CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Plant food for thought

Period of adjustment: Plants sometimes look worse before they look better

DSC02091It looks like my caladium has finally made peace with the full-sun exposure of my balcony garden.

For the longest time, I wasn’t sure if it would make it. Many of the vibrant leaves—a splattering of ruby red over white over lime green (a little like an abstract canvas)—had turned brown and shriveled at the edges.

But remarkably, it’s rebounded! The sickly looking leaves have fallen away, and the new leaves are healthy and standing proud.

Of course, too much or too little sun isn’t the only thing that stresses garden plants. Just changing
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Spring’s shown its face, now I’m a believer!

It’s been the kind of day that even melts the resolve of those with the frostiest of dispositions. Chicago had a record-setting March 14 — hitting 80 glorious degrees!

Forecasters caution that the temperatures likely aren’t here to stay, but — for a city that’s reveled in unseasonably warm weather since early February — pardon us if we choose not to believe.

And we’re not alone in our complete disdain for the prognostications of Punxsutawney Phil and his ilk. Nature seems to have joined us in a conspiracy to usher in spring earlier than reason would dictate. Trees and flowers are giving in to the spirit of “carpe diem” and pushing up the date Read the rest of this entry »

Got riddles? Gardens — even small-space ones — hold the answers

I’m an unabashed movie buff. And, one of my all-time favorites is Lawrence Kasdan’s “Grand Canyon,” built around the powerful story of two seemingly different men who meet under trying circumstances and wind up connecting as friends.

There is one scene where a third character, a Hollywood producer, intones “all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” Nicely put, right?

I think many of life’s riddles are answered in the garden, as well. And while I don’t usually pound the “garden as metaphor for life” drum, as I said in my last post I’m feeling a little Zen right now, so I’m going to indulge.

Today’s riddle: How do you cope when you’re beat and the number of hours needed to complete your ever-growing to-do list are in inverse correlation to the number of hours available?

Here is the answer (plucked from the garden), which I’m happy to say has been affirmed in my life more than once:

Occasionally, when you’re too tired to water, you’re blessed with rain.

Meaning, sometimes the planets align at exactly the right time, and an outside force intervenes to get you through the moment and lighten your load.

It’s at one of these times when you can just sit back and smell the roses — or, gaze upon your angelonia serena purple (pictured) at dusk.

[I’d love for you to share some of the riddles demystified in your garden through your comments!]

Of four-leaf clovers and other rare plant-world occurrences

DSC00911As visions of shamrocks danced in my head this week, I found myself suddenly transported back to first grade. One thing I recall clearly all these years later, is the vast, emerald field of clover that stood adjacent to my school.

The teacher would occasionally allow the class to while away recess period scouring patches of clover in search of that rare four-leaf specimen hiding among the three-leaf species. If a student Read the rest of this entry »

The garden in winter: saving some thoughts for a snowy day

DSC00603DSC00553DSC00650Months ago, a friend — who tends to see the glass as half-empty — asked what would happen to this blog when Chicago’s gardening season ended.

It was a question I hadn’t even stopped to ask myself. As it was, I was struggling with finding photos to illustrate posts for my fledgling blog, since nothing was yet in bloom — and, stretching the random photos I’d saved from previous seasons on my cell phone camera was beginning to be, well, a stretch.

Over the course of developing CityDiggity and cultivating my small-space urban oasis I learned Read the rest of this entry »

Any given Sunday, first light is a good time to be one with garden

DSC00658DSC00766DSC00780(2)I’ve previously revealed my nocturnal watering habits. Well here’s another of my rituals: sneaking out at 5:30 a.m. for a little Sunday morning quiet.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it every Sunday — and frankly, it sometimes follows not having gone to sleep at all (I am an unabashed night owl) — but I do try to flip the script every then and again and take advantage of these solitary seasonal moments.

When I do, it’s just me, a piping hot beverage and some inspirational reading material. (One of my favorites is Anna Quindlen’s “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,” which holds up to numerous repeat-readings.)

Sunday is the day — and dawn is the time of day — that the noise of Chicago’s elevated train gives us urbanites a much-needed respite. It’s also before Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Chicago summer has garden about a month out of sync

DSC00699DSC00714I often delude myself into thinking that I’m in control of my garden, but in moments of crystalline clarity I realize that it is nature, not I, that bends the garden to its will.

Recently I had to right, and then anchor my heirloom tomato pots after strong winds caused them to topple over.

And, just last evening I was furiously trying to snap a few photos of first-bloomers and complete some garden maintenance before the dark clouds opened up to end the day as it had begun: with driving rain.

The upside: I was spared my nocturnal watering ritual for the day. Nature gives, but sometimes, Read the rest of this entry »