At the National Portrait Gallery, where I visited the new Obama portraits, it’s not ALL presidents and other known faces on view there. In fact, the “Sweat of their Face” exhibit is just the opposite; it “combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art.”
Among portraits of laborers – a riveter, a migrant worker, a “sandwich artist” at Subway – there’s this statue of “The Gardener (Melissa with Bob Marley Shirt).”
Now as the subject of portraiture I love Melissa, but she raises some questions.
First, to my eyes she looks more like a home gardener than a “laborer” at gardening, someone paid to do it for others. And the possible misuse of the term “Gardener” to identify a paid laborer is an example of wildly different interpretations of the term.
For example, when my nongardening friends see me calling myself “Gardener Susan” they wonder why I’d identify myself as a poorly paid worker – or a very uncool hobbyist. I can’t eve..
Do it Yourself
DIY: When Your Spring Flowering Trees Should Be Pruned
By Coe Roberts | March 16, 2018
Welcome to the heart of March. The time when our ‘spring forward’ time change prompts many of us to turn our attention to our yards. Now, as you may or may not know, winter dormancy is the best time to prune the majority of our trees. You can find an overview of proper pruning techniques and other information here.
But for the purpose of today’s post we are going to focus on the beautiful spring bloomers in your yard. Here are a few examples of spring flowering trees:
Flowering cherry (Prunus)
The difference in optimal pruning time for this category of trees and the difference it can make on how your trees bloom in the spring highlights the importance of knowing what trees you have in your landscape (Not sure? Don’t worry, you can find out here).
So the difference? The difference is because the flowe..
Scott Pruitt was scolded recently for flying first class at taxpayers’ expense. The Administrator of the EPA was sent back to coach class for punishment. Do me a favor if you’re squeezed in next to Mr. Pruitt, waiting for your tiny bag of pretzels. Ask him if he has a garden.
I feel sorry for lost souls who are disconnected from nature and gardening. An abundantly loved square yard or two is all it takes to get past the velvet rope of Hortus. It’s not hard to grow a few daffodils. And you don’t have to dress up.
Pruitt strikes me as a guy who might keep the shades drawn all day. I find it hard to imagine that he spends much time outdoors. I may be wrong.
I would be happy to learn that he has planted a few daffodils. And I might feel better about the native Kentuckian and climate change skeptic if he were hosting a Daffodil Doodah. It would prove, at least, that he might be fun-loving and has found some goodness on earth besides fossil fuels.
The last few weeks of February in Kentuc..
This basement setup has been in operation for decades.
Now is the time that some of my more intrepid friends are beginning their seed programs. I envy them, to some degree, as I look out the window at a still-white landscape, with a new storm on the way. But I won’t be emulating them.
Another friend starts hers on windowsills at first.
For me, seeds are so front-loaded. For me, they’re beautiful packages filled with broken promises. I browse the racks every year, lost in admiration of the imagery and designs, particularly those from Botanical Interest, Renee’s, and Baker’s Creek. And the catalogs! They’re much more sumptuously illustrated than any plant or bulb catalog. (Again, Baker’s Creek.) The idea must be that consumers need all the extra visual stimulation. And the names! The descriptions! In a perfect world, I would totally grow the Black Nebula carrot (a stunning dark purple drink when juiced, and when a squeeze of lemon is added, turns bright pink), Glass Gem corn (on the c..
Rain garden at entrance to the Show
What with snow and some winds from hell, it wasn’t a great year for the Philadelphia Flower Show, dependent as it is on decent weather to bring in the crowds that fund the PHS’s many worthy projects. But let’s get to how the weather affected ME, shall we?
I thought I was so smart this year to book an Amtrak ride from Baltimore to Philadelphia and back – barely over an hour’s trip – rather than driving. Plus, I was attending on the preview day (for members and media) when it’s free and more importantly, the crowds are light enough to SEE stuff.
Long story short, the snow and wind forced Amtrak to cancel all trains in the entire Northeast Corridor, leaving me stranded for the night in a strange-to-me city with an unfathomable public transit system.
But somewhere in the chaos I introduced myself to a fellow traveler who, in addition to her other charms, had the good sense to book a (very nice) hotel room right away, which she was willing to share wi..
When I first starting looking online for garden advice in the early 2ks, the first places I visited were gardenweb.com and the mail order ratings (Garden Watchdog) on Dave’s Garden. For a brief period, I considered using the garden journal option on DG, but then I found Blogger, which seemed better for writers. Over time, I stopped checking GardenWeb, and moved to the discussions I found in the blogosphere—but GW was instrumental in first helping me identify other garden blogs. GW was purchased by iVillage in 2005, and seemed to putter along, although its “voices” blog directory faltered. In 2015, the GardenWeb forums were purchased by the Houzz home design site; you can find them here.
I took a quick tour of the forums recently, and, overall, I’d have to say it’s a pretty quiet scene, with some hot spots. One poster, lamenting the lack of activity on many forums, states “I wish Facebook didn’t exist,” correctly identifying social media as the preoccupation that has decimated forums a..
Arborist wood chips, from One Yard Revolution video
Arborist wood chips are in the gardening ether these days, with Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott herself (of Garden Professor and myth-busting fame) leading the charge to promote them above all over types of mulch. (Details in this brochure.) Just recently she’s debunked myths about them on a Joe Gardener podcast.
There’s been much discussion of arborist wood chips on the Garden Professors Facebook group over its lifetime, with more converts singing its praises. One member of the group is the terrific gardening YouTuber Patrick Dolan, whose channel One Yard Revolution: Frugal & Sustainable Organic Gardening has over 116,000 subscribers, which is a lot for gardening.
Dolan recently posted this video citing the many virtues of the stuff, and crediting Chalker-Scott as his source. They’re summarized in the description below the video:
7 reasons why arborist wood chips are the best wood chip mulch for your vegetable garden: they support a broa..
4 Things You Should Know About Lawn Care
By Arbor Day Foundation | March 1, 2018
Guest post by Vincent West.
All beautiful gardens and green spaces have one important thing in common: green, luscious grass growing abundantly on the entire surface. This is why lawn care is such an important part of gardening. But is it really as easy as it seems?
Things to Know
When looking after your garden, the lawn is a central element in the process. And while it might seem simple enough, there’s more to care than mowing it from time to time. Everything from soil care to composts to watering needs to be mastered. Here are four things you should know about lawn care.
1. Having Proper Equipment Matters
The importance of wearing proper clothing and safety gear while maintaining or mowing the lawn cannot be stressed enough. Safety goggles are a must, as is having a good pair of logger boots to support you through endless hours of working with vegetation. Lawnmowers are ..
Caring for Your Trees After a Heavy Snowfall
By Arbor Day Foundation | February 28, 2018
Guest post by John Lang of Friendly Tree.
Anyone who has lived around trees is all too familiar with the dreaded “crack” that often follows a major snowstorm. Spring storms can be devastating as the heavy, wet snow can prove to be too much for some trees.
Although cottonwoods, elms, willows and poplars tend to be hit the hardest, due to their soft, brittle wood, no trees are completely safe with heavy snow or high winds. The method in which you care for your trees after a snowstorm will play a major role in their recovery.
Assessing the Damage
In general, if only small branches are damaged, you can expect the tree to make a full recovery without intervention. If many large branches are damaged, it’s possible to save the tree with proper pruning and care. The general rule of thumb is that if the tree is healthy, its main leader is still intact, it still has most of its maj..
Award-winning English writer Alexandra Campbell, recently described what she calls YouTube Gardening in this post on her blog The Middlesized Garden. Like me, she complains about there not being enough good gardening videos for her readers – even there in a lively gardening culture like England’s!
She wrote that “the YouTube gardening scene currently seems dominated by the US, Australia, Canada and India/Pakistan. They’re interesting and often useful channels, except when the weather is too different.”
Which is exactly my complaint – in reverse – because searching on YouTube produces a preponderance of videos from British television, usually with Alan Titchmarsh.
So to learn more about what videos pop up for YouTube searchers from England, and more about this interesting woman, I suggested to Alexandra that we Skype, and she was all-in.
English Gardening YouTubers
From left, Katie at Lavender and Leeks; Tanya at Lovely Greens; and Sean James Cameron
According to her, what the Eng..