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Bluebirds, Daffodils and Orchids, Oh My!


The weather outside is still a tad frightful, but the sunshine and the longer daylight this past week seem to have triggered Mother Nature. A pair of bluebirds showed up Saturday morning in our backyard where they explored one of our birdhouses. More bluebirds on Sunday morning flying from another nest box in our front garden, into the woods across the street. But indoors, spring has already arrived. Since my last post, Hope Springs Eternal, where you saw the bulbs in a window box, those daffodils emerged very quickly. Once the plants finish blooming, I’ll let the leaves turn yellow but will keep them barely moist. And when the ground thaws, they’ll go into one of the garden beds.

It’s still too early for that, so I suggest a great late winter fix — a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the awesome Orchid Show. The show runs from February 15 through March 16. Click here for more info.

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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?

Why do I have brown areas near the tips of my dwarf Japanese junipers? This has been occurring the last few years. They are supposed to be drought resistant”

What does it take to make a climbing hydrangea flower? Ours was planted 3 years ago and is growing energetically. It’s in a protected nook near the patio and gets very little direct sunlight, but doesn’t act sun starved. We gave it a shot of slow release fertilizer on planting, and once since. Somewhat inadvertently it gets plenty of water, since the hose spigot is nearby and leaks, but drainage does not seem to be the problem. It now fully occupies an 8-foot trellis but shows no interest in flowering. Is it youth, lack of sun, too much or too little fertilizer, bugs, lack of pruning or what? When do these plants bloom and what conditions do they like?

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