Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I'm so happy to be a part of the Garden Party that Brenda at Cozy Little House is hosting.  After you have a chance to read my post, please visit these other ladies who share a love in all things that grow and enhance a garden.  So many of you, my besties, have seen some of these pictures, but nature is ever changing, perhaps that's why I love to be in my gardens as much as possible.  And I try to make it a welcoming place to visit.  So grab your coffee or a cool drink and come along!
Welcome!  I adore pots, the more old and chippy and unique, the better.  I have a fairly large patio in my backyard so I love to be surrounded by pots that I make up differently from year to year.  And a little whimsy like this stake can be found around every corner to make you smile!
One of the unique things about living in a neighborhood of a very large city is that each and every home is so different.  One of my favorite things to do is to take long walks and get landscaping and gardening ideas  One common thread in our neighborhood is that the front yards of homes are very much 'manicured'.  People like a uniform feel and enhancing curb appeal.  I like to go a bit more crazy in my backyard. In front I have pretty shrubbery that I keep closely trimmed, tons of ivy and some perennials (Elephant Ear and Joe Pye Weed) that bloom later in the summer.  I added some red geraniums this summer along the border and an urn bursting with color on the porch.
I have a large bay window in front and every year I fill flower boxes.  This year I used a lot of Dianthus, Lobelia and Nicotiana for a blowsy look.  It's taking it's own sweet time filling in but is oh so colorful. 
Walking around to the back gate we have this odd little concrete patio and an ancient park bench.  I jazz it up with pots of flowers every spring.  People pushing babies in strollers or walking dogs sometimes pause and smile. 
I'm always on the lookout for the oddball pieces to use in my gardenscapes.  Every spring it all gets moved around.  This old iron chair belonged to the original owners of our home, which is now 80 years old.  It's missing a leg so I always prop it against something!  Ha! 
I found this iron basket in Michigan where we have our lakehouse.  I find the most unique pieces up there in the country as well as plants and flowers I can't find here in Chicago.  How lucky can you get shopping 100 miles apart?
This wood framed 'window' was found at a junk shop a few years ago.  I'd love some ideas on how to give it more personality.  I thought of stenciling something on the front of the box.  Have we gotten over French script yet?   Maybe some sort of applique?  A mini wreath hanging in the center?  It's a little blah in spite of the pretty flowers.
Re~using anything I can makes me smile.  An old galvanized feed bucket found in the garage of our lake home in the country held a mini evergreen/Christmas tree 6 months ago and now it's filled with Million Bell petunias.  It sits on an old weathered picnic bench. 
I'm really late in the game but I have been coveting perennial flowers, brighter colors, and feeding the birds after many years of not having the time or inclination to do more than plant some annuals, a few pots of herbs and a small vegetable garden.  Dividing our time between Chicago and our house in Michigan has always been difficult in the summer months so I've had to keep everything very low maintenance (at both homes).  If you are new to my blog, we had serious water damage there from a broken pipe in February.  We are hoping, on a wing and a prayer, that we will be back in our home in the early fall.  And that's a whole different garden party in itself! :)  So---I have had more time to baby my gardens here.  I've always had a lot of birdhouses, but I never actively fed the birds because I would sometimes spend 3-4 days in Michigan and the back and forth situation might have been a little cruel to the poor feathered creatures who were expecting a meal when I wasn't here (or there).
So I'm spending so much more time in my little backyard paradise here in the city.  To my surprise you wouldn't believe what I spotted recently.  Something that loves the color red...
Hummingbirds!  Yes!  All my hard work in establishing perennials over the past few years is paying off.  I ran out and bought a feeder and I've done a ton of research.  I'm so excited sitting on my patio,  looking for anything that moves that I can hardly read a page of my book!  And the butterflies...everywhere it seems.  Yesterday I was weeding the herb garden and came upon this:
I froze in amazement.  I've seen the fuzzy little yellow caterpillars on the sidewalk, but a Monarch-- Wow.  Funny how it matches this pot of dill. 
Then this morning I spotted this guy on the plant as well (do they like dill?).  He looks a bit different from the Monarch critter.  If you look closely straight through the middle of the plant you can see the first caterpillar.  I don't know that I have any milkweed in my yard but I have a ton at the lake.  I wonder if I inadvertently brought some seed home?
This is my wee little herb garden and I think it's just perfect.  Although I really love to cook, this is the perfect size and I don't have to 'give it away' due to to a bumper crop.  Every year I have my favorite Italian herbs; basil, oregano, parsley and rosemary.  This year I added lemon and German thyme.   Chives, dill, parsley and cilantro are a mainstay.  Most of the time I go out and snip as I need it.  Sometimes when it looks a little overgrown, I cut bunches of everything, put them in a glass container with water and keep them in my fridge to use in various recipes.  Ah...such inspiration for meals.
I have several garden beds along the perimeters of my house and fences.  I wish this one was in full bloom.  I'm in Zone 5 and I usually see major blooms around mid June with the plants I have.  But this year we have had an abundance of rain and although the grass and foliage is lush, the blooms are few and far between.  In this bed I have hydrangeas, lupines, delphinium (larkspur), Russian sage, Asiatic lilies and daylilies.  In between I mix in annuals but they are losing their space every summer when I add more perennial plants that catch my eye (especially when they go on sale in August!). 
I fell in love with lupine (that tall pink sort of plant) when I saw a picture of it on a well known gardening blog (Hi, Beth!).  I searched and couldn't find it in my area of Illinois.  Ah Ha!  We found it at our local nursery at the lake.  I also found Spiderwort there and some varieties of plants that I have yet to purchase.  I'm like a kid in a candy store sometimes. 
I have daylilies all over, they are so easy to grow and maintain and I divide them every few years and start them elsewhere. Depending on the sun and shade, they bloom at different times over the summer- got to love that.  The very original plants came from my sister Chrissy's yard---they were taking over.  She gave my sisters and I divisions.  I still have mine 20 years later.  Thanks, Chris. 
My love of clematis started when The Husband built an arbor leading from our dock to the lake.  He planted a white clematis vine that was just stunning.  This 'trellis' here at my house in the city was snagged by my daughter, Emily, when she saw a neighbor put it with his trash at the curb.  It's actually a wrought iron headboard.  I love's perfect for the clematis and you can see it very well against a brick wall of our home. 
I'm winding up the Garden Party here.  I hope you've enjoyed a little bit of time here in Chicago.  When I walk around my garden I think of how everything old is new again.  Some things continue to be a part of our lives here, the huge old walnut trees, the old white lattice chair, the cracked concrete patio that I have no desire to replace.  I have old rickety wood birdhouses that may once have sheltered little feathered families in Michigan, they are now homes to robins and cardinals and sparrows here in Illinois.  My daylilies from sister's home far away (to me), and lupines and spiderwort from a nursery 100 miles away where they all know my name.  The whimsical, the odd, the unique...that's my first love and maybe it describes me as well.
Come visit. We'll take a little tour and smell the flowers, stand back so as not to scare the families in the birdhouses.  Watch the birds flit back and forth to the feeders with sunflower seeds and millet.  I'll divide some of my flowers for you if you'll do the same for me.  We can have coffee and scones in the morning, or a glass of wine and a plate of cheese in the evening.  You are all welcome! 
Please stop by again...there will be much more in bloom as this gorgeous summer goes on! :)
Thank you, Brenda for inviting me and a big thanks to my loyal followers.  If you are new...welcome!!  I hope you come back for a visit!
Jane x

Please visit the other ladies in Brenda's party~~~


Cathy at My 1929 Charmer
Courtney at Golden Boys and Me
Carol at Art And Sand 



ratherkooky said...

Have you thought about a climbing vine for your window frame box! Maybe try a blackeyed susan vine (thunbergia, I think it's formal name is) or even a morning glory? In any event your garden is lively!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

You have such an abundance of beautiful plants and flowers all around you. I like that you use whatever you can for planting. I'm not one for perfectly manicured gardens. I much prefer whimsical and unique. :) Best wishes, Tammy

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow / Sacred Eclectic said...

I know that you love gardening so it was fun to see you have a part in this tour / party. Everything looks wonderful!! :)

Susie said...

Blondie, You have done so well in your gardens. I love the pots and containers. The special herb garden too. Bless you, xoxo,Susie
p.s. going to visit the others now

Carolyn said...

Hi Blondie,
Thank you for the lovely garden tour.I love your old window frame and agree with ratherkooky that a black eyed susan vine would look good there.
It is so nice that you have provided shelter for the birds too and they are fun to watch.


Maggie said...

I love garden tours, guess I'm nosy that way, because I always like to see how other people's gardens grow.
Your wonderful mix of perennials, annuals and quirky containers is delightful.

Kim said...

Your garden is lovely, Jane. I love all of your containers. I have boring pots...I need to get creative, like you!

Theresa said...

What a beautiful bunch of plants! I would love to sit on that bench and have a chat with you:) Enjoy your day dear friend, HUGS!

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Your garden is so pretty. I love all the pretty flowers and the vines too. Gorgeous.

Stacey said...

Your garden is so pretty, Jane. I know you work really hard and it shows.

Sylvia said...

Beautiful, Jane! I love your little herb garden and this old window frame is full of charm. There is Love in the way you describe your garden and I admire that; no surprise that the birds and other living things are looking for a shelter there. Enjoy!

thistlewoodfarm said...

I love what you have done with your garden! It is so beautiful!

Barb said...

Janie, your garden is lovely...really lovely. I love the container gardens and your pots are great. The window pot is divine! Such a lovely and restful area.


Jen Kershner said...

I love all of your container flowers so much! I really aspire to having more of them but honestly I'm a little hopeless with planting them! Maybe I just need more practice. Yours have given me hope!

Junkchiccottage said...

Hi Jane,
Good morning so fun you are part of the garden party. Love seeing all your container garden flowers. So pretty. You have made your garden so charming with all the special touches.

Brenda Pruitt said...

Being home in Chicago this summer has brought so much to your gardens! I know how much you love to cook, and having a small herb garden is perfect. As for the wooden window, I think it just needs something in the middle at the top. A wreath, a garland of some sort. Even a long strand of beads or something colorful. The lovely creatures of nature: If you build it, they will come. With perennials and herbs and annual and vines, they will come. Thanks so much for joining my party!

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

So pretty! I love the bench and where it is placed. I love that you have monarch caterpillar too! It's good that he had a place to go. The plants are so specific; there only about 5 plants in our state, and only about 2 for our zone, and I could not get them this spring. xoxo Su

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Your garden is so much fun. I love all of the whimsy.

Rita C at Panoply said...

Wow, Jane, you've got a LOT of plants! That's a lot of gardening, and I can't imagine doing all that work in two places. It's great that you were able to finally attract the hummers. THey are, hands down, my favorite visitor in the summer months. They are the one species that tell me it's time to get in the garden (usually mid-April in my region), and when it's time to start winding things down (usually mid-Sept here). I like their schedule. :) Everything in your garden looks quite happy and colorful. Happy summer!

Primitive Stars said...

Oh Jane, your flowers are amazing. Love that you plant in the old bucket, looks great!!! Blessings Francine.

Rue said...

Hi Jane :)

I'm so happy you joined the garden party, because I don't think I've ever seen your whole yard. It's full of whimsy and so like you... love it!

I'm so jealous of your monarch caterpillars. How cute are they?! And I love that you have a garden full of things from the past. I think it makes it even more special.

I so wish I could join you for a glass of wine. I know we'd have a blast ;)


Bluebird49 said...

Oh, it is all so pretty! I love the galvanized bucket with the petunias, and the day lillies are so beautiful. Hydrangeas are one of my favorites, too....and the lupines add so much. I know you love being out in your lush backyard, as well as the front. The birdhouses with their little ones chirping, and the hummingbirds just give it such life and charm! We have a neighbor who had a butterfly house built so that she can raise and release Monarchs, so she has milkweed in one of her flowerbeds. It has become a very popular thing around here, and it's such a good thing, too.

I can see you have been busy making your garden beautiful, Jane! I know sitting on the patio when it is cool, an iced tea or glass of lemonade in hand, is just the best thing! This summer will be different without the Lake house being ready, but I know you'll enjoy your yard and all the beauty in the city! You always make the best of what life hands you,and that's such a wonderful thing! When life hands you lemons, you just make a big pitcherful of lemonade! :)
xxx Trudy

NitkaDesign said...

Lovely garden:-)
The flowers are marvellous:-)
Great area to relax:-)

Nancy's Notes said...

I'm just having a ball at this grand garden party! You do know how to create imposing flower gardens in those great containers! Oh my goodness, an herb garden to boot! You have inspired me to want to get out and play with some new containers and grow some herbs, Jane!!!


SImple and Serene Living said...

Love all of your pretty garden touches, Jane. I am really enjoying this garden party today. xo Laura

Traci said...

Your yard is so pretty! It's funny you were talking about how everyone's front is very manicured. Just recently I've decided that I really like that look. I'm not going to go crazy & rip everything out & start over but I am planning to trim some things to make it more uniform. At least in the front yard.

Art and Sand said...

I think back to the winter you had and now to see everything green and lush is amazing.

I love all the bits you use to add eye candy to your garden.

Art and Sand said...

I think back to the winter you had and now to see everything green and lush is amazing.

I love all the bits you use to add eye candy to your garden.

Art and Sand said...

I think back to the winter you had and now to see everything green and lush is amazing.

I love all the bits you use to add eye candy to your garden.

Art and Sand said...

Sorry, I have no idea how my comment published 3 times. I hope this doesn't do the same thing.

Celestina Marie said...

Hi Jane, love your pretty garden and all the details that make it so special.
Thanks for sharing the inspiration. Hugs, cm

Unknown said...

I enjoyed seeing your pretty flowers and other plants. You do a great job! Great party!

Melanie said...

I loved seeing everything in your yard and all your lovely containers that you use for your flowers. Very pretty! That is a Swallowtail caterpillar on your dill, and yes they prefer it for whatever reason. Not sure if they will damage it or not though.

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

If I didn't know this was your garden, I'd know it was your garden. ; (

Whimsical, colorful and beautiful!

I just came from a rose garden photo shoot at the oldest municipal garden in the US. Gorgeous, but it ain't got nothing on you.


Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Well sweet Jane,
I feel like a butterfly fluttering around this delightful blogging garden tour. Your bench, your garden beds, your reuse of items delight the eye and add so much interest. I love Caterpillers and your Momarch - WOW!!! Gotta say I like the framed window as is without any embellishment. It's contrast to the beautiful planted flowers enrich the appreciation. Love your galvanized your iron bed headboard being incorporated in your garden. Your thought out and planned planting and the color Red to attract Humminbirds. I can imagine you sitting outdoors reading a book, soaking up the sunshine and smelling the flowers as your adorable fur kids run around chasing flies. I always enjoy a visit to Blondies. Pretty share today Jane.

Beth said...

Hi Jane, It's looking absolutely fantastic at your home! I enjoyed your whimsy with the welcome stake, the clock, and the metal shelving with pretties on it. :) Your plants are looking awesome too. I think your caterpillars are black swallowtail caterpillars; they are known to lay their eggs on dill, fennel, parsley, etc. whereas the monarchs lay theirs on milkweed. I haven't spotted any caterpillars here yet although I grow dill and parsley and milkweed just for them. It's awesome to watch animal life in the backyard, isn't it? So neat to have a relaxing place to sit and observe and enjoy a book and something to drink. A fun post, lots of floral beauty and great garden art, benches, and window boxes! Love it. Love your pretty lupines too. :)

Dewena said...

Your garden tour was delightful! I love the unique, whimsical and odd too! How I wish we could grow lupines here, but we do plant dill every year and I race to clip it until the caterpillars find it and strip it, all for a good cause though.

It looks like flowers do well for you! They must know that you have a genuine love for them.

Jenny S. said...

Jane, Good post. Really enjoyed a walk through your gardens. It just amazes me how we seem to have so much in common or seem to be 2 like birds :-) :-) :-) even though we live so far apart. Enjoy your extra time at home this summer. You'll be busy at the lake before you know it. Maybe try to grow some kind of vine up and around your framed window. That might kind of "frame" it on the wall.???

Ricki Treleaven said...

I would love to walk around your neighborhood and see all the pretty manicured front gardens, but I bet that the back gardens are more yours! Your containers are fantastic. I Love them! I can see your fun personality in how you've planted your back garden. It's fun and whimsical like you! Super post, my Sweet Friend! :D


Lisa @ Texas Decor said...

Beautiful gardens, Jane! And a monarch too! How neat! I also love to walk around the neighborhood and get gardening ideas. I've found a lot of annuals that do well here by doing just that. Enjoy your weekend!

Barbara F. said...

Jane, your yard is so pretty, and yes, those monarch caterpillars adore dill! They can devour a whole pot! What I would do with the window frame is paint it a fun color, like orange, and fill it with purple, yellow, orange and white flowers. :-)

Anonymous said...

Your yard looks so pretty! all your flowers are so beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Hi Janie! Oh, how pretty your garden is! Love all of your plants and the caterpillars are an added bonus! Your thumb is very green.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Carla from The River said...

Hello Jane,
Well done, it is just beautiful.
I love how you used the galvanized feed bucket.
I also like your herb garden.

Sarah said...

Jane, it's a pleasure to walk through your garden together. I know you enjoy gardening like I do, and gardens are meant to be shared. Our recent weather has been very wet and gray, not a lot of sunshine. The lakes are up, and the landscape is green and lush. Some of my newly planted annuals didn't make it though. ;-)

Happy Weekend!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Your garden is beautiful Jane! I love all your pots, and your flowers certainly look very happy. Thank you for visiting my garden today, I love the thought of both of us sitting in our gardens this weekend. XoLidy

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

What a great tour Jane! You have beautiful gardens, lot's of cool pots and planter. just love the window frame idea!
I may need to give that a try.
It's been a hectic week here.
Lots of babysitting and then my cousin came to visit.
Then Katie is still having some post partum. It's been tough but I think she is on the right track now.
Oh your pictures make me want to come visit!
We really need a trip to Chicago sometime.
You must be coming up on a wedding soon.
Josh and Dawn and Cali are coming the first of July. Make me happy.
Hugs friend..hoping we can talk soon.

Kelly said...

You have so many pretty flowers to look at! I like how you found some unique things to use as planters too.

Debbie said...

Your yard looks absolutely wonderful, Jane! You have so many flowers, and I love all the unique containers you use as planters. You must love sitting in your back yard on a warm, sunny day. What a little slice of Heaven you have there.

Stonecropsister said...

Hi Jane,
Your window boxes are really so beautiful. Don't you just love to come out and look at them, it is so wonderful to see results from planting wee little things. Have you had any hummingbirds yet? I put up a feeder on the weekend but didn't notice any around yesterday. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time, so I'm hoping they will come and visit my garden! Loved that caterpillar too, a bit of a surprise! xx Nancy

Stan and Jody Gabara said...

Jane, Your garden is awesome! You have so many beautiful flowers to look at and enjoy! The garden looks very happy, love the hummingbird feeder and the caterpillar. Your special touches are everywhere!! Thanks for sharing.

RCA said...

like it like that!