Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Robert Frost Needed Better Neighbors

So maybe it was Robert Frost. That whole “Mending Wall’ thing: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. I read that poem 1,000 times as a kid. It could have even led […]

Posted by  on September 1, 2017 at 4:51 am.   This post has 6 responses.

The botany behind the fantasy

It’s a good (and rare) morning when my twelve-minute commute yields two news stories in a row that make me smile. That happened today. The first one has no gardening relevance, but the second has special interest for both gardeners and Tolkien fans. Botanist Walter Judd has published a...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet
Posted by on August 31, 2017 at 9:17 am

The Pin Oak vs. Statues of Dead White Men

Since the tragic weekend in Charlottesville, I have wondered why so few people have paid so little attention to trees. Much attention has been given to the argument about whether statues of Confederate soldiers should remain, be removed or re-located. A fallen tree here, another tree removed there. So what?...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on August 30, 2017 at 8:39 am

Monty Don’s 80 Plant Cultures of the World

Monty Don has been getting an unusual amount of attention lately in the U.S., thanks to his provocative article “There’s no point trying to convince millennials to garden. Nobody wants to hear that but I suspect he’s right. So who IS this guy? Here’s a quick bio on BBC...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It
Posted by on August 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

All Maters Matter

Guest Ranter Ralph Haas, and his Kailua Farm partners, had a goal of winning a ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair last week. They had one problem. They couldn’t pull together five red tomatoes between them. Ralph wrote a letter of explanation that was submitted with their fair entry....

Read more in: Eat This, Guest Rants, What's Happening
Posted by Ralph Haas on August 23, 2017 at 7:10 am

Hands off the hydrangeas

Thanks to plentiful rain and other friendly conditions, this is the summer of the Hydrangea in the Northeast, at least as far as I’ve observed. Huge stands of paniculata, macrophylla, and arborescens varieties are blooming profusely. My neighbor’s pink macrophylla blooms are easily a foot in circumference; it’s amazing...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on August 22, 2017 at 8:58 am

GWA/Buffalo Take-Aways

Buffalo! Time for a debrief after attending the Garden Writers annual shindig held in Buffalo this year – to the delight of anyone who’s been there in the last decade or so and the apprehension of anyone who hasn’t. Yeah, Buffalo had lots of doubters, but boy did that...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on August 18, 2017 at 7:48 am

Rant from the road: resort horticulture

Vacations are always busmens’ holidays for gardeners. Whether it’s a tropical paradise, a stateside resort, or a European capital, gardeners can’t help but notice what’s planted, where it’s planted, and how well it’s designed. We don’t actually work on the gardens where we stay, but we’re doing it in...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on August 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

John Oliver Discovers the One and Only Ciscoe Morris

I love this! So does the Seattle Times.

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on August 15, 2017 at 10:27 am

Corner Makeover: Before and One Year Later

Readers may have noticed I’m an obsessive-compulsive garden-maker, not happy with making and tending just the townhouse garden I now own.  I showed you one example recently – the town center garden I adopted in May of this year. Boy, did it need some love. Next up, another highly visible bit...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on August 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

An annual philosophy

Certain plants exude a message of “Don’t worry, be happy.” Others continually whine, “Maintain me!” In my garden, the easiest plants I grow are the tropical or semitropicals. They require virtually nothing, much like their brethren in my office. Once in a while, I’ll cut down a dead leaf...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on August 10, 2017 at 9:40 am

Perennially Yours: Steve Still

Garden Rant contributor Bob Hill came to my 60th surprise birthday party some years ago. After a few glasses of wine, he said, “Look around. All of these friends will be at your funeral.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or pray. I have thought about Bob’s prophetic words...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on August 9, 2017 at 7:23 am

A Botanical Translator

Botanists speak a special language, one that is frequently unintelligible to outsiders like me.  This has frustrated me at times, for instance when I’ve tried to use a botanical key or field manual to identify an unfamiliar plant.  Now, though, I’ve got expert help. A week ago I picked...

Read more in: Books
Posted by on August 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

Sunflowers Rivaling Cherry Blossoms as Top Plant Attraction

Here’s why I’m going out on a cherry blossom limb to assert that the humble sunflower is gaining on DC’s most overhyped flowers. Just outside DC, Maryland’s McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area is just now seeing its sunflower fields cleared of photographers from near and far. There’s a special Guide for Photographing...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Public Gardens
Posted by on August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

That Porn on the Patio

Guest Rant by Alan Burke  I was asked a few years ago to put together a landscape design for a historic school in Seattle. Wrapping the bases of the building’s large Corinthian columns with Bears breech (Acanthus mollis), I pointed out to the client that Acanthus was the plant...

Read more in: But is it Art?, Guest Rants
Posted by Alan Burke on August 2, 2017 at 8:25 am

When it comes to gardening coverage, think locally!

I can’t remember a time when the Houston Chronicle wasn’t a part of my life.  My parents were faithful subscribers, just as my husband and I have been since we married in 1983.  I was fortunate enough to be a contract employee for a while, working with garden editor...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic, Guest Rants, Real Gardens
Posted by Cindy McMorris Tournier on August 1, 2017 at 9:07 am

17 New Plants, One Aging Gardener

So having just returned from a favorite nursery with 17 new plants I didn’t really need – but couldn’t live without – my mind leans toward the phenomenon of impulse buying, if not Zen and The Art of Horticultural Maintenance. Precisely what is it that triggers the mind to...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on July 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Beach Town’s Transition from Gambling and Gangs to Gorgeous Gardens

This week I visited North Beach, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, about 45 minutes from my home. I hadn’t been there since the 1980s, when I remember it as rundown and generally depressing. A little research into the town’s history explains why. From Wikipedia: The town was a gambling mecca...

Read more in: Public Gardens
Posted by on July 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

The quick and dirty tricks of the yearly show gardener

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about gardens that are regularly visited by the public, via bus tours, Open Days, and appointments. Those are the real show gardens, and they don’t need to resort to subterfuge because they are maintained by dedicated owners (and sometimes staff) and they...

Read more in: Garden Walk Buffalo, Real Gardens
Posted by on July 25, 2017 at 10:00 am

Garden Update Five Years On

Since ripping out the turfgrass in my new townhouse garden in 2012, I’m still waiting for the turfless garden to look DONE, like Evelyn Hadden’s new garden seems to have done in barely a season. Here you see the front garden in late May, after the azaleas were done....

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on July 21, 2017 at 5:27 am
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