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.

Same Old, Same Old? Don’t Groundhog Day Your Landscape.

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Tempus fugit, and it’s currently fugiting at an alarming pace.  I am recently returned from trips and conferences that swallowed up December and January in phases of preparation, execution and recovery, and Christmas is still sitting on the dining room table, neatly compartmentalized and just tidy enough to consider throwing a blanket over it till [...]

Are Garden Kits Right for You?

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I’ve just returned from an exhausting but eye-popping week at MANTS, the annual Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore.  And, 3000 booths and a lot of handshakes later, I am now sitting in a pile of glossy, wildly gorgeous literature and trying to figure out what might be of interest to readers (and to myself) [...]

Forcing Is a Beautiful Thing

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It may be cold. And windy. And fairly miserable at six in the morning when you’ve misplaced the car scraper. But let me remind you that we have already passed the shortest day of the year mark and there is hope yet ahead. If my words seem empty (they certainly do to me at the [...]

Nothing To Lose: Planting LATE

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“So what are we growing right now?” was the question asked of me last week as I escaped hearth and home for a little day-after-Christmas retail therapy.  The questioner: a reader and gardener and beautifully turned out shopper who recognized me in spite of wild hair and two coats.  I made a mental note to [...]

PPA names Asclepias tuberosa 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year

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Though I annually make fun of the design and fashion addicts that sit in rapt attention waiting for Pantone to release their “Color of the Year” (this year’s Greenery might signal a temporary cease-fire to that snark-war), I’m always curious as to the winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year.   Most [...]

So You Waited Until The Very Last Minute?

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Christmas is upon us this week, I have recently added another birthday notch to my leather belt, and now we stand upon the brink of another long, cold winter.  Of the three statements, the first is the only one to bring me any joy, not least of all because my Christmas shopping is done and [...]

Making a Lot Out of a Little, Holiday Style.

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At this time of year there is much advice floating about to “use natural materials” to create amazing holiday decorations cheaply. Indeed I’ve floated much of it myself. When it comes to making holiday gifts and decorations, 'rustic' is the name of the game these days. However it did occur to me this [...]

The Food-Waste Disconnect

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A perfect storm of circumstance ended in a coffee-filled rant on Facebook on Friday, and while I stand by those words (many of which were capitalized, and none of which were sensitive), it is convenient to have the luxury of a newspaper column to formulate a more civilized, if no less provocative, response. The topic [...]

When It All Starts to Weigh a Little Heavy: Rest.

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The wind storms of late have added substantially to workloads out here.  I’d only just finished with the last of the planting when toppled pots forced me to dig two large holes yesterday to house now homeless dwarf arborvitae. I resented every minute of it – not least of all because there are two far [...]

Holiday Gift Guide for Gardeners

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  Up until last year, I'd never put together a holiday gift guide for readers. Truly useful gifts rarely go out of fashion. Then I was asked by a friend if I had some suggestions for gifts for her gardening mother, and surprisingly I did.  In fact I could easily think of quite a [...]