Our backyard is a disaster. As in, beyond. Piles of dead leaves that never made it into lawn bags. Patches of dead grass that have turned to mud. Dead branches (big ones!) that line the perimeter. Notice a theme here? Dead, dead, dead. Our neighbors are thrilled, I’m sure.
Now that it’s officially spring, I’m looking forward to the giant cleanup. It’s a mighty job, and I can’t do it alone. So like any good mother, I’ve enlisted the help of my 6-year-old son. (Who, I might add, hasn’t complained once and is psyched to get started, which has me mildly suspicious.)
This past weekend, we kicked things off by moving some mud around (it’s a start). With our gardening gloves on and spades in the ground, I felt happy. Happy to be outside, smelling fresh dirt and breathing clean air. I felt grateful for the seasons (even winter). They remind me of the passage of time and that what they say about parenting is true: the days are long, but the years are short.
Before I’m swept away by sentiment, let me tell you about five North Shore nursery and garden stores to stock up for spring planting with your kids. Get growing!
3460 Dundee Road, Northbrook
A family-owned Northbrook institution, Reds has been around since 1968. Meander through 14 greenhouses and acres of off-site growing areas to find plants that will do well in this region. The knowledgeable staff can help you plan a customized garden, and Reds will even deliver and plant your purchased trees, shrubs and evergreens.
826 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook
Opened in 1954 by John and Ruth Ferraro, this centrally located spot is still family-owned and -operated. Ferraro carries a wide variety of heirloom vegetables and herbs, perennials and annuals, roses, ground covers, small trees and boxwood. They also design ready-made planters for spots you need to fill in (or if you’re lazy like me and want an instant garden).
3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Chalet is a garden wonderland. Meet one-on-one with an in-house landscape designer for creative ideas and inspiration for anything from borders to small gardens. Looking to learn? Don’t miss Chalet’s regularly scheduled informational events and workshops, including one just for kids on April 17 (decorating stepping stones for Mother’s Day).
809 Glenwood Lane, Glenview
To keep a garden growing, I need all the help I can get, which is why raised-bed gardens are appealing. Simply put, they help you out. Raised beds improve drainage and aeration, and because they’re constructed of rot-resistant pine, cedar tone or solid cedar, they last many years. Healthy Roots will help you choose the right bed for your space, then deliver it, set it up and fill it with a special blend of soil, peat and other organic materials.
1625 Leider Lane, Buffalo Grove
As luck would have it, today is Leider’s opening day for the spring 2016 season. In the flower business since 1898, this greenhouse is now run by Mark and Mary Leider. Gardening novice or pro, you can get ideas, advice or even just basic instruction from the experienced staff. Leider also offers a fundraising program for schools, churches and other organizations that combines raising funds with selling beautiful blooms.