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.

Making August Exciting

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 “I’ve got a column for you,” said my well-dressed host as we toured his garden not so long ago. I gave him my full attention – Calliope isn’t consistently cooperative each week and one must seize upon inspiration whenever it is offered. “How,” he said, inserting a dramatic pause, “can we make August exciting?”   [...]

When little becomes big – Avoiding the headache.

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  It’s disconcerting to realize your plants are bigger.  A lot bigger. When a tree or shrub finally grips the earth with a committed heart and gets down to the business of seriously growing, the gardener can instinctively feel the change.  And it’s frightening.   This Edgeworthia chrysantha doesn't look like much its second [...]

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – June 2017

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I'm new to this, but as the Garden Bloggers' Fling is in my neighborhood this year, and I'll be joining a lot of wonderful garden bloggers from all over the country in less than a week, I thought I'd give it a go, posting what's blooming today on the 15th of the month - in [...]

Come See Me!

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I'll be speaking at numerous public and private events in Maryland and Northern Virginia in 2017, and would love to see you! Whether it's about making your garden dreams reality, or discussing a realistic approach to maintaining and enjoying your outside spaces, I promise you'll enjoy yourself and come away with a new perspective. Upcoming [...]

Here We Go Again….Or Will We?

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There’s an extremely serious discussion going on at my place right now.  At issue is whether or not I go to the trouble of setting up a large water feature on the deck and create tropical madness for future August dinner parties.   It was lovely, lush and tropical, but I'm itching for something [...]

The Beauty and Balance of a Small Garden

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As is usual at this time of year, I am touring other people’s gardens one day only to spend the next 48 hours in mine, rethinking everything from plant choices to maintenance plans. It’s one of the best ways I know of re-charging the batteries during a season that doesn’t stop for stragglers, but it [...]

Falling behind on the planting schedule?

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By this point in your seed starting efforts, you are most likely aware of what is working and what is not.     Perhaps you have a plastic container full of seed packets you were supposed to start and probably won’t, and a large basketful of empty seed packets you were supposed to record and [...]

You Can Leave Your Hat On

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Very few of us can honestly say we look better naked.  Fabric is a true and loyal friend, and that bond grows ever stronger as we age. This week I have been pondering such truths as I stared unashamedly at my friend Harry Lauder (or rather his walking stick) from my bedroom window, and realized [...]

Work or Pleasure? Well, that’s complicated.

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Last week, an audience member at a lecture asked me how I take time to enjoy my garden.  She liked to sit down, she said, and had benches everywhere to that end, but the minute she actually relaxed into one of them, her eyes would see a weed, or a wilting flower, or one of [...]

Don’t Break Your Back at The Beginning

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We launch right in, don’t we?  Even before the stores have had a chance to discretely remove the de-icing supplies and replace them with citronella buckets, we have moved mountains out there. Some of us, quite literally. The chores in the spring garden are too numerous to list and we wouldn’t have time to refer [...]