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Tough Questions for the Pros


Here we are again, folks, recovering from yet another catastrophic (pick one or more):

Election.

New Year’s Eve celebration.

Christmas, when you hinted and hinted that all you needed to make you truly happy was a cherry red Tesla Model S under your Christmas Tree. But did Santa come through for you? Ha! Only in those annoying car commercials does that ever happen.

So you’re probably still tearfully sweeping up bits of New Year’s confetti, using the back page of this very magazine to collect it because you were unable to locate a dust pan. That’s okay, sweep it right onto my face. I’m here for you.

I’m also here to remind you that this is January, probably the most depressing month of the year. Naturally, that’s when my birthday occurs. Nevertheless, I don’t actually believe it, but I have been told that, for gardeners, January is a time to look forward to starting over (which is necessary because everything from last year is dead), to new challenges (because the old ones beat you like a drum and left you gasping on the side of the road), and to renewing your spirit (if you think that growing radishes is as satisfying as owning a cherry red Tesla Model S.)

You might have noticed that there’s a new feature in Chicagoland Gardening for 2017, something called Gardens of the Pros (page 56). I have a couple of observations. First, I’m still waiting for the invitation to talk about my garden. You know, as a pro. Hey! Stop laughing! Second observation: I didn’t get asked to submit any questions to the Advice from the Pros sidebar.

Ya know, I’ve been doing this for awhile, and I don’t mean just killing plants. Some of them survive, too (emotionally damaged and resentful, of course, but alive!) The point is that I expect the editorial staff to come crawling to me eventually, when they run out of questions like “Do you like butterflies?” and “What’s your favorite kind of gardening hat?”

At that point, they will turn to me for some real gardening questions for the pros. Questions like these:

Q. What’s the last garden tool you threw in a fit of rage?

Q. Did it break anything or hurt a neighbor? If not, will you throw it again?

Q. What recent cultivar made you reach for the liquor cabinet?

Q. Have you ever sniffed a plastic flower, just because you weren’t 100 percent sure?

Q. If you were a tree, would you fall on an ugly house just for spite? (I have a couple in my neighborhood that I’d like you to consider.)

Q. How many stupid tools do you own? I mean the really stupid ones – you bought them and they don’t work but you refuse to admit that?

Q. A follow up question, please: why didn’t you return them?

Q. Have you ever deliberately withheld water from a plant to show who’s boss?

Q. How many times have you pruned a rose bush without gloves and said, “Ow! I should have used my gloves!”

Q. How many times have you said that out loud and then looked around to see who was listening?

Q. Do you talk to your plants? What do they say? Do you realize that you need therapy?

Q. Which author of a recent gardening book you’ve read seriously needs a time-out? (Go sit in the corner of the garage!)

Q. What recent advice from a fellow garden “pro” made you reach for the liquor cabinet?

Q. Do you harbor a secret desire to ride a lawn mower through your neighbor’s impatiens?

Q. When is the last time you dug a big hole and not only did you lose all feeling in your hands, but every light on the block went out?

Believe me, I have thousands and thousands of questions that I’m willing to share with the editorial department. If you need me, I’ll be sitting by the phone, waiting for an apology from Santa. It’s coming any minute now. I can feel it. Really I can. Here it comes. Santa? Santa? No, no, don’t go away, this will just take a second … Santa? …

Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

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questions

I have a hoya houseplant that has been growing happily for eight years. It had flowers when I received it, but it hasn’t bloomed since. What am I doing wrong? Can I get it to flower?

I’d like to plant a white bark birch in front of my home in my sunny front yard. What can you tell me about Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii?

I’d like to start composting. Do you have any advice on what kind of bin to purchase/build so that it is successful in the Chicago climate?

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