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.

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 [...]

Small Town Gardener Wins a GWA Silver Media Award for 2017!

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July 3, 2017  – Marianne Willburn received the 2017 Media Awards Silver Medal of Achievement for newspaper columns with a circulation of over 20,000 presented by GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. This national award recognizes individuals and companies who achieve the highest levels of talent and professionalism in garden communications. The 2017 competition had [...]

A Tech Rant. With Apologies to My Dutch Friends

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TO:   Emma, Site Hosting Representative FROM:  One of the confused millions RE:   Our unfortunate exchange last night.   I’m sorry I yelled at you. When I say yelled,  I mean all-capped three quarters of my answers to your incomprehensible questions, as there really is no such thing as talking out a problem with anyone over [...]

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 [...]