Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Growing Up

Rite of Passage

Is the pursuit of moron projects hardcoded into men? Son comes up with a new moron project every day...all involving $200 cars. Of course, every $200 car needs a neon shift knob and an amplifier in the trunk. I'm beginning to think tearing apart an old car is a rite of passage into manhood and perhaps we need to let him clear a space in the barn for it.

The Magic Gardener

Yesterday a visitor strolled through the formal garden at the Wildflower Woods while I was rescuing peonies from the feral ravages of ginger. The visitor, who read Gene Stratton Porter's books when she was young, was pretending to be walking through The Magic Garden. I pretended to be an old Italian male gardener to enhance her fantasy. With my marked lack of ability to talk in an accent, I think I managed to destroy the moment for her.

I haven't read her books since I was young. Her first books were nature studies and they didn't sell too well. So she decided to wrap the nature studies in a treacly plot and became a best-selling author, rivaling Jack London at the time. I will read the books this time to garner clues about the garden plantings.

The pictures are in the upper west end of the bed. I spent the first week cleaning quack grass out of the bed on the left and then started on the bed on the right. In the top picture you can see in the foreground the ginger overrunning the peonies. Other wildflowers have been allowed in this bed, such as the tall Joe Pye weeds and violets. The round bed in the center is suppose to be the blue bed, but is more orange and yellow now. These are just 3 of the 35 beds in the formal garden. The garden really is lovely. I just chose to start in the beds that needed the most work.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I'm trying to work and all I can think about is my husband in his maternal grandmother's hospital room, while I'm at home with a sick son. She is surrounded by her family, who is waiting and waiting and waiting. They anointed this 91-year-old woman seven hours ago and gave her last rites.

But I'm not thinking about that now. I'm remembering Grandma and what a character she is. The day before our wedding, I received a call from my future mother-in-law, asking if it was OK if Grandma wore a purple jump suit and white boots to the wedding. Of course! I think her daughter was mortified, but I knew Grandma always looked great. She wore purple as an old woman long before the Red Hat Society and without having to read Jenny Joseph's poem. She lived a colorful life, on her own terms, mortifying her daughter for over 70 years. I love that woman. Peace, Grandma.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Showcase Garden

One of the cabin guides told me yesterday that Gene Stratton Porter wrote that she wanted her formal gardens to be "the showcase of Indiana. So you have to make the garden showy, Earth Girl."

Luckily she is not in any chain of command, but everyone has their own idea of what the garden should look like. Ok, I'll admit it, even me. There has been little design direction over the last ten or so years so people are invested in their vision of the garden which they have created in a bed or two. The result is chaos, not in the structural layout or bones of the garden, but with the plants or flesh of the garden. Your eye doesn't know where to go; there is no unity in the design; each bed has a focal point; you have no sense of the layout, the plantings do not lead you through the beds of the garden. And many plants are not from 1912-1922 when the original garden was planted.

With good bones, healthy plants, good soil, and hardworking gardeners, I am thrilled to tackle the design challenge and making others at the site enthused about the direction. It has the potential to be the showcase of Indiana, even if it is not too showy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tacky Tuesday

Nina is talking about a regular feature on her blog. I have been toying with Tacky Tuesday since May. The idea was to post pictures of tacky landscaping and write wonderfully snarky posts about it. All summer I have been noting subject matter for this feature but have been too reserved to stop the car and take the picture. I would also invite others to submit photos to me for consideration. Tacky landscaping would not be the overgrown messes that come from not caring, but rather landscaping that has taken considerable thought, energy and money to achieve their tackiness. It's getting late in the season to start this effort, but what do you think?

Of course, I doubt if I will find anything so wonderfully and inadvertently tacky as this picture I recently found under "Don't DO That" link on the Renegade Gardener's website. Click through on the links to read his comments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


With great joy, Ron reported to me that he found his car...for only $200! (Yes, that is the right number of zeros.) He plans to fix it up and then let me drive it. I'm such a lucky Mom.


I worked at a large insurance/reinsurance company for 31 years. Last week I started working as a gardener at a state historic site. Here are some things I've noticed. This is the first time I haven't worn panty hose to work. This is the first time I take a shower after work instead of before work. This is the first time I've ever had to pack a lunch. This is the first time I take a raincoat instead of an umbrella. This is the first time I've ever worn gloves and a hat at work. (My image is of a properly dressed woman in 1960, but think ball cap and garden gloves.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pork Busting in Indiana

I'm going to try my hand at Pork Busting. Here's an explanation of this effort.

After reviewing the various potential pork projects in Indiana and, more specifically Allen County, I am registering the $8.8 million (#2346) to extend Maplecrest Avenue. They already extended it to I469 to the north and it stops at the river to the south, so what are they planning now and how does it relate to FEDERAL highways? Whatever the plan, either fund it locally or drop it.

I am very inclined to list the following items , but do not know enough about Indianapolis to make a call that this is true pork.

$12,280,000 (#2189) in the Federal Highway budget for Indianapolis Convention Center Redevelopment Project, which is $1 million more than the I69 Evansville to Indianapolis construction! This project includes street resurfacing, pedestrian walkways, streetscape improvement, signals, plaza improvements and pedestrian bridges.

$5,720,000 (#3531) for "downtown road improvements" - which downtown and what improvements? I don't think this is Indianapolis as there is a separate entry of $4,500,000 (#4155) for downtown road improvements in Indianapolis and ANOTHER entry for $6 million (#4182)for "downtown road improvements" in Indianapolis in addition to the over $12 million for the conventions center and $5 million (#4181) to remove the Market Street Ramp and streetscaping..

While we are reviewing pork earmarked for Indianapolis (which has fewer pigs than any other county in the state), let's look at bus facilities: $11, 704,000 for a downtown Indianapolis transit center plus a separate entry of $4,000,000 (#544) for the same item, $1,672,000 (#220) for IndySmart program (what is this?), $4,180,000 (#235) for Indy IvyTech multi-modal facility, $11,740,00 (#378) plus $836,000 (#417) for multi-modal at the Children's Museum. I smell almost $62 million of bacon here.

A drop in the bucket, but why does Fishers need Federal money to "construct multi-use pathways"?


Monday, September 12, 2005


I volunteered at the extension this morning - "This is Earth Girl, Master Gardener, returning your call about..." Anyway, I learned a new word used in academia (of all places!) - actionize. So I'm actionizing my intent to blog.

Just now, I was hitting the "next blog" button on the top right of every blogger screen and I read an entry by a young cashier who got a call from "from lost control; you know, the people who try to prevent theft." Good idea! Put every person who has a proven skill in losing control into one department and make it easier on the rest of us.

Then I hit the "next blog" button again and read the following entry. A wee bit of observation would show that cows don't chase people. Bulls, yes.
i may have a totally ungrounded and irrational fear of cows. they arent cute. they arent nice. i dont want to pet them. they are shifty-eyed and unpredictable. you never know what they could do next. one minute it could be happily chewing grass, they next you could be mauled. i've heard of it, cow maulings. when i was in high school our cross country course meandered through these rolling hills where cattle were always grazing. and, OK, so no one got mauled. or even chased. but I was convinced the cows were going to chase me.

No more "next blogs" for me. I'll stick to link lists if I decide to surf the blogosphere again.

Update: A friend sent me the following in an email.
By the way, folks have funny ideas about 'cows.' For some a cow is any bovine...then there are people who think if it has horns it's a bull. What I didn't get about that blog was the thing about the eyes...cow's eyes seem almost mournful to me. But I spent a lot of time around steers, whose main job was to fatten up. No wonder they seemed sad

Here's the layout of the Formal Garden. Posted by Picasa

Historic Gardener

For the last five years, I have either been retired or a stay-at-home-Mom, although with teenagers without drivers licenses, there has been very little staying at home. I do freelance work for a little income and to keep my skills sharp (and will continue to do so).

As of this week, I am on the state payroll as an intermittent employee. I will be taking care of the gardens at the Gene Stratton Porter State Historic site in Rome City, Indiana. Gene called it her "Cabin in the Wildflower Woods" with over 100 acres of fields, woods and gardens along the shores of Sylvan Lake.

I will be working in the Formal Garden plus other beds throughout the site. [And with the site's small staff (well, they are really full-sized but there are few of them), I've already been told that I will be tapped for other things.] The "bones" of the formal garden are authentic, having been extricated from overgrowth about thirty years ago with the stones outlining the beds still in place and some of the arbor's wisteria still alive. With 35 beds in the formal garden, plus beds at the entrance to the site plus landscaping around the house, plus a water garden, I think I will be busy enough.

Even though this job is a small step up from being a volunteer, I am excited about the prospects. I can't wait to get my hands on the files to research the historic aspects of the garden to ensure there is integrity in the garden. The house and woods have been conserved, but a lot of modern plants have crept into the garden - primarily to please tourists who want to see something blooming no matter when they visit.