We moved to Glenview in 1998. I had been modestly gardening in the city for 2 years, but now I had a whole quarter acre to play with -- and because our house is tiny, I had almost the entire plot as a playground.
Old Lady Ill (yes, that was her name) had been a gardener too, but I didn't let that stop me. I pulled out her iris and her hens & chicks. I enlarged her back plot, removed some groundcover around a tree and made that into a garden, too. By the time I signed up for my first class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I had convinced my husband to remove the overgrown hedges in the front of the house, removed squares of lawn for roses and coreopsis, and taught the girls that corn grows on a stalk, not in a grocery store.
But that first class at the CBG would be Pete's undoing, because that first class was all about composting. It was called "Mulch," but only the first 10 minutes was spent on that stuff you can buy in plastic bags at Home Depot. The rest of the discussion centered on making the gold at home. It turned out I had everything I needed to create plant food at home, except a hideously expensive, recycled plastic black composter that cost a mortgage to ship from my favorite Gardeners Supply Company.