Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let The Show Begin!

I took a trip into Chicago with friends for a theatre tour.  I thought to myself what could be so interesting about theatres that I went to as a child, young adult and older adult that I had never noticed before as special.  Oh well, I figured the lunch would be worth the trip.

This is the entrance to the Oriental Theatre, built in 1926 by the Rapp brothers and run by Babalan and Katz.  It began as a vaudeville theatre went on to movies and stage shows to its present day of Broadway shows.

It is now known as the Oriental Ford Theatre.  After falling into disrepair it was completely restored in the late nineties and saved from becoming a shopping mall.

The Oriental is heavily adorned with an Asian feel, but also incorporates Africa and East Indian artwork.

Marble, brass and mosaic abound on the ornate staircases.  Ushers were even dressed as if they stepped out of history as Aladdin seeing people to their fifty cent seats.

An original sconce on the staircase

This is one of two large chandeliers hanging in the lobby.  One was auctioned off when the theatre went through bad times and later found in a farmer's barn in Kenosha, Wisconsin and restored to its original position.

The original vintage lighting was spectacular, note the monkeys supposedly the Rapp brothers depiction of Babalan and Katz.

In the main part of the theatre statues loom over the audience where we may have seen July Garland (then known as part of the Gum sisters) Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, George Burns and Gracie Allen, the Three Stooges and many more.

The new mayor has kept the city beautiful, one of the many planters that line the streets of Chicago.

A little sculptural interest along the way.  I know I have seen this artist's work before, I think at the Art Institute.

A couple of blocks later we arrived at the Palace Theatre now known as the Cadillac Palace also designed by the Rapp brothers and opened in 1926.

This theatre lobby is constructed of marble but does not have the same over the top ornamentation as the Oriental.

The Palace Theatre has also been restored to its original glory and is now host to many Broadway Shows.  It was the previous home to Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Mae West and Bob Hope.

On to lunch at Lawry's Prime Rib which is also housed in a Historic building.

This is the four story McCormick Mansion built before the turn of the century.  It had twenty-five rooms including a ballroom on the fourth floor.  It was leased in 1935 to a casino which during prohibition did not last long.

Through the years the McCormick Mansion changed, lost two upper stories due to a construction accident and the front was redone to become the Kungsholm, a Swedish smorgasbord, with can you believe an Opera puppet show.

The puppets were about thirteen inches tall and operated from underneath to phonograph music and later tape tracks.  The Kungsholm was in existence from about 1940 to 1971.

It is now Lawry's Prime Rib (Lawry's Seasoned Salt) and it was one of the best lunches I have ever had!

In fact, it was one of the best days I have ever had.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Haircut

I went to get my hair cut and somehow the conversation gravitated towards landscaping and cleaning up the garden.  She has no idea what I do in regard to writing a blog or just being obsessed with gardening.

Panicum Ruby Ribbons
This is a smaller Panicum which will layer in front of my Lythrum Morden's Pink, especially when it is cut down.  I am very pleased to see this color early in the summer without it being an annual grass.  This is a grass that can be left up for the winter.

Penstemon Hamelin
This is a totally carefree grass and can be left up over the winter.

Miscanthus Udine
I have a difficult time cutting this down when it is so beautiful.  It does flop, so I may neaten it up a bit and leave it up.  I know it will be extra work in the spring!

Miscanthus Little Kitten
It is recommended that this grass not be cut down in the fall.

Panicum Northwind
This is the flagship grass in my garden, left up over the winter and pops back up after the snow melts.

Being a working mother of three she said she just doesn't have the time to cut down everything before the snow flies.  So, she is hiring a landscaping company to cut down all the perennials, trim all of the boxwood, shrubs and some limbs off the trees!

Boxwood Green Velvet
I trimmed my boxwood in July and you can see that the growth since then is a lighter green.  In my zone five area it is not recommended that you prune boxwood after August 1st.  I did last year and had a lot of burn on the newer growth. 

I almost jumped out of the chair saying don't trim the boxwood, evergreens or trees now.  Also, be careful which shrubs you prune now or you won't have flowers next spring.

Viburnum Carlesi Compactum
As you can see the buds are fully formed to bloom next spring.  Prune right after flowering.

PJM Rhododendron
The Rhodies all have their buds for bloom next spring.  They should be pruned right after flowering.

Azalea Karen
Prune after flowering in late spring, keeps leaves all winter

The Lilies should not be cut down until they yellow or the bulbs will not have enough stored food to bloom the following year.

I am sure my landscaper knows what to do!  This is a very common reaction, we assume that people who cut grass know what to do with everything on our property.

My neighbor has a landscaper that trims everything in late July. thus the Viburnum does not bloom the following spring, or the Amelanchier (which is cropped down to hedge size) or the Rhodies which are topped off.  This is not an unusual occurrence if you do not know the timeline of the various flowering shrubs.

Neighbor's Viburnum
Not a bud in sight

Amelanchier (Serviceberry)
Cut into a ball, no flowers this year, no berries

All spring flowering shrubs need to be pruned immediately after flowering, early summer flowering shrubs before the end of July and fall flowering shrubs in the spring.  Certain hydrangeas grow on old and new wood so it doesn't matter when you prune them, but some only grow on old wood. 

Forsythia Greenstem
Low growing, blooms in spring, prune right after flowering

Weigela Dark Horse
Blooms late spring, prune right after blooming

Ninebark Summer Wine
This is a summer blooming shrub and can be pruned and trimmed back until August 1st.  Beyond that you take a chance that there will not be any flowers the next year.

Limelight Hydrangea
This hydrangea grows on old or new wood, can be pruned in spring or fall, but why would I prune it now?  The flowers will slowly turn to a pleasing tan and stay on all winter.

Hydrangea Unique
Blooms on old and new wood, can be pruned in spring and fall, however the blooms do not age well past the rosy pink stage.

I am going to experiment with Endless Summer Hydrangeas this year and not cut them back at all along with my Starlight Hydrangeas, no cut back for either.  We will see if this makes any difference in regard to the amount of blooms.  I am also going to feed all of my acid loving plants before the end of the month (I read this on the Internet last year and it seemed to work with tons of blooms, except for Endless Summer because they are very nitrogen reactive).

Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight

Certain plants benefit from being left standing for the winter, like Agastache, Centranthus and Lavender need to have the stems left up in the colder climates.

Aster Monte Casino in the middle will be transplanted into the raised bed on the south side where I pulled out Purple Dome Aster.  Monte Casino is a florist aster used in arrangements but it is also hardy in my area and if pinched back to keep it full is a beautiful plant and not attractive to rabbits.

I had great success with cutting down my Autumn Clematis in the fall because I don't want it sitting up on the wood pergola all winter with the snow and ice.  It bloomed just great this year not caring at all, in fact I believe most type 3's could be cut down in the fall if late enough with no problem.

Autumn Clematis

February is a recommended time of year to prune most tree limbs (in the colder zones) because the sap is not running.  The time of trimming is also dependent upon the species of tree.  Of course if a limb is dead or diseased it needs to be cut off.  Tree trimming is a year round occurence but winter or early spring is the ideal.  Check out your local university extension recommendations for specific zones.

I can't believe that a haircut prompted a blog on pruning!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crabtree Farm

Do you ever wonder where you have been all of your life?  When you have worked for a very long time spending each day being locked in for eight plus hours you sometimes miss what is going on outside of your daily endeavors.

That is how I have begun to feel when I go to places like the Oriental Museum on the grounds of the University of Chicago last winter and when I visit a place like Crabtree Farm in Lake Bluff, Illinois.

It was a rainy day when our group from the Art Institute arrived at Crabtree Farm, beautiful landscaping as far as we could see and a treacherous narrow road by bus with branches whipping against the side as we travelled.

At the turn of the century this was part of a 370 acre dairy farm owned by an Illinois Federal Judge, Henry Blodgett who created the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.

In 1905, Scott Durand bought 250 acres of the property for his wife Grace who had an education in Agriculture.  The property he bought was located in the village of Lake Forest which was a constant disturbance to the neighborhood.

Grace Durand with her cows

They relocated  further on to the former Blodgett property where in 1910 a fire destroyed the original farm buildings.  They had it rebuilt by Solon Spencer Berman (who designed Pullman Village) and those are the buildings that survive today.

In 1993 a bungalow was erected on the site of the original farmhouse which was destroyed by fire in 1972.  Its design was based on the drawings by Harvey Ellis and was taken from a 1903 issue of the Craftsman, entitled "How To Build A Bungalow."  This is the first home ever built to his specifications.

This is the Harvey Ellis Craftsman Bungalow.  We were not allowed to take photos inside the homes so I have had to get some interiors from the Internet.

Harvey Ellis designed the furniture that was placed in this home.  He was known for beautiful inlays, wood and metal.

The typical bedroom had Stickley furniture or in the Ellis house Harvey Ellis designs which had more curves and inlays than Stickley.

This is a room filled with Gustav Stickley furniture.  It is a family room that the current owners still use for family gatherings.  Gustav Stickley went bankrupt because he could not deviate soon enough from the "Mission Style" furniture of the Craftsman movement.

This is part of the same family room with the loft above turned into a media room.  These spaces are filled with Native American original rugs.

The original kitchen has been preserved with a twelve burner stove and terra cotta tile on the floor.

This is the cattle selling cottage, all original Stickley furniture.  I believe the rug is a William Morris original.

Teco Pottery is located in just about all of the buildings on Crabtree Farm property.  This one happens to be worth many thousands of dollars because it is so unusual.

Again, Stickley furniture and Donegal rugs loomed in Ireland.  These are all original from the early part of the 20th century.

Artisians live on the property and have the use of the grounds and equipment to produce their products.  This is a tree that was cut down and is being made into a bench for Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

I wish I was able to take photos of the William Morris designs in the rugs and fabrics that have been preserved all lined up in a room from the 1800's.

I was set straight by our tour guide that Craftsman is not a style but a philosophy that encompasses all types of furniture built by craftsmen during this time period.  It began in England (more delicate styles) travelled to the United States and became overwhelmingly Mission and eventually went worldwide. 

She was quick to point out that Craftsman incorporated all of the traditional styles like Hepplewhite, Chippendale, Sheraton, etc., but Stickley's downfall was that he didn't replicate some of these styles in the Craftsman philosophy.  Stickley is now a viable company again because they do offer all of these styles in the true Craftsman philosophy!