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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 in the late ’70s by  Larry […]

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Science Says
Posted by on July 25, 2014 at 6:49 am   This post has 7 responses.

One size fits all?

What do St. Cloud, Minnesota and Westerly, Rhode Island have in common? Westerly is a seaside community in southern Rhode Island; St Cloud lies in central Minnesota and is bisected by the Mississippi river. Summers and winters are more moderate in Westerly; winter temperatures fall to greater depths in...

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Posted by on July 21, 2014 at 9:07 am   This post has 17 responses.

Are you a “New Conservationist”?

In a recent issue of the New Yorker I learned that the current head of the Nature Conservancy is a “new conservationist” who’s butting heads with “traditional conservationists.” Also termed “eco-pragmatism,” this growing attitude among environmentalists challenges the traditional goal of preserving nature in some pristine condition or returning it...

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 at 7:41 am   This post has 51 responses.

From Organic-Only to Big-Picture Sustainability

I recommend a fascinating article in Wednesday’s Food Section of the Washington Post this week: “Organic standards fight over synthetics  shows there’s room for a third system,” starting with the news that proposed broadening of organic standards brought out the protesters at a recent meeting, and the police had to...

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Posted by on June 20, 2014 at 11:03 am   This post has 16 responses.

Is Your Local Garden Center Taking Action on Neonicotinoids?

What’s killing the bees?  The pesticide neonicotinoid, for one thing, and it’s routinely used on plants for sale and earlier in the plants’ lives, at the wholesale growers’.  That discovery has led to an anti-neonic campaign targeting the boxes in particular, leading to headlines like “Bee  Activists Swarm Home Depot and...

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Posted by on June 9, 2014 at 7:06 am   This post has 26 responses.

Killer GARDENS

    I have a few thousand new pets. A couple of weeks ago, two lovely girls dressed head to toe in fresh white jumpsuits with large brimmed hats swathed in clouds of netting came over to my garden and bestowed upon me two boxes of feisty, buzzing, glorious...

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet, Grab Bag, Real Gardens
Posted by on May 28, 2014 at 9:06 am   This post has 75 responses.

Contrasting Front Yards: Turf Only v. Wildlife-Filled

I love this video by Beltsville, MD wildlife gardener Marcia Van Horn.  (Viewable on desk and laptops, but not on mobile devices.)  I know Marcia because she created a video of Greenbelt’s Less Lawn Garden Tour.  Next, she volunteered to help me improve the videos I’m making of DC’s...

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet
Posted by on April 24, 2014 at 7:47 am   This post has 5 responses.

A Garden of Marvels Highlights and Giveaway

As promised, here’s a follow-up to Ruth Kassinger’s guest rant.  She wrote the very popular Paradise Under Glass and now A Garden of Marvels, which was published just this week. I don’t review many garden books because I passed the learning-to-garden phase years ago and of the few books...

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Posted by on February 28, 2014 at 7:43 am   This post has 52 responses.

It’s cold, it’s white, it’s going on forever, and it’s not even killing the bugs

Some of us are having trouble remembering the benefits of a cold, snowy winter. Especially when the disadvantages are so omnipresent every day of single digit temps, slick roads with minimal visibility, and—always—shoveling. Buffalo went from around 30 inches of winter snowfall at this time last year to 90-plus...

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 at 8:20 am   This post has 7 responses.

The secret light of plants

Welcome to the groovy world of glow-in-the-dark plants. They’re not much more than a novelty now, but a company called Bioglow has been developing plants that produce their own ambient light since 2007. It’s the result of genetic engineering (with the expected protests); the transplanted genes create auto-luminescent Nicotiana...

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Read related articles in: Science Says
Posted by on January 27, 2014 at 6:28 am   This post has 5 responses.

No tree, no problem

Most years, we have the Christmas tree post here on Rant (here’s a great one); the topic is a source of mild controversy among gardeners, mainly because of the sustainability angle. It breaks down this way: Just buy a cut tree Trees are an agricultural product and buying from...

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on December 17, 2013 at 9:45 am   This post has 9 responses.

How to Stop Bee-Killing Pesticides? Start with the Box Stores!

The first alarm about bee-killing pesticides that caught my eye warned of plants that had been sprayed with neonicotinoids doing the killing.  Then petitions like this one got my attention and I hoped it meant that only the big boxes stores were at fault here, selling horrible products.  But...

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Posted by on December 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm   This post has 25 responses.

I was a Lab Rat for GMO Apples

How does a gardenblogger find something to write about in December?  By jumping at the chance to taste-test produce for the USDA, that’s how, at least if it’s just 5 minutes from home.  Anyway, I was curious about the process, starting with the detailed pre-test instructions – no eating/drinking...

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Read related articles in: Eat This, Science Says
Posted by on December 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm   This post has 47 responses.

We Only Bond with Complex Landscapes

Here’s one of my beefs with lawns: where is the mystery? We live within this awe-inspiring natural world, teeming with diverse creatures and plants. We have a built-in fascination for other living things (1). Why would we construct our daily environments in such a way that we avoid being...

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Posted by on December 4, 2013 at 2:04 am   This post has 40 responses.

Help make the Arboretum Lawn Education Program a Good One!

Readers may remember this post announcing a forthcoming lawn education program at the National Arboretum financed entirely by the turf industry. (Scroll down here to see the funders).  Well, it’s now a reality, with the official ground-breaking event last week, and I’m more concerned than ever.  Though I’m a...

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 at 9:47 am   This post has 2 responses.

Lawn Pesticides Outlawed!

My former hometown, the leftie enclave of Takoma Park, Maryland, has made big news, y’all!  Since passing the Safe Grow Zone Act last summer it became the first town in the U.S. to outlaw lawn pesticides on not just public but also private land.  Some jurisdictions – in Connecticut,...

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 at 7:57 am   This post has 16 responses.

Annoying step back or welcome relief?

Unlike scrapbooking, genealogy, homebrewing, model trains, or cosplay, gardening brings with it an inseparable relationship to time and season. During the late fall and early spring—whenever those may fall for you—we are most at the mercy of that relationship. And for some gardeners, the interventions of the twice-yearly time...

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Read related articles in: Ministry of Controversy, Science Says
Posted by on November 4, 2013 at 8:02 am   This post has 17 responses.

Native Plants are a Moral Choice

Guest Rant by Benjamin Vogt It’s late July and I’ve finally seen my first monarch butterfly, but only after the Liatris ligulistylis started blooming. This is a very, very late start. In 2010 I raised 200 from egg to wing, then in 2011 a solid 150, last year only...

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Posted by on September 20, 2013 at 7:19 am   This post has 130 responses.

Coming soon to your neighborhood – the super-polluting gas-powered leaf blower!

In today’s Washington Post, “Gas-powered leaf blowers: Simply terrible for the air.”  (That’s the title in the print version.)  And then there’s the deafening noise.

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Posted by on September 17, 2013 at 9:08 am   This post has 17 responses.

Finding Native-Plant Beauty in the Bronx

While I was visiting New York City earlier this month I didn’t JUST visit the High Line.  Also on my agenda was the Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, about which I’d read so much when it opened this spring.  It was designed by DC-area landscape...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Gardening on the Planet, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on August 23, 2013 at 7:47 am   This post has 9 responses.
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