profile-pictureWelcome to the award-winning Small Town Gardener® and Conversations in the Garden® , a collection of print and web columns filled with humor and gentle gardening advice while dedicated to the passion that is gardening.

The launch of the new STG site was a tremendous success and I want to thank all of my readers for the positive comments that you have taken time to send me regarding the new features.  We’re growing together in more ways than one!

To ensure that you (and I) have time to actually garden, I don’t tend to provide endless updates on the state of my mesclun, mind or marriage  (for the record – fairly spicy, fairly sound, fairly stable).  Instead, the Small Town Gardener is a collection of some of my columns mixed with tips, advice and resources for managing and enjoying your garden month-to-month.

So for the moments when you aren’t up to your calves in compost, you can read or listen to my latest articles below, check out new updates and fun links on the right, and subscribe to the Facebook page to alert you to other articles and tips that aren’t posted here.    Are you a Mid-Atlantic gardener? This Month’s Garden will give you an idea of what you should be thinking about right now.

A garden doesn’t have to be perfect.  It doesn’t have to be large.  And in the middle of August, it doesn’t even have to be green.  It just has to be yours.  Your balcony, your patio, your rented city lot or ten acre deer preserve.  Whatever you garden, wherever you garden – join me as we plunge our hands in the earth and begin to reconnect.

– Marianne

“A constant element of enjoyment must be mingled with our studies, so that we think of learning as a game rather than a form of drudgery, for no activity can be continued for long if it does not to some extent afford pleasure to the participant.”
Desiderius Erasmus - from a letter to Christian Northoff (translated) 1497
  • jp wreath


November 22nd, 2015|0 Comments

If you’re a gardener, put this list under the nose of the uninitiated this season. Share it on Facebook, print it out for your wealthy […]

  • great dixter

An Incredible Opportunity at Great Dixter & Chanticleer Through the Christopher Lloyd North American Scholarship!

November 4th, 2015|0 Comments

This is one of those opportunities that, happy as I am in my little world, makes me want to fake my own death, buy a […]



When Everyone Is Watching: Garden Design for Non-Designers

Designing a garden is a humbling experience, period. But when your design is instantly on display because you are planting an entrance or a driveway, it’s a worrying experience. And, if you know that someday […]

Read More


Five Smart Moves for Fall

Whether it’s back to school, back to sports, back to work or back-to-back holidays, autumn can get a little crazy. At the same time our schedules are exploding, there’s tons to be done in the […]

Read More


It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Vegetables

I’m writing from California this week. My whereabouts are usually not relevant in an age of laptops, Wi-Fi cafes and toilet texting, but this week they are, as I’d like to discuss water, and as […]

Read More


Hydrangeas for the Confused

There are a lot of hydrangeas out there. A lot. In fact as far as I’m concerned, too many. This is of course, no surprise – it’s a highly appealing shrub that even non-gardeners want […]

Read More


Just Wait Until Next Year

By the beginning of September, many gardeners are thinking about next year’s garden. Whatever failures have been experienced this year – whatever insults have been suffered – all are erased by a killing frost and […]

Read More


Urban Chickens: The bigger picture

Well, the chickens have won. Not of course the literal chickens, exiled as pets by virtue of prejudice and ignorance, but the figurative chickens – our local leaders who would rather stand obstinately on a […]

Read More


HOA Madness – or – Just Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

Now I have definitely heard everything. Whilst chatting with a friend the other night over landscaping and other related topics that make others at the table suddenly realize they need to get up and refill […]

Read More


The Necessity of Underwear

The tricky business of staking is on the agenda chez Willburn; but with the heat, humidity and resulting malaise affecting all forms of life whether flora or fauna, it is difficult to do more than […]

Read More


The Garden Remembers

This morning I caught my breath to find new shoots breaking through the soil on a St. John’s Wort I thought had died in transit from Oregon several weeks ago. Hypericum calycinum is not a […]

Read More