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From the Editor - JanFeb 2016


This is the time when the world waxes eloquent (or some semblance thereof) about “new beginnings.” Really? Is there such a thing as old beginnings?

Perhaps we should just call them revisions. We gardeners made a muck of many things in 2015, and now is our time to take stock and resolve to do better next time.

So this year we won’t optimistically set out the tomatoes on a warm day in May, only to see them get blasted by cold winds two weeks later, go belly up and need to be replanted. Nor will we put our new ‘Rebecca’ clematis in the shade … twice … or let the red KnockOut rose get so squished by the 8-foot wide Incrediball hydrangea that the rose actually stopped blooming for most of the summer. Who ever imagined that you could reduce the bloom on a KnockOut rose? (Solution: tell the hydrangea “you win” and donate it to the big perennial garden in Wicker Park.)

Thus we get up, dust ourselves off and try again. That’s always the goal of Chicagoland Gardening, but especially true in the January-February issue where we focus on new ideas and planning for the year. We offer this one issue in a convenient three-ring notebook format to make it a keeper for you.

We’re calling this our “Imaginations Issue,” and the pages are chock-a-block full of information and ideas to get you motivated. (Spring is coming soon.) Here’s the basic rundown:

We begin with our annual assessment of new plants from Ball Horticultural’s trial gardens in West Chicago with top picks from Garden Manager Jim Nau.

For vegetable gardeners, Jean Starr visits the Indiana home of Debby and Ken Rosenbaum who have devised a most ingenious way of growing super abundant crops.

Lost an ash tree or two? You’ll want to read Michelle Walsh’s article on suitable replacements based on her discussions with Dave Wanninger from Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee.

What else? Bill Shores joins our crew and will be writing a series of articles this year on growing plants in containers.

Betty Earl assesses ground covers.

Adele Kleine praises the red heart-shaped anthurium as the perfect house plant for February.

Mary Bolden sorts out our native roses.

And should you be wondering how to have a native plant garden with continuous flowering, we have compiled a chart that shows which plants will be in bloom each month, organized by color.

Finally, can home gardeners get helpful ideas from visiting grand public gardens? Garden designer John Algozzini says yes and shows photos of pointers he picked up by traveling to the many fine public gardens throughout the region.

All that remains is for you to settle down for a good read.

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questions

I have lost four 12-15 foot tall white pine trees over the last year. All had the same symptoms, browning needles at the bottom that continued up to the top. Can you tell me what pest is killing the white pines? I am also losing an Austrian pine now. It is experiencing the same symptoms.

I have a large variegated sedum with pink flowers that I have had for years. I noticed that it has started to send up some all-green shoots. Why is it doing this and how can I keep my plant variegated?

I’d like to start composting. Do you have any advice on what kind of bin to purchase/build so that it is successful in the Chicago climate?

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