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.

Preserving the Harvest or Preserving My Sanity?

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I have been in and out of canning jars for three days now, trying in turns to preserve the harvest, fulfil my writing deadlines, manage my family’s outrageous expectations of motherhood, and to do all of this without losing my ever-living mind. Oh, and there’s something else…What was it?….Ah yes.  The garden.  I actually have [...]

Order Bulbs for The Spring Garden (Before Everyone Else Has)

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Few things motivate a gardener the way that getting a plant ahead of another gardener does;  and by the end of August we need motivation more than we need food and water. To that end, I would like to draw your attention to the random assortment of bulb catalogs that started showing up two months [...]

Facing, and Enjoying, The Garden in August

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Where do you and your garden stand right now?  Let me take a wild guess. The spring flush of puppy love is gone, obviously.  That was so yesterday. I’m betting your excitement over a summer romance is also over. These things never last. In fact, with the first volunteer pumpkins ripening on the compost pile, [...]

Every Garden Has Its Weakness: Here’s Mine.

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For all the successes I have had with our new garden at Oldmeadow, there are parts of this space that defy any attempts to create beauty.  They are so awkward, so large, so weedy and so uninspiring that had I ten times the budget I am not certain I could solve them, unless that budget [...]

Gardens Bring Buffalo Back to Life: A Story of Urban Renewal

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Are you struggling with the neighborhood in which you live?  Are the 'cons' besting the 'pros' no matter how long you make that list?  Are promises of 'urban renewal' by elected officials merely promises, or worse, unsophisticated attempts lacking vision and funding?  Most importantly, are you unable or unwilling to move? Maybe you have more [...]

Time For a Tomato Tasting!

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Are you proud of what’s coloring up the garden this year?  Are you wondering if all the time, energy and money you have spent on growing the perfect tomato is worth it?  Perhaps it’s time for an outside opinion.  Perhaps it’s time for a tomato tasting. 'Midnight Snack' - (Park Seed) An All-America Selections [...]

There’s Still Time to Plant for Summer!

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This week I have been clearing a couple of my raised vegetable beds of cabbage, garlic, shallots and ancient pea vines to make room for a few last chance direct sowings of carrots, turnips, chard, beets, beans and squash.  Some might term this a fall sowing, but mentally I’m not quite there yet, preferring instead [...]

Plant Those Trees!

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As we begin to move later into the year and approach the fabulous fall planting season, it’s time to think about the trees we’d like to see sharing our space.  Time flies by quickly and you don’t want to find yourself saying “Why on earth didn’t we plant that oak thirty years ago?”   [...]

Creation vs. Maintenance: A Balancing Act

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One of the most popular talks I've been giving lately deals with maintenance and balancing one’s life with one’s garden – more specifically, not taking on a project that creates six new maintenance projects in the foreseeable hereafter when the lifeboat is already taking on water. And to those watching me bounce around the podium, [...]

Don’t Agonize. Strategize.

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Temperatures are rising, and motivation to cultivate the garden around us is dropping – even if such cultivation is as simple as waving a hose over a tasteful assortment of patio pots.   Verbascum thapsus colonizing the site of a crumbled bank barn.   You are no doubt seeing the beginnings of stress [...]