Ministry of Controversy

Unwelcome signs of late spring

The first one is a common sight along just about any American street. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to these. As a kid, I knew enough to think, “poison, stay away.” As an adult and a longtime gardener, I look at the signs with annoyance and some disgust, but often just dismiss them from […]

Posted by  on June 2, 2015 at 8:16 am.   This post has 7 responses.

Favorite evergreen natives – Ragwort and Bignonia

Today I’m showing off two plants that are not only native to me in Maryland but share two traits I wish were more common among native – they’re evergreen AND vigorous growers in the garden. First up, the unfortunately named Ragwort, a/k/a Golden Groundsel, officially Packera aurea. Here’s what it looked...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on May 29, 2015 at 7:36 am

My Favorite Flower Show

  We got tipped-off about Celesta McComas’s flower show last year at Thanksgiving dinner. My wife Rose told Bobbie Ann Mason that we lived, part-time, in Salvisa, KY. Bobbie Ann lives a few miles away in Lawrenceburg. Clearly suffering from separation anxiety, Bobbie Ann confessed that Celesta had moved...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on May 27, 2015 at 7:20 am

Coming to a town near you—an art project for monarchs

Among all the many seed distribution strategies I’ve seen discussed or proposed, this one is both simple and beautiful. Jenny Kendler’s Milkweed Dispersal Balloons project consists of a mobile unit towing a flotilla of balloons filled with milkweed seed. As the artist says on her website: The artist and...

Read more in: But is it Art?
Posted by on May 26, 2015 at 8:10 am

Groundcovers Make the Rose Garden

I’m happy to see that (some) rose gardens are looking better these days, thanks to their good-looking and super-performing groundcovers. To my eyes, they cover all sorts of rosebush deficiencies throughout the year.  (Love the blooms; the plants not so much.) Here are some of my favorites, all appearing now...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on May 22, 2015 at 7:15 am

Saving Spiders

Last year, I was organizing my new home and found myself in the bathroom doodad aisle of the local “everything” store, holding a blue glass jar with a fitted glass lid. It was just the type of item I usually talk myself out of buying. Years of decluttering have...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on May 20, 2015 at 1:52 am

It wouldn’t be spring without them

Gardeners give up on tulips for good reasons. They’re prime deer food, coming at a time at the end of winter when I suppose the creatures are extra hungry. The hybrids don’t reliably perennialize, generally faltering and disappearing after two or three years. The foliage is unattractive as it...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on May 19, 2015 at 8:30 am

Growing Popularity of Gardening in DC

With legalization of pot in DC – in small amounts – residents are showing a remarkable interest in gardening, with one website happily soliciting photos from growers. Growers are careful to show just six plants (the maximum allowed) or post anonymously. As pointed out in today’s Washington Post, DC’s law weirdly...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on May 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

Scenes from the Georgetown Garden Tour

I recently attended the Georgetown Garden Tour in DC’s toniest neighborhood to find out how the other half gardens spends money on their yards, and naturally I have some comments about all that. Let’s start with the estate above, which was built as a home for the son of...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on May 15, 2015 at 7:58 am

My Prairie Plot Thickens

  It would be a stretch to call our reconstituted former hay field a prairie. What we have is a beautiful contrivance—a make-believe prairie. Contrary to popular belief, Central Kentucky never had any prairies or savannas. The Inner Bluegrass was a deciduous forest with maple, bitternut hickory, ash, elm...

Read more in: What's Happening
Posted by on May 13, 2015 at 7:30 am

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....

Read more in: Guest Rants, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on May 11, 2015 at 7:26 am

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
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