Spring is enthusiastically expressing itself in a cacophony of colors and textures in The Growing Place Learning Gardens: hosta of every type robustly arch out of the soil to claim their space; native prairie smoke flowers bow their heads as if in prayer; globe allium send their flowers exploding skyward like purple fireworks; the pure white flowers of iberis candy tuft illuminate the shadows; iris and peony colorfully compete for our attention, and you can imagine the tinkling of the tiny bell-shaped flowers of Solomon’s Seal, gentle music to accompany your stroll under the leafy canopy of the trees.
This year the winter persisted like an unwanted house guest, but it didn’t stop me from assuming my new responsibilities as Garden Coordinator at The Growing Place in Aurora. What exactly does the GC do? I am responsible for caring for the Learning Gardens at the Aurora store location. If you’re a regular customer at either Naperville or Aurora, you know that the garden areas inside and outside the retail yards not only add to the uniquely charming shopping experience, but also serve as landscape demonstration gardens. They run the gamut of habitats from formal, miniature, woodland, rain and bog gardens and they’re intended to provide you with inspiration and ideas. The sales staff frequently uses the Learning Gardens to help customers see what a particular plant they might be considering purchasing will look like after a few years in the garden. Many customers have discovered the Learning Gardens and stroll through them each time they visit The Growing Place, looking for ideas, or just a quiet interlude.
I started the season in the waning days of March by cutting back the remnants of last year’s perennials raking leaves, pruning shrubs and trees and mulching to suppress weeds and improve appearances. It’s no different from the tasks many of you do in your own gardens—just more of it. I observed that this winter was particularly hard on roses, yews and some perennials like Buddleia. Spring finally kicked winter to the curb, and my garden clean-up efforts are paying back in May with an explosion of foliage and blooms. It’s amazing to see how the gardens literally change daily as plants emerge, leaf out and bloom—each garden space is like an orchestra and the plants instruments that contribute to the colorful visual score.
Being new to the Gardens, this Spring is especially exciting. Each day I am I surprised by what new perennial pops out of the ground what colors blossom. The garden designs are a work in progress as we tinker with the gardens by adding and eliminating plants and improve plant identification signs. For example, at the Aurora store an herb and fragrance Learning Garden is taking shape in the garden beds located in the center gardens, and we’ve started work on the Garden Patch on the hill past the south end of our parking lot. It will be in prime production for visitors to our Downton Abbey Garden Faire on July 19. The Garden Patch will feature a wide variety of herbs and vegetables with a focus on cherry tomatoes, which will be available for sale in our produce stand.
Although I’ve already assumed the habit of thinking of them as “my gardens,” I am anxious to share them all season-long with all The Growing Place visitors. Periodically, I’ll use this space to share our progress as the Learning Gardens at The Growing Place develop and grow, and new plants bloom.
Posted on 5/21/2014 at 7:15:00 PM