I hate being a gardening know-it-all

And the funny thing is that I’m really not. I’m not a master gardener, a CNLP, or any kind of horticultural professional. I’m just a writer/editor who loves to garden, geek out on gardening books, and keep up with new ways of thinking about traditional garden practice. And, yes, I like to use botanical names. […]

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Posted by on April 25, 2017 at 9:24 am   This post has 11 responses.

Olfactory Overload

I’ve been spending more time of late wandering our eight-acre landscape both because after 42 years here I keep finding old plants I too often overlook, and, more important, the chances are very slim I’ll find an aircraft carrier either on its way to Australia or North Korea. Gardening...

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Posted by on April 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm   This post has 4 responses.

Pollen, Politics and Doomsday Prep

I’ve been a careless victim of too many late nights in my past, but knocking back shots of Bourbon into the wee hours did not redden my eyes this spring. Pollen is the culprit. The warm late winter and early spring brought flowers into bloom earlier than usual. And...

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Posted by on April 19, 2017 at 7:28 am   This post has 7 responses.

Garden variety hellebores are still the best

Like many shade gardeners, I am in love with hellebores. They start flowering in March (or earlier) and some stay in bloom right into May. Deer, though not a problem for me, hate them; it’s easy to figure out why—just grab a handful of the plant’s sharp, raspy foliage....

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Posted by on April 18, 2017 at 9:12 am   This post has 10 responses.

Starting from Seed

Real gardeners, compulsive gardeners, are up to their elbows in seedlings this time of year.  We (I qualify at least as compulsive) have a number of rationales for starting from seed. To begin with, it’s economical, the only way we can afford all the plants we want.  For the...

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Posted by on April 17, 2017 at 8:31 am   This post has 5 responses.

The One and Only Poison Ivy Horticulturist

Superman was the most thrilling comic book hero of my boyhood. “Look… Up in the sky…It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” I felt better knowing that good would conquer evil—eventually. Now, J.J. Burkman and the “team of horticulturalists-turned-heroes are fighting an evil villain named Heart Root and...

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Posted by on April 12, 2017 at 8:07 am   This post has 4 responses.

Eye Candy from a Famous Spanish Designer

In my 40+ years in the DC area, I’ve been invited to very few embassy functions. It was thanks to my garden writing that the Embassy of Spain invited me to a recent event at Dumbarton Oaks – so right there, count me IN, almost no matter the topic. But...

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Posted by on April 7, 2017 at 8:33 am   This post has 2 responses.

Garden Redesign: Evaluate Everything and Have No Mercy

Guest Post by Wendy Kiang-Spray Usually, when I look out my kitchen window this time of year, I look forward to the delicate, pale purple-topped baptisia that will delight me for a few short weeks, or peony stems poking through whose stunning flowers I’ll stop daily to admire upon...

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Posted by Wendy Kiang-Spray on April 5, 2017 at 7:55 am   This post has 10 responses.

In the Green

This time of year, when the snowdrops bloom, I always think of Bill Owens.  Bill was a remarkable man:  born in 1905 in the tiny community of Pin Hook, Texas, he was raised in poverty by his widowed mother.  His teaching at a one-room schoolhouse was all from one...

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Posted by on April 3, 2017 at 8:53 am   This post has 8 responses.

Is Facebook a great place for gardening questions? Usually not.

It can depend on who’s in your friend list, but I’ve seen enough to determine that asking random gardening questions on Facebook is an exercise in frustration and bad information. The ones I have seen on my feed—usually about plant IDs or houseplant problems—get such a wide range of...

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Posted by on March 27, 2017 at 2:55 pm   This post has 2 responses.

Me and my Weepers

Guest Post by Bob Hill I have never fully understood my attraction to weeping plants and I really don’t want to pay some nerdy-looking guy with a psychology degree about $250-an-hour to find out. Truth be told, I’ve spent some time drinking beer and exchanging words like “theorization” and...

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 at 7:14 am   This post has no 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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Posted by on March 3, 2017 at 6:26 pm   This post has Comments Off on Designer Puts Tallamy’s Advice into Practice.

Stick to gardening

Life is messy. I think we can all agree. You’d like to keep all the separate activities—professional life, family, hobbies, friends, travel—in their little boxes, but it’s never easy. Things run together, things collide, especially in the age of social media. I look at my Facebook posts from five...

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 at 3:42 pm   This post has Comments Off on Stick to gardening.

A Fond Farewell to Evelyn Hadden

After three years as a regular GardenRanter, Evelyn Hadden has retired from blogging to concentrate on her music. Her last post was in October but in hopes that she’d change her mind, none of us announced it, or thanked her for her many wonderful posts, which we know readers...

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Posted by on January 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm   This post has Comments Off on A Fond Farewell to Evelyn Hadden.

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 3:32 pm   This post has Comments Off on Just the facts.

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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Posted by on January 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm   This post has Comments Off on Canada, o Canada.

A trendy wish list for 2017

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

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Posted by on January 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm   This post has Comments Off on A trendy wish list for 2017.

Planting for the cause

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 3:18 pm   This post has Comments Off on Planting for the cause.

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 3:07 pm   This post has Comments Off on The myth of the plant killer.

Sex Talk at the US Botanic Garden

I returned last week to the U.S. Botanic Garden for another lesson in plant morphology, but this one was a bit sexier than the foliage talk I posted about here. This time, Dr. Susan Pell talked flowers and her audience quickly caught on that this talk would be R-rated. Early one...

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Posted by on November 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm   This post has Comments Off on Sex Talk at the US Botanic Garden.