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Summer became official here June 21st, and it looks like Mother Nature got the memo because we finally have warmer temps here in Illinois. The gardens here are actually still recovering from a rough winter, followed by a pretty brutal Spring.


We started the new year with a whopper of snow storm and a polar vortex.  We then had periods of cold – warm – cold – warm.  Definitely enough to confuse the trees and bushes.  Spring wasn’t much nicer to us.  After a mid-April snow fall big enough for our neighbors to build a very tall snow family our Spring stayed wet and cold. In fact we had the most rain ever recorded. At the end of May, we had a dangerous, nasty storm that brought us mounds of hail, here in Oak Lawn. Strangely, the neighboring towns did not have the hail. We had serious flooding as well.  All of this wrecked our gardens, not to mention our roofs.
The damage is two-fold. First the extreme cold from the polar vortex can weaken trees and bushes. Normally this would not be enough to cause severe damage, but the warm ups would then signal spring bloomers to get ready to bud. Then a cold spell would snap them back.  Once they actually set their buds they were then hit with another serious freeze. A single late spring freeze would not be enough to kill or damage trees and bushes that had set their buds. It was the combination that did the damage.  So, to everyone who has asked me when their yellow-brown Boxwoods will be green again, well I have sad news for you.  It’s just not going to happen.  We in fact lost more than half our boxwoods, followed by our Viburnums.

This is the Viburnum in our backyard last Spring.

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This is the same Viburnum in the Winter. The birds would come out of the boxwoods, just across from this bush, and rest in the branches. It provided us with beauty all 4 seasons.

This the Viburnum now, at the end of June.
There is new growth at the bottom of the bush.
The one by the front door looks worse.  We pulled that one out, but this one we have cut back to the new growth. I am excited to see how big it gets by the fall.


The end of May storm shredded perennials, took the tops off of bushes, pummeled vegetable gardens, and pretty much anything with a stem. The storm had seriously high winds. It piled inches of hail that took two days to melt in our yard. It caused major flooding as well. This compacted the soil making it harder for the plants that were battered to recover. We had just finished planting the rest of our annuals throughout the yard and put some veggies in the raised beds and pots. The veg we planted by seed were coming up nicely and it was a beautiful day. That was Sunday. By Monday most of it was gone.

This is  more than 24 hours later and we still had a pile of ice from the hail in the garden.

At the time it was heart breaking, As bad as I felt, I knew with some patience and TLC it would come back and it would be a lot cheaper and easier to repair a garden than a roof or everything in a basement.  We do not have a basement and strangely our roof is fine.
Now, nearly a month later, we have replanted and have added organic fertilizer to the plants that survived.  We’ve had a wet month with cool temps, which may have given the plants the time they needed to recover before the heat of summer finally arrived.

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The greens and the broccoli, which were the beds covered in ice, are doing well. I think Kale is the cockroach of the veggie family. Nothing kills it.  That and mustard greens. Looks like that’ll be the main menu for the apocalypse.
We have sweet peas in late June because it has taken them that long to recover. They were planted in early April and had made their way up the fence for a nice May crop. Better late than never.


Our local garden center had a great sale on vegetables, flowers, and herbs a week later. I like to believe it was because they’re good neighbors and knew we all needed to replant.  The garden is literally a month behind, but it is lovely, and I am so grateful for it.

I’m also grateful for a dog that takes the time to smell the flowers.  Here’s wishing everyone happy gardening.

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