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.

Fall Foliage Fun

By |2018-02-20T20:41:24+00:00November 8th, 2014|

The autumn show-stopper, A. hubrectii backed by viburnum and thuja The maples and oaks began to blush red in the woodlands last week, following hot on the heels of the tulip poplars and hickory that populate our hillsides and dominate the color scheme with rust and gold. With this final act, [...]

A Garden Today, But What of Tomorrow?

By |2018-02-20T20:41:25+00:00August 14th, 2014|

And on the pedestal, these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away." _________________________________________ It is the time of year when, exhausted by my garden, [...]

Cluck Cluck

By |2018-02-20T20:41:25+00:00July 14th, 2014|

The topic of backyard chickens has reared its feathered head again, causing a spate of ruffled feathers and poor puns throughout local newspapers. It has been over five years since we fought and lost this particular battle in Brunswick. Situated as I am now, comfortably out of city limits and ever more comfortably outside the [...]

Winter’s Salvation

By |2018-02-20T20:41:25+00:00March 31st, 2014|

Never has a topic been so thoroughly explored and exhausted as that of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug infestation that has plagued the East Coast for several years. I use the word 'exhausted' very deliberately. One grows bone-weary of reading articles filled with half-truths and empty promises regarding physical or chemical control; and [...]

Friendly Freeloaders

By |2018-02-20T20:41:25+00:00March 1st, 2014|

Pepper the house cat on a rare foray in the garden. A barn cat is a feral thing. A spitting, skittish ball of fur, happy to lay in the sun but happier when you resist the urge to bend down and pet it. Or at least that's what I imagined. Someone forgot to [...]

Death of a Conversation

By |2018-02-20T20:41:26+00:00November 28th, 2013|

I was asked by a friend if I would republish this column for Thanksgiving day as a gentle reminder of what we give up when we turn on our phones around the dinner table.  There are moments in life when we are stimulated by conversation, and other moments not so much; but by turning our [...]

Consider The Lilies

By |2018-02-20T20:41:26+00:00August 7th, 2013|

Courtesy of Dan Weil Photography I am having to content myself with other people's gardens right now – having moved house directly in the middle of the growing season.  When gardening friends feign horror at the leaving of a burgeoning garden in mid-May, I must gently remind them that interest rates [...]

Time to Face The Shade

By |2018-02-20T20:41:26+00:00April 19th, 2013|

Temperatures have soared, and with them, my enthusiasm. I may be in the garden a bit more frequently than your average dirt-hound, but that doesn't make me a glutton for punishment. I welcome warmer temperatures, which spark creative thought and motivate me to work on things I haven't wished to contemplate for several [...]

Pair Up!

By |2018-02-20T20:41:26+00:00March 30th, 2013|

Euphorbia x martinii "Ascot Rainbow" in conversation with a diminutive tête-à-tête narcissus The whole, as we say, is often greater than the sum of its parts.  So true in the garden this spring, as I watch bulbs that have for years come up drearily in the same place only to take on more [...]

Take It Easy

By |2018-02-20T20:41:26+00:00March 16th, 2013|

There is a tendency in human beings to rush into the garden as soon as the temperatures warm and, with nothing but the best of intentions, wreak all means of havoc.  Soil is overturned, whether soupy or solid, perennial clumps are unceremoniously divided and tossed into crypt-like holes, and spring bloomers are given [...]