How-To

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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How To Grow a Tea Garden

I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker—tea has always been my drink of choice. So, what better way to enjoy my favorites than by growing my own tea garden? And you can, too!

Tequia's Tea Garden

Tequia's Tea Garden

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Create Your Own Horticultural Therapy Containers at Home

It’s finally starting to feel like spring in Chicago, which means it’s time to get those home gardens up and running.

In the Horticultural Therapy Department, we’re in the process of setting up our off-site gardens at facilities all over the greater Chicago area. These gardens come in all shapes and sizes and fall on a wide spectrum of costs. For today, we’re focusing on how to create your very own home horticultural therapy garden—or perhaps more accurately—your own home horticultural therapy containers.

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Five Seed-Starting Secrets

 

Panache sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Panache’) shown in its native seed packet.

It’s always a fun day with a community vibe, as Chicago area gardeners gather to swap seeds, stories, and green-thumb tips. 

With that in mind, here are five simple secrets for seed-starting success:

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The Science (and Language) of Beer

Although I’m a scientist by trade, I’ve also joined the ranks of home/craft beer makers, and have done a fair bit of brewing myself.

Despite seemingly endless beer varieties, beer making boils down to just a few basic ingredients. So what’s really happening during the major steps in the brewing process? And what do all those colorful beer-making terms mean?

Step 1: Choosing the grain

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Goodnight, Roses

Putting roses to sleep for winter

In early November, many of the roses that bloom twice per year (called remontant, or repeat-blooming) were still putting on quite a show in the Krasberg Rose Garden. Even that late in the season, the garden looked exceptionally lush—canes were tall, bloom was heavy, and November’s cold-but-not-freezing nights kept the last of the season’s flowers going through Thanksgiving.

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Pumpkin Seed Math Games

If you carve a pumpkin for Halloween or make a pumpkin pie from scratch, you’re going to have a lot of pumpkin seeds. You can put them to good use by turning them into “dice” and playing math games this fall.

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Spring Lawn Care for Homeowners

With spring’s arrival, one can’t help but daydream about greener pastures, or in my case, lawns. Now is the time for spring lawn maintenance.

The main purpose of spring lawn care is to get the turf through the summer months. Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye grass, and the fescues need to develop a strong root system to survive summer’s heat and dry conditions. There are a number of things you can do to ensure that your lawn gets off to a good start in the spring. Listed below are some things to do in April and May.

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