Wish Me Luck

My good luck began this spring with a three-year-old thoroughbred named Justify. I was smitten the first moment I saw the beautiful chestnut-colored horse walk onto the Churchill Downs track for a short gallop. I knew right away, early in…Wish Me Luck originally appeared on Garden Rant on June 27, 2018.
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Tin Chickens are the Right Garden Art for Us

In the end it came down to a pair of ornamental tin chickens, both of them, no doubt, created in a distant and dangerous land soon to be confronting more tariffs – or less. So it goes in the modern…Tin Chickens are the Right Garden Art for Us originally appeared on Garden Rant on June 25, 2018.
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I Saved the Old Junipers Despite your Advice

In a post last fall I asked, “Can these Junipers be Saved?” about the old, overgrown ones used as foundation plants in front of my coop’s office building. Above, the very sad “before” look, showing a lot of dead parts due to shearing that was done to keep branches away from the sidewalks. It was the sadly common problem of using plants that become too large for their space. So the staff yanked out the junipers nearest the sidewalk, which revealed large dead areas on the remaining ones, where they’d been crowded and shaded. That’s when I asked GardenRant readers here and on Facebook to weigh in, which they sure did. The majority were in favor of removing ALL the old junipers: I would say just remove them and start fresh. Low growing evergreens like junipers tend to break or spread under a load of snow. So, when you remove the lower limbs, you’ve removed the support for the upper limbs making the juniper more prone to snow breakage. Besides, I personally am not a fan of the ornamental..
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Too Cool For Color

I was never the “cool kid” when I was young. It just wasn’t an option for me. Oh, I tried. Tried everything I could think of, which, of course, only dug me in deeper. A fundamental rule of being cool? Don’t appear to be trying. Try to be cool too hard, and you get beat up, and I got beat up a lot. It didn’t help that I was relatively small, dorky, different, insecure, and maybe just a little bit obnoxious. Nope, being cool was never in the cards for me. Funny thing, although I admired those cool kids so much when I was young, wanted to be like them, and, above all, wanted to be liked by them, now, all these years later, I think of them as what they probably really were: jerks. Later on in life, I unexpectedly found myself a “cool kid.” Sort of. Became a serious plant geek. This, of course, is certainly not cool. Ask ten random people on the street if being a plant geek is cool, and you’ll see all of them make the same facial expressions you’d observe if you had exposed them to a real..
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Liberating Design Ideas from Great Dixter

Great Dixter’s most famous view, by UK Garden Photos I jumped at the chance to hear Fergus Garrett, head gardener at Great Dixter – undoubtedly England’s most famous garden – when the Horticultural Society of Maryland brought him to Baltimore…Liberating Design Ideas from Great Dixter originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 27, 2018.
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Amazon comes for the garden centers?

It’s been happening for a while. I am guilty of using Amazon for garden hardware that’s kind of boring to shop for in person, like hoses, nozzles, timing systems, and the like. I have never shopped for plants there. But a recent article in the industry mag, Garden Center, reports on Amazon’s recent launch of the Amazon Plants Store, which invites consumers to shop for plants by brand, with the list including such well-known icons as Proven Winners. Ordinarily, if you go to Amazon’s home and garden section, you’ll find a list on the left that includes plants, with items like trees, perennials, and shrubs. But click on trees and, most likely, the first item might be a book, with other choices including a bottle tree, solar lights, and fairy houses to hang on trees. It’s not much help and you’ll soon be headed to your local tree nursery. The new Plants Store, however, focuses on live plants only. Except. After scrolling down past the grower logos, some plant images appeared, none of the..
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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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