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The Fairy Gardener
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jim Edminster
2017-01-10

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With the New Year comes a spate of gardening catalogs which I will peruse and review in this column. But first some New Year's horticultural resolutions:

1 ) I will grow rose campions, the magenta flowered silver-leaved perennial ( which I have tried to grow at least 5 times before unsuccessfully ). And hardy maypop!

2 ) Instead of growing all my many cannas in the narrow sunlit strip of my patio I will A ) give some to my friends, B ) figure out how to send some to my sis in Kansas, and C ) grow a couple of big pots on my top deck ( which is all sunlight ).

3 ) I will tell even more people walking by my yard ( with dogs or just looking ) to come in and look around. I hold to the Jane Jacobs' urban idea that people in & out keeps a place safer ( from flower thieves, among others ). The in and out applies even when I'm not there, if I've met them. My friend Edwin, who helped cat-sit when I was in Kansas for Xmas, said that he found a dog-walking male couple admiring my garden from the street in the depths of winter ( when it's only gray and brown )! ( Oh, yeah—with blue horses andturquoise bowling balls! )

4 ) I will winnow, thin out, give away some of my 200 or so house plants! It takes three and a half hours a week to water them.

5 ) I will severely limit the purchase of new plants. Yes, I will. I will, really. Really. ( Really! )

Here's this month's recipe from my sis, Jo Higgins—tortilla wraps. It's a quick meal for one or two if you're in a hurry—breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ingredients: flour tortillas, cream cheese, some hot salsa ( or sliced jalapenos or hot pepper ), left-over cooked meat: ham, turkey or sliced cheese, left-over salad greens or sliced green onions or pico de guio and some sort of sauce,

say—salad dressing, soy, ponzu ( soy& lime ). To do: put a tortilla on a plate or in a bowl; put cream cheese on; layer on rest of stuff. Roll up and eat cold or stick in microwave for hot. Top prep time: 10 minutes

Folks, if it's winter & there's no snow on the ground & it stays below freezing—there's no source of water for birds, squirrels, feral cats ( who chase rats out of the yard! ) or other little animals.

If you have a yard with electricity invest in a heated water bowl: think of it as points on your karmic scale. ( You have to re-fill it about once a week. ) ( The bowl, not the karmic scale. )

These catalogs have landed in my mailbox:

1 ) Dutch Gardens ( www.dutchgardens.com )—plants, many new items, average prices.

2 ) K. van Bourgondien & sons ( www.dutchbulbs.com )—spring planted bulbs & perennials average priced

3 ) Spring Hill Nurseries ( SpringHillNursery.com )—mostly plants ( flowers ), pricey

4 ) Michigan Bulb Co. ( MichiganBulb.com )—mostly plants ( flowers ), average prices

5 ) Select Seeds ( www.selectseeds.com ) -Mostly seeds. Expensive for seeds but good quality

6 ) R.H. Shumways ( www.rhshumway.com )—Mostly veggie seeds of rare types & fairly expensive

7 )The Natural Gardening Company ( www.naturalgardening.com )—veggie seeds from small to large ( farming ) amounts

8 ) Burpee ( www.burpee.com )—plants & seeds—2/3 veggies, 1/3 flowers. Average prices

9 ) Farmer Seed and Nursery ( www.FarmerSeed.com )—veggies and flowers. Cheap prices.

10 ) Territorial Seed Company ( www.TerritorialSeed.com )—veggie & flower seeds sold by grams. Med. prices

11 ) Jung Seeds & Plants ( www.jungseed.com )—seeds, plants, flowers, veggies at moderate prices

I was given a sculpture by an old friend John who moved from a house to an apartment & had no room for the piece. It is abstract, largish and cast iron called "Moonsling".

It is an upside-down crescent sitting on short legs and is vaguely African style. It looks great in my garden. My yard is full of blue horses, miniature houses and bowling balls.

It is just this side of cutesy, and the sculpture greatly ups the serious side of my garden art.

I'm enjoying a strange little book I picked up at a free-book giveaway: Hand-Taming Wild Birds at the Feeder, by Alfred G. Martin. It's old but not dated ( 1963 ). I was hooked at the first line: "...always try to behave as if a bird can and does reason." He is not talking about putting birds in cages but hand-feeding them. It's too cold now to try this but I'll do it in the spring.

Want some biodegradable planting cups? Save the orange halves you've juiced, put them in a paper bag to dry in the basement & plant your seed or baby plants in them in spring.

It's winter: Feed the birds and the not-so-feral cats in the rat abatement program, check out the garden catalogs, and sit by the fire and dream.


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