This is Ellie.

When she’s not gardening

As I was driving into work today, I listened to an account of a small solidarity protest held in front of the company that operates our local water system. Apparently, this company, Veolia, was reneging on agreements they had with their transportation workers in Boston. I was bemused that our tap water was controlled by […]

Read more in: Garden Walk Buffalo, Ministry of Controversy, Real Gardens
Posted by on October 25, 2013 at 9:35 am   This post has 4 responses.

Surprise Me With Grits and Weeds For the Sweet Hereafter

A few years ago, the father of a friend lay near death, and there were the usual matters to clean up before the end. His last will sorted out, the bedridden father was asked: “Do you want to be buried or cremated?” He propped up on his elbows, cocked...

Read more in: Eat This, Real Gardens
Posted by on October 23, 2013 at 8:10 am   This post has 6 responses.

GardenRant Announces New Partners!

Since 2006 GardenRant has been the work of four opinionated gardeners doing their best to “uproot the gardening world,” with occasional help from guests adding their voices to the mix.  But now that’s changed, with the addition of three new GardenRant partners as regular Voices over there in the...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People, Who's Ranting About Us
Posted by on October 21, 2013 at 9:42 am   This post has 8 responses.

More ways to avoid gardening in fall

Sit around and do nothing This is actually my favorite strategy all year round. But it’s particularly rewarding in mid-October, when no pressing watering, deadheading, or staking issues are likely to present themselves. This is why my garden is set up more as a place to hang out than...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on October 14, 2013 at 7:45 am   This post has 8 responses.

Fall out

It’s not that I really hate mums. I do dislike the common ones sold in the big boxes—the stiff form, the premature browning, and the fact that there’s more of a stench than a fragrance. But it’s not just the flowers themselves—it’s what they represent. At their worst, mums...

Read more in: Shut Up and Dig
Posted by on October 7, 2013 at 8:00 am   This post has 22 responses.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Novel of Botanical Exploration

  When I ran into Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the megahit Eat, Pray, Love and five other books, at a party earlier this year, she wanted to talk about only one thing: botany. Her new novel, The Signature of All Things, was working its way to publication and I...

Read more in: Books, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on October 2, 2013 at 5:06 am   This post has 73 responses.

Could the bulb campaigns be paying off?

Shortly after mocking this marketing effort, I heard via email from some industry insiders that the big bulb houses were desperate—bulb sales had slumped along with all else gardening during the housing meltdown, but (unlike vegetable seeds, for instance) they never rebounded. I was also informed that the big...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar
Posted by on September 30, 2013 at 7:35 am   This post has 11 responses.

A Tale of Two Gardens

I have two gardens and can barely keep up with one. The first garden is in Louisville, where Rose and I have lived for 18 years. It’s on a one-third acre city lot, down the street from the Olmsted-designed Cherokee Park. It’s planted with perennials, trees, shrubs, and a...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Real Gardens
Posted by on September 26, 2013 at 10:09 am   This post has 15 responses.

On the importance of James van Sweden to the Ecological Movement in American Gardening

Adrian Higgins perfectly captures how radical a change Jim van Sweden’s “New American Garden” was when he and Wolfgang Oehme introduced grasses and perennials in the ’70s.   The whole obituary is a fascinating read.

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on September 26, 2013 at 9:39 am   This post has Comments Off.

Remembering James van Sweden

I just learned that DC-based but world-class landscape architect James van Sweden died a few days ago after a long illness.  Landscape Architecture Magazine has a nice summary of his importance here and will surely pay homage to him in an upcoming issue.  I had the pleasure of interviewing...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on September 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm   This post has one response.

Top mostest

Last month, an industry magazine ran a list of the plants it considered the Top Ten Most Influential Varieties. Collective shrug. (And I am not sure “most” is needed.) Lists like these may not mean much to home gardeners, who often aren’t as concerned with long-term viability, and don’t...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on September 23, 2013 at 7:34 am   This post has 6 responses.

Native Plants are a Moral Choice

Guest Rant by Benjamin Vogt It’s late July and I’ve finally seen my first monarch butterfly, but only after the Liatris ligulistylis started blooming. This is a very, very late start. In 2010 I raised 200 from egg to wing, then in 2011 a solid 150, last year only...

Read more in: Gardening on the Planet, Guest Rants, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on September 20, 2013 at 7:19 am   This post has 130 responses.

On transitioning to a pollinator garden

The Greenbelt “Less Lawn” tour that I organized finally happened on Sunday and it was, by all accounts, a raging success.  But before assessing its impact on the town, it actually had one on my very own garden. After all the sprucing up for the tour I concluded that the five...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on September 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm   This post has 19 responses.

Battle of the freebies

In May I received a box of plants from Proven Winners—mainly calibrachoa and verbena, in pinks, blackberry, and purple. I also received several flats of homegrown seedlings from a neighbor, intended for the public planters of Allentown. After finishing the planters, I had leftovers—zinnias, tall ageratum, petunias, coleus, and...

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on September 16, 2013 at 9:18 am   This post has 5 responses.


I like stick-and-ball games as much as anybody else. Leaving the ball out entirely and just using the stick has panache, but bumps the odds of either an arrest or a visit to the hospital. Or both. Golf is unique among stick and ball games. Why? It has holes,...

Read more in: Grab Bag, Guest Rants
Posted by on September 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm   This post has 5 responses.

Blogging to Glory

Garden bloggers have some moments of glory, I suppose.  It’s nice to have your blog cited for Best Writing or what-not in the occasional contest.  And some garden bloggers have been noticed by book publishers and years later and for almost no money, seen their names on the covers of actual books. ...

Read more in: Grab Bag
Posted by on September 6, 2013 at 7:08 am   This post has 15 responses.

Tiny Gardens in Greenwich Village

I’ve posted about the big famous gardens I saw in New York City earlier this month (here and here), but I also got a kick out of the small gardens all around me. Greenwich Village, where I was staying, has lots of charm and gardeners, including the terrific one...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on August 30, 2013 at 8:00 am   This post has 13 responses.

Weeds of Affection and Perpetual Annoyance

“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” –Eeyore Mulberry weed is an unwelcome guest that I can’t shake loose. The trouble is: the Mulberry weed doesn’t travel alone. I’d like to get rid of them all, but there is no end to mulberry weed. In a...

Read more in: Guest Rants, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on August 29, 2013 at 7:22 am   This post has 18 responses.

Finding Native-Plant Beauty in the Bronx

While I was visiting New York City earlier this month I didn’t JUST visit the High Line.  Also on my agenda was the Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, about which I’d read so much when it opened this spring.  It was designed by DC-area landscape...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Gardening on the Planet, It's the Plants, Darling
Posted by on August 23, 2013 at 7:47 am   This post has 9 responses.

Tough Beauty Versus Delicate Beauty

When I first started gardening, I wanted the crazy roses I only saw in books, never in real yards.  The giant shrubs and climbers with the beautiful small flat double flowers.  I had recently moved to upstate New York, zone 4, back when it meant something to be that far...

Read more in: Real Gardens
Posted by on August 20, 2013 at 9:56 am   This post has 15 responses.
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