Ear to the Ground

From the Publisher: May-June 2021

by cathym on May 5, 2021

Dear friends, 

As we were wrapping up this issue, Cathy wandered into my office. “We should make this one the love issue, she said, “because there sure is a lot of talk about love in it …” 

She was joking, sort of, but why not? Natives, pests and diseases, curb appeal … these are all good themes, but we gardeners are a passionate bunch. We love our gardens, we love plants, we love birds, bees, rain, and sunshine—just about everything that goes along with digging in the dirt*. 

Colleen O’Neill Nice is back for the first time in a few years with a story about her love of zinnias. And Carol Sitarski contributes “Eating your flowers and loving it,” which contains perhaps my favorite sentence in this issue (referring to apple blossoms): “Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors.” But the grandest, most epic love story inside is that of Larry Nau, his wife Lili Liu, and their internationally renown collection of lotus—parts of which can be made into chips and pizza, interestingly. Everyone loves chips and pizza. 

As for me, I’m in love with my rockery. The whole garden, really, but especially that. The wallflowers growing up against it are not just blooming now (late April)—they never stopped blooming at all through the winter, even under a foot of snow now and again. There’s also a tiny Cyclamen coum I planted almost exactly a year ago—in bloom! The pinks are all budded up, the lewisia is ready to go, and there are even squirrel-planted tulips blossoming on the hillside above. If the best fertilizer is the gardeners’ shadow, this year it should do quite well—I can’t keep away.

As always, thank you for reading—and lots of love!


Jane Milliman, Publisher

*Yes, I know some readers don’t like the word “dirt.” “Dirt is what I empty out of the vacuum cleaner, not what’s in my garden—that’s soil,” they say. I say, before you criticize someone for this vocabulary choice, look up both words in the dictionary. 

End rant!


From the Publisher: Directory 2021

by cathym on February 15, 2021

Welcome to 2021! Since we all had so much more time than usual last year to think about  gardening, plan our gardens, and actually garden, all of our landscapes are picture perfect, right? Well, maybe not quite. But my tool shed is more organized than it ever has been (see picture—shelves!).

Lots of people, many of them in their 20s and 30s, took up gardening for the first time in 2020, and when I read some of the questions in online gardening groups I can’t help but cringe. Yes, December is too early to start tomato seeds. Yes, yellowing leaves from the bottom up are a bad sign. No, houseplants aren’t likely to kill your cat (fight me on it!).

Seriously, though—we have an opportunity now to engage a whole new generation of gardeners. Give your new-to-gardening friends seeds, cuttings, and divisions of passalong plants (but not snow-on-the-mountain, please). Applaud their efforts. And do answer their questions, if you can. But most of all, if you’re lucky enough to have new mentees, let them know that gardening is all about trial and error, not giving up when you’ve killed something, and growing what makes you happy.

You might even buy them a subscription to the UGJ!

Thanks, as always, for reading.


Jane Milliman, Publisher


From the Publisher: November-December 2020

by cathym on November 2, 2020

Dear friends, 

With this issue, we close out our 25th year of publication—wow! I’d like to thank all our readers, advertisers, and allied organizations for making it possible. I’m very proud of each issue we publish, and I love to hear your feedback when I’m out in the world. It’s usually complimentary, but then our readers are civilized people who, when they have nothing nice to say, generally don’t say anything. 

I’ve said it before, but I want to thank our team, without whom there would be no UGJ. Debbie Eckerson started helping out in 2008 as our subscriptions manager. Since then she has added calendar editor and managing editor to her responsibilities, and she is invaluable. 

One year before that, Brian Eshenaur joined the team as our technical editor. This came about when we published one of probably many scientific errors, prompting my friend Laurie Broccolo to get in touch and suggest we right this situation by bringing Brian on board. Some of the best advice I’ve had. (A lot of Laurie’s advice is some of the best I’ve had.)

In the year 2000, I was approached at GardenScape, Rochester garden’s and landscape show, by a delightful lady who wondered if we had considered expanding into Buffalo (at the time we only covered Rochester). I said I would love to, but the trouble was that, with a two-year-old at home, it was difficult for me to get out that way to work on selling advertising and meeting people. No problem—Maria Walczak is an old pro in ad sales, loves to garden, and was prepared to take right over! Maria has since retired, though she and her husband continue to make Buffalo-area deliveries. 

I suppose if we are moving back in time, I should mention my sainted mother, Sarah Koopus, next. She’s proofed the magazine since the beginning and also is, you know, my mom, so she’s had to put up with me for a long time and deserves an extra shout-out.

Cathy Monrad joined the UGJ in 2012, and Cathy is my right arm, probably half my brain, and then some. She is involved in all our publications and projects and is one of the hardest-working people I know. I live in fear that Cathy will relocate to Myrtle Beach. 

Last but not least is our newest addition, Caroline Kunze. Caroline came on board when we acquired (585) magazine in 2019 as an advertising salesperson, and she is doing a great job getting to know some of our existing advertisers and bringing in new ones. 

Thank you again for all of your support over the years. Print is a tough business these days, but I know readers love to curl up with a copy of the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal, and as long as that’s the case, we’ll keep on growing. 


Jane Milliman, Publisher