A farting demon is our co-pilot

Glinda’s got some time off, so we planned to take the day and run errands.  First we dropped some sedum and another succulent off at a friend’s house.  Then we went on to Gethsemane  which we’d visited a week or two ago.  We wanted to see if they’d gotten any more roses in, and to check out their vegetables and sun annuals.  And I had three boxes that they’d packed our plants in on our last visit.  If you return them you get back $0.05 each!  I got back a whole $0.15.  Honestly, I didn’t know what I’d do with all that money.  We got there around 9 a.m. and the place was already packed.  On a Monday.  What the hell were all those people doing there at that hour?


Their roses were nice, but apart from David Austin’s Othello, there were none that we’d earmarked for possible addition to our garden.  We passed on Othello since it’s a ways down on our list after Austin Roses The Lady of Shalott, Young Lycidas, and William Shakespeare 2000, and old roses Eugene de Beauharnais and Gruss an Aachen.

Black Krim

We did manage to find a San Marzano tomato plant.  They’re said to be the best for cooking.  And we also got a Black Krim, an heirloom tomato from the Caspian area.  So now we have three tomatos, two for eating out of hand, a cherry and a slicing tomato, and one for cooking.  We bought a couple of beautiful
little begonias and a torenia because we loved the one we had last year so very much, and because they were pretty inexpensive.

Torenia; ours are prettier

We decided to skip Urhausen for the time being and go straight to Meinke’s because the last time we were there they had both Shalott and Lycidas.  This time, not so much.  There were maybe a dozen plants left and only four varieties, none of which were ones we really cared about.  The prices were quite good, coming in at just under $22 per plant, cheaper even than buying them direct.  For comparison, The Chalet in Wilmette sells Austins for around $40. (I’m not slagging The Chalet here; they’re amazing.  It’s just that their roses are pricier than we like.)  Again, the place was packed.  Don’t people work on Mondays anymore? In any event we picked up our herbs: sage, thyme, parsley, dill, rosemary, and basil, and as we were on our way to check out, we noticed that they had some mushroom compost.

Now last time we were at Home Despot, we picked up a bag of the stuff and loved it.  It’s an immensely friable, rich mixture that’s lightening our clay soil and giving a nutritional boost to our plants.  So we thought, hey, why don’t we pick up a bag here?  It’ll save us from having to go to HD.  We paid for our stuff, packed up the car and went on our way.  Now understand that it was 90 degrees here today so we have the windows rolled up and the a/c on full blast trying to cool down the car.

And the smell was like the devil’s farts — sulphur and sin.  Imagine getting stuck in a small, very hot space with a pile of manure into which someone had thrown rotting onions.  Onions so far gone they’re nearly liquid.  Having used mushroom compost before and never having noticed any sort of smell, we did wonder if the onion sets I’d gotten were giving off some kind of sulfurously evil haze.  We rolled down all the windows and tried to blow the smell out the back.  Didn’t work.  It just kept on getting worse as if distance from its kin provoked some sort of serious intestinal upset.  I swear to you that there was a green cloud enveloping the car as we drove.

Our next stop was Pesche’s, a garden center we’d never been to before.  Halfway there I said, “The damn bag cost us $5, let’s just dump it.  I don’t want anything this foul in our little garden.”  Glinda agreed and we spent the rest of the ride trying to find a good place to put it so that maybe someone else would pick it up and be able to use it.

We pulled into Pesche’s (Also jammed!) and all thought of the compost was forgotten as we realized that we’d stumbled into an amusement park for gardeners.  The place is huge, the stock is gorgeous, and the prices are about Gethsemane level.  We wandered around saying “Oh I want this!  I want that!  Let’s get 50 of those!”  But we were there to look for Austin roses and we disciplined ourselves.  Apparently that’s the key because we found the only Lady of Shalott that they had, and not only is it a lovely specimen, it’s already about three feet tall and ready to burst into bloom!

David Austin’s Lady of Shalott

I’m not going to bore you with a list of everything we looked at, but trust me when I tell you, we put some serious mileage on that shopping cart.  We picked up a third  tomato cage, so each plant has its own, and the loveliest little trellis which we’re using for Shalott (She doesn’t have a proper name yet.)  One of us will post a photo of it soon.  We looked all over the gift shop and bought a little terracotta hedgehog who is now sitting under the magnolia, and a little resin fairy girl who is perched on the fairy garden.  We wanted a St. Francis but the prices were pretty steep.

So after paying for all that, we wheeled the cart back to the car, opened the trunk and WHAM, demon farts.    The smell nearly made our sinuses bleed.  So Glinda picked up the bag and said, “Let’s rearrange all this,” propped it up against the curb, packed our purchases in the demon-scented space in the trunk, and drove off.

I hope someone can use the stuff.  I really hope we didn’t kill any innocent customers.

We drove on up to Schwake Stone, which wasn’t far from Pesche’s since we need some nice, small stones for the quote project, and I want to get some larger landscape stones to add some texture and interest to the landscape.  I’d checked their website over the weekend, and gotten the address, so when we arrived there and found that they’d moved lock, stock and granite out to their showroom in Mundelien it was a pretty huge shock.  Nowhere on that site, which btw, has now been shut down, was there any indication that they were moving.  So now we’re going to have to figure out where to find what we want.  I saw some really pretty stone at Gethsemane for less than $1 a pound, so we might head back there later in the week.  And I’ve gotten a few other addresses with a quick google.  Charles, if you’re reading this and have any ideas, please let me know.  I also want to look at some clay chimney tops and flues with an eye to turning them into planters.

The rest of the day was very nice.  We had lunch at Portillo’s, hit Home Despot for more of the non-demonic mushroom compost we like, and a bag of potting soil, and came back home to plant the rose and tomatoes.  Grace gave us a bucket filled with ferns. Linda came over and had a can of fizzy water with us, and we talked about Pesche’s and how her St. Francis statue got decapitated.  I’m always telling you how much we love our neighbors; this is why.  They’re funny, generous, smart, kind and a little goofy.

We spent the whole day expecting rain.  60% chance, they said, hail, high winds, T-storms, the whole nine yards.  Except for the wind, they got it dead wrong, which is kind of a shame because we could have used the rain, and maybe some cloud cover while we were mooching around the garden centers.  I just heard thunder, though, which will probably mean that it’ll be raining all day tomorrow when we’re trying to work outside.

Meh, I have no reason to complain.  We had a damn good day, we got a lot of things we needed and a couple we wanted, and had some fun.  (Glinda is still one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.)  It was worth the bug bites, sunburn, 90 degree temperatures, crazy drivers, missing business, sore feet and even the devil’s farts.  Really.  Would this face lie?

Tracy doing her famous Calvin-face.


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