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From the Editor - JanFeb 2017


At Chicagoland Gardening we duly make our resolutions, chief among them our determination that 2017 will be the magazine’s best year ever. And then we get down to business.

As in years past, we begin with a cover story on the year’s new plants. Since the number of new varieties is legion, we limit ourselves to varieties that have passed the trial by fire in the well-named trial gardens at Ball Horticultural in West Chicago. Each summer we take a day to reconnoiter the grounds with Jim Nau and his aide-de-camp Katie Rotella, note the high performers, and then commission our trusty photographer Ron Capek to turn them into art.

Just as we love plants (some of us have been accused of being “plant geeks”), we also love design, and this issue offers three design-based stories. The first inaugurates a new series of features that will look at the home gardens of area professionals. For January/February we visit the garden of Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, Wis. (Gardens of the Pros, page 54).
The second new series is Design Tips in which we take a photograph of an expertly designed garden and pull out 5 to 10 ideas that you can apply to your own spaces. In this issue we showcase a vegetable garden created by Craig Bergmann (page 18).

For the third, we reprise the clever display garden presented by Aquascape at last year’s Chicago Flower & Garden Show. Here construction manager Brian Helfrich and his staff played a game of “variations on a theme” by designing a large circle, dividing it into six equal pie-shaped segments and then showing a different design solution for each of them. One segment was left blank with just a lawn. The other five were turned into diminutive gardens, each with a water feature.

In our January/February issue we always provide charts and what-to-do outlines that will serve you through the year. Liz Holmberg, owner of Lizzie’s Garden in Naperville, for example, has compiled a blooming houseplant chart for all of you indoor gardeners. Another chart will take you through the growing season according to the needs of different layers of the garden (lawn, ground covers, edibles, shrubs, perennials and bulbs).

Think you can’t grow food in the city? Just look at the Hyde Park garden of Ron Grzywinski who grows so many vegetables that he invites the neighbors to come in and forage at will. He has grown 107 different tomatoes over the years. What’s more, he has kept notes.

What else? Bob Coultrip cultivates 250 conifers in Naperville. Landscape architect Scott Mehaffey selects 10 noteworthy garden trends, and Michelle Byrne Walsh enjoys a visit to a craft club in the western suburbs that does something nifty every month, this time demonstrating how to turn old silverware into durable plant tags. What a great winter project!

How’s that for keeping our resolutions? We believe 2017 is off to a great start.

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questions

I have two 3-year-old rose of Sharon plants, about 20 feet apart. One blooms every year. The other plant forms about 100 buds and looks healthy, but it has not bloomed in the last two years. The buds are solidly closed and look as if they are rotting from the inside out. There does not seem to be any sign of insects on the plant. What is this problem?

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.

From what I have read, hellebores are supposed to spread. I have a few I planted four years ago, and they seem to be the same as when I planted them. They are planted in a bed of vinca. Should I remove more vinca that surrounds them? I do fertilize them and protect them with a winter mulch. What else should I be doing to have more plants?

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