Detail, one of the front gardens

It’s been a quiet week at home, an interlude.  Paul took me out for a dinner date; we consumed some nice not-overloaded-with-cheese fresh Mexican food, with a lovely tasty ceviche and enough margaritas for me to sleep through that night’s thunderstorm.  I got some  necessary mundane things done, set some things in motion at a few meetings, but mostly, I stayed close to home and to Paul, quietly being present as he begins to recover from his months-long, sad, uncertain ordeal, seeing his beloved mom off on her final journey.

It’s been good to have this down time for me, too.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the work I made at WSW, what I will make at I-Park and Ragdale, and of course, about the still-not-quite-in-focus future.  One concrete thing I have decided towards that future is to actually not apply for any fall residencies.  Once my beater arrives, the downstairs studio will be reconfigured, and I want to work here for awhile, both on my own work, and on the house itself.

I’ve never really lived in this house for more than a few weeks (think winter break) on my own schedule, and I have only had even shorter bursts of working in my studios here that way. I want to see how it will be for me.  Also, I’ve been thinking that my residency schedule is likely to change: it may very well be that winter will become my traveling season, and my summers will be spent here. Think of it: I could actually enjoy my gardens instead of popping in to rip out five-foot-high weeds twice a season.


I did that all day today. I am proud to say that finally, after all these years, even with last year’s neglect, my perennial plants have finally begun to crowd out the weeds, instead of the other way around, except for two spots in the back garden. There was, however, an insanely intense infestation by a kudzu-like vine on the west side of the house; like an alien, it had also crawled under the siding in three places, and I pulled out twelve feet of  it transformed into a leafless, totally white creepy creeper in one location.  Regardless, it was a pleasant day…and there were enough volunteer plants scattered around the yard from annuals I had in last year to plug the two blank spaces left by the relentless genocide I committed on a couple of species of weed in the back.


Cleome at the end of the season last fall, over 7 feet tall.  Some of my all-time favorite annuals.  About 25 of them volunteered this year.

Chicago is a fine place to be in the summer, except for a few insanely hot days. It’s our compensation for enduring the winters, yet I haven’t spent a summer here for many years.  I’m going to enjoy that, and February is going to see me starting seeds for two new garden strips.

Tomorrow: two quick last-minute business-hour errands, packing and loading, and then I’m on the road again the next morning, heading towards Connecticut and I-Park, the ‘middle residency’.


Bee Balm, right now.


Yellow Coneflower, 2007 (with Russian Sage, Nigella, Korean Feather Grass, Hollyhocks, Purple Coneflower) – this is just getting ready to begin blooming this year.  In this photo, it was a bit over six feet tall, now it’s about 10.

5 thoughts on “InterMission

  1. The garden looks fabulous, and I’m jealous. Our building is getting a new facade, which means I’ve had to dismantle the greenhouse, leaving the bigger pots outside and unprotected, and the smaller ones in the house to prevent pillage by our neighbourhood gang of Skippy Squirrels.

    Besides, most of what we grow is just green, although our oregano keeps trying to flower, and we’ve now got several stalks of blossoms on the French Fingerling potatoes.

    (And yesterday, we harvested our first shallots!)

  2. Thanks! It’s actually just a standard Chicago city lot, but there’s more growing room than I’ve ever really had. (And we own it, as opposed to having a landlord dictate what can and can’t be done). Most of it’s just for the eyes and soul, though I have made paper from the several varieties of daylilies and hosta, and iris. Have yet to try the yucca. I do grow regular sage (a huge bush, far more than we could ever consume!), chives, garlic chives, tarragon, three mints, lavender, sweet woodruff, nigella and Melissa (aka lemon balm).
    Usually, tomatoes, peppers and other variable veggies, plus a variety of annual herbs are grown in a cluster of big pots on an ugly patch of concrete we inherited in the sunniest part of the back yard, but this year, I didn’t even plant them, just moved the pots under the back porch to wait for next summer.

  3. Our sage has humongous leaves, although it’s not growing terribly tall, while the tarragon is massive. Surprisingly, this year’s mint (chocolate-scented!) isn’t taking over the place, nor is the pot of shallots, and the chives, oregano and trailing rosemary are all plastered against the balcony window.

    The goal this year is to only use our herbs in the stuffings for the Christmas turkey. Combine them with the bread heels from our favourite local bakery and free-range pork sausage, and placed in the free-range turkey, should be terrific.

    (All this for someone who used to never plan more than a couple of months in advance — I’m now setting reminders to enter a 2012 biennale….)


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