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 2 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.

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.

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.

*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.

The Runaway Monk

  A memorial service was held for Joshua Brands on a cold, drizzly Friday morning in late November. Julie Breeding, Ken Eberhart, and I drove from Louisville to Bardstown, past the mottled sycamores along Cox’s Creek, and across the rolling countryside speckled with green cedars. Josh, a talented archivist, artist...

Read more in: Real Gardens, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on February 12, 2014 at 7:37 am   This post has 11 responses.

The Joy of Giving: To Seek and to Share a Little Crab Apple

Another season of binge shopping and Bourbon balls has come to an end. Credit cards and waistlines have been stretched. Good luck if you made New Year’s resolutions to make amends for holiday excesses. But don’t worry if your good intentions fall by the wayside before April Fools’ Day....

Read more in: It's the Plants, Darling, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on January 8, 2014 at 5:42 am   This post has 7 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.

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.

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.

Rant on the Road: Garden Bloggers Conference in Atlanta

    Hey people!  Like the sign says I’ll be speaking at a new conference for garden bloggers, put on by the same people who have been hosting a very successful design bloggers conference for several years.  They’ve invited not just speakers from the garden and horticulture world, but...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on July 24, 2013 at 10:09 am   This post has 2 responses.

See the Documentary “Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard” if You Can

Anna and Harlan Hubbard may not be names familiar to most readers. But if you have ever thought dreamily of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment, forsaking the “slavery of time” and roughing it on Walden Pond, you might like to know a bit more about the Hubbards. For over 40...

Read more in: Guest Rants, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on July 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm   This post has 4 responses.

Return of the Farmer Pirates

Some of you may remember the Kickstarter campaign I posted for Buffalo’s Farmer Pirate cooperative. It was successful; the group bought their dump truck and now they’re using it to pick up organic matter from restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial sites. They’ve also added a residential compost program....

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on May 6, 2013 at 7:16 am   This post has 8 responses.

The Travels and Trials of Plant Explorer Panayoti Kelaides

It’s only thanks to Tony Avent’s latest catalog cover that I knew that of the existence of Panayoti Kelaidis – he appears there just to the right of the Ranters.  I didn’t know him as a famous plant collector/explorer who’s put the Denver Botanic Gardens on the map, but...

Read more in: Ministry of Controversy, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on May 3, 2013 at 7:24 am   This post has 13 responses.

Trendy in a bad way

For those who, like me, read trend reports with fascinated horror (Really? Animal prints? Still?), here’s one that’s a little more fun—Today’s Garden Center’s Top 10 Most Hated Garden Trends. There are several I dislike with equal fervor, a few others are more garden industry inside baseball stuff, and...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 22, 2013 at 7:59 am   This post has 10 responses.

Lunch with Barbara Damrosch

I was reluctant to make the schlep into D.C. to attend DC’s Home and Garden Show, which (like HGTV) deserves a silent G for its dearth of garden vendors.  But the show DID have the good sense to book a talk by someone I’d wanted to meet for a...

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on March 29, 2013 at 6:58 am   This post has 10 responses.

This is what winter looks like

It’s cold, it’s dreary, and it seems like it will last forever. At least, that’s the reality if you live in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Northeastern zones, as many of us do.  It doesn’t bother me much—I’ve lived and gardened through many a snowy season. No biggie and ho-hum....

Read more in: Unusually Clever People
Posted by on March 25, 2013 at 7:29 am   This post has 3 responses.

Plea from a Plant-Loving Landscape Architect

Michael Van Valkenburgh is one of a few hot-shot landscape architects who’s known for large, high-visibility projects, like his redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House post-9/11.  He landed on my radar thanks to that project, which is local to me.  So I was happy to...

Read more in: Designs, Tricks, and Schemes, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on March 22, 2013 at 8:50 am   This post has 21 responses.

Discoveries at a Nursery Trade Show

Every January I spend a day at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) in downtown Baltimore, lured by the people I’ll run into as much as by the actual products and companies on display.  I’ll let others judge whether MANTS lives up to the distinction it claims for itself...

Read more in: Taking Your Gardening Dollar, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on February 9, 2013 at 8:00 am   This post has 9 responses.
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