I stopped by a client's in the northern suburbs last week about 6 weeks after we had done their annual plantings in containers.
May and June are officially our wettest since Illinois began record keeping in 1895, according to Jim Angel, State Climatologist. He also said (in a Tribune article) that four of the five wettest Junes in state history have happened since 1998. That was the year I began in the landscape business.
For those of us who listen to Climate Scientists, these records tell us something about the effects of Climate Change. Personally, since I have worked with landscape these past 18 years, I have noticed huge shifts in weather patterns. Everything seems to be extreme. So, for example, this year we have a late, cold wettest Spring/Summer.
Last year, we had record amounts of snow.
The two summers before, we had droughts...and when the extreme rain events occur in a drought: the precipitation just rolls off the baked earth and is not absorbed.
During one of those droughts, a number of suburbs away from Lake Michigan had water restrictions (not quite as severe as California now or where we partner with AFOPADI in Guatemala through SSG). Down by the lake where I live, our proximity to the lake has kept us in La La land...although Evanston is a progressive community working on being sustainable about green things.
In Chicago, when the rain overflows the sewers, the city lets out the overflow into Lake Michigan and usually the beaches are closed for a few days.
We've hardly had enough heat this summer for much beach time...
And while rain barrels and rain gardens are an addition (if done correctly), they are hardly adequate to absorb abnormally high rainfalls.
So, the key is to examine the larger constructs. Not just how we use landscape, but how our societal values figure into our long-range choices about sustainability. Enjoy these annual containers while we can still have them! (PS: The client's landscapers planted those multi-colored wax begonias.)
Last week I was lucky enough to lead a day's worth of garden tours for a group from the West Coast: PAC HORT (Pacific Horticulture Society). Years ago, when I visited the Norton-Simon Museum in Pasadena, I loved the sculpture garden. Its Landscape Architect was Nancy Goslee Power; I learned more about her through a copy of PAC HORT on sale at the museum. So, it was a nice surprise when they contacted me about leading a day of their Chicago garden tour.
We began in a private residence that I designed (no photos). Next, we went to a Chicago landscape Mecca...National Historic Landmark: Alfred Caldwell's The Lily Pond. (Top pix.)
These bike riders in their matching red shirts added great dynamic energy to the gray skies in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Here is the sky and cemetery gate (photographed during my recent site-visit in Feb.) in the Pueblo leading to the road to the village where AFOPADI is located, the NGO that SSG supports in Guatemala. Read more about it in Michael Daniel Meyer's remarkable blog post. I can't get the link to work so just Google: "It's Absolutely Crazy Wonderful Blog." Choose the option with: "You can support yourself with love," and read the June 10, 2015 blog post.
Below is Margarita with the healthiest-looking dog, by far, I have ever seen in that region. Usually, all the dogs look alike and are full of sores and pests and starving. This dog belonged to an AFOPADI staff member from the Capitol.