African Garden + water

An Extraordinary Garden, An Extraordinary Gardener

I have wanted to see Trudi Temple's Hinsdale, Illinois, garden for 20 years, ever since it graced the cover of Horticulture Magazine. So when the idea of a Chicago Spring Fling was first raised, I immediately thought of it. I wish I could have taken the entire Spring Fling to see it, but transportation was a problem. Instead, I drove just five Flingers out to Du Page County in the western suburbs on Sunday, Pam (Digging), Diana (Sharing Nature's Garden), and Cindy (From My Corner of Katy) from Texas and Mary Ann (Idaho Gardener) from Idaho. While I should have figured out ahead of time exactly where she lived (I, like Jazz music and Chicago comedy, am improvisational), it was impossible to miss it driving by.

(I apologize for the quality of the photos, but we arrived in the middle of the day, the worst time for garden photography. Click on any photo to enlarge.) Front lawns are vastly overrated.

A careful examination of the two above photos reveals that Trudi and I share a design challenge common in the suburbs: power lines. I enjoy visiting gardens with power lines running along or through them to see how the gardener handles the challenge. The lesson - distract the eye downward.It was almost surreal to see this giant, magnificent Hosta specimen growing in full sun.

In partial shade closer to the house was this neat combination,

Geranium platypetalum and Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola.' (Purple and chartreuse, one of my favorite color combinations.) A Peony flourishes in the good soil.

Trudi doesn't have a compost bin. She has her own method of composting. She digs a hole and fills it with compostable material. When it is full, she puts a stone over it. When the stone sinks down, the hole is ready for planting.

This "Trudi Hole" is in her front garden.As if the front garden alone wasn't enough, we turned the corner and entered one of the most beautiful, yet comfortable gardens I have ever seen.

The little chair off to the right in the photo is Trudi's "good behaviour chair," where she sits one of her grandchildren with ice cream for a treat. There is lawn here, but it serves as path and as a foil for the exuberantly planted beds. No matter which way one turns, there is something to delight the eye.

Peony with European Ginger (Asarum europaeum)

Bearded Iris and Baptisia

Hakonechloa makes every plant near it look better.

This cute little Fern Trudi found as a a sport of a Japanese Painted Fern.

Remember, you saw it here first.

Trudi has gardened here for 40 years. Seeing her majestic trees, I realize how young my garden is at only 15 years.

The two metal arches were custom made. One displays her bell collection.

The garden features a large pond with a waterfall and large stones.

Her Chionanthus virginicus is what mine wants to be when it grows up.
In addition to the large ornamental garden, Trudi grows vegetables.

She uses wire shelf bins to protect tender young things from the rabbits, which boldly scamper through the garden.

The antique, rusted iron baskets are much more aesthetically pleasing than the chickenwire I use. I'm going to have to start hitting the flea markets and garage sales. One of the special things she's growing from seed is a climbing Lily,

Gloriosa superba.

Trudi welcomed us into her garden, but before she showed us around, she had us sit in one of the many seating areas in the garden and talked with us.

It was so relaxing after the hectic running around of the previous two days.

Trudi was born in Germany, and despite the hardships of World War II, she learned to love gardening from the age of 6. She married an American serviceman and emigrated to the United States in 1963, the same year Diana and her family emigrated here from Germany. Diana and Trudi enjoyed conversing in German. Mary Ann and Trudi also had something in common; Trudi's late husband was a commercial airline pilot, as is Mary Ann's husband. Trudi shared her wisdom with us, not just about gardening, but also about life. Her garden is never finished, and she doesn't bother to clean it up for guests. She was in the process of moving this Hosta when we arrived.

She is dissatisfied with the narrowness of the seat cut into this log bench, so I tried to convert her to the Sisterhood of the Reciprocating Saw (see Kathy's post here) so she could fix it herself and not have to wait for her "muscle" to come do it. Trudi does all of the work in her garden, except for the seriously physically demanding work. She's such an inspiration, noting that when she feels stiff and sore, she just goes for a walk to loosen up. How could you not admire a gardener who keeps this as a centerpiece on her dining room table:

It was simply the best afternoon I've had in a very long time. It was everything I'd hoped it would be, and more.

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An Extraordinary Garden, An Extraordinary Gardener + water