Monthly Archives: April 2008
Designs, Tricks, and Schemes,   Real Gardens



You may remember I posted here about the gorgeous conservatory designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Darwin Martin’s estate in Buffalo. After being demolished, it has recently been rebuilt. If you’re interested, you can read more about it in this month’s Garden Design, in an article written by no other than fellow Ranter Amy Stewart.

As Jim/Art of Gardening relates in his post, Amy’s article is fascinating because it includes the correspondence between Wright and Martin, who had one of those great dysfunctional relationships that can only happen between architect and client, and that can only rise to such heights when the architect in question is one of our favorite egomaniacal geniuses.

I can’t link to the article, but it’s in the May GD. (Sorry, I know you can’t read it from the tiny image above.)

P.S. Buffalo gardens have been making the rounds in many garden magazines lately, largely because of all the visits we got last summer during Garden Walk. There is a six-page spread on a Buffalo garden in the May/June Garden Gate, as well. Again, no linkie! These guys don’t put their stuff online.

Posted by on April 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm.   This post has 3 responses.
Ministry of Controversy

Big box resists invasion


Though we can’t expect our Home Depots to be pulling pesticides from their shelves anytime soon (as Canada’s are) there is some consciousness-raising going on among U.S. chains. Meijer stores in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have started a program with The Nature Conservancy, where they are starting to remove invasive species from the shelves and adding 42 perennial and 21 tree species that are recommended by the Conservancy. These will be given special tags: “plant for a better earth.” Many, but by no means all, are natives.

Some of the invasives that are being pulled include privet (lingustrum), which escapes and grows along riverbanks, where it crowds out native sedges, grasses, and ferns; and Norway maples, which they list as potentially invasive, but which I list as “just plain suck.”

Well, we know from our discussions how sticky the whole invasive issue can be, but for a big box to be working with a nonprofit like the Conservancy seems encouraging to me.

Though I must say it sounds kinda tame in comparison with the Canada ban. Too bad about the privet; I kind of like privet.

Posted by on April 30, 2008 at 11:00 am.   This post has 9 responses.
Ministry of Controversy

Is No Progress Possible?

Dear Earthlovers,

The news is not good.  Not only are we facing a shortage of petroleum that is sending gas prices soaring, but also, as the The New York Times reported today, a shortage of fossil fuel-based fertilizers.

You’d think that we’d use this moment of scarcity to seek out better, cleaner alternatives.  Sadly, America is led by ingenious types who spend their day trying to move us back to yesterday.  We have Hillary Clinton and John McCain promising to suspend the federal gas tax. And we have chemical fertilizer companies working their fingers to the bone, trying to build new plants.

As for the rest of us who’d prefer not to have their air, soil, and water poisoned for other people’s profit–I believe we’re out of luck. We have no vote whatsoever.

Let 100 dead zones of algae bloom! Let the people drive SUVs! Anything to avoid change for the better! I think we were once a different kind of country.



Posted by on April 30, 2008 at 5:35 am.   This post has 11 responses.
Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Regarding bulb comix, property values, and evil red mulch


HT Peter Hoh for drawing my attention to this amazing vintage comic book website which includes, incredibly enough, a 1956 comic book promoting Dutch tulip bulbs. It will not take you long to click through this hilarious work of literature yourself, so I’ll just briefly explain that the action involves one businessman on a commuter train telling another about how he planted bulbs on his property and was then able to sell his house immediately.

It’s all very silly, but two points seem to be stressed. One: it’s necessary to plan a bulb planting. Like so (from the book):

Simple! We’ll make a rough sketch of our grounds, and draw in the locations for the various flowers! We can use tulips along the path, hyacinths in the foundation planting, daffodils around the trees … Wait, let me get a pencil and paper!

We’ve moved beyond—well, we’re including more options than—daffodils in a circle and tulips in a row these days, with swaths, rivers, scattered three- and fivesomes, and many other planting schemes on the table. I suppose some people use a pencil and paper to plan bulb plantings, but I suspect most don’t think it necessary these days.

The concept of curb appeal, though, hasn’t changed. I saw this scary suggestion from a realtor in a recent article: “Remember, how you maintain your yard is how people will think you maintain your house inside.” Yikes! But I’m not so sure. I’m actually quite doubtful creative landscaping will go too far toward selling an otherwise slow-moving property—and speaking from personal experience I know that we paid no attention, and did not, in fact, realize what was planted around the house until it came up again the next year. At which point, we got rid of most of it. You will still find realtors and nursery professionals repeating the curb appeal via landscaping mantra everywhere, but I think the house and the location are what get the sale done.

I’ve waited until now to mention the blog where Peter found the comix link, the delightful Kiss My Aster, where I found plenty of funny stuff, like this: I hate red mulch. It will go down on my tombstone. Is it supposed to emulate Redwood trees shredded and mulched in your garden? Because that’s plain sick.


Posted by on April 30, 2008 at 5:00 am.   This post has 8 responses.
Grab Bag

Support our Gardening Troops in Iraq

by SusanIraq3350_2 
I’m not kidding.  A Logistics Specialist over there recently left this comment on an old article about HGTV’s Paul James:

I am presently stationed in the Kuwait/Iraq region and miss watching
"Gardening by the Yard". I was told of a tree called a Bulb Willow. I
seen pictures of the tree but I have never heard of that type of
Willow. Can you help?
Also, are there DVDs of "Gardening by the Yard"?
Thanks from the sandbox!!

My gawd!  Can you imagine what being in that world would do to YOUR gardener’s soul?  Of course I shudder at the whole thing but I’d sure like to help this gardener from St. Louis see his damn gardening shows.  What with him serving in such a hell-hole and all. 

So I checked with HGTV and there are a few Paul James videos on their site. (Just put his name in the search on this page.) And YouTube has exactly one of Paul – plugging nurseries.   

So come on, Gardenrant readers, is there some way we can help out Norman Bullerdick, a passionate gardener who’s needs a gardening fix bad? Can
anyone make DVDs from their TV?  Or maybe he can use old-fashioned

If you’re thinking of Netflix, here’s their offering of gardening DVDs.  Here and here are raves about our favorite garden-related movies, and here’s Google results for "gardening DVDs".

And what the heck is a bulb willow?  I Googled it and got bupkis!

Now if I did the sensible thing and took my  now-inactive old blog offline I’d save 90 bucks a year but you know, I’d miss hearing from Paul’s fans, like the 81 other commenters there with Norman.  Maybe they’d just find this other post about Paul here on GardenRant and join the 66 other fans who’ve left comments on it – in the vain hope of actually reaching him or his bosses at HGTV – but I’d hate to miss any of their passionate messages.

So Paul, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll always be here for you.  I’ll take your messages and cheer on your fans as best I can, because I’m as ridiculous about your show as they are.  Norman speaks for us all. 

Photo credit – the U.S. Department of Defense.

UPDATE:  Gloria at Pollinators Welcome sent me this link to a photo of a bird – in a bulb willow tree.  We’re closing in!

Posted by on April 29, 2008 at 11:56 am.   This post has 6 responses.
What's Happening

My Folia – Social Networking on Miracle Gro

by SusanBeta_badge_grad_gs
Need more proof that the Mouse&Trowel Awards rock?  They brought some much-deserved attention to a

very ambitious new site, My Folia, a finalist for Website of the Year (along with Blotanical and You Grow Girl).  Here’s what a little surfing on the site revealed:

You can find gardens near you or in the same zone in other countries (oh yeah, this is global).  Near me somewhere in DC is "Anarchist Melon Patch’s Plot 1," with no more information than that, and I’m intrigued as hell.  (Anarchist, do I know you?)  Then I spy "Leafy Green Community Garden" which is very close to me and where I know actual gardeners!  Though here again I want to know more, especially who wrote the garden’s profile, including the subtle ratting on garden members for using Miracle Gro despite the garden’s organic-only rules. (Good for you!)  And I’m wondering if garden profiles on My Folia are the easy online presence we’ve been looking for to organize and publicize DC’s community gardens.

Find out who’s growing or propagating each plant and where.  Read
progress journal entries.  Learn the most popular varieties.  Read or
contribute to a Wiki for each plant.  See who wants each plant and who
has extras; easily arrange a swap.  Plant geeks will think they’ve died and gone to that great garden in the sky.

Reluctant social networker that I am, I dove in and created a page on this site because it seems like a cool way to keep garden records – much cooler and easier than using my tattered spiral notebook.  If other "Folians" are interested in, say, ‘Tardiva’ hydrangea, they’ll see that I grow it and read the results (assuming I get around to listing all my plants.)

If you don’t want to sign up and create your own page you can still participate in almost everything here (except for the chat rooms), so it’s not one of those annoying gated website communities.

It’s got ’em – by location, by plant, by garden type, and even one for composting.  Ever scheming, my first thought was that community gardeners everywhere can brainstorm about best practices.

The journals here are a quick and dirty alternative to full-scale blogging, and that’s a good thing.  But what about us bloggers – do we need to duplicate everywhere here?  (Because that is SO not going to happen.)  No, it seems we can just link to our blogs and use the other features here.  So if see a comment on GardenRant by Spidra, I can go to her page on My Folia to learn all about her gardens.

Okay, I’m usually lobbying for regional and local gardening information, but this site seems to make that happen while bringing together gardeners from around the world – to date, 1,110  Folians in 30 countries.  And it manages to avoid the deathly corporate look and feel of so many large websites.  That’s because it’s the love child of a very real couple – Nic and Nath, web developers and gardeners in England. 

Don’t take the tour – it frustrated me no end.  Just start surfing.  Other than that, the site functions remarkably well for all its complex functionality. 

As for My Folia’s competitors for the award, I’m also impressed by Stuart Robinson’s Blotanical, which takes a very different approach but also is social networking for gardeners, more tied into the blogging community.  Both sites are incredibly ambitious and I want them to succeed! You Grow Girl is unfamiliar to me.  Readers, please weigh in.

And have you voted yet?  You have until May 13.

Posted by on April 29, 2008 at 5:16 am.   This post has 9 responses.
Unusually Clever People

Chicken Girls


Chickens are an amazing deal. They not only give loads of eggs and fertilizer in exchange for kitchen scraps, they are also fun to pet.  Photos by my friend Eric Etheridge, whose fantastic book of photographs of the Mississippi Freedom Riders, Breach of Peace, has just been published.


Posted by on April 28, 2008 at 7:15 pm.   This post has 4 responses.
What's Happening

Rant on the Road: The LA Garden Show

Anybody going to the show in LA?  I’ll be there Sunday.

Posted by on April 28, 2008 at 4:54 pm.   This post has 2 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling

Flower Floozy

LilacThere is a little hall monitor inside my head whose job it is to keep me from overindulging. No, the hall monitor says, I should not go downstairs and open a bottle of Champagne for no reason at all. If I had accomplished something terribly important or difficult today, maybe.  If we have company coming over and I’d spent all day cleaning the house and cooking something impressive, all right. If some crisp cream-colored envelope had arrived bearing wonderful news, fine. Just this once.

But no, the hall monitor tells me, I cannot pop a cork on an ordinary Sunday evening for no reason at all.  Especially given the way I’ve already frittered away the day in the garden when I knew perfectly well I had work to do.

Other things the hall monitor will not allow me to do:

1. Sit around on the couch reading New York magazine’s feature on why Gossip Girl is the Best Show Ever when there is very serious, important reading material stacked, unread, on my desk.

2.  Eat truffle-infused goat cheese and kalamata olive ciabatta for dinner when there is perfectly good broccoli that would otherwise go to waste.

3. Book another trip to Manhattan when I have not come anywhere close to paying for the last one.

4.  Spend $27 on a jar of organic citrus lavender hand cream, even though it smells way, way better than the cheap stuff at Target.

I hate the hall monitor in my head.  She’s a mean and miserable person who doesn’t ever let me have any fun.

But when it came time to go cut some lilac, I sent her to her room.

"Twenty stems of lilac all at once?" she said.  "You don’t need that much lilac! Cut one or two and leave the rest on the shrub!"

A-ha!  The hall monitor is not a gardener.  "Shut up!" I said.  "If I don’t cut these branches, it won’t bloom next year.  This is actually a practical and necessary task!"

"Oh, OK then," she said, and shuffled off to some dark little corner to finish composing her list of reasons why I shouldn’t pre-order 100 fragrant daffodil bulbs from Old House Gardens. And I placed upon my desk a lilac bouquet worthy of a Jane Austen heroine.

The hall monitor’s probably right. It wouldn’t do to go around popping open Champagne bottles on a whim. Next thing you know I’ll be lounging around in some inappropriately-revealing floral robe trimmed in red feathers, smoking a non-medicinal quantity of Humboldt’s finest, reading trashy magazines, and popping canapes in my mouth.  Someone’s got to keep me in line, and I have grudging respect for the hall monitor for keeping me employed and out of rehab all these years.

But when it comes to cutting flowers from the garden, I’m a total floozy. And there is nothing the hall monitor can do about it.

So there.

Posted by on April 28, 2008 at 5:28 am.   This post has 25 responses.

Native Plants of England Defined

Here’s the answer to my own question about how "native plant" is defined for England:

Plants in Britain can be classified as native, naturalized, alien or cultivated. There are around 35 species of native
tree, for example, depending on how certain sub-species are counted.
These plants were already here or arrived here naturally – that is,
without Man’s help – after the last Ice Age, about 11,000 years ago.
Britain was still part of mainland Europe and plant species slowly
moved north-west into it as the climate improved and the ice retreated
northwards. (There were only about 200 species here at end of the Ice

With the gradual
warming of the world’s surface, the ice began to melt, raising the
seas. Eventually, about 8,000 years ago, the English Channel flooded.
This stopped the natural migration of plants from the rest of Europe,
one consequence of which is that we have only about half as many native
species as France, for instance. (Scientists know this from pollen
deposits and fossil remains.) This date is taken as the cut-off point
for deciding whether a plant species in native or not
. Examples of
native trees on the reserve are Ash, English Oak and Field Maple.


Posted by on April 28, 2008 at 5:21 am.   This post has 2 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling

My favorites—so far


THESE are knocking my socks off this spring. Erythronium “Pagoda.” I also have the revolutum (below). You need a warm spring like ours has been for these to do well. Last year the buds froze. So whatever this weather means, here’s one of the benefits.


Posted by on April 27, 2008 at 9:28 am.   This post has 4 responses.
GardenRant Airwaves,   Ministry of Controversy

Championing natives—worldwide


You may remember that I posted on British gardening celeb Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens show, complaining that it was not available in the U.S. It’s still not, and we still don’t have anything close to this show, in terms of its thoughtful survey of indigenous gardens throughout the world.

Turns out, Don had an epiphany of sorts after doing the series—not a terribly surprising one. This is what he says in a recent interview with the Daily Mail: “Gardening with indigenous plants and working with nature by tweaking it is so much more interesting than imposing on to the natural world,” and then: “The interesting gardens are related to geographical/historical/ personal context.”

Not so surprising or shocking, right? Yet, many in Don’s audience are not quite ready to fall in line with his newfound (perhaps not so newfound—I don’t know his regular show) love of natives.

I love this headline : Yew must be joking! Growers’ fury at Monty Don’s call to use only British plants. Ha. I can feel the pain of those who were outraged, like Dr Mark Johnstone, a lecturer at Myerscough College, Preston, in Britain, who says: “I’m amazed someone as high profile as Monty Don should recommend sticking to native British plants. He is confusing biodiversity and native plants. Plants and trees are used for social, economic and environmental reasons.” And this is my favorite quote in the article (from a garden center owner, natch): “The vast array of non-native plants available in Britain is something that we are recognized for and that has given us our identity.” As paradoxical as it sounds, it’s absolutely true. The English border is known as a desirable gardening style throughout the world; yet, many of the plants that compose it are by no means native to Britain.

So? So nothing. I look at natives as a challenge and as an opportunity, though I’ll never be 100% native or even close. But I love the passion that someone like Monty Don brings to this cause. If only we had a gardening personality on this side of the pond who could proselytize as well. Or at least, could we please air this show here?!

Posted by on April 27, 2008 at 5:00 am.   This post has 10 responses.

Gardenbloggers in the News

Great story in today’s Austin paper about the Gardenblogger Spring Fling there earlier this month.

Posted by on April 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm.   This post has Comments Off on Gardenbloggers in the News.
It's the Plants, Darling

Advice to the public about dandelions moving from nuke ’em to eat ’em

by SusanDandelion2
The other day I discovered this advice sent by DC’s Extension Service to a local weatherman for posting to
his blog.  First we are told to respond to the dandelion "invasion" by applying a broadleaf herbicide once in May. Then…

On the other hand, areas with
massive populations of dandelions need to be tackled now to reduce the
amount of seeds produced, and to reduce the competition of the
dandelions with the turfgrass. This action will require a second spring
application of broadleaf herbicides later in the spring/early summer,
if other weeds are present.

Most of the broadleaf herbicides are
formulations of 2,4‑D, MCPP, dicamba, MCPA, 2,4‑DP or some combination
of these products. Read the labels on these products carefully, paying
close attention to limits to the number of applications permitted per
year, timing of mowing in relation to the timing of application,
environmental conditions, and avoidance of runoff into bodies of water.

No surprise, coming from the Extension Service that directed me NOT to "promote the environmental agenda" when I wrote gardening fact sheets for them – a directive I pretty much ignored.  Naturally I left comments on the blog suggesting a different attitude toward synthetic herbicides and dandelions in particular, and so did DC Urban Gardener prez Ed Bruske.  (After all, he wrote about the good eating and good drinking that can be gleaned from dandelions for Martha Stewart Living.)

The little dust-up on the blog made me wonder if this kind of chemical warfare is still being recommended by other Extension Services, and I was pleased to find the very enlightened approach taken by Maryland’s. That link goes beyond mere organic weed control to suggest weed tolerance by the homeowner – imagine!  And the other mention of dandelions on their website is this one about how to grow a low-maintenance meadow.  No wonder that’s the Extension Service that local Master Gardeners direct the public to for environmentally responsible advice, even the ones in Virginia (where they’re still steeped in pre-Rachel Carson thinking).  DC’s Extension Service doesn’t even have a website, thank goodness.

Further evidence that the tide is turning is this decidedly pro-dandelion and anti-toxin piece by Joel Lerner in the Washington Post. Then of course has lots to say about dandelions, as does the eco-friendly company Gardens Alive.

It’s funny that this pro-herbicide advice appeared in DC the same week we’re seeing the amazing news out of Canada that Home Depot and other big stores are taking crap like 2,4-D off the shelves!  Voluntarily, according to this story, but surely just ahead of the government order to do just that.  Incredibly, the cosmetic use of synthetic pest control products is being banned by communities and now provinces across the great nation of Canada, which has "reached a tipping point on pesticides and will eventually become a nation of organic gardeners, at least for residential areas."

Well, maybe under the next U.S. president we’ll all wake up, smell the dandelions, and choose not to nuke ’em after all.

Photo by Nutmeg66.

Posted by on April 26, 2008 at 10:20 am.   This post has 9 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling

It’s a hard life out there for city trees

Tree2by Susan
Yesterday’s post had Michele pondering whether trees even belong in cities, the very question raised in this Washington Post article published the same day.  Here are some highlights, if you can call them that.

  • What readers here already know – that trees "ease stress, fight cancer, lower crime, build civility, store water, bolster real estate prices," etc.  Not to mention fight global warming.
  • Across the U.S., 36 cities have lost a quarter of their tree canopy since 1972.
  • Surveys of tree canopy reveal that "poor people don’t have plants."  The thinnest canopy cover is always found in the poorest neighborhoods.

Turns out there’s a whole slew of reasons for that bit of environmental injustice and the article starts with the reality that it takes "intense community outreach to get neighbors to agree to plant and care for new trees."  True enough.  Even in my reasonably affluent little town, people take their free Earth Day trees home and water them exactly once.  But in poor urban neighborhoods there’s more:  "The soil is extremely dry, nutrient, poor, compacted. "  You dig and it’s "like concrete."  Often people don’t even have water hoses.  Trees are sprayed with gang graffiti.  Street lamps can fry trees grown under them.   And here’s a problem that our friends at Plant Amnesty can confirm, in neighborhoods of all levels of affluence: "Municipal trimmers, which can leave trees with severe, lethal haircuts."  No wonder the average life span of a street tree is only seven years – because of the early death of so many of them.

And nobody wants trees, anyway. "Businesses don’t like trees (when foliage blocks signage).
Bureaucrats don’t like trees (because they’re a hassle).  And despite
what they say now, politicians have not been tree huggers."

Man, that’s depressing.  Looking up from my computer screen to the stately white oaks outside my window, I’ve gotta wonder how long we’ll have them around.

Photo credit via Flickr.

Posted by on April 26, 2008 at 4:14 am.   This post has 7 responses.
Ministry of Controversy

Street Trees: Friend or Foe?

Street_treeMy neighbors just told me that the sugar maple to the right, which is at the border of my property, is coming down.  The city came out and had a look and said that it’s sick. 

Now, a lot of the giant old sugar maples that line the streets in this part of the world are sickly.  They’re having a tough time adjusting to warmer temperatures and the insults of modern life.

That’s not to say that these trees wouldn’t live on indefinitely, if allowed to. In fact, I’m entirely skeptical about the goodwill of government bodies when it comes to trees. I suspect they are all in the pockets of the power and phone companies and would just as soon take them all down to keep them from interfering with their lines. Can you believe we still run these primitive lines from pole to pole above the ground and butcher trees to protect them?  In a century in which we have iPhones?

We had another giant property-line sugar maple taken down a few years ago.  This one was in the backyard. It was beautiful, with a round crown that shaded the entire yard–though the tree-cutters showed us a rotten core and said it was sick. Removing it was a sickeningly violent act.  When the torso touched down, it shook the house.  The stump bled a flesh-colored sap for a full year.

It was terrible, but it allowed me to garden the yard. 

My husband laments the loss of these old giants. I am really skeptical about whether trees of this size belong in cities. When the one in front goes, I’ll feel bad for a minute and then plant a pair of sweet cherry trees I can eat off of.   

Posted by on April 25, 2008 at 1:23 pm.   This post has 12 responses.
Real Gardens

What Global Warming Means to Me


Amy Stewart was amazed, when she came to visit me two weeks ago, that we still had snow on the ground.  Since then, we’ve had an unbroken run of sunny, hot weather. What global warming means to us is no spring. We go straight from dirty glaciers to July in a matter of days.

This year, we’re doing it without April showers. I can accept a drought at the end of the summer, such as we had last year. I can accept the fact that I was an idiot to give in to the impulse to buy a tree peony in July, and another $29 purchase is now dead as a doornail.

But it is really upsetting me that I left my vegetable garden behind last Monday morning in the country without watering it, and my pea seedlings are probably burning up. I’ve never once set up my sprinkler in April.

Even more freakish, my bulbs seem to be messed up, and instead of the slow unfurling I’ve planted for, they all seem to be popping off at once. Bulbs–more reliable than an atomic clock. But this year, my Single Early Tulips are blooming before my species tulips, tulipa tarda.  That’s not how I remember the order going in previous years. 

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that the species tulips are sensitive to absolute measures of the season, such as day length. And that the hybrid tulips, which have been bred to be forced in a greenhouse, are more sensitive to temperature. They’ve woken up early, but think they’re late. They’re also smaller than normal in their haste to catch up. "My God, did we miss May?" they are saying.

Posted by on April 25, 2008 at 4:54 am.   This post has 14 responses.
Real Gardens

Borrowed Landscape


This magnificent Queen Anne house and magnificent magnolia soulangeana are right across the street from me in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the sight of both of them.

I’ve always wanted a magnolia soulangeana, and it’s only since I moved to Saratoga Springs, a balmy Zone 5, that I’ve lived somewhere warm enough for one.  But I have a small city yard, and no right place for such a big square tree.

My husband says that ownership is not important and to simply enjoy the neighborhood magnolia. I get only limited satisfaction from this National Park Service idea of shared landscape.  I’m stewing about whether, if I take out a miserable crabapple, I could shoehorn one of my own into a shady corner.

Guess which one of us is the gardener?

Posted by on April 25, 2008 at 4:07 am.   This post has 8 responses.
Real Gardens

Tiny Garden Retreat, Anyone?

Katie Hutchison of House Enthusiast just inked a book deal with Taunton Press for a book on small retreats.  Cabana?  Garden folly?  Tree house?  If you have one, check out her submission guidelines. She says she’d love to hear from Friends of Rant.

Wonder if chicken coops count?

Posted by on April 24, 2008 at 11:33 am.   This post has Comments Off on Tiny Garden Retreat, Anyone?.
Unusually Clever People

Speaking of Garden Coaches…

Genevieve_schmidt A couple weeks ago I interviewed Genevieve Schmidt, an Arcata, CA landscape designer and garden coach for an article I was writing.  You can read the whole thing here and here, but this is the part I wanted to talk about:

It has never occurred to me that I could try out a tool in
my own garden before I bought it. When
I think of all the money I’ve spent on tools that fall apart, don’t fit in my
small hands, or don’t accomplish the job I’d hoped they would accomplish, I realize
that I’ve probably wasted hundreds of dollars over the years.

But when Genevieve came to my
house, she brought a tub of her favorite tools and let me play with all of
them. She had a pair of pruning shears from Bahco that she swears are better
than Felcos (gasp!); a groovy little sharpener called a Speedy Sharp, available
at garden centers and hardware stores, that fits in the pocket and easily
sharpens any kind of tool; and a very lightweight soil knife. I didn’t even know I need
a soil knife, but I’m all over it now.

Anybody else do this?  Seriously, I was blown away by the idea of any kind of gardening professional coming over to my house and letting me try out tools in my own garden before I buy them.  If I owned a garden center, I would seriously be thinking about a way to do this for my customers.  There’s a service the big boxes can’t offer!

Posted by on April 24, 2008 at 8:57 am.   This post has 7 responses.