Advertisement

From the Editor - NovDec 2015


Here’s the thing about gardening: it’s never done. So now 2015 is winding down, the year in which I thought my garden would finally achieve some state of near perfection and I would ride out the rest of my golden years just watching the plants chug along on autopilot while I sat on the porch steps sipping tea and enjoying the view. As if.

This year three of my mophead Hydrangea macrophyllas didn’t bloom – probably the spots where I planted them have become too shady, although the effects of the last two nasty winters can’t be discounted.

And then a large Rosa rugosa hybrid rose started succumbing to a mysterious blight after it flowered in May. I cut it back – way back – and by mid-summer little specks of green began sprouting on its inch-thick wood canes. By late summer they had turned into blooming stems with fresh blight-free leaves. Will this last? No idea. And if that big rose has to go, I will need to replace it with … something.

Another major hole will be left after Doug Wood, fearless leader of the Wicker Park Garden Club, arrives to put his new bionic hips to work digging out my incredible Incrediball hydrangea. This 5- by 5-foot wunderkind produces one-foot diameter flowers, and trying to reduce the shrub’s size by cutting it back last April had no effect whatsoever. It’s a cultivar of Hydrangea arborescens so it blooms on new wood, and it simply regrew as big as its genes dictated. It’s a fabulous plant but you must have the right spot for it.

Then there’s the fact that my garden was almost blanketed by bright pink Phlox paniculata in August. Really colorful but probably too much of a good thing, especially as the plants started going geriatric in September. Need to remove some of them and replace with … something.

So no autopilot garden for me in 2016, and probably not for you either. Nature doesn’t stand still and neither do our gardens.

In the meantime, we have winter. A time for dreaming, but more to the point, hard thinking about how we wish to go forward in 2016.

In this issue two features posit contrasting answers to this question. Western gardens began several thousand years ago as shaded enclosures in hot arid lands, and our concept of gardens as a paradise harks back to the Persian word paradiza. Structure was the key element in those gardens and is still integral to any beautiful garden today. Our story about hedges links to that tradition.

But another aesthetic is also at work: the ideal of a naturalistic flower garden overflowing with the native plants so important to supporting pollinating insects and other wildlife. Pat Hill’s garden in Elgin illustrates how this works as we stand at one point in her corner lot and watch as the flowers come and go throughout the year.

Of course, who says a garden has to be one or the other? Smart gardeners
(like us) will combine both.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Mid-Season Classic

Are we all met? Good. Have a seat, everybody. Down in front, please. [Mumble, mumble, rutabaga, watermelon, and other crop ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Compost Tales

I believe it was the Shakespearean actor and gardener Ralph Kean (second cousin of the even more Shakespearean Edmund Kean) ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Follow the Bouncing Gall

There are two kinds of bets going on among my readers. The first is whether I will follow the tried, true and now fairly ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Beyond Violet

African violets are pushing the envelope when it comes to colors and flower forms. Ruffles, anyone?


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

Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives’ tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don’t want all these bugs.

I plan on saving my amaryllis bulbs that I kept outside over summer, but I noticed red streaks on the inner side of the leaves. What caused that? Will I be able to save my bulbs?

I have a cycas palm and am not sure how much direct sunlight or water it needs. It has light brown marks developing on the leaves. What is causing this, and how do I care for my plant?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement