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Trees are Worth more Dead than Alive (to Wildlife)

Walking around the lake near my house I’ve noticed the preponderance of snags – dead trees left standing, most of them without their tops. Here’s one along the path. Knowing they’re important for wildlife, I was happy to see so many, but it took a bit of googling to discover just HOW important. According to […]

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on February 17, 2017 at 10:13 am   This post has 12 responses.

Stop with the ugly evergreens

Why do so many landscapers think evergreens are an absolute must in cold climates? Aside from healthy mature trees and tree farms that I see on drives, most of the evergreen plantings I see around me in Western New York fail for a variety of reasons. Brown/mostly brown/somewhat brown...

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 at 9:13 am   This post has 6 responses.

PlantPOP Wants to Film your Story

In a recent post I recommended some videos by the very cool “horticultural film studio” PlantPOP (also on Youtube) and promised more about them soon. One phone call later, here ya go. To me it’s a fascinating story of art meets commerce. Art Parkerson grew up in the Tidewater region...

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Read related articles in: Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It
Posted by on February 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm   This post has 6 responses.

Beauty and the Beasts

  Paul Hetzler has an ax to grind. “Tree topping is a subject I can really get worked up about. It’s unprofessional, unsightly, outrageous, unethical, dangerous, and I even suspect it causes more frequent rainy weekends and bad-hair days.” Hetzler is the natural resources and horticulture specialist with Cornell...

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 at 7:12 am   This post has 7 responses.

Management, Not Maintenance

Last Monday I went to Plantorama at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a sort of jobs fair, symposium and reunion all rolled into one that is a must for any horticulturist in the New York area in January. Serious gardeners – whether novices or veterans — are also, of course,...

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Posted by on February 6, 2017 at 7:48 am   This post has 11 responses.

Designer Puts Tallamy’s Advice into Practice

New England-area garden designer Matthew Cunningham will be speaking in Silver Spring, Maryland for the local chapter of APLD on Saturday February 11 from 10 to noon. His topic: “Stone, Wood, & Metal in Landscape Design.” (Reserve a spot here.) To bring attention to his talk, we were offered...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Gardening on the Planet
Posted by on February 3, 2017 at 8:39 am   This post has 9 responses.

Just the facts

Alternative facts, that is. If there is any group of people that has learned to accept unpleasant realities—often brought on by natural forces—that group is gardeners. So I’m happy to know that I can devise, twist, and present my own version of gardening facts. Now is the time, before...

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Posted by on January 24, 2017 at 9:02 am   This post has 15 responses.

Canada, o Canada

This is part 1 of my garden-related thoughts on Inauguration Day. If, like millions, you’ve been pining for Trudeau-led Canada, picture this. It’s my friend Linda’s new home on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, and a view from her deck. She moved there last summer (prescient!) after a two-year legal...

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Read related articles in: Real Gardens
Posted by on January 20, 2017 at 7:00 am   This post has 7 responses.

A trendy wish list for 2017

Not having even looked at any of the usual predictions or surveys regarding general gardening behavior, here is my wishful thinking for the coming year: More six-packs, fewer pricey branded pots I am lucky enough to be able to order interesting new cultivars from the yearly sale our botanical...

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Read related articles in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on January 17, 2017 at 9:34 am   This post has 11 responses.

Butterfly weed—why not

Many of you have heard that 2017’s “Perennial Plant of the Year” is Asclepias tuberosa/butterfly weed. It’s not a surprising choice—attention to attracting and supporting pollinators, especially butterflies, especially monarchs, has been peaking for the past few years and shows no sign of declining. A good thing. Normally, I...

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Posted by on January 11, 2017 at 9:51 am   This post has 10 responses.

Robinson Crusoe’s Ten Favorite Perennials

  It’s the dead of winter, and you might be wishing you were stranded—with amenities—on a desert island with Robinson Crusoe. But Robinson Crusoe is not on a desert island. He is stuck in Kentucky. Crusoe is not afraid of cannibals or mutineers, but he is tired of scraping...

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Posted by on January 9, 2017 at 8:10 am   This post has 7 responses.

Bark for the Winter Blues

Guest Post by Bob Hill Somewhere between the January Blahs and a typically mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder – the aptly acronymed SAD – I find comfort in wandering our yard in mid-winter marveling at the upbeat, happy bark offered by our collection of maple trees, especially our...

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Posted by Bob Hill on January 6, 2017 at 7:10 am   This post has one response.

The myth of the plant killer

May 2017 be the year that nobody insists to me that they have a “black thumb.” Except that I know it won’t happen. I was at a small New Year’s Eve party when one of my non-gardening friends asked for advice about an aspidistra (cast iron plant) she’d just...

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Posted by on January 4, 2017 at 9:00 am   This post has 12 responses.

Goals for a New Year

I have eschewed New Year’s resolutions this year – I typically set myself impossible goals such as moderating my seed purchases and then feel doubly badly about the ensuing order-orgy. But I do have some goals for 2017. I’m going to cap the cost of my seed expenditures by...

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 at 8:08 am   This post has 4 responses.

The Landscapes of McMansion Hell

For making me laugh while I learn, I LOVE the architecture critic Kate Wagner and her highly opinionated blog McMansion Hell. Who could resist her “Pringles Can of Shame ™” award in the photo above? So I recommend McMansion Hell for making me laugh and for educating me with “What the...

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Posted by on December 30, 2016 at 7:56 am   This post has 22 responses.

At the closing of the year

In our region, the end of the year corresponds rather neatly with the end of the gardening season. Yesterday (Boxing Day), I was texting with a friend who was taking advantage of the freakishly balmy temps to finally getting some bulbs planted I had given him. He wanted to...

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Posted by on December 27, 2016 at 10:37 am   This post has 5 responses.

Garden Flags and Bird Feeders: Failures and Fixes

I’ve complained before about the hassle of bird feeders in my tiny townhouse garden, where the shit-stained baffle isn’t doing the job of keeping squirrels away as these world-class gymnasts simply vault from anything nearby to the feeder. I then complained that hummingbird feeders are too much of a commitment for...

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Posted by on December 23, 2016 at 7:14 am   This post has 11 responses.

A Better Way With Weeds

I have a love/hate relationship with weeds. Perhaps love is too strong a term, but I do greatly admire the persistence of weeds and the role they play in preserving disturbed soils. Indeed, a number of years ago, I wrote an article for The New York Times Sunday Magazine...

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Posted by on December 20, 2016 at 8:57 am   This post has 2 responses.

How to Recommend Plants with Video

Searching the Internet for good gardening videos for over a year now, I’ve come to lament their dearth in one major category – ornamental plants. Thanks to Extension universities and a few media-savvy experts, there’s plenty of help for new veg-growing gardeners, but if you want to beautify your...

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Posted by on December 16, 2016 at 8:36 am   This post has 7 responses.

Embracing the ephemeral

During the Western New York growing season, my focus is (mostly) on keeping plants alive and viable for seasons to come. I weed, prune, and nourish perennials and shrubs that I hope will become stalwart landscape features. The idea is to create garden areas that won’t need replacing every...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on December 12, 2016 at 9:18 am   This post has 2 responses.