Perennially Yours: Steve Still

Garden Rant contributor Bob Hill came to my 60th surprise birthday party some years ago. After a few glasses of wine, he said, “Look around. All of these friends will be at your funeral.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or pray. I have thought about Bob’s prophetic words since the day of my party. […]

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 at 7:23 am   This post has 10 responses.

Sunflowers Rivaling Cherry Blossoms as Top Plant Attraction

Here’s why I’m going out on a cherry blossom limb to assert that the humble sunflower is gaining on DC’s most overhyped flowers. Just outside DC, Maryland’s McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area is just now seeing its sunflower fields cleared of photographers from near and far. There’s a special Guide for Photographing...

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Posted by on August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am   This post has 3 responses.

17 New Plants, One Aging Gardener

So having just returned from a favorite nursery with 17 new plants I didn’t really need – but couldn’t live without – my mind leans toward the phenomenon of impulse buying, if not Zen and The Art of Horticultural Maintenance. Precisely what is it that triggers the mind to...

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Posted by on July 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm   This post has 4 responses.

Perfect Prairie Meadow? More like Field of Broken Dreams

My lust for the perfect prairie meadow show – aided and abated, of course, with the need for a new septic system – began with the lacy-pink flowers of Queen-of-the-Prairie, or Filipendula rubra. I had not seen The Native Queen in all her glory until purchasing our history-worn Hoosier...

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Posted by on June 28, 2017 at 7:32 am   This post has 8 responses.

Ask not for whom the lily beetle tolls

Finally, they’re here. For at least 5 years, now, I have been hearing tales of destruction and dire prophecies from friends and garden visitors who live to the east and northeast of Buffalo. “Do you have the lily beetle yet? They’re everywhere in (Rochester/New England/Ithaca, etc.). I don’t grow...

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Posted by on June 13, 2017 at 10:16 am   This post has 7 responses.

But not for me

Some plants are just untouchable, iconic. Lilacs are among those plants. They’re immortalized in poetry, like “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Or glorious in cities, as in Rochester’s lilac festival or New York’s Cloisters. Yet, I removed two large lilacs from my property within two years of...

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Posted by on June 1, 2017 at 10:44 am   This post has 8 responses.

Crazy petunias—what do we think?

Sometimes, I look at my Facebook feed to get inspiration for a post, and this morning yielded a pretty good batch. Peat moss! Back in the news. Oh, here’s a lame tulip video I made back in 2009 (won’t be resharing that). And—this just in, breaking news: according to...

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Posted by on May 16, 2017 at 9:07 am   This post has 3 responses.

Always Dreaming

Long lines at the betting window last weekend were not my concern. I piddled around on Derby Day at home—on the couch and in the garden. I dodged rain showers outside, while inside I sidestepped heavy grazing on beef tenderloin, country ham, corn pudding and my niece’s cookies. I...

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Posted by on May 10, 2017 at 8:12 am   This post has 3 responses.

A Taraxacum officinale Grower Reveals Her Secrets

Guest Post by Amy Campion We were getting ready to go to the Hortlandia Plant Sale, when Scott and I saw it. Its blossoms glowed like pure sunshine. “Oh, my God,” I said. “Is that…?” Heather nodded. “Taraxacum officinale,” Scott said breathlessly. I realized then that Heather had been...

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Posted by Amy Campion on May 7, 2017 at 7:58 am   This post has 11 responses.

The Run from the Roses

I run from roses until mid-April, when my mood changes, as the Kentucky Derby grows near. The Run for the Roses turns me tenderhearted toward roses. It’s complicated. We have two disease-ravaged and bug-eaten pitiful roses in our garden. I should back up for a second. I’m married to...

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Posted by on May 3, 2017 at 7:01 am   This post has 5 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 12 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Roses without Chemicals, After Knock Outs

Peter Kukielski speaking at Behnke Nurseries. Meet Peter Kukielski, former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanic Garden, who suddenly had to give up spraying when the city banned pesticide use on public lands. So he researched disease-resistant roses, which led him to Germany and the roses being...

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Posted by on July 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm   This post has Comments Off on Roses without Chemicals, After Knock Outs.