March 25, 2017 – LIVE from the Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Every year the National Garden Bureau selects an annual, perennial, bulb and edible as finalists in its plant of the year program. Winners are selected for adaptability, how easy they are to grow and a few other factors. For 2017, the Rose received top honors as Plant of the Year (along with the daffodil, pansy and brassica).

It’s very timely, then, that our first guest is Chris Van Cleave, a man who’s been nicknamed “The Redneck Rosarian”. Chris is a passionate gardener and a self-proclaimed advocate for roses. As an active member of the Birmingham, Alabama chapter of the American Rose Society, he tours the country speaking at events, local rose society gatherings and garden centers, and also is leading the way to bring horticultural groups to their potential in our social media age. In 2009, he created the Rose Chat Podcast, which has reached more than half a million listeners with news and information on growing and caring for roses. He also blogs regularly and runs an active Twitter page with regular #RoseChat conversations.

Chris joins us before speaking at 11am at the Show, when he’ll be presenting a seminar called Which Rose Is Right For You? I’m sure that most of us will say that it’s the one that doesn’t die before July. But that’s just me. You can learn more on Chris’s website.

2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds, a conservation agreement signed by the United States and Great Britain (oddly enough, signing for Canada). It’s commonly called the Migratory Bird Treaty, and this agreement provided the foundation for the protection of almost all native birds, including their nests and eggs.  Today, conservation organizations like the Audubon Society work at both national and local levels to support the treaty, educate people about migratory birds and help to create and conserve habitat for the millions of birds that migrate annually.

With spring migration starting, our next two guests join us to talk about how we can incorporate native plantings and habitat features like birdhouses and nest platforms into our yards to provide healthy places and safe habitat for both migrating and summer-resident birds.

We welcome Nathaniel Miller, Director of Conservation for Audubon Great Lakes (AGL), which manages conservation work throughout the region to protect and improve habitat critical for birds during their migration and nesting cycles. The organization offers some suggestions for good native plants to build spring and fall backyard bird habitat on their website. AGL is also creating a cohesive strategy across the region to address threats to the birds of the Great Lakes.

If you’re a regular show listener, you’ll recognize the familiar voice of Nick Fuller of Natural Communities, in Batavia. Nick will be offering some suggestions for the best plants to make your yard more bird-friendly.

We’re also pleased to have DIY Network host Ahmed Hassan also joining us this morning. Ahmed is best known as the original host of DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers” series, which the cable network created specifically to showcase his high energy, motivational spirit and “love of everything green.” He’s a guest contributor for the CBS Early Show and NBC’s Today Show, and a guest columnist for several publications including HGTV magazine.

According to his website, Ahmed discovered his love of gardening and working outdoors at the age of 10 by doing basic landscape chores, and was working as a professional maintenance gardener by age 15. His love of landscaping led to a successful career and today he is a highly sought after Celebrity Landscape professional. He and his wife Tiffanie also own and operate Ahmad Hassan Landscape Services (AHLS) a landscape consulting, design and installation firm located in California.

Ahmed will be on the main Gardening Live stage at noon to educate attendees about The Evolution of Landscape Gardening and backyard outdoor living, which he says now includes a holistic mix of landscaping, gardening and foodscaping.

Right across from where we’ll be broadcasting today is one of the highlights of the show gardens, a large waterscape installation including chains, falling (and splashing) water and LED lights. In fact, you’ll likely be able to hear it in the background during the program. This water feature is part of the beautiful Garden 17 “Linking You to the Outdoors Through Waters,” presented by Aquascape, Inc, and designed by our next guest, construction manager Brian Helfrich and his colleague Chris Hanson. Brian’s been designing and leading construction of the Aquascape garden at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show since 2006.

Brian’s considered one of the premier waterfall builders in the nation and has given hundreds of pond construction seminars across the country. He’s also a contributing author of The Pond Builder’s Bible. He’ll bring his pond expertise to this morning’s show as he joins us to talk about ways to add water features to backyard gardens.

And if you think that all of the above is stimulus overload, we’ve just received word that Meteorologist Rick DiMaio will be in the house (and it’s a big one) tomorrow!

Tune in to 1590 WCGO at 10am. Also streaming live at