Osmocote Advertisement

From the Editor - NovDec 2016


The most memorable Christmas of my Chicago life was the year the temperature plummeted to 25 below zero and the pipes froze all over the house. Still, the car miraculously started and the family managed to get to the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel for the annual pageant, surrounded by neighbors bundled up for the duration in scarves, parkas and boots. Every year one lucky middle school girl would be selected to be Mary and ride down the aisle on Mabel, a real live Sicilian donkey brought in from the suburbs. A sight not to be missed.

Compare that to an account in a book by the late English garden designer and author Rosemary Verey where she writes about going out into her Cotswold garden on Christmas Day and picking a few flowers to adorn the altar at church.

I read that and sobbed into my tea (English Breakfast, of course).

Yes, the winters are different here, but it is interesting to pause and think a bit about the plants in Chicagoland that seem to survive – if not actually revel – in our cold temperatures. If the snow melts in January, I may well see some inch-tall larkspur seedlings in my front yard, and they will remain through subsequent snowstorms to bloom in June. The ground cover snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) as well as the old standards (ajuga, vinca, etc.) are actually evergreen. So this gave us the idea of doing a story on plants that love cold weather. They may not bloom on Christmas Day but their flowers sometimes persist into December and start blooming during the chilly days of March. Ben Futa, who directs the Allen Centennial Garden at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, seemed the perfect denizen of the north to write this.

For those of you who actually enjoy working outdoors in the cold, we offer stories about several options – eradicating buckthorn, leaf composting, planting a pot of layered bulbs. If you prefer to while away the winter hours indoors, we have stories on growing salads, fig trees and carnivorous plants.

In this issue you will learn that the Christmas Tree Ship still sails into Chicago every December and that the era of plant hunting is not over. Local professionals still voyage to lands far, far away to discover species that could be hardy here or offer resistance to the pests and diseases that ail our plants. And like the explorers in days of yore, they even risk life and limb.

Finally, for the gardeners who want to snuggle up and dream about various ways to re-do their spaces in 2017, we offer features on two very different gardens: one a water garden in Elmhurst and the other a fun-filled color extravaganza in Valparaiso. Whether you’re a worker bee or a dreamer, there’s something here for you all.

categories

Midwest Groundcovers Advertisement

Espoma Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Failure to Communicate

“Do you have geraniums?” “Pelargonium or cranesbill?” “Sorry?” “Er, Pelargonium or cranesbill.” “No, I’m not interested ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Walk this Way

Need a little inspiration or just a break from weeding? Garden walks abound this time of year, and there’s plenty to see.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Volunteer Army

Pop Quiz! (Bet you didn’t see this coming. Hurry! There’s still time to turn to another page! Oops, too late.)


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Behind the Curve (and losing ground)

I think I’m missing a gene. Okay, maybe two or three. This is the time of year when gardeners are told to dream, to curl up ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Guns and Roses

It seems that I’m either easily amazed or not fazed at all by new information. If you were to tell me that science ...


questions

I’d like to know the secret to growing a decent-sized pumpkin for jack-o-lanterns for the grandkids and for decorating. My experience in recent years is that they get about as big as a basketball and then begin to rot. What am I doing wrong?

What is the largest tree that one can plant? We are trying to replace some 7- to 8-foot trees that were recently destroyed.

Is there a best time to plant tulips? I see them at the garden centers in late summer but I am afraid that it is too early to plant them. If I wait too long, I might forget all about them.

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement