Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Can a Garden Contest Teach and Inspire?

We bash Homeowners Associations regularly for their crazy, backward-looking rules against growing edibles, eliminating lawn, growing wilder-looking plants (horrors!) and more. But what if a condo or coop association used their collective power and authority to improve the yards under their jurisdiction? Could get radical! The 1,600-townhouse cooperative community I live in will be rewriting […]

Posted by  on November 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm.   This post has 10 responses.

Swarthmore: One of the Most Beautiful Campuses in America

I first visited and fell in love with the Scott Arboretum, covering the entire campus of Swarthmore College, back in 2008 when I visited for a talk on lawn alternatives.  I finally made a return visit last month when I attended its annual Perennial Plant Conference, where some of the top...

Read more in: Public Gardens, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 20, 2014 at 6:07 am

Snow: Lessons in Perspective

Why is it that, after a snowfall, the landscape looks so much better, even if nothing has changed underneath? Snow offers the opportunity to view your garden with new perspective and insights that can make it more enjoyable in every season. When you hear the phrase “winter interest,” you...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 19, 2014 at 12:51 am

Possibilities vs. limitations

As I finish potting up bulbs against the winter, rejoicing in the new space for it I have now that I’m using the attic, it occurred to me that the effort to do more, to go beyond the perceived limits, is my favorite thing about gardening and it’s also...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on November 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

Disabled Veterans Memorial Shines Despite its Location

A new memorial opened last month in D.C., this one honoring Veterans Disabled for Life. I’ve watched its progress from the U.S. Botanic Gardens across the street, and seen it presented to a reviewing agency, so was excited to finally see it open. Here’s a fun 2-minute video of...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on November 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Travels with Rufus

  John Steinbeck crossed the country with Charley in 1960. I rode to Louisville last month, from Pennsylvania, with Rufus. Steinbeck, who wrote Travels with Charley, made the road trip with his standard poodle in a camper truck. I took Rufus home in a rental car. I met Rufus...

Read more in: Real Gardens, What's Happening
Posted by on November 12, 2014 at 7:01 am

Protecting Turfgrass from Springsteen Fans is One Huge Job

Tonight, in celebration of Veterans Day, one huge concert will take place on the National Mall, with headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna and Eminem. You can watch live it on HBO if you’re a cable subscriber, whether or not you pay extra for HBO. Or if you live nearby you can...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on November 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

My sort-of conservatory

Having just read a series of books about nineteenth century (and earlier) estate gardens, I don’t find myself in the least bit envious of the expansive acreages that these property owners had to tend. But I do long for a refuge where I can enjoy flowering plants throughout the...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on November 10, 2014 at 8:55 am

Garden clean-up for dry-climate groundcovers

Lawn replacement is getting some well-deserved buzz and I’m an advocate myself. Unfortunately, ground’s gotta be covered, so what groundcovers do the job with few or no inputs and little to no care? (Something other than English ivy, please.) That’s the big question in the less-lawn movement, and it’s...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on November 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Piling Leaves and Stacking Functions

There’s a permaculture concept called “stacking functions.” It refers to choosing strategies that have several benefits or accomplish multiple goals. Take, for example, a strategy I’m fond of: smothering lawn with fallen leaves to create new planting beds. I have done and will continue to do this in different...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 5, 2014 at 5:34 am

Oh, TM/® symbols? Don’t use ’em; don’t have to

Over the weekend, Susan and I heard from a garden writer who worried that he was about to be attacked by the Conard-Pyle company for not naming the Knock Out rose line the way it prefers (all caps with a ®). Instead, the writer was using the single quotes...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on November 3, 2014 at 8:05 am

Surprising Garden Design Choices from 1930

As I mentioned in this post about hedges, there’s an unusual amount of them in my New Deal town, and they’re associated with our launch in 1937.  So if we care about preserving our history, are we stuck with hedges? I’m not a fan, so I was thrilled to discover a gardening...

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 at 7:57 am

The Monsters Among Us

Happy Halloween. I hope to really scare you. Because there ARE monsters. There are things that are truly frightening in our world, and we gardeners are on the front lines, either fighting these forces of evil, or being victimized by them. OR, we stand by and do nothing… and...

Read more in: CRRRITIC, Everybody's a Critic, Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy, Real Gardens, Science Says
Posted by on October 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Gardening politics through the centuries

Thanks to a couple of fascinating new releases from Frances Lincoln, Katie Campbell’s British Gardens in Time and George Plumptre’s The English Country House Garden, I’ve beginning to add some dimensions to my starry-eyed reverence for the great English gardens. The reverence is still there, but now it’s accompanied...

Read more in: Books, CRRRITIC
Posted by on October 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

Confessions of a Garden Conservancy Open Day Volunteer

Before I get to the confessions, a short tour of the four fabulous DC-area gardens open to the public through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Gardens Program.  (And thanks to local APLD VP Carolyn Mullet for making it happen.) The home and garden above and in the next three photos are modern in...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on October 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

Ellen DeGeneres ISO Gardener

Anyone following Nick the Gardener on the Ellen Show knows that she helped him  land a part in a sequel to the Magic Mike movie. So now she’s looking for a new gardener – click here to apply.  Must be “hot, strong, and have that extra somethin’ somethin’.” I’m not a...

Read more in: I Don't Have a Garden, but I Watch One on TV
Posted by on October 23, 2014 at 7:33 am

Trashing Out with Kudzu and ‘Sherman’s Ghost’

Kudzu is the poster child for invasive plants. The vine that gobbled up more than seven million acres in the south became the unintended consequence of the USDA’s plan to stop erosion. When African-Americans, in 1910, began their migration from the rural south to northern cities, the vine would...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on October 22, 2014 at 6:15 am

Amsonia, Aster and Capital Columns at the National Arboretum

I’ve been waiting eagerly for these plants to reach their peak of fall color and yesterday they dee-livered!  After posting this on Facebook I learned that the designer is well-known plantswoman Angela Treadwell-Palmer.  Great example of the kind of native-plant design being promoted by Thomas Rainer, who just turned...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on October 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

It’s Probably My Elephant

Guest Rant by Joe Schmitt  They say a garden dies with the gardener, but mine has other plans:  Step one, reaching through my window and strangling me in my sleep.  The rest will be easy.  Consume my house, head next door, finish off the rest of the block and...

Read more in: Guest Rants
Posted by Joe Schmitt on October 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

From Lawn to Portrait in Sand to Soccer Field

For just this month a 6-acre strip of lawn on the National Mall has been turned into a portrait in sand and dirt by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada called “Out of Many, One.” Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, it’s a composite of many ethnic groups, a generic face of Americans. About...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on October 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm
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