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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 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?


Article ThumbWeird & Wonderful Spring Bulbs

It’s like the emperor with no clothes. The crown imperial stands 3 to 4 feet tall, its Sun King-bright flowers lording it over the spring garden with the hauteur of Louis XIV, utterly unaware that its dignity is fatally undercut by the absurdity of its green bad-hair-day topknot.

Not every spring bulb has the classic sculptured grace of a lily-flowered tulip. Yet many bulbs beyond the ordinary have charms that can grow on a gardener, adding variety and interest where tulips, daffodils and crocuses may seem old hat.


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Columns
Mike’s Instant Holiday Hort Sing Along: Just Add Snow

I’m often asked, “How do you do it, Mike … year after year?” That’s the wrong question. The right question is “Why do you do it,


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Spotlights
Sunny Disposition, Shady Needs

It is always a topic of conversation: What plants work well in sun or in shade? Or both?


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Blog
From Garden to Table

No one wants to think about gardening when the temperatures hover in the single digits and the wind is howling, but before ...


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Features
Perk Up with Pots

In our family, my sister Chris hosts Christmas and I host Easter. Among her many talents, Chris pulls out the stops when it …


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Columns
Hometown Honeys

You may have been told that bees are beneficial and that they pollinate a lot of agricultural crops. Most of the time when …


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?

The foliage on our cucumber plants is starting to wither and turn yellow. They get plenty of water and I feed them regularly. What could be wrong?

Is it possible to plant and grow Italian cypress in the Chicago area? Are our winters too severe for it? If they are, is there an alternative conifer that will provide a similar look?

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