Yesterday I went to visit a friend who grows native plants and trees in Monee, Illinois. We met through discussions about bread when he began to buy janiesmill flour during the first Covid winter and our friendship took a major turn when he and his beautiful wife came to the mill with a tray of plants a month or so ago as a thank you. Not realizing that gardens are my one true love. And because I have very little time to garden now – one day a weekend during one short summer a year – I was desperately seeking plants that are native to our area that I did not have to fight to keep alive. I do not believe in annuals – trees and perennials are my thing. Then you have to factor in that I never stay anywhere long enough to see any of my gardens mature. So as you can imagine – connecting with Connor is pure joy.
The Walsh family nursery is called Possibility Place. It is in Monee, Illinois. It is huge, 80 acres of native plants and forest.
They sell online plus they sell wholesale and retail from the nursery if you call and arrange things ahead of time. Spread the word!
Let’s have a look:
Here are a few shots of their own private incredible heavenly garden.
I got so carried away looking at the garden and talking about plants that I forgot to take many photographs- that was how entrancing my visit was. A little heaven.
Have you ever read that book “The Hidden Life of Trees.”? Find it. I love that book – Connor and his love of trees made me think of that book.
All natives. All grown from seed.
Connor talks a lot about textures. It is the perfect way to look at groupings of plants.
This is a haven for birds and small wild animals. Here they call little wild animals critters. We talked about how rural people love clean huge car park-like lawns and how they rake leaves up and remove them in great plastic bags whereas nature loves those long flowery pastures and deep beds of leaves in the winter and hates plastic bags. Given half a chance I would only mow tracks through our lawns – but John would never agree to that. He is ALL about the sit upon mowing.
My three major take-aways from my visit with Connor.
One: You CAN plant trees close together. In fact trees help each other survive so DO plant them close together. As you know I have never had a problem with this because I plant jungle-fashion! Or I throw potatoes like Gertrude Jekyll and plant wherever a potato falls.
Two: Trees do best planted WITHIN gardens with other trees and shrubs. Not standing alone. They are happier and healthier with undergrowth.
Three: Plants and trees and shrubs migrate seeking sun or shade or nutrients so don’t get hung up on the garden boundaries of these gardens; your live plantings will grow outside your little live human lines!
Connor and his family at Possibility Place grow plants and trees that are native to this area so he had many offers for me of marsh plants that will grow in or beside the pond.
You know how I do not like to own more than I can fit in two suitcases. Luckily plants and trees do not count! These gardens I have created all over the world are my gift. I leave them behind.
So- I came home with THREE Sycamore Trees. (Connors tree planting suggestion is to plant two trees close together and one a little apart to give that wild look). Three hibiscus, a native variety that loves wet feet and has huge orange flours in the late summer, and a couple of iris that love growing close to ponds too. So – two of the sycamore trees are planted down in the dell by the run-off pond and one up by the duck pond and the iris and hibiscus in the low ground. And that is just the beginning.
The tree plantings by the pond are going to become jungles too (next I need woody undergrowth started in my tree gardens). I plant thinking of reflections and shadows so I have all this in mind.
I also propagate plants by dividing the plants that can be divided like hostas and lilies and iris and taking cuttings from the woody perennials. This skill comes from my days as a solo mum in New Zealand living very poor with many children- I literally stole cuttings from big gardens – I would do garden tours to collect material to grow my own plants because I could not afford to buy them. I can stumble slightly, take a cutting with a perfect heel and whip it up up my sleeve like magic. Yes! I am one of those awful people.Terrible but true. I was a leaf thief!
Not now though. I only take cuttings from my own plants now. Every time Connor gave me a leaf to smell I returned it to the garden. Sanctimoniously. I have turned over a new leaf. Anyway, I see these new plants as mother plants – they will spread and I will help them along with my cuttings and divisions. Too much fun.
Here are a few chick photos for you.
We have a few warm dry days ahead of us. Maybe the tomatoes will start to ripen.
I love meeting new people! You too. I love meeting you and I love your comments! Have a lovely day! Time I started some bread for the week.
Love miss c
What a beautiful garden!
Your tomatoes look good – my farmer’s tomatoes have been ripe for the last 3 or 4 weeks and it’s such a joy to taste real tomatoes again!
I can barely eat tomatoes out of season. Just too awful. Hopefully we get one soon. I have been saving bacon for that first bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich!
I know what you mean, though luckily the farmer manages to get them going from May or June till November December most years. In Spain they grow just about all year round.
All year round sounds pretty inviting!!
Vegetables are almost all year round! Spain was the garden of Rome …and now the EU. Things die back in the north, but I’ve seen small crops of tomatoes in Catlaunya (which is at the base of the Pyrenees) in December and oranges growing on trees in the high street.
the first tomatoes from our garden, usually the yellow pears. never made it to the kitchen. We would eat ’em like candy still warm from the sun. bugs& all. Most of the native plants here in Cental Texas have thorns; mesquite, prickly pear, prickly poppy, devils claw. All pretty, mesquite has attractive foliage and bright yellow flowers. Know what you mean about garden boundaries, God likes to color outside the Lines!
Oh plans for additions to a garden are just the most fun. Imagining about how they will all look together once they get established and big is worth all the work of digging and amending the soil to help them grow.
The name of your friend’s nursery made me think of a quote from a book that I read a long time ago. “Tomorrow is about Possibilities”. Today may seem like a real trial but possibility lurks in the future and you just have to catch hold of it and plunge ahead.
Well said, Victoria!!
Thanks for the link to their website. Our lawn in front has been replaced by native plants, and the shaded area outback has been converted to a woodland garden that abuts our neighboring bird sanctuary. We believe you can’t have enough bookmarks for good nurseries that provide native plants.
BTW it’s wonderful to be reading your posts again.
Thank you Lou. Taking a step back into my blog has been wonderful too.
What about a willow tree?
Yes! Have struck and planted willow trees too. They are great around water. Not natives though I think.
Weather warning: https://www.zerohedge.com/weather/alarming-forecasts-show-us-agricultural-belt-15-day-dry-spell
I could have wandered those gardens for days. Can’t wait to see the changing face of the farmy green spaces.
These tree are fast growing too – and can last 100 years- an added bonus.
What a lovely time you had! I have missed your photos and words- glad you had time to share your experience! Reflections are important- adding
dimensions to a garden. Have fun!
I have already moved one tree once!! I think I have it right now.
Not sure who said this, but I’ve always loved and lived by this quote: “A society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they will never know.” (Probably even more applicable to women…of all ages.) Bully for you for creating gardens and forests you may have to eventually leave behind. It’s a wonderful gift you are giving the earth.
I am beyond lucky to have been able to get these trees for my front forest garden.
Time for fried green tomatoes!
Hopefully it won’t be long before I have fried red tomatoes!
How lovely. I miss your days on the farmy. Life does take its own turns, doesn’t it?
Yes it does! But that is life right! Couldn’t live without it.
I have mostly perennials that will thrive in central Texas here as well. It’s less work in the long run. I did plant a few begonias tho for color in the shady spots. How exciting to find Connor and his wife’s gardens! We have some great nurseries in our area, but nothing that wonderful. Enjoy your Sunday.
You too! Have a wonderful Sunday!
Connor is a permaculturalist! So many plant-sellers (I can’t really call them plant-lovers) tell you to plant widely, give them lots of room to themselves, kill the grass underneath, etc. Connor understands about mutual support, nurse species and the way a natural ecosystem works. His gardens are lavish and lush and contented, not pinched and constrained and disciplined. You have the right idea there, Miss C. Go forth and plant, for the delight of future generations and the beauty of the earth.
You remember our Fellowship Forest? I think there is a tree out there for you. I just take you down there to visit soon!
That would be fun! I’d plant a kauri for you but a) I don’t have the space in our already crowded quarter acre, and b) I don’t think it would be happy in our climate.
They grow so slowly that the world will have changed by the time it gets too big.
Maybe I’ll see if I can find a small one in a nursery!
What a find!! It is hard to find places that sell and have knowledge of local natives. I ask neighbours for cuttings when I see they are growing something native and successfully, and I happily reciprocate. I read Hidden Life of Trees a few years ago and loved it! What a revelation. It comes in audio book form too.
Lovely post. A big spread of trees is one of life’s delights. Here in UK weather finally improved, very hot and sunny so here’s hoping the tomatoes will start to ripen. Duck pond looking good and love the chick photos. Egg and tomato, one of the best flavour combos.
Cottonwood–by creeks, feeder streams, ponds….Sycamore are lovely and interesting in the winter, too…good luck.
Cannot tell you how much I love this post. Possibility Place is such a perfect name. Love LOVE LOVE!!! All of it. And it reminds me that that is exactly why I LOVE gardens too. They feel like places of possibility.
Yes. Plants are so optimistic!
What a fantastic nursery! that is a proper one not like the garden centres we have here now, all the old nurseries have disappeared under new houses round our area. Your pond area will be so nice.
Wow! The duck pond already looks fabulous with your new purchases! Well done!!!
Not as deep and wide as your pond but coming along!!
I think of the Garden of Eden looking at Connor’s place. Like you said–heaven.
The other name for a plant cutting pilferer is horticulturalist 😉 Regardless of the term… the world would be bereft of plants without this practice. Every gardener I know loves to share plants, voluntarily or otherwise so long as it don’t respectfully.
Thank you for the gli pse of Possibility Place. I think if I visited there I might never want to leave.
I was in love!!
I finally have a minute to come back and tell you how much I enjoyed every word of this post. I’m ordering the tree book too. I love trees and have so many that self seeded in too close areas but I’ve left them to their own devices. They know what they are doing better than I do. Keep planting those trees. We certainly need them and all the rest.
You will LOVE this book. I need another copy too as I keep giving away mine! The way you are planting is exactly right – I love jungles. ( so do our precious birds).