In The Woods

End of season wrap up: My favorite plants of 2017

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  Now that the garden has gently shifted into architecture and mush, it’s time to reflect on the plants we grew this season and decide whether we’ll continue to grow them for seasons to come. Whether sexy new introductions or old favorites, plants excite each one of us for totally different reasons and what lights [...]

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 [...]

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) [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]