Shannon Still Devil's Speedway Death Valley 040914

Death Valley Days and the Discovery of Two New Plant Species

I had a fitful first day in Death Valley a few weeks ago. I felt like an apprehensive Spencer Tracy when he got off the train at Black Rock in the 1955 film Bad Day at Black Rock. Whereas Tracy was nominated for an Academy Award for his role, I was distracted and worried in […]

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on April 23, 2014 at 7:12 am   This post has 5 responses.

The L word

Two days before Earth Day, my regular segment on our local NPR station was aired. I don’t come on as a gardening expert; I am part of a rotation of local editors and media types who chat about issues their publications are covering. We talked about gardening because my...

Read more in: GardenRant Airwaves, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on April 22, 2014 at 8:34 am   This post has 10 responses.

Immediacy and the Novice Gardener

by Guest Author Wendy Kiang-Spray I had a great neighbor who has since moved away. The first day we met him, he invited us over for empanadas. He and his wife were perfect neighbors for first-time homeowners to have. Old enough to know the neighborhood stories, young enough to...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by Wendy Kiang-Spray on April 18, 2014 at 8:11 am   This post has 11 responses.

If I had a nickel for every garden cliché I’ve ever heard…

Guest Rant by Amy Campion Like thistles invading a garden, hackneyed phrases have seeded themselves into garden writing and need to be rooted out. They choke out good prose and distract from the message.  What’s more, they really irk me.  If you write about gardening, I beg you to...

Read more in: Guest Rants, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by Amy Campion on April 17, 2014 at 6:15 am   This post has 36 responses.

Wild within bounds

Believe it or not: After initially pouring some compost into the globular bottle, Latimer used a wire to carefully lower in a spiderwort seeding, and then added a pint of water to the mix. The bottle was sealed and placed in a sunny corner. Apparently, the bottle planting, started...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes
Posted by on April 14, 2014 at 8:23 am   This post has 3 responses.

Stop Tilling Your Vegetable Garden!

Guest Rant by Megan Cain I get why you till. There’s something in all of us gardeners that leaps with joy when we see a freshly tilled bed. That rich, dark, blank canvas beckons us to come on over and work our vegetable magic. We imagine ourselves gently planting...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Guest Rants, Real Gardens
Posted by Megan Cain on April 10, 2014 at 7:30 am   This post has 13 responses.

Through the Hand Lens: Pat Haragan’s Steady View

I have dozens of floras sitting on cluttered bookshelves: from China to the Caucasus and from Kansas to Kentucky. Yet even more mileage is guaranteed from a new botanic investigation that covers territory closer to home—my neighborhood. I predict the pages of Pat Haragan’s “The Olmsted Parks of Louisville:...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 8, 2014 at 5:06 pm   This post has 3 responses.

Can a Video Attract Garden Visitors?

I’ve long had the notion that somehow short, viral-going videos showing the fabulousness of a garden that’s open to the public might increase visitorship – and thereby support for the garden.  And here in the D.C. area the poster child for a fabulous garden that could use some support...

Read more in: Real Gardens, What's Happening
Posted by on April 4, 2014 at 9:06 am   This post has 24 responses.

Spring Fever

As the garden wakes up, I find I spend more time in that stock-still, mesmerized state that, let’s face it, is the point of all this garden work. Though planting, caring for the plants, and editing them all have their satisfactions, being absorbed in the garden is my favorite...

Read more in: Real Gardens, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on April 2, 2014 at 4:01 am   This post has 8 responses.

Full sun to part shade. Really?

Plant labels tend to be prosaic. They are not—to my knowledge—as carefully scrutinized by federal agencies as food labels are, but nonetheless, the big growers seem to reliably police themselves, offering botanical names, reasonably truthful dimensions, and helpful planting and care information.  Except, sadly, when it comes to light...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on March 31, 2014 at 8:17 am   This post has 18 responses.

Learning my Place from Nature’s Graveyard

by Dr. Amanda Morris Splintered fence. Shattered shrubs. Shredded trunks. And pine needles. Everywhere, pine needles. Destruction with the scent of Christmas. As I made my way into the barely accessible remains of yard, gingerly pulling back heavy pine branches to expose anything left visible, I touched a ripped...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Real Gardens
Posted by Amanda Morris on March 27, 2014 at 7:36 am   This post has 11 responses.

GARDEN GEEKS ( Yes I’m Talking to YOU)

  I think it is so funny that people who garden passionately automatically think we will have things in common just because I also garden passionately. Yes, I am a plant maniac and proud – but I am so far from the plant obsessed and jargon-spouting, horticulturally saturated lady...

Read more in: Get a Job, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on March 26, 2014 at 1:40 am   This post has 39 responses.

Digging into the Archive of American Gardens

I’m not sure I totally grasp the content of the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Gardens but here’s what I gather so far, from a talk I heard on the subject and digging into their website. A big honking collection of garden photos was donated to the Smithsonian by the...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on March 21, 2014 at 9:01 am   This post has 5 responses.

Poppies for Memories

Since I moved to Idaho, my sister and mom and their friends and my friends have been generously donating plants to fill my new garden beds. (Gardeners are the nicest people.) This week, I’m transplanting poppies from my sister. I’m planting them in areas that I smothered with leaves...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Real Gardens
Posted by on March 19, 2014 at 4:15 am   This post has 17 responses.

Bunny Mellon, a DC Garden Designer with Connections

Philanthropist and garden designer Bunny Mellon died recently, and I didn’t appreciate her significance until reading Adrian Higgins’ terrific profile of her in today’s  WaPo.  “Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon, arts patron and confidante of Jackie Kennedy, dies at 103.” I didn’t even know that she designed two major gardens at...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on March 18, 2014 at 8:07 pm   This post has 2 responses.

A green gardener

Like many others in this country, I can trace my ancestry—within a couple generations—to the auld sod. My Irish forebears, the Kenneys and the Brackens, settled down to farm in Western New York when they first came here in the mid-nineteenth century. Times changed, and so did their occupations,...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on March 17, 2014 at 9:16 am   This post has 2 responses.

*Fate Loves the Fearless: The Perennial Divine

A Pentecostal snake handler fell victim to natural selection in Middlesboro, Kentucky, on the same weekend I was attending a horticultural conference in Grünberg, Germany. Pity the poor pastor. The folks in Grünberg know better: Perennials are perfectly divine and much easier to handle than poisonous snakes. Mary Vaananen, my...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People, What's Happening
Posted by on March 12, 2014 at 7:42 am   This post has 5 responses.

Keeping me sane

As the winter winds to its possible close, here are some images of my indoor gardening efforts. These Madame Sophie hyacinths have a looser flowering habit than others, but they’re quite charming. Splendid Cornelia in forcing glasses   Vuurbank hyacinths Strangely, non-tazetta narcissus take just as long to force...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on March 11, 2014 at 9:04 am   This post has 5 responses.

After the Storm, Chores

The nor’easter that roared up the East Coast recently dumped another foot of snow on our part of Upstate New York. I found myself struggling through drifts thigh-high to get to my livestock. Our yearling goat, Tanner, stepped out of her shed into snow up to her neck. Her...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on March 6, 2014 at 6:14 am   This post has 5 responses.

A Courtyard Garden Promotes Pondering

My understanding of a place dawns slowly. Occasionally I design a garden, and it is a ponderous and effortful activity because it doesn’t come easily to me. This has been brought home to me over and over as I struggle to set out the bones of my new garden....

Read more in: Lawn Reform, Real Gardens
Posted by on March 5, 2014 at 3:45 am   This post has 27 responses.
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