Perfect Privacy Screen Hides Ugly View  by  Susan Harris

The townhouse I moved into 6 years ago came with a rather junky spot just beyond my back yard, marring my view from the house, porch and garden. So began my long quest to hide the junk. Here’s one of my attempts – prayer flags hanging over spireas and nandina. Design-wise and neighbor-relations-wise let’s say the flags weren’t a big hit. The ugly-view problem has kept me from showing you photos of my back garden; it was omitted entirely from this 5-year update of last summer. But I’m hiding the garden no more because I got permission to build the screen that the spot really needs. I love it! It was allowed by the rules because rather than an imposing 6′ tall screen, it’s just 3′ high and mounted 3′ off the ground, so it screens just where it’s really needed. With the shrubs growing beneath it, I don’t even notice the open bottom. The view above from my house shows ‘Ogon’ spireas and an oakleaf hydrangea, with Bignonia capreolata in bloom. The vine is so vigorous I bet it’ll cover ..
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A Plant Nerd Finds Himself Mulling Gardens and Hardscapes  by  Scott Beuerlein

We’ll start here. When you look at any suburban and most urban neighborhoods, what do you see? If asked to describe it as an ecosystem, what would you say? Invariably, our neighborhoods are a place of trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and some lawn, a relatively open space where herds of deer and joggers roam freely. As such, the suburban landscape is clearly a savanna. The same could be said about city parks and almost any garden made since the time of Adam and Eve. And this is no dumb accident. Subconsciously, we have consistently recreated around us a facsimile—sometimes done well, more often not—of the most life-sustaining ecosystem on terra firma. While forests and fields can support a surprising amount of life, it is where they come together that real bounty holds court. And bounty, abundance of life, is what the best of gardens convey and how they impact us the most. Conceptually, bounty ensures us, as humans, of good times now and at least some distance into the future. Importa..
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Meet the Ranters  by  Elizabeth Licata

You probably think you already know us, but here are some statements about writing/blogging/ranting that we prepared for a Garden Writers Association panel—at a GWA conference going on right now in Chicago. I (Elizabeth) am one of three panelists who are talking about blogging. It’s Thursday at 8:30; maybe i’ll see you! I am representing all seven of us: here is our handout. Meet the Ranters originally appeared on Garden Rant on August 14, 2018.
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Parkland, FL School Garden as Place for Learning and Healing  by  Susan Harris

That’s astronomy teacher and garden-maker Kyle Jeter on the right. You’ve seen my photos of Cornell and environs; now for a report from the Children and Youth Garden Symposium I was there to attend. The highlight for me was the Community Forum on Gardens as Haven, with three great speakers and Q&A. One of the speakers, all the way from Parkland, Florida, was Kyle Jeter, who teaches astrology at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, now tragically famous for the mass shooting there February 14 of this year. Jeter had spearheaded efforts in 2016 to create a garden for the school – called Marjory’s Garden – despite knowing nothing (he swears!) about gardening, because he’s such a fan of “project-based learning,” he told us, and the garden would provide hands-on STEAM learning opportunities, promote conservation, and honor the legacy of environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas. (Note that STEM is now STEAM, with the addition of arts.) The garden was doing all that before the shooting. ..
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Please, let there never be a Yelp or a Tripadvisor for garden tours  by  Elizabeth Licata

I know some people hate this; I can see it in their faces. I was just reading about visitors to Sequoia National Park and Yellowstone leaving 1 star reviews for the natural attractions because they didn’t have a great meal at the cafeteria, or, as the reviewer would call it, the “crappy lodge.” (DO click on this compilation of such reviews; it is hilarious.) Then I checked the TA and Yelp sites and only found three or four adulatory general comments about Garden Walk Buffalo on Yelp. BUT, what if people zeroed in on individual gardens and said the kinds of horrible things some say when they go to such monumental and amazing places as the Grand Canyon? Stuff like this: “let me tell you, it’s a big ole waste of time! There was dirt EVERYWHERE, and the hiking trail was too long! Also where are the vending machines??” I can imagine my garden receiving comments such as: “Seriously? We had to wait to walk into this place because the pathway (if you can call it that) is super narrow and su..
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Border Control  by  Allen Bush

Edith Eddleman and the Jekyll Border at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. I arrived in Raleigh a few days before last week’s Perennial Plant Association (PPA) Symposium. I checked into the hotel and made a beeline for the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. I may sound like an aging rocker on a farewell tour, but it had been ten years since I’d last been there, and I’m not sure when I’ll return. I’ve had a long history with the arboretum. I was one of J.C. Raulston’s many fans, and for 15 years, when I was living in Western North Carolina, I would visit annually. I met garden designer Edith Eddleman, a longtime arboretum volunteer, in 1981, three days before my daughter Molly was born. What the arboretum lacks in size (ten acres) it makes up for with inspiration. As Raulston was a prolific collector, there have always been plenty of plant rarities, so I can consistently count on a few surprises—Asian woodland asarums in the lath house or a towering desert Dasylirion wheeleri in the long border. I’d..
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Dying to Go  by  Thomas Christopher

I’ve been haunting cemeteries ever since my teenaged years. Not literally – I leave that to the dear departed. But I’ve always liked the peaceful and nostalgic aspect of old burying grounds. They are, commonly, by-passed places. Typically, they were set up very soon after a community’s founding and often have changed very little over the years, aside from the burials. In the oldest cemetery of my hometown in Connecticut, for example, I’ve found native grasses such as little bluestem. These date back, I suspect, to the land’s enclosure in the mid 17thcenury. Such grasses have long since disappeared from the surrounding urban landscape, and even from the city’s outlying farms, but they have persisted in the cemetery, as much relics of the past as the headstones. My town’s 17th-century cemetery with wild grasses I spent a couple of years intensively visiting cemeteries when I was writing my first book, In Search of Lost Roses. The subject of that work, as the title suggests, was the hun..
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My Indoor Cats and their Craving for Grass  by  Susan Harris

It must be Cat Week here at the Rant, with Elizabeth’s post about indoor cats prompting me to finally find out if my own indoor cats really need to eat grass. Here they are on the porch absorbed in eating anything grass-like in the weed carrier I was transporting through my house. I bring all sorts of plants into the house – the fastest route between my front and back yards, thanks to rowhouse living – but what gets their attention like addicts at first sight of their dealer are plants with grass-shaped leaves. The down side to the pleasure of seeing them so happily absorbed in grass-eating is the gooey mix of grass and gastric juices they soon deposit on my rugs. Never on the wood flooring, mind you, always the rugs. Thanks, guys. So I don’t regularly bring grass indoors for them and wondering if this makes me a bad cat-owner, I took to the Internet to find out why they eat the stuff and whether they really need it. Maybe their passion for it is like mine for chocolate, I was hopin..
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A Summer Phlox Survives Storms and Spies

A field of Russian phloxes. Christian Kress, Sarastro-Stauden photo. Just off our front porch, a Phlox of sentimental interest didn’t flinch during heavy storms a week and a half ago. But what about spies? During the storm, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “psychological fable” North By Northwest played on TV. Our power flickered as foreign spies mistakenly identified and then kidnapped Cary Grant for their own no-good. Grant’s life was turned upside down. He was soon suspected (wrongly) of murder. Grant hopped a train, tried to get away, and fell for a seductive double agent, played by Eva Marie Saint, but soon realized he had been played. The winds were crazy. We didn’t lose power, but the chase was on. Ringleader James Mason, in a “special relationship” with Eva Marie Saint, nipped at Cary Grant’s heels from beginning to end. Finally, the attractive double agent came clean and James Mason, with the FBI on his tail, fled the country. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint fell in love. Strong w..
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A Summer Phlox Survives Storms and Spies  by  Allen Bush

A field of Russian phloxes. Christian Kress, Sarastro-Stauden photo. Just off our front porch, a Phlox of sentimental interest didn’t flinch during heavy storms a week and a half ago. But what about spies? During the storm, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “psychological fable” North By Northwest played on TV. Our power flickered as foreign spies mistakenly identified and then kidnapped Cary Grant for their own no-good. Grant’s life was turned upside down. He was soon suspected (wrongly) of murder. Grant hopped a train, tried to get away, and fell for a seductive double agent, played by Eva Marie Saint, but soon realized he had been played. The winds were crazy. We didn’t lose power, but the chase was on. Ringleader James Mason, in a “special relationship” with Eva Marie Saint, nipped at Cary Grant’s heels from beginning to end. Finally, the attractive double agent came clean and James Mason, with the FBI on his tail, fled the country. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint fell in love. Strong w..
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