Osmocote Advertisement

From the Editor - Nov/Dec 2014


t’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a flash mob of garden writers!

Late last summer 420 garden writers from the U.S. and Canada assembled for their annual symposium and ended up dancing to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” on the lawn in front of the University of Pittsburgh’s “cathedral of learning” (watch the video here: bit.ly/1ttDyjf).

While it may not rank up there with the moon landing, it’s sure to find a beloved spot in the annals of the Garden Writers Association (GWA), founded in 1948 with a current membership of 1500.

Garden writing takes many forms these days and includes not only books, magazines, and newspapers but also blogs, websites, videos, TV and radio programs, e-zine articles, catalogs, photography and podcasts. The GWA welcomes them all.

GWA symposiums are usually worth the price of admission. We schmooze a lot, attend informative seminars and eat a lot of box lunches on buses while traveling between public and private gardens. This year those buses brought us to eight fine private gardens and the Phipps Conservatory with its impressive new LEED platinum certified Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Its roof garden overlooks a most ingeniously designed outdoor space that I can’t get out of my mind. You have to go there and see it for yourself.

All of us need to recharge our batteries periodically, and for gardeners that recharge time is at hand. Maybe you still need to rake some leaves or give the grass one last haircut, but a little R & R is on the way.

Want to be dazzled? Head for Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden or “Illuminations” at The Morton Arboretum, and don’t forget to drive down North Lake Shore Drive and take in the lights on Michigan Ave. You’ll start thinking you live in a fairyland.

Attend some classes. At the GWA symposium the plant geek in me was thrilled to learn about digiplexis, a foxglove hybrid that one of my colleagues called “the hottest plant in the country,” and I saw ‘Little Red’, a cultivar of Joe Pye weed with shorter stems and dark rosy flowers. I now want them both. I also learned some interesting information about road salt. It’s been around since the 1930s (before that we used sand until it started clogging up the sewers), but its use increased dramatically in the 1960s. Why? More roads and more cars. Nowadays our lakes can contain up to 15 times the amount of salt considered safe for wildlife and fish.

The presenter, Dr. Laura Deeter of Ohio State University, provided a handy-dandy chart listing the salt sensitivity of 40 perennials. Many plants are sensitive, with Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ and Achillea ‘Moonshine’ in the “highly sensitive” category. Only Armeria maritima ‘Splendens’ ranked as “highly tolerant,” although the ‘Stella d’Oro’ daylily, the Shasta daisy ‘Becky’ and the fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) at least garnered a “moderately tolerant” label.

So find something that interests you this winter and delve into it. I can’t promise you a flash mob, but it’s bound to be worthwhile.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
The Dog Dayz

Gardeners perplex me. Actually, I’m perplexed by many things, including gravity and spumoni ice cream and why most Americans ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - JanFeb 2016

This is the time when the world waxes eloquent (or some semblance thereof) about “new beginnings.” Really? Is there such a thing


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Life without Gardening

There’s a famous New Yorker cartoon that pictures an old tire, a can, a bottle and a pencil on a flat, featureless landscape …


Article Thumbnail
Blog
What do the bees do in October?

What do the bees do in October? If you have New England aster in your garden, they keep foraging like mad.


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Gardening for Your Taste Buds

In a few weeks, we can start planting tomatoes and peppers as well as sowing seeds of squash, eggplant, beans and other ...


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?

I have lost four 12-15 foot tall white pine trees over the last year. All had the same symptoms, browning needles at the bottom that continued up to the top. Can you tell me what pest is killing the white pines? I am also losing an Austrian pine now. It is experiencing the same symptoms.

Now that bedding impatiens (I. walleriana) are not recommended because of impatiens downy mildew, what are three good annuals for shade?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement