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From the Editor - JanFeb 2019


Once again I have been proven right. Gardening is the cure for all that ails us.

I was reading the paper one morning and came across a column by George Will with the headline “A Nation Mired in Loneliness.” (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 16, 2018) It was a response to Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse’s latest book in which he states that “There is a growing consensus that loneliness — not obesity, cancer or heart disease — is the nation’s No. 1 health crisis.”

As I read those words, the solution immediately popped into my head. Gardening! More people should take up gardening!

At its most fundamental level, gardening is about connectedness. First, the connection with the world around us — the plants, the birds, the insects, the soil, and, for many people, God. Putting a plant or a seed in the ground and watching it come up and grow is an indescribable thrill. You realize you are suddenly a contributor to life, to beauty and the world around you. You are being useful and bringing added value to the universe. It’s a spiritual moment.

Gardening also connects us to people. As neighbors walk by and stop to talk, we forge new relationships and come to realize that we are a part of a neighborhood, that we belong here. Again we see that we are making a contribution. This is a good feeling. As we become more involved in our efforts, we may end up becoming a member of a local group of gardeners or maybe a national plant society of people devoted to our favorite plant and we go to conferences to learn more and, by golly, we have fun. No room for loneliness here.

So here we are at the beginning of a new year and rarin’ to go once the weather permits. Until that happens, we have a magazine full of interesting articles to read, beginning with our annual review of the new plants we saw at Ball Horticultural in West Chicago this past summer. For our Gardens of the Pros story, Jean Starr visited noted plantsman Wayne Gruber in northern Indiana while Cathy Maloney shows us a garden in Riverside that brings joy to its outdoorsy homeowners even in the heart of winter.

A curiosity in this issue is that witches abound. We have a Natives story on witch hazels (by Susan Crawford) and a Hands On story about witch’s brooms by Jeff Rugg. We didn’t plan it like that, but there it is. Patti Peltier, one of the cheeriest persons we know, wrote a helpful Problem Solver story about hell strips. (They’re nicer than they sound.) And we get to see two reworkings of the same design framework in Howard Nemeroff’s spring, and then fall, containers.

This will keep your mind busy until you can get outdoors and put the rest of your body to work.

In the meantime, stay connected.

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questions

Can you tell me if the African daisy Osteospermum ‘Springstar Aurora’ can be winterized here? It is a healthy plant?

I applied commercial compost and hardwood mulch to an area where I am establishing a small garden. I did a few soil tests on the area and the results indicated the nitrogen was depleted. I intend to spread a bag of dried blood to rectify this problem When is the best time to apply the dried blood?

I recently moved to Chicago from Houston and I miss fresh picked figs. Is there any way to grow figs in Chicago short of installing a greenhouse? Will sunny windows do? I’m desperate.

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