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

Espoma Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
All Together Now

What is it about starting a community garden that makes people react as if you just pulled a cocker spaniel puppy out of a ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Weather Warrior

As I write, the guy on the Weather Channel is warning us to stay indoors. “Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to,” the ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Not the Center of the World

Towards the end of February a startling fact was reported on the news. January, it turns out, had been the fourth warmest ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Signs of Spring?

So here I am, wandering around with my nose towards the ground, scrounging for signs of spring. I’ve found a few — snowdrops ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - MarApr 2017

I once knew a woman who vacuumed her rock garden. Seems a revered expert from the East Coast was coming on an inspection tour …


questions

Can I grow asparagus from seed? I saved the little red berries from my plants.

I have twelve beautiful blooming violet plants on my office desk, placed 12 inches from a light source that’s kept burning day and night. I water them from the bottom and let the water remain in the saucer.

No matter what I spray, I continue to have gnats and other insects in my soil. I also occasionally start to get yellow spots on the tips of the leaves and then the spots start going down the leaves. What’s going on here?

After a summer outside, my clivia has returned indoors. Last year it had only one puny flower. What treatment should I give it over winter to bring it into bloom?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement