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A houseplant whisperer

Once again, writer Tovah Martin, author of The New Terrarium (reviewed here in 2009), goes where many gardeners fear to tread—within the confines of the average centrally heated American home. This is the threshold that—for many gardeners—forms an impenetrable barrier. “Plant cultivation stops here” may as well be on the welcome mat for many otherwise […]

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 at 8:00 am   This post has 6 responses.

A Satisfying Stack of Stones

Fresh from a class on dry (mortarless) stacked stone wall building, I am appreciating anew the many contributions of stone to a garden. Of course, I’ve already incorporated two stone patios and a couple of stepping stone paths into my new garden, courtesy of my good friend Jason at...

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Posted by on October 21, 2015 at 10:11 am   This post has 12 responses.

Who needs leaf peeping when you have your own arboretum?

“I’m not an environmentalist.” That’s one of the statements I remember from my morning visit to one of Western New York’s foremost tree experts, Thomas Draves, who’s also a certified nursery and landscape professional and attends to the tree needs of clients throughout the area. He’s not an environmentalist,...

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Posted by on October 13, 2015 at 9:59 am   This post has 7 responses.

Dining in a Field of Slow Flowers

You know those glamorous-looking field-to-table dinners shown in high-end magazines? Well, just take it up a notch, if that’s possible, and you have Field to Vase dinners like the one I got to crash as “press” last week in Gainesville, Virginia. The event was part of a 10-city dinner tour showing...

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Posted by on September 18, 2015 at 5:53 am   This post has 6 responses.

The politics of decay

I gave up on home composting a few years back after briefly trying a tall tumbler; there was no good place to keep it, and my neglect of it in its obscure location made for poor or minimal results. However, I couldn’t stand the thought of allowing organic waste...

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 at 8:44 am   This post has 9 responses.

The wild side

At this time of year, I often prefer hiking to gardening. Late summer is my favorite time for the plants that grow wild in the parks and the preserves of Western New York, and the more common they are, the better I like them.  They don’t even have to...

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 at 8:11 am   This post has 12 responses.

Worth the wait—Girl Waits with Gun

She kills me. As Garden Rant co-founder Amy Stewart moves into longform fiction, she demonstrates again her powers to surprise, entertain, and inform. Stewart’s latest book, Girl Waits with Gun, is a period adventure novel based on a 1914-15 true story—that of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs....

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Posted by on August 18, 2015 at 9:14 am   This post has 3 responses.

Rock Star Garden

I had no idea what to expect from the Hartman Rock Garden. Richie Steffen pitched it to me as a garden like no other. I was in Columbus, OH, a few weeks ago for the Cultivate ’15 trade show and had some time to kill.  The Cultivate ‘15 is...

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Posted by on July 22, 2015 at 7:38 am   This post has 13 responses.

Janet Draper: A Perennial Force

Rare is the circus that has the extraordinary talent or the vast experience of someone like Janet Draper. This dynamo of the green world is helping to organize a circus of sorts. The 33rd annual symposium of the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) will be held in Baltimore from July 27...

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Posted by on July 8, 2015 at 6:45 am   This post has 9 responses.

Colors of equality

Those lanterns weren’t nearly gay enough. In celebration of Friday’s SCOTUS marriage equality decision, and in solidarity with all of my friends and colleagues who have already availed themselves of this freedom or who are now able to, here is some rainbow/garden imagery I found on Shutterstock. Like Susan,...

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Posted by on June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am   This post has 12 responses.

“Nature rewards the bold”

The quote comes from the last words of a recent essay by Umberto Pasti in the New York Times. Many of you will also recognize his inspiration—Fortune favors the brave, a Latin proverb that’s been used as the motto of regiments, clans, battleships, and many other entities. However you say...

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Posted by on June 16, 2015 at 8:38 am   This post has 11 responses.

Mad May: No Fury

My excitement for wild plants is as far afield from Mad Max: Fury Road as you can imagine. My best botanizing adventures, by comparison, would be more like an open-air My Dinner with Andre. An afternoon with my plant-obsessed compatriots would bore the bejesus out of most Americans or,...

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Posted by on June 10, 2015 at 7:12 am   This post has 4 responses.

My Favorite Flower Show

  We got tipped-off about Celesta McComas’s flower show last year at Thanksgiving dinner. My wife Rose told Bobbie Ann Mason that we lived, part-time, in Salvisa, KY. Bobbie Ann lives a few miles away in Lawrenceburg. Clearly suffering from separation anxiety, Bobbie Ann confessed that Celesta had moved...

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 at 7:20 am   This post has 11 responses.

Not so smug in a beautiful, hard-won country garden

Of the thirteen-plus acres they own in the exurban wilds of outer Hamburg in Western New York, Mike and Kathy Shadrack garden only about three and a half, but these cultivated areas represent hard-fought victories wrung from continuing struggles with shade, slopes, rocky soil, and hungry animals. The Shadracks’...

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Posted by on May 4, 2015 at 8:31 am   This post has 7 responses.

New Arboretum Director is Everyone’s Choice

The 446-acre treasure in an unloved part of Washington, D.C. that is the National Arboretum has seemed down on its luck these last few years.  It had a short-term director (not a plant person), then several acting directors, and worst of all, a two-year cutback on public hours to just...

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Posted by on May 1, 2015 at 6:20 am   This post has 10 responses.

From FFA Superstar to Botanic Garden Spokesman

I recently met the new public affairs officer for the U.S. Botanic Gardens and when I found out his degree is in agricultural communications, I had to find out more. Devin Dotson grew up in a small rural town in northwest Alabama, where his family grew their own vegetables...

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 at 8:04 am   This post has 13 responses.

The Theosophic Turtle

Adam Turtle may have been restless at times, but I doubt he has ever struggled much with boredom. The résumé of the Tennessee nurseryman and farmer is not a record of a dull life. Turtle has been “a boy scout, cowboy, fisherman, truck driver, chef, homeless bum, woodworker, sculptor,...

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Posted by on April 22, 2015 at 7:15 am   This post has 4 responses.

There’s Hope for Urban Design

‘Tis the season of garden seminars. Recently I participated in a thought-provoking one-day seminar on the theme of bringing nature into our cities. I spoke about hellstrip gardens, but a couple of the other speakers addressed larger-scale landscapes. After seeing their photos and hearing about so many projects that...

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Read related articles in: Gardening on the Planet, Unusually Clever People
Posted by on April 8, 2015 at 2:03 am   This post has 9 responses.

The man for woody plants—Michael Dirr

The true celebrities of the world of horticulture don’t appear on HGTV or gladhand  at home and garden shows. They’re busy discovering new plants, undertaking research projects, and writing the reference books that form the backbone of every serious gardener’s library. I knew that Michael Dirr was considered the...

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Posted by on February 9, 2015 at 7:55 am   This post has 6 responses.

Presidentially appointed but unpaid landscape architects making our spaces better

Here in DC, big projects that affect the look of Washington and our enjoyment thereof must be approved by all sorts of agencies, but my favorite and the one I’ve seen make the most improvements through their review is the oddly named U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.  Its website...

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Posted by on December 12, 2014 at 8:00 am   This post has 4 responses.
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