There’s something about green spaces – gardens, forests, prairies, etc… – that calls to us to approach, to touch, and to explore. They effortlessly hold our attention, while also setting us free of stresses and worries. There’s a theory called the biophilia hypothesis, developed by Edward O. Wilson, that proposes our love of nature and other life forms is part of our evolutionary history and genetic makeup. We are attracted to life (animals and plants) because they support our life and have historically suggested a potential for food. We have evolved over time with a deep connection with nature and though the industrial age has largely shifted us away from nature, we potentially still have this internal urge to connect and subconsciously recognize its benefits to our lives. It’s in an interesting theory and may explain why the rustle of leaves, the rolling waves, and the crunch of a path beneath our feet seem to inherently draw us outside.Read More
The leaves fall, the temperature drops, and the garden certainly looks austere. Winter has arrived and its icy grip on the landscape has taken hold. The snow falls, builds, melts, turns to ice, and then melts some more. All the while we are anxiously awaiting spring, or at least 40 degree weather. Whatever we can get! How does a landscape architect fit into the reality of winter? I barely want to look outside at this point and I miss the smell of spring, but I am not idle.
One of the most prevalent questions asked us, and probably to most people in the landscape industry, is “What do you do in winter?” Everything. All of it…There’s this myth of the winter slowdown and it’s a time when, in theory, you get to catch up. Organize your files, research building codes, update documents, and generally prepare yourself for the spring push. It sounds idyllic; however, it never seems to actually occur. We may stop planting trees and perennials, but we instead focus on drainage and boulder work. We finish mowing lawn and fall clean-ups just in time for winter interest arrangements and winter pruning. And the design department continues to design. There is always a new project that needs to be surveyed, researched, inventoried, designed, estimated, and have presentation documents prepared.
Certainly, there are times when we are even busier (April/May and October), but there are never times when we are not hard at work. In fact, we’ve already begun scheduling crews for work designed this winter. January to December, 0 degree to 100 degrees, rain or shine, we are working for our clients.
It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the end of summer, especially since this past week has been a hot, muggy mess. There’s a lot to love about summer – lush lawns, vibrant perennial borders, seemingly endless days, and warm summer nights. Ah, sweet bliss! It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though; we also have to deal with sweltering heat, voracious mosquitoes, and overwhelming crowds of people. Hmm, now I’m not sure if I want summer to go on forever or move aside for fall. (Actually, I do. I love crisp fall days, cool nights, and apple and pumpkin picking.)
This has been a beautiful summer, with manageable high temperatures and sunny days. I hope that you have taken advantage of our good fortune and have spent your time outdoors – soaking in the sun and warmth and stockpiling it for the winter months to come. If you haven’t, there’s still time! Go rent kayaks at the Skokie Lagoons, ride your bike down the Lakefront Trail, wander through the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum, or visit your local forest preserves and parks. The Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville is a personal favorite for lunch time excursions away from the desk.
So fire-up your grill before you have to unbury it from a drift of snow. Sit outside on your deck or patio and relax, enveloped in the perfect sweetness of summer blooms. Light the fire pit and toast marshmallows for s’mores. Pretty soon the temperature will drop and we’ll all regret not grabbing these last moments of summer when we had the chance. Come winter I’ll encourage you to cozy up to the fire with some hot chocolate and your favorite movie, but for now I can only say GO OUTSIDE!
If you’re anything like me, when winter’s grayness feels like it may actually be permanent and I’m despairing that it will always be jacket weather, I look to the garden for a glimpse of spring. The site of a tiny flower bursting through the frozen ground and half-melted snow makes me want to bury my jacket into the deepest depths of my closet. Finally! The end of winter is near and spring bulbs have arrived to transition your garden from winter into spring.
Planted in large massings and frequent bouquets, spring bulbs are cheerful and charming additions to your garden. The earliest blooming bulbs – Snowdrops, Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-Snow), Scilla, and Crocus – herald the end of winter and the beginning of spring. These small and delicate blooms are the perfect accompaniment for any garden transitioning from winter into spring and onto summer. Not only are they suitable for edging along walkways and planting beds, but they can also be planted into somewhat shadier locations since they bloom before trees leaf out and their fine-texture leaves don’t become intrusive as they fade and mid and late-spring bulbs take their place.
Following the site of Snowdrops and other early bloomers, you can expect to see Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, and Alliums gracing your gardens. These flowers make bold statements with their bright colors and larger sizes, making them ideal for back borders where smaller bulbs are harder to notice. Their vibrant colors aside, Daffodils are our most popular species of bulbs due to their ability to naturalize in an area and last for many years, as well as being an excellent selection for woodland edge plantings. With so many varieties to choose from, your garden can be awash with color for months.
Spring bulbs are a great way to extend your garden’s bloom time so why wait until May or June to bring your garden to life? If you notice that your garden is sadly lacking in spring bulbs, now is the time to plan for your fall plantings and with so many to choose from it can be challenging to know what works best for your landscape. Why not speak to one of our Property Improvement managers to help you decide what areas would benefit from bursts of color- whether it’s your front entry, rear border, along the sidewalk, or a view from your kitchen window? We’re here to help you at every stage of your garden’s development, including the planning and installation of bulbs, so that you get the most from your garden.