Over the past few months I’ve been bothered by a number of physical symptoms, most notably chronic abdominal pain. This is one reason why this blog has seen fewer posts over the summer and a general reduction in the level of sparkling wit.

Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum

Anyhow, the symptoms led to appointments with doctors which led to medical tests which led to more tests and more appointments with more doctors, all of which have led to the regrettable conclusion of a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I expect to start chemotherapy in about a week.

I felt that I ought to share this information with the readers of this blog, mainly because I consider so many of you to be friends. Also, I wanted to let you know that I intend to keep writing posts, but it is likely that those posts will be shorter and more infrequent.

My motivation in doing this is purely selfish. This blog has always been, for me, an effective distraction from more serious matters. Now that those serious matters have become more personal than ever, I expect that this blog will continue as a useful distraction.

Similarly, I want to be able to stay in touch with this community of gardeners and garden writers. As always I enjoy your comments, including shared experiences from your won gardens.

This will continue to be a garden blog, and not a blog about cancer or health issues generally, though I may have an occasional update on my condition.


That’s pretty much all for now. I already have several future posts taking shape in my mind, including visits to the Lurie Garden and the West Ridge Nature Center, as well as experiences with Wild Senna, Late Figwort, and my Zinnia-themed flowering pots. Until then, stay well.

86 Comments on “An Unfortunate Development”

  1. I’m not going to ‘like’ this post, Jason. All I can say is that I wish you all the best in your treatments and recovery. Be positive, accept love and best wishes from those close to you and from those far away. I look forward to your blog about autumn in the Lurie Garden.

  2. I’m so very sorry to read this. I “found” your blog some months ago (when you did the tour in Colorado last year, I think) and since then I have been collecting your posts to read and savor when I have time. They are always beautiful with the wonderful photos and well-written. ❤ Sending many thoughts of love and comfort your way as you meet and conquer this challenge!

  3. Jason, I am so sorry to hear this news. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have always loved your blog and hope someday to have a yard half as beautiful and productive as yours. I’ve also loved when occasionally you’ve offered us your book thoughts or commented on mine.I will look forward to your upcoming posts – in the meantime, know my thoughts are with you, most especially as you go through your first round of chemo. You have so many faithful readers, we are all sending you strength!

  4. I’m so very sorry to hear this news. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your diagnosis with this community.

    I wish we lived 1,400 miles closer so we could help. Somehow. I’m sure others closer by will do so.
    Your garden posts are always eagerly received and read. They are inspiring to me.

  5. Jason, I, as Tina says, cannot “like” this post! Stay positive! Know that all your blog followers wish only the best for you. Thanks for having the courage to share your diagnosis with us. Let your garden continue to be a respite for you and Judy.

  6. Jason – I just started following your blog, but I went back and read many of your previous posts which I greatly enjoyed. People often say that gardening and our gardens create a wonderful refuge and I totally agree with that. I’ve also found that thinking and cogitating about gardens is a great stress reducer. I hope that continuing your blog will indeed provide this for you. And it will certainly provide your readers with insightful and inspiring content. Thank you in advance for continuing to share your thoughts with us. With all best wishes, Betsey

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I wish you nothing but the best, and strength to you and your family.
    My sister-in-law (brother’s wife) is a pancreatic cancer survivor of many years.

  8. Jason,
    I am sorry to hear your news. Thank you for sharing it with us though – we can all send positive thoughts and prayers your way for you and your family.
    As always I shall look forward to your posts.
    All my best,

  9. I’m so sorry to learn of your diagnosis and wish you the very best in your treatment and recovery. I always enjoy your blog and have been envious of the garden trips you go on! I look forward to your future blogs.

  10. I’m so sorry to read of your diagnosis Jason. I wish you strength for your treatment and all my thoughts are with you and Judy. Your posts and your garden have given so much pleasure to so many. I look forward to reading more posts. Christina

  11. Well dam the luck. I am glad that you shared this with us Jason. You will need and get positive vibes, thoughts and prayers from this end. 🙏 Your garden will be awaiting your attentions. I will be waiting for your posts when you are so inclined. 💪Hang tough.

  12. Well, I cried. Your blog posts have made you feel like a friend.
    I have taken so much inspiration from your words and pictures. I hope you will visit my garden in Logan Square. You’ll definitely recognize all the plants!

  13. This is your “paparazzi” from the Lurie Gardens / neighbor from Monroe Street. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis and am joining the army of well wishers and positive vibe senders. Should you need any garden help during your treatment, just say the word. I’ll leave my camera at home.

    Peace and strength.


  14. Jason – When I heard this news I came to your blog since gardens offer such a respite as one of the other commenters said. I am an occasional lurker on the blog because I enjoy so much following your garden and your comments on it (and your wit, of course.) Stay strong as you go for your treatments. Take comfort in your garden and your family — we are sending positive thoughts your way.

  15. Oh Jason, I am so sorry to hear this. I wish you successful treatment and know you have the loving support of your entire blog following, in addition to your family. You’re not being selfish at all! I have a selfish thought, though – I always wanted to meet you in person. So I am holding onto that thought, after all this is over (pandemic, and you’re recovered). In the meantime, please accept my virtual hug.

  16. Jason, I painfully hit ‘like’ because I like that you felt comfortable sharing so we could keep positive thoughts and prayers coming your way. I also ‘like’ that you will post about your garden and your medical progress because we will all be waiting to hear how you are both doing. Every 90 days you can find me at the local Cancer Center with a loved one as he attends his appointment. He’s doing well, and I will wish you the very same. It is amazing how far they have come with treatment options and medical plans. You take good care of yourself. I also can’t post until I tell you how lovely your flowers and visitor were. You take care, and please know prayers and positive thoughts are heading straight to you. Judy

  17. Jason, I echo your readers (above) in their concern for your health. Take care of yourself and with the love and support of Judy and your family, and your readers, find strength and comfort. Enjoy the fruits of your labors in the garden, take pleasure from the joy and information you impart to us. Onward. . .

  18. I’ve been in and out reading your blog posts for the last 2 years. I often read but don’t comment. However, even though I don’t comment, your posts are always interesting. Your garden is fun as it changes through challenges and the seasons.. Anyway, Jason, I appreciate your honesty. It means a lot. I also feel very sad about this news. I wish you, Judy, and all of your family the best in this journey. .

  19. That is terrible news Jason. I wish you all the very best with the chemo and hope the support of all your blogging friends will help you on the way. We all know you have a loving family too, and your garden will surely give you strength as well. I do enjoy your posts so much and look forward especially to seeing the Lurie Garden again soon. My Tithonia are blooming, much shorter than usual but just as beautiful, and I think of you every time I see them and am grateful for you introducing me to them.

  20. I am so sorry. I echo the sentiments of everyone above, and I hope you will keep your readers informed. Gardeners learn a lot about life from each other, so your updates on your health will be valued. My very highest hopes go with you and Judy.

  21. Well this sucks. I am so sorry Jason. I am grateful you posted in this way, as you have built a community through your gardening AND the sparkling wit. Prayers and love to you, Judy, and Daniel.

  22. Jason, You are a brave man to share your news with us. And you will be called upon for more bravery when you start your treatment regimen. Please know that I will be praying for you…for your recovery, for your strength as you go through the protocol, and for Judy and your family, who will travel this journey with you.
    Keep those posts coming. You can’t imagine how much I have learned from you all these years.

  23. Jason, I am so very sorry to hear the news, but thank you for sharing your personal story with your many followers! You are in my thoughts and prayers as you begin your treatment. I am sending healing thoughts your way! I met you in a class at the Chicago Botanic Garden years ago, and I have since enjoyed each and every one of your posts. When I come upon a new post from you in my inbox, my face brightens I love your passion for plants and gardening. I have enjoyed watching the evolution of your gardens. I look forward to many more. Please know that you have a lot of people who are keeping you in our thoughts. Wishing you all the best. Keep us posted because we do care about what you are going through!

  24. Jaso, you and Judy will be in our thoughts. This is a crappy thing to happen to you and you can tell by this long scroll of comments that people are rooting for you. Hoping for TTGG he best possible outcome for you! Xoxo

  25. I, too, look forward eagerly to your posts, and I join your big group of well-wishers.
    This retired nurse has a few bits of advice.Take a pen and paper to each appointment. Use your case manager. Write your questions down as they occur to you, then bring them to your appointments, or have them next to your phone. Let people help with things like meals, or soup, or errands. In your case, put them to work weeding and planting bulbs. Make sure your comfy place to sit has a view of your garden. Consider a rewatch of The West Wing, or The Americans, or Mad Men.
    Best wishes.

  26. I am sincerely sorry to hear of your diagnosis and join the force of healing energy being sent your way. Please know of the ways your posts cheered and informed me. I appreciated your comments on plants, many gardening perspectives and learned about the Lurie Garden from you. Because of your blog, we went there when visiting Chicago a few years back. I’ll be cheering you on from the Philadelphia area.
    Take care!

  27. I am very very sorry to hear this news. I love your blog and hope that you will successfully weather this storm and keep on writing & inspiring for many years to come
    A fan in Park Ridge, IL

  28. Many thanks for sharing your news with us, Jason. I have always loved your blog posts, your passion for plants and gardens, and your humour, it is always fun to click on your latest blog post. I’ve learnt a great deal from you, both about gardening and about writing. Not long ago I visited a garden in New Zealand, and, a well travelled gardener asked me if I had ever been to the Lurie Garden in Chicago, and I was able to say, well, I haven’t been, but I sure do know a lot about it, through Jason of Garden in the City! So your reach is wide. Paul and I wish you and Judy and your family all the best…we’ll be thinking of you.

  29. Jason,

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. I know your garden will feed your soul as well as provide some distraction in the days to come. Wishing you a smooth (as smooth as such things can be) recovery and I’ll look forward to seeing your posts when you feel up to them. You’re in my thoughts.

  30. Let us know how you are doing as you begin treatment. It’s a sobering diagnosis but I think there have been promising progress in treatments that should give you hope. I lost a very good friend who didn’t get a prompt diagnosis. It was in 2004.

  31. Dear Jason, like so many before me, I’m very sorry to read of your diagnosis and wish you strength for your treatment. I think it’s good that we readers know what you are going through, so thank you for telling us.
    Your garden (and your posts) has given much pleasure to many and I’m sure it will continue to do your heart good. I look forward to reading more posts.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

  32. I’m very sorry, too, but glad you had the foresight to get checked out and that you can start treatment quickly. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and will be very glad to see you whenever you are feeling up to writing. I’m sending my very best wishes and a virtual elbow bump.

  33. “An unfortunate development” clearly qualifies for understatement of the year. I’m so sorry you and Judy are facing this, along with your whole family. I’m glad that you finally have a name for those pains, and that treatment will begin soon. As it happens, one of my friends with the same disease is now three years post-diagnosis, and things are going well, despite some ups and downs.

    Thank you so much for telling us. When you feel the urge to post, we’ll be here, and when you prefer to refrain from posting, we’ll be thinking of you, and wishing you all the best. After all, that’s what friends do.

  34. Well, I’m stunned! I’ve been cheerfully following you blog for a couple of years now, learning about gardening in your neck of the woods. I’ve been impressed with the large community of like-minded folks who comment here regularly. I know the energy that comes from the garden will help you in your recovery journey. All the best.

  35. I am so sorry to hear this. I am a silent reader and have been following your blog for many years. Please consider the use of cbd (0 thc involved) on your treatment journey. It really does work wonders. The many critters in your garden haven are rooting for you.

  36. Jason, I can’t tell you how sorry I am to read this. Thank you for sharing your diagnosis with all your loyal fans and readers… you can tell from the many responses how much we care about you, Judy and your whole family. I know that I am only one of many sending you positive vibes and wishing you well.

  37. I’m so sorry to hear of your problem but feel touched you shared it with “us”. We’ll be rooting for you all over the world and I am sure your garden will be a comfort during your treatment. I am pleased you are going to keep the blog going for selfish reasons because I enjoy it so much and I have learnt such a lot. Amelia

  38. As you can tell, you have a whole lot of people pulling for you. Keep your wit,laugh a lot and remain the positive person you are. We have a friend who recovered from this many rears ago. She is 94. Thank you for Lurie Garden and all the interesting stories from your garden.

  39. Jason, I’m so sorry to hear this and sending you positive thoughts and prayers for strength and healing. I’ve learned so much from you and always look forward to your posts. Be sure to let people help you and Judy as you tackle this. Pull up a lawn chair and supervise some landscapers if need be 😉 I hope you keep us posted when you can, and know you have many gardener friends out here rooting for you.

  40. I am sorry to hear that you have this challenge ahead of you. As a pharmacist and a fellow gardener, I will muster all the karma nature can provide, and, with the help of the medical community, you can get this squared away and get back to the important tasks of gardening and writing.
    I must selfishly say, I sincerely wish for a speedy recovery, as I love your blog.
    We all will be thinking of you and sending healing thoughts.

  41. Damn it!!! You sound in fighting mode to me, which is good!!! You take good care of you, I look forward to hearing updates, especially of you being in remission. Treatment these days is remarkable, so I’m sure you are feeling positive, I have my fingers and toes crossed for you and am sending healing, positive vibes to you. Keep writing! Hugs.xxx

  42. Jason I am so incredibly sorry to hear of your health issue .. you have to be very shaken by it, as must Judy and the rest of your family.
    But I have read that there has been such headway made with new treatments .. I so hope you have doctors that are aware of the most recent developments in this field.
    I will be watching this space for your posts to keep up with how you are doing.
    My most positive thoughts are with you .. the fight is in you to conquer this ,and you will, I am sure !

  43. Jason, I’m a little in shock as I only found your blog posts this very morning, as I was looking up Rudbeckia Triloba to share with a friend. I have..millions of them like you. I am sorry for your news, I am hopeful for your outcome due to your obvious upbeat personality and the state of treatement for this issue in today’s medical world. I love what I have read so far. I’ve been gardening for a very long time, gardened professionally for over twenty years and I’ve found from you two plants I’ve never heard of and simply must have! I have actually read more of your followers and friends posts today and yesterday, wishing you well. There is no way I can top the glorious and warm hearted wishes you have received, so I will just say they must be well-deserved and I wish you many more years gardening and blogging. Good luck to you! (:

  44. Thank you for sharing this. I am sending you as many positive thoughts as I possibly can! Will be thinking about you on your treatment and recovery journey. I always look forward to your insightful and sparkling posts and hope your garden helps you through this.

  45. I love and appreciate your sparkling wit, engaging intelligence, knowledge of gardening, and general appreciation of all things good and lovely. You have created a community of blogging friends and our hearts are with you and Judy. I, too, am a Tithonia convert because of you. And I’ll be planting loads of bulbs this year that you have recommended. Be good to yourself and have a stiff drink (well, maybe not …)

  46. I’m sorry to hear the news, Jason. I hope it was diagnosed early. Remember that while the Chemotherapy is treating the cancer, you need to “treat” yourself through making sure you keep your mental health and well-being as high as you can; relax, exercise, meditate, pamper, get a massage, see friends and family as much as you can and do what you love as much as you can. Also find and talk to patient groups who are going through and have been through chemotherapy. (I work in cancer care, but am not clinical).

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