Mar 08 2017

January 2017 News from Kruse

Filed under Kruse House

The Kruse House Garden in January: Vestiges of the Season Past, Thoughts of the Season to Come

Looking at the Kruse House garden in mid-winter is like looking upon the ruins of an ancient civilization.  Pressed against the recent memory of June’s lushness, the bareness of January startles and shocks. Gone are the myriad zinnias, moonflowers, and other annuals that once populated the vistas, flattened into unrecognizable detritus by the successive snows. Stalks of yarrow and hydrangeas protrude here and there, like the columns of ancient temples, shorn of color, but their seared blooms still possessing the power to evoke the glory of what was. Only the dusty millers in front yard, eerily decked yet in their summery silver-gray, like figures on an ancient frieze, vibrantly dance a ghostly dance of the season past.

But January also offers a time to reflect and plan. Uncluttered, the garden’s essence is visible as never before, making what yet can be done perhaps never so apparent.  Unburdened by daily gardening chores, the vision of what should be and the resolve to realize it come easily–“yes, those roses will definitely go, this trellis will be moved!”

And so Kruse in January, like the Roman god for whom the month is named, looks back to what was, and forward to what will be. – Keith 







Nov 10 2016

November 2016 News from Kruse

Filed under Kruse House

All wrapped up–another gardening season at the Kruse garden. It did not take long to store equipment, garden decorations, etc. for another season. We pulled all the annuals from the flower pots and beds, even though they were still blooming. We were ruthless in the clean-up. Kerry saved seeds of the zinnias, which again did very well–no mildew, no flopping, no extra water. We saved some seeds of marigolds, orange and yellow, which were donations from Cantigny. They bloomed well in part shade.

The trees and shrubs that we planted five years ago or more are growing very well. They are filling their space making less need for annuals. We planted a Jane Magnolia this year which flowers a bit later thus is not as susceptible to frost. Perennials have multiplied providing stock for the plant sale. Surprisingly the bulbs Jeff donated, Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’, popped up with very lovely blooms.

When it’s the middle of winter we will again leaf through magazines and think of ways to improve the garden. We now have six regular volunteers, we all have our likes, dislikes, and opinions in what should be done to enhance the garden.

Sandy and Keith are our newest gardeners. As yet they have been very diplomatic and have not voiced opinions on plants that they really dislike, or the jobs they would prefer not to do. Having seen Sandy’s own garden it’s obvious she has a very good eye for garden design. She’ll be the one to ask when we don’t know where to tuck a plant in. Keith has done everything asked of him, and I have noticed that he has a very nice collection of saws and pruners. As yet we do not know what garden chore he would rather not do.

Billie and Kerry like all plants even giving the straggly ones a chance. They notice fall color, butterflies, and are not eager to pull a plant out. They see beauty in all. Kerry has many ideas and is especially clever in the repair of our equipment. Billie donates many plants to our garden. I’m not sure the cottage garden look is her gardening style as there is no such thing as too much mulch for Billie. And both are meticulous weeders.

Tom has plants he seriously dislikes—feverfew, sweet peas, and almost any plant that sprawls or seeds. He likes plants regimented, in their proper place, and preferably in a straight row. And there is no greater joy than when he can prune and shear and cut back and bring plants and shrubs under control. I myself am more of the ‘good enough’ gardener, good for the rough weeding. And I also have many plants I dislike. I pull straggly plants frequently because it makes Tom happy. I don’t particularly like Coleus, but only because it doesn’t grow in my own garden and always seems to thrive at Kruse—to spite me. And I have to confess, though it is close to heresy—that I really dislike the common milkweed. These plants are too tall, too scraggly, fall over, sprout everywhere. Kerry and Billy stake them, Tom and I pull them. I wonder if we can just grow the swamp milkweeds, genus Asclepias, which are just two and a half feet tall, stay in place, have lovely bloom and are loved by monarchs. Can I talk my fellow gardeners in pulling out the common milkweed? Or at least planting them in the back somewhere? What happens when the garden is overrun by common milkweeds?

We all like different plants, have different gardening styles and ideas—an open garden, shorter plants, more structure, maybe a meadow, more color, this shrub or that, etc. And so, we discussed, we worked, we laughed, we did well. We enjoyed gardening together. -Angie

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