Conversations in the Garden 2018-06-13T16:16:13+00:00

How to Create a Container Water Feature

I like to dream big.  Maybe you do too.  But I’m also a realist with a clear idea of my garden’s current maintenance needs, the hours I have available to [...]

When Renovation Meets Landscape: Top Ten Tips for Dealing With It

In the first few days of March, a freak windstorm used a dying ash tree to create mayhem in our lives. The roof came out of that attack with over [...]

Nursery Spotlight: What’s Old Is New Again at Mar-Lu View

There’s something new on Frederick County’s plant scene. Perhaps you’ve seen signs in your neighborhood, pointing you in the direction of a garden center that you’ve heard about, but never [...]

  • lily pads, lilypons, water lilies

Nursery Spotlight: Lilypons Offers a Cooling Start to The Summer

  As hot days and warm nights begin to color the pages of July, there are very few nurseries with display gardens that can boast of peak season. But then, [...]

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

Conversations in the Garden®

  • super hero spry, benary, fritz benary

A Super Hero in Disguise

  A flower is the culmination of a seed’s story. And while there are as many stories out there as flowers, every once and awhile one [...]

Nursery Spotlight: Music, Inspiration and Retail Therapy at Surreybrooke

Join me in this series as I visit some of Frederick County, Maryland’s finest independent garden centers to find out what makes them unique. Finding and [...]

  • garden ornaments, toad hall,

In Defense of Bad Taste: The Story of Toad Hall

I spent a quiet afternoon two weeks ago working in a small garden outside my guest room windows.  The room is built into a sloping bank [...]

  • bouquets, flowers, cut flowers

Nursery Spotlight: Brews and Blooms at Thanksgiving Farms

Shopping for plants is good.  Shopping for heirloom vegetables is even better.  But when you combine those plants and veggies with a hand-crafted beer, then add [...]

  • sensitive fern, ferns, native ferns

June – A Month for Ferns

There are very few plants that make you look like a great gardener as well as a healthy stand of ferns.  Ironically, this has little to [...]

Weeks of Water

Last night my husband and I were awoken by yet another storm pounding on what currently passes for a roof around here.  After a few minutes [...]

A Gardener’s Progression of Cruelty: Volunteer Seedlings

‘One must be cruel to be kind’ is a hackneyed phrase that must have originated in a garden setting. Where else do men and women of [...]

Gokhale’s Got My Back

Over the last year, I have dealt with chronic back problems for the first time in my life. Over the last three months I have, for [...]

Getting Edgy

  May has dawned, and with it, the realization that my edges will have to be seen to.  I speak of course of garden beds. There [...]

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  […]

Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic?

Brown Is The New Green

    John Willis and I have been discussing camellias this month ( Or rather, he has been emailing me pictures of his mature specimens, blooming happily, and I have [...]

  • labels, plant labels

The Case for Plant Labeling

We all believe (as Garden Geeks) that the minds we have at twenty-four will stay supple and fit, able to remember a thousand genera and ten thousand named species at [...]

What Are The California Spring Trials?

  For many gardeners, the new plants that we stumble upon each year at our nurseries, feed stores and big boxes are happy accidents.  We are attracted by color, texture, [...]

The Patience to Wait

  Great gardeners and optimists know that a dead plant represents an opportunity to grow something new. But what of a dead tree? What of five? So much opportunity at [...]

NEW! Mungo’s Journal

  • go caps

They won the Stanley Cup!!!!!! Go CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Did you see that game?!?!!?!??!?!?!?!?! I can hardly dictate this to Siri. Seriously, I'm a little verklempt.  It's been a long night. He and The [...]

It Was a Bear

  When I say ‘a bear’ I mean bear-like.  Like, as big as a bear, only maybe bigger.  He wanted a piece of me and he [...]