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  • The best things in life are Beautiful.
  • White Irises, She said.


    White iris flower photo desktop wallpaper by Leanne WildermuthOn Mother’s Day, I offered my readers a free desktop wallpaper that I’d created from a photograph I took in my studio of a beautiful White Iris. (You can still download the 1024×768 if you haven’t already.)

    Pete (of Shakey Pete) commented and said that his mother raised Iris, so my wallpaper triggered a fond memory of his mom, appropriate on Mother’s Day, I think. His comment made me think. I love comments like that, so thanks, Pete. You brought my daughter and I a little closer on Mother’s Day. I appreciate that.

    There’s a story behind this White Iris, which I’ll get to here in a second, but Pete’s comment left me curious. What kind of flowers would my own children grow after I’m gone that will remind them of me, and why? I thought for sure that Catybug would say “Gerbera Daisies!” or even “Stargazer Lilies!” But no. That was not the case.

    Now let me tell you a little story.

    Last Wednesday, my children attended youth group – at two different churches. Catybug went with her girlfriend after school to attend youth at her church, and I dropped off my little Chickeymonkey at our church.

    On the way home, I had to run an errand to pick up food for our guinea pig and bunny. I find the best food for them at Teske’s, our local pet and garden center. I also really, really enjoy visiting the parrots! So, as you could probably guess, I visited the parrots first.

    Right. Why carry around loads of food if you just have to put it down to play with the critters? Common sense.

    Without any regard to how much time had passed (Because apparently, I have an eternity to shop while I’m at a pet store. Time stands still while you’re making cooey and clicky noises to birds, don’tchyaknow.), I visited with the animals. Then there was an uncomfortable moment where I was forced to either pet the Eclectus or buy him, so I ran and hid in the corner of the store and sucked the thumb he nearly bit off.

    I digress.

    I picked up 10 pounds of food for the critters that DON’T bite me, and ohhhh my gosh – —- a new truckload of flowers? Did someone say they got more flowers? Ooooh I had to check out the garden center.

    Now, rewind to earlier in the day. I’m talking to my dear, sweet friend Taba, and she’s telling me how she’s swooning over White Irises, and she really wants some. We’re talking about flowers, and I remind her of my Monkey Butt (aka Baboon Bottom) Batik Iris that I’ll actually get to see this year, and blabbity blab blab green thumb girl talk.

    Okay, got all that? She wants the White Iris. She wants ALL Irises, really, all of them. All in her yard. Right now. Yea, yea, so do I.

    Fast forward to me in the garden center, carrying around 10 pounds of smashed condensed timothy hay and corn flake chips. And then, then I spotted the Irises. The WHITE Irises.

    I chose the one that was on the verge of blooming. I thought, I’m going to name her Taba (which I did) and next year, I’ll split it and send her some for her garden! Irises, for those unfamiliar, have a bulk of the root at ground level, so one big giant stem teeter tottered above the root in a 4″ square pot. They had braced it up with little green stakes, so I carefully pulled it out from behind a half dozen other random colored Irises, and with one hand wrapped around 10 pounds of critter food, I carefully balanced a teeter-tottering White Iris in my right hand.

    And continued on in my search for anything else I might want to add to my garden.

    20 minutes later, I found more stuff. Crud, I found more stuff. I’m looking around for a cart, for anything I can put stuff down on – but found nothing. My left bicep was beginning to throb from the weight of the critter food and obviously, if I wasn’t careful with my right hand, my Iris would topple.

    I gently set it down, set the critter food down, and went on a search for a tray to put all of my finds in.

    Of course, the critter food and the new (mexican heather) went into the tray, but the Iris, the Iris was special. I held everything else in my left hand, and the Iris in the right.

    Careful…. carreeeeful….. I asked the checkout clerk if he had a tall brown bag to put the iris in, so it wouldn’t break. Together, we slid it down to the bottom of the bag. Aaaah. Safe. Wait – no – he didn’t know what color the pot was, so we had to reach down in there and pull it back out. Crap. We got it out – put it back in. Phew. Okay. Safe again.

    I paid for everything and loaded everything carefully into the back seat of the car. I put the Iris against the back seat, and braced it in with the critter food.

    Are you getting all of this carefulness? I could not and probably wasn’t EVER this careful with my own kids as newborns. But this Iris? I could. not. break.

    On the drive home, I called Taba. I was so excited to share my fortune! WoohOOOO and I’m going to split it and mail it to you and wheee! We’ll have the same White Irises! YAYYYY what are friends for!! Splitting perennials, that’s what!

    She asks what the official name of the Iris is, and I’m just about in my driveway, so I pull into my driveway, park in the garage, get out of the car, open the back door, grab ahold of the Very Special SUPER CAREFULLY HANDLED White Iris and pull it out of my car…..

    And busted the stalk.

    Yep. I did.

    So, when my eldest daughter returned from youth group, I told her this story. She laughed, and laughed, and laughed s’more. She even cried. She almost spit her ice cream out her nose.

    It makes sense to me, then, when I asked her what flower she’d plant to remember me by, she replied “White Irises.”

    Glad to know I’ll be giving that girl chuckles from beyond the grave!

    A Mother’s Day Gift for You!


    White iris flower photo desktop wallpaper by Leanne Wildermuth

    Download 1024×768

    I’ve captured my very first white Iris bloom (and named her Taba) on camera, and created a desktop wallpaper for you to download.
    Just right click on the download link above, save to your computer, and enjoy!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    Veggies, Flowers and Birds


    four male goldfinches on a line by Leanne Wildermuth
    Q: What do you call four male goldfinches on a line?
    (continue reading for the answer)

    The vegetable garden is in! I planted Eggplant, cucumber, green peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, bush beans and broccoli. I can’t wait to watch as it grows and starts producing veggies!! I just loved cutting fresh broccoli last summer and steaming it – there is nothing better, no store bought broccoli compares!

    We were lucky, I guess, in that I really didn’t have to deal with many bugs at all in my garden. This may have been because I use Cutter backyard spray on our grass to keep the bugs at a minimum – the spray lasts about 4 weeks, so we can enjoy our yard without being bitten or pestered (much)!

    vegetable garden by Leanne Wildermuth

    Keep reading »

    Don’t It Make My Brown Thumb Green?


    clematis vine growth bud photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Have I told you recently how clematis and I have had a tough relationship for several years? I get one beautiful bloom last year, and bam – a squirrel climbs down my fence, plucks it right off, and eats it.

    No, I’m not kidding. I could have – no, wait, I did. I screamed. I was FURIOUS and I chased that little bugger off my fence. (Me: curlers in hair, flowery housecoat, fuzzy pink slippers and a rolling pin. Not really, but it’s how I see myself in my head.)

    Imagine my delight then, when I scoped out my clematis from last year making a return. Part of me wants to put those bird spikes all along my fence just to keep the squirrels from eating it, the other part of me (the reasonable, rational, nature loving part) knows that if it’s meant to bloom, it’ll bloom. Obviously, at this point, I’m pretty certain I have the patience of Job when it comes to clematis.

    So, let me tell you what I think made a difference. A friend of mine (*waves at friend*) told me once that clematis need to have shade over their roots. Seriously! A full sun plant that wants shady roots. WTH? What a picky little plant. Alright, well, I had some logs and branches from our crazy storm that I keep around the yard for natural hardscape. I took half a log and leaned it up over the base of the vine, and kept it in the dark. And also? I don’t know what lived under there this past winter, but dang! Poo, much?

    I digress.

    Every little measly spindly little vine that God eeked out of this nearly failed (sixth) attempt at a lush clematis vine is turning green and growing. Every little one. I am beyond thrilled and will certainly be purchasing a bee-bee gun this weekend. Okay not really, but you’d think about it, too!

    And all the brown thumbers in the house said “Amen”!

    My Sensational New Addition


    sensation lilac
    I know she doesn’t look like much now, but she’s going to be just lovely when she grows up!

    We once had an unknown monstrosity growing in our yard. It had to have at least three different varieties of bushes within it, and was mangy and – well – unknown. We trimmed it a couple of years ago but that thing was out of control. Ten feet tall and climbing – without trimming I don’t know what it would have become.

    It was time to say goodbye to that big sun-blocking-my-garden bush, and hello to a new, improved plant. One that can be properly identified, even!

    The Sensation Lilac (I bought from my local nursery) is a gorgeous deep purple flower with a white border. They’re gorgeous, and I bought a plant mature enough to give me a few blooms in its first year with us!

    sensation lilac
    We did buy a Yankee Doodle in its first year this past weekend, too, but I just couldn’t wait. I had to run to a landscaping nursery and see if they had some more mature plants – and what a great find!! I’m going to have to find Yankee Doodle a new home (and I think I may already have a taker!)

    sensation lilac
    Can’t wait to share some macro shots of this gorgeous Lilac when she blooms. Hopefully, my thumb was green when I put her in the ground this afternoon!

    Yellow and Yellow-er


    male goldfinch spring molting photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    The Goldfinches are back! The Goldfinches are back!

    This male Goldfinch looks a little messy – he’s in the middle of his spring molt. He and his mate have been visiting us for about a week now. We have 2 finch feeders for our finches, one is a sock (pictured) and the other is a plastic feeder. I prefer the socks, because they’re easier to clean and cheaper to replace, but the squirrels just rip them open so they have their faults, too. Last year I bought a domed sock, so it’s helped keep the squirrels off of them.

    That’s some pleasant eye bling though, when you look out at your feeders and see the Goldfinches. When they’re not eating, they’re sitting on the wire above the feeders talking to each other, the male reminds me a bit of a dorky teenager saying “pleeease? pleeeease?” (have a listen here – it’s about 32 seconds in.)

    This morning I awoke around 3-4 am to the sound of a Great Horned Owl outside my bedroom window. Amazing. I must have thought it was a Mourning Dove, because it startled me awake thinking I had overslept! Then, as I was taking the trash out – I caught a glimpse of a large bird taking off from my backyard with something in his talons. I quickly ran out to see what he had, and found a pile of feathers and the (gross alert) head of a male sparrow. It was an American Kestrel, who frequents our yard for small edibles. What a day!!

    narcissi miniature daffodil photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    A little more yellow bling – This is a Narcissi, a teenie tiny version of a daffodil. They’re so dainty and lovely, and SPRINGY! Yayyyy!! I am thrilled to tell you that I bought my first flat of wave petunias yesterday (in fuchsia) and will be putting them in the ground this weekend. Aaah gardening – here I come!!

    Don’t forget to enter to win a custom portrait in my weekly giveaway!


    Early Spring Blooms & Gardening


    Glory of the Snow small blue star flowers early spring
    Glory of the Snow
    Lots of action out in the garden – there are so many little green things I don’t know where to begin! A big part of me just wishes I had a truckload of mulch and half a brain cell to remember all of the appropriate names for everything I’ve planted. heh!

    I will be digging up a huge section of my perennials over the next few weeks, putting them in containers so we can easily move them around in the future. I’ve decided I’d like a portable garden, so when the time comes and we’re ready to move, I’ll be adding “gorgeous garden not included” on the sale flyer. haha! Okay maybe not so drastic, but darnit I’ve invested a ton of time, energy, love and care into my yard – though I do kinda get starry eyed thinking about fresh dirt to do it all again.

    Verigated crocus blooms purple white flower early spring
    Variegated Crocus
    I wanted to share a couple of things – first, the gardening gloves that I absolutely love. I found these Ethel Gloves through Taba last summer and they are a gardening girl’s dream come true. They feel like second skin, and they make ya feel so fancy, if ever a girl could feel fancy while she was playing with shovels and dirt! Right now they have a birthday special, too! (I have not been paid for those links, I genuinely love them and think you should have a pair! Now go! But don’t forget to come back. And Ethel? If you should pop in, I’d love another pair. They’re kinda like high heel shoes to a gardener.)

    The other little bit of excitement is the arrival of my Jumbo Stargazer Lily bulbs!!! They’ve apparently sold out or something, but I jumped on that sale when I received the announcement via e-mail and now I’ve got 24 of them to sink into a portable container (’cause those? DEFINITELY staying with me!) those bulbs are gi-normous. I’ll get a pic of ’em in my hot little (sexy, gloved) hands when I get them in dirt.

    Other than that, I’m waiting for my tulips (I’ve got some Ice Pick tulips coming up but they’re pretty tiny at the moment), peonies, butterfly bush, delphinium and this year – I get to see some hollyhocks! (I hope!)

    Can you tell it’s sunny out today? And the birds are singing outside my studio windows? And that my gloves have been washed and are at the ready? And that perhaps, there’s an 100% chance of dirt and mulch in my immediate future?!

    Lovely and Huge Amaryllis


    Amaryllis in bloom photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    I photographed my Amaryllis the other day to show Lisa, as she gifted the bulb to me last Christmas. I was excited that I hadn’t killed it off since it requires such special care up here in the Midwest! I brought it in last fall and thought surely it was a goner, until one morning I woke up and saw an inch of growth overnight.

    It’s been growing a couple of inches a day ever since! It stands 28 inches tall now – and since the first bloom is now wide open, I had to snap a shot of how big it is.

    Large Amaryllis in bloom photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    You wouldn’t know by looking at it that it’s as big as a small child’s head – but there you have it! Chickeymonkey is pretty mad that this flower is nearly as big as she is – it took her seven years to get this big. haha!

    It’s a beautiful flower, and with the new growth at the base I think I’ll be transplanting to a larger pot this year as it seems it’s going to need it.

    Aaaah. Just a touch of color against all of this white snow. Can’t wait for Spring!!

    Pretty, Pretty, and Oooooh, neat.


    stonecrop sedum honeybee leanne wildermuth

    If you’re looking for a plant that will attract bumblebees, honey bees and butterflies – this one does it all. My favorite aunt gave me a bit of Sedum from her landscape in the Spring of 2007, and it has quadrupled since I brought it home and put it in the yard. I was surprised last fall to see so many honey bees working on this plant, and this fall it’s gotten even busier! I’ll be splitting this in a couple of weeks and spreading them out more with my Bee Balm.

    stonecrop sedum monarch butterfly leanne wildermuth

    I am not sure if my butterfly bush has brought the Monarchs to my yard and the Sedum has kept them coming back, but it sure is a beautiful sight to see three of them sitting atop the Sedum. I loved this shot, the dense blushing pink blooms bordering that gorgeous butterfly.

    stonecrop sedum monarch butterfly leanne wildermuth

    Usually, when Monarchs have landed, they keep their wings tightly closed, and they open and close like a trap door. I managed to capture this one with its wings open, so this is a rare shot for me and I’m loving the paper thin dimension!

    illinois farm horizon sunset leanne wildermuth

    It has been a really busy week, to say the least. I’m waiting for a cake to cool right now because this afternoon I’ll be decorating this Monkey cake for my Chickeymonkey’s 7th birthday party tomorrow. I’ve driven hundreds of miles, going to Catybug’s volleyball game (an away game, 150 miles round trip), spent a day with a dear old friend from High School that I haven’t seen in –ummm– several years (here we are), mowed the lawn, went to another Volleyball game lastnight (we won!) and finished up a blog design for EW. All since my last post on Tuesday!

    illinois september low moon 2008 orange leanne wildermuth

    The sunset was beautiful on Tuesday night, I snapped the farm silhouette on the way home, driving on the freeway. When we got to our exit, the sun had completely set and the moon popped up on the horizon, big, bold, and this really wild yellow-orange color. I left the cars & headlights in the photo so you could get a perspective on how low it was and how bright and oddly colored! Is this our harvest moon? I recall it being much more orange. Anyone else catch a glimpse of the moon this week?

    The timer just went off, so it’s time for me to whip up a batch of frosting!

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