We had a deal!  by  Elizabeth Licata

I’ve been sneaking some ‘First Frost’ into this ventricosa bed. Ever have this with a plant: love it, love it, love it, love it, love it, HATE IT. Some plants remind me of what I’ve always been told about childbirth: you don’t remember how bad it was until it’s too late. Either that or I am just too stupid to learn. During a day of late season carnage last weekend, I found myself hacking back or uprooting stuff that only weeks before had been the objects of cooing admiration by hundreds of Garden Walkers. The culprits included: Verbena bonariensis: This is an annual for me, anyway. But I think I’m done with it all the same. Its tall, weaving stalks and fresh, pollinator-attracting blooms get bent, broken, and dull too soon. Rudbeckia lacianata ‘Golden Glow’: I will never eliminate this from the garden, but late August is not its time. It must be deadheaded or the hideous spent blooms hang on for weeks, though small blooms are still coming. Mildew finally attacks. And, by this time, t..
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A Forgotten Lincoln in our Hosta Chain  by  Bob Hill

This will be the only garden rant you’ll ever read connecting Abe Lincoln, Southern Indiana, hostas and dirt. We will begin with the dirt. Lots of dirt. A sprawling pile of fresh dirt. Its source was the hole created digging the new foundation for an old dream; a back-of-the-house family room from which to sit and admire our gardens free from heat, mosquitoes and blossom end rot. A Heineken in hand is always a useful companion. That pile of dirt was in the heavy shade of a home-grown sugar-maple transplanted as a sapling in a wheelbarrow about 40 years ago. My son and two of his neighbor buddies helped with that. The sapling was about six feet tall at the time. Now it’s closer to 50 feet. Looking out our family room window I can still those boys helping with the planting. I also now see them in person on occasion. They’re all grown up now, too. When you live in the same house as long as we have, life tends to come full circle. So anyway, here’s this pile of dirt demanding to either..
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How to Stop Using Bedding Annuals in City Landscapes  by  Susan Harris

Help! My town really could use some examples of alternatives to bedding annuals for its civic landscapes, alternatives that are more sustainable and better-looking to the modern eye. (I know, I know. Whenever something is criticized for its low aesthetic appeal – looking ugly – some are offended. So IS there a way to say bedding annuals are OUT without insulting people who still love them? This planting has won awards!) Above and below are the beds on either side of the front entrance to our municipal building: annuals, including coleus, in full sun, with prominent irrigation tubing. Weirdly combined with perennials and shrubs. In prominent spots like all of these, the plantings say to the community who we are, especially how “green” we are, and also demonstrate plants and designs for residents to use at home. So they matter. More than, say, corporate landscapes. Another full-sun spot, this one in front of the city museum. The island along the main street into town is a mixed bag,..
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Here’s a new garden game we can all play  by  Elizabeth Licata

When you see this, you will know that I have decided not to attempt to find a relevant image. Make up plant names and gardening fixes, just for fun. Recently, I became the co-administrator of a Facebook group for local gardeners (i.e., Western New York area). It’s a good, lively group with people sharing lovely images of their gardens, especially around Garden Walk time, as well as plant ID and plant/garden problem questions. There is also valuable information about upcoming swaps, sales, and workshops. We screen for bots and remove irrelevant/overtly commercial posting. However, this group, like most such groups, is subject to the same fatal flaw of online crowdsourcing. In this arena, all information is, pretty much, created equal. Everything is opinion. In our group, as in most such groups, there is no higher authority that can yea or nay an answer to a question and provide something close to a definitive answer. (Which is why I usually search the Garden Professors group when I hav..
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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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