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Article ThumbGarden Tool Maintenance

A Clean Tool is a Safe Tool

In the garden, everything has its season. Fall is the season for cleaning and preparing tools for spring. Dirt and rust are harmful to just about everything, but especially to garden tools that are often wet and dirty. We depend on our tools to be safe and effective. Dirt and rust make our tools less safe and make us work harder. Water may be great for the garden, but it is the enemy of our tools.


Article ThumbMemories Through Gardening

Creating a Memory Garden can be very rewarding and requires little planning, just memories of what your loved ones cherished. Ask friends and family to assist with planning. It’s a great healing process for everyone. Incorporate a seating area in each garden to provide a place to rest and reflect.


Article ThumbFrom Home Garden to Production Garden

This is the story of the Bayless Garden. Well-known restauranteur Rick Bayless grew up in Oklahoma City, was closely involved in the family barbecue restaurant, went on to study the regional cuisines of Mexico and opened the wildly popular Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. Seeking sources of locally grown foods, Rick was instrumental in building a local food movement in the Upper Midwest. Ever moving forward, Rick sought out and found the perfect Chicago residential space to have a working organic production garden in his own backyard. The Bayless Garden was born!


Article Thumb10 Great Shrubs You’ve Never Grown

As a 50-something gardener, I have happily clocked in thousands of hours on my knees – digging, dividing, snipping and cajoling all varieties of flowering perennials. I have ignored very few fragrant Iris or heavenly-blue Delphinium at garden centers and plant sales over the years. Lately, however, my eyes have been wandering over to the woody-stemmed plants.


Article ThumbCantigny’s Project New Leaf

A requirement during my horticulture education was an internship at a public garden. I did mine at Cantigny Park in Winfield. After a very hot, humid summer I was left with no illusions about how many endless hours, the number of people, and how much work it takes to plant and maintain a public garden. This experience was invaluable.

Recently Cantigny’s Project New Leaf has been all the buzz in the gardening community. I recently had the opportunity to tour the grounds with the Director of Horticulture, Scott Witte and Senior Manager of Communications, Jeff Reiter.


Article ThumbA Gift from the Gods

Iris flowers are named after a Greek goddess who delivered messages to mortals while traveling on a rainbow. Just one reason they have so many colors.


Article ThumbBales of Fun

For vegetable gardeners, straw bale gardening may be the best innovation since sliced bread.

Straw bale gardening essentially turns a bale of straw into a raised bed. It requires no digging or soil preparation. Because you’re not planting in the ground, you don’t have to worry about soil-borne diseases, and weeding is minimal. It doesn’t even matter if your soil is crummy or if the sunniest place in your yard is covered in concrete. You can achieve optimal growing conditions for a vegetable garden in a humble bale of straw.


Article ThumbCriminy, It’s Crinums

My favorite plants have to meet a few important criteria. They must survive on their own because I can be a lazy gardener. Insects and diseases must be rare, so there will be no need to spray. I want plants that can grow in the water along the shoreline of my water garden; the hot, dry side yard; as well as indoors. They must have big, showy flowers to please the eyes, fragrance to please the nose, tasty would be nice, and if I could get them to make a noise, I would like that too.


Article ThumbBon Voyage

Fall is upon us but there’s no reason to put your garden to bed just yet. That’s because the show goes on with birds, thousands of which are migrating and stopping daily in local gardens for a bite to eat or a drink of water. And the activity doesn’t stop there. Monarch butterflies will be looking for nectar – a rich source of energy during their long commute to Mexico. Bees remain active and there’s an assortment of insects – praying mantis and other “beneficials” – that are present until the first fall frost about mid-October. There’s plenty to observe and enjoy.


Article ThumbPerk Up with Pots
By Cathy Jean Maloney
Photography By Ron Capek

In our family, my sister Chris hosts Christmas and I host Easter. Among her many talents, Chris pulls out the stops when it comes to holiday decorating. Even in the dead of winter, her house brims with festive greenery, twinkling lights and potted poinsettias.

Then comes early spring and Easter. How can I compete? The ground is muddy at best or still snow-sodden at worst. No buds have popped yet, and any early bloomers have, more often than not, petrified pitifully in a late freeze. Being a gardener, I consider it a point of pride to find a way to jumpstart the season in time for the spring holidays.

Containers are a great solution since they can be moved to protect against volatile spring weather. But what plants might work well in early spring – I’m talking late March or early April – and where do we get our hands on them?


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It’s Your (Gardening) Thing

I don’t know the names of all of the plants in my garden. There, I said it. I’m not bragging, mind you, nor am I apologizing.


questions

I would like to start seeds under lights. When is the best time to start flower seeds? The seed packet always says to sow a number of weeks before the last frost. When is the last frost?

What ratio and amounts of fertilizer would you use for a perennial bed and a vegetable garden? For growing annuals in a greenhouse, should the fertilizer be fast or slow-release, organic or inorganic?

We have a skylight in the bathroom over our Jacuzzi tub with an area around the tub that is quite large. What plants can we grow there, and what care do they need? Can we grow orchids?

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