mwillburn

Marianne Willburn

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.

Building Habitat Nests for Wildlife…and For Me

By |2021-04-30T12:49:49+00:00April 30th, 2021|

Over the last two winters, I’ve been engaged in a curious pursuit which has baffled some visitors but thrilled others – precisely the way I love to garden.  I’m building habitat nests – and it’s one of the most satisfying and artistically fulfilling projects I’ve worked on in some time. The newest nest (still [...]

Where’s Your Book? and Other Difficult Questions

By |2021-04-01T20:53:28+00:00April 1st, 2021|

“What’s up with your book?” I’ve fielded this question from many readers lately. If you pre-ordered Tropical Plants and How To Love Them because you either read this post, or this article, or listened to this interview, or found out the book was ranked as Amazon’s number one new release in cool-climate gardening for many [...]

The Bees are Dead, The Goldfish Are Not, and It’s Okay.

By |2021-03-20T15:48:17+00:00March 20th, 2021|

It’s the first day of spring and the bees are dead. After a long yesterday assessing the winter garden hangover – the deer-nibbled evergreens, the chicken-uprooted polygonatum, the muddy mess that will someday house new garden beds, but currently looks like the Somme in 1916 – this news hit me the hardest. Give me [...]

Taro & Sweet Potato Chips

By |2021-02-02T18:25:30+00:00February 2nd, 2021|

These crispy, unusual chips pair as well with a gourmet burger as they do with a main course salad. Rough skinned and uber-starchy Taro corms (Colocasia esculenta) are readily available at world markets, and whatever you don’t use, you can plant in the garden. Many taro species (not all) have characteristic black squiggles throughout the [...]

Crispy Mioga Tempura

By |2021-02-02T17:49:50+00:00January 8th, 2021|

In late summer, the purple-yellow buds of hardy Japanese ginger appear at soil level and can be hidden from all but the knowledgeable forager. Harvest them when still tight and prepare right away. The zesty, gingery buds can be pickled or shredded on salads, but tempura makes a meal an occasion. When fried, mioga buds [...]

Let Your Garden Help You Decorate for The Holidays

By |2020-12-07T23:07:43+00:00December 11th, 2020|

At this time of year there is much advice floating around to “use natural materials” to create amazing holiday decorations cheaply. Indeed I’ve floated much of it myself.  However, for the average suburban or urban dweller with little land at his or her disposal, it might not be second nature to make the most of [...]

Growing Windflowers for Late Season Color

By |2020-09-20T00:17:26+00:00September 19th, 2020|

Effusive, late-season displays of color become harder to come by as the days become cooler, which is why I enjoy growing the bright, carefree wands of windflower in my garden, and always make room for their clumping foliage between other spring and summer flowering perennials. Paired with berried shrubs, reddening foliage, maturing tropicals, and other [...]

Review: ‘Martha Knows Best’ is not Great. It’s Not Even a Good Thing.

By |2020-09-11T04:24:03+00:00September 11th, 2020|

This post originally appeared on GardenRant. So, it’s come to this. As a nation, we are so starved for American garden programming that we are willing to accept that a woman worth over $620 million dollars, stuck for 82 days on her 153-acre estate in Bedford, NY; with her gardener, one of her housekeepers, and [...]

Control Your Response Through Organization, Schedule & Rhythm

By |2020-11-02T03:05:32+00:00August 21st, 2020|

Most of us are living in an advanced state of Stress Factor 10 right now. Between the COVID virus, economic shutdown & political unrest, we continue to experience the severe emotional stress of living without any sense of control over our own lives.  It’s in the background of every event, every trip to the store, [...]

Summer Newsletter

By |2020-08-14T16:10:31+00:00August 14th, 2020|

Subscribers to this website receive a members-only seasonal newsletter with book reviews, design ideas, industry news, event announcements and other garden related bits and pieces including a bit of behind-the-scenes here at Oldmeadow.  This season, in light of all that we’re going through, I decided to post a longer format newsletter here.  Just this [...]

Preserving the Harvest or Preserving Sanity?

By |2020-07-12T22:01:11+00:00July 24th, 2020|

For three days I haven't been fun to live with. Preserving the harvest, fulfilling my writing deadlines, managing my family’s outrageous expectations of motherhood, and doing all of this without losing my ever-living mind. Even the dogs are keeping their distance. Oh, and there’s something else…What was it?….Ah yes.  The garden.  I actually have to [...]