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Cherishing The Commonplace

It is Thanksgiving morning and as I drink my coffee I watch the birds crowd into the feeder. Cardinals, morning doves and a titmouse take turns with the blue jays. We have lots of blue jays. Just below the birdfeeder, four crows walk up the grass path from the lake, looking like religious elders in […]

Cultivating Wisdom

“Can I fold your laundry?” my mother-in-law asks. “That would be wonderful,” I reply. It’s nice not to have to do this routine chore myself, and I realize that it gives her a purpose and helps her to feel needed. My mother-in-law has recently moved in with us and we are all finding new daily […]

Pet Peeve: Ever-Ugly Evergreens

It’s time to look at the plants in our landscapes with a clear eye. From foundation plants to the medians in parking lots, there are plants that are left in place for years after they have lost their attractiveness. Those malpruned junipers, hacked arborvitae and scalped yews that we leave in place because they are… […]

I Love This Plant – Nov. 15

The I Love This Plant for this week is Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula‘ or weeping willow-leaf pear. I first saw this plant some years ago at the Chicago Botanic Garden and I stood looking at it, thinking, “I want one”. Four years ago I ordered this weeping willow-leaf pear from Forest Farm and I kept it […]


Come ye thankful people come… this song echoes through my head at this time of year. When I was in grade school we sang it every fall…is this too much of a hymn for today’s schoolrooms? I hope not.

Whether a traditional tune runs through your mind or not, at this time of year […]

I Love This Plant – Nov 8th

The plant I’m loving in my garden this week is Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ – wonderful small shrub that has long lasting fall color. But it’s not just fall color that makes this a great plant. ‘Ogon’, also known by the unfortunate name of “Mello Yellow”, has very fine textured foliage and soft, twiggy growth. In […]

Trying Something New

I once read that as people age the parts of their brains that are open to new things starts closing down. People are unlikely to want to listen to newer types of music, or alter routines. Bummer. This must be why my father once said to me “Doesn’t all rock music sound the same?” No, […]

Fornari’s Favorites – 2008

Just a note to tell you all that I have listed my favorite plants from my 2008 garden on my website. Check out Iresine ‘Blazin Lime’, and others in my annual pick of Fornari’s Favorites.

Verbascum olympicum, Nassella tenuissima, Iresine ‘Blazin’ Lime’, and Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Center Glow’ show that foliage power is as good […]

Pet Peeves – I’m Thirsty!

Today I’m starting a new category at Whole Life Gardening: Pet Peeves. Some of these will be garden related and some not. The first in this category occurred to me today as I was gardening. I am desperately trying to get some plants into the ground before winter, so today I was dashing about the […]