Craig's Spring Letter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Well, Spring has certainly sprung here in Northern Illinois.

The surprise consecutive snowstorms over two April weekends covered over the first of the daffodils, lasted less than a day on the ground, and those golden glories just kept growing.

Rain or shine (or snow!), we hope you can come and see our wares at our second annual Tent Sale at our Wadsworth Nursery on May 3 and 4.   If you can’t make it to this event, come see our booth at the entry to the 2019 Antique and Design Show at the Merchandise Mart May 16 through 19 in Chicago.  I have assembled an amazing group of mid-century containers from France and Belgium, and our plant selection for home or patio use is down-right amazing.   Watch for images of our preparations on Facebook and Instagram.

I am always so excited to see Spring finally arrive.  Anticipation is fine, but come on, the real thing is SO much more exciting.  Seeing, smelling, feeling all that this verdant season has to offer is so gratifying and often, mystifying.

Cleaning out the shed, pre-setting pots out in the garden for later planting, cleaning out the dovecote and topdressing the compost heap, all signal the garden season has begun…again.

Here in the gardens at 900, our team led by Bridget, with Jose and Felipe help me focus on tweaks, changes and refinements to new attain aesthetic heights for this year.  Practical improvements and downright removing problem plants or proven “dogs” is always a must.  Speaking of dogs:  Violet, Pepper, and Watson are happy again to romp around the beds, roll in some fresh worms, and nibble on what seems an ever-present crop of rabbit “kibble”.  Why is it that whatever we do to control their healthy eating through organics and weight watching, these little devils’ favorite treat is always rabbit droppings.  The life of a gardening dog, I guess, and definitely that of a happy terrier.

Interestingly, the results of the brutal cold of last winter on garden plants is revealing itself slowly.  Sometimes with no damage at all and in other gardens the same plants suffered total devastation.  Surprisingly boxwood handled our subzero remarkably well this year.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is the recent heavy snow we had came at just the wrong time for boxwood, and many boxwood in exposed areas experienced severe foliage burn.  Certain climbing roses in exposed areas to wind got hit, but those growing on a warm wall or a sheltered fence or trellis seem no worse for wear.  As typically, any plants in stress going into the fall season were affected, as well as those that weren’t fully root established such as ground covering and perennial plants.

With all the snow cover we had with the subzero temperatures, we are seeing bad rodent damage but understand because they needed to feed on what they could find this past winter.

With the Magnolias in full bloom and the Mertensia virginica (Native Bluebells) showing their pink buds, each week reveals another favorite flower or new form.  Can’t wait to see the Anemonellas (Rue Anemone) I purchased last year at the Trade Secrets in Sharon, CT.  This show is always a favorite to go to and just experience that gorgeous part of our country.  Bridget Reilly, our Nursery Operations and Horticulture Manager, will be going in my stead to visit with our friends and find some goodies for our customers back here in Illinois.  Bridget hails from that wonderful area so this will be a nice visit for her and give her the opportunity to hug our dear gardening friends Paige Dickey, Bosco Schell, Deb Munson, Bunny Williams, Lee Link and so many more.  I will miss the reunion, with life is so busy this spring:  divide and conquer is our mantra…

“One, two, three magic” as my husband Paul says when we have to cleanup in a hurry.  Well, that’s our motto this week wherever we are.  Trying to sweep away vestiges of winter and roll out the red carpet for Spring.

We wish you all happiness in and out of the garden this fleeting season of spring wonders…


Craig Bergmann