Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When a Dream Comes True (at Steel Heart in Harvard, Illinois)

Some of the amazing metal work of Steel Heart LTD
We had a great weekend, a Mass and a Continental Breakfast at Church, a wonderful party for our granddaughter filled with fun, but what I want to tell you about is how my husband made a dream I've had for seven years, come true.  The photo above is of some of the amazing metal work of Steel Heart, an enchanting shop in Harvard, Illinois.  Harvard is about one hour from us, just up route 14.

Now here is the story.  When I started blogging about 7 years ago, I used a photo of an arbor I photographed in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.  If you look at my header (The very top of my blog) you'll see the arbor.  The way life works is... If you find something you love, you probably can't afford it.  If you can someday afford it, it's gone, as it was from the nursery in Lake Geneva.  Years passed, but I always looked for that arbor, whenever we would go to a nursery or garden shop.  When we were preparing for Jon's wedding, we worked with our local nursery.  As a part of our conversation, I pulled up my blog on my phone and asked if he knew where the arbor might have come from.  The gentleman mentioned Steel Heart.  In the preparations for the wedding,  that little tidbit got lost, until last week.  I was looking at photos on my Ipad, where sometime last fall I took a screen save of Steel Heart's webpage.  We had much to do for our party on Sunday, but we needed a ride.
Here we are at Steel Heart.  It's in a beautiful old factory district.  The ivy hides the brick walls on the outside.
It's a block long ivy covered treasure chest.
The view down the street.

Then inside... Gazebos...

 Garden art of all kinds...
 In an amazing old factory space.
Illuminated by beautiful skylights.
 Hanging baskets, planters, object d'art everywhere you look.
 and simple beauty interspersed.
 I walked around in awe, so much to see, and looking for... IT.
 Sensory overload.  We had to ask if they had the arbor...
 AND THERE SHE WAS!  We had walked right past it.
 It wasn't white, like the one in my photo, but it was The Arbor.
The lovely daughter of the owners helped us to purchase just the top part.  I want it to be just like I originally saw it on timbers. It was shown with more ornate legs made of the same material as the arbor.  I'm sure I heard angels singing at this point! ;-)
 In minutes we had it in the back of the car and on our way home.
This guy spoils me rotten.    I had to see it in place! (You might remember the bittersweet vine pulled down our previous arbor.  Last year after the wedding we had the vine cut to the ground and the broken arbor had to be removed.)

My dear friend Lynne once asked me what the significance of the photo of the arbor was...
I loved it the moment I saw it.  The photo had no season.  It could have been winter, spring, summer or autumn.  Now, after all these years it means so much more.  It's an icon in my life.  It represents me, and my life here in English Valley.  Now it will be a part of our life here, and thanks to my generous and sweet partner in love, a symbol of us too.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, May 22, 2017

In The Garden

 "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." - William Wordsworth

After a windy wet and cold several days the sun came out and I felt the need to get into the garden.
I purchased just a few plants, and plan to plant plenty of seeds.
 These look like mini foxglove.
 tiny zinnias...
 the bees and hummingbirds love them.
 Last year I started a ivy wreath with cuttings from a garden in Michigan and additional plants I bought.  I thought it might survive the winter, but ...
not a speck of green.
A project that I will enjoy, even if only for the season.

A local store has geraniums for .49 each.
They grew quickly last year,  and I love the light pink flowers that fill the plant all summer and through the fall.

 This plant I wintered over in the house.  It flowered in February and through the early spring.  Now outside, no buds yet but lush foliage.
 Other plants for our fairy garden.
 A little bit of the ground cover is coming back and will soon fill the bowl with the creeping charlie, or is it jenny?
 The lily of the valley is still blooming.  Oh the amazing scent.
 A garbage picked birdbath.  The robins love it.
 This gazing ball from years ago.  I glued pennies all over it, and there are still quit a few that have hung on.  Aleene's Tacky Glue!

 The roses have set buds.  I don't expect the river of roses w had last year.
 The endless summer hydrangea.  I hope for a few blooms after last years terrible showing.
 A bee balm that has to go into the ground.  From a neighbor's garden.
 Only one milkweed.  I will sow some seeds today in a sunnier part of the garden.
 I still have old canes to cut back,
 and weeding continues.
 Some rose mallow that hasn't been in this garden for a few years volunteered.
 Oh my peonies.  The anticipation!  I look out the window just waiting.
 Those buds, waiting for the right moment to thrill.
 My Annabell hydrangea.  It is enormous.  I will have hundreds of blooms.
 This angel has been a part of my garden for at least 20 years.
 These ducks used to be brightly colored.  I like them better now weathered and washed.
 It's the little touches I love.
 and my big bottle tree.  Impressive for someone who does not drink wine.
 A real oasis from the world, our deck and yard.
 Our maple that was just a baby when we moved in.
 It's peaceful, and clears the mind of worry.
The sound of running water is the perfect background.  
Alexandra Stoddard says, "The more we expose ourselves to all of these magical happenings (in the garden) the more we revere life."
Here we are, the happy grandparents with our babygrand at her birthday party this Saturday.  She had a "stinky sock" party at a jump and play kind of place that smells like stinky socks.  We did not stay but delivered the cupcakes and favors.    The sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face was so beautiful.  Penny had the very best time.  Later we face timed and she open her gifts.   Could we be any more in love?  Five years old this week.  Penny has filled our lives with so much fun and excitement but especially love,  Happy Birthday Penny!

"As I grew older, I thought the best part of my life was over
then I had a grandchild
and realized
the best part of my life had just begun!"  
Author Unknown

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny