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PETAL TALK: Some sage advice for the garden

I'd like to share a few rants about garden advice that, while perhaps well–intentioned, can be misunderstood to the point of stalling our advancement toward becoming the best gardeners we possibly can be.

July 02, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Prevention, protection preferred method to keep mosquitoes away

Last week's column generated a comment about mosquito dunks. Because the dunks contain Bt, the reader said, "they are harmful to all lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) regardless of what any company or government agency tells you." Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is spore-forming bacterium that…

June 25, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Keep blood suckers at bay this summer

In case you hadn't noticed, it's mosquito season. At least is it in my garden. The closer I venture toward the woods the worse they get. There are plants in there I'll never get a close look at because I'm driven back by the blood–suckers lurking in the undergrowth. I finally purchased one o…

June 18, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: A year of late bloom

Has anyone else noticed their bloom time is later than usual this year? My passion for peonies allows me to compare bloom times year to year. And this is certainly a year of late bloom. This also is the first year I've seen signs of fungal disease on my peonies. Depending on the stage of bud…

June 11, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Plant now for late summer garden guests

It's time to plan now for visitors to your late–summer garden. If you haven't planted Buddleia (butterfly bush) because it gets out of hand and flops all over its neighbors, it's time to try again. Old varieties were quite rangy, and it seemed that, no matter what we did, they would encroach…

June 04, 2011 12:00 am

The time is right to talk about conifers

Spring to early summer is not only one of the most colorful times for flowers; it's also a great time for conifers.

May 28, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Book offers wealth of knowledge about conifers

Like clothes too long in the closet, plants that do nothing for me need to be cleared out on a regular basis. Of course, there are some plants I wouldn't part with, including a handful of small conifers I've collected over the years.

May 07, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: It's almost time to spray for gypsy moths

If you should happen to see a yellow crop–duster flying around in early May, they probably are spraying for gypsy moth infestations.

April 29, 2011 1:59 am

PETAL TALK: Spring brings myriad gardening events

Attending the Gibson Woods Wild Ones Native Plant Sale is a great way to introduce some native plants into your garden.

April 23, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: It's time to play in the dirt

It's hardwired into any Midwest gardener's mind like the bell that sounds on the stock trading floor: mid–April is when the real work begins. It's when the soil begins to dry out and we can begin the process of raking, weeding, pruning and dividing.

April 16, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: It's the 'Year of the Zinnia'

Zinnias are for everyone. Easy to grow from seed - carefree, colorful and long-blooming - there is a zinnia for every taste and situation.

April 08, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: The continuing evolution of coneflower

Remember the first alternative–colored purple coneflower? It was introduced by Chicagoland Grows in 2004 as Art's Pride (aka Orange Meadowbrite). The breeder was Jim Ault of the Chicago Botanic Gardens. In 2003 I attended the Garden Writers Symposium in Chicago and was lucky enough to see th…

April 02, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Protecting hydrangea buds from spring frosts, hungry deer

It's looking like a thumbs up for the Zone–up for protecting my Hydrangea macrophylla Gertrude Glahn flower buds. Although still tightly clenched, the buds at the stem tips are definitely green. I left a couple of branches out of this bundle of insulation and guided them down close to the gr…

March 26, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Customize potting soil by making it at home

Anyone who's ever baked a cake is familiar with the term "beat until light and fluffy." The same recommendation holds true when mixing potting soil. You could just go to your favorite garden center and buy a premixed bag of soil, but where's the fun in that? Depending on what you're putting …

March 19, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Head to Chicago's Flower & Garden Show this weekend

The Chicago Flower & Garden Show continues this weekend, and if you plan to go, I have three suggestions.

March 12, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Shop during cold months via independent garden center websites

It's a long, colorless winter and by now gardeners are starving for a plant fix.

February 26, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Gardening symposium leads to perennial wish list

Sometimes you have to leave the house to learn about your garden, especially in the middle of winter. Which is why I attended the Perennial Plant Association's symposium at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

February 19, 2011 12:00 am

Stellar conversation about plants with notable expert

If one can be star-struck in the horticulture world, I was when I had lunch with Roy Klehm of Klehm's Songsparrow Farm Nursery.

February 10, 2011 2:00 am

PETAL TALK: Garden photos help track peony season

What else is there to do in a Midwest winter than look at stats? No, not batting averages. For me it means weather history and how it's affected my plants, especially the peonies.

February 03, 2011 2:10 am

Color can affect more than mood

Whether you're on top of things like fashion, you'll notice lots of pink this season in everything from clothing to home furnishings. That's because Pantone's color of the year is Honeysuckle, a bright clear shade of pink. Pantone LLC, the global authority on color and the provider of profes…

January 29, 2011 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Plants can be high maintenance in a good way

If we don't have a few plants that give us fits, that make our gardening lives a challenge, we're definitely missing something. For one, they give us something to complain and commiserate about with other gardeners.

January 22, 2011 12:00 am

Discussing the appeal of color in the garden

We all know women are the main decision-makers when it comes to making purchases, so companies are appealing to us in a huge number of ways.

January 14, 2011 11:37 am

A winter's tale of gardener's new raised bed

Only a gardener would be digging ditches in December–late December at that. It all started with an incomplete project, a temporary fix to accompany a permanent structure.

January 08, 2011 12:00 am

Noting successes and failures with peonies

We all have them - failures that defy logic, and successes we can pat ourselves on the back about even if we did nothing to earn them.

December 29, 2010 5:29 pm

PETAL TALK: A green thumb's wish list for the man in red

If it's not too late, Santa dear, here is my list of plants to bring me next spring:

December 25, 2010 12:00 am

New online resource for gardeners

There has always been a need for a gardening clearinghouse of sorts that lists information on events, ideas and trends in Northwest Indiana. And now there is one. Michiana Horticulture Alliance was started by Purdue student Benjamin Futa who says, "We firmly believe our community is poised f…

December 18, 2010 1:00 am

Get your gardening fix at upcoming shows

It's hard to think past the next month, but there is life after the holidays.

December 08, 2010 12:13 am

Protect plants with creative coverings

Someone stole my idea. It hatched awhile ago around this time of year - a concept for covering tender plants with something more attractive than burlap.

December 02, 2010 2:28 pm

PETAL TALK: Gardeners need to keep focus during winter hiatus

Is it just me or are we actually losing strength and endurance? Not that gardening has ever found its way onto the latest list of extreme sports, but I'm actually looking forward to a five–month hiatus.

November 27, 2010 12:00 am

Greg Speichert's love of plants will live on

If I could designate the day on which I decided to become a gardener, it would be when I bought my first perennial. It was in the late 1980s when perennial plants had been "rediscovered," that I visited a garden center in Schererville.

November 20, 2010 12:00 am

PETAL TALK: Proven Winners to offer new line of perennials

While it may be hard to imagine controversy within such a beautiful field as gardening, dig just a little and you'll find it. When Proven Winners introduced its reblooming lilac, Bloomerang, they apparently caused a stir in those who felt an icon like lilac shouldn't be messed with.

November 06, 2010 12:00 am

Garden ready for the cold months ahead

My garden will enter this winter the cleanest it's ever been. With no mosquitoes, a pleasant breeze and perfect temperatures, I've been trying to pack three months of gardening into the past three weeks.

October 30, 2010 12:00 am

Some interesting talk about the deer among us

My husband heard my groan of outrage from the other side of the house. "Did you know the government imported deer into Indiana," I cried as he came into my office to see if I'd severed a foot. "They brought them in from Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina!"

October 23, 2010 12:00 am

Photographs of flowers make beautiful works of art

If you've graduated past the point of bringing home anything in a pot, you are likely at the level of asking yourself not only, "Where will I put it" but "What do I have to go with it?"

October 13, 2010 1:22 am

Mapping out location key to bulb planting

The coleus is looking a bit wilted from the cold night. Otherwise, all tropicals and annuals are holding their own even though temperatures dipped down to 36 degrees last Tuesday morning. At least the mosquitoes are no longer an issue.

October 09, 2010 9:43 am

Discussing what plays a part in the blooming of plants

I thought I'd missed it. The mosquitoes were so bad I hadn't gotten to the other side of the bed to see it. Two varieties of Actaea are planted to the south of some taller plants, obscuring my view of them from the house.

September 29, 2010 1:10 am

Butterfly ginger adds fragance to garden

If you've lost the will to garden, or at least feel there's nothing left to look forward to in the realm of blooms, it's obvious you don't have the right mix of plants.

September 25, 2010 12:00 am
Vale Park Animal Hospital holds open house to benefit Canine Cop Crusade

Vale Park Animal Hospital holds open house to benefit Canine Cop Crusade

They discover hidden drugs, guns and explosives. Police dogs have an officer's back. They are invaluable in finding things, from evidence tossed into a field to suspects fleeing the scene. Dogs have a sense of smell thousands of times more sensitive than humans, but directing that sense take…

September 18, 2010 12:00 am

'The Nonstop Garden' belongs in every gardener's library

Time stands still in the September garden. Or at least it does in comparison with the same garden in May.

September 18, 2010 12:00 am

Pondering the life of a spider

If spiders went to school and had to come up with a "how I spent my summer vacation" monologue, here's what Misumena vatia would say:

September 11, 2010 12:00 am

Join Wild Ones for annual plant seminar

The Gibson Woods Wild Ones will host their third Biennial Native Plant Symposium from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 25 at Villa Cesare in Schererville. The schedule of speakers and events is so full it starts at 7 a.m.–a bit early for most of us, but well worth setting the alarm on a Saturday.

September 04, 2010 12:00 am

Allergy sufferers wish weeds would be gone

Remember those tiny, innocuous–looking weeds of April? If you ignored them like I did, they've grown to monstrous proportions and are threatening to stage a coup on your garden.

August 28, 2010 12:00 am
Trust inner strength when dealing with beloved pet's illlness

Trust inner strength when dealing with beloved pet's illlness

If ever there was a mantra to make it through a pet's fatal illness, it would be, "It's not all about me."

August 21, 2010 2:48 am

Columnist is partial to colorful zinnias

In a typical scenario that dictates a craving for sun–loving plants in a sun–challenged garden, I love Zinnias. What's not to love? They're colorful, easy to start from seed and come in a range of forms.

August 18, 2010 1:27 am

It's been a good year for lilies

Lily season is pretty much over in my garden save for the latest in my Lilium collection, L. speciosum var. album. This Japanese lily offers up white flowers with swept–back petals, its light green furrows making each seem all the purer. I braved swarms of mosquitoes to cut a short stem. Thi…

August 12, 2010 3:57 am

Lots of Phlox to pick from

My grandma called it "flux," as in "a state of." Their honey–like scent matched their delicate, party dress looks. But Phlox is no shrinking violet. Its ability to carry us through late July and most of August makes it a mainstay in any Midwest garden. Two of the stars of this month's show a…

July 31, 2010 12:00 am

Indiana's state flower comes in many varieties

It was peony heaven. The entire room was filled with banquet tables, each loaded with vase upon vase of peony flowers.

June 19, 2010 12:00 am

Getting outdoors good therapy for the soul

As if you needed an excuse to get out in the garden, a new study published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology confirms being outside in nature makes us feel more alive.

June 19, 2010 12:00 am

Indiana's state flower comes in many varieties

It was peony heaven. The entire room was filled with banquet tables, each loaded with vase upon vase of peony flowers. The American Peony Society Convention, held in Janesville, Wis., was the first I'd attended, and it was worth the trip. Growers and breeders from Oregon to Denmark transport…

June 12, 2010 12:00 am

Falling for colorful, fragrant peonies

If you've always thought peonies come in pink, red and white and bloom around Memorial Day, you're right. But they also come in coral tones, have a range of forms, and offer flowers for an average of three glorious weeks.

June 05, 2010 12:00 am
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