July Articles

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Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’
by Susan Martin - August 2015

If you have an eye for the unusual, you may have spotted this revolutionary new tropical foxglove when it made its debut in garden centers last year. What is it? It’s a bit of an enigma really. Though it looks like a perennial foxglove (Digitalis spp.), ‘Berry Canary’ blooms like an annual from late spring to frost before perishing in our frigid winters. Digiplexis owes half of its good looks to perennial foxglove and the other half to Isoplexis, a long blooming tropical relative of foxglove.

Use ‘Berry Canary’ in your landscape and containers just like you would a foxglove. It makes a strong statement as a thriller in combination containers and brings season-long color to garden beds. The mounded rosette of large, dark green leaves is topped with sturdy scapes lined with exotic looking hot pink flowers with a creamy yellow, spotted throat. Buy Digiplexis in bloom at the garden center and it will be a blooming powerhouse for you the entire season. Since it is only winter hardy to Zone 8 and has very specific chilling requirements to initiate blooms, it is best to buy Digiplexis every year.   >> read article

Bringing Nature Back
by Sarah Marcheschi - July 2015

If you don’t have a prairie, you can make one. That’s what they did with acres of fallow land at Fermilab in Batavia.

If you’re planning to visit the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, the only U.S. Department of Energy site open to the public, you’ll need to have a photo ID ready. But once you clear the security checkpoint, pick up your map and pass through the gates, one of the region’s largest natural areas restoration projects awaits you.

The vision of Northeastern Illinois University professor Robert Betz, the reconstruction of Fermilab’s native tallgrass prairie began as a 9-acre planting in 1975 and now comprises almost 1,000 on-site acres, with more planted every year. Mowed paths cut through thick swaths of grasses and wildflowers, and trails for bicycling wind throughout the property past lakes, ponds and laboratories. The outdoor spaces teem with wildlife such as birds, deer, geese, amphibians and reptiles, even a herd of buffalo, brought in to acknowledge Fermilab’s connection to its prairie heritage.   >> read article

A Love Affair
by Adele Kleine - July 2015

No one knows why the heart beats faster when love suddenly strikes, but my heart suddenly rips and rocks when I hold a spectacular bird of paradise flower in my hand! The cut flower bears an uncanny resemblance to a bird in flight, especially when its orange wings are open and the straight blue and white stamens stand tall. This curious affinity has been part of my life since 1978 when I built my greenhouse and bird of paradise was only a name that fit my parameters as tropical and flowering. Little did I know that the flower was so long-lasting because, as petals become dry, you can slit the gray green pod open and pull another flower out.   >> read article

Put a Rainbow in the Kitchen
by Karen Atkins - July 2015

The middle of summer can come as a welcome relief to gardeners, as early season weeds have long been pulled, and the garden is resting. Garden benches – having served only as focal points – actually might see some use. But we know you, and we’re willing to bet you won’t sit still for long. So, we thought we might suggest starting a few seeds. Right now. Rainbow chard seeds, specifically.   >> read article

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