Unusually Clever People

The man for woody plants—Michael Dirr

The true celebrities of the world of horticulture don’t appear on HGTV or gladhand  at home and garden shows. They’re busy discovering new plants, undertaking research projects, and writing the reference books that form the backbone of every serious gardener’s library. I knew that Michael Dirr was considered the foremost authority on trees and other […]

Posted by  on February 9, 2015 at 7:55 am.   This post has 6 responses.

Mulch Ado About Nothing

Spotted in Easton, MD:  a properly mulched street tree!  This is a sighting as rare as that of a Yeti – in fact, every other tree on that street sported the usual volcano of mulch heaped up against the tree’s trunk.    Why just the one triumph of good horticultural...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on February 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

You can Help Bring “Hometown Habitat” to the Screen

I’m guessing you all know Doug Tallamy, the entomologist whose Bringing Nature Home turned so many people into native-plant gardeners.  Now there’s a chance that a full-length documentary with Tallamy featuring interviews of inspiring “Habitat Heroes” will become a reality.  Especially if you donate. The movie, called “Hometown Habitat”...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet
Posted by on February 6, 2015 at 6:33 am

Tracking Tales

Garden wildlife reminds me of teenagers – the critters eat distressingly huge meals then typically leave without communicating about what they have been up to.   Except in wintertime, when they leave a tale of tracks in the snow. I’m no great tracker, but with the help of my Peterson Field...

Read more in: Grab Bag, Real Gardens, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on February 5, 2015 at 8:59 am

Gratitude in the Eye of this Storm

This week I’m in a flurry — finalizing talks, sending off handouts and invoices, and making the last travel arrangements for presentations at spring events across the country. It’s amazing to think ahead to April when, having logged dozens of hours in transit, I will (if all goes well)...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar, What's Happening
Posted by on February 4, 2015 at 4:54 am

Hostile or Helpful?

by Marianne Wilburn Recently, C.L. Fornari challenged garden writers to consider the way in which we portray the act of gardening.  She asked us to discuss whether our tendency to proclaim the virtues (meditation, creativity, exercise) might be greater than our desire to tell the truth about the work...

Read more in: Guest Rants
Posted by Marianne Willburn on February 2, 2015 at 7:56 am

Scotts Miracle-Gro, you can stop asking.

Dear readers, I went through my in-box and discovered some delicious hate-reading!  Ready? First, from somehow actually hired by Scotts Miracle-Gro to promote them, pasted below with commentary in brackets. Hi Susan, I’m reaching out on behalf of Scotts Miracle Grow to see if you have 30 minutes...

Read more in: Books, Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on January 30, 2015 at 8:18 am

The Siren Song of Seeds

by Amanda Morris, Ph.D. Super Sugar Snap. Queen Lime, Dancing Girls, and Color Crackle Zinnias. Chantenay Carrots. Moulin Rouge Beets. Mardi Gras Radishes. Neon Lights Swiss Chard. Just listen to the party; a lively, colorful, tasty Spring party destined for my garden beds and pots (and dinner plates). I...

Read more in: Guest Rants
Posted by Dr. Amanda Morris on January 29, 2015 at 8:31 am

Inside Outside

  Holy Sissinghurst, Batman!!! There is a way of making gardens that I feel has run its course. It has reached its zenith, its apex, its apotheosis. It can go no further. It has gone far enough. Too far. I speak of the Outdoor Room. Let me be clear....

Read more in: But is it Art?, Everybody's a Critic
Posted by on January 28, 2015 at 10:33 am

Winter Interest Battle, Round III: Revenge of the Bulbs

Over the last few posts, this discussion has partially devolved (in comments at least) into climate comparisons and other weather-related talk. Such is the nature of online conversations, but just to reiterate, I’m merely saying that for me, where I live, designing my outside garden for winter interest, as...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on January 25, 2015 at 11:17 am

Shout-out to 2 A-Way-to-Garden Podcasts

Here’s some winter interest for ya – catching up with gardening podcasts!  Which I don’t believe we’ve mentioned here on the Rant since 2010, so it’s high time, with this being called the Golden Age of Podcasts and all.  And did iPhone users notice that the newest version of the...

Read more in: Tune In
Posted by on January 23, 2015 at 8:28 am

Can Winter Feed a Gardener’s Soul?

Not to beat Elizabeth’s dead horse, but I am still pondering winter interest — and not just in dazzling snow-covered landscapes that most of us couldn’t reproduce in our own yards, though I am truly delighted for those of you who live near one or have made one (see...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on January 21, 2015 at 3:28 am

“Kiss Your Ash Good Bye”

That’s what the Massachusetts state forester told me – the emerald ash borer is on the loose in southern Berkshire County where my wife and I have our 130-acre woodlot and within the next couple of years this pest is expected to kill virtually all the native ashes, or...

Read more in: Science Says
Posted by on January 18, 2015 at 11:05 am

PPA Brings out the Bawlmer Spirit in MANTS-Goers

The annual orgy of plant worship and fun times – the Perennial Plant Association symposium - is happening in Baltimore this year and the Flock is Gathering - in high Pink Flamingo and Big Hair. That was all on display this week at the big Mid-Atlantic  Nursery Trade Show, where garden diva Janet Draper...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on January 16, 2015 at 7:59 am

Got to Scrape the Shit Right Off Your Shoes

It was cold in Louisville last week with morning lows near zero and daytime temperatures struggling to reach the 20s. Rufus had to do his business a half-dozen times each day. That meant I bundled up in four or five layers of clothing to go outside. There’s plenty in...

Read more in: Real Gardens, What's Happening
Posted by on January 14, 2015 at 6:45 am

The winter interest battle …. continues

If there’s anything, I hate, it’s dragging out Rant posts.  My motto: Drop the post, then move on to another topic.  However, we’re leaving for St. Lucia tomorrow, and I have to lay down a post for Monday, or Susan will be mad at me (I’m secretly afraid of...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on January 12, 2015 at 8:00 am

Regional Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden at Eight

As a regular visitor to the U.S. Botanic Garden, I’ve come to love its spacious Regional Garden very gradually since installation was completed in the fall of 2006.     Now in its eight year it’s stunning, and has lots to teach us about the two regional soil zones it...

Read more in: Public Gardens
Posted by on January 9, 2015 at 7:41 am

Who Will See the Canopy for the Trees?

  Louisville, Kentucky is on Fodor’s 2015 travel “Go List.”  Forget about Antarctica and Iceland. You want a hot spot? My hometown is unquestionably the hot spot among the top 25 travel destinations. Louisville ranks among the Top Five cities in the country with hottest urban heat islands. Some...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy, What's Happening
Posted by on January 8, 2015 at 5:06 am

Forcing Winter Interest

I have been thinking about Elizabeth’s post on The Myth of Winter Interest. Having spent 25+ years in Minnesota, and recently moved halfway across the country to (among other things) escape the relentless northern winter, I do identify with the urge to focus only on the indoor world during...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Everybody's a Critic
Posted by on January 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

The myth of winter interest

Winter gardening? Yes. Winter garden? Not so much. We hear a lot about “winter interest”—which has to be one of the saddest phrases of the gardening lexicon—in plant descriptions and recommendations. And while it’s true that there are plants that look fabulous in snow and freezing weather—red twig dogwood,...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on January 5, 2015 at 8:00 am
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