Conversations in the Garden 2020-03-31T20:35:20+00:00

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

  • edgeworthia chrysantha

Springing into Chaos…and Joy

March 30th, 2020|

Miraculous spring. In the midst of the worry and panic that currently grips the nation, I am thankful at least that the Northern Hemisphere is emerging into this soul-lifting season. The weather is warming and [...]

  • chard and strawberries

Vegetable Gardening on a Smaller Scale

March 25th, 2020|

Are you one of many people right now thinking about supplementing your grocery budget with a vegetable garden, but trying to figure out how to grow vegetables with limited space? Worldwide, gardeners and would-be gardeners are living with increasingly smaller yards, or finding themselves with [...]

  • 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 hand over the table as if to present exhibits for [...]

Chelsea Garden Show Tour

Conversations in the Garden®

  • holiday flower arrangement

Container Gardening by Subscription

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 [...]

Garden Regionally. Get Inspired Globally.

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.  [...]

  • 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 [...]

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?

March’s Garden

Spring or Winter?  March is of two minds. I understand completely. Although this month marks a significant change in the weather going forward, that change brings with it many tasks for the gardener.  Sometimes we feel up to hitting them hard and sometimes we could use a few more [...]

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 [...]

  • 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 on.   The sentences [...]

  • 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 ‘low maintenance’ and ‘average [...]

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, [...]

Mungo’s Journal – Diary of a Garden Dog

The Horror of Will-Burns’ Night

Dogs do a lot of embarrassing things.  I get that and I make no excuses for me or my kind. I am what I am. But [...]

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 [...]