Ministry of Controversy, Shut Up and Dig

Just the facts

Alternative facts, that is. If there is any group of people that has learned to accept unpleasant realities—often brought on by natural forces—that group is gardeners. So I’m happy to know that I can devise, twist, and present my own version of gardening facts. Now is the time, before the spring season begins. I am […]

Posted by  on January 24, 2017 at 3:32 pm.   This post has Comments Off on Just the facts.

Canada, o Canada

This is part 1 of my garden-related thoughts on Inauguration Day. If, like millions, you’ve been pining for Trudeau-led Canada, picture this. It’s my friend Linda’s new home on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, and a view from her deck. She moved there last summer (prescient!) after a two-year legal...

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Posted by on January 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm

A trendy wish list for 2017

Not having even looked at any of the predictions or surveys regarding general gardening behavior, here is my wishful thinking for the coming year: More six-packs, fewer pricy branded pots I am lucky enough to be able to order interesting new cultivars from the yearly sale our botanical gardens...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on January 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Planting for the cause

Many of you have heard that 2017’s “Perennial Plant of the Year” is Asclepias tuberosa/butterfly weed. It’s not a surprising choice—attention to attracting and supporting pollinators, especially butterflies, especially monarchs, has been peaking for the past few years and shows no sign of declining. A good thing. Normally, I...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on January 11, 2017 at 3:18 pm

The myth of the plant killer

May 2017 be the year that nobody insists to me that they have a “black thumb.” Except that I know it won’t happen. I was at a small New Year’s Eve party when one of my non-gardening friends asked for advice about an aspidistra (cast iron plant) she’d just...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on January 4, 2017 at 3:07 pm

New Podcast Discovery: “Still Growing”

I’ve complained about the dearth of gardening podcasts and one of my favorites seems to have even gone dormant. But when I came across three podcasts about this year’s Garden Blogger Fling in Minneapolis, which I actually attended, I had to give a listen, and so discovered probably the...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on December 14, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Sex Talk at the US Botanic Garden

I returned last week to the U.S. Botanic Garden for another lesson in plant morphology, but this one was a bit sexier than the foliage talk I posted about here. This time, Dr. Susan Pell talked flowers and her audience quickly caught on that this talk would be R-rated. Early one...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on November 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm

“Most Beautiful Bike Trail in the East”

Need some calming images? I sure do, so I’m sharing a few from my glorious visit to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware last week, where I greeted this sunrise. I always rent a bike at the beach, then cruise around slowly, admiring the residential landscaping. But for this visit I took...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on November 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

3 Take-aways from Garden Writer Meet-ups

I love hanging out with other garden writers, and have done quite a bit of that this year – at several local and regional events and especially, the Garden Blogger Fling in Minneapolis and the Garden Writers conference in Atlanta. I caught up with old friends, made new ones, and...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on October 21, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Stormwater Management at its Most Beautiful

Ed Snodgrass is the internationally known green-roof author, consultant and grower whose own Maryland nursery experienced downpours gushing downhill, unstopped by mere turfgrass. Of course he was using vegetated roofs, but that wasn’t enough. As Ed wrote me, “Even though the farm is mostly pervious, in high intensity events water...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on September 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Cornell on Lawn Care: Do Less!

Lawns have been attacked for some years now, with claims that they require obscene amounts of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and gas-guzzling mowing, so of course the only responsible thing to do is to get rid of it all, right? But lawns are so useful they’ll always be with us,...

Read more in: Lawn Reform
Posted by on August 13, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Wild Designer Makes “Beautiful Places for People to Love”

Rant readers know that we love Thomas Rainer’s work and his book Planting in a Post-Wild World (here’s Evelyn’s describing the aha’s she got from it), but there’s another game-changing landscape architect I hadn’t heard of til recently, one who may be having an even greater impact through her ginormous...

Read more in: Books
Posted by on August 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Roses without Chemicals, After Knock Outs

Peter Kukielski speaking at Behnke Nurseries. Meet Peter Kukielski, former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanic Garden, who suddenly had to give up spraying when the city banned pesticide use on public lands. So he researched disease-resistant roses, which led him to Germany and the roses being...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on July 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Ask a Designer: Favorite Shrubs

Cotinus ‘Royal Robe.’ Photo by Barbara Katz. For my first Ask a Designer post the question targeted groundcovers. This time it’s shrubs and I asked another fabulous designer about her favorites. Barbara Katz of London Landscapes in Bethesda, Maryland responded that she has “great respect” for these shrubs. (Here’s some of...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on July 6, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Videographer Teams up with Horticulturist Neighbor

Connecticut-based videographer Patrick Volk emailed me recently, having discovered my blog posts about videos. It seems that this son of a landscape architect teamed up with neighbor Eric Larson, long-time director of Yale’s Marsh Botanic Garden, to create a slew of outstanding gardening videos. They call their website and...

Read more in: Watch Someone Else Do It
Posted by on June 24, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I Aspire to Buffalo-Style Gardening

Elizabeth’s recent post about the new term “Buffalo-style gardening” got me thinking. The style is said to be characterized by gardening not landscaping, man-made objects, and less lawn, but to me there’s more to this, my favorite style of gardening ever. I ‘d add to the list: color and lots of...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on June 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Ask a Designer: What’s a Good Ground Cover for Shade?

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ with Narcissus ‘Thalia’-imp. When a local Yahoo group was asked for ground cover recommendations for shade, these plants were suggested: Ajuga, Hosta, Pachysandra (native and nonnative), Epimedium, and Lily of the Valley, ferns, Hellebore, “some phlox, some carex,” Dicentra (bleeding heart), Sedum ternatum, Tiarella, Acorus,...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on June 3, 2016 at 8:18 pm

#TBT What’s Invasive? Telling People What They Can’t Plant In Their Yards

The debate over invasive species won’t go away any time soon. We’re sure that many would still have issues with Rant co-founder Michele Owens views on flag iris and other problem plants. This post is from July, 2009. I have very strong ideas about how a civilized society behaves. ...

Read more in: Garden Rant turns 10, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on March 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

Philly Flower (?) Show Report

I’ll say one thing for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show – good for the PHS for choosing national parks as the theme, in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. I love that parks got tons of attention! But flower-show material, they’re really not. Case in point: the show’s...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on March 18, 2016 at 8:26 am

#TBT: Natives are hot, but am I hot for natives? Or just confused?

Native plants—a topic that we’ll be discussing for rants to come. In this one from March, 2007, Elizabeth is noting the vast differences between the original environments for these species and her urban garden in Buffalo (among other things). She has a lot more native plants now than she...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on March 17, 2016 at 9:11 am
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