Real Gardens

When Porches Feel like Garden Rooms

For decades I gardened on the edge of a wooded valley, which I could see best – for views like this one in the spring – standing at the edge of my deck. From inside the house the best view was from my kitchen looking out the door to the deck, seen here in October. […]

Posted by  on March 23, 2018 at 8:54 am.   This post has 5 responses.

Forsythias need to be free

As much as I long for spring, there is one sight I am dreading. It’s the clipped hedges that were once beautiful spring-flowering shrubs, but now have become boxy travesties of their natural selves, dotted here and there with a few flowers that have managed to survive the pruning...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on March 20, 2018 at 10:08 am

The Gardener as Laborer and Artist’s Model

At the National Portrait Gallery, where I visited the new Obama portraits, it’s not ALL presidents and other known faces on view there. In fact, the “Sweat of their Face” exhibit is just the opposite; it “combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art.”...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on March 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

Daffodil Doodah

Scott Pruitt was scolded recently for flying first class at taxpayers’ expense. The Administrator of the EPA was sent back to coach class for punishment. Do me a favor if you’re squeezed in next to Mr. Pruitt, waiting for your tiny bag of pretzels. Ask him if he has...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on March 14, 2018 at 8:37 am

Seeds—so seductive, so easy to resist

Now is the time that some of my more intrepid friends are beginning their seed programs. I envy them, to some degree, as I look out the window at a still-white landscape, with a new storm on the way. But I won’t be emulating them. For me, seeds are...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on March 13, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Stranded at the Philly Flower Show, plus Hits, Misses and Fun Facts

What with snow and some winds from hell, it wasn’t a great year for the Philadelphia Flower Show, dependent as it is on decent weather to bring in the crowds that fund the PHS’s many worthy projects. But let’s get to how the weather affected ME, shall we? I thought...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on March 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

Checking in on GardenWeb

  When I first starting looking online for garden advice in the early 2ks, the first places I visited were and the mail order ratings (Garden Watchdog) on Dave’s Garden. For a brief period, I considered using the garden journal option on DG, but then I found Blogger,...

Read more in: Tune In
Posted by on March 6, 2018 at 9:12 am

The Search for Arborist Wood Chips

Arborist wood chips are in the gardening ether these days, with Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott herself (of Garden Professor and myth-busting fame) leading the charge to promote them above all over types of mulch. (Details in this brochure.) Just recently she’s debunked myths about them on a Joe Gardener podcast. There’s been...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig, Watch Someone Else Do It
Posted by on March 2, 2018 at 7:25 am

Bad dye jobs: get the paint off the plants!

Plants and color are two of my greatest sources of happiness. But when I see a dyed plant—whether it’s a blue orchid or an oddly ochre heather—I’m instantly enraged. You can find painted or dyed plants in nurseries, box stores and supermarkets. How did we get here? A French...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by Erica Browne Grivas on February 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

Alexandra Campbell on YouTube Gardening in England

Award-winning English writer Alexandra Campbell, recently described what she calls YouTube Gardening in this post  on her blog The Middlesized Garden. Like me, she complains about there not being enough good gardening videos for her readers – even there in a lively gardening culture like England’s! She wrote that “the...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It
Posted by on February 23, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Starting over with the terrarium

I have always looked at plant failure as an opportunity, but I held out against replanting my terrarium for months. It looked … ok. At first, the fact that one of the succulent varieties was pretty much taking over the thing was fine. But eventually I had to recognize...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on February 22, 2018 at 11:01 am

What Katharine White Might Think of Today’s Catalogs

Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine S. White is often recommended as the prima book about gardening. Readers seeking to grow the perfect zinnia or tomato might be disappointed; there’s not a lot of information about how to grow things successfully, or what it feels like to be...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic
Posted by Constance Casey on February 21, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Saving Seeds for Biodiversity

It’s called the ‘Mostoller Wild Goose’ bean.  Sarah Mostoller found the first seeds in the crop of a wild goose that her son had shot in a mill race in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in 1865.  Sarah planted the rescued beans the following spring and found them to be a...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Science Says
Posted by on February 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm

To a Honey Bee, there’s No Such Thing as an Insignificant Flower

By Helen Yoest, with this author’s note: For my native advocate friends, this post is specific for plants’ nectar and pollen value to the introduced European honey bee. Most of their best pollen and nectar plants are native to countries where these bees are native.  What do you value in a...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet
Posted by Helen Yoest on February 19, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Obama with Flowers

I’d seen the new Obama portraits all over the media, so yesterday I subwayed down to the National Portrait Gallery to see them in person. The president’s portrait, on the second floor in the president’s gallery, I found so real, so intense, so HIM, it was hard to pull...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on February 15, 2018 at 7:09 pm

A minor rant and a big rave

Flowers have left the building, as far as the Olympics are concerned. In Rio (2016), medalists were given little sculptures made of resin, polyresin, and PVC, because flowers were “not sustainable.” And this year, in Pyeongchang, the athletes are waving little stuffed animals (tigers) from the podium. There are...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on February 15, 2018 at 9:24 am

The Power of the Sun: Truth or Consequences

I retired from Jelitto Perennial Seeds last month, and it’s been cold and gray in Kentucky ever since. I’m itching for spring. I have to be picky about my newfound spare time. I’m poring over seed and plant catalogs—a fun winter ritual—and I don’t want to be tangled up...

Read more in: Uncategorized
Posted by on February 14, 2018 at 7:28 am

What Happens when a Rain Garden isn’t Weeded

I love this rain garden in my neighborhood, on land owned by my co-op, even as it’s changed over the years. There once were many more types of plants here, though without a plant list I can’t name them. Here’s the only sign at the garden, an old, weathered...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Real Gardens
Posted by on February 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Hanauma Bay to Petropolis

Sorry to be late with winter coping tips, but I’ve got two ideas that might be worth mentioning. If you’re at your wit’s end of winter, try to find a sunny and warm place to snorkel (preferably in the tropics), or go to a local tropical fish store. My...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on February 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

Planting natives along the gorge

Niagara Falls is cool, but it’s a cheap thrill compared with the equally spectacular six-mile gorge that its river has created. You can spend a whole day walking along the gorge, which is up to 200 feet deep; you’ll see tumbling rapids and clashing waves, dramatic rock formations, and...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet
Posted by on February 6, 2018 at 9:51 am