Yard & Garden


It’s bloody cold

As I write this in late January, it is -11 degrees without ­factoring in the wind chill in Rockford, which is where I’m teaching, and ­fortunately not where I’m living. Not that there is anything against Rockford and ­northern Illinois. It’s just as the British would say, “It’s bloody cold” and most of Illinois has experienced the bone-chilling cold this ...Read More


The best way to water orchids

Orchids are one of those fas­cinating plants that impress just about everyone. Production costs and bio-technology have enabled the $100 plant to be yours at the bargain price of less than $20. Granted, you ­probably aren’t ­getting the Cattleya or Papheopedilum orchid. What you probably are ­buying, though, are the Phalaenopsis or Dendrobium, two of the easiest to grow plants. ...Read More


New Year’s resolutions for your garden

The New Year brings new ­resolutions. If you go the healthy food and exercise route, you probably will break the resolution two weeks into the new year, if not sooner. Gardening resolutions have the advantage of lasting longer, but only due to the fact that it’s too cold to do much gardening until April or May. And by then we ...Read More


Keeping your evergreens ever green

What would December be without wrapping paper and ­ribbons, colored poinsettias, eggnog and folks rushing here and there? And of course, there’s all the greenery from swags to wreaths to the trees. Time has changed what evergreens we use for decorating. Less than 50 years ago, we used what we grew or what was grown nearby. In most of the ...Read More


Prepare your plants for winter

As I sit typing this for November, I wonder what the winter months hold in store. There are rumblings from ­almanac ­writers that winter will be snow-packed and cold, just the way I remember it growing up when ­stoking the coal furnaces were the norm and air conditioning was something the city folks had. Back then, six inches of snow essentially meant ...Read More


October is apple picking time

Sometime this month we are bound to get a frost that will spell the end of most plants. There will be some that will soldier on until a strong freeze actually finishes the job. October, though, is also the month for the apples, which come into their prime during these 31 days. Granted, some apples started ripening in July. Those ...Read More


The truth about lawn options

Sometimes you just have to admit the truth: I know lots and lots about growing turfgrasses and am happy to share that knowledge with anyone, but…I have no back lawn. There, I said it. My back yard is all plants and a patio. There was a semblance of a lawn when I moved in 20-plus years ago. And there were ...Read More

Grand gardening ideas for August

August is the one month with no major holiday, unless you’re Canadian and you celebrate the first Monday as Civic Holiday, which is a great excuse for a three-day weekend. And who doesn’t want more three-day weekends! Unfortunately the Illinois State Fair does not qualify as a holiday. So, while other months have a holiday you can base yard and ...Read More

A rose by any other name…

Shakespeare, when trying to get Juliet to convince Romeo that she loves him and not the Montague ­family, spouted “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In other words, whether you’re William, Will, Bill, Billy or Bubba doesn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Mr. Shakespeare ...Read More


From water famine to feast

Water in the form of rain can be a blessing or a curse. We’ve certainly seen the extremes in the last two years. Life, and in this case nature, has a way of slapping us across the face without leaving a mark, waking us up to the reality that we can’t control a darn thing as much as we think ...Read More