From the top of Old Smoky

Disaster in the Smokies

A national park since 1926, the Great Smokies at times seem overshadowed by the spectacular parks of the west: Zion, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone. In fact, a list I saw of the best national parks only includes one park in the eastern US: Acadia. I visited this park a few years back, and I can […]

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Posted by on December 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm   This post has 4 responses.

My Tiny Oak Forest

  The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. –Ralph Waldo Emerson I’m not giving into global warming or to Donald Trump. I’m planting acorns. I won’t live to see my oaks grow into a thick forest canopy, but time’s a wasting. Regardless of the president-elect’s head-in-the-sand...

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Posted by on November 16, 2016 at 7:20 am   This post has 9 responses.

The bad leaf advice—it’s baaack!

It’s that time of year again—gardeners are getting silly advice from the Wildlife Federation and other nature-centric organizations about why they should try to leave their leaves in place to provide wildlife habitat and “natural mulch.” Many gardening columnists and Facebookers are picking up the NWF’s 2014 “Leave the...

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Posted by on November 15, 2016 at 9:50 am   This post has 13 responses.

Why I can’t get too excited about the White House vegetable garden

Of course, it’s very good that the White House and the National Park Foundation have decided to maintain a food patch on the property. And let’s be clear on one thing right away: I am a big fan of both Obamas and would be happy to see them stay...

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Posted by on October 13, 2016 at 9:13 am   This post has 7 responses.

Common Gardening Practices That Hurt Bees

Worldwide, there’s a growing awareness of the value of pollinators, which is heartening for those of us who love food and biological diversity. However, pollinator populations continue their noticeable decline, and recently several bee species have been listed or proposed as federal endangered species. Individual gardeners and property owners...

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Posted by on October 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm   This post has 6 responses.

How I Became a Landscape Reformer

Today’s Guest Rant comes from Leslie Nelson Inman, an Adjunct English Instructor at Mercer University and Georgia Tech who is currently taking some time off to write a book. Leslie educated herself about environmental issues and has become passionate about spreading information and solutions widely via social media. Here’s...

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Posted by Leslie Nelson Inman on September 21, 2016 at 6:41 am   This post has 24 responses.

Oh, how sweet—they’re getting married!

  In case you hadn’t heard, two of the biggest Big Ag and Big Chem firms—St. Louis-based Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer (pronounced buyer)—are merging, with Bayer making the acquisition. It’s gigantic news for farmers, but these companies are big players at garden centers as well. Here’s the PR for...

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Posted by on September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am   This post has 5 responses.

Benefits of Drought

It’s official: the “U.S. Drought Monitor”, a site co-sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, lists southwestern Massachusetts, where I do most of my gardening, as locked in a severe drought. The withered crops in my vegetable garden...

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Posted by on August 15, 2016 at 10:43 am   This post has 17 responses.

Bug Hunting

A couple of weeks ago I attended a fascinating lecture by Dr. Daniel Duran of Drexel University. He was making the case for gardeners to take a more positive attitude toward the insects in their gardens.   He emphasized that a very small percentage (less than 3 percent, on average)...

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Posted by on August 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm   This post has 12 responses.

When you’re at the beach, but it’s still your day to post …

… you discuss sand castle landscaping. Here is a fine example that probably looked even better before it got a night’s worth of rain. Note the minimal yet effective use of beach grasses and other plants to lightly adorn the structure. It reminds me that the grasses are themselves...

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm   This post has 4 responses.

What’s Native?

What better day than July 4th – our national independence day — to consider the issues surrounding gardening with natives versus gardening with plants of foreign origin? (For the record, I grow both.) And what, for that matter, is a truly native plant? Typically, we define “native” in terms...

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 at 10:31 am   This post has 4 responses.

New Guide to the Garden Revolution, by Weaner and Christopher

It’s finally here – the much-awaited Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change by Larry Weaner and GardenRant’s own Thomas Christopher. It’s described as the next step along the path started by Sara Stein and Douglas Tallamy, guiding us in the move from traditional horticulture...

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Posted by on May 20, 2016 at 9:18 am   This post has 8 responses.

Tallamania!

Ranters have been talking to scientist Doug Tallamy, professor and chair of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, since 2007. So, since this is Throwback Thursday, I’d thought I’d include some of our earlier discussions with the professor, as well as a recent...

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Posted by on May 19, 2016 at 7:50 am   This post has 2 responses.

Milkweed Spreading Through My Landscape Makes Me Happy

Two years ago, I wrote about the milkweed seedlings I rescued from a nearby lawn. They survived the move and have formed a decent-sized stand under a maple tree in my backyard. In this tough site (very dry part shade) they need no care whatsoever, and have been given...

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Posted by on May 18, 2016 at 11:59 am   This post has 10 responses.

Gardening to Beat Climate Change

Earth Day has come and gone, but I haven’t stopped worrying about the greatest challenge our ecosystem has faced since the beginning of human history: global climate change. This year is already setting records: February of 2016 was the hottest February on record globally, and March was the hottest...

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Posted by on May 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm   This post has 6 responses.

Nine years of ranting about the map

Don’t worry—we’re not starting a new Throwback Tuesday series. But after reading Thomas Christopher’s post detailing his issues with the current USDA plant hardiness map, I felt it would be useful to revisit previous Rant discussions on this highly controversial topic. There have been plenty. The mere fact that...

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Posted by on March 22, 2016 at 8:00 am   This post has 7 responses.

Hardiness Disinformation

Successful gardeners are firmly rooted in what Karl Rove in 2004 famously disparaged as “the reality-based community.” That is, we study what we find around us and base our actions on that. I mention this because we are still, in a significant way, suffering from the Bush administration’s determination...

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 at 6:43 pm   This post has 31 responses.

#TBT: Natives are hot, but am I hot for natives? Or just confused?

Native plants—a topic that we’ll be discussing for rants to come. In this one from March, 2007, Elizabeth is noting the vast differences between the original environments for these species and her urban garden in Buffalo (among other things). She has a lot more native plants now than she...

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Posted by on March 17, 2016 at 9:11 am   This post has 10 responses.

Super bloom snapshot

Right now, sprinkled throughout sections of vast Death Valley National Park, are swaths of color standing out from the usual palette of faded greens, and soft grays and browns. A rare super bloom, the result of three unusual October rainstorms, (three inches of rain instead of an annual one...

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Posted by Nancy J. Parisi on March 14, 2016 at 8:00 am   This post has 6 responses.

Sustainable Cow Pots for Better Garden Plants

The best kind of sustainability is to take a waste product and turn it into a valuable resource; to turn garbage, as it were, into gold. There’s a farm family in northwestern Connecticut doing just that these days, and in the process it’s also creating an opportunity for gardeners....

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Posted by on February 15, 2016 at 9:28 am   This post has 21 responses.
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