About Marianne Willburn

Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country.

The Garden in May

By |2022-05-16T14:23:19+00:00May 15th, 2022|

May has symbolized rebirth and a definitive end to winter throughout the centuries. It is at once a vigorous month and a calming one, but we must calm our vigorous urges so we might see it. Roses. Peonies. Iris. Philadelphus. Clematis. Rhodos.  Allium..... For many gardeners, this is the month our garden is almost at [...]

The Garden in April

By |2022-04-07T17:36:46+00:00March 25th, 2022|

The signs of spring right now are real, but can feel illusory when the wind begins to gust or the sun is covered by a passing cloud. But assuming that the earth has not fundamentally changed its course, we should be standing now at the beginning of something wonderful in the Northern Hemisphere. And that [...]

The Garden in February

By |2022-02-08T20:30:49+00:00February 8th, 2022|

It's time to pay attention. February is here – the quiet prelude to Spring. This is the month where I get tough with myself and methodically face indoor tasks that will otherwise extract a price outdoors. Seed Orders  – Because even your old high school coach is buying seeds these days, and there are only [...]

The Garden in September

By |2021-10-16T15:46:55+00:00September 1st, 2021|

September gives us a chance to miss the summer before it's gone. The heat is letting up, the evenings are cooler, and we start to anticipate the end of the harvest season. Suddenly, every tomato... every squash is more precious. And once the fall greens begin to come in strong, we can begin combining the [...]

The Garden in July

By |2021-07-02T18:41:04+00:00July 2nd, 2021|

July is upon us and I am determined to pay attention to the little things that make this month so special in the Mid-Atlantic garden. At the top of that list are fireflies.  I have a renewed appreciation for these dazzling creatures after watching my nephew and nieces chase them with open mason jars and [...]

The Garden in June

By |2021-10-16T15:48:23+00:00June 2nd, 2021|

The gardener will be busy this month, and find that the available hours to work bear no relation to the amount of work that needs to be done. That is the hallmark of the June garden. In the Northern Hemisphere, we officially transition in June from the spring garden to the summer garden with the [...]

The Garden in March

By |2021-10-16T15:49:19+00:00March 2nd, 2021|

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 weeks of winter to prepare for [...]

The Garden in January

By |2021-12-20T15:19:55+00:00January 7th, 2021|

A new year, a new growing season. January is a wonderfully busy month in my garden, as I am given the opportunity to get on top of difficult areas of bramble and vine without the overwhelming and often impenetrable problem of foliage. This is the month I attack the woodland garden and the stream banks, [...]

The Garden in December

By |2021-01-07T22:48:28+00:00December 7th, 2020|

December is a month of transition in the temperate gardener’s mind. I look at it like a well-deserved break and savor every second. It is a resting month in the Mid-Atlantic garden, which is certainly convenient as it is not a resting month in any other part of our lives. The holiday season –  frantic [...]

The Garden in November

By |2021-02-24T21:52:53+00:00November 1st, 2020|

November often starts with gentle frosts and easy, Instagrammable scenes, but by its end, winter is unofficially upon the Mid-Atlantic. Lawns have taken on a muted, tawny shade and the deciduous trees will stand naked by December 1st. Hopefully you have planted some colorful stemmed shrubs and trees to make this transition exciting.   Maintenance is [...]

The Garden In October

By |2021-10-16T15:52:46+00:00October 16th, 2020|

October remains my favorite month. No doubt I have said that of May -- and might do so again during a particularly charming spring, but October will always possess a deep resonance that May cannot muster.  At once it immerses us in the sights, scents and bounty of the growing season, and then just as [...]

The Garden in August

By |2020-09-02T16:15:28+00:00August 7th, 2020|

August is deep summer.  Fireflies are at their peak, and the sun is only just starting to wane.  My water barrels run dry a little more frequently this month - and so does my patience - but when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I try hard to make time for a little dusk-wandering with a glass of [...]

In The Frenzy of Spring, Remember The ‘Why’

By |2018-04-02T18:40:00+00:00March 30th, 2018|

Not satisfied with feeling overwhelmed with spring cleaning, spring wardrobe changeover, spring home repairs and spring holiday plans, I thought it might be clever to go outside last week, pick up a trowel and increase my anxiety in the spring garden. Beginning the process means a shift in priorities and a horrifying realization of everything [...]

Neither an Influencer Nor a Follower Be

By |2018-02-20T20:41:09+00:00January 5th, 2016|

[ed. The following article can also be found stirring up comments at Garden Rant later this week.] Tesselaar’s Blue Storm Agapanthus is worth growing because it’s a high-impact, no-nonsense plant, not because it typifies the 2016 Color of the Year “Serenity” – photo credit: Tesselaar Plants, 2006 Though I enjoy dressing well, I’m [...]


By |2018-02-20T20:41:09+00:00January 4th, 2016|

Maybe it's time to stop saying "I should do that this year..." and put the date firmly on the calendar. If you've heard about the Philadelphia Flower show but never been, find a companion, drive into beautiful Philadelphia and experience the magic that wows over a quarter-million visitors every year. The show couldn't be at a better time for [...]

New Book Coming Spring 2017!

By |2018-02-20T20:41:09+00:00November 24th, 2015|

Thrilled to announce that I have recently signed a contract with Skyhorse Publishing for a book to be released in Spring 2017. It’s about creating a garden wherever life finds you, even when it’s not where you thought you’d be by now. If you’re a regular reader of The Small Town Gardener, you’ll know how [...]

Just Wait Until Next Year

By |2018-02-20T20:41:10+00:00September 4th, 2015|

By the beginning of September, many gardeners are thinking about next year’s garden. Whatever failures have been experienced this year – whatever insults have been suffered – all are erased by a killing frost and the ability to start again. I am just as guilty of the sweet pleasures of delusional thinking, but there is [...]