Jean Starr is a long-time gardener and award-winning writer. Her first published article in 1992 appeared in the American Horticultural Society’s magazine, The American Gardener. The topic was how to keep a garden journal, which she did with pen and paper, interspersed with photos developed from film. Today her journal has expanded to include detailed records of plant purchases. She also carefully tracks successes and failures.
Jean resides in Chesterton, Indiana. Her garden is her laboratory — an average-sized residential lot surrounded by oaks and arborvitae, and frequented by deer, hawks, foxes, groundhogs and raccoons. To balance the challenge of having to share her plants with marauding deer and being situated in Zone 6A, Jean’s proximity to Lake Michigan at least tempers the extremes of the weather. Plants emerge in spring just a bit later, making them less likely to succumb to lingering frosts. And, late in the season, it’s not unusual for roses to bloom, even in November.
Jean chooses each of the plants for their unique beauty. She has grown everything from the rare to the commonplace — a Southern Magnolia, dozens of peonies, tropical ginger, and hundreds of unusual plants grown from seed. Her overall goal is to stage a colorful sequence that gives her something to look forward to throughout the year. The garden is planted to provide at least seven months of color and by drying, pressing and photographing the flowers she can extend the sequence even further. Jean seldom plants the same thing twice unless it’s a different species or variety, and when she gets tired of a plant, she has no qualms about removing it to make room for the next.
She started out in the late 1970’s with houseplants before concentrating on outdoor gardening. Recently, Jean rediscovered indoor gardening using orchids and bulbs from Africa. When it comes time for a vacation Jean plans her trips around public gardens and retail and wholesale growing operations. Jean’s quest for more gardening knowledge, more time for gardening and the desire to experiment with more plants knows no limit.
Jean's Featured Articles
Garden Phlox Is a Great Starter Plant
Use Elephant Ears for Mid-Summer Foliage
Growing Tomatoes in Containers Is Easy and Fun
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