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.

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 [...]

Let’s Discuss, Not Demonize.

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I don’t bring politics into this column as a rule.  One, we have enough of that sort of thing relentlessly bombarding us without my two cents on the subject. Two, as a writer dedicated to broccoli and bergenia, I am hardly qualified to tell others what to do at the ballot box. Nor will I [...]

Disconnecting to Connect: The Modern Challenge

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“Is the world getting more complicated, or am I just getting older?” said my sister over the phone this week.  My junior by eight years, she is awash in toddler mayhem (her third Mission Impossible), which includes, but is not limited to, sketchy nap times, bottles of soap poured all over the floor and endless [...]

Plant Hoarding: When Too Much is Not Enough

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A little shifting of the pot ghetto yesterday revealed one too many plants happily rooted in the soil beyond their pots. It is good soil certainly, and I do not blame them, but the discovery is an inconvenient one.  I have been quite content to believe that a healthy three foot dawn redwood was satisfied [...]

An Easier Way to Overwinter Tropicals

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Hopefully by now you have brought in the majority of your tender succulents and tropical evergreens for the [presumably] long winter ahead.  And hopefully by now, you have found room for them in living spaces that will soon bear the clutter of holiday decorating and higher-than-average persons per square foot. Dealing with this chaotic shuffle [...]

One Last Tomato Harvest: Three Ways of Dealing With It.

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The last of the tomatoes are ripening on the vine. Many more are currently ripening on the ground after a spate of blustery weather, and it takes a Herculean effort on my part to pick them this morning, as it is not just the harvesting but the promise of preparation implicit in the gathering that [...]

It’s Time To Bring The Houseplants In

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It’s a tough season for the gardener who loves to entertain.  We know that we should bring in big healthy houseplants that have spent the summer outside, such as schefflera, ficus, philodendron and sansevieria.  We know that they will benefit from a smooth temperature transition and react with less leaf loss and yellowing if we [...]

Planning Now for a More Manageable Garden Later

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Many believe wholeheartedly that the time to plan your garden is in the depths of winter. Perhaps this is true in terms of the minutiae; but after years of implementing the overreach that winter weather inspires in the bedraggled, I cannot recommend it.  No, the time to plan next year’s garden is now, before the [...]

Portrait of a Weed: Japanese Stilt Grass

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Usually, a couple of hours outside on my hands and knees is all it takes to get the wheels of the mind careening toward a publishable, if highly editable, product.  This week, it took ten minutes.     Ten minutes of repetitive grasping, pulling and tossing massive wads of reddening Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) [...]

Succulents: Overwintering a Trend

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No group of plants has been hotter in the last three years than succulents.  They’re on tables, in terrariums, and garnishing everything from delicate wrists to salad plates.  If you never understood the idea that plants ‘trend,’ you did the day your boss came in to work with a tiny green rosette in a pot [...]