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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 ThumbButterfly Heaven

This South Side Chicago garden attracts an astonishing variety of butterflies thanks to the biodiversity it offers in a neighborhood of otherwise sterile green lawns.


Article ThumbHometown Honeys

You may have been told that bees are beneficial and that they pollinate a lot of agricultural crops. Most of the time when people talk about bees, they are talking about foreign honeybees, which were brought to North America by Europeans in the 17th century.

Honeybees are fine, but many bees that we see and call honeybees are actually native bees or flies that look like bees.

There are many other bee species native to Illinois, the Midwest and North America. While they aren’t often discussed, they do a lot of pollinating.


Article ThumbMilkweed For Monarchs

Most of you have read many statistics about the plummeting number of monarch butterflies in the United States, Canada and Mexico, their migration site. According to a January, 2014 USA Today report, “The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico plunged this year to its lowest level since studies began in 1993.”

Each of us can do something to help reverse monarch numbers and assure that there will be monarchs in our future. And that is … plant milkweed … the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs. The lack of milkweed, the monarchs’ host plant, is an important factor in their drastically declining numbers, along with urban sprawl, extreme weather, new farming practices and illegal logging in the butterflies’ winter habitat in Mexico.


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Columns
The Gardening Zone

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of soil, a dimension of blight ...


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Diary of a Bad Gardener

Dear Diary, I’m soooo excited that I can hardly breathe!! Spring is almost here!! I can feel it in my very, very cold toes ...


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Mike’s Very, Very, Last, Absolutely Final and Never EVER to Be Repeated Holiday Hort Singalong!

Well, folks, you knew you were living on borrowed time. I didn’t realize it, but so was I. But when the FBI and Walt Disney …


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A Conversation on Color

At some point in a gardener’s life, he or she will likely come across the writings and photographs of the renowned gardener ...


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Blog
Signs of Spring?

So here I am, wandering around with my nose towards the ground, scrounging for signs of spring. I’ve found a few — snowdrops ...


questions

Can you tell me if the African daisy Osteospermum ‘Springstar Aurora’ can be winterized here? It is a healthy plant?

I am going to be planting five dwarf fruit trees; two ‘Bartlett’ pears, one ‘Cresthaven’ peach, and two ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. Could you give me some feedback on them?

What three dwarf shrubs do you think gardeners should know about and why?

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