CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for moonflower

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 »

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A sweet, potato project: Lazy, drizzly day perfect for vine time

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden.

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden; I've already picked up two for my planter boxes.

‘One potato, two potato …’ I was thinking of the children’s rhyme today when I compared two sweet potatoes that had been languishing in my larder since Easter.

One looked much like it did when I bought it, while the other had several sprouts jutting from it — purple sprouts. And, what’s more, a closer examination revealed what looked to be tiny purple leaves extending, in turn, from them.

Dig the tiny purple leaves

Tiny purple leaves jut from the sprouts of my sweet potato.

The garden is great for awakening a sense of wonder. Even if it’s a long time coming. I’ve used sweet potato vine in my planters for several years now, but only recently started to ponder their relationship to, duh, sweet potatoes.

A little online research gave instructions on how Read the rest of this entry »

Lights, climbers, action: building a twinkling, virtual garden wall

Net lights hung around the railing of the balcony make for a magical ambience.

Net lights hung around the railing of my city balcony make for nighttime ambiance.

Every summer the City of Chicago puts on a festival called Venetian Night, in which a host of boats tricked out in sparkling lights drift past the city’s shoreline. Did I mention — for those who have never visited Chicago — that the beach here is ACTUALLY DOWNTOWN? What more could an urban dweller ask for?

Technically, it’s lakefront, not beachfront. But, it’s a Great Lake, so it has the aspect of a beach, without the salt water. Anyway, the magical effect of those twinkling lights is what I try to evoke on my 5×12-foot balcony.

I make my brand of magic by attaching a length of Read the rest of this entry »

Mother of all cleanup days: time for dirty job that has to be done

You can only put off cleanup day in the garden for so long before it has to be done.

You can only put off garden cleanup for so long before the day of reckoning arrives.

Those of you in warmer climes probably spent Mother’s Day Sunday winding down colorful garden paths and smelling the early roses, while here on Planet Chicago I tackled the dirty job of cleaning up the debris from last year’s garden.

I promise the garden duck and bird will stand upright when cleanup is done.

I promise the wooden duck and bird will stand proud again.

I know, many people choose to pull out the old plants in late fall, but for me it’s a pretty sad process at that time, since there always are a few flowers struggling to live on — if but for scant days more. I just can’t bear to deprive them of their extended moment of defiance. Cleaning up now, when I know the best Read the rest of this entry »

One garden, four delights: color, fragrance, texture and taste

Yellow Nasturtium has edible leaves and flowers.

Yellow Nasturtium (against purple Morning Glory) has edible leaves and flowers.

Sensory overload. It’s one of a garden’s most enchanting promises. And, indeed, it’s what likely contributes to a garden’s universal appeal. The vibrant colors, the delicate fragrances, the varied textures and wonderful flavors all stimulate the senses. I try to reflect each of these aspects in my small outdoor space. Here’s how I’ll introduce them:

Color: My palette — which plays off my interior color scheme — consists of yellows, greens, blues and oranges. I’m using some selections that have performed well for me in the past as a base, and Read the rest of this entry »