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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 ThumbBasement Bounty

Decisions, decisions. What’s a devoted gardener to do with brugmansia as winter approaches?

For opulence and tropical splendor there’s nothing like angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). Tall, elegant, with draping fragrant bells of bloom, it can dominate a patio, balcony or an entry way like little else.

But here’s the rub. It’s not hardy in Chicagoland. So this raises the sticky issue of overwintering. Should you just toss the plant when winter comes? Some do. Others would like to save it for another year. But how?


Article ThumbBeyond Violet

African violets are pushing the envelope when it comes to colors and flower forms. Ruffles, anyone?

When I was a child, I was totally mesmerized by the intense colors of the African violets that seemed to bloom continuously on my grandmother’s windowsills. I would stare in wonder at those jewel-colored blooms surrounded by collars of fuzzy leaves, fully convinced that only experienced gardeners of my grandmother’s reputation could get plants to bloom so gloriously indoors.


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A Plant for Neatniks

You know who you are. You’re the gardeners who keep your lawn perfectly edged and weed-free, the ones who maintain an ...


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The Best Plant You’ve Never Heard Of

Ask many skilled gardeners to name their favorite plant, and what do they reply? “The one that’s in bloom right now.”


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From the Editor - MayJun 2018

Where I grew up, it was common for us, whenever we were in a town, to drive around looking at the different neighborhoods …


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Columns
’Twas the Night Before Solstice

‘Twas the night before solstice, and all through the yard Not a species was stirring, not hosta, nor chard …


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Tough Love

The day we brought her home from the nursery, we were the proudest parents on the block. We hadn’t always wanted one.


questions

Late last year most of the leaves on my year-old seven-son tree (Heptacodium) turned brown, starting at the tips. It had some new growth on the tips and buds. I used a tree ring soaker hose every two weeks.

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?

I thought that purple coneflowers were insect proof, but now I see some aphids at the bud and tiny flies. What is wrong?

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