Proven Winners Advertisement

From the Editor - July/August 2015


The stars must have been aligned as we assembled our editorial calendar for this issue since it turns out that we have a sub-theme going on here. Water. How to use it. How to save it. How to employ it for our benefit while doing our bit to be environmentally responsible. All in all, there are six stories that have come together to reinforce the theme and offer a variety of takes on the topic. It must have been the stars. Speaking for myself, I’m not that smart.

Water is the elixir of life. Always has been, but its importance isn’t always front and center on our radar screens until we don’t have enough of it, and then the brows grow furrowed with worry. What lies in store for California? Will their four years of drought turn into five? Will we be next? Or will the future find us drenched with overwhelming rains and floods? We need to think. And prepare.

One strategy is rain gardens, and a story about a beautiful rain garden is one of the features in this issue. Having long believed that a beautiful rain garden was an oxymoron, I changed my mind as soon as I saw the lushly planted swale at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisc. Here was a collection of plants that worked together to retain water and impede runoff when the heavens opened but had the wherewithal to hold their own when the pendulum swung the other way. A second rain garden in Olbrich’s Rose Garden demonstrates the concept with a different set of plants (story by Patrice Peltier on page 53).

In Garden Basics, Melinda Myers discusses summer watering practices and offers tips for lawns, garden beds and containers. (page 20) Tip number one: choose plants that are appropriate for your growing conditions. No bog plants if your soil is dry.

That’s where you could plant a prairie, and Fermilab in Batavia offers a stellar example. Sarah Marcheschi takes us on a tour and tells how you, too, can visit and learn (Chicagoland Natives, page 29).

But should you want to grow some bog plants, Michelle Walsh explains how to make a bog garden in The Hands-On Gardener (page 24). The plants are fun-looking and rather strange. Some even eat insects.

Also strange is the fact that you can grow fabulous vegetables and herbs in water. At a senior citizens’ residence in Northbrook, this inventive energy-saving hydroponic technology enables a year-round rooftop garden. Cathy Jean Maloney gives the low-down in Good Gardens (page 27).

But maybe you only have room for a few containers and are balking at how they can demand daily (or twice daily) watering in high summer. So why not plant pots of succulents? In The Container Garden (page 40) landscape architect Scott Mehaffey puts together the lowest maintenance container garden ever.

Water. Use it (wisely) or lose it.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Family Gathering

My family is in the backyard. Lordy, save me from my family. They say that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Tulipa sylvestris

It’s probably been more than four years since a wild shade-loving tulip made its surprising appearance in a shady, grassy bed in


Article Thumbnail
Features
Let It Rain

Rain gardens are hot news, but are they pretty? Here are some examples that take the concept beyond mere buzz words.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Mike’s ‘Bottom of the Barrel’ Xmas Xtravaganza

If you could only see your face right now (take a selfie and after you wallow in the horror of your expression, send me a copy).


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Killing Grandpa Ott

I have been trying to kill Grandpa Ott, known affectionately around here as Gramps, for twenty years. We brought him here ...


questions

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 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?

Must I mulch my garden and, if so, when is the best time to apply it? What are the best materials to use?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement