Go Green and Clutter Free

Greening up the world or least the average Chicago suburban home can be done with permeable pavers, rain harvest systems, organic fertilizers, and addition of oxygen producing trees.  I’ve been given the opportunity to participate in another way help the average homeowner gain green points and get rid of some junk as well.

As a part of a networking group through BNI, I have met a ton of great go-getters that have   endless ideas to help market themselves, their businesses and use their talents to give back to the communities in which we work.  A month ago, I was able to tag along for the first ever E-Recycle event put on conjointly with QCi restoration and Future Link IT.  Sheila Malchiodi, Marketing Specialist for QCi restoration began the brainstorm which eventually became a truck full of electronics provided by homeowners of the Thornwood Subdivision in South Elgin, IL.

The recycling of a huge number of electronics was free to Thornwood residents.  All they had to do was drive up and drop off their items.  We even had a few able-bodied QCi employees to load the trucks full.  I’m not kidding, they were filled to capacity.  All donations were used to support the ReStore in Downtown Elgin, which is a part of Habitat for Humanity.

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Above are tube TV’s as far as the eye can see.  They were quite the popular item because it is illegal to throw out a tube television due to their environmental impact and was a perfect example of why a free recycling event is not only a great community service, but environmental service as well.

Our first event was so successful, we’ve decided to do another.  This time, in downtown Elgin, IL at the Harvest Market located on the corners of Kimball and Grove.  The market is held every thursday, but our Elgin’s eWaste Recycle Event will be held Thursday August 2nd, from 2-6pm.  The event will be sponsored by EverGreen Landscape, QCi restoration, Future Link IT, and ProShred  If you haven’t checked out the Harvest Market, our next event would be a great way to clean out the basement, support local green businesses, and shop organic.  Feeling good about yourself yet, just thinking about it?

Sheila Malchiodi

Here is Chris Higgins of Future Link IT after our first electronic recycling event.  Chris aided our participants in removing their hard drives in donated computers to allow safe and secure disposal.

Please join us for this free recycling event.  We’ve taken the work out of getting rid of your electronic clutter.  Come support Habitat for Humanity and downtown Elgin!

 

Advertisements

Walking In A Garden Wonderland

A fresh dose of rain on a saturday morning left behind a humid haze.  A flock of floral skirts and festive garden hats set the mood as the Pottawatomie Garden Club members buzzed around greeting and directing the steady stream of guests.  Their hard work showing in everything from the carefully placed seating in the shade, floral arrangements on the tables, and loads of freshly baked goods for the enjoyment of the garden’s observers.  This biennial event featured five gardens to delight, inspire, and raise money for their college scholarship fund for green industry students.

The first garden on the list featured an EverGreen Landscape designed formal garden on a historic St. Charles home.  The front yard looks like a park and used to be mistaken for one before the fence completed the privacy.  The front lawn design allows for a long view that leads the eye directly to the monumental home.

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Check out some pictures from two of the other gardens.  One was a in town small garden that used perennial combinations in a cottage garden style.  The colorful pairings really fit the theme of “Kaleidoscope of Garden Color”.

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

This last garden pictured was a complete project that incorporated several details and tons of visual interest around every corner.  The homeowner worked with several different landscape companies to do the hardscapes, but did much of the plants herself.  I was able to discuss it with her and she explained that she cares more about the texture of how certain plants combine even more than the flowers themselves.  Her favorite combination is a dwarf golden evergreen with pink and green Ajuga surrounding, near her Aquascapes pond.  You can see it to the right in the first picture below

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

This, my first garden walk of the summer, went well despite the drought conditions.  I enjoyed talking to the Pottawatomie Garden Club members while meeting the comers and goers.  I was even asked to become a member myself.  Maybe some day when I am retired.  I do enjoy hanging out with people who find beauty and joy in a garden.  They tend to be pretty happy people.  It came to my attention how much work this event is for the ladies of the Pottawatomie Garden Club and reminded to be grateful for the scholarships I received from them many years ago as a student.  Somehow at the time I didn’t even think about where the actual money came from.  The full circle realization is that they believe in the work their group accomplishes and the garden walk proves it.

Fastest Way to a Good Design is a Straight Line

Maybe spending time outside on a new paver patio seems less than appealing at this point in July.  It is a great time to consider doing a project that doesn’t include watering.  When I begin to design a patio space there are quite a lot to think about besides just what shape it might be, but it tends to be the most often thought about.  It is also most common to hear that my clients want a curved patio to make it more interesting.  That might seem true on first look, but don’t discount the simplicity and beauty of using good old geometry to make a patio space work.  It creates “nooks and crannies” to hide views and create rooms,  and the lines work well with the lines on the house.  Check out a couple patio designs that utilize geometric themes.

Becca LaBarre

Extra linear shaped plant spaces allow for breaks in the patio to clearly define the different  rooms and their purposes.

Becca LaBarre

A fire pit can be geometric instead of circular.  When done with concrete block, circular fire pits have to be a certain radius to allow for the block to be cut into a circle.  This isn’t an issue with a square shape.

Becca LaBarre

Geometric lines on this patio work well with the sunken hot tub.

Becca LaBarre

And lastly, it does work well on walkways too.  The client was a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and wanted to match a more modern prairie design with the rest of the house.  The path jogs every few feet to give some visual interest.

Desert Living is Stressful

I overheard a man at Panera the other day telling a friend that since we are a month ahead this season, he was hoping the constellation would be that August would feel like September.  I am guessing there are more than a few people who feel the same way.  As I water my very well established plants for the third or fourth time in the last month I am starting to wonder whether they are all going to make it.  The most affected have been my Astilbe.  These water-loving shade plants usually bloom a hot pink around the fourth of July.  They’ve been done blooming their stunted shoots weeks ago and their leaves are dried and shriveled.

missouribotanicalgarden.org

Above is a better shot than what they look like in my yard this year and to look this good they need consistent moisture.  I have already written about watering correctly, but in times of drought there are some last resorts to try when the plants appear to be beyond their breaking point as well as new issues to worry about.

Under normal conditions, plants should not be watered on the leaves.  This promotes diseases or can even burn the leaves once the sun heats up the water droplets on the leaf surface.  However, in very hot temperatures, the plants will wilt because they lose water faster through the leaves than they can take up by the roots.  The natural response would be to water when the plants shows wilting.  If the soil is moist or you’ve recently watered first water by misting the tops of the plants and they should bounce back once the temps begin to decrease at night.

Another stress sign for drought affected plants is that they may exhibit pest or disease problems that don’t normally cause an issue.  The best example we’ve seen this year is vinca minor.  My boss brought it to my attention and I first thought it was just drought stress.  This drought tolerant ground cover can be affected by stem blight during cool wet weather.  However, this year, it has become an issue the last few weeks, brought on by drought.  I was able to discuss this today with Jim Fizzell from James A. Fizzell and Associates, our industries’ plant guru.  The stems turn black and pull out easily.  The tops of the plants are straw brown.  At this point, it is important to not spread the disease by watering too much and leaves should be removed as much as possible to keep the disease from spreading.  Fungicides cannot be applied till temperatures are lower.

hyg.ipm.illinois.edu

If a plant gets so wilted that the leaves are crispy, those leaves will probably not survive.  However, this doesn’t mean that the plant is dead.  If it is early enough in the season the plants may re-leaf.  I’ve seen this happen with Arrowwood viburnum commonly.  If the stems are still green, they can be saved.  If it doesn’t re-leaf in the same season it doesn’t mean that they won’t the following year.  The most important thing is to resist the urge to over water.  Without the leaves, the plant will not be able to deal with water as well.  Continue to water deeply and infrequently to get the best results.

Some commonly drought affected shrubs are Hydrangea, Arrowwood Viburnum, and Privet.  Some of the best I’ve seen holding up well are Cotoneaster, Rose, and Autumn Blaze Maple.  Others I don’t normally see a problem with, but have this season are Burning Bush and Spirea.  Some perennials to watch are Astilbe, Lady’s Mantle, Ferns, and Hostas which are mostly shade plants.  Drought tolerant plants are Ornamental grasses, Sedum, yarrow, Vinca.   Perennials I have seen dealing with drought stress that normally do well are Coneflower, Sunflower, and Phlox.  If the watering regime is kept up, most plants will come through with a few battle scars, but will be better for it in the end.

gogardennow.blogspot.com

Coneflowers are blooming now and are beautifully showy from a distance.

sedumphotos.net

One of the easiest groundcovers to grow.  These Creeping Sedum can be easily transplanted and fill in well even in the second year.

The best way to water is with soaker hoses since they will get the water to the roots the right way.  If something looks unhappy, but not dead, don’t take it out just because of its lack of perfection.  A little bit of struggle can help.  Many trees and some shrubs will show signs of stress in establishing about two to three years after planting, especially in poor clay soils.  I’ve noticed to be a particular issue this year because of the drought.  It is better to get them over the third year bump rather than starting them over. I recommend not to deter your planting projects, but water the right way and realize that these plants are here on earth because they’ve survived drought before and will likely do it again.