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Creating an Autoportrait: Lynne Habig

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

This ninth post in this series features Lynne Habig, the IMA’s Greenhouse Shop Coordinator. Lynne is looking forward to this weekend’s Perennial Premiere.


Red, white & blue: I was born into a military family and, for many years, was fortunate enough to live abroad. I learned as a young child that America, warts and all, is still WAY ahead of whatever is in second place. I still love to travel overseas; but I never fail to get ‘goose bumps’ when I return home and see Old Glory flying!

autoportrait_lh_042114_016: The number 6 is significant to me for a number of reasons. 6 appears in the day, month and year I was born – I was 60 in ’06 thus beginning my 6th decade, there are 6 Brandenburg  concerti (my favorites) – and there are 6 strong women in my immediate family!

Faith, family & flowers: My life has been defined by faith, family and flowers. Our world seems to be in a perpetual state of (at best) organized chaos. My parents’ mantra was, “With a solid faith in one hand, and a sense of humor in the other, one can handle anything.” They were right!

Family has always been the bedrock of my security, even when said ground was really rocky. After one particularly disastrous foray into teenage rebellion, I can still hear my mother saying, “I really hate what you’ve done, but nothing can change the fact that I love you.” Whew, lucky me!

autoportrait_lh_042114_02And finally, flowers … Gardening has kept me truly grounded (pun intended) all my life. Season after season, I have watched the interaction of plants with weather, animal life, insects, etc. and have concluded that there is indeed order in our universe. And I travel with hope that eventually there will be a happy ending.

39.8 & 86.1: These are the latitude (degrees north) and longitude (degrees west) of Indianapolis. Rudyard Kipling said it best, “God gave all men all earth to love, but since our hearts are small, ordained for each one spot should prove beloved over all.” And in Dorothy’s words, “There’s no place like home!”


Perennial Premiere prospectus

Our horticulture staff are waiting for you!

Our horticulture staff are waiting for you!

After the brutal winter Mother Nature sent us this year, I am wondering if we’ll have a Stravinsky spring! But regardless of the weather, the path to a wonderful growing season starts by attending the fifth annual expanded Perennial Premiere Plant Sale on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. This annual salute to spring will have something for everyone’s gardening style: from traditional-in-ground gardens to container terrarium and bonsai gardens. Whether you are a novice planning your first ever garden, or a long-time gardener looking for some new inspiration, our trained staff of horticulturists will be present to help you choose plants for your individual site and lifestyle.

You can sign up for an IMA membership on-site!

You can sign up for an IMA membership on-site!

IMA Member Preview Hours are 9 to 11 am on Saturday, and members will receive a 20 percent discount on all Greenhouse purchases through May 4. Not an IMA member? Not a problem! You can join on-the-spot and immediately begin taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to have ‘first pick’ of all the plants and merchandise AND 20 percent off all Greenhouse purchases! Plus this year, all new members will receive a small native tree, while supplies last. We are open to the public on Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, and Sunday noon to 5 pm.

Food trucks will be available for hungry shoppers.

Food trucks will be available for hungry shoppers.

To enhance your shopping experience, many regional vendors we call our Perennial Partners will be available. Some of the Perennial Partners will be old friends you’ve come to expect, and some are new additions. There will be guided Garden Tours and Lilly House tours, food trucks, a Bonsai exhibition and demonstrations in Deer Zink Special Events Pavilion, free off-site parking at the Interchurch Center and a shuttle running between the Museum and the Greenhouse.

The Greenhouse is proud to offer a great selection of native plants as well as plants that have earned stellar reputations by being real workhorses in our very challenging zone. In addition, we will have a wide selection of new and unusual plants, annuals (weather-permitting), tropicals, herbs, houseplants, small trees, shrubs and orchids. Download a list of plants that are on order.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few images of some of what’s new for 2014 …

Now that you’re drooling … please join me in crossing your fingers that this will become a Vivaldi spring!


Straw Bale Gardening: A How-To Guide

1. Start with a bale of Straw.


2. Saturate it with water for about 3 days.

Watering a straw bale

3. Sprinkle the top of the bale with 1/2 cup granular nitrogen fertilizer and continue watering, adding 1/2 cup fertilizer for the next 3 days. Then for the next 3 days only add 1/4 cup fertilizer and water.

4. On day 10, begin digging 3 holes in the the top of the bale, a little larger than the plant pot diameter. Then fill the holes with potting soil or compost, or a combination, and water gently.

A straw bale with holes in it

A straw bale with dirt filled in the holes

Be sure to dig your holes slightly larger than the plant pot diameter

5. When the soil is no longer hot to the touch, plant and water gently. Clean gallon milk jugs with their bottoms removed make a good cloche if the temperature drops suddenly!

A planted straw bale with a watering pale

6. Continue watering gently and occasionally add dilute fertilizer or compost tea about once per week. The continued watering will leach the fertilizer out.

A straw bale with plants in it

Advantages to Straw Bale Gardening

  • Easier (raised) for folks with limited mobility
  • Useful if your garden soil is poor
  • Useful if you have little or no soil in which to garden
  • Virtually no weeding (Don’t use hay bales!)
  • Don’t have to rotate crops, use a fresh bale each year
  • At season’s end, provides great compost for rest of garden

Possible Disadvantages to Straw Bale Gardening

  • May look a little messy as the bale decomposes
  • Bales dry out quickly, so ultimately may use too much water…jury is still out on this one




Perennial Premiere

You come to the Perennial Premiere Plant Sale for the plants…well, duh! But this year, you’ll be staying for the wonderful, exciting festival atmosphere.

In addition to some of the most beautiful and unusual plants (perennials, annuals, tropicals, herbs and houseplants) this event also boasts a gathering of some of the most knowledgeable horticulturists in the Midwest. Nowhere else will you find such a well-informed assemblage to answer all your gardening questions…and all anxious to help you!

 Read the rest of this entry »


Up on the Roof

Right smack dab in the middle of town, I’ve found a Paradise…Up on the Roof!”  – Signed, A. Bird (apologies to Carole King)

Want to create a paradise for your feathered friends? The IMA Greenhouse has an exciting new product for you…a Green Roof Birdhouse. You can actually plant a living garden in the rooftop tray of this cedar home for birds.

In order to create this home for your feathered friends, simply follow these step-by-step instructions:

First soak the wood with water, as well as the potting soil you’re going to use.

Add soil to the roof tray until it comes to within ½” of the top.


Take cuttings from a plant, hydrate the roots, and “stick” the cutting in the soil.

Add cuttings as desired.

Choose a contrasting plant, prepare a hole for the roots and plant. Continue adding plant material that pleases you. Remember to choose plants that have similar cultural requirements.

And know when to stop!

Spritz well with water to clean the soil from the leaves and water the plant roots thoroughly.


When your masterpiece is finished spritz well daily, or when the soil is dry to the touch, gently soak the plants. When planted, a Green Roof Birdhouse is so beautiful, you may want to display it indoors as a living object d’art! But if your birdhouse is really “for the birds,” it comes with two heavy-duty brass screws for fastening to a wall, fence or tree trunk. There is a side panel that swings open for easy cleaning.

When Rachel Carson wrote her iconic book Silent Spring (1962) some say she launched the entire American environmental movement. Others say it began with Henry David Thoreau’s Maine Woods published in the late 1800’s. But whenever the movement started, we can all agree…GREEN is here to stay!


About Lynne Steinhour Habig

IMA Greenhouse Shop Coordinator

Lynne has written 7 articles for us.