their frequent visits (besides foot prints in the snow).

Here is a quick collage of the my winter wanderings (double click to enlarge the photo):

Late Winter Beauty & Bunny 'Anarchy' 
As you may see from the photos, the bunnies decided to help me out this year, by "pruning" the "Wine & Roses" Weigela and the variegated Red Twig Dogwood to about a third of their height.  Fortunately the Double Pink Knockout Rose is protected by a metal wire fencing - safe from razor-sharp bunny incisors.

Though we are still running 10-20 degrees below normal, today was a breezy but tolerable 57F.  I spent a few hours cutting back the prairie grasses and 'dusty bones' of dead plant stalks from the Pink Guara, Monarda and Daylilies.  Underneath all the debris were the little lime green nibs of "Banana Creme" Shasta Daisies (Yay!  "Year 2" victory), Crimson Asiatic Lilies, various Daylilies, Hollyhock, Monarda, Rudbeckia and Pink Guara.

Now, I am finally feeling the 'garden vibe' I was desperately looking for.  Last year at this time, we had freakishly warm March weather - with temperatures in the low 80's.  Farmers were in the fields by April 10th (unheard of, normally).  This year I hear we are trailing about 2 weeks behind 'normal'.  As I ward off the Spring chill wrapped in a blanket, I'll head off and catch up with my 'garden blog friends' to see how your gardens grow.


© Photos and content are created by the Bunnies Buffet (unless otherwise noted)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Holidays & Promising New Year

My 'snowy' pal and I would like to wish you all a Happy Holiday Season, with hope of a Promising New Year in 2013.

"Frosty" here is actually the latest creative solution some work associates and I fabricated this 2012 Holiday Season.

For the past three years, our campus has had a friendly competition to take a traditional 6' artificial Christmas tree and design something festive.  Our tree is always 'out of the ordinary' - to say the least, but we might have a slight advantage?  We are the Facilities Management group -- the "nuts and bolts" folks that keep the campus running smoothly.  You put a couple of building engineers, carpenters, designers, DYI-ers, and property managers in a room with some blank paper - it's going to get interesting.

We did an "Upside-down" tree in "Year 1" and an "Angel Gets it Wings" tree in "Year 2".  There are expectations and anticipation on what 'Real Estate' is going to do next.  Then - layer "sustainability" and "reuse/recycle/re-purpose" on top of that (because that's just 'how we roll') ... and you get "'Frosty' the Sustainable Snowman"!   (95% of the materials on and behind 'Frosty' are reused or repurposed - like the shipping skids that became the fence)

Now don't get me wrong, we have R&D 'rocket scientist' types on campus that give Rube Goldberg a run for his money!  The competition amps up each year.  Who can only know what next holiday will bring...

But in the meantime, all the best in 2013...  here's hoping for more ---

More peace .. more kindness .. more sanity 
and especially more lush gardens

Pacem in MMXIII

© Content and photos by The Bunnies Buffet (unless noted)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meandering through October ...

Seeing these large gaps in my posts, I wonder what IS happening with time.  It doesn't seem like I step away for that long - but the dates don't lie.  I've passively watched the season change, primarily from the window - when the weather went from 90 degrees to a cloudy/windy 60 almost over night.

It's not that I haven't taken pictures or been in the garden (just a little) ... so maybe, rather than a lot of bantering, I'll just share a photo montage of Autumn photos taken as I've been out and about.   There have been field trips ...

Autumn wouldn't be seasonal without a trip to a Pumpkin Farm
Classic Midwest Farm ... Red Barn & Windmill
Wicked Witch, on vigil ... I'm not messing with her !!
The rustle of leaves, the Autumn color palette and the crisp air ... ah!

The gardens at home have been quietly settling down for the season.  On the other hand, the bunnies have not been so quiet.  It's not a surprise, but it still pisses me off.  My brand new Twilight False Indigo (Baptisia) made it through the whole summer.  Now it's been stripped of all it's leaves, so now it's behind a shield of wire fence...  They also started stripping the bark off of the Japanese Willow, so it looks like the whole Cottage Garden will be under lock n key through next Spring.

Last minute planting, bunny 'carnage, hot air balloons and the final blooms of the season

Even this late in the season, there are still surprise splashes of color in the garden.  These little gems made my heart sing...

Late afternoon sun ...
Pink Guara - always throwing out some late blooms
(I just LOVE this plant!!  Early out of the ground and the last one to leave the garden 'party'.)

EXCITEMENT:  Hyacinth Bean Vine seeds - (annuals here)
(Can't wait to plant these next Spring!)
Hyacinth Bean Vine - in it's glory down in KY
(Thanks for sharing the seed pods, JC!)

And finally, the sweetest little showboat in the garden...

Provence French Lavender (Lavandula x intermedea 'Provence')
(I only wish I had purchased many, many more this year.)
Whew, now that this post is done, I can go visit my garden blog friends!  I hope all is well with you...

Pacim, Amici

© Content and Photos by The Bunnies Buffet (unless noted)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Smart Technology ... and gardening ?!?

There was a time ... not that long ago, that I would have laughed out loud if someone asked me if I had a 'smart phone'.

"Ooooh look at this! That cell phone technology - I think it will catch on?!"
(photo courtesy of the creative minds at Microsoft)

"Puleeezzzzzz!!!  I have a perfectly good phone that 'makes phone calls' (whoa, what a concept - talking on a phone), can send text messages (to communicate with people under 30) and take pictures (Ah!  Now we are talking...).  What could I possibly do with a 'smart' phone, that I can't already do?"  WELL! - 'how far the mighty have fallen'.  I caved ... and went to 'the dark side' early this year.  Yep, I "have an app for that".

My 'grab n go' "field camera"
It started innocently.  The camera in the iPhone 4S is phenomenal - 8 megapixel, and the thing is attached to my "hip" anyway.  So if I saw a cool plant or inspirational garden design, I could discretely whip it out (Careful now!  Don't get any ideas - this post is "PG") and take a picture.  No harm done!

Wild Flowers in the Florida sand dunes - 2012
But then I got hooked on the instant access to the fancier features of smart technology.  Internet access, Facebook, Pinterest ... it's all so seductive and pulls you in.  BUT - lo and behold, all of a sudden it came in handy when I least expected it - at a garden walk ?!!  I was an invited guest for a local garden club's "twilight garden walk".  As we strolled around the gardens, we came upon a lovely variegated grass - but no one could remember the name of it.  It was on the tip of my tongue, but it just wouldn't come to me.  Then ... DUH!  I have a SMART phone!!

"... and a choir of angels sang..."
(Another clever image from the creative minds of  Microsoft)

So out in the middle of a prairie, I "Googled-images" variegated grasses.  Within 30 seconds I had the plant photo, Latin name and the 'Wikipedia' description of everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask!  ...And these garden club members were astonished...   (she says with a 'humble brag')

So, I've embraced this smart technology - with verve!  Nothing could replace my Canon DSLR, but - in a pinch - it's a winner.  In the meantime, here are a few shots of the Summer drought carnage around the Bunnies Buffet... with that sweet little smart phone:

Victims of the Summer drought & storms:
Provence French Lavender, Liatris spicata and  'New Wave' Asiatic Lily
So, now that it's cooled down a bit, maybe I can plant those perennials hidden in their pots, in part shade all Summer?  I will embrace Autumn with open arms!

Pacim, Amici...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Time, Sacrifices... and "Field Trips" (Part 1)

Honest, I have not given up gardening, garden blogging or lost interest in catching up with Blog friends!  Right now, there simply does not seem to be enough time in the week (much less the day).

Minutes, Hours and Days - fly by in 'seconds'
(Image: from the creative minds at Microsoft Clip Art)
If you have small children and think time flies by fast, just wait until they are young adults.  Time isn't measured by school holidays - it's measured in annual milestones, or even 'life' milestones.  This is a big year in our home for milestones.  (If you see me posting a lot after August, you'll know it's gotten really quiet around the 'old hacienda'.)

I've been on many "field trips" recently and am grateful for my new(ish) smart phone.  It takes AWESOME pictures, which immediately can be emailed, posted or forwarded ... wherever and whenever.  I won't even get started on it's 'WiFi' compatibility -- yes, I'm a technology geek.

University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign:  the Alma Mater
This came in handy when I had the chance to visit my Alma Mater, the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign.  It is renowned for it's agricultural studies (among many others), and now more than ever - it's known for it's environmental education & sustainable applications.  The University has a whole "sustainable" program.  Here is a quick link if you are interested:    (Another reason to be a very proud 'alum'.)   As I walked up on this building (see photo below) - street side, it just had something special ... later on, from another side of the building - I saw the "money shot" view.  Here is the link to it's features:

As I came up on the building from the street, I just "knew" it was something special...
A shot from my iPhone ... this building doesn't have a bad angle.
Even the 'shape' of landscaping around the campus has changed.  Dorms are being updated.  Faculty is challenging their students to design new and improved (AND native) landscapes around campus.  One more link:  Illinois is not called the "Prairie" state for nothing.

The local community within the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana are caught up in the sustainability initiative as well.  Though I didn't take a picture of it -- Champaign's public transportation is comprised of a fleet of hybrid buses.  Even local businesses and churches have redesigned their surrounding landscaping, as seen in the attached photo:

A little 'fashion forward' coloring - along with drought-tolerant planting.
I had aspired to include photos from 2 other recent 'field trips' in this post - but I am a chatty blogger!  I've run out of time !!!   How apropos for this post ...

Garden close-up - with a little "mood" lighting
Pacim, amici ...

©  All content and photos by Shyrlene Foster @ The Bunnies Buffet (unless noted)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm Still Here ... Pinky Swear

I am still out here in the Blogosphere - really!   Well ... honestly, I've only been doing a periodic 'touch down' (like a plane, not like football) from time to time.  It appears that "real life" has taken precedence, but gardening still prevails in spite of it all, and even with the drought.

Perennial Hollyhock - new in the "Cottage Garden" in 2011
"Karl Forester" Feather Reed Grass - basking in afternoon sunshine 
"Banana Cream" Shasta Daisies - new this year!
(Nestled in a sweep of Moonbeam Coreopsis)
There have been more impulse buys. some planting, lots of garden watering and easily letting the grass go dormant.

THIS was a good day of shopping !!!
New in the "Front Garden":  Liatris spicata and Provence French Lavender
(sharing the spotlight with the 'New Wave' Asiatic Lily and Reed Grass)

"Sun Garden" filling in with Weigela, Moonbeam Coreopsis, Paprika Yarrow,
Stella D' Oro Daylilies and a Pink Guara (Center Glow Ninebark in the background)
I hope your gardens grow well - even with the challenges of this growing season.

Namaste, my friends...

©  All content by "The Bunnies Buffet" (unless noted) 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rainy Days and Sundays ...

I had grand aspirations for today...

April was a month of cold, windy, cloudy weekend weather;  there was not much garden "maintenance" accomplished.  Now there is a pressing need for composting and weeding.  With recent rains and soft ground, pulling weeds should go smoothly.  Well, it would have ... with a forecast of partly sunny, 70 and only a 20% chance of rain today.

Then ... the thunder rolled ...

(From the creative minds at Microsoft Clip Art)
Outdoor plans were cancelled when it became evident this was really going to be our weather for the day.  I love thunderstorms, the smell of impending rain and damp earth.  The rains, with extra Nitrogen from lightning, have transformed all the vegetation outside to a saturated emerald green.

Besides garden maintenance, I had hoped to get some plants in the ground.  After waiting to get past the 'last frost/freeze' date (almost) for Zone 5A - I have had some impulse buys.  I bought a new Hosta (Albo-Marginata Plantain Lily), to fill in a gap in the front garden.  Last weekend, with the intent of window shopping, I found a "Banana Cream" Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum superbum) with my name on it.  (Checking that off the 2012 Wishlist).

"Banana Cream" Shasta Daisy (Leacanthemum superbum)
This past Friday, the local Boy Scouts were having their annual plant sale.  I was able to pick up two more Anemones (sylvestris), a "Turkish Delight" Sedum (ussuriense) and a perennial Pink Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) that could grow up to 8-10 ft tall!  Yesterday, when picking up some compost to plant, I found "Golden Globe" Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Globosa Aurea').   My intent is to pair them with the "Royal Purple" Smoke Bush in the front.  I think the chartreuse-tipped evergreen will contrast beautifully with the dark plumb leaves of the Smoke Bush.

"Golden Globe" Arborvitae - soaking up the rain today
(see the Royal Purple Smoke Bush in the top left corner - a match made in Heaven?!)
Pampas Grass, Anemone and Sedum - waiting for a new garden home
Between rain bursts, I did make a quick trip around the gardens.  Here are a few quick shots...

Sweet Autumn Clematis
(Amazing how delicate leaf tendrils hook a 'death grip' on the trellis; sculptured elegance/steel resolve)
Walk around the garden - 5/6/12
(White Asiatic Lily, Hollyhock, "Fire & Ice" Hosta, Weigela & Cheddar Pinks,
Sedum, Pink Double Knockout Rose bud, Candy Tuft, 'Shade Garden')
And last but not least, the pair of "Wine & Roses" Weigela I planted last year are heavy with blooms.  They are absolutely stunning and I highly recommend it if you like burgundy as a plant color-option in your garden.

"Wine & Roses" Weigela - a new fave in 2011
I also wanted to mention that I have had the good fortune to have two fellow bloggers nominate me for "Versatile Blogger".  Julia at Polka Dot Galoshes and Petro at The Seaman Mom have wonderful blogs you should check out.  My next post will feature the "Versatile Blogger" meme.  I look forward to putting it together!

Until then, pacem, amicis ...

©  All content and photography by Shyrlene Foster @ the Bunnies Buffet (unless noted)
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