Time to “Rethink Pretty” in the Garden

Benjamin Vogt and I began an email exchange last March after I read his very interesting A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future. A few weeks ago, Benjamin had a sign posted on his property in Lincoln, Nebraska that warned him about the public nuisance he had created. He won the fight to keep his front and back yard prairie, but this got me thinking. It seemed like a good time to share our exchange. Portions have been edited and expanded. Onward Benjamin. I wrote my book to make folks as uncomfortable as I felt. I wrote it to question horticulture, landscape design, and all environmental movements. I wrote it to invigorate the discussion and get us to grapple with humanity in ways we avoid in order to protect ourselves from the reality of our lost love. I wrote it in order to unearth aspects of environmentalism I thought weren’t explored enough. I wrote my book out of depression, fear, and anger in order to discover a strength we all possess — the..
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What’s your corpse flower’s name? Ours is Morty.

It’s that time of year again. Our local botanical gardens has joined the ranks of other such sites across the US to introduce a titan arum (“corpse flower”) event, based on the bloom cycle of the plant. I have never seen one of these in bloom and am not sure I’ll get there in time for this one. Indeed, I have heard that the stench of the plant is already fading. But I’m fine with anything that helps the gardens, and this does provide some botanical education as well. I am sure many of you have corpse flower events in your areas. That’s all I have to say, but here are the thoughts of columnist Bruce Adams, who writes a weekly post for the Buffalo Spree website: They actually cut it open this time. Interesting! Ahh, smell the aroma If you’re fond of the odor of dead bodies, you’re in for a treat at Buffalo’s and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The details: Corpse flowers typically bloom every seven to ten years. They are the second biggest flower in the world (think Audrey II from Litt..
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Mostly Shrubs for a Low-Maintenance Superstar Garden

There’s nothing like working to improve city landscaping to turn you into a realist, having abandoned what you really want for what’s most likely to happen, given the usual constraints of manpower and budget. In my last post I showed readers the sad, unweeded state of one of my town’s most prominent perennial beds and suggested it needed to be returned to turfgrass. (Please read about the constraints of the site before freaking out.) But this post is a happy story already because just across the parking lot is our equally historic Roosevelt Center (named because the town was created as a project of the New Deal) and here the beds look great with almost no maintenance – thanks to full-grown shrubs. Yes they’re the common ‘Anthony Waterer’ and even commoner Nandina domestica, which probably wouldn’t be chosen today, but it’s thriving and a popular place for birds nests. Above is a panorama shot of the most common pedestrian approach into Roosevelt Center on the right. You can see ther..
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Making Gardens Safer from Ticks: No More Wildlife Gardening

I recently wrote about how gardeners freaked out about Lyme Disease are supposed to dress for gardening. It’s NOT a pretty picture and to prove that I’ll be posing for a shot of me in near-hazmat attire, ready to tackle a few gardening chores in my garden. Today we explore the tick-prevention changes we’re told to make to our gardens, a subject that’s even more depressing. How Ticks get on Gardeners About 70 percent of people that contract Lyme disease catch it from ticks in their own yards. So how does it happen? “Ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees, but grasp passing hosts from the leaf litter, tips of grass, etc. Most ticks are probably picked up on the lower legs and then crawl up the body seeking a place to feed. Adult ticks will, however, seek a host (i.e., deer) in the shrub layer several feet above the ground.” Of ticks that are in our lawns, most (82%) are located within 3 yards of the lawn perimeter, particularly along woodlands, stonewalls, or ornamental plantings..
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10 Drought-Tolerant Trees That Will Throw Shade

Landscape Design Tree Planting 10 Drought-Tolerant Trees That Will Throw Shade By Sheereen Othman | June 18, 2018 The summer heat has arrived. With the unpredictable climate patterns, one can only plan strategically when it comes to keeping cool long-term (and lowering energy-costs). Rising temperatures and drought in many communities make planting even harder. But don’t worry, here are 10 shade trees with drought-tolerance that will keep you cool and add beauty to your yard. 1. Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana The eastern redcedar tree is a common sight throughout most of the plains states and eastern United States on road cuts, in fence rows and scattered across abandoned fields—especially where limestone soils are present. It is an aromatic tree, with reddish wood giving off the scent of cedar chests and crushed fruit providing a whiff of the gin they once flavored. Thanks to its tolerance of heat, salt, a wide range of soils and other adverse conditions, the e..
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