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From the Editor - JulAug 2018


A lovely handwritten letter recently slid through our mail slot. Penned by Lou Emmons of Richmond, Ill., the letter had been sent to thank us for our most recent issue, especially the article on iris.

A subscriber since the magazine’s beginning, Lou recalled our very early story about Virginia Umberger, whose shade garden in Elgin was ahead of its time. Virginia started planting native woodland wildflowers when they were almost nonexistent in local garden centers or mail order nurseries. Yet she persevered and in time created a garden that became famous for its collections of springtime ephemerals that thrived beneath her massive oaks. She always said the key to her garden’s success was the oak leaves that fell every year and decomposed, nourishing her soil. Alas, Virginia sadly no longer with us, having passed away last year at the venerable age of 108. She was a kind and gentle soul, beautiful in more ways than one.

Remembering Virginia brings to mind the many amazing gardeners we have profiled in these pages over the years, and the current issue is no exception.

You will surely marvel over two featured fabulous home gardens – one in Munster, Ind. and the other in Lockport, Ill. The Munster landscape is a many-faceted marvel with one distinctive element that stands out beyond all others. See it for yourself on page 46.

The garden in Lockport (page 52) is a marvel of another kind – a historic property with limestone structures that softly glow in the soft light of late afternoon. With its skillful placement of giant ornamental grasses and large ornaments, this space is an homage to the region’s past and also a modern illustration of the importance of proportion and balance.

Want flowers? Our cover story (page 40) highlights easy-to-grow annuals that you can still dash out and purchase for a cheery midsummer pick-me-up. The New Gardener section provides the basics of growing a cutting garden (page 14). And if you’ve ever fantasized about what it might be like to run a teashop where the menus are based on the weekly harvest, check out the article about Pinecone Cottage in Downers Grove (page 22).

To see fabulous gardens in real life, check out our listings of garden walks on page 61. Wisconsin, in particular, is brimming with options.

At the recent Chicago Flower & Garden Show, we were thrilled whenever folks stopped by our booth and raved, “I love your magazine.” I hear the same comment whenever I go out to speak to garden clubs. And what inevitably follows is a remark about how they so appreciate a magazine that caters to our region, our climate, our soils and the achievement of our gardeners.

It’s great to livie in the upper Midwest, and we appreciate your support.

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At the end of every winter, there are many shrubs growing along sidewalks that are dead and damaged either by salt, wind or dogs. Are there any shrubs that I can plant in these more exposed situations and expect them to survive?

I’m moving to a townhouse with limited direct sunlight. I would like to put a Japanese maple in a north-facing garden but don’t know if it will do well. What are the best kinds? Also, when is the best time to plant a small tree?

I’d like to plant a white bark birch in front of my home in my sunny front yard. What can you tell me about Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii?

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