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Article ThumbBales of Fun

For vegetable gardeners, straw bale gardening may be the best innovation since sliced bread.

Straw bale gardening essentially turns a bale of straw into a raised bed. It requires no digging or soil preparation. Because you’re not planting in the ground, you don’t have to worry about soil-borne diseases, and weeding is minimal. It doesn’t even matter if your soil is crummy or if the sunniest place in your yard is covered in concrete. You can achieve optimal growing conditions for a vegetable garden in a humble bale of straw.


Article ThumbBasement Bounty

Decisions, decisions. What’s a devoted gardener to do with brugmansia as winter approaches?

For opulence and tropical splendor there’s nothing like angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). Tall, elegant, with draping fragrant bells of bloom, it can dominate a patio, balcony or an entry way like little else.

But here’s the rub. It’s not hardy in Chicagoland. So this raises the sticky issue of overwintering. Should you just toss the plant when winter comes? Some do. Others would like to save it for another year. But how?


Article ThumbBeyond Violet

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

When I was a child, I was totally mesmerized by the intense colors of the African violets that seemed to bloom continuously on my grandmother’s windowsills. I would stare in wonder at those jewel-colored blooms surrounded by collars of fuzzy leaves, fully convinced that only experienced gardeners of my grandmother’s reputation could get plants to bloom so gloriously indoors.


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Blog
Hummingbirds Heading South

One of the most extraordinary creatures to visit local gardens is the hummingbird. There are several species of hummingbirds ...


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Departments
From the Editor - JulyAug 2016

Seen any good movies lately? One to put at the top of your list is “Greenfingers,” whose title is the English term for having …


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Spotlights
Treasures of the Woodlands

Tulips come from Turkey, but woodland wildflowers come from Chicagoland. Why not have someof both in your springtime garden?


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Columns
’Twas the Night Before Solstice

‘Twas the night before solstice, and all through the yard Not a species was stirring, not hosta, nor chard …


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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 ...


questions

I would like to start seeds under lights. When is the best time to start flower seeds? The seed packet always says to sow a number of weeks before the last frost. When is the last frost?

I thought that purple coneflowers were insect proof, but now I see some aphids at the bud and tiny flies. What is wrong?

I have a large variegated sedum with pink flowers that I have had for years. I noticed that it has started to send up some all-green shoots. Why is it doing this and how can I keep my plant variegated?

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