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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Friday - June 15, 2007

From: chicago, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Hardy perennials for Chicago
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a duplex condo in Chicago. My basement or 1st floor is at sub-sidewalk level. This "patio" faces east and gets about 4 hours sun a day. It is about 8 feet high and covers an area 15x9. I'd like to plant some perennials that are hearty enough to survive a Chicago winter yet give me color or texture in summer and winter. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

Experience has taught us that it is not possible to adequately design a garden or make specific plant recommendations sight unseen. The light, soil, water, and design considerations for each garden site are simply too complex. But we may still be able to help. The Native Plant Database features a search function designed to help with just your kind of project. In the "Combination Search" section of that webpage, select from the menu choices that are appropriate for your requirements. Once you have identified some species that would be good candidates for your project, read articles from the database appropriate to your project. The articles, "Landscaping With Native Plants" and "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" will probably be most useful to you.

 

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