Tuesday, October 12, 2010

General Grant

We spent a few days in one of my favorite towns, Galena IL.  The weather was perfect for walking and walking we did!  Although many perennial flowers were no longer in bloom, there was an abundance of annuals in the gardens at the many beautiful homes.  This is a Dahlia that was almost dinner plate size.

Because we go to Galena several times a year, and the weather was so great, we decided we'd take our own self guided walking tours.  We both enjoy the grandeur, character, and beauty of old homes.  And, if old homes are your thing, nothing can give you so many that are so well preserved as in Galena.  This particular home is an example of the steps and hills that must be navigated to take a walking tour in Galena.  It appeared no house or fence was made that didn't include stone and iron - both plentiful.  Most homes and commercial buildings are either build into a hill or on top of a hill.  We decided Galena residents must be very healthy, have tremendous leg muscles and have extraordinary driving skills in the winter.   

Another large Dahlia seemly unaware fall had descended.

Galena in Latin means "iron".  This is one little fact that I gained while touring the Galena Historical Museum.  It was pretty awesome to see the period pieces, the iron mining history and photos and General Grant's things.  They actually have his boot - one he wore while in the war.  The above log cabin is an example of many in the area - some old and some new - this one is both.     

I noticed many of the old homes and top floors in the business district are apartments.  I suppose it's very difficult to own one of those beauties, keep it historically correct and in repair.  Plus, there isn't any really huge business aside from tourism.  With the fact that many people rent, it was even more surprising to see so many little cottage gardens and the quantity of annuals.

Often the large homes have been converted into Bed and Breakfast establishments.  We try to stay at a different one each time we're in Galena - along with the historic DeSoto House Hotel.  This year we stayed at the Farmer's Guest House and it was great.  Historic, immaculate, good food, friendly hosts, comfortable beds, and the other guest were especially enjoyable. 

Through a breakfast conversation, I found I was sitting next to another "daylily enthusiast".  This lovely couple was from another famous Illinois town, Metropolis.  It is so nice to visit with another gardener and find our differences and our common ground.  This little plot was the entire front yard of one historic downtown home.   

These are two of the large city buildings located overlooking the Galena River:  The top was a former school house and is now condos.  The trees were just beginning to turn and that will only get more beautiful as October marches to winter.  Galena is especially beautiful after Thanksgiving when they do Christmas decorating as only Victorians can.  I think next time we visit, we'll do a walking tour during daylily season since I saw many plants around the old homes. 

 As for the commercial aspect of Galena, the shops are mostly filled and seem to be thriving.  Food is everything from convenience, cafe', Italian, up-scale, to the VFW bar located downtown.  I mention the VFW because that's where I met the "generals".  They have members who do historical talks as the eight Galena Generals of the Civil War and they had stopped after one presentation for a short stout.  They told me their story as if they were still in character.  They do this as a way of preserving the history for the next generation.  Galena:  A good place to visit and a good place to live and apparently a good place to garden.   

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