Spring Flowering Trees in Ames

Today was the day!  I feel like spring is about at its peak here in central Iowa, so I took out the Cannon and drove around town to capture the beauty.

Iowa State University has a beautiful campus and every year when the blue squill bloom it still takes my breath away.  This year I finally got onto campus for some close ups of the patch between the Memorial Union and the Knoll.


Blue squill on Iowa State University campus


Peony Dreaming!

It just dawned on me that I’d pretty much forgotten about spring…as in….. this winter has been so mild I just thought of it as spring, but I suppose eventually we’ll get the green grass and flowers to go with the warm temps.

What are you looking forward to about spring 2012?  I’ve always loved flowers, but I kind of lost my taste for them when my job at a public gardens didn’t work out.  I am back in love though, thanks largely to to this blog, Little Flower School,  and the amazing arrangements they feature.

And they have totally gotten me hooked on ranunculus!  Do you know anyone who grows them at home?  I saw a few potted ones for sale at Lowes last spring.  I wonder if that is a new trend that will take off in 2012.

Oh my, the colors and textures!  And now I have broken my rule of only posting my own photos on my blog, but I just had to give you a taste of the amazing things flowers can do!

I will finish up though with a few more of my own peony photos, taken at my dear friend’s house.

So soft, warm, fragrant and exuberant!

Flowers around the swimming pool

I LOVE water walking at the Furman Aquatic Center in Ames!


Do other water parks beautify your experience with flowers the way Furman does?




  Whoever supported the landscaping, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you heartily!

My friend Diane

A few weeks back, I was invited to lounge on a large porch under the shade of mature trees and drink tea with my friend Diane and her daughter Elizabeth.  I can’t believe I missed taking a photo of THE PORCH, which is just too awesome for words, but I did snap just about everything else!

I met Diane and Elizabeth while I was working at Iowa State’s Reiman Gardens.  Besides our common love of gardens, mother and daughter have a passion for reading, Diane is an author, Elizabeth is an artist with a masters in library science, and both love to travel.  Now picture the large dining room table covered with table cloth, cloth napkins, an awesome dessert (made with blueberries picked from The Berry Patch Farm in Nevada) out on the front porch, iced tea and lemonade and a lazy afternoon to get caught up on so many of the things we love, and you have a perfect picture of summer!

  Over the years, Diane has shared her own experience with me of doing a masters in mid life.   She helped me believe I could do it too and several times sent me just the e-mail I needed to stay motivated.  Our summer afternoon visit was a celebration of success and being women engaged in things we love.

I talked about a current read by Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.  In Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture and Generation in Transition, MCB introduces her experience of teaching at Spelman college as a white professor at a black college by emphasizing that we don’t need to go beyond our own doors to find the anthropological “stranger”.  Even those we live closest to are never fully known, and we should spend our days celebrating that, looking at spouse or child with renewed awe as we realize there are worlds inside each one that we will never fully know.

Diane surprised me with the fact that she not only knows Spelman, but has a friend there!  She put me onto her own current read, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  Later, at Borders, when I read the first page, I was hooked by the language of French author Muriel Barbery ( who must surely be a closet sociologist!)  and the brilliance of translator Alison Anderson who faithfully bridged Barbery’s love of language into the English.  Alas, I probably should have bought the book at Borders then and there and who knows, maybe they wouldn’t be going out of business!  But I promised myself the reward of Hedgehog when I finally made it through my oral exam and found it at Ames Public library last week.

After our dessert on the porch, we wandered through the old, elegant house that exists nicely in the shade without air conditioning (at least the day I was there!) and into the garden to see Elizabeth’s latest passions.  This is the creative soul who painted appliance boxes to look like the insides of flowers so  children could see the world like Georgia O’Keeffe!  She  decorated  Reiman’s Gourmet Garnish Garden with quirky kitchen tools and brought the Lorax into being for the children’s Dr. Seuss Doodling Garden!

What are you doing to make The Summer of 2011 memorable?  Elizabeth is trying her hand at bee keeping and raising 4 chickens! 

Diane and other members of the family have done a lot of work on their backyard garden.  I LOVE every little detail of a garden and I hope I  listened politely while trying not to take “too many” pictures and act totally distracted by potatoes growing in bags, garden cloth covered paths and amazing varieties of tomatoes.  Really, I guess I should warn people, “don’t expect me to carry on a cogent conversation when I am in the garden, because every insect and flower is calling to me!”

I like to call this last picture The Princess and the Swan!  Elizabeth rescued this willow sculpture after Reiman’s summer display and gave it a home in her backyard.

My memories of Summer Twenty Eleven, as my friend Lani calls it, will definitely include my summer afternoon with Diane and Elizabeth!

Rain Garden 2011

I know I’ve posted before about this rain garden that grows next to the Ames Public Library (update 2018:this area is gone now, part of the new library addition), but this year it seemed even more beautiful to me.

It’s been HOT here, in the 90’s, heat indexes around 110-115, but this garden still looks so cool, deep, rich, diverse.  As I stepped out of my car to get some close ups, I heard something rustling in the foliage.  Could have been a rabbit, maybe a bird or a mouse, but the environment was so deep and lush, it remained well hidden from me, and probably quite cool.  I wish there were more spaces around town that were planted like this!

Ames Iowa Public Library Rain Garden