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.

Nursery Spotlight: Brews and Blooms at Thanksgiving Farms

By |2018-06-15T15:15:37+00:00June 15th, 2018|

Shopping for plants is good.  Shopping for heirloom vegetables is even better.  But when you combine those plants and veggies with a hand-crafted beer, then add a band, a food truck and a lot of loungeable patio furniture on a weekend in the summer, you have the makings of Heaven on earth. That’s the vibe [...]

Weeks of Water

By |2018-06-04T16:16:46+00:00June 6th, 2018|

Last night my husband and I were awoken by yet another storm pounding on what currently passes for a roof around here.  After a few minutes of staring at the ceiling thinking about the gutters, the bridge, the foundation, the tarped roof, the barn, the trees and the newly sand-mortared patio amongst other night terrors, [...]

A Gardener’s Progression of Cruelty: Volunteer Seedlings

By |2018-06-03T19:23:58+00:00June 1st, 2018|

‘One must be cruel to be kind’ is a hackneyed phrase that must have originated in a garden setting. Where else do men and women of good conscience perpetuate extreme acts of violence without a moment’s thought or consideration of that conscience? Once the deed is done – be it dismemberment or execution – ‘tis [...]

Gokhale’s Got My Back

By |2018-05-17T17:01:47+00:00May 17th, 2018|

Over the last year, I have dealt with chronic back problems for the first time in my life. Over the last three months I have, for the most part, solved those problems with the help of a miracle-working book and its miracle-working author, Esther Gokhale.  So this week’s column is not a call for sympathy, [...]

Getting Edgy

By |2018-05-11T12:35:09+00:00May 11th, 2018|

  May has dawned, and with it, the realization that my edges will have to be seen to.  I speak of course of garden beds. There is little that can be done to smooth the sharpness of my tongue and it certainly needs no further definition. There are many ways to approach this problem, and [...]

Brown Is The New Green

By |2018-05-04T02:26:49+00:00May 4th, 2018|

    John Willis and I have been discussing camellias this month (MacGardens.org). Or rather, he has been emailing me pictures of his mature specimens, blooming happily, and I have been weeping over my new acquisitions. John and his wife Beth are excellent gardeners, and though I am very happy to have them close by, [...]

The Case for Plant Labeling

By |2018-04-21T16:15:00+00:00April 21st, 2018|

We all believe (as Garden Geeks) that the minds we have at twenty-four will stay supple and fit, able to remember a thousand genera and ten thousand named species at a moment’s notice – not that we have much call to provide such information at a moment’s notice (at that age) unless we’re lucky enough [...]

The Patience to Wait

By |2018-04-11T00:20:22+00:00April 10th, 2018|

  Great gardeners and optimists know that a dead plant represents an opportunity to grow something new. But what of a dead tree? What of five? So much opportunity at one time can cloud a mind already weakened by the fumes of a chainsaw. It’s probably best then to stifle knee-jerk reactions – particularly the [...]

Ashes to Ashes: The Legacy of The Emerald Ash Borer

By |2018-03-24T15:04:45+00:00March 23rd, 2018|

About two years ago in the early winter months, I spied three pileated woodpeckers on an ash tree outside my office window and immediately felt like an Audubon rock star.  These are large, colorful birds – the sight of which gives the amateur birder a feeling of accomplishment. The sight of three sent this ignoramus [...]

Growing a Beautiful, Not Just Edible, Vegetable Garden

By |2018-03-15T15:00:27+00:00March 16th, 2018|

Beautiful vegetables?  What is she talking about? Aren’t all vegetables beautiful?       For those who live and breathe a garden life and not just a garden life-style, the answer is of course yes.  Even flopping potato vines are attractive when you know that there are forty pounds of soon-to-be buttered lusciousness a few [...]

Air Plants, Demystified.

By |2018-03-12T20:25:25+00:00March 9th, 2018|

Air plants are the new It Girl.  From the common grocery store checkout aisle to the upscale garden center, they’re pretty much everywhere.  They’re even turning up in the houses of your less-horticulturally inclined friends (which was probably your first clue that this particular plant trend isn’t just for those who know a hydrangea from [...]

10 Reasons to See The Philadelphia Flower Show

By |2018-03-23T14:40:18+00:00March 7th, 2018|

It’s Flower Show week in Philly, and refreshed by the excitement of our electricity being restored after four days and the roof tarped against further storms, yesterday I decided to stop moping around in fourteen layers of fleece, shower off the pervading smell of wood smoke and un-cancel somewhat cancelled plans to grab a friend [...]

New Season: New Site Hosting!

By |2018-02-23T21:14:15+00:00February 23rd, 2018|

  Please bear with us in the days ahead as we transfer to a new site hosting company with improved performance, security and features.  We'll no longer have to 'redirect you' through a second party firewall and hopefully I won't have to spend any more precious gardening time screaming at the computer.  For subscribers, you [...]

My Soil / My Self

By |2018-02-23T21:12:45+00:00February 15th, 2018|

Whether you like it or not, planning what you’re planting in the season ahead is less important than figuring out what you’ll be planting it in. Soil matters, and can spell the difference between healthy, beautiful plants that resist the malevolent forces of Mother Nature, or weak, pest-infested plants that you have to stop yourself [...]

East Coast / West Coast: We’ve All Got Our Issues

By |2018-02-23T20:15:17+00:00February 9th, 2018|

If you look carefully, there are very few places teeming with more stories than an airport terminal. In more innocent days when such things were still allowed, I’d hang out occasionally at the international arrivals gate watching people reconnect after time apart. The idea that I should have so much free time on my hands [...]