Kurt Bluemel, Panicum Warrior

Kurt Bluemel, Rest in Peace

Sorry to deliver sad news. Kurt Bluemel Der Gras König — The King of Grasses — died yesterday evening after a brief illness. The Baldwin MD plantsman and humanitarian was 81. Kurt was extraordinarily artistic, tireless, demanding, resilient, charismatic, enormously successful and generous. No one loved life quite like Kurt. The lion sleep’s tonight. Allen […]

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Posted by on June 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm   This post has 5 responses.

Soothing the savage beast

Inside, the colors are radiant as flowers flourish. Rows of yellow and orange marigolds mingle. Baskets of purple Angelonias and white lilacs hang above them. It is a serene sight behind bars. Many of us already know that dirt makes us happy, even without the recent scientific evidence indicating...

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Posted by on June 5, 2014 at 8:00 am   This post has 5 responses.

Garden Chores: The WANT TO DO List

What strikes me as the most common thread among all the diverse gardeners I have met or read is that so many don’t unwind much in their own gardens. Of course, we all have that (perhaps infinite) list of things we want to do to improve our gardens. What...

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 at 12:01 am   This post has 24 responses.

A culture of unruliness

Here’s another doublefile viburnum post. No doubt, many (including Susan) would say this one ought to be pruned. It won’t be though, unless there’s some sort of extreme practical reason. Planted in an impossible situation—between two houses and a tree on a property line, in more than partial shade—the...

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Posted by on June 2, 2014 at 8:17 am   This post has 12 responses.

Killer GARDENS

    I have a few thousand new pets. A couple of weeks ago, two lovely girls dressed head to toe in fresh white jumpsuits with large brimmed hats swathed in clouds of netting came over to my garden and bestowed upon me two boxes of feisty, buzzing, glorious...

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Posted by on May 28, 2014 at 9:06 am   This post has 75 responses.

Worth it

Every year I try to plant a few T. acuminata (these from Brent and Beckys) in the front yard. They’re expensive as tulips go—about 4-5 bucks a bulb—and are considered heirloom. Most of the bulb experts seem to think they are an older hybrid, not a wild tulip, but...

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Posted by on May 27, 2014 at 8:14 am   This post has 7 responses.

Saving Seedlings, Saving the World

Recently I went camping near my new home in Boise. I sat down with a cup of coffee and a notebook in my campsite one morning, enjoying the trilling of a meadowlark and a view of natural scrubland as I pondered (this is one of my favorite activities). As...

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Posted by on May 20, 2014 at 11:52 pm   This post has 21 responses.

Doublefile Viburnum – One More Reason to Garden on a Neighbor’s Land

Continuing our theme of gardening on property not our own, it can be a city-owned patch along the street (as discussed here and here), or it could be a spot in a neighbor’s yard.  Thus, there seems to be no safe empty spot of land in my new neighborhood,...

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Posted by on May 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm   This post has 14 responses.

The Joys of Curbside Gardening, and Groundcover Sedums

Hellstrip gardening is getting its due these days, thanks to Evelyn Hadden’s terrific new book on the subject, and Lauren Springer Ogden’s coining of the term in the first place.  And it starts a discussion about gardens that bring pleasure to not just the gardener, but the whole community. ...

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 at 7:56 am   This post has 7 responses.

Kentucky King of Taros

  Poi, a traditional edible starch of the tropics, made from the ground corms of taro, can’t keep up with its popular starchy rivals—potato, corn and rice. But its ornamental qualities have come out of the shadows in the last ten years. The tropical plant, commonly known as elephant...

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Posted by on May 14, 2014 at 6:38 am   This post has 9 responses.

Boxwoods? Bah!

ProfessorRoush would like to call down a pox on all garden authorities who have advocated various winter hardy boxwoods to be excellent landscaping plants. A further pox should descend on the big box stores who sell the cheapest boxwoods available and thus limit the selection of available cultivars to us. Boxwoods are everywhere these days....

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Posted by on May 12, 2014 at 8:18 am   This post has 39 responses.

House and Garden Porn from a Spring Tour

Last weekend I returned to my former home town, Takoma Park, MD, for their spring tour and left with one big take-away – that good-looking gardens are easier to achieve when they surround great-looking homes.  And Takoma is known for its gorgeous housing stock of Victorians and bungalows and...

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Posted by on May 9, 2014 at 7:07 am   This post has 10 responses.

Sights and Sounds from the Porch I Finally Have

Recorded this morning from my favorite chair, which I’ll be using lots more when it gets buggy here in Maryland.

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Posted by on May 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm   This post has 8 responses.

That “New Plant” Experience

It is a joy to grow certain plants for the memories they invoke and the anticipation of their familiar scent, sight, taste, and other beloved qualities, as well as the pleasure of seeing them expand and perhaps self-propagate in our gardens. However, it is an equally delightful experience to...

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Posted by on May 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm   This post has 8 responses.

A master of botanical accuracy

Just in time for local wildflower season (finally), the Burchfield Penney Art Museum is mounting a show of Charles Burchfield’s early botanical drawings. Along with them, they have the models made by another artist, Paul Marchand, who specialized in dioramas and other 3D displays for the local science museum’s...

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Posted by on May 6, 2014 at 7:07 am   This post has 2 responses.

The Smiling Faces of Spring

SPRING!!! I am traveling to Brooklyn to do some garden business, and to see what spring looks like after a long, long winter. I am amazed at the pep in everyone’s step! Living for so long in Southern California, one takes the endless summer/spring for granted – but NOBODY...

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Posted by on May 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm   This post has one response.

U.S. Botanic Garden ISO Executive Director

After 14 years at its helm, Holly Shimizu is leaving the U.S. Botanic Garden this week, retiring to a life of…to be determined.  (Wild guess – some gardening, and somehow pursuing her passion for conservation.)  She tells me there will be a national search for her replacement, so spread...

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Posted by on April 29, 2014 at 8:19 am   This post has 3 responses.

RIP tulipa?

It looks like the deer won. I gave a talk at a suburban garden club last week, and, to a woman, all the gardeners there told me they don’t bother trying to grow tulips anymore. No matter what they do, the bulbs get eaten, as soon as they start...

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Posted by on April 28, 2014 at 9:07 am   This post has 17 responses.

Hellstrip Gardening Highlights and Give-away

How could I NOT love Hellstrip Gardening?  The subject is fun and inspiring, and I’m a long-time fan of the author, too – the Rant’s own Evelyn Hadden  (whose earlier book about Beautiful No-Mow Lawns I reviewed here.) But this isn’t a “review.”  (They’re usually so boring!)  Instead, I...

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Posted by on April 25, 2014 at 9:09 am   This post has 94 responses.

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,...

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 at 7:12 am   This post has 6 responses.
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