Conversations in the Garden 2018-02-28T19:48:28+00:00

Ashes to Ashes: The Legacy of The Emerald Ash Borer

About two years ago in the early winter months, I spied three pileated woodpeckers on an ash tree outside my office window and immediately felt like an Audubon rock star.  [...]

Growing a Beautiful, Not Just Edible, Vegetable Garden

Beautiful vegetables?  What is she talking about? Aren’t all vegetables beautiful?       For those who live and breathe a garden life and not just a garden life-style, the [...]

Air Plants, Demystified.

Air plants are the new It Girl.  From the common grocery store checkout aisle to the upscale garden center, they’re pretty much everywhere.  They’re even turning up in the houses [...]

10 Reasons to See The Philadelphia Flower Show

It’s Flower Show week in Philly, and refreshed by the excitement of our electricity being restored after four days and the roof tarped against further storms, yesterday I decided to [...]

Welcome to the award-winning Small Town Gardener® –
a collection of articles filled with humor and gentle gardening advice.

Conversations in the Garden®

Houseplants and Insects: A Few Tips From a Pro

By this point in the winter, most houseplants have endured months of sub-optimal conditions, not to mention sub-optimal care, and insect levels may be higher than [...]

Garden 2.0: The Delight in Downsizing

Over the first half of this month I have been in California. Surely an insensitive way to start a column in a Mid-Atlantic newspaper, but I [...]

New Season: New Site Hosting!

  Please bear with us in the days ahead as we transfer to a new site hosting company with improved performance, security and features.  We'll no [...]

My Soil / My Self

Whether you like it or not, planning what you’re planting in the season ahead is less important than figuring out what you’ll be planting it in. [...]

East Coast / West Coast: We’ve All Got Our Issues

If you look carefully, there are very few places teeming with more stories than an airport terminal. In more innocent days when such things were still [...]

I’m Not Starting Seeds This Year. Here’s Why.

I’ve got better priorities. Granted, this is a pretty gutsy thing to say as a garden columnist, but before you revoke my license, let me tell [...]

Sorting, Testing, and Storing Those Seeds

My mother has seed packets that are older than I am. Frugality plays a role here I am sure, but nostalgia is probably at the heart [...]

Just Starting to Plan? My Top Five Tips for Beginner Gardeners.

This week, five tips for beginner gardeners just starting to plan their spring gardens.   Tip #1. Keep it small Whatever else I try to do [...]

Sprouts! A Winter Garden in Your Kitchen

Many activities we perform in this life (and which others might never consider) are undertaken simply because we saw them modeled for us as children or [...]

Marianne Willburn

Passion & pain. Perspective & purpose.

That’s what gardening brings to our lives – a sense of connection to the world around us.  And that’s what this site is all about  […]

Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic?

Gifts of Preparedness


My Stiff Upper Lip Has Frozen In Place

Well, that’s December over with.  I say this with a great deal of regret, as December is my resting month in the garden and it is always too short. Last [...]

Create a Wildlife Tree from Your Christmas Tree

It's over.   Most people in the country are doing one of four things right now. ① Breathing a sigh of relief. ② Wondering where December went. ③ Feeling a [...]

A Longwood Christmas: Not Just For Gardeners

Perhaps you’ve heard that approximately 2 ½ hours north of Central Maryland there is a world-class garden where fireworks and fountains explode every summer, horticultural splendor is commonplace and inspiration [...]

Of Gifts and Guilt: Five Rules for Plant Giving

‘Tis the season for giving, and once this season ‘tis over, another one ‘tis right around the corner. So this morning it occurs to me to discuss for a minute [...]

NEW! Mungo’s Journal

The Ball

  These people don't get it. I. Just. Want. The. Ball. It really doesn't matter which one.  Just something round.  Something that bounces, or doesn't.  Something [...]

The Boy is Leaving

  Well, this is gonna be sad – Siri started crying while I was dictating drafts.  Just warning you ahead of time if you don’t like [...]