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Article ThumbThe Flavor of Autumn

Snow showers hit the area this week, but the Swiss chard that’s growing under my frost cloths and in a small unheated greenhouse in our backyard just shrugs off the chilly temperatures. I grow several varieties and all of them seem to taste just a little better with the onset of cold weather.


Article ThumbWhile Waiting for Winter

While my back was turned (okay, I was out of town), we got a little frost. I didn’t realize it until I walked around my garden yesterday and discovered that the New Guinea impatiens, coleus and zinnia had collapsed. The dahlias also had gotten zapped. The cannas, however, were still standing tall in their pots, and I’m going to leave them there until the frost makes a repeat performance.


Article ThumbTime to Plant Those Bulbs

There’s a nip in the air — I wouldn’t yet call it a chill — that prompted me to rummage through the box on the back porch yesterday and bring out the bags of bulbs I will be planting. Some of them maybe even today.


Article ThumbHummingbirds Heading South

One of the most extraordinary creatures to visit local gardens is the hummingbird. There are several species of hummingbirds in the U.S., but the one most commonly seen east of the Mississippi River is the ruby throat.

It’s the male that sports the ruby-colored collar that glistens in sunlight. The females have a dullish white neck with a few gray spots. The male and female’s wings, back and tail are a dull olive, which appears to sparkle bright green in sunlight.


Article ThumbA 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 exquisitely proportioned space between plants. You’re the opposite of folks like me whose plants are forever rubbing shoulders with their neighbors and muttering under their breath about garden bullies.


Article ThumbFit for a Queen

The juxtaposition is a little jarring at first, and then you start to smile. You’re downtown, driving along Lake Shore Drive, the splendor of the city’s sophisticated architecture for a backdrop, and what do you see as you pass directly east of Buckingham Fountain but hundreds and hundreds of giant yellow-flowering sunflowers. A country flower if there ever was one.


Article ThumbSaturday Surprise

It helps to go out and look at your garden every day. After a Saturday morning spent hacking out purple violets with the dandelion weeder because 1) there doesn’t appear to be an organic herbicide on the market that deals with violets and 2) I worry about the after-effects of whatever strong chemical a licensed professional might apply, I decided to catch my breath with a leisurely stroll through the front yard. And there I discovered a treasure — a lovely pendulous apricot-colored brugmansia.


Article ThumbMy Greenhouse Beauty

There are a few cyclical events in my life that I look forward to: the first lazy snowflakes, the emergence of a small spring bulb, the fulsome green of spring, my July birthday, and the sudden shocking pink of Aechmea fasciata leaping out of its silver urn.


Article ThumbA Bulb Like No Other

A few days ago it was cool enough to go outside and see the red needles calling me. It was my fully open haemanthus, a rarely grown South African bulb whose salmon red stamens form a round ball up to 10 inches across.


Article ThumbThe 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.”

Not what the interviewer wanted to hear, probably, but true nonetheless.


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Features
Poinsettia and Its Kin

They don’t look alike. Not even close. But kinfolk come in all shapes and sizes. True of people and true of plants.


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Spotlights
Treasures of the Woodlands

Tulips come from Turkey, but woodland wildflowers come from Chicagoland. Why not have someof both in your springtime garden?


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Blog
Rain, Rain Go Away!

Our official National Weather Service rain gauge clocked in with 3.60 inches of rain at 7 a.m. this morning. And more is ...


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Blog
Saturday Surprise

It helps to go out and look at your garden every day. After a Saturday morning spent hacking out purple violets with the ...


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Columns
Cultivating Wayward Sprouts

I am a bad influence. And not just on would-be gardeners. Oh, no, it’s far worse than that. I am corrupting America’s youth.


questions

Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives’ tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don’t want all these bugs.

Last summer my neighbor told me the black spots on my peony were a blight, although my peonies bloomed nicely. What can I do about this?

I start ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia from seed under grow lights. What other begonias can I use to cross-pollinate with the ‘Dragon Wing’ so I can collect my own seeds?

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