Garden Gems

"Bridging the sustainable lifestyles of yesteryear with sustainability today."

Northwind Perennial Farm: Cultivate, Educate and Inspire

Once upon a time there lived a suburban gardener whose Hyssop died. It was an Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, a branch of the hyssop family. Yes, experienced gardeners plants die too. It’s apparently considered a learning moment, but it still hurts. In late fall this gardener usually adds a thin layer of leaf mulch to her garden, tucking her plants in for a long Chicagoland winter sleep. Unfortunately, she layered the.. Read More

Joshua Tree Revisited

Irish rockers U2 stopped in Chicago this past weekend sharing with us their Joshua Tree 2017 world tour, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of The Joshua Tree Album.  Recycling albums might  be the new movement in Rock and Roll. A few years ago, we saw Yes perform a few album sides, and it was wonderful. Recycled album tours, re-purposed for a new generation. My best friend Judy Bean.. Read More

Spring Gems in the Garden

Here in the Chicagoland area sometimes we only get a taste of spring and BOOM, hot summer is here. This year spring is sticking around according to schedule. The ground is slowly warming up for this upcoming growing season. But the air is still cool, perfect for planting cool weather crops like lettuce and spinach. Cold temperatures at night with light jacket days and consistent rain showers seem to be.. Read More

Window Box Competition

I have been a member of Brookfield Garden Club for twelve years, which is how old the club is. The call was put out in the local newspaper by Roy Lehto. Our first meeting took place at the local coffee house, with a handful of eager gardeners ready to discuss plants. Since that first meeting, the Brookfield Garden Club has grown by leaps and bounds. Our current co- presidents Annette.. Read More

Chicago Flower and Garden Show 2017

After a long Chicago winter, the Chicago Flower and Garden Show is a sure sign spring is on the way. This years show took place March 18 – March 26 at  historic Navy Pier. Filled with blooming flowers, shrubs and trees alongside artistic renditions of Chicago landmarks, the pier held up to the theme “Chicago’s Blooming”. The market area was filled with everything from fresh cut flowers to succulents and.. Read More

Wintergreen and Winter Greens in Virginia

My most recent visit to Virginia began with a trip to Wintergreen Resort. We rented a pet friendly, one bedroom condo with a fireplace up top the Blue Ridge Mountains. Unlimited firewood was included. The stone fireplace sharing its warmth, paired with my journal and a cup of coffee, made every morning inspirational. Surrounded by true winter greenery, this mountain resort’s landscaping is built into my favorite mountain range in.. Read More

The Paczki

The Paczi is a Polish pastry similar to a doughnut. Pronounced poonch-key, this roundish dessert is usually filled with fruit, a fruit jelly or custard. It’s a pre Lenten delicacy in Chicagoland. Historically in Poland, all of the ingredients that go into a Paczki; lard,sugar,eggs and fruit, were forbidden by Christian fasting practices during Lent. They would use all of the “sinful” ingredients in the pantry days before lent began. Clearing.. Read More

Foliage, Front and Center on the Garden Stage

Today is Tuesday the 6th of December, 2016. Taking my cue from Mother Nature, my Personal Garden service, Garden Gems has closed up shop for the winter. Work tools, garden gloves and props are washed, sanitized and stored. Snow boots and winter costumes are pulled out of storage. My body soon to be 50 years young is ready for the annual blackout that takes place at this time of year,.. Read More

Chicago Flower & Garden Show 2016

Warm weather here in Chicagoland, followed by rain showers and the springing forward of daylight savings time brings about all things not winter. Robins have made their way north followed by Daffodil and Tulips, poking out of the ground waiting for their cue to bloom on the stage known as our gardens and landscapes. Snow of course is not out of the question, but spring is waiting on the front.. Read More

Toads and Frogs in the Backyard.

What a great day at the office. I came upon this toad in a Brookfield backyard last October.  We snapped its picture and quickly returned it where we found it, under the garden fence, among some leaf litter. Toads are amphibians. This mean they are cold blooded and cannot generate their own body heat. They depend on their environment to keep them warm or cool. I knew it was a.. Read More