Conversations in the Garden 2019-02-26T12:37:21+00:00

Welcome to the award-winning Small Town Gardener® –
a collection of articles filled with humor and gentle gardening advice.

  • waterperry gardens, oxfordshire, mixed border, herbaceous border

Hie Thee To a Garden!

May 12th, 2019|

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 feeling that we haven’t quite earned it (the winter [...]

  • daffodils and other bulbs

Growing Daffodils for Maximum Enjoyment

April 12th, 2019|

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 it be? The plant collectors might scream “Adonis!” -- the neophytes “Forsythia!” but for me and for many others, [...]

  • Small Town Gardener Facebook page

Social Media and The Gardener

April 5th, 2019|

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 on.   The sentences above might be a little uncomfortable to read.  Though we understand that social media is [...]

Conversations in the Garden®

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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • flooded field

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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

Taking Steps Toward a Winter Garden

At the top of my driveway, slightly hidden on a south-facing slope that could less generously be termed a rocky mound, there is a small gathering [...]

Deer: When You’ve Finally Had Enough

Fresh from speaking at a seed swapping seminar a few weeks ago at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, I am pumped up to begin this year’s [...]

Electric Scooters: Efficient Transport. Ridiculous Fun.

Three weeks ago while attending the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) in Baltimore and walking the streets of that city in between meetings and meet-ups, I [...]

National Seed Swap Day: A Chance to Organize

Organizing, Sorting and Preparing your seeds and yourself for National Seed Swap Day.

  • flooding, garden

Flexibility in the Midst of Uncertainty: A Chat with Scott Aker

In the last days of 2018, there was one email I looked forward to each morning in amongst the coupons and the Groupons and the chaff [...]

A Case for The Mid-Atlantic Winter

The winters are tough out here.  I know that I write from the muddied perspective of an ex-Californian (becoming more ex by the minute), but damn. [...]

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?

May’s Garden

May has symbolized rebirth and a definitive end to winter throughout the centuries. For many gardeners, this is the month that their garden is at its best – and ironically, the month that they will be visiting other gardens for inspiration. To that end, this year I'll be taking [...]

Carex Tours Chelsea
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 [...]

A Case for The Mid-Atlantic Winter

The winters are tough out here.  I know that I write from the muddied perspective of an ex-Californian (becoming more ex by the minute), but damn. I’m also aware, as [...]

Coping with Snow in Your Landscape

A winter scene has been setting up all night as we slept, and as I write these words, the snow has covered all.  I will save the poetry and soupy [...]

Staying On Top of Cool-Season Weeds

How should one weed in the winter? Those with a strong attachment to their recliners might say ‘one shouldn’t,’ and leave it at that. I completely understand.  I have a [...]

  • miscanthus sinensis, canna pretoria, baby lace hydrangea

Ignored but Glorious: My Favorite Plants of 2018

I did a great deal of traveling this year touring gardens, attending conferences and visiting plant trials.  I do not say this to inspire envy in those who enjoy living [...]

NEW! Mungo’s Journal

  • chair dog

I Crack Myself Up Sometimes

Here’s something fun to do if you’re bored. And you’re a dog. (And I’m both some days.) Freak Them out.  I mean REALLY. Freak. Them. Out. [...]

All You Need to Know About the Super Bowl in One Photo

Yep. Big snore fest. Shots of Gisele Bündchen were worth opening my eyes for every once and awhile. Even Frisco thinks she's fine and he has [...]

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