Some of my favorite neighbor gardens.

Can a Garden Contest Teach and Inspire?

We bash Homeowners Associations regularly for their crazy, backward-looking rules against growing edibles, eliminating lawn, growing wilder-looking plants (horrors!) and more. But what if a condo or coop association used their collective power and authority to improve the yards under their jurisdiction? Could get radical! The 1,600-townhouse cooperative community I live in will be rewriting […]

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on November 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm   This post has 8 responses.

Swarthmore: One of the Most Beautiful Campuses in America

I first visited and fell in love with the Scott Arboretum, covering the entire campus of Swarthmore College, back in 2008 when I visited for a talk on lawn alternatives.  I finally made a return visit last month when I attended its annual Perennial Plant Conference, where some of the top...

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Read related articles in: Public Gardens, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 20, 2014 at 6:07 am   This post has 5 responses.

Snow: Lessons in Perspective

Why is it that, after a snowfall, the landscape looks so much better, even if nothing has changed underneath? Snow offers the opportunity to view your garden with new perspective and insights that can make it more enjoyable in every season. When you hear the phrase “winter interest,” you...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 19, 2014 at 12:51 am   This post has 5 responses.

Possibilities vs. limitations

As I finish potting up bulbs against the winter, rejoicing in the new space for it I have now that I’m using the attic, it occurred to me that the effort to do more, to go beyond the perceived limits, is my favorite thing about gardening and it’s also...

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Read related articles in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on November 18, 2014 at 9:00 am   This post has 7 responses.

Travels with Rufus

  John Steinbeck crossed the country with Charley in 1960. I rode to Louisville last month, from Pennsylvania, with Rufus. Steinbeck, who wrote Travels with Charley, made the road trip with his standard poodle in a camper truck. I took Rufus home in a rental car. I met Rufus...

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Read related articles in: Real Gardens, What's Happening
Posted by on November 12, 2014 at 7:01 am   This post has 8 responses.

My sort-of conservatory

Having just read a series of books about nineteenth century (and earlier) estate gardens, I don’t find myself in the least bit envious of the expansive acreages that these property owners had to tend. But I do long for a refuge where I can enjoy flowering plants throughout the...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on November 10, 2014 at 8:55 am   This post has 8 responses.

Garden clean-up for dry-climate groundcovers

Lawn replacement is getting some well-deserved buzz and I’m an advocate myself. Unfortunately, ground’s gotta be covered, so what groundcovers do the job with few or no inputs and little to no care? (Something other than English ivy, please.) That’s the big question in the less-lawn movement, and it’s...

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Read related articles in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on November 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm   This post has 9 responses.

Piling Leaves and Stacking Functions

There’s a permaculture concept called “stacking functions.” It refers to choosing strategies that have several benefits or accomplish multiple goals. Take, for example, a strategy I’m fond of: smothering lawn with fallen leaves to create new planting beds. I have done and will continue to do this in different...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on November 5, 2014 at 5:34 am   This post has 35 responses.

Surprising Garden Design Choices from 1930

As I mentioned in this post about hedges, there’s an unusual amount of them in my New Deal town, and they’re associated with our launch in 1937.  So if we care about preserving our history, are we stuck with hedges? I’m not a fan, so I was thrilled to discover a gardening...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on October 31, 2014 at 7:57 am   This post has 18 responses.

The Monsters Among Us

Happy Halloween. I hope to really scare you. Because there ARE monsters. There are things that are truly frightening in our world, and we gardeners are on the front lines, either fighting these forces of evil, or being victimized by them. OR, we stand by and do nothing… and...

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Read related articles in: CRRRITIC, Everybody's a Critic, Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy, Real Gardens, Science Says
Posted by on October 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm   This post has 76 responses.

Confessions of a Garden Conservancy Open Day Volunteer

Before I get to the confessions, a short tour of the four fabulous DC-area gardens open to the public through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Gardens Program.  (And thanks to local APLD VP Carolyn Mullet for making it happen.) The home and garden above and in the next three photos are modern in...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Real Gardens
Posted by on October 24, 2014 at 9:09 am   This post has 10 responses.

Trashing Out with Kudzu and ‘Sherman’s Ghost’

Kudzu is the poster child for invasive plants. The vine that gobbled up more than seven million acres in the south became the unintended consequence of the USDA’s plan to stop erosion. When African-Americans, in 1910, began their migration from the rural south to northern cities, the vine would...

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Read related articles in: It's the Plants, Darling, Ministry of Controversy
Posted by on October 22, 2014 at 6:15 am   This post has 18 responses.

Amsonia, Aster and Capital Columns at the National Arboretum

I’ve been waiting eagerly for these plants to reach their peak of fall color and yesterday they dee-livered!  After posting this on Facebook I learned that the designer is well-known plantswoman Angela Treadwell-Palmer.  Great example of the kind of native-plant design being promoted by Thomas Rainer, who just turned...

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Read related articles in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on October 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm   This post has 4 responses.

Laissez-faire Garden Design: A Long Conversation with Nature

My style of gardening proceeds like an ongoing conversation between gardener and Nature. Here is how that conversation might go when choosing plants for a new garden. If the gardener has enough experience to realize how important listening is to this conversation, the first step will be taking time...

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Read related articles in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on October 15, 2014 at 5:03 am   This post has 11 responses.

Hail the anti-mums

Actually, I do have two gigantic pots of mums that were purchased from a work colleague’s kid (to fund a soccer team or something). At only $8 each, they are way huge for their tiny pots—indeed scarily so. (I have to think they’re overfertilized.) Nonetheless, I brought them home...

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Read related articles in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on October 13, 2014 at 7:42 am   This post has 17 responses.

Sins of My Lawn: Putt-Putt at Machu Picchu

  I confess: I keep a lawn. Call me heathen. I know lawns are environmentally suspect, but mine doesn’t ask for much. I’ve applied nothing from the periodic table that screams Skull and Crossbones. And I won’t plow this spit of land for the sake of butterfly weeds or...

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Read related articles in: Real Gardens
Posted by on October 8, 2014 at 7:21 am   This post has 17 responses.

Urban prairie envy

I’m not the owner of this house, nor am I the designer of the pictured front yard, but I do admire  the knowledge,  commitment and creativity of whoever made this garden. I came across this house on a random trip around town while driving down a street that I...

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Read related articles in: Guest Rants, Lawn Reform, Real Gardens
Posted by on October 6, 2014 at 7:48 am   This post has 39 responses.

Meeting Animals

You may not be surprised to hear that, though I adore plants, I garden primarily for animals and the life they bring to a place. Growing up, I was taught by my mother to treat animals gently and respectfully, whether they are pets or wild creatures. Mom and I...

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Read related articles in: Animal Rights, Public Gardens, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on October 3, 2014 at 1:11 am   This post has 5 responses.

Foliage watch

Leaf tourists had better get moving. My unscientific observations, based on a weekend trip south of Buffalo, indicate that peak—at least around here—seems days, rather than weeks away. We were surrounded by red and gold during the drive down and back from Ellicottville, New York, which is ski central...

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Read related articles in: Real Gardens
Posted by on September 29, 2014 at 8:24 am   This post has 3 responses.

When Wildlife Gardens Look Like Gardens

Many of you wildlife gardeners will recognize the name Pat Sutton. She’s the Cape May, NJ-based naturalist who’s developed quite a following among people interested in gardening for wildlife, a group whose numbers she adds to with every class or tour she leads. I attended Pat’s Tour of Private...

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on September 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm   This post has 8 responses.
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