Look Sharp

January 12, 2016 0 comments
diamond hone - 12.1.16

Now that all that holiday fuss is over, it’s time to get down to serious business: gardening. In the middle of winter? Well, sure, if you have a conservatory. You can be as busy as June, patrolling for insects and… Read More

A cactus for Christmas

December 2, 2015 0 comments
Christmas cactus2 - December 2015

Most of the plants I’ve ever received as holiday gifts have been temporary pleasures, best enjoyed while they’re at their prettiest and then composted like cut flowers after they fade. The amount of fuss and bother required to get poinsettias… Read More

Conservatory cheer for November doldrums

November 3, 2015 0 comments
holiday cheer nov

If you’re lucky enough to have a big conservatory—and it isn’t too crowded with plants—you have a lovely setting for a holiday party. If it’s warm enough to overwinter houseplants, the glasshouse will be comfortable for people. And wouldn’t it… Read More

Waking up to a world with less water

October 9, 2015 0 comments
Los Angeles county arboretum oct

Where would we be without water? I recently returned from California, where I got a sobering look at the possibilities. The drought there is a wakeup call for all of us—even in places like Chicago or the East Coast that… Read More

The blessed blooms of autumn

September 9, 2015 0 comments
Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua)

Days are still hot. Roses and tomatoes are still around. But I can’t avoid knowing that fall is on the way, because its lovely, wistful heralds are flowering—Japanese anemones and turtlehead, with toad lilies on the way. Gardeners tell time… Read More

Reading, writing and gardening – Back to School

August 10, 2015 0 comments
school gardening big dig with photo effect - August

August is back-to-school time. For an increasing number of children, school will involve gardening. But they need the help of experienced gardeners—especially those who know what to do with a cold frame. School gardens are one kind of volunteer project… Read More

Perennials that are moody depending on the weather

June 2, 2015 0 comments
Geranium june.

The other day I dropped by my brother’s new home and he proudly showed me the beds he had just planted with hypoestes (polka dot plant). “They’re great,” I said. “But you know they’re annuals. You’ll have to replace them… Read More

A new day for a great glass house

May 6, 2015 0 comments
Botts Show House Small_edited-1

One of my favorite places, the great Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, is all shiny and sparkly. In a good way. I remember when it was shiny and sparkly in a bad way: the day in June 2011 after golf-ball-sized… Read More

Why a Hartley? Hartley Botanic