Recent Posts

Drink This

Apple Hunting Season

This is the time of year when I start scouting for apple trees.  Neglected, venerable trees full of fruit that nobody wants.  Not shiny, red, and flawless, ready to be popped into a lunch box.  Nor even the big, sweet fruits bred for baking.  The apples I want can...

Posted by on September 4, 2017 at 4:55 am.   This post has 10 responses.
Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Robert Frost Needed Better Neighbors

So maybe it was Robert Frost. That whole “Mending Wall’ thing: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. I read that poem 1,000 times as a...

Posted by on September 1, 2017 at 4:51 am.   This post has 6 responses.
Gardening on the Planet

The botany behind the fantasy

It’s a good (and rare) morning when my twelve-minute commute yields two news stories in a row that make me smile. That happened today. The first one has no gardening relevance, but the second has special interest for both gardeners and Tolkien fans. Botanist Walter Judd has published a...

Posted by on August 31, 2017 at 9:17 am.   This post has 2 responses.
Ministry of Controversy

The Pin Oak vs. Statues of Dead White Men

Since the tragic weekend in Charlottesville, I have wondered why so few people have paid so little attention to trees. Much attention has been given to the argument about whether statues of Confederate soldiers should remain, be removed or re-located. A fallen tree here, another tree removed there. So what?...

Posted by on August 30, 2017 at 8:39 am.   This post has 12 responses.
Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It

Monty Don’s 80 Plant Cultures of the World

Monty Don has been getting an unusual amount of attention lately in the U.S., thanks to his provocative article “There’s no point trying to convince millennials to garden. Nobody wants to hear that but I suspect he’s right. So who IS this guy? Here’s a quick bio on BBC...

Posted by on August 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm.   This post has 7 responses.
Eat This, Guest Rants, What's Happening

All Maters Matter

Guest Ranter Ralph Haas, and his Kailua Farm partners, had a goal of winning a ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair last week. They had one problem. They couldn’t pull together five red tomatoes between them. Ralph wrote a letter of explanation that was submitted with their fair entry....

Posted by Ralph Haas on August 23, 2017 at 7:10 am.   This post has 5 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling, Shut Up and Dig

Hands off the hydrangeas

Thanks to plentiful rain and other friendly conditions, this is the summer of the Hydrangea in the Northeast, at least as far as I’ve observed. Huge stands of paniculata, macrophylla, and arborescens varieties are blooming profusely. My neighbor’s pink macrophylla blooms are easily a foot in circumference; it’s amazing...

Posted by on August 22, 2017 at 8:58 am.   This post has 5 responses.
What's Happening

GWA/Buffalo Take-Aways

Buffalo! Time for a debrief after attending the Garden Writers annual shindig held in Buffalo this year – to the delight of anyone who’s been there in the last decade or so and the apprehension of anyone who hasn’t. Yeah, Buffalo had lots of doubters, but boy did that...

Posted by on August 18, 2017 at 7:48 am.   This post has 11 responses.
Real Gardens

Rant from the road: resort horticulture

Vacations are always busmens’ holidays for gardeners. Whether it’s a tropical paradise, a stateside resort, or a European capital, gardeners can’t help but notice what’s planted, where it’s planted, and how well it’s designed. We don’t actually work on the gardens where we stay, but we’re doing it in...

Posted by on August 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm.   This post has one response.
What's Happening

John Oliver Discovers the One and Only Ciscoe Morris

I love this! So does the Seattle Times.

Posted by on August 15, 2017 at 10:27 am.   This post has 5 responses.
Shut Up and Dig

Corner Makeover: Before and One Year Later

Readers may have noticed I’m an obsessive-compulsive garden-maker, not happy with making and tending just the townhouse garden I now own.  I showed you one example recently – the town center garden I adopted in May of this year. Boy, did it need some love. Next up, another highly visible bit...

Posted by on August 11, 2017 at 8:58 am.   This post has 9 responses.
Shut Up and Dig

An annual philosophy

Certain plants exude a message of “Don’t worry, be happy.” Others continually whine, “Maintain me!” In my garden, the easiest plants I grow are the tropical or semitropicals. They require virtually nothing, much like their brethren in my office. Once in a while, I’ll cut down a dead leaf...

Posted by on August 10, 2017 at 9:40 am.   This post has 14 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling, Unusually Clever People, What's Happening

Perennially Yours: Steve Still

Garden Rant contributor Bob Hill came to my 60th surprise birthday party some years ago. After a few glasses of wine, he said, “Look around. All of these friends will be at your funeral.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or pray. I have thought about Bob’s prophetic words...

Posted by on August 9, 2017 at 7:23 am.   This post has 10 responses.
Books

A Botanical Translator

Botanists speak a special language, one that is frequently unintelligible to outsiders like me.  This has frustrated me at times, for instance when I’ve tried to use a botanical key or field manual to identify an unfamiliar plant.  Now, though, I’ve got expert help. A week ago I picked...

Posted by on August 7, 2017 at 9:55 am.   This post has 2 responses.
It's the Plants, Darling, Public Gardens

Sunflowers Rivaling Cherry Blossoms as Top Plant Attraction

Here’s why I’m going out on a cherry blossom limb to assert that the humble sunflower is gaining on DC’s most overhyped flowers. Just outside DC, Maryland’s McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area is just now seeing its sunflower fields cleared of photographers from near and far. There’s a special Guide for Photographing...

Posted by on August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am.   This post has 3 responses.