Archive for the 'Kruse House' Category

Apr 19 2018

April 2018 News from Kruse

Filed under Kruse House

Spring in Illinois is usually like Spring in the other states in the Midwest. But this year is an exception with cold temperatures and snow. You never know, one day to the next what the weather will be like. It has already caused some changes in our schedule for potting parties but we still have enough time to prepare.

I have always had mixed feelings about Spring. I either like it hot or cold, and Spring has both in no kind of order. I recall a Spring when I was in high school when three of my friends and myself decided to take the morning off. We went back to school during the lunch hour and told our teacher that we had a flat tire and it took us all morning to get it fixed. She smiled and told us that we had missed a test while we were gone, but that she could give it to us right now. She told us to take seats apart from each other and take out a piece of paper. Still smiling she waited for us to get ready. She then said: “First question: Which tire went flat”

Fairy Garden Photo

Fairy Garden

Those of you who have been to my home know that I have an outside Fairy garden which I have had for about four years. It started out small but over the years it has grown. It has a number of Gnomes and Fairies and tree houses for them to live in. Fairy gardens have become very popular over the years, to the point that they have shows for them with all the latest items a Fairy or Gnome may need. Fairy Gardens have been around since about 1893. The Japanese built  little bonsai dish gardens and their popularity climbed from there. My Fairy Garden was built for my Granddaughter. She helps me keep  things under control, and keep track of the Gnomes and Fairies that tend to wander off. I used to have Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the back of my property. They were nicely painted and made out of cement. As they were so heavy I did not worry about them being stolen. As of today I have Snow White and Dopey, who is broken in half. How appropriate is that? I have found several in my neighborhood but have decided  that since they have relocated on their own I will just leave them there.

We are coming up on our annual Bloomingfest, and things from here on out are going to be very busy. I encourage all members to assist in this event and do whatever they can to help. This is a great way to meet and work with others in the club and get to know them. We have a lot of exceptional members. Remember that helping our club makes our club better. See you at the potting party.




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Feb 13 2018

February 2018 News from Kruse

Filed under Kruse House

This month’s article was written by Keith Letsche

Gardening with Presidents

With Valentine’s Day and the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, February is the month of Love and Presidents. We always hear about gardens and love, but not much about gardens and presidents. So while the Kruse House garden is closed for renovation and remodeling by Mother Nature, Inc., this month, let’s take a look at presidential gardening.Between this month’s presidential birthday boys, its seems that George Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, might also be first in presidential gardening. Although he never gardened at the White House (it wasn’t finished until after his death), Mt. Vernon was celebrated in his times for its plantings. In particular, there were so many rose bushes that it took twelve days to harvest the petals which Martha made into rosewater.

Lincoln, it appears, didn’t go much in for gardening while president, probably because he was way too preoccupied by the Civil War, and which, growing up as the son of a hardscrabble frontier farmer, wouldn’t have had much appeal for him anyway. But Mary Todd took a great interest in gardening—or let’s say the money she got from it. It seems that “Mrs. President” (as she liked to be called) had the White House gardener pad his bills for manure and other gardening supplies, and then turn the excess over to her so she could buy more “flubdubs” (her husband’s term for them) to decorate the White House with.

Among other presidents, Jefferson, renowned horticulturalist though he was in addition to his other accomplishments, didn’t do much for gardening at the White House, and may have even set it back when he had seventy acres that were originally part of its grounds detached to create a public common. However, his successor, James Madison, made up for it by planting the first documented White House garden—not an ornamental garden, but one in which he grew varieties of cabbages, radishes, carrots, parsnips and other vegetables. It wasn’t so much that

Madison missed the fields of his Montpelier plantation as he needed what he grew for the lavish dinners Dolley and he gave, since presidents at the time didn’t receive a budget for state entertaining. John Quincy Adams might have been called “Johnny Appleseed,” or more precisely “Johnny Chestnut” or “Johnny Acorn,” because of all the trees he had planted at the White House.

Later presidents tended to be experimenters in their gardening. Woodrow Wilson used sheep to trim the White House lawn and free up its gardeners for service in World War I. Barack Obama introduced beehives on the White House grounds, which produced 140 pounds of honey their first year. But perhaps the most novel of the White House gardens was the idea not of a president but his wife, the beloved Rose Garden with its whimsical Alice in Wonderland characters, which Jackie Kennedy had installed as part of her undertaking as First Lady to brighten up the “dreary Maison Blanche.”

These and many other stories about presidential gardens can be found in Marta McDowell’s book, All the Presidents’ Gardens.

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