Guest Rants, Ministry of Controversy

The Compostable Cup Trials

Some years back, I ran across some compostable water bottles at a Starbucks in Seattle and, because of the skepticism deeply embedded in  ProfessorRoush’s academic soul, I thought it would be a neat idea to try to bring them back in my luggage and test their compost-worthiness at home.  Unfortunately, the TSA must have deemed […]

Posted by  on May 11, 2015 at 7:26 am.   This post has 24 responses.

Year Three in my Garden: Are the Perennials Leaping Yet?

You know what they say about perennials – that in year one they sleep, in year two they creep and in year three they finally leap. So let’s see how that’s working out in my new(ish) garden. Even with a small townhouse garden like mine, going lawn-less is much...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on May 8, 2015 at 6:41 am

Two-wheeled tractors

The most useful, and versatile, gardening tool I own is my two-wheel BCS tractor.  This Italian-made tractor was designed for small farms in hilly areas areas where riding on a tractor risks a roll-over, so with a BCS you walk behind the tractor, steering it with handle bars.   It...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on May 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm

How I Spent My Spring

Spring is always a whirlwind. Here are some things I’ve been doing lately in my 2-year-old garden. Feeling grateful and extremely lucky that the previous owner of this land planted trees decades ago, and now I get to live with them. Planting young trees, looking forward to watching them...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on May 6, 2015 at 3:49 am

Not so smug in a beautiful, hard-won country garden

Of the thirteen-plus acres they own in the exurban wilds of outer Hamburg in Western New York, Mike and Kathy Shadrack garden only about three and a half, but these cultivated areas represent hard-fought victories wrung from continuing struggles with shade, slopes, rocky soil, and hungry animals. The Shadracks’...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on May 4, 2015 at 8:31 am

New Arboretum Director is Everyone’s Choice

The 446-acre treasure in an unloved part of Washington, D.C. that is the National Arboretum has seemed down on its luck these last few years.  It had a short-term director (not a plant person), then several acting directors, and worst of all, a two-year cutback on public hours to just...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on May 1, 2015 at 6:20 am


Okay, this is a RANT. For some reason, colleagues always want to introduce me as a Landscape Architect – and I always correct them. I am a Garden Designer, and proud of it. I don’t even like the title “Landscape Designer” – I think “Landscape Designers” want to separate...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic
Posted by on April 29, 2015 at 1:12 am

Fiskers winners!

Congratulations Gail Eichelberger, Sally Maguire, Christopher 41, Erin Ellis, and Susankro. (I used the best/most identifiable name I could find in the comment.) All 5 of you have won your choices of pruner, lopper, or shears. I will be emailing you. Thanks for playing everybody! It was interesting to...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on April 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

Spring prep, gardening on the radio and—a giveaway

When I was asked by our local NPR station to do a series on Buffalo gardens and gardening, of course I was happy to help out (i.e., this is a nonpaying gig, like so many I have). My first segment will be on early garden prep, which is still...

Read more in: GardenRant Airwaves, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on April 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

The Left is Hotly Divided on GMOs

Wow.  Just in the last few days the Daily Show ridiculed an anti-GMO activist. The New York Times opinion page carried “How I Got Converted to GMO Food” including this meaty bit: After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on April 27, 2015 at 10:19 am

From FFA Superstar to Botanic Garden Spokesman

I recently met the new public affairs officer for the U.S. Botanic Gardens and when I found out his degree is in agricultural communications, I had to find out more. Devin Dotson grew up in a small rural town in northwest Alabama, where his family grew their own vegetables...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 24, 2015 at 8:04 am

The Theosophic Turtle

Adam Turtle may have been restless at times, but I doubt he has ever struggled much with boredom. The résumé of the Tennessee nurseryman and farmer is not a record of a dull life. Turtle has been “a boy scout, cowboy, fisherman, truck driver, chef, homeless bum, woodworker, sculptor,...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 22, 2015 at 7:15 am

Grow your own?

What do gardening and Japanese anime culture have in common? There are probably a number of strange intersections, but this is the only one I know about. And it’s weird. The Ripe Boyfriend Cultivation Set home gardening kits ask us to imagine vegetables and herbs as sexy young men....

Read more in: Eat This
Posted by on April 20, 2015 at 8:00 am

Dumbarton Oaks in April

Yesterday was the perfect day to visit Dumbarton Oaks, the Beatrix Farrand-designed garden and research facility in DC’s Georgetown neighborhood. Cherry trees and magnolias were still blooming, under blue skies.  I was reminded why the National Geographic named it the 6th best garden in the world. Above, the garden’s most iconic...

Read more in: Public Gardens
Posted by on April 17, 2015 at 7:19 am

A Grower of Regionally Appropriate Plants is Hard to Find

“Nothing will grow here if you don’t water it.” That sentence, which I hear everywhere and not just here in the desert, points out a person who has not yet met the right grower(s). Growers are a bottleneck in this business of changing the way Americans landscape. If a...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on April 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm

In Japan, “The flowers only bloom for a week, so let’s party!”

Stories about cherry blossoms in Washington can be pretty boring, but this report about how they’re celebrated in Japan is anything but.

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on April 14, 2015 at 6:43 am

A bell that tolls for all of us—with different tunes

The drought news from the West and Southwest combined with watching Interstellar over the weekend has me thinking about water and the lack thereof. We don’t have a drought threat here in Western New York, but, just as the article I linked to above says, “Nothing about water is...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on April 13, 2015 at 8:03 am

The Art of Digging and Where we Learn It

Avid gardeners, I bet you love your tools as much as I do, especially the ones for digging. Gloves I buy by the dozen but digging tools I expect to last forever, which of course they don’t. I recently destroyed my long-handled shovel by treating it like it was...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on April 10, 2015 at 8:22 am

Bourbon Disease Could Be Worse Than a Bad Hangover

  The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner—the first Saturday in May. I am gripped with fear. I won’t lose sleep over another losing Derby bet, but I’ve just read in the past few weeks that Bourbon disease could rear its ugly head.  I hope not, but who...

Read more in: Science Says, What's Happening
Posted by on April 9, 2015 at 7:57 am

There’s Hope for Urban Design

‘Tis the season of garden seminars. Recently I participated in a thought-provoking one-day seminar on the theme of bringing nature into our cities. I spoke about hellstrip gardens, but a couple of the other speakers addressed larger-scale landscapes. After seeing their photos and hearing about so many projects that...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 8, 2015 at 2:03 am
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