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THE FAIRY GARDENER Bulbs are tough
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jim Edminster

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For those of you who regret never having gotten around to planting bulbs for the coming spring, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of spring planted permanent bulbs currently available in catalogs such as alliums, lilies, irises and hardy glads. Further, if some of your planted bulbs have already popped up and wilted, as a friend's daffs have, not to worry. Bulbs are tough; a false spring will not kill them. You may lose a few blooms but in general they'll be all right. Keep in mind the words of my favorite Medieval mystic, Hildegarde of Bingen: "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." Nature is tough.

Watch out salting walks next to flower beds; buy the kind of melter that is less harmful to plants ( and your dog's feet ). Or use sand instead, which won't hurt plants at all. If you must have a deicer, calcium magnesium acetate is the least harmful to plants.

Another winter thing to watch out for is the residue from bird feeders. This often consists of sunflower seed hulls, which are allotropic—harmful to plants. This residue should be scooped up and put in the garbage, not on the yard or in compost heaps. And by the way don't anyone tell you the blather that bread scraps are bad for birds and block their digestive tracts. Puul-lease! And I suppose the pigeons around McDonalds have heart disease from eating those lard filled French fries!

A friend of mine wanted a tall unusual ground cover for a small shaded area between the back of her house and the sidewalk. I suggested polkweed as she is an organic kind of person: one can eat the plant's shoots ( "Polksalad Annie" ) and birds love the purple berries of the five-foot plants.

If you're slightly lazy and like a wild look in your yard try some of the many self-seeders like columbine and corydalis. ( And if you can bring yourself to do it, make a New Year's resolution: no more bare dirt in the garden! Wall-to-wall plants like Mother Nature! )

My nomination for weird acting plant is Italian arums, aka Lords and Ladies. Their seemingly fragile arrowhead leaves stay green all winter and die back in late spring. Then they sprout and bloom their orange berries in late fall. Occasionally they totally reverse this time schedule.

Many clematis will bloom and grow in shade so they are good candidates for fences under trees. They will also grow up through shrubs and not hurt the shrubs because their foliage is so sparse. Purple clems and pink roses are a good combination.

I have decided Rose-of-Sharons are a good plant to guerilla-garden into barren verges. I've put them in the wooded fringes of highway rest stops between here and Kansas. Mea culpa.

Here's this column's recipe: Italian tomato soup. Ingredients: half cup any kind of pasta like bowtie, salt and pepper, olive oil, large chopped yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic chopped, 4 cups chicken broth, can white beans, can diced tomatoes, 2 cups baby spinach, half cup chopped basil. To do—cook pasta; in another pot saute onion & garlic 5 min. Add broth, boil and add beans, tomatoes and pasta. Simmer 10 min.; add spinach, basil, salt and pepper. Serve

Garden tools: People remember to clean and oil the blades, but do they remember to wax or oil the wood handles?

Party? Booze left over in smallish amounts in glasses and bottles? Pour it all together and pour it in the compost heap!

Too much mail and some time on your hands? Shred it and, as long as there's no plastic, it's okay for the compost heap.

There's a new kitty litter made of coconut fiber that is being advertised as usable in the yard after kitty finishes with it. This sounds suspicious to me!

On that awesome note, happy winter!

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