Welcome, to all the new followers of the MrBrownThumb garden blog. And "hello" to all the followers who have been reading for a while. If you live or garden in Chicago, or know someone who does, make sure to read the end of this post. Heck, even if you have no connection to Chicago make sure to read the end of this post.
Raise your hand if you've been watching the Life After People special on the History Channel. I love it! I could spend days watching this thing and never get tired of it. One of the things in particular that really interests me about the special is watching how plants will one day grow over everything that people have built. One of the episodes focuses heavily on Chicago and it has a few segments on how Wrigley Field will look once grounds keepers aren't around to maintain it.
In the segment that covers Wrigley Field, the show's writers theorize that the ball park will one day be overgrown by the ivy that grows there now decorating the outfield walls. If I remember correctly the narrator states that ivy, in Chicago's climate, can grow at a rate of fifty feet a year.
I know in other climates ivy can be a problem and becomes an invasive plant but I don't think I've seen evidence in gardens around Chicago of ivy growing that much in a single year. I personally love ivy and have this dreams of one day having a garden filled with ivy. Ivy, everything-ivy walls, ivy topiary, an ivy gazebo. If you hate ivy, my fantasy garden would not be one you'd ever want to set foot in. Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, ivy. With the exception of how much it will grow in a year I don't have a problem with the fear mongering about the ivy and how it will end up destroying the historic scoreboard and blah, blah, blah. Mostly because it is true-ivy is beautiful, at least to me, but can be a very destructive plant.
When the narrator started going on about how the field would be taken over by buckthorn, that would become these mounds of interpenetrate greenery, my BS meter went off. They showed some dilapidated buildings somewhere in Indiana to illustrate what it looks like when nobody is around to take care of the buildings and nature is left unchecked--and what life after people has in store for Chicago. When I failed to spot any mounds of buckthorn in the video of the abandoned town in Indiana I started to wonder who the consultant was that predicted all this buckthorn taking over Wrigley Field was.
I've spent way too much time thinking about buckthorn and the consultant who told the producers of Life After People that buckthorn would take over Chicago. I've been looking around Chicago at abandoned lots and undeveloped areas to see any evidence of this monster buckthorn and I've come to the following conclusion(s): 1. I really need to stop thinking so much about plants I see on shows that have nothing to do with plants or gardening. 2. The horticultural consultant for Life After People probably doesn't live or garden in Chicago.
One could probably bet good money on #2 and win because everyone who lives and gardens in Chicago knows that dandelions and maple trees will take over at Wrigley Field.
Recently, after a few good rains in Chicago I've had a bumper crop of maple seedlings all over my garden. Seeds are germinating all over the place and I can walk out on any given day and pull out a handful of them that I swear were not there the day before. If I didn't garden on such a tiny plot of land I'd be inclined to let the little seedling grow. I've developed a catch and release program for the seedlings that I manage to pull out of the ground before the tap root develops too far. I'll pot them up and keep them around for a while and then plant them in an empty lot or two. I can't brinng myself to kill a tree.
What are the plants that will take over your garden when nobody is around to maintain it?
If you live or garden in Chicago: Today the Tribune launched ChicagoNow.com and I've got a new garden blog over there called 'Chicago Garden'. It is a blog about--well, gardening in Chicago. The website is still in beta but when it is completed it will be like Facebook for Chicago by Chicagoans. I've put up a number of posts there already and that garden blog will be a little different than this one. It won't be as much as a personal garden journal like MrBrownThumb has been. It will be about and for Chicagoans. Once all the features are set up for ChicagoNow.com you'll be able to create profiles and even start a blog. It's going to be really cool. So come on over and sign up for an account and say hello. If you don't live or garden in Chicago come by for a visit anyway and tell your friends or family who may live in Chicago about the new garden blog.
This is my first gig as a "garden blogger" and really an experiment for companies like the Tribune. I'm glad the Tribune folks gave me this opportunity and that they saw a benefit in launching the site with a garden blog and that they went with a nobody (me) when they could have picked from any number of great horticultural writers in Chicago. Don't let them regret it and keep me employed by visiting Chicago Garden and joining up and participating.