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From the Editor - Jan/Feb 2014


This is our “Ideas Issue,” designed to be a keeper, although of course we hope you keep all of our issues. So to get this new year off to a rousing start, we’ve created an issue that’s chock full of ideas for everything.

Every January and February, we get the garden ball rolling with Jim Nau from Ball Horticultural offering his appraisal of the year’s new plants. This issue we’ve tweaked that concept a bit in order to focus on plants for sun and ideas for shade, including shade-loving alternatives to the disease-prone common impatiens. There are newbies, but also a few golden oldies (well, not that old but definitely golden).

Check out the table of contents. Have a parkway? Garden designer John Eskandari shows what he did with the three long parkways at his Rogers Park condo: one sunny, one shady and one in-between. Have a pond? Bill and Vicky Frenz in Downers Grove show how to do it right.

Speaking of doing it right, in our hardscape story, landscape contractor Bob Hursthouse provides multiple examples of how somebody did it wrong. Work done on the cheap often backfires and needs to be redone, ultimately costing the homeowner more money.

So plan wisely. Better to do an affordable landscape well than overextend and do it badly. To that end, Lindsay Buchalski of Hinsdale Nurseries drew up design plans for the same backyard space with three different budgets. See what Chicago-area design professionals might typically do for $5,000, $20,000 and $65,000.

Want to move beyond the same-old, same-old in your vegetable garden? Deb Terrill will inspire you to grow Asian long beans, Jerusalem artichokes, ginger, peanuts, ramps and garlic. Need better soil? Turn to Jeff Rugg’s account of how he improved his Kane County garden.

Want to create an outdoor container with built-in flexibility? Examine the design by Scott Sullivan from the landscape design/build firm Topiarius. Using one key element, he devised a display that can be dressed up or down to last three seasons.

And if you’ve ever heard of hydroponics but didn’t know what it was, Ramon Gonzalez visits Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows who manufacture ultra chic hydroponic containers for windowsill gardening.

This year we’re adding two new columns. Curb Appeal will showcase homes that grab your attention as you whiz by in your car. Nina Koziol starts us off with a nifty entry garden in Northbrook.

Kids’ Gardening will offer parents and grandparents kid-friendly garden activities. In this issue, Patrice Peltier shows how easy it is for children to plant paperwhites and amaryllis, while learning a little science along the way. Our region’s major public gardens and several garden centers also offer classes and fun activities for children.

So it’s all here – a grand litany of exciting ideas for 2014. The writer of Ecclesiastes said there was nothing new under the sun, but with all due respect, he was wrong.

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I have a hoya houseplant that has been growing happily for eight years. It had flowers when I received it, but it hasn’t bloomed since. What am I doing wrong? Can I get it to flower?

Can I grow asparagus from seed? I saved the little red berries from my plants.

We moved into a house with a lovely azalea that didn’t bloom. We thought it might have been over-pruned. Last fall we did not prune it and now it still hasn’t bloomed. I was hoping to transplant it this year, but it looks rather sickly. Shall we prune it again and give it another year? Can I still transplant it?

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