mwillburn

Marianne Willburn

About Marianne Willburn

Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country.

Sprouts! A Winter Garden in Your Kitchen

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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 young adults. Exposure to these skills helped us understand that they were far from magical, and that we were most likely capable of doing them ourselves at some point. [...]

My Stiff Upper Lip Has Frozen In Place

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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 night I happened across a differing opinion in an early essay* by British celebrity gardener and writer Monty Don. He sharpened his tongue against the [...]

Create a Wildlife Tree from Your Christmas Tree

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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 bit nostalgic and determined to keep the spirit of the season going. ④ Grinning at the fact that they don't have a mess to clean [...]

A Longwood Christmas: Not Just For Gardeners

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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 for the common gardener is calf-deep. A place called Longwood.   A magical feast in The Music Room   And perhaps you’ve ignored [...]

Of Gifts and Guilt: Five Rules for Plant Giving

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‘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 the perfect pairing of plants and gift giving. Is it actually perfect?   Before you answer however, I’d like to ask you a few more [...]

May I introduce Mungo?

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  Many long time readers don't need an introduction to Mungo, our well-loved Jack Russell who is my constant companion in the garden.  Every garden should have a garden dog, and if you're a cat person instead, every garden should have a garden cat.  We've got both (well, several when it comes to cats) and [...]

End of season wrap up: My favorite plants of 2017

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  Now that the garden has gently shifted into architecture and mush, it’s time to reflect on the plants we grew this season and decide whether we’ll continue to grow them for seasons to come. Whether sexy new introductions or old favorites, plants excite each one of us for totally different reasons and what lights [...]

Gift Ideas and Events for The Holiday Season

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December first and I’m just as shocked as you are by how quickly it got here. However, as I was sunning myself on foreign beaches last December, quaffing numerous rum punches, and feeling a bit confused by having them handed to me by Santa-clad Rastafarians in flip-flops, I intend to embrace the cold, the brown, [...]

Maintenance vs. Stewardship: Turning a New Leaf

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I’m not a fan of renaming something in order to change public perception. Language is powerful, minds are pliable and as any politician knows, we can quickly distance ourselves from the truth of the matter. However, every once and awhile a definition is beautifully expanded by rephrasing a term, and such is the case when [...]

A Better Black Friday

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Whether we have fully accepted it or not, the holiday season officially kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. You may reject the idea of Big Box lines at 2am for unnecessary gadgets and must-have technology (I do), but – completely against your will – you may also find yourself getting just a little excited at [...]