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Gardeners Share Garden Memories

Like gardens, garden blogs all reflect the gardeners that tend to them. In our garden blogs we record the highs and lows we experience gardening; the plants that arrive, the seeds we sow, and everything you'd expect to find in a garden journal. Sometimes you come across a garden blog entry that goes beyond the standard "garden journal" entry and the gardener shares something personal that gives you insight into the heart and mind of the gardener.


String Of Hearts Vine Propagation

String of Hearts Vine, along with Rosary Vine, is a common name for Ceropegia woodii. Ceropegia woodii is a popular hanging houseplant because it is easy to care for, beautiful and being a succulent it is very forgiving to being under-watered. When being grown indoors as a houseplant it is recommended to grow it in a very bright area where it receives direct sun. I grow my plant in a west facing window and don't supplement the low light levels with grow lights and it does pretty good for me. If you're interested I've written a previous post titled Ceropegia woodii: String of Hearts where you can see a photo of the flower. While better known for the foliage and tubers this plant does produce a small flower that is as interesting, if not more, than the tubers and leaves.
String of Hearts,Rosary Vine tubers


Don't Quit Your Day Blogs

Growing up in an urban area you quickly learn who your friends are by noticing "who has your back." Having someone's back can range from being there for moral support to putting yourself in harms way to protect your friends. One of the instances where I have trouble having someone's back is when a friend is obviously in the wrong or I don't support their position. And right now I don't like the OpenID comment feature on Blogger but I can't help defend it against other garden bloggers who don't seem to have a firm grasp on technology in general.


A Call For Garden Blog Entries

I've recently come across an entry on a blog that I found to be particularly touching and I'd like to link to it (and others) in a post here. Have you read an entry on a garden blog where the gardener shared something personal and touching? Maybe they talked about who the first person was to nurture the gardener inside him/her, wrote about a plant they are growing that once belonged to someone special in their life, anything you found interesting or that touched you.

Propagating Adenium Obesum By Cuttings

In a previous entry I wrote about how the warm temperatures indoors this winter were causing my Adenium obesum to break dormancy. Since my Adeniums don't want to stay dormant and prefer to grow during this time I figured I'd take advantage of the situation and propagate a branch or two from my plant. Normally propagation of plants is done during the spring and summer when plants are actively growing but I think I can have some success with a little extra care. Here I used a specialized bonsai tool called a 'concave cutter' but a sharp pair of scissors or shears should be adequate. The reason I used a concave cutter is because unlike garden pruners you're familiar with a concave cutter doesn't make a flat cut but a concave one. The reason a concave cut is desired is because this help a tree heal faster and when the wound closes it isn't as noticeable. To see larger pictures in this entry click the images to enlarge them.


Houseplant Photography Tip

I received an email from a visitor to this garden blog asking me how I achieve the black background in my houseplant photos. To be 100% honest I do own a high-end photo editing program that I could use to make my backgrounds darker or lighter and sometimes I do use it for that purpose. But most of the time I get my background as close to black as possible using only a piece of black cardboard and sunlight coming in through a window. Then, if I'm not satisfied enough with the results I'll darken the background in the photo editing program.


Donald Trump Loves Ficuses

The City Council of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif has ordered Donald Trump to remove a ficus hedge he installed at the Trump National Golf Club without getting permission. The 10-foot-high hedge is now blocking the ocean view of some of the neighboring homes.

Echeveria 'Black Prince' Propagation

Echeveria 'Black Prince'
Back in August I blogged about restarting an Echeveria where I bemoaned having to take cuttings from this succulent that had become leggy. One of the problems I encounter as an indoor gardener is that I love plants that need very bright sunlight to keep their compact shape. Often times indoors I can provide it and the plants start to stretch or even worse start to deteriorate.


Dot Com Your Garden Blog

Due to the overwhelming demand (OK, one person) I'll briefly touch on turning your garden blog into a custom domain and the benefits. Recently, when I wanted to set up a blog to be exclusively about my Amaryllids I decided to take advantage of blogging with a custom domain. While a great feature on the surface there is one annoying "glitch" that Blogger needs to fix for it to be the great tool that they thought they were going to provide us with.

Rotting Leaves On Aloe Plant

In the post about Aloe Vera Houseplant Care a visitor by the name of Bridget posed the following question:

"I have been having trouble with my aloe lately, usually it loves me, it even bloomed for me over the summer and gave me about 15 little ones I've been having to give to people because I don't know where I can put them. Unfortunately  I accidentally let it freeze, it summers outside, and a sudden freeze came up before I could move it inside. When I did get it inside, it was frozen, and after it thawed it became very wilted, and now it is giving off a smell of rotting, and oozing a dark brown liquid from the tips of it's leaves. There are still viable leaves in the very middle of the plant, but I'm concerned with trimming off the bad leaves and shocking it too much. Should I just give it up and let it go? I would like to try to get it healthy because I've had this one aloe for over 7 years."

Dealing With Content Theft

I said I'd make one last post on this subject and this one should do it for now. When I've found that my text or images have been published in whole on another site (usually without credit) the first thing I've done is contact the webmaster. You can usually find a "contact" page somewhere on the website. I've made sure to keep my tone respectful and maybe even friendly. Recently, I found my posts being republished on a site after I'd been asked and said I wasn't interested. That time my tone wasn't very friendly or respectful especially after I noticed that the website was offering to pay gardeners to create original content while taking mine even after I'd said no.


Christmas Cactus Losing Branches

In the comments section of the entry for How To Make Your Christmas Cactus bloom are visitor asked this question that I thought was pretty interesting.

...Periodically, they insist on dropping branches. They seem fine and then just drop large healthy looking limbs. My plant is slowly getting sparcer instead of larger. Any ideas?-Sue

Sue, since you don't make any mention of disease or pests and say that your plant loses healthy limbs this may be an instance where "it just happens" or we may have to do some plant detective work.

The fleshy stems of Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) hold water and it may be that you're watering too much. But overwatering would usually be accompanied by root rot or some visible signs in the leaf segments of this cactus or flower bud loss.

Also, you don't mention where the stem loss is occurring on your plant. Are the stems that are falling off on the outside of the plant or is it losing stems from within the center of the plant? If it is the outside of the plant have you considered the possibility of people or pets brushing up against it and breaking off a piece? You mentioned in the comment that you live in an area where you can now grow these outside; besides people and pets maybe it is being visited by squirrels, birds or some kind of "garden pest." If the stem loss is occurring within the center of the plant it may be because of low light. When sufficient light fails to reach the center of a bushy plant it will drop leavs from the center and branches die back.

Why I think it may "just happen."

Think about where these plants are native to and how they grow there. They can be found growing overhead in the tropical rainforest. Another clue could be the design of the plant itself. Why did the plant evolve to grow leaf segments that break and root easily instead of a long vine like an ivy? We know that the plant grows high up in tree branches so maybe the stems breaking and falling off is a necessity. If a Schlumbergera is growing high up in a tree and a branch breaks- it falls and perhaps gets stuck on a tree branch below. Withing a few weeks the piece that broke off is rooted, growing and a whole new plant is created. You can use this to your advantage by rooting the branches that break off and planting them back into your potted plant. See my entry on Rooting Christmas Cactus Cuttings by following that link.

Some things I think you can safely eliminate as the cause of your branch loss.

Underwatering: The branches wouldn't look "healthy"- they'd shrivel or turn brown and crisp.
Cold temps: If your plant was exposed to cold temperatures it would also show signs in the branches and leaf segments. The color would darken to a black or brown and become mushy.
Hot temp: Again the branches would turn brown and crisp from drying out.

Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by and asking a question that gave my brain a workout.


How To Shorten Your Feed

If you've been following the controversy involving The Grow Spot garden forum and their use of garden blog feeds you may want to shorten your feed to make your content less desirable to places like this. I'll try to make this simple and short but I have a tendency to ramble and make things more complicated than they should be; if you find that to be the case feel free to say something and I'll edit this post for clarity.


ThanksGiving Cactus Red-Orange Flower

The second to last of my Thanksgiving cactus flowers. The buds on this plant were a nice orange color but when they unfurled they looked more of red-orange maybe it is the addition of the white throat that changes the color temperature? This year I've realized that were these holiday cacti are concerned you can't judge the final bloom color by the color of the bud. My fuschia colored buds were more of an Asian red color and my white buds had a pink hue to them.

Younger Gardeners-Older Gardeners

I came across this entry by Katie at about leaving a comment on this entry by Kathy Purdy at The two posts touch on the observation that older gardeners don't blog much and that we're missing out on the information they have to pass on.


TheGrowSpot.Com Gets TheSmackDown

Luba Spichkin: content thief or web developer?


How To Pollinate Thanksgiving Cactus

Schlumbergera, Zygocactus, Thanksgiving Cactus shape(notice the shape of Thanksgiving cactus flowers)


Desert Rose Breaking Dormancy

Adenium Obesum Breaking Dormancy(Desert Rose (Adenium Obesum) breaking dormancy)


Thanksgiving Cactus Red Flower

The second flower on my Thanksgiving cacti is flowering. I'm really bad at describing colors outside of the primary colors, so this one will be called red. In reality it isn't very "red" but my color vocabulary leaves much to be desired and fails to adequately describe this "red" flower which looks like red satin fabric.


New Comment Feature in Blogger

Blogger is experimenting with OpenID and is trying to make it easier for people who don't blog on Blogger to be able to comment. I just noticed that a non Blogger gardener tried to comment with the old feature and was having trouble. I've enabled the new comment feature through Blogger In Draft to see how it goes.


How To Pot An Amaryllis

How To Pot An Amaryllis(potted Amaryllis bulb)
I purchased an Amaryllis kit at full price instead of waiting until the day after Christmas to buy them when Amaryllis bulbs are discounted 50%-75% off. It feels strange paying full price for an Amaryllis bulb and the cashier practically had to wrestle the money from my hand but in the end I justified the purchase because it would make a blog entry.

Thanksgiving Cactus Pink Flower

Thanksgiving Cactus Pink FlowerI think my Schlumbergera truncata has decided to make a liar out of me- there may be five of these holiday cactus plants in on the conspiracy. After I made the post about which of these holiday cacti were the real and fake Christmas Cactus none of mine flowered for Thanksgiving and I think they did it on purpose. Two of them are flowering now and the three remaining should be flowering on or around Christmas at the rate they are going.


Mammillaria plumosa- Feather Cactus

Mammillaria plumosa-Feather CactusMammillaria plumosa is native to Nuevo Leon, Mexico and is commonly known as "Feather Cactus" because of the feathery spines. Most Mammillarias are native to Mexico but they can be found from the southwestern US all the way south to northern parts of South America.


Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine Roots

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine rootsOn the other blog I wrote an entry on how to root ornamental sweet potato vine cuttings and in this one I posted pictures of my sweet potato vine tubers after I lifted them to store them for the winter. If you're looking to root sweet potato vines or store the tubers visit the links right above


8 Things You Don't Know About This Gardener

I've been tagged twice to participate in one of these memes. The first time was Gina at My Skinny Garden and today I learned that Barbara at Garden Grow has tagged me to reveal 7 things about me. They're both basically the same meme so I'll get them both out of the way in one post. The rules are that I'm suppose to reveal things about myself and link to the people who tagged me and then tag 8 people myself who are suppose to reveal things about themselves.


You Know You're An Urban Gardener When

I took advantage of a relatively sunny day today to clean up the garden a little. I was amazed at how the mind wanders and the things that occur to you when you're out in the garden with only your thoughts. I started to remember the photos that didn't get posted to this garden blog, all of the seeds that I never got around to sowing in the garden this year, the plants that didn't get propagated and the experiences I've had over the past two years in (or because of) the garden. Some of the things I was thinking about are universal to all gardeners and gardens but I can't help but think that some of them can only happen in an urban garden or to an urban gardener.


Decorating Cacti And Succulents

Santa Fe Christmas Tree, Opuntia falcataBefore I wrote the "Fake flowers on Cacti" entry I e-mailed the two largest cacti & succulent wholesalers I was familiar with from the big box garden centers. I didn't get a response from either one but I thought about those two companies again when I wrote the "More cacti abuse" entry on Halloween and posted a photo of a cactus with googly eyes from Altman Plants. One of the comments in that entry was from NuSuki who provided links to photos of similarly decorated C&S in Spain.

Growing Aloe Vera From Cuttings

A visitor to this gardening blog e-mailed me to ask if it was possible to propagate and grow Aloe vera from cuttings. Honestly, I've never tried it but everything I've read about Aloes indicates that they can't be propagated through leaf cuttings. But it is possible to propagate an Aloe vegetatively by removing a pup or by rhizome cuttings though.

But there are the Aloe vera hybrids that have been crossed with related succulents like my xGasteraloe 'Green Ice' which is reported to be a cross between a Gasteria 'Old Man Silver' x Aloe variegata. When I bought that plant there was one leaf that was much larger than the whole plant and has now died, that's a big clue that it was propagated by a leaf cutting.

If you happen across my blog and you don't find the answer to the question you were looking for try the search boxes on the right or e-mail me through my profile. If I know the answer I'll gladly let you know and if I don't I can probably point you in the right direction.


Content Scrapers and My Blog's Feed

I've been publishing my blog with a full feed to make it easier for people who have found this blog interesting and subscribed to my feed to be notified of new posts. Recently I noticed that a site was scraping my feed in whole and publishing it to their site.


Storing Sweet Potato Vine Tubers

Storing Sweet Potato Vine TubersI'll be storing sweet potato vine tubers that I purchased this year for the first time. If you're interested previously I've posted a photo of my ornamental sweet potato vine flower (really beautiful flower IMO) and on my other gardening blog I've posted on how to root sweet potato vine cuttings. You can visit both of those links for pictures and information if you're interested. This post will be about storing sweet potato vine tubers for the winter and my experience with this plant.


Everyone's A Garden Coach

Earlier today I started to write an entry on a strange encounter I had but abandoned it after 8 paragraphs because I was dancing around an issue and language to keep my little urban gardening blog family friendly.

I live and garden in Chicago, IL and living in a big city has advantages and drawbacks. It just so happens one of the drawbacks of living in a big city I deal with is living off of a very busy road. From time to time some women (lets call them "temporary companions") will provide companionship to men who are driving down this busy road I live off of. Are you following me?


Oriental Lily Seed Pods

Oriental-Asiatic Lily Seed Pods. Lilium Seed PodsI'm not much of a fan of Oriental Lilies probably because I don't have any nice cultivars. I bought my Oriental Lilies in one of those mixes from a big box store when they were on clearance. If these lilies hadn't been so cheap I would have been disappointed in ending up with white and orange colored flowers when the packaging showed a nice mix of colors.


Cheap Topiary Frames

Cheap Wire Topiary FramesTopiaries have always fascinated me and I've wanted to get involved in the art of topiary but I was limited by two things. My first limitation came from the fact that when I first became interested in them I was in college and inside of an apartment there wasn't much room for a dinosaur shaped evergreen. The second thing that hampered my interest in them was the fact that topiary frames are very expensive.


ZZ Plant- Easy Low Light Houseplant

ZZ plant, Low Light HouseplantZamioculcas zamiifolia is a tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa. The scientific name comes from the fact that the plant's leaves resemble a Zamia which is a genus of cycads. Zamioculcas zamiifolia is better known as a ZZ plant because the scientific name can be hard to pronounce. It has become a popular indoor plant and can be seen growing next to Snake Plants in places like malls and offices and is increasingly found for sale at the average greenhouse or florist.


Pineapple Lily Bulbs

Pineapple Lily BulbsSince the weather in Chicago was cooperating today I was doing some work in the garden. Mostly I was cleaning up some dead plants and pulling up my tender bulbs for winter storage. I checked on my Pineapple Lily bulbs to see how they were drying and realized that Pineapple Lily bulbs are really ugly. These ugly bulbs don't do the Pineapple Lily flower and seed pods justice. With such pretty flowers I'd expect Pineapple Lilies to have equally attractive bulbs but I guess a nice and fuzzy sheath like a Crocus corm or a shiny and papery skin like a Tulip is too much to ask for.

Preparing My Amaryllis For Blooming

I'm in the process of bringing in a lot of my houseplants and succulents for the winter. If you read this blog last winter you may remember my experiments with pollinating my Amaryllis and the subsequent Amaryllis seed pods and know that I have one or two of these flowering indoor bulbs around. At the beginning of October I moved my potted Amaryllids onto the porch so they wouldn't get sun or water and make them lose their leaves.


The Future Of Urban Farming?

Living Steel By Knafo Klimor, Agro HousingI have this day dream where I play the lottery and win a huge jackpot. I take a big chunk of my winnings and build a large urban farm in Chicago. This urban farm, aside from giving me more space to play with plants, would serve as a teaching center for inner city kids and adults. I already know where it would go and can picture the buildings designed to look like farm houses and barns, the greenhouse, the fruit tree orchard, and nursery. My urban farm would produce organic produce and ornamentals for the community that surrounds it and create future generations of Chicago residents that are environmentally conscious. While I've been thinking about the use of land on a horizontal plane some forward thinking architects have been thinking vertically.


Not Your Grandma's Christmas Cactus

Thanks Giving Cactus LeavesOn a previous entry here I wrote about how to get your Christmas Cactus to flower and on my other blog I wrote an entry on rooting Christmas Cactus cuttings. In the first entry here I alluded to something being fishy in regards to calling my plants "Christmas Cacti." Most of the plants sold today as "Christmas Cactus" are actually not the true Christmas cactus. These are not your grandma's Christmas cactus.


More Cacti Abuse

Plastic Eyes Glued On CactiOn a previous entry I wrote about the practice of gluing fake flowers on cacti . If you're not aware of it cacti and succulents growers glue straw flowers on cacti when they aren't blooming in order to increase sales of these plants. Those pink, green, red and blue flowers you see growing on cactus in the big box stores are indeed fake. The most common cactus that you'll encounter decorated with the the straw flowers is one that is referred to as "Fairy Castle Cactus."

A Lawn Is A Four-Letter Word

Crocus bulbs, Lawn Replacement, Urban gardeningI hate my lawn. It has never been much, just your average postage-size ubran lot's attempt at a lawn. The reason I hate it so much is because as a kid I was the one responsible for planting sod every couple of years. We did it every couple of years because my parents never understood the concept of preparing the soil so that a healthy lawn could be established. I was the one who was charged with turning over our heavy clay soil in the spring and then laying down the sod that would look good for a year or two before it became patchy or was overpowered by crabgrass.


Community Garden Resources

I received an e-mail from Greencorps Chicago asking local community gardeners to register their community gardens on the American Community Garden Association map. While this e-mail was circulated locally it isn't exclusive to community gardens in the Chicago area. The American Community Garden Association is actually a bi-national organization with members throughout the United States and Canada.


How To Make Your Christmas Cactus Bloom

Christmas Cactus Blooms, How To Get your Christmas Cactus To BloomIt is the time of year when store shelves are stocked with Christmas cactus plants so people can decorate their homes with them during the holidays. About the same time that they start appearing on store shelves questions on how to make your Christmas cactus bloom start appearing on gardening forums and in the Home & Garden section of newspapers. I've already seen a few Christmas cactus owners posing questions on gardening forums I frequent. What amazes me is the lengths people go through to get a Christmas cactus to bloom.


"Why Is My Venus Fly Trap Dying?"

Venus Flytrap, indoor gardening, urban gardening,houseplant Venus Flytrap careI have a friend who, like me, has a soft spot for unusual plants. In particular we both appreciate carnivorous plants and grew up fascinated by the most popular of them all-The Venus Flytrap. The thing is that my friend regularly kills his Venus Flytraps through improper care. The most common plant related question he asks is "Why is my Venus Flytrap dying?" My response is usually something along the lines of "It isn't dying, you're killing it!"


Argyroderma delaetii- Living Rock Plant, Stone Plants

Argyroderma delaetii- Living Rock Plant, Stone PlantsArgyroderma is a genus of plants in the Aizoaceae family that sometimes go by the name of "living rocks" or "stone Plants." These succulent plants are native to South Africa and are popular among cacti and succulent plant growers for their unique shapes and colorful flowers. What appeals to most people is the fact that the plants will often resembles stones or other geological features of the land they are native too. The plants evolved to look like stones and rocks in order to evade detection and consumption by animals.


Garden Center Memories

I spent today planting some Black Parrot Tulip bulbs I bought from Sprout Home a garden center in Chicago. After my visit there I wrote a review of the garden center on my Garden Rate And Review (this template available read below) blog giving my impression of the garden center and plants they offer.


Pink And White Cypress Vine

There isn't much blooming in my garden right now but my 'Cypress Vine' is still going strong. In the garden this year I planted this flowering vine in two spots where it could climb and flower and provide a little bit of privacy. If you've been here before you may already have seen the red  'Cypress Vine' flower on this gardening blog, but the pink and white flowers have just started to put on their display. Ipomoea quamoclit is the botanical name for 'Cypress Vine.' The more common name is often also assigned, incorrectly, to 'Cardinal Climber.' 

Pink And White Cypress Vine flowers, Ipomoea quamoclit, Cypress Vine Cardinal Vine, Urban Garden


Gardeners Ignored By Blogger On Blog Action Day

If you write about your garden on Blogger you may have noticed below the dashboard that Blogger highlighted a few blogs that were powered by Blogger that participated in Blog Action Day. It didn't escape my attention that there weren't any garden blogs in the list.


Responsible Gardening For Blog Action Day

Petunia, Annual with Weeds, Blog Action DayWhile most other blogs that are participating in Blog Action Day post about ways you can help the environment by lessening your carbon footprint I'd like to write about something a little different. Most of the time when I'm selecting plants for my garden I don't really think about the negative effect I could be having on the environment.


Growing Elephant Ear Plants In Chicago

Elephant Ear Bulbs, Urban GardeningElephant ear plants are herbaceous plants in zone 8 and above. In gardening zones that are colder they are treated as annuals and the corms lifted out of the ground and stored in a cool dry location like the basement of a home. Many gardeners grow these plants because the large foliage, that resemble the ears of an Elephant, help create a garden with a tropical feel.


Outdoor Gardening With Houseplants

The photo of this garden wasn't taken in Florida it was taken on the west side of Chicago and you're eyes are not deceiving you those are Bromeliads and Crotons planted in the ground. From time to time I have the opportunity to pass by this home and I aways have to chuckle at the plant selection I find planted in the raised bed.


Let's Grow Some Green Thumbs

Have you ever found something useful on my gardening blog? Maybe the answer on how to do something or information on a plant or seed or just really liked one of my photographs. Perhaps after that particular visit you wished you could buy me a cup of coffee...well... I don't drink coffee but I do believe in charity.

Fake Flowers On Cacti

Fake Flowers On Cacti Cacti Flowers Indoor GardenIt's a weekend like any other and like many people across the country I'm walking into the greenhouse of the local Home Depot. I'm there to see if any new cacti and succulents plants have arrived. I'm hoping to reach them before they are either over or under watered to death by the staff. To get good plants at most of these big box garden centers you have to get there the moment they are unpacked. Before I walk into the greenhouse I can see an unusual number of people crowding around the shelfs.


Abutilon striatum- Flower Maple

Flowering Maple, Standard Topiary, Urban Gardening, Easy HouseplantAlthough commonly called Flowering Maple, Abutilon striatum, is not a Maple tree. This plant gets this common name because the leaves resemble the leaves of Maple trees. Flowering Maples are in the Mallow family and closely related to Hollyhocks, Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon and Okra. Another relative of Abutilon striatum is the weed commonly called Velvet Leaf, while the flowers on Velvet leaf are smaller and the foliage is different the seed pods are similar in both plants. This plant is commonly found throughout South and Central America but is thought to be native to Brazil. In the United States it is grown as a shrub in warm climates and as an annual or houseplant in colder climates.


When I Collect Climbing Lily Seeds

After your exotic Climbing Lily flower (see link for flower photo) fades you'll see an interesting seed pod develop. The seed pod that a Gloriosa Lilies will produce isn't as colorful or exotic looking as the flower but still is interesting to watch as it develops seeds. Withing a few weeks your seed pod will starting splitting at the bottom exposing round tomato-like fruits that contain the seeds you're looking for if you want to propagate by seeds.


"She Fought The Lawn But The Lawn Won"

Earlier in the week I came across the story of Betty Perry, 70 years old, who was arrested after she scuffled with a police officer who went to her home because she had let her lawn go brown. During the struggle Perry fell and injured her nose and according to her attorney, Gloria Allred, she was handcuffed with "bruises and blood." Betty Perry is being charged with resisting arrest and failing to maintain her landscape, both misdemeanors.


The Buzz On Chicago Honey Co-op

Honey Bee pollinating poppy flower, Urban gardening, Apiary, ChicagoIn the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's west side there is a faint buzz in the air. If you listen carefully you'll notice the noise isn't coming from the construction sites that have sprung up as a result of redevelopment, the noise you hear is coming from honey bees. In the winter of 2004, three urban bee keepers came up with the idea of creating the Chicago Honey Co-op and turning their passion into a business that would also benefit the community it resided in.


Is The Opposition To CCM In Grant Park Racist?

When I first heard of plans to move the Chicago Children's Museum to Grant Park I was firmly opposed to the idea. I had visions of green space being torn up and replaced by a monstrosity overrun by wide-eyed, sticky-fingered kids. But mostly my opposition stemmed from my jealousy of even more park development for affluent areas of Chicago. Back in March I posted an entry on this gardening blog, titled "Dear Mayor Daley," where I complained about the disparity of park development in undeserved neighborhoods. Today I'm still not pleased with situation we have in many of our neighborhoods that aren't near the lake but I'm no longer in opposition of the Chicago Children's Museum desire to move to Grant Park.


5 Reason Why I Grow Nasturtiums In My Garden

Nasturtium, Edible plant, Urban Gardening
Today I found myself collecting seeds from my Nasturtiums all the while patting myself on the back for making the decision to grow this wonderful annual in my garden. As I was admiring the flowers I started thinking of the benefits of growing this plant and thought of a few but I'll share my top 5 reasons why I grow Nasturtiums in my garden.


Confessions Of A Seed Snatcher

How to collect seeds, seed snatcher, seed saving, seedsA few weeks ago I put the poll in the sidebar of this blog wondering if people would admit to being "seed snatchers." Not surprisingly some of the respondents didn't know what a seed snatcher was or maybe they aren't familiar with the term. I was surprised the number of people who admit to participating in the practice.


The 2007 Great Perennial Divide

The Chicago Botanic Garden, Greencorps Chicago, The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, and Open Lands will be hosting the 2007 Great Perennial Divide on Saturday, September 29th. This is an event where groups and gardeners from across the city of Chicago can swap, donate and/or receive perennials, trees and shrubs.


Slugs In My Garden (Green Thumb Sunday)

Slug, Slug Damage, Garden Slug, How To Get Rid of SlugsRecently after some heavy rains I went out into my garden to collect nasturtium seeds. As I was lifting up some of the foliage, to look for fallen seeds on the ground, I noticed a few slugs. My first reaction was "Cool! A new bug to photograph" but then it dawned on my that having these garden pests in the garden wasn't such a good thing.


Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly

Recently I came across a small light colored butterfly in my garden that at first glance I thought was a Small Cabbage White I had seen in my garden here in Chicago. When I approached the butterfly it fluttered away revealing a blue or gray tint to the upper leaves. I knew immediately this wasn't a Small Cabbage White.

When I Collect Candy Lily Seeds

All of my candy lilies have finished blooming and seeds have started to ripen on the stems of my plants. Two years from now my garden will be filled with these beautiful flowers. Not only did this perennial provide me with interesting flowers during the growing season-but watching the seed development has been just as interesting and informative.


Lords Of The Gourd: The Pursuit Of Excellence

The other day while channel surfing I came across a commercial on my local PBS station for a program called "Lords of the Gourds: The Pursuit of Excellence." Once I got past the cheesy title of the documentary and saw that the program was about a competition involving the growing of giant gourds (pumpkins in particular) I made a mental note to watch it when it airs on Wednesday in Chicago. The PBS website doesn't have a good description of the documentary but I found one on the Rocky Mountain PBS website.

Creative Garden Gate

Home Made Garden Gate, Creative Garden Gate, Garden ArtThis weekend I came across a very creative garden gate made of twigs that I assume the homeowner/gardener made out of branches from their garden. On a city street in Chicago among a row of nice homes and well maintained green spaces this little garden gate stands out when driving past it. I rode by it twice before I finally stopped and snapped this photo of the gate and wanted to talk to the people tending the inviting garden behind it but lost my nerve.


Orbea variegata-Starfish Cactus, Toad Cactus

Orbea variegata, Starfish Cactus, Toad Cactus, Carrion Flower,Indoor gardeningOrbeas are a genus of succulent plants in the Apocynacea family, they're evergreen- leafless plants native to Africa. Starfish Cactus and Toad Cactus are misleading common names because this plant is not a cacti-it is a succulent. A better common name for this Orbea is Carrion Flower or African Carrion Flower.


Leafminer Bugs

Leafminer bug damage on ornamental plant, Nasturtium"Leafminers bugs" describe the larvae of moths, flies and beetles that feed on the interior tissue of the leaf of a bug. The damage done by these garden pests to our plants is easy to spot because of the "mines" created as the bugs chews inside the leaf. In some instances the leafminer will cause a light colored blotch on the leaf, in really bad cases the plant will look discolored and/or drop leaves. It is rare that leafminers do enough damage to kill a plant, what they destroy mostly is the aesthetic value of your ornamentals for a short period of time.


When I Collect Pineapple Lily Seeds

When I collect Eucomis bicolor Seeds, Pineapple Lily Seeds, Urban Gardening, tropical bulbsToday I was making a quick inspection of the garden and I noticed that some of my Pineapple Lily seed pods where ready for picking. I decided to make a quick post to show what a Pineapple Lily seed pod looks like before and after it is ready to release the seeds. The top photo of a Eucomis flower is an example of what it looks like before it ripens. Notice how nice plump and green it looks after it has been pollinated and is setting seeds. The bottom photograph of a flower had probably ripened yesterday or the day before. Notice the change in color- it is now a pale yellow-green and the pod looks a little deflated.

Self-Rooting Coleus In My Garden

Rooting Coleus Plants, Popular Garden AnnualSix days ago I noticed my black Coleus had started to rot in a few places up the main stem. I cut off the pieces that were rotting and just dumped the scraps in the garden among other plants. Today before the big storms hit us I was in the garden trying to capture photos of a butterfly that was visiting and noticed that the Coleus cuttings still had not died.

When I Collect Purple Coneflower Seeds

Purple Coneflower seed heads, Urban Gardening, Chicago GardenerJust two years ago I thought collecting seeds in my garden was the easiest thing in the world. I could wait until November and collect fully intact Purple Coneflower seed heads. The only obstacles I encountered where the occasional humans who dug out plants or pulled the cones from my plants. I could wait until the cone had tuned black and some of the stem started to blacken and die before I cut off the heads and saved them for trades or for sowing back into the garden.


How To Propagate Eucomis Bulbs: Leaf Cuttings

How To Propagate Eucomis Bulbs By Leaf Cuttings, Eucomis BicolorOne of my favorite tender bulbs to grow is Eucomis bicolor. The bulb is commonly called a Pineapple Lily because the cluster of flowers grow in a pattern that resemble a pineapple. If you are interested in information on how I grow these bulbs here in Chicago you can read my previous post at this link: Eucomis bicolor-Pineapple Lily.


When I Collect Cleome Seeds

Cleome Seed Pod, When I collect Cleome SeedsIn between the scattered rain today I was out in the garden checking on the Cleomes and trying to collect a few seeds so I could scatter them into other areas of the garden. One of these annual plants can produce more seeds than you know what to do with, the trick is knowing when the seed pods are ripe so you can collect your Cleome seeds.

Tradescantia pallida: Purple Heart Or Wandering Jew

Tradescantia pallida is species of spiderwort that is native to eastern Mexico. In warmer climates it is an evergreen perennial plant that can be grown as an ornamental ground cover, in pots or as an ornamental houseplant. This plant has escaped cultivation and in some areas it has become invasive because of the plants' ability to adapt to shade or sun, quick growth and relatively disease free existence. In colder climates, like here in Chicago, the invasive qualities aren't really an issue because it can't survive the winters in our gardens.


Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'

Ipomoea batatas Blackie, Ornamental sweet potato vineProbably the most common plants used in planters in the Chicago area has to be these ornamental sweet potato vines. You can find the chartreuse colored vine and this darker form growing in all parts of the city in the planters the city maintains. They spill over planters or are used as ground covers to great effect. My favorite is the two common ones you see is "blackie" even though it has a politically incorrect common name I love the dark foliage. I have one planted with my "black" calla lily and oxalis.

Columbine Seedling

We've been experiencing a bit of rain in Chicago these past few days and one benefit from it is the seedlings that have emerged or have been given a boost by extra water. I was taking advantage of the fact that the soil is saturated with water and pulling weeds is relatively easy when I spotted a couple of seedlings. One of the seedlings I spotted amongst the weeds is this columbine seedling.

Columbine Seedling, Seedling Identification

When I Collect Nasturtium Seeds

I was out in the garden today picking a few blooms from my Nasturtiums to decorate a salad with when I noticed how many seeds were being produced by my plants this year. When I first grew them I was worried I wouldn't be able to recognize the Nasturtium seeds and that I would somehow lose them all to garden critters. Once these annual set seeds it is pretty easy to spot them if you move the foliage aside and inspect your plants. For the most part the seeds are produced in pairs like in picture of nasturtium seeds in this post but on a few occasions I've observed them growing in groups of three or four.

how to collect and save nasurtium seeds