Tag: 2014

October 1 GCOPRF @ Cheney

October 1 GCOPRF @ Cheney

Cheney Greenhouse
First gathering in the restored Greenhouse?
South Entrance

Our Garden Club’s October 1st meeting was on a beautiful, warm Fall day; the  kind of day that any excuse will do to be outside.

Historic Cheney Greenhouse
Historic restoration of Cheney Greenhouse West Entrance

Poppy Vogel, Cheney manager, agreeably gave us a sneak preview of the-almost-completed-greenhouse-restoration.  Very nice – We could easily visualize a tea party in there.  At the north end of the room is a prep sink, a restroom and a storage closet.  The North and South entrances are ADA accessible while the door in the middle on the west wall retains the historical look of the Greenhouse, circa 1915.

Our heartfelt  thanks to the behind-the-scenes Board members who treat us like royalty.  All we have to do is walk thru the door at Cheney and voila:    food, décorations, chairs, tables, a program, door prizes and photos! Job well done, ladies, you know who you are.

President Barbara Graham made a few announcements:

  1. Sue Milojevic has done such a good job with Garden Therapy at the Oak Park Arms that they have a waiting list for additional folks to participate.  We would like to be able to accommodate five more people but that is stretching Sue beyond her means.  Sue develops a simple flower project for the participants and brings all of the materials and tools to make the item.  The Seniors need assistance with cutting materials  and other minor difficulties.  You do not need to be an experienced floral designer to help Sue with this worthwhile project.  Please consider showing up at the next Garden Therapy at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Avenue from 2:00 – 3:00 P.M on November 12, 2014
  2. Deb Cullen, Ways and Means Chair, will be taking orders on or before our November 5 meeting for holiday “greens” to be delivered at our December 3 meeting.   We will send an email out with a list of possible greens that could be ordered.   Last year’s exceptionally beautiful selection of greens sold out quickly.  We do not want to disappoint those who would like to buy greens, however we do not want to have left overs either…  This is not a fund raising project, Deb is charging enough  to cover her cost of the greens as a pass thru benefit to the Club members.
  3. GCOPRF will again be decorating Cheney Mansion for the holidays.  Some time in mid-  November we will gather to decorate the front hall and library.  Of course food and fun is involved as we decorate, chat — get acquainted with someone new.  Watch emails and the web site for further details, date and time.  Contact Barbara Graham (bfgraham at flash.net) if you would like to be involved with the design ideas.

I was particularly enthusiastic about a speaker for fairy gardens, scale, and “how to”.  Mea culpa:  I personally was disappointed  that our speaker  didn’t place more emphasis on how to make miniature furniture to the proper scale.  There are very cute ideas on line on how to make Fairy Gardens with all sorts of materials.   Sue Milojevic made three attractive miniature dish gardens for door prizes. (I was a lucky winner!)  I incorporated a few of  Sue’s items into my fairy garden. If anyone besides myself is interested, perhaps we can have a hands on workshop for “twigs furniture 101”.

Fairy Trick or Treat
Fairy Halloween
Gina, Linda winners of door prizes
Gina, Linda winners of door prizes Photo by Elaine




Urban Oases Locomotion

Urban Oases Locomotion

birds migrating at 31st beach Chicago


Locomotion or the ability to move from one place to another has been on my mind. (Warning: not to be confused with earworm Loco-motion prevalent in 1962, 1974, 1988) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTcHbEdYvOc8

Thanks to a September tour with the group “Know Your Chicago,” we saw the innovative approaches being used in Chicago to turn decrepit, inaccessible land into urban oases for humans and birds alike.

Looking west towards future location of Ridgeway Park
Looking West – Future location of Ridgeway Park
Looking East on the 606 Trail
Looking East- 606 Trail Construction
606 Bloomingdale Trail looking East from Ridgeway
Looking East from Ridgeway on 606 Trail

After some ten years of community planning, The 606 Bloomingdale Trail, located above Bloomingdale Avenue from Ashland Avenue (1600 W) to Ridgeway (3750 W), is one such area now under construction. Although the Fall project opening was delayed due to severe winter weather conditions, when the 606 does open in the Spring of 2015, more than 200,000 plantings will be in place. The Trust for Public Land, a 501c3 group dedicated to creating and improving parks, acts as the Project Manager for the Chicago Park District and their many partners. TPL has worked to acquire funds and land as well as implement environmental studies and planning for the new park. “606” of course, is the zip code prefix for the communities that will be linked together by this “rails to trails” project.   Almost three miles of unused elevated railroad land is being transformed into a garden oasis in the city with easy access ramps every ¼ mile and six ground level parks.  Access ramps and the trail itself will all be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible as well as conveniently located near bus lines and the Blue Line train.  Plans for the western end of the project at Ridgeway Avenue include a hill and an observatory plus a four-acre, ground-level park to be built on the former Magid Glove Factory site adjacent to the western trailhead. The McCormick Tribune YMCA, which serves the families of Logan Square with awesome programs, is planning a café addition to their building which, hopefully, will be an added inducement for the community to use the 606 Trail and make the Ridgeway Park and café a destination spot.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates are the New York-based landscape designers of both the 606 Trail and the Maggie Daley Park under construction at Millennium Park. Michael Van Valkenburgh is no stranger to Illinois flat lands. He earned his Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. In addition to being an uninterrupted 2.7 mile recreation area, the designed elevations will be hilly terrain composed of micro climates that will contain vegetation that blooms at different times and that will attract various insects and birds. The 606 trail will consist of a 10’-wide concrete surface with a 2’ softer surface on either side of the concrete. Additional features will include wider areas that will contain benches, overlooks, water fountains, and art work.   The design teams have had their challenges to preserve and repurpose the existing structure and turn it into a very usable public space with a new perspective.

The bridge that previously spanned Ashland Avenue was moved to its new home spanning Western Avenue at Bloomingdale Avenue on April 19, 2014. The concrete bridge formerly in place at Western was removed March 7-9, 2014. See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfnhtgltYvk

Burnham Wildlife Corridor at 31st Street
Native plantings in progress at 31st Steet

Millions of birds fly over Chicago’s lake front every migrating season, and they need a place to eat and rest. The Chicago Park district has come to the rescue with the Burnham Wildlife Corridor.  Restoration of two areas of land south of McCormick Place down to the Burnham Nature Sanctuary at 47th street and east and west of south Lake Shore Drive will likely become THE lakefront destination for birds.  Invasive species such as European buckthorn and cottonwood trees were removed and replaced with native Illinois trees, shrubs, and grasses to attract the insects and provide the berries that birds eat. (The goal was 100,000 new trees and shrubs)  Just this past September**  an unknown quantity (to me) of trees were planted in one day at the Burnham Nature Sanctuary with a group of volunteers from a Bronzeville church west of the railroad tracks. Previously, in May, 2014 another group of some 750 volunteers planted approximately 25,000 trees.   Two new bridges to be constructed at 41st and 43rd streets from Bronzeville over Lake Shore drive will facilitate the use of bicycles (to replace the old rusty bridge with many stairs) and allow locals to enjoy the nearby lakeshore and bird watching. Signage, paths and lakefront improvements are continuing.  Already in existence is the McCormick Place bird sanctuary built in 2003 on the roof of the underground parking garage south of the Lakeside building.  Unfortunately many birds become disorientated and have died crashing into the lighted lakefront buildings at night.  Scientists at the Field Museum have been studying migratory birds for many years and would daily walk around McCormick Place and pick up the dead birds that had crashed into the building the night before.  The significant rise in death statistics during migratory season eventually led to the voluntary program with high-rise building managers called “Lights Out.”  From 11 p.m. until sunrise building managers dim the lights and resident homeowners in high-rises pull down their shades during the spring and fall migratory seasons (mid-March through June and late August through mid-November).  According to Mark Bouman from the Field Museum (who was the docent on our bus), the “Lights Out” initiative has saved thousands of birds each season.

Even more “locomotion” for humans on the lakeshore is occurring at Northerly Island.  Family camping in the summer with staff help setting up tents and building fires, guided nature tours, star gazing and winter activities such as snow trekking with snow shoes or cross country skies. The good news is these activities are paid for by the profit from the concerts on the northern end of the peninsula.

                              History of Northerly Island

Chicago’s famous architect and planner Daniel H. Burnham imagined Northerly Island as one of the northernmost points in a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks. His vision for this park included lagoons, harbors, beaches, recreation areas, a scenic drive and grand stretches of green space that would provide breathtaking views of the lake and city skyline. Northerly Island and Burnham Park were selected as the site of Chicago’s second World’s Fair entitled A Century of Progress, 1933-34, and by the early 1930s, Northerly Island had been increased to its present size. In 1938, the Chicago Park District removed the bridge leading to Northerly Island and built a causeway connecting the island to Burnham Park. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Northerly Island featured paths and walkways, scattered trees and grass, a parking lot and the 12th Street Beach. In 1947, a small airport known as Meigs Field opened under the Exposition Authority Act. Operations at Meigs expanded with the building of an air control tower in 1952. The 50-year lease granted by the park district for Meigs Field expired on September 30, 1996. The City, Park District, and numerous civic organizations agreed that the airport should revert to parkland. Today, Daniel Burnham’s vision is now a reality. With wild prairie grasses taking root, beautiful strolling paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the City skyline, we invite you to come out and enjoy the emerging world of Northerly Island. http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Northerly-Island/

Many thanks to Barbara Graham who opened our eyes to the wonders of Chicago via the University of Chicago fall tours known as “Know Your Chicago,” We are so thankful to be able to do the ” locomotion” in Chicago Parks.

**CORRECTION to Urban Oases Locomotion: (  https://gcoprf.org/?p=6824) I misunderstood that 100,000 trees were planted in one day in the Burnham Wildlife corridor   There have been at least two different volunteer days planting trees in the Burnham Wildlife Sanctuary/Corridor with a goal of a 100,000 trees total to be planted.  In May 2014  – 750 or more volunteers realistically planted approximately 25,0000 trees per a participant (fellow Oak Parker) that wrote to me.       In September 2014 The  University Church from Bronzeville also  planted  trees.  The quantity is unclear to me at this point.

http://www.openlands.org/burnham-wildlife-corridor-planting – September 2014













Luther Burbank – The Germination of a Brand

Luther Burbank – The Germination of a Brand


Luther Burbank’s life was a testament to the idea that if you follow your passion, the money will come.

Luther Burbank, born in Massachusetts on March 7, 1849, was the thirteenth of Samuel Walton Burbank’s fifteen children and undoubtedly the most famous. Luther Burbank would become famous worldwide for his development of more than 800 varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, cactus, grains, and grasses.  The press would call him the “plant wizard.”

Luther was brought up on a farm and attended grade school but much preferred the outdoors as his botany laboratory. Burbank’s love of plants seems to have been an inherited trait. Luther’s mother, Olive Ross, loved to work in her huge garden; she was part of the Burpee family, and her father had developed several kinds of grapes as a hobby.

In 1870, the 21-year-old Burbank received an inheritance from his father that enabled him to purchase seventeen acres of land on which he proceeded to produce crops for a truck gardening business. Luther began his lifelong pursuit of plant development and introduction into the market place. One day Burbank spotted a rare seed pod on a red skinned “Early Rose” potato.  Apparently in Massachusetts, the “Early Rose” seldom flowered and a seed pod only develops after the blooming.  Potatoes were regularly grown from planting a piece of potato with an eye rather than from seed.  Out of curiosity, Burbank planted the contents of the seed pod the next spring.  According to Mother Earth News, potatoes grown from seed do not stay true to the parent but revert back to their ancestry. The resulting large, white, smooth skinned tubers would prove to be the turning point in the future of Luther Burbank. In 1875 Luther sold the entire crop of tubers to another grower for $150 (or approximately $3,125 in today’s dollars).  In 1876 the seeds man, James Gregory, introduced “Burbank’s Seedling” in his catalogue.  Gregory permitted Burbank to keep ten of the tubers. There were no patents on plants in those days, and the Burbank potato was widely distributed and renamed. Two of the many improved varieties are the Russet Burbank and the Idaho Russet.

In 1875, with the profits from the sale of his potatoes and property, Burbank took a train across the country to join his half- brothers and to begin his work in California. Burbank was not quite an overnight success. In fact, Luther’s letters home about his intermittent work and illness brought his mother and sister on the run to California to care for him.  His mother bought a house in Santa Rosa, and Luther rented some acres adjoining the property. Burbank began growing plants and trees while working as a carpenter by day. His profits slowly increased every year with his growing reputation as a good plant man.

Burbank was in the right place at the right time. The transcontinental railroad had been completed and California sun dried fruits were being shipped to Chicago. Prunes were an extremely good crop for shipping, but the demand was greater than the stock available. (Note: the names plum and prune were often used interchangeably however prune came to be known as the smaller fruit with a small stone that could be easily dried.) In March 1881, Warren Dutton, a wealthy banker and merchant asked Burbank to provide him with 20,000 prune trees for planting in December. Burbank accepted the challenge.  He rented additional land, hired workers, and proceeded to sprout almonds in wet burlap on sand. The almonds began to sprout in 14 days and he begins to plant them. The next two months he and his crew proceed to attach prune buds to the 20,000 almond seedlings.  When the prune bud made a good union with the almond stalk, the top of the almond stalk was bent over to force the growth into the bud.  As the prune buds grew, they were tied to the almond stalk for support. (This June bud technique had been done in the South for peaches but never in California). When the prune buds were a foot high, the almond tops were removed. Burbank subsequently delivered 19,500 prune trees in December 1881 with a promise that the other 500 would be ready the next season.

His reputation as a nurseryman established, Burbank began his experiments with cross breeding. By 1884 it is said his income was in excess of $10,000. Luther purchased 18 acres in nearby Sebastopol for his experimental gardens, improved the soil and purchased seeds and seedlings from South America and Japan.  Looking for an edge over his competition, Burbank looked for new offerings— “Novelties” he called them in his catalogues.  He was not the first or only company to offer Japanese plums, but he had developed an extensive list of varieties of plums including a wild beach plum from the Atlantic coast.  A yellow plum named “Burbank” was a very productive, dwarf variety still popular in home gardens today.  By 1888 he had sold his nursery of standard plants to his partner, R. W. Bell but continued with the development of new varieties.

One of Burbank’s earliest projects, the Shasta daisy, took him fifteen years of development before it attained his seemingly impossible list of ideal qualifications including large size, early blooming, long blooming, bright white color, and sturdy stems. He started with a wild field daisy known as an oxeye (Leucanthemum vulgare). He planted the seeds he had brought with him from New England and allowed the insects to freely pollinate the rows.  He selected and saved the seeds of the best flowers and planted them again. He never saw any improvement in the subsequent plants. He then took the best of the oxeye flowers and hand pollinated them with pollen from the English daisy (Leucanthemum maximum) in 700’-long rows.  These daisies bloomed the first season, earlier and with larger and more abundant flowers than either of the parent species. Seeking even more improvement, Burbank dusted the best of these hybrid blossoms with pollen from the Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre). For the next six years he selected the best of these triple pollinated hybrids from among a half- million flower heads.  He would keep the best and destroy the rest of the plants.  Although the resulting daisies were far superior to the parent species, they did not have the bright white color he desired. Once again he chose the best flowers and this time dusted them with pollen from a Japanese field daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) that was the color white he desired although a small flower.  Finally, two years later in 1901 Burbank introduced his new flower named the Shasta Daisy Hybrids for the snow covered peak of Mt. Shasta (Leucanthemum x superum).  Botanically speaking they were a new species.  In 1904 his Shasta Daisies varieties had names:  Alaska, California, and Westralia. Shasta Plant breeders continue to this day and more than 100 varieties have been introduced since 1901. (http://www.wschgrf.org/articles/lutherburbankseverpopularshastadaisies)

Luther Burbank was at times a media darling and considered a scientific genius. His opinion was asked about all sorts of topics regardless of his knowledge of the subject.  Even academics were coming to his home in Santa Rosa trying to find the answers to their questions about genetics. This was still early in the science of genetics when Mendel’s work (with dominant and recessive traits) was not yet widely known. For five years the Carnegie Institute was giving Burbank grants of $10,000 a year so that he could continue his plant research. Finally, frustrated with Burbank’s poor record keeping and contaminated conditions (for example: plants were thought to be in rows too close to each other so that they might have been cross pollinated) that kept them from being able to write a report, the Carnegie Institute withdrew their financial support. Burbank was a businessman developing hundreds of new varieties and had little time or interest to devote to the scientific method and papers. In addition, patents for plants were not available in his lifetime so he wasn’t eager to release for free the results of years of his work.  He sold his name to some business arrangements that were not well handled by the partners and as a result Burbank’s reputation was tarnished. He was a quiet, humble and charming man that enjoyed friendships with Ford and Edison, professors from University of California and others but he did not like to give speeches in public or write articles. Burbank had his detractors as well as supporters in the business.  In spite of the detractors, after 55 years in the nursery business, Burbank died a wealthy man.  In  1926 his estate was appraised at over $168,624.  Using the inflation calculator listed below: $168,624 of 1926 dollars would be worth: $2,248,320.00 in 2014

In 1926 Burbank was buried in an unmarked grave in his yard under his favorite tree – a Cedar of Lebanon.

 Major Plant Contributions Introduced by Luther Burbank:

POTATO: ‘Burbank’ FRUITS: 113 Plums and Prunes, 10 Different Apples, 16 Blackberries, 13 Raspberries, 10 Strawberries, 35 Fruiting Cacti, 10 Cherries, 2 Figs, 4 Grapes, 5 Nectarines, 8 Peaches, 4 Pears, 11 Plumcots, 11 Quinces, 1 Almond, 6 Chestnuts, 3 Walnuts GRAINS, GRASSES AND OTHER FORAGE: 9 Different kinds VEGETABLES: 26 Different kinds ORNAMENTALS: 91 Different kinds.

— From Luther Burbank’s Plant Contributions By Walter L. Howard, University of California  Bulletin 691, March 1945

In 1930 Congress passes the first Plant Patent Law. Burbank receives patent protection on some of his work.  Plant patents PP12, PP13, PP14, PP15, PP16, PP18, PP41, PP65, PP66, PP235, PP266, PP267, PP269, PP290, PP291 and PP1041 were issued to Burbank posthumously.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Plant Patent Act of 1930 (enacted on 1930-06-17 as Title III of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, ch. 497, 46 Stat. 703) is a United States federal law spurred by the work of Luther Burbank.

This piece of legislation made it possible to patent new varieties of plants, excluding sexual and tuber-propagated plants (see Plant Variety Protection Act). In supporting the legislation, Thomas Edison testified before Congress in support of the legislation and said,  “This [bill] will, I feel sure, give us many Burbanks.”

A Gardener Touched with Genius – The Life of Luther Burbank by Peter Dreyer


http://www.idahopotato.com/?page=aristocrat_popup&is_popup =1&id=15r







September 2014  GCOPRF Meeting

September 2014 GCOPRF Meeting

Fortunately for the Garden Club, the cataclysmic deluge predicted by the weatherman did not occur in Oak Park during our meeting time on Wednesday, September 10. Instead of doom and destruction,  we had a wonderful time with goodies to eat, thanks to our new Hospitality chair Kathy English, while catching up on the news with our Garden Club friends.

Wonderful buffet table
Our hostess in pink, Kathy English
Book Signing_0029Bobbi book signing
Crowd at Bobbie’s Book signing

Gayle Hedlund, Membership Chair, provided new name tags on lanyards (no more pin holes in our silk blouses).  Bobbie Raymond autographed her children’s book “Amy and the Amaryllis”.   (Grandmas’ take note, nice gift)  Bobbi has generously donated the proceeds from the sale of the Amy book to the Garden Club.  Over 30 books were sold at the meeting.  Deb Cullen, Ways and Means Chair, told us that “Greens” will once again be available at the December meeting.  Deb encouraged us to let her know  at the November meeting if we want anything specific in the way of greens as she will be placing the order in November.  Sue Milojevic made  lovely  fall table arrangements that were given away as door prizes.  Shirley Henderson was one of the lucky door prize winners.Door Prize_0035winnerShirleyHenderson  Carolyn Ulrich, Editor of Speaker_0034Carolyn UlrichChigaoland Gardening Magazine, discussed several different European Garden Shows she had attended plus  numerous plants shown in her slide show.  I am sorry to report that I was not taking notes during the program.  I can, however, personally attest to the outstanding garden show at Chelsea in London, England. The Grahams and Zwierz couples attended the 100 year anniversary of the Chelsea Show in London in May of 2012. Too much to describe in this article but a highly recommended trip!  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/chelseaflowershow/9279066/Chelsea-Flower-Show-2012-as-it-happened.html

The new directories utilizing the Nasturtium logo (designed by Roberta Raymond) were available with members and meeting information.  Many thanks to Sue Milojevic and proofreaders that helped assemble the booklet.  If there are any inaccuracies in your directory information please advise our membership chair, Gayle Hedlund or gcnews@gcoprf.org.

Cheney Greenhouse beginning of September
Cheney Greenhouse

Completion of the Cheney Greenhouse is behind schedule.   It seems there is only one company that provides glass for greenhouses.  Two Garden Club trees from the Legacy of Trees project are scheduled for planting at Cheney this fall.  One tree is from the proceeds of last year’s book sale and one from the Donna Schuler family.

We hope you will attend our October 1, 2014 meeting at 12:30.  Our speaker will be discussing miniature gardens –  from fairy gardens to railroad gardens.

Once again, thank you to Elaine Allen for photographs.