Garden Stories

Garden Stories

Garden Stories

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Saving iconic Joshua trees

In the dry Mojave Desert, we think it’s a lovely sight when a tiny blade of a baby Joshua tree nudges up from the soil—but, to be honest, we’re a little proprietary about it. As Chicago Botanic Garden interns, we plant Joshua tree seedlings in the wild and help them flourish.

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So You Want to Buy Your First Houseplant

Soil has spilled all over my kitchen floor. It happened while I was dumping another withered plant—this time, a sad collard green—from its pot into the trash. The mess, and the funeral, is for a good cause though.

Today, I bravely enter new territory: My neighborhood garden center, where I will adopt my first, fledgling plant family. You might remember my pledge to become a better plant parent from the first post in this series. Now, my adventure begins.

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10 Cool Plants in the Nature Play Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Learning Campus is home to an incredible variety of experiences. The Nature Play Garden gives kids and kids-at-heart opportunities to explore: splashing in the runnel or running up and down the rolling hills.

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Cool Crops for Fall

Garlic for cool crops

Now that the leaves are turning and the days are growing shorter, if you’re tempted to pack away your gardening gloves…don’t!

At the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, we’re as busy as ever. Our cool-weather crops include brussels sprouts, spinach, and toscano kale. Fall is a great time to grow vegetables—insects die off, weeds wither, and moisture is plentiful. If you don’t have much space, remember that you can grow vegetables in containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

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Naturally Halloween

While stores can’t keep Halloween and fall decorations in stock this year—supply chain issues or maybe gremlins—we’ve got some DIY ideas. With a little help from nature, you can go Insta cool or full-on Martha Stewart. Capture the spirit of the season by using mostly found objects, materials you might already have, and some embellishments.

Here are some projects that I’ve worked on over the years. These ephemeral projects celebrate what’s happening now in gardens and then fade as the wonders of the next season take over.

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Insta-improved Photos!

Simplicity is critical in creating a striking Instagram photo. Here are some tips to help you reduce distractions and bring focus to your pictures.

The most important thing to keep in mind when photographing for Instagram is that your photo will be viewed at a relatively small scale. Your composition needs to grab the viewers’ attention as they scroll through their feed. Nature is full of beautiful detail, intricate patterns, and delicate textures. However, keep in mind that once a picture is posted, the subtlety and tiny details of the subject matter may be lost.

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So Classy: Spring Wreaths Made from Flowering Branches

Budding and flowering trees and shrubs—redbud, plum, spirea, almond—are among the great joys of spring. Under the calm and creative eye of Field & Florist’s Heidi Joynt, we learned to turn those branches into lovely, living wreaths in a perfectly timed class at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Heidi Joynt demonstrated how to layer in curly willow cuttings and delicate flowering branches like bridal veil and bridal wreath spirea.

 

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Zebra Longwing: The Friendliest Butterfly Around

A longtime favorite of staff and visitors alike, the zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius) is native from South America to south Texas and Florida, and occasionally an immigrant can be found as far north as Nebraska! The zebra longwing is the state butterfly of Florida.

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What’s a Little Frass Flicking Between Friends?

Cecropia moth Caterpillar

I am sure that most of you know what I am referring to when I say “leap year.” Although this is not a leap year, I am suggesting that we unofficially call 2015 “Lep Year”—“lep” being short for Lepidoptera (from the Latin “scaly wing”), the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. It has probably been a decade or more since I have seen the diversity and abundance of butterflies and moths that I have seen this past spring and summer.

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