2017 Summer

Summer Letter from Craig

Dear Garden Appreciative Friends,
The summer season is upon us. The weather already another quandary, with our August rains coming in July, but at least the brutal heat and humidity have been phasing in and out so far. In the Garden things seem to be growing well as long as there is proper soil drainage for this water-logged July. Roses were gorgeous in June thanks to a milder winter, but the tomatoes just don’t like the constant moisture. Our old potted Bougainvillea has never been so beautiful, and the early phlox and lilies seem almost too big for their britches.

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    The Gardens at 900 are now 6 years old and are wearing the cloak of establishment, and in some places, even a bit of welcome patina. It is so nice to be in “edit mode” and not “construction mode” – to be able to really listen to the site and observe the artistry being attempted along the way. The art of fine gardening, our trademark, is a practice we all cherish. We are thrilled when it reveals itself.

    Our home and office complex commemorates its’ 100th anniversary this summer so we will be celebrating all year. There is a real humbling feeling that comes with owning and caring for a piece of history. Paul and I both learned early on in this venture that these buildings would not be standing today if they had not been designed and constructed with the finest integrity, craftsmanship, and quality of materials. We both follow this mantra when building interiors and landscapes for our clients. Why does quality and good design seem to take a back seat to a quickly finished product so often in today’s world? It is perplexing that the want for immediate gratification outweighs the cost of a long lasting, better than average, home improvement. We are not finished with our own renovations at 900 because we save up the funds to get the best quality craftsmanship to ensure the integrity of these structures endures. As we progress through our projects, we incite this mentality, so when we get to the end we have something that will stand the test of time. Much like a good friendship, one’s home should get better with time.

    But God knows all it takes is a good dose of Mother Nature to remind us who is boss in the garden, and the home for that matter. But with a good foundation and structure, one’s garden and home can withstand these unknowns along the way.

    This all said, 2017 here at 900 North Waukegan Road is a joy and more beautiful than ever. Our extended family of friends and staff make every day a gift. It is a pleasure to call the old Gate Houses and Motor House at Elawa Farm more than a dream, but our reality.

    Happy Summer.

    May your time in the gardens be a joy to share with your friends and loved ones.

    Sincerely,
    Craig Bergmann
    RLA, ASLA, Proprietor

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Spring Letter from Craig

Dear Fellow Lovers of Spring,
Well, we’ve waited a long time for it, But Spring has finally arrived in the garden!

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    For the last three weeks or so, I have been conscious of the longer days and every plant outside seems to as well. This winter, being so mild, never really browned our lawns, but “spring green” is everywhere today. The Orchard is resplendent with daffodils, fruit trees blossoming, and waning Scilla – as well as the peony shoots and rose canes that are breaking dormancy. Very little dieback on the roses should provide quite the spectacle in June.

    With such little snow cover, we have lost many-a-buddleia and, I fear, lavenders. Delphiniums haven’t haled much better, but the woody plants really seem robust and ready to perform.

    We should expect major rabbit activity in all of the gardens that we tend, and insects should be especially prevalent this summer. This all said, WE ARE READY TO GARDEN!!!

    Early this spring, we lost a dear gardening friend in our Lake Forest and Lake Bluff community. Jane O’Neil, along with her husband Tom, was one of my first Lake Forest family clients. From day one, Jane was a joy to be with. She was always on the move and looking for the best we had. She always shared her knowledge and her friendship inside and out of the garden. The “Girls”, as Jane and company were so thoughtfully called by us at CBLD, brought fun and often food when visiting us at the Old Country Garden. Anyone who was fortunate enough to meet Jane was always endeared with a genuine smile. Because of the deep connection we made with Jane we feel as if we have lost a member of our extended family. When you see a beautiful red tulip or the brilliant breast of a robin this spring, send our friend Jane a smile or a wink. No doubt she will surprise you with something wonderful now that she is on the inside track for success in the garden.

    Long live the garden and long live the memories of our friends who make our gardens more than just a collection of plants…they are part of our homes.

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    Be well, and take some time to smell the Magnolias!!!

    – Craig Bergmann and Company

    Sincerely,
    Craig Bergmann
    RLA, ASLA, Proprietor

0217 blog

Winter, Almost Spring, Letter from Craig

Hello folks.
I’ve been remiss in sending out my winter greetings to you and I apologize for that. This late fall and early winter has been a whirlwind for me personally with selling our old place in Michigan, health issues with the family, and on and on…

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    Interesting when the season closes, all of a sudden focus changes from gardening to life. This is only an observation as I grow older and gain more perspective. Life, in general, has been wonderful to me and my loved ones, and yet, the seasons seem to go faster and faster on my short life journey. A humbling thought that life seems to take so much work and we take so little time to enjoy all it has to offer.

    On a recent 59 degree Saturday, Paul, the pups, and I stomped out to the west borders to cut down the glory of our autumn garden superstars. The stiff stems of the prairie-rooted asters withstood the rigors of the heavy wet snows of December. Precious annuals, the likes of Plectranthus and Strobelanthus, were mush in my hands.

    Today the gleaming tower of Miscanthus floridulus is a show stopper in the morning sun, contrasting the old brick column of the motor court.

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    A garden stroll last week revealed a very informative and honest observation from our friend Robert visiting from Milwaukee: “I love that the garden is still so interesting, even in winter. Not many gardens make me want to walk through them in the winter but then, you guys know what you are doing!” We work diligently to provide year round interest in our garden designs with the configuration and the collection of plants that reside in it. Over the last six years, it has been a gargantuan effort creating and maintaining this garden. For the first time since we relocated here, I felt that the garden is here now and we get to watch it grow instead of making it grow.

    I have said it before and I will say it again: For all of us enchanted with gardens, winter is a time to reflect on where the garden has been, and a time for dreaming of where we can take it next season.

    May you all have a dormant winter season full of light, sparkle, and a few warm days to prune those special woodies.

    And now that spring is nearly upon us, we will not cry that winter is over, but will smile that it happened.

    Sincerely,
    Craig Bergmann
    RLA, ASLA, Proprietor

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Fall Letter from Craig

I feel the chill of autumn in the morning and early evening air now. Amazingly, though it is the case every year, the color intensity in the garden is like an explosion. The palest pinks and yellows become saturated and brilliant. The reds, purples and oranges become the stars of the borders – our very own Technicolor treasures.

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    As I grow older, fall means more to me. Preparing for it comes to the forefront of my to-do list. I reflect on the gardens performance, give urgency to finishing chores before the snow flies, and attend to simplifying the planting plan.

    Owning a nursery with highly-qualified, knowledgeable people to execute my ideas is a gift I don’t take for granted. With an abundant nursery inventory as my planting palette, my ideas can be fast-tracked and decisive. Year-end design work always reveals a plant friend found earlier in the season. I always hope to find a perfect match with a client implementing a new planting plan so we can give a sizable reduction in plant prices. I feel like Johnny Appleseed when I get the opportunity to enhance a relationship with a cherished client this way!

    Speaking of apples, our orchard is producing like gangbusters this year. We’ve already given away bushels and the Jonathan and Braeburns are just coming into harvest. We’re hopeful for many a crumble or pie in our future, thanks to our baking friends.

    May your autumn season be filled with dog walks in the crisp air, a beautiful morning fog over the lawn and a lace of early frost on the last rose of summer. But most of all, get outside while you can still soak in some warm sun without that darn summer humidity!

    Your friend in the garden,
    Craig Bergmann
    RLA, ASLA, Proprietor