If all has gone according to plan, our gardens are looking fabulous right about now. Yes, I still hanker after the bold and the beautiful, envisioning arbors draped with 15-foot sprays of fragrant roses and clematis like those I’ve seen in England. But I have no place for an arbor and many of those Anglo behemoths aren’t hardy here, so I’ve chosen a non-fragrant behemoth that is: ‘William Baffin’. If you want an ubermensch rose, this is it.
And while I’ve nearly stopped dreaming about Clematis montana ‘Rubens’, which regularly clambers to the rooftops and transforms even the most nondescript English house into a thing of beauty, I have high hopes this year for Clematis ‘Pendragon’, the 10-foot tall rosy-purple marvel that our Associate Publisher Ann Sanders says blooms non-stop in her Bolingbrook garden. Having a covetous nature, I ordered one for myself as soon as I heard her singing its praises. I’m giving it marching orders to climb to the top of my ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae.
Thus it’s only fitting that our July/August issue showcases gardens in the region that are high on the fabulosity scale.
In our cover story Heather Blackmore visits a garden in south suburban Thornton where daylilies reign supreme and we get an update on what’s new in this floral world – a realm where even the most amateur gardener can have brilliant success.
At the other end of town, Lee Randhava pays a call on Marco Zerega and Eric Janssen whose amazing shade garden and thoughtfully sited woody plants frame a thrilling view of Lake Michigan and the universe turns magical at twilight.
While the colors are muted at this Evanston extravaganza, the opposite holds true at chef Rick Bayless’s two-lot vegetable garden in the city. You may have glimpsed snippets of this tour de force on Bayless’s Mexican-inspired PBS cooking show, but now you will get to linger and learn how he and head gardener Bill Shores have laid out the growing beds, keeping them attractive through multiple harvests. It’s a masterpiece of management.
Once you’ve stopped being dazzled, time to move on to some practicalities. Hydrangeas are coming into bloom now and Diana Stoll surveys the four basic types and how to grow them. Are you a little unsure about how to deal with herbs? Nina Koziol tells you when and how to harvest. She also discovered a driveway with an inconvenient open space and explains how George and Theresa Rebersky turn it into a towering blast of flamboyant annuals every year. And for those who don’t mind taking the long view, there’s Tom Sisulak who loves to grow oak trees from acorns. Cathy Jean Maloney explains the hows and whys of this obsession.
Lest we forget … the key words in this little essay are “If all has gone according to plan.” When we’re talking about gardening in Chicagoland, that is always a big “if.” We know that what’s inside these pages is fabulous. As for our gardens? That remains to be seen.