Photos From the April Instameet

Taking Pictures in the Rain

(Press Play if you would like a little music while you read)

After a week of unseasonably warm, Chicago, April weather, Mother Nature delivered a traditional April day: rainy and cold. But that did not stop the photographers.

Taking pictures, drinking tea, more pictures, and loosing feeling in our trigger fingers! And even a few tours of the gardens for our new visitors. Was it worth it? We think so, but decide for yourself. Take a look at some of the pictures.


Here are a few from our @KeelerGardens Instagram account

First pic of today’s Instameet. #smokebush #keelergardens #connectwithnature

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#lamium from the front garden. #keelergardens #connectwithnature

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Working hard while we play. #keelergardens #peonies #ants

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And one from my personal account @xperientialed.

Enjoying the great weather at the #keelergardens instameet. #hellebore #connectwithnature

A post shared by Ed Caplan (@xperientialed) on

Plus here are a few from one of our guests.

And for you, our loyal readers, here are a few that we did not post anywhere else.


We had so much fun we will have to do this again.  Based on so many conversations about cameras, technique, and even some technical details we are tweaking the program a little. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to be the first to know about the next Photo Day at Keeler Gardens.

Thanks for connecting,



Garden Party

Welcome everyone to my Garden Party.  It is really quite easy to show off your garden to friends and family on a pleasant afternoon.  All you have to do is put some chairs on the deck or in view of the garden and provide some lemonade and cookies.  Guests are usually more than willing to bring something, so ask for easy finger food and light drinks, put out some flower pattern napkins and maybe even a bouquet on the patio table.  All of a sudden its a party!

Of course, the center of attention is the garden so here is a tour of my garden now that it is in full swing.  If anyone wants to the know the full Latin name for any plants leave a comment and I will respond.

You can park right on the street in my neighborhood.  I’m the green house with the lovely wrap-around porch…

You walk up the carriage walk and both of the trees in the parkway are surrounded by groups of plants that do well in the this mix of sun and dappled shade.  Tulips burst out in the spring, along with a nice patch of irises.  There are two types of hostas, astilbe, sedum, lamb’s ear, and new barberry shrubs and vinca.

As you walk up the front path you have gardens on both sides…

On the left there is a full garden of chameleon plant, creeping jenny, and angelonia, with begonia and million bells tucked in.  The taller group in the center is zinnias clustered around a mum.  The larger shrubs in the background are lilacs,  and there are also incredible hydrangeas, the flowers shown in the second picture.

On the right of the path is another garden offering sedum, spirea, and mums with asters, alyssum, and spotted dead nettle in the foreground and lamb’s ear, irises and peonies in the background.  Oh, and the edgers surrounding the gardens are my custom work.  I designed them, built a mold to mass produce, mixing, dying, and pouring the concrete, and shaping before final curing.  We made about 400 of them to line the entire front gardens.

Closer to the front of the house are more gardens…

To the left of the front steps is a rose arbor.  We put in two decorative trellises and used the rose itself to created the top arch of the arbor.  The morning glories on the railing are so vigorous they have made their way over to the arbor and are intertwining with the roses to give us color for the rest of the summer.

On the right you find the mixed border planted in front of the lilac, dogwood, and butterfly bush. This shorter group is plumeria, irises, campanula, boxwoods, and peonies with a rogue zinnia sprouting right up in the middle of it all!  The oval is two types of lavender with annual additions-ageratum and “black and blue” salvia in view.

The arbor in the picture is the passageway to the back yard which holds more exciting gardens to show you.  In the next post we will visit those gardens. Can’t wait to show you my rose garden!

As always, any questions or suggestions please comment.



Perennials For Your Display Garden

So this post will wrap up the travel series showing a bunch of perennials we saw on our trip to The Berkshire Botanical Garden, which, by the way, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the nation!

Here are two exceptional plants, each special in their own way.  The first is Arum Italicum, Italian Lords-and-Ladies, which does best in shade gardens.  This plant is so interesting…it offers up arrow shaped leaves in the spring with a stunning “flower” that looks like a calla lily.  The actual flowers are on the spadix, which is the spike in the center of what appears to be one big petal, which is itself a modified leaf.  When the leaves and flowers die off the spike remains and each little flower on it produces a berry, and you get this unique plant shown in the first picture above.  You can plant other things under it that offer foliage in the summer because the Arum leaves will reappear in the fall!

The next picture is Eucomis pallidiflora, Pineapple flower.  It speaks for itself with that wonderful collection of flowers seen in the summer.  This plant can get tall and really is a sight to see.  There are varieties of this plant, like Sparkling Beauty with purple leaves and flowers, that may make it thorough a Zone 6 winter.  Regardless of the variety you chose  you can pull the bulbs out and replant in the spring (like Dahlias) for a guaranteed summer show.

This is Clethra alnifolia, Summersweet.  This plant reminds me of a butterfly bush with its spiky grouping of fragrant flowers, accompanied by a rich, full foliage.  A really nice native shrub to add to your garden.

Here are two plants that just fill in empty spaces so well.  The first you may already know, Stachys byzantina, commonly called Lamb’s ear.  This amazing plant has foliage as soft as a fluffy fleece.  You can not really imagine it until you see it and feel it brush your skin.  I would recommend this plant to everyone just for the shear joy of watching people experience its softness.  It also produces a tall spike with small purple flowers that can be enjoyed or cut back.  It grows quickly, can handle full sun, and is easily managed by just keeping in clean and reined in.

The second plant is a grass, Hakonechloa macra or Japanese forest grass.  The blades of this colorful grass just float on the breeze and drape gently over like a waterfall.  The mounds appear full, covering the ground well, and yet the grass is light and airy.  This one likes part shade, too much sun and it may scorch.

I saw this plant and just loved it with its huge display of flowers, like a foxglove I thought.  I was going to leave it out of this post because I could not determine its name.  I am sure someone out there must know what this is.  Please do share it with us, leave a comment and I will let everyone know.

The last picture I include for the beauty shared by the flower, a Hydrangea, and my niece, Zoe.  We spent the entire afternoon together just taking in the scent and color of all these amazing plants and when it got a little to warm she would ask if we could rest on a bench in the shade.  The sweetest, most precious little voice, and look at that face!  Again, thank you to my husband Ed for catching this moment forever.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

The next post will be on my Garden Party!  I will share my garden through photos, spreading the joy of flora and fauna.