Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

I’m the Thriller Filler Spiller Killer!

I hate rules. I mean really, I do. I always have. My brain won’t accept them. If someone tells me that THIS is the way to do a thing, I will try and find another way to do it. It may come from my years as an actor, and theatre training – we are supposed […]

Posted by  on September 24, 2014 at 2:17 am.   This post has 51 responses.

A fall manifesto: enjoy the mess

Twice a year, at the beginning and end of the growing season, gardeners are exhorted to do various tasks that will—in spring—prepare the garden for the plantings to come, and—in fall—shut down the garden to protect it from the depredations of winter. Some of these jobs are necessary, but...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on September 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

Give me spots on my apples and holes in my sweet potato vine

Remember the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot? Every organic gardener’s favorite line is surely “Give me spots on my apples. But leave me the birds and the bees. Please!” So, when people notice the insect holes in the sweet potato vine...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on September 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

Death Enhances a Garden

Death plays a significant role in my garden, and in so many ways, it makes the garden more interesting. Death provides comfort. I don’t routinely snip or snap off dead flower heads, not even the large dahlia blooms that stand on their stems brown and bedraggled for weeks. I...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy, Real Gardens
Posted by on September 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

A hard act to follow

But at least he agrees with me on one of my most cherished gardening principles. I was privileged to be on the same bill with David Culp at Rochester’s Gathering of Gardeners on Saturday, and I can assure you that I was as entranced as the rest of the...

Read more in: Real Gardens, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on September 15, 2014 at 8:38 am

Late-Summer Scenes from DC

At the National Arboretum in late August: Joe-Pye Weed and Crapemyrtle blooming in the Gotelli Dwarf Conifer Collection. Behind a wildflower meadow, the Capitol Columns.  They once held up the U.S. Capitol. Around the Friendship House, plant and design ideas for residential gardens. In the National Gallery’s Scultpure Garden...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on September 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

Partying with the Friends House Gardeners

GardenRant has a core of engaged readers who comment on our posts (and we thank you!) but the other 2,000 or so daily readers are unknown to us. So it was a nice surprise to be contacted out of the blue by Rant reader Lucille Ridlon, inviting me to...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on September 12, 2014 at 7:50 am

No Thanks to Flaming Autumn

Guest Rant by Jane Scorer I know what is just around the corner… I can guess what I will be reading about, any time soon…the joys of the autumn and winter garden, that’s what. There will be pages about flaming autumn colour, and we will be encouraged to buy...

Read more in: Guest Rants
Posted by Jane Scorer on September 11, 2014 at 7:19 am

Driving Alaska with My Three Miss Daisies

  Bears loomed large last month in Alaska, but there was more danger lurking for a scrapulation.* Close quarters and too much family togetherness always make for a menacing vacation threat. Rose, my daughter Molly, granddaughter Story and I spent ten days driving around south central Alaska. I’m happy...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on September 10, 2014 at 5:37 am

The good and the bad from the Brits

Many of us have a love/hate affair with gardening advice and essays that come from across the Atlantic.  There is always love, of course, for this mothership of great estate gardens, internationally known garden events, and giants of gardening design and literature like  Gertrude Jekyll, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Pearson,...

Read more in: Books, Everybody's a Critic
Posted by on September 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

Support this Lawn-to-Prairie Make-Over

Friend-of-Rant Benjamin Vogt wrote to tell me about his exciting new project on Indiegogo -ripping out his front lawn and replacing it with a wildlife garden that he’ll use to spread the word about how beautiful wildlife and native-plant gardens can be – even in front yards.  He went...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Lawn Reform
Posted by on September 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

B&B Garden Attracts Customers

At least the tiny garden in front of the Royal Rose Inn in Rehoboth Beach, DE got this potential customer’s attention when I walked by it this week, and you better believe I’ll be staying there the next time I visit.  The garden said to me:  ”Fun place to stay!”...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on September 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

Murals without vandalism. How do they do that?

Wandering around Pittsburgh I came upon this fabulous mural depicting cherry blossoms in bloom and a charming collection of old homes.  It was off the beaten track, enlivening not a park but the parking lot for a neighborhood restaurant. How does something so wonderful get done, anyway?  By an...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on September 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

The Parklet Craze

This year’s international Park(ing) Day falls on September 19, a mere two weeks from now. On that day, individuals, groups, and businesses in cities around the world will commandeer on-street parking spaces and convert them to temporary parklets. These people-friendly spaces might include plants, seating, bike parking, games, exercise...

Read more in: But is it Art?, Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on September 3, 2014 at 3:08 am

Ruin Garden at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory – a Must-See?

From my recent stay in Pittsburgh I’ve shown you Randyland, which writer/adventurers Susan Reimer,  Ginny Smith,   Carrie Engel and I stumbled upon while playing hooky from hotel conference rooms. We were on our way to another destination,  installation-art gallery the Mattress Factory, which had been called a “must-see” by keynote speaker...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on September 2, 2014 at 3:03 pm

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...

Read more in: Grab Bag
Posted by on August 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

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
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