Saturday, 28 September 2013

American escapes

After the garden opening we escaped to America for some R&R first staying with my Aunt and Uncle in Indianapolis and then finishing with a few days in Chicago.  It was quite a nature filled break, as they live next to a nature reserve and it was great to see so many familiar garden plants growing in the wild such as Tradescantia, Catalpa (Indian bean tree) and loads of Solidago (Golden Rod) growing everywhere.

Chelone, or turtle plant


One of the many Helianthus type species with a honeybee

Solidago, of which there were a few different species

I would not like to come across this weeding


With the recent press and NGS fame, gardening wise it is funny how everyone now seems nervous about me seeing their gardens! There are very different pressures to London as my Uncle has to contend with rabbits, deer, poison ivy and marauding Germans.  He has a great ethos to his gardening choosing natives which cope better with the local conditions and wildlife which is a great ethos when you have so many great natives to choose from, and when so many alien plants escape so easily into the wild.
He also has these monster, and very scary looking bumble bees which loved the obedient plant
I was recently reading a book by Piet Oudolf, and am getting more and more drawn into his style of planting and the new perennial movement as it fits with my naturalistic approach and driving through Indianapolis it was interesting to see where he came from and how so many houses really are just built in the middle of a big square of grass with a few trees...hardly any garden at all.  However there were good splashes of prairie type planting  which was great to see, and seeing so many familiar plants in the wild was inspiring.

Chicago was the opposite of Indianapolis in that there were hardly any gardens to be seen, and I can imagine how so many people living there must be disconnected from plants. Even out in the suburbs where there was more space and empty housing plots generally these were just left empty or paved for parking. There are some good cooperative projects, but the lack of plants rather struck me. Of course they also have the lake, the vastness of which is astounding and difficult to me a lake should be something like the one at Crystal Palace park where you can take a pedalo out on and see the other side.

Prairie planting in the hart of the city, with great use of the borrowed landscape

Of course there was some good planting, and I was struck with how good the planting in the tree pits of their main avenues was...fabulous exotic style plants and interesting things.

So an interesting trip, and despite being an escape from gardens and plants some interesting things to be seen...also some fantastic art and culture (including a whole intact submarine) and some Ganeshas to fuel my obsession...

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