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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 book from 1930 offering two design […]

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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 5 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 70 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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Posted by on October 24, 2014 at 9:09 am   This post has 8 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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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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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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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: 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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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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Posted by on September 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm   This post has 8 responses.

Potfuls of Coleus

Like Ivette, I ignore the ubiquitous Thriller-Filler-Spiller advice for container plantings – because the more species in a single pot, the harder it is to keep the thing looking good. Ditto getting it to look good in the first place. For me, containers look best simplified, like the 3...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on September 25, 2014 at 9:09 am   This post has 2 responses.

I’m the Thriller Filler Spiller Killer!

I hate rules. I mean really, I do. I always have. My brain won’t accept them. If someone tells me that THIS is the way to do a thing, I will try and find another way to do it. It may come from my years as an actor, and...

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Posted by on September 24, 2014 at 2:17 am   This post has 51 responses.

A fall manifesto: enjoy the mess

Twice a year, at the beginning and end of the growing season, gardeners are exhorted to do various tasks that will—in spring—prepare the garden for the plantings to come, and—in fall—shut down the garden to protect it from the depredations of winter. Some of these jobs are necessary, but...

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Posted by on September 22, 2014 at 8:07 am   This post has 12 responses.

Give me spots on my apples and holes in my sweet potato vine

Remember the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot? Every organic gardener’s favorite line is surely “Give me spots on my apples. But leave me the birds and the bees. Please!” So, when people notice the insect holes in the sweet potato vine...

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Read related articles in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on September 19, 2014 at 8:55 am   This post has 6 responses.

Death Enhances a Garden

Death plays a significant role in my garden, and in so many ways, it makes the garden more interesting. Death provides comfort. I don’t routinely snip or snap off dead flower heads, not even the large dahlia blooms that stand on their stems brown and bedraggled for weeks. I...

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Read related articles in: Ministry of Controversy, Real Gardens
Posted by on September 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm   This post has 18 responses.

A hard act to follow

But at least he agrees with me on one of my most cherished gardening principles. I was privileged to be on the same bill with David Culp at Rochester’s Gathering of Gardeners on Saturday, and I can assure you that I was as entranced as the rest of the...

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Posted by on September 15, 2014 at 8:38 am   This post has 3 responses.

Late-Summer Scenes from DC

At the National Arboretum in late August: Joe-Pye Weed and Crapemyrtle blooming in the Gotelli Dwarf Conifer Collection. Behind a wildflower meadow, the Capitol Columns.  They once held up the U.S. Capitol. Around the Friendship House, plant and design ideas for residential gardens. In the National Gallery’s Scultpure Garden...

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Posted by on September 13, 2014 at 10:16 am   This post has Comments Off.

B&B Garden Attracts Customers

At least the tiny garden in front of the Royal Rose Inn in Rehoboth Beach, DE got this potential customer’s attention when I walked by it this week, and you better believe I’ll be staying there the next time I visit.  The garden said to me:  ”Fun place to stay!”...

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Posted by on September 5, 2014 at 9:36 am   This post has 3 responses.
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