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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

Gapers Block

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Gardening is one of the most popular leisure activities in the U.S., and whether you live in a studio apartment or own your own home, this collection of resources will help you create the garden you want. Although the list is by no means comprehensive, I've pulled together a few books and links, focusing particularly on the Chicago area, to help you find the information to get you started.

General Resources

Garden Web
Garden Web is considered one of the best gardening sites on the Internet. Don’t let the simple layout fool you. This website has incredible depth. Check out the Garden Web Forums, which claims to be the largest community of gardeners on the web and where you can find active discussions on everything from balcony gardening to individual plant species.

Yahoo! Directory: Lawn and Garden
You could spend all day browsing the thousands of gardening links listed here. Whether you want to create a bog garden or join the Walnut Creek Neighbors Against Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers, you'll find it here.

Garden Centers of America
Garden Centers of America represents a coalition of independent retail garden centers throughout the U.S. and North America. Check out their garden center directory to find a local independent retailer near you.

Local Resources

Chicagoland Gardening Magazine
This is the online counterpart to Chicagoland Gardening Magazine, a comprehensive resource for the local gardening community. The website includes the table of contents for the current issue, a calendar of regional gardening events, and links to other Chicagoland gardening resources.

If you live in Chicago, before you go digging up the backyard to create your dream garden, call Digger, Chicago's free utility alert network, which will help you avoid damaging or disrupting any underground utilities running through your property. If you live outside Chicago, however, call JULIE, the Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators, which provides the same free service for non-Chicago Illinois residents.

University of Illinois Extension: Hort Corner
The Hort Corner includes many different gardening guides, from selecting trees to choosing the best groundcovers. The site also includes Home Hort Hints, a bi-monthly online newsletter focusing on yard and garden news for Northern Illinois.

vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region
A collaboration of The Morton Arboretum, The Field Museum of Natural History, and the Chicago Botanic Garden, vPlants is "is an on-line searchable herbarium providing specimen data and digital images for plants of the Chicago region."

Botanic Gardens

Chicago Botanic Garden
The website for the Chicago Botanic Gardens provides an exhaustive amount of information. Check out the Illinois' Best Plants database that will help you find plants that will thrive in your garden. Also explore the wide variety of education programs offered at the gardens.

Morton Arboretum
The website for the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL is also a great resource for plant and gardening information. Check out their Tree and Shrub Selection Guide for the Midwest. They also sponsor hundreds of classes, seminars and other educational programs, and you can find course information on the website.

Gardening Clubs

Garden Clubs of Illinois
Garden Clubs of Illinois, Inc is a charter member of National Garden Clubs, Inc and the uber-organization for most garden clubs in the state. If you are interested in finding a gardening club near you or starting one of your own, contact these guys, and they'll help you out. Their extensive website also features an events calendar, gallery of floral design, information about education, and much more.

Fairy Gardeners' Guild
The Fairy Gardeners' Guild is "Chicagoland's LesBiGay garden club." The guild was founded in 1997. Check out the website for contact and meeting information.

Gardeners of the North Shore
Gardeners of the North Shore meets on the first Tuesday of the month at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Meetings feature speakers discussing a wide variety of topics. Guests are welcome, and they are looking for new members. The club also holds garden walks and sponsors the Chicago Botanic Garden's Annual Flower and Garden Show. See their website for more information.

West Chicago Garden Club
According to their website, the first West Chicago Gardening Club was founded in 1925. Although it evolved over its history, the current incarnation of the club boasts more than 80 members. The group meets once a month and also sponsors a wide variety of other events including an annual plant sale, garden walks, field trips and workshops. Check out the website for membership information.


Lone Pine Publishing specializes in regional nature, gardening, and outdoor recreation titles. All four of the following books were written by William Aldrich, also the publisher of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine, and Don Williamson, but they are good local directories and guides, and you can check them out at your local public library.

Aldrich, William and Don Williamson. Annuals for Illinois. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2004.

___. Gardening Month by Month in Illinois. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2004.

___. Perennials in Illinois. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2003.

___. Tree and Shrub Gardening for Illinois. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2004.

Chicago Authors: First Lines

"When they entered Cairo's dimly lit airport shortly before midnight, Lane felt sure they’d done the right thing. Buck had wanted to fly directly from Chicago to Nairobi and spend the entire four weeks on safari, but Lane argued it would be a waste to bypass so much. 'Just think, the pyramids.' He was unmoved."
--Pat Rahmann, from The Comfort of Strangers

Pat Rahmann is a widely published poet, fiction writer, and playwright who has received numerous accolades for her work. She is also the co-owner of the independent bookshop, Books on Vernon in Glencoe, IL and co-founder of the renowned Writers' Theatre.

Have a topic you would like to see in "Ask the Librarian"? Send your suggestions to librariangapersblockcom and it may be featured in a future column.

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Shylo / July 15, 2004 10:54 AM

Another good site is You Grow Girl. Run by women, for all.

Alice / July 15, 2004 11:39 AM

Nice, thanks Shylo. Additions to the list are always most welcome!


About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

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