Confessions of a Leaf Thief

Some people think that the proper way to tidy up the yard for fall is to rake or blow every single leaf into giant brown bags from Home Depot, said bags to be taken away by the city. This makes me insane. I mean, what a waste. Good soil needs organic matter. Leaves turn into …

Who’ll Stop The Rain? (From Knocking Over My Plants)

When I got up this morning, after a night of wind and rain, this is what I saw (note: as Judy is travelling, I took all the pictures in this post with my phone): Is it really possible that just one year ago we were desperate for rain around here? It has been a rainy …

Clip Clip Here, Clip Clip There …

This weekend I’ve been implementing a second round of cutting back my perennials. For some reason, whenever I do a lot of pruning or cutting back in my garden, I get a mental image of the Cowardly Lion getting a haircut during the scene from The Wizard of Oz when everybody is singing “Merry Old …

May’s Garden Madness

There is the notion that working in the garden brings the gardener a sense of tranquility and calm. Ha! Certainly not in the month of May. Gardening in May is a race against time, against weeds, against the grass, against the weather, against your own plants as they undergo growth spurts like lanky teenagers. And …

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Garden, or I Admit I Was Wrong About Spring Clean-Up

When I was in first grade, classmates who showed up after receiving a severe haircut were welcomed with this chant: Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he? How sweet, you say, but what does this have to do with the garden? Well, you may recall that …

Weekend Garden Notes: Is It Spring Yet?

Yes, technically, it is. But it is still by no means spring-like. The ground is still mostly frozen. Yesterday was sunny, but had a high of 37 degrees F (3 C). Today is gloomy and windy, and snow is expected tonight and tomorrow. However, you can’t keep a good (or at least an obsessive) gardener …

The Brown, Brown Stalks of Spring

As I have noted before, I am of the camp that believes in letting perennials stand over winter, then cleaning up in spring. It tends to be better for the birds, the plants, and the beneficial insects. Some people say it looks messy. They may have a point, but I prefer messy to bare frozen …

2012, the Year of Unnerving Weather

Extreme weather dominates my thoughts about gardening for this past year. It started with extreme winter mildness. This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it was unnerving for those of us accustomed to harsh Chicago winters. January was about 8 degrees warmer than normal on average. Snow melted, the snowdrops (Galanthus) came up …

New Year’s Resolution: Start Annuals Indoors!

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate the value of mixing annuals in with the perennials in flower borders. Not just for maximizing color, but also for achieving that sense of fullness earlier and more consistently through the season. I’m slightly ashamed to say that I have not started any of my own annuals from …

Book Review: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, by Tracy DiSabato-Aust

If perennial flowers are the backbone of your garden, as they are of mine, you may occasionally feel the need for an orthopedist. Keeping perennial flowers blooming, attractive, upright, adequately contained, and the right size and shape is an ongoing challenge. Experience and occasional expert advice are necessary to meet that challenge with reasonably consistent …