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