18 September, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2009

Each month on the 15th, May Dreams Gardens hosts a Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, where you can take part by showing what's blooming in your garden that day. I'm a few days late with my pics, but oh well.

Most of our garden is getting ready for fall, and few things are blooming. But let's take a look between the buildings, shall we?

There is a very narrow gangway between our building (on the right) and the neighbors'. On the street side of the gangway, there are two big bushes planted, effectively blocking off the view. No one walking past would ever guess this is back here. You kind of have to duck and push your way past the bushes to see it at all.

We consider it a secret garden, a wild one. From early spring, when the lilies of the valley push their way out of the ground, through fall, there is an ever-changing carpet of wildflowers.

Does anyone know what these are?

One of these years, I'm going to put stepping stones back here so we can walk all the way to the back yard without having to hack our way through with a machete.

In the back yard itself, we still have a few things blooming. But the glory of it all is the Sweet Autumn Clematis. I posted a pic a few weeks back when it started to open, but here it is in full bloom, with another of our many datura plants in front.

17 September, 2009

Save Ferris Bueller's House

Okay, it was really his friend Cameron's house, and not Ferris's. Don't get all technical on me.

But just a few miles up the lakefront from us is the Ben Rose home, made famous in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You know the scene, with the red Ferrari, the glass windows, and the plunge to the forest floor below?

Well anyway, the house designed by A. James Speyer and David Haid is for sale. And because no one has bought it, it also just made the watch list of Landmarks Illinois; despite its inclusion on a list of Highland Park landmarks, it could face demolition if it isn't sold.

From the Landmarks Illinois site:

Significance: The Rose House was designed by architect, museum curator, and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) teacher A. James Speyer for textile designers Ben and Frances Rose. The house is considered to be Speyer’s best architectural work and is notable for its progressive design and its deference to the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Speyer’s professor at IIT. Like Mies’ masterpiece Farnsworth House, the Rose House is on pylons that lift it above grade. In 1958, the house was one of 12 homes in the nation featured in a Bethlehem Steel publication promoting the use of steel framing for residential design. Also on the property is an automobile pavilion, designed by Speyer’s first graduate student David Haid, to house the Rose’s classic car collection. Haid’s design emulates that of the house and stands on pylons over a ravine. The pavilion was featured in the popular 1986 John Hughes film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

It's on the way to Wisconsin, where I'm heading this weekend to see my cousins, so maybe I'll stop for a peek.

Estate listing: 370 Beech Street

10 September, 2009

A Prayer for Tracey

I planted the white clematis in early spring, in the backyard near the door so that I would see it whenever I came outside. But while my other vines produced bounties of fruits and flowers all summer—brilliant blue clematis, delicate orange and yellow honeysuckle, delicious concord grapes—I was rather disappointed with this white vine, which all season sent forth a great deal of lush, leafy vines, but no flowers. (You'd think the name "Sweet Autumn Clematis" would have clued me in.) About a week or so ago, I noticed that the vine was covered in buds, and in the last few days they've begun to open.

They're gorgeous. Tiny white stars cascading against a backdrop of cool green. An unexpected gift, when the rest of the garden is beginning to tuck itself in for the long, dark nights of winter. It's the last thing that will bloom in my garden this year, and I can't believe how Summer went by so quickly. Not too long ago, it seems, I was out in the yard pruning and digging and planting new spring beds.

I didn't accomplish half my plans this year. Chicago summers are short, intense, and brilliantly colored, and before you know it the season's over. I always think there will be time enough for picnics and BBQs, catching up with everyone over a margarita and a perfectly grilled burger, time enough for one more summer house party before the chilly fall nights chase everyone inside. It's often hard to prioritize and fit everything in; some things get sacrificed.

I didn't see everyone I wanted to this summer, either. Sometimes work gets in the way, plans have to change, and I think, "Well, I won't make it to that family party, but it's okay, I'll catch everyone at the next one." I missed seeing my cousin Doug when he was here with his family, and I missed my cousin Kristen's boys when they were in town. And for what? A client project? A deadline I was terrified of missing? A stuffed head and a minor cold I didn't want to pass along? A seminar I couldn't miss? Any number of commitments that, in retrospect, simply aren't important? "I saw them not too long ago," I'd think, "I'll catch them at the next party."

But you never suspect that the next time you see your extended family will be at the hospital, as you all surround the bedside of your beautiful, funny, and much-loved cousin, who is far, far too young to be in the cardiac ICU.

And as you worry about what will happen next and what the future will hold, it all seems too short. There was a time, when I was younger, that the future stretched endlessly ahead. I know now that that's not true.

Hug your loved ones today, and let them know how much they mean to you. And please say a prayer for our Tracey, who means so very much to us all.