April trees

A repeat post from April 2013. . .

Ribbon tree in Chicago/enclos*ure

Our two days in Chicago were windy (of course) and occasionally damp, and very few trees had even begun to leaf out.

Ribbon trees in Chicago/enclos*ure

But I was taken by this arboreal display of blue outside the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue.

Ribbons in trees in Chicago/enclos*ure

The ribbons were tied in the trees and along the fence in memory of the 28,828 children of Illinois who were abused last year.

blue ribbons tree in Chicago/enclos*ure

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in the U.S.  You can get more information here.

ADDENDUM:  The blue ribbons are in the trees outside the church this year (2017) as well.


this is the garden: colours come and go,
frail azures fluttering from night’s outer wing. . .

— e.e. cummings, “This is the Garden

In a vase on Monday: Ulm Münsterplatz

We were in the really pretty city center of Ulm on Saturday morning, walking around the farmers’ market* in the light snow. Many of the stands were completely covered in clear plastic against the cold. This one was full of tulips and forced cherry blossoms, and I would have loved to buy several bouquets, but they wouldn’t have been practical in our Ibis hotel room, which was comfortable but teeny.

So I wasn’t able to make a flower arrangement this week for the Monday meme “In a vase on Monday,”‘ but to see what other garden bloggers have created today, please visit host Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

*On the plaza in front of the Ulm Münster (church), which has the tallest church steeple in the world.

Vintage landscape: Mount Vernon

A repeat “Vintage” from 2012. . .

I love this 1902 photograph of the Upper Garden at George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. It’s so high Colonial Revival.

Early American Gardens has a post this week,  “Mount Vernon after George Washington’s death,” with images from the 19th century.  While looking at them I remembered the picture above and the two below.

Above is a hand-colored slide from a 1929 aerial photo, part of the lantern slides collection of Frances Benjamin Johnston.  The Upper Garden is on the right side.

And here is a general view (c.1910 – 1920) of the the Upper Garden by the Detroit Publishing Co.  All three images above via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The 20th century photos are pretty, but they don’t accurately represent the Upper Garden of Washington’s time.  In the late 19th century, restorers thought that the boxwood parterres (many filled with hybrid tea roses) were original to Washington’s time, but research in the 1980s found that they were actually planted in the 1860s or 70s (although they may have been rooted from Washington’s boxwood).

The garden was substantially re-worked in 1985, but such is the romantic power of a boxwood hedge that the mid-19th century bushes were largely “kept in place by their own mythology and the mythology they supported of Washington as American royalty,” according to The History Blog, here.

But by the early 2000s, those boxwoods were dying, so the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns the estate, decided to make an extensive (six-year) archaeological dig on the site.  This culminated in a “new” (1780s) design in 2011.  The area now holds large open beds of vegetables and flowers.  They are bordered by low boxwood hedges and centered by a 10′ wide gravel walkway.

You can read about the restoration in this Washington Post article, here.  And I really recommend watching this very interesting 30-minute C-Span video about the research and archaeology that informed it.

(There’s more about the garden in 2017 here.)

Advent forest, Salzburg

The Advent market of Hellbrunn Palace — just outside of Salzburg, Austria — is open from late November until Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, our guided city tour, which included a 15-minute stop at the palace grounds (otherwise closed during the winter) was on Christmas Day.


However, the absence of any other people among the remaining structures and decorations made it easy to appreciate the lesson of a simple good idea plus repetition.



The market areas in the two entry courtyards of the Baroque palace were set within “forests” of 400 cut trees and 13,000 red balls, according to one website.


The palace was (caused to be) built by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus, between 1612 and 1615. Its 148-acre park includes a section of trick fountains and a pavilion built for the filming of The Sound of Music. 

The Prince-Archbishop used the estate as a pleasure retreat during the long summer days, always returning to Salzburg for the night.


I hope, wherever you are today, that you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season!

Travel tips

Lovely, compact Salzburg makes a good Christmas travel destination, as long as you realize that almost everything will shut down at about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and not reopen again until December 27. Do your shopping, as well as visit the fortress and other museums, on the 23rd. The two Mozart homes are open on Christmas Day and the 26th, and the guided tour companies are running on those days as well.

Be sure to make dinner reservations for the 24th, 25th, and 26th well in advance (a few weeks out). Our hotel had two good restaurants, and they were so fully booked for Christmas Eve that the hotel was not providing room service that night.

However — this year, at least — the big Advent/Christmas market in the old city center was open through December 26 (although it closed early on the 24th), so it was easy to get a lunch or an early dinner of sausage and gluhwein.

Salzburg’s old city center from a pedestrian bridge. Note The Sound of Music “do-re-me” reenactment on the left side.

Also, Austria is one of the very few European countries that still allow smoking in restaurants and bars. Ask about it when booking or look around for ashtrays on the tables before sitting down if you want to avoid that sort of nostalgic experience. (Two of our three dinners were in restaurants without smoking.)