Conversations in the Garden 2020-01-27T03:02:22+00:00

Welcome to the award-winning Small Town Gardener® –
a place where life and the garden intersect.

  • Cyclamen coum

The Case for A Garden Journal

February 13th, 2020|

“Are you from the past?” asked my daughter this morning when she came down to the dining room table to find me writing in my garden journal. I raised my eyebrows pointedly and swept my [...]

  • a clean cut edge

Wrestling with a Tough Resolution

December 31st, 2019|

The office is lightly scented with pencil shavings and old coffee mugs this morning. Not an unpleasant smell, but an unfamiliar one. I have ignored this room for two weeks over the Christmas holiday, and come back to it apologetically now – watering the parched [...]

  • holiday flower arrangement

Container Gardening by Subscription

December 19th, 2019|

It’s early morning in late fall; and as you sprint to the car, your eyes are caught and held by the incredible holiday container display sitting by your neighbor’s front door – a display you know was all about the beauty of autumn just yesterday [...]

Chelsea Garden Show Tour

Conversations in the Garden®

  • erosion stoppers, ferns, hosta, ground cover

Weed Smart: Strategies to Accomplish More with The Time You Have

September has suddenly turned.  Last night on the deck we ate an al fresco dinner of bratwurst, sauerkraut and apples with heaps of coarse mustard on [...]

Weed Smart: Tools and Tips

Printed directions and warnings for products that require only a modicum of common sense exhaust me. Yesterday I purchased a vanity mirror with accompanying booklet in [...]

  • shade plants, nursery, mar-lu view, new garden

New House. New Garden. New Choices

Friends have recently moved into their This-Is-The-One.  ‘Exciting’ doesn’t seem strong enough to capture the emotions that such a move elicits.  There is excitement, certainly, and [...]

  • great dixter, front door, contianer garden

Dismiss British Garden Writers? Absurd.

This week I want to sincerely thank Scott Beuerlein, friend and columnist at Horticulture magazine, whose irreverent column about British garden writers got me out of [...]

  • bees and beehives

The Tricky First Steps of Grief: What You Do When You Can’t

I have been away from my desk for several months. Certainly there has been no absence of delight in the long, cool spring that is only [...]

  • waterperry gardens, oxfordshire, mixed border, herbaceous border

Hie Thee To a Garden!

May is here. Whether you’re a gardener or merely a part-time forest-bather, those words have got to get your heart pumping.  This year I admit to [...]

  • daffodils and other bulbs

Growing Daffodils for Maximum Enjoyment

If you had to pick one flowering plant whose appearance on the scene signals the return of spring and all her little angels, which one would [...]

  • Small Town Gardener Facebook page

Social Media and The Gardener

If you’re wondering what to use, this isn’t the article for you. If you’re wondering why to use – and perhaps how to use – read [...]

  • zinnia and ruellia

The Carefree Magic of Zinnia

Sometimes we need an easy win.     We need a riot of color that looks like we planned it, even if we didn’t. We need [...]

The Charms of a Few Chicks

My subconscious was working overtime last week. At about the same time I was throwing up my hands up at the cruel and unusual punishment that [...]

Marianne Willburn

Passion & Pain.

Perspective & Purpose.

That’s what gardening brings to our lives – a sense of connection to the world around us.  And that’s what this site is all about


Are you gardening in the Mid-Atlantic?

111, 2018

What Can We Learn From British Gardens?

Fresh from an exhaustive three weeks driving 1800 miles to tour British gardens and their associated tea rooms, I am full of ideas and inspiration for next year’s planting schemes. The British know how to do it. The hype is real. But what exactly is that ‘it’ comprised of? Cottagey color? Architectural hedging? Jam covered scones and cups of milky sweet tea sipped in salvia scented patios? Or are they just dazzling us with their accents and that gentle Gulf Stream? To answer that question for myself, I’ve combed through thousands of photos, dozens of wow moments, and a ratty notebook that smells vaguely of real ale to boil ‘it’ down to ten garden concepts I have seen illustrated throughout the United Kingdom - both when I lived and worked there and during subsequent trips over the last fifteen [...]

The Charms of a Few Chicks

My subconscious was working overtime last week. At about the same time I was throwing up my hands up at the cruel and unusual punishment that is parenting today’s American [...]

  • a clean cut edge

First, Do No Harm

I intended yesterday to have a little walk around the place, observing what was and what wasn’t coming up. And I did. But these things always evolve (some would argue, [...]

  • flooded field, drainage issues

Reflections and Tasks for A Wet Winter

As if to punish me for my naiveté in penning an article in January on the subtle joys of a Mid-Atlantic winter, the Mid-Atlantic immediately doubled down, presenting us with [...]

  • tulip bulbs in water

Forcing Bulbs for An Early Spring

It may be cold. And windy. And fairly miserable at six in the morning when you’ve misplaced the car scraper. But with a little know-how and a bag of bulbs, [...]

Mungo’s Journal – Diary of a Garden Dog

Yet Another Instrument (of torture)

Mungo was a little late on posting this one (I do wish he'd do his own computer work), but I'll have him know that not only [...]

  • jack russell terrier, tennis balls, dog

The Chickens Are Free and I’m Not. Evidently That’s Fair.

Well it’s been a hell of a summer.  Not that it’s over yet, but I know the signs. For one, She’s given the chickens the run [...]