Conversations in the Garden 2019-09-20T21:05:05+00:00

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

Garden Regionally. Get Inspired Globally.

October 18th, 2019|

I can't resist a challenge.  And neither, apparently can Scott Beuerlein of Horticulture & Garden Rant.  Thus, my rebuttal to his rebuttal to...well, you get it.  She-devil? Me? Somewhere near the bottom of every writer's [...]

  • erosion stoppers, ferns, hosta, ground cover

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

September 20th, 2019|

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 warmed plates and I found myself thinking out loud about a large fire in the hearth on the other [...]

Weed Smart: Tools and Tips

September 13th, 2019|

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 four languages on how to a) plug it in and b) turn it on.  On page four were various [...]

Conversations in the Garden®

  • 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 [...]

  • 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, 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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

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 [...]

  • 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, [...]

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 of snowdrops and eranthis [...]

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 vegetable garden.  There is [...]

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 noticed that teenagers were [...]

Mungo’s Journal – Diary of a Garden Dog

  • 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 [...]

  • 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. [...]

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