Children’s gardens

One of the reasons I’ve always been enchanted with gardens is that my dad let me play around and dig in his gardens. I’m not exactly sure where he got his passion, but all three of us kids got some of it. Here are some pics from the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden. I never had anything like this! I just made mud pies and apple leaf salads and picked lots of violets.

child5 child1 child2

child3 child4

Gardens on my mind

Hmmm, starting to think about gardening!  Been helping Steven move some stuff to his new place and we keep bumping into my full sized heavy duty spade that I keep in the trunk.  Mind you, not a snow shovel, a spade fit for an agronomist, just in case I get the urge to dig a hole!



These were taken a few years ago when my sis and I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Maybe this will help warm you up on a cold winter day!


It’s one of those between-summer-and-fall days that you wish would never end! It’s warm, probably pushing 80 degrees F, but there is a good breeze too, the tree tops are swaying, the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds and all the insects are playing their little hearts out before the first frost creeps up on them.

A few leaves have fallen, enough to scuff through  when you walk down the street and you can see flashes of red, yellow and orange peeking out from the mostly still green trees. The crab apple trees that line the back drive are full of little hard red apples and occasionally as you drive around town you can see a real apple tree loaded down with red jewels!


This little patch of countryside is a five minute drive from my apartment. Here are some pics for you from a late summer walk!

Have you ever walked in a field that felt like a grasshopper popper? (think popcorn popper with bugs instead of corn kernals!)

I don’t think Steven was as excited about the grasshoppers as I was, but he does have a passion for walking!

To make a prairie it takes a clover

and one bee, —

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few. –Emily Dickinson

Something new in Somerset

Somerset in north Ames can be thought of as  a semi-new-urbanist development.  You can go here to read about New Urbanism if you are so inclined, but it has to do with “promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl” according to the Congress for new Urbanism.

Many Ames-ites  love The Cafe, a cozy restaurant that features a good variety of locally grown, in-season foods. The last time I went by there I saw what looked like a garden beside The Cafe and behind the gym. This new addition in Somerset remains a mystery to me…whose garden??? Whoever the owner, I have to say I am IMPRESSED! We’ve had way more rain than usual around here and the most experienced farmers and gardeners are behind schedule, but this garden looks like it was willed into the ground by a pro!  (alas, 2018 update:  it is no longer there)

A community garden in Somerset, Ames Iowa?
A community garden in Somerset, Ames Iowa?


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Ames Prairies, less work, more resilience

Living in Iowa, one eventually gets prairie on the mind and right here in Ames, one can find tastes of prairie.

You might ask, “Why are they growing those weeds here in town?”, but when you do some reading about them, you learn that prairies are complex communities of plants and animals that are strong and resilient because of their diversity. Across from the the Memorial Union today I walked along the suggestion of prairie in the landscaping of St. Thomas Aquinas church.

I love their rose covered arbors too. While others around campus are frantically trying to keep up with the grass mowing, those with areas of prairie are spending time contemplating the butterflies and bees. And when summer turns up the heat and the monoculture grass dies down to an ugly brown, something in the prairie diversity will thrive and keep it green and alive.