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Go to the Flower Show!


The Chicago Flower & Garden Show opened this past Saturday at Navy Pier and I’m here to report that it’s worth the price of admission. The theme this year is “The Art of Gardening,” and the show is certainly artful. From the moment you enter and see the huge vertical panel draped with plants, accented with moving lights and a pair of bubbly fountains, you feel that you’re in for a treat. Vertical wall gardens are becoming a trend, but even if they’re never going to be something that you can do, the point of a flower show is to see new things, things that make you think outside the box and shake your mindset up a bit.

Three very different gardens particularly caught my eye.

Aquascape’s expertly assembled display is a marvel of construction, design and plantsmanship. The fish swimming around are a special treat. Not to be missed.

Rich’s Foxwillow Pines is back for the 20th year with an impressive display of unusual conifers, and Rich and Susan Eyre deserve a special blue ribbon for their faithfulness to the cause. It’s not easy to build a garden at Navy Pier, and when your garden consists of nothing but big heavy trees, well, it makes you tired just to think about it.

And for a newbie garden, LaManda Joy of the Peterson Garden Project did herself proud with a big exhibit of handsome green vegetables growing in a variety of ways. The inspiration for the Peterson Garden Project is the old World War II Victory Garden, but LaManda has taken the concept to another level by adding classes that teach total beginners how to grow food on city vacant lots.

There’s lots more — window boxes designed by several local garden clubs, stunning tablescapes (don’t miss the one by Mariano’s Fresh Market) and for a real splash of color, the raised beds showcasing 50 varieties of tulips, helpfully labeled so you can pick your favorites.

All in all, a jolly good show. Go see it.

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questions

I have a nicely sheltered, rounded 7-foot tall Japanese red maple on the southeast corner of my backyard. Half of the tree has lost its leaves, the formerly red bark is turning gray, and a good-sized square of bark has been stripped off on the side that faces the yard. I sprayed the exposed bark with black pruning spray to close any entry for insects. I have not cut off any of the branches.

Does the winter have any effect on the tree? Should I look for some insect infestation? What should I do now?

I have two strawberry plants in a hanging basket in my yard. I have not had any fruit from them although the vines hang down. I give them plant food once a month and water daily. What am I doing wrong?

What are your three favorite “all-but-forgotten” perennials that every garden should include? Why do you like them?

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