Two weeks in, welcome to 2022!! A very Happy New Year to you all. Of all the of the canned New Year’s wisdom that comes out between December 26th and the first week of January, my favorite one casts the upcoming year as an autobiography with 365 pages to fill – and encourages us all to make each page count. What a tremendous way to look at the year ahead.
This week I received both a Christmas card from a plant friend in Canada and an email from a plant friend closer to home that made me realize it was high time I posted an update on the site, as I have not been very active since September, and June before that!
Yes I am absolutely still writing, but my platforms have changed a lot in the 13 years since I set up this website, to, in effect, be the digital face of the weekly columns I wrote for local newspapers that had not yet gone digital. Two books and many hundreds of columns later, I am extremely thankful to my original editor Julie Maynard, for taking a chance on a young, opinionated garden writer.
In fact, that’s how this site came to be called “The Small Town Gardener” – it was simply the name of the column I wrote for my first newspaper, The Brunswick Citizen, which sadly closed its doors at the beginning of the pandemic. Little did I realize that blogging and blogger handles would become the norm and we’d have Drunken Gardeners and Grumpy Gardeners and Naked Gardeners and Observant Gardeners….is there a Homicidal Gardener yet? I hardly dare ask Google.
In the end, I’m still Marianne. I still live in a small town. And though newspaper work is no longer my primary platform, I still happily write for two papers, just on a monthly basis – The Emmitsburg News Journal and The Woodsboro Walkersville News Journal, both of which have their own digital platforms and which are beloved by the local audience they serve so well. Other papers all over the nation have gone over to centralized, generalized ‘lifestyle content’ that includes gardening, and we are the poorer for it, but that is a topic for another day.
In 2022 I’m refocusing to ensure that readers and subscribers receive This Month’s Garden on time with tips for approaching their gardens each month, as well as a few plant choices they may not have thought of. No doubt I’ll be posting more than that on the projects and scheming going on here at Oldmeadow, for the garden continues to evolve and this spring will be my first one incorporating the aid of a greenhouse in my growing!
Sadly, I can’t promise weekly updates. The very best way to see what’s going on in my garden right now is to follow my Instagram or Facebook accounts which allow me to quickly post photos without the need to fire up the laptop and access one of the Developed World’s poorest internet connections.
You can also find me writing regularly with the team at GardenRant, and with the many wonderful writers and horticulturists at The American Gardener – the magazine of the American Horticultural Society.
Tropical Plants gets Shortlisted!
A quick mention that at the end of last year I was honored to have my book Tropical Plants and How To Love Them shortlisted for the Peter Seabrook Practical Book of The Year by the U.K.’s Garden Media Guild, and had a wonderful time attending the virtual awards ceremony just before the holiday season.
Sadly, the book didn’t win the award, but I’m still grinning. Honestly, it was an incredible honor to be nominated in the first place as an American author. With all the excellent books competing, I’ll be grinning for awhile yet. Plus, to see some of the great names in garden writing Zooming in their front rooms on a chilly November evening with a glass of wine was a very cool bonus!
Mungo and The Animal Farm
Will Mungo keep writing? Quite possibly. Though not for the American Horticultural Society.
I have been absolutely amazed how many people enjoy that little wisecracker’s voice and views on what goes on behind the scenes around here. And certainly he’s just as ornery as ever. Nessa is now a fully grown Jim Henson Muppet and Mungo has reluctantly gotten used to her. She has very big jaws, so I guess he’s weighed the pros and cons of keeping her on his side.
The ducks are still doing well and are absolutely the loveliest thing in this valley some days; but for the first time in a long while, we have rid ourselves of chickens to be able to easily access their coop for a bit of renovation work. They went en masse to a young family nearby who wanted to start with full grown hens that were still fairly young.
It’s very strange not to have fresh eggs, but honestly, it’s far more hassle to find a way of burying the food scraps in the compost pile so that little Mungo or Nessa doesn’t find them! Looking forward to chickens again sometime in the spring. There is nothing better for motivating you to keep food scraps out of the bin.
And the cats continue to prowl, and the voles continue to inspire them.
The world is slowly opening back up, and I am delighted to say that I am scheduled to speak all over the country this year about my newest book Tropical Plants and How to Love Them , along with many other topics – especially Big Dreams, Small Garden (see below).
I cannot express how happy I am to meet and speak with gardeners when I arrive in their part of the world.
I am thankful that through the miracle of ZOOM and other virtual platforms, we were able to connect as gardeners over these last two years, but there really is nothing comparable to talking to audiences in person. Hopefully I’ll be speaking at a conference near you!
An aside on Big Dreams, Small Garden
Due to the economic worries exacerbated by the events of the last couple years, my first book Big Dreams, Small Garden has seen a resurgence in popularity – particularly by young people and those who are downsizing and feeling a little lost.
The idea of gardening wherever you find yourself is more pertinent than ever before, as gardeners find that the properties they dream of feel out of reach. It’s easy to let worry and envy affect one’s motivation to take advantage of one’s current space, but if we don’t garden where we are, we cheat ourselves of valuable experience.
If this sounds like something you or someone you know is struggling with, I urge you to pick up a copy of this book. There’s plenty of how-to in there, but there’s an awful lot of why-to, and sometimes that’s what we need more.
I’m very sorry to say that the European river cruise I was scheduled to attend in April was cancelled by the cruise line – such a shame as it was a great one! I’m not sure what the future holds in the way of official travel tours; but I will certainly keep you updated!
The ‘unofficial’ ones begin with a roadtrip down to Tampa next week to attend the amazing Tropical Plant International Expo – a conference that has been inspiring tropical (and temperate!) gardeners for decades. I’m sure I’ll see many new (and old) gardens this year and cannot wait to be energized by the innovation and creativity of other gardeners.
Again, I wish you all a wonderful year ahead. I know we see many expressions of hope that 2022 will be better than 2021, and indeed, 2020; but I can honestly say that I’m heartily looking forward to 2022 and the many experiences it will bring.
I refuse to simply hope for a better 2022. It’s easy to hope. It’s harder to work towards something and make strong decisions every day. We’ve got 365 days folks. Let’s make them count!
Your spot on comment, “centralized, generalized ‘lifestyle content” nailed it and politely done. I am going with boring and taking readers for granted. Perfect example of what the Washington Post has resorted to after Adrian Higgins retired. One fewer garden column to treasure, so keep it going and keep your fans delighted. Or, perhaps the WP is still looking for a replacement? Go for it.
Thank you Jean – very kind. Yes, this is a disturbing trend that deeply saddens me. I don’t think people really understand what is lost in the long run. Your analysis is spot on. -MW
Enjoyed all of your post til I got to “The cats are prowling.” I feel for the birds in your fantastic garden! My two ( 19 years old) cats have always been indoors. As to voles…I’m in Massachusetts and suddenly there are holes everywhere in my gardens. As far as I know, no plants have been destroyed by voles but I assume it is only a matter of time. These holes only started appearing two years ago but recently have exploded in number. Every time I see a new one I put stones down the hole. It probably doesn’t help but it makes me feel better!
Ahhh…if only stones would work. I very much hope your vole issue remains small. They have caused much devastation to plants and trees here. I plant bulbs in grit and they still get through…. – MW
Good to hear from you again. And congratulations on being a finalist for the GMG awards. I can arrest that your book is both very practical and enjoyable to read.
I like the hellebore photo though I am assuming the pictures accompanying this article are not current but rather in anticipation of what is to come. I am looking forward also but am also happy with the downtime winter affords us.