Grab Bag

Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, Late August

I spent a sublime morning this week at the Blackwater  National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in the beautiful State of Maryland. Outside the Visitor’s Center, a wildlife garden that includes Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), The very-familiar Rudbeckia with the less common Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana). One of the many abandoned farmhouses within […]

Posted by  on August 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm.   This post has 4 responses.

The End of Organic Gardening

by Don Boekelheide in Charlotte, North Carolina During a fierce summer thunderstorm last Friday night, I found out that Organic Gardening will no longer be with us next year. As the lightning flashed and the rain hammered down on the tin roof of the packing shed, I stared in disbelief...

Read more in: Guest Rants
Posted by Don Boekelheide on August 29, 2014 at 7:49 am

The Success of Failure

By Amanda Morris, Ph.D Twisted, dessicated, browned vines droop across their cages, all life and vitality wrecked by powdery mildew, too much water, not enough air, and failed planning. These are my spaghetti squash, Honey Bear acorn squash, Jubilee watermelon, Sugar Baby watermelon, and honeydew plants; a pitiful display...

Read more in: Eat This, Guest Rants
Posted by Amanda Morris on August 28, 2014 at 6:41 am

Postcards From The Edge – DROUGHT

I have lived through drought before, but I have never seen anything like what I am witnessing now. I live in what is usually called an “up and coming” community – this is one of those places where artists and musicians come to raise their families, and before the...

Read more in: Lawn Reform, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on August 27, 2014 at 10:05 am


It’s a fact that botanical gardens have to keep on their toes to attract visitors throughout the year. Just as with art museums, a great collection is not enough.  In addition to the traditional special events, like orchid, mum, spring flower, coleus, and poinsettia shows, there must be model...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on August 25, 2014 at 8:49 am

Who’s more controversial – Michelle Rhee or Scotts Miracle-Gro?

To most of the media, it’s the famous education reformer Michelle Rhee, ex-DC Schools Chancellor, who’s controversial, unpopular, even reviled by some, especially teachers’ unions. (Interesting read on the subject.)  So when Scotts MiracleGro recently named her as a trustee, teachers called for a boycott of Scotts, and readers were presumably left with the...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on August 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

Courtyard Garden: One Year Later

It’s time for an update on my courtyard garden. The thrill of saying that hasn’t dimmed after a year, and I imagine I will still be delighted about it if I am lucky enough to have a courtyard garden decades from now. First, a quick before-and-after pairing to show...

Read more in: Lawn Reform, Real Gardens, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on August 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm


While on a brief getaway in the northern Catskills, we saw plenty of natural beauty, including late summer wildflowers (rudbeckia, asters, eupatorium, and more) along the trails. We also saw some lovely manmade landscaping that took full advantage of its context. Along route 28, just past Phoenicia, you’ll pass...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on August 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

Contrasting Gardens in Pittsburgh

I’m home from visiting Pittsburgh, where I attended the big Garden Writers Symposium, and thankfully I returned with a few photos to post here.  (After posting here for eight years this summer I’m thrilled to find anything new to write about.) First up, a study in contrasts starts with the...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on August 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Where’s the Wow? The Green Industry Takes Stock.

Garden suppliers’ sights are set on next spring. Last month, representatives from nurseries, greenhouses, independent garden centers and even Big Box Stores loaded up their cars, vans and trucks, heading to two vastly different Ohio trade summer shows. Cultivate ’14, in Columbus, is the biggest North American trade show,...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar, Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on August 13, 2014 at 6:37 am


All I could think about was how defenseless—even pathetic—the flowers looked in their little bud vases. As I walked among them, they presented a bewildering array of colors and shapes—spheres, spikes, sprays, buds, gnarly tangles, full blooms. And then there were mixed containers of herbs and even a few...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on August 12, 2014 at 9:52 am

Pinterest tells us what you like

Hey, bloggers among you, have you ever checked to see which of the photos you’ve published are pinned to readers’ Pinterest boards?  It’s kinda fun, and here’s how.  For this blog I went to:   You get the idea. Pinterest only displays the most recent but I’ve been checking...

Read more in: What's Happening, Who's Ranting About Us
Posted by on August 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm

The Patience of a Gardener

Recently we’ve hosted lively discussions here at Garden Rant about spending gobs of money on our gardens, choosing native over non-native plants, and to what extent gardens are art. To me, there is a more personal and pertinent issue at stake with regard to America’s current horticultural practices: how...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic, Lawn Reform, Real Gardens
Posted by on August 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

On natives—we’re all alright

There’s no more surefire way to get everybody all riled up on this site than to talk about native plants—whether or not to use them, how much to use them, who is too obsessed with them, who isn’t obsessed enough, where they work best, and where they work worst....

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on August 5, 2014 at 7:30 am

Garden Affluence in Another Era

While here at GardenRant the hot topic was rich people’s gardens,  love ‘em or hate ‘em, I was strolling the garden of one of the super-rich – Marjorie  Merriweather Post (as in Post Cereals). Here’s the very grand mansion, named Hillwood, filled with Russian imperial art (including Fabergé Eggs) and...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on August 1, 2014 at 7:20 am

Gardening Under The Affluence

  I’m getting a little uncomfortable with something, and I’d like the Ranting World to let me know if I’m on point or totally off the mark. As I look through magazines and design blogs, I see fancy gardens everywhere. Industries are colluding to make us desire an outdoor...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic, Real Gardens, Taking Your Gardening Dollar, Uncategorized
Posted by on July 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Observations of the toured

As many Rant readers must know by this time, in Buffalo we have a yearly free garden tour called Garden Walk. Started in 1995 by two urban gardeners who wanted to show how verdant city living could be, the walk has grown to include close to 400 gardens, and...

Read more in: Everybody's a Critic, Garden Walk Buffalo
Posted by on July 28, 2014 at 7:52 am

How to Grow Bluebirds

Last Friday I rode shotgun through the Beltsville Ag Research Center in Marcia van Horn’s Ranger as she checked on some of her 175 nesting boxes for bluebirds and tree swallows, with the occasional chickadee, titmouse, wrens or nuthatches taking advantage of the accommodations. Nest boxes were first installed on the 6,700-acre property...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Science Says
Posted by on July 25, 2014 at 6:49 am

More Foreign Invaders: Possums on the Half Shell

  Robyn Brown, a Nashville buddy and talented gardener, told me last week that her garden is under siege by armadillos. I was all ears. The nine-banded armadillos are rooting around her garden like little armored feral pigs. These foreign invaders arrived in Western Kentucky over twenty years ago....

Read more in: Real Gardens, What's Happening
Posted by on July 23, 2014 at 6:39 am

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Compost?

Guest Rant by Amy Campion  If we gardeners agree on anything, it’s that compost is wonderful stuff.  We can never have enough of it.  We make it ourselves in heaps and bins and barrels, and we ask for more of it on our birthdays.  Compost makes clay soil loosen...

Read more in: Eat This, Guest Rants
Posted by Amy Campion on July 22, 2014 at 8:05 am
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