Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Lawn Reform

Removing Sod, Saving Earthworms, and Obsessing over Make-Overs

With lawn reduction growing in popularity, email groups are lively with discussions of how to remove the stuff.  There are basically four choices – digging, using a sod-cutter, smothering and spraying with herbicide.  I’ve removed a far bit of sod over the years, always using that first one – great exercise, and it’s fast enough for […]

Posted by  on June 13, 2014 at 7:20 am.   This post has 10 responses.

The Joys of Cockroach Composting. No, really.

We’ve all been there in one way or another – you awake at 3 am and groggily make your way to the bathroom.  No need for the light you think, it’ll just wake me up.  And then, halfway through relieving yourself, you feel a giant thing scrabble madly down...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Guest Rants
Posted by Patrick Gentry on June 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

Lover of Life: My Tribute to Kurt Bluemel

Kurt Bluemel defied the odds most of his long, illustrious life, so no one was ready for the inoperable, rare liver cancer that was diagnosed a few weeks ago. After all—and perhaps for evermore—this is the legendary Der Gras König, the King of Grasses. Our king’s legacy deserves a...

Read more in: Real Gardens, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on June 11, 2014 at 6:21 am

So, an artist, a curator, and a designer walk into a garden …

When the words “garden” and “art” collide, you get all kinds of results. There might be a garden that contains one or more unique objects made by artists. Another could be  filled with whirligigs, gazing balls, sun catchers, or—possibly—gnomes. Or maybe the two words  mean nothing more than rows...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on June 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

Is Your Local Garden Center Taking Action on Neonicotinoids?

What’s killing the bees?  The pesticide neonicotinoid, for one thing, and it’s routinely used on plants for sale and earlier in the plants’ lives, at the wholesale growers’.  That discovery has led to an anti-neonic campaign targeting the boxes in particular, leading to headlines like “Bee  Activists Swarm Home Depot and...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on June 9, 2014 at 7:06 am

Garden Dilemma: Under the Bird Feeders

Help!  I’m loving having bird feeders and a bird bath at the edge of my patio, but not loving the seeds sprouting like crazy and causing much weeding to be done. Also, I have to sweep the patio almost daily. To the bird-feeders among you, what do you suggest?...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on June 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

Kurt Bluemel, Rest in Peace

Sorry to deliver sad news. Kurt Bluemel Der Gras König — The King of Grasses — died yesterday evening after a brief illness. The Baldwin MD plantsman and humanitarian was 81. Kurt was extraordinarily artistic, tireless, demanding, resilient, charismatic, enormously successful and generous. No one loved life quite like...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on June 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Soothing the savage beast

Inside, the colors are radiant as flowers flourish. Rows of yellow and orange marigolds mingle. Baskets of purple Angelonias and white lilacs hang above them. It is a serene sight behind bars. Many of us already know that dirt makes us happy, even without the recent scientific evidence indicating...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on June 5, 2014 at 8:00 am

Garden Chores: The WANT TO DO List

What strikes me as the most common thread among all the diverse gardeners I have met or read is that so many don’t unwind much in their own gardens. Of course, we all have that (perhaps infinite) list of things we want to do to improve our gardens. What...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on June 4, 2014 at 12:01 am

Freaks of the Garden

More garden videos like this, please.

Read more in: I Don't Have a Garden, but I Watch One on TV
Posted by on June 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

A culture of unruliness

Here’s another doublefile viburnum post. No doubt, many (including Susan) would say this one ought to be pruned. It won’t be though, unless there’s some sort of extreme practical reason. Planted in an impossible situation—between two houses and a tree on a property line, in more than partial shade—the...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on June 2, 2014 at 8:17 am

Public Gardens and Social Media

For my new volunteer project promoting DC’s public gardens, the focus is on images, using them to create videos, but then what?  Just a slide show?  I think not, because Pinterest and Instagram are hot-hot-hot and gardens are uniquely suited to visuals, to say the least. The research on...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on May 30, 2014 at 10:15 am


    I have a few thousand new pets. A couple of weeks ago, two lovely girls dressed head to toe in fresh white jumpsuits with large brimmed hats swathed in clouds of netting came over to my garden and bestowed upon me two boxes of feisty, buzzing, glorious...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Grab Bag, Real Gardens
Posted by on May 28, 2014 at 9:06 am

Worth it

Every year I try to plant a few T. acuminata (these from Brent and Beckys) in the front yard. They’re expensive as tulips go—about 4-5 bucks a bulb—and are considered heirloom. Most of the bulb experts seem to think they are an older hybrid, not a wild tulip, but...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on May 27, 2014 at 8:14 am

Chagall in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden

For decades,Washingtonians have known about a Marc Chagall mosaic in the back garden of a private residence in Georgetown and have strained to see mere glimpses of it from over the garden wall. Homeowner Evelyn Nef and her husband had been great friends with the Chagalls, who spent summers...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on May 23, 2014 at 8:21 am

Saving Seedlings, Saving the World

Recently I went camping near my new home in Boise. I sat down with a cup of coffee and a notebook in my campsite one morning, enjoying the trilling of a meadowlark and a view of natural scrubland as I pondered (this is one of my favorite activities). As...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Lawn Reform, What's Happening
Posted by on May 20, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Doublefile Viburnum – One More Reason to Garden on a Neighbor’s Land

Continuing our theme of gardening on property not our own, it can be a city-owned patch along the street (as discussed here and here), or it could be a spot in a neighbor’s yard.  Thus, there seems to be no safe empty spot of land in my new neighborhood,...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on May 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

The Joys of Curbside Gardening, and Groundcover Sedums

Hellstrip gardening is getting its due these days, thanks to Evelyn Hadden’s terrific new book on the subject, and Lauren Springer Ogden’s coining of the term in the first place.  And it starts a discussion about gardens that bring pleasure to not just the gardener, but the whole community. ...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Lawn Reform
Posted by on May 16, 2014 at 7:56 am

Kentucky King of Taros

  Poi, a traditional edible starch of the tropics, made from the ground corms of taro, can’t keep up with its popular starchy rivals—potato, corn and rice. But its ornamental qualities have come out of the shadows in the last ten years. The tropical plant, commonly known as elephant...

Read more in: Eat This, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on May 14, 2014 at 6:38 am

Great Healthy Yard Project

That’s Diane Lewis, whose New York Times editorial “The Toxic Brew in our Yards” about pesticides stated the problem so convincingly and drew kudos from around the gardening world.   I found the video on the website of her Great Healthy Yard Project. I’ll be contacting Dr. Lewis to congratulate...

Read more in: Lawn Reform
Posted by on May 13, 2014 at 7:12 am
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