Embarrassing Garden Moments and Garden Book Giveaway

So my Garden Book Giveaway project has not exactly been proceeding according to schedule. Initially it was supposed to be every Wednesday, then every other Wednesday. Now it’s pretty much a random event. I think this is what physicists call entropy.


However, all is not lost. For today we are giving away another garden book. This time it’s Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing, and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants, by Robin Stockwell.



To win this book, you must answer the following question in the comments:

What has been your most embarrassing gardening experience?

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I was going to write a post last night, but Judy and I were both obsessively scouring the internet for results from the special election in Pennsylvania’s  18th Congressional District.

Conor Lamb, the Democrat, won by about 600 votes, which is a remarkable result in a district that Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016. (There may be a recount, however.) Here’s what Political Wire, which has become my “go to” political website, had to say about the significance of this special election:

There are 119 congressional districts held by Republicans that are more liberal than Pennsylvania’s 18th. If Democrats are competitive in just half of them, Republicans will be swept out of office this fall in record numbers.

Now, this is not a political blog. In fact, I started this blog in part to distract myself from politics. But I never claimed to be consistent, and I feel compelled to highlight this promising development.

In honor of this event, I am posting the state song of Pennsylvania. It is entitled, appropriately enough, “Pennsylvania”. Enjoy.

Spring is Delayed, Please See Agent For Details

The temperatures for most of this March have hovered between a few degrees above to a few degrees below freezing. This means that Spring has been emerging with excruciating slowness. Most nights the soil freezes, along with the potting mix in containers. We have Snowdrops, for which I am grateful, but nothing else.


persephone statue b
The Greek goddess Persephone. She hates waiting in airports. 

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Happy Birthday, Karl Foerster! (And Giveaway Winner)

The ornamental Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foerster’ (Calamagrostis x acutifolia) is pretty well known, but what about the plant breeder and garden designer Karl Foerster, for whom the grass was named? March 9th just happens to be Karl Foerster’s birthday, so perhaps a little attention is called for. Though he died in 1970 at the age of 94, Foerster’s legacy lives on through the plants he developed and his influence on garden design.

karl foerster grass
Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foerster’. Photo from my.chicagobotanic.org.

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Container Bulbs Report

Last October I planted 140 Daffodils, 200 Tulips, and 250 Crocuses in pots. The 12 pots planted with Daffodils were given compost for insulation over winter. The Tulips and Crocuses were planted in another 12 containers and covered with wood mulch. I didn’t bother to cover the tops of the Daffodil containers because critters don’t like to eat Daffodils.


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The First Snowdrops, Heralds of Spring

Hooray! The first flowers of the year, which is to say the first Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are blooming in our garden!


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Toji Temple and Flea Market

When we emerged from our Kyoto hotel in the morning we would look across the street and see this large wooden pagoda. Upon inquiring, we were told that it’s part of the Toji Temple complex.


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Garden Book Giveaway Day: The Garden Photography Workshop, by Andrea Jones

As I wrote last week, every Wednesday is Garden Book Giveaway Day until I’ve given away all the extra copies of garden books that I’ve accumulated. So, let me start by announcing the winner of last week’s giveaway: Cortney, of the blog Box and Bay. Congratulations, Cortney! Please write to me with your delivery address at jasonbertkay@gmail.com.

photo workshop

This week’s giveaway book is The Garden Photography Workshop by veteran garden photographer Andrea Jones. According to a review in English Garden magazine, this is a book that “will help anyone from the casual iPhone-using garden snapper to the enthusiastic hobby gardener learn how to take better garden photos”.

To win, please post an answer of 100 words or less to the following question: Was there someone early in your life who inspired you with a love of gardening?

Please post your comment by Saturday, March 3rd.

The winning answer will be selected by Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks (now that she’s free), plus a panel of Chicago aldermen who are not currently persons of interest in any ongoing investigation. (Though allowance was made for some who have already paid their debt to society.)

The Lurie Garden in February (2018)

The snow has melted, and Judy has been anxious to take pictures of the Lurie Garden before all the plants are mowed down. Last Saturday we both had reason to be in the loop, so while I was working Judy took some time to wander Lurie Garden with her camera.

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A Visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory

We had contractors working in the house last Saturday, and so Judy and I decided to have an outing to the Garfield Park Conservatory. We hadn’t visited since five years ago, which is a shame because this is one of Chicago’s great garden features.

Photo Feb 18, 12 01 07 PM

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