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Radical Gardening and #OccupyGardens

Once while riding in a car I saw a ‘Keep Your Laws Off My Body” bumper sticker and inside my head I shouted back “Keep Your Politics Out Of My Garden!” I surprised myself because in my youth I’d been anything but apolitical. I’d participated in rallies, marches, protests, voter registration drives and volunteered on a political campaign before I was old enough to vote myself.  Perhaps I was burnt-out on politics after being immersed in it at an early age. The last place I thought politics belonged was in the garden.

Recently I came across a mention of the book Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism & Rebellion in the Garden by George McKay. Intrigued by the title and cover I sent off a request to the publisher for a review copy which they granted me. After reading this book I’ve come to the realization that my opinion that gardening should be free of the political is myopic to say the least. Gardens and the gardened landscapes are deeply rooted (ugh) in the political. George McKay uses historical examples to illustrate an "intimate relationship between politics, social change and landscape or garden" many of which mirror those taking place today.

Radical Gardening


"Christmas Cactus" Blooms, Care and Identification

November is the time of year we start to complain about how early Christmas music and decorations show up all around us. In the indoor garden it is the time when gardener's thoughts turn to Christmas & "Thanksgiving Cactus" blooms, or why your Holiday Cactus is not blooming. If your "Christmas Cactus" is setting buds or blooms right now, you may not have a true "Christmas Cactus" at all. So, how do you know which of the Schlumbergera you're growing? How do you make your "Christmas Cactus" bloom? And Can you grow more plants from cuttings of your "Christmas Cactus?"

Blooming Christmas Cactus


Smart Pots for Smart Container Gardening

As a frugal urban gardener who often creates container gardens from buckets and other items I have a hard time recommending gardeners buy pots because they're so expensive at garden centers and nurseries. But after trying some Smart Pots in the balcony garden this year I've discovered some pots I'm happy to recommend. I met one of the men behind Smart Pots this past winter at the Mid-America Horticultural Trade Show who convinced me to try some Smart Pots after I told him I didn't believe in buying pots. When I saw him again this summer at the Independent Garden Center Show and he inquired about the Smart Pot samples he gave me, I had to admit he was right. Smart Pots are a smart solution to container gardening.

Smart Pots for Urban Gardening, Urban Farming


Fairy Gardening is Bringing Miniature Plants Back

In investments and information technology circles the 90's will be remembered for the dot-com bubble burst, but that same decade another bubble burst that I didn't think many people noticed. In the late 90's I was at the height of my fascination with all things bonsai. My interest in bonsai lay primarily with shohin and mame bonsai. Because of their miniature status it is hard to find accent plants that help sell the illusion of their size. So along with a bonsai obsession I also developed one for miniature plants. Miniature plants that the recent fairy gardening trend is helping bring back into popularity.

Fairy Garden in Chicago