Seeds—so seductive, so easy to resist by Elizabeth Licata

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..
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Stranded at the Philly Flower Show, plus Hits, Misses and Fun Facts by Susan Harris

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..
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Checking in on GardenWeb by Elizabeth Licata

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..
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The Search for Arborist Wood Chips by Susan Harris

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..
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4 Things You Should Know About Lawn Care

Landscape Design 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 ..
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Caring for Your Trees After a Heavy Snowfall

Tree Care 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..
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Alexandra Campbell on YouTube Gardening in England by Garden Rant

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..
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Starting over with the terrarium by Elizabeth Licata

Here it is when it was given to me in 2008. I have always looked at plant failure as an opportunity, but I held out against replanting my terrarium for months. It looked … ok. At first, the fact that one of the succulent varieties was pretty much taking over the thing was fine. But eventually I had to recognize that the stems were browning at the bottom, making it impossible to prune them to healthy areas. After almost ten years, it was time. Close-up with the tiny new plants So everything got pulled out, and I put in a few new plants, still succulents. These are not necessarily recommended for terrarium planting, but I find that their hardy natures work well in that environment. Some years ago, I lined the edges with rocks, holding the cloche away from the base enough to let some air in, and get rid of condensation issues. Which it does. Will I get another ten years from the new array? Maybe not—and that will be an opportunity to try some different plants. Maybe I’ll finally have ..
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Saving Seeds for Biodiversity by Thomas Christopher

It’s called the ‘Mostoller Wild Goose’ bean. Sarah Mostoller found the first seeds in the crop of a wild goose that her son had shot in a mill race in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in 1865. Sarah planted the rescued beans the following spring and found them to be a particularly productive pole type whose harvest proved excellent for baking. A specialist in rare beans obtained seed from her great grandson in the 1970’s and in 1981 he in turn donated some offspring to the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. And now the Seed Saver’s Exchange is sending a sample to Svalbard, Norway to be stored in a tunnel 500 feet beneath an icy mountain just 800 miles from the North Pole. Photo courtesy of Seed Savers Exchange This bean is just one of 2,000 collections that Seed Savers has sent for safe keeping to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Impressive as this number is, it represents only a small portion of the 20,000 varieties of heirloom food crops that Seed Savers Exchange has collected ove..
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6 Things to Know About Presidents and White House Trees

Misc Trees 6 Things to Know About Presidents and White House Trees By Sheereen Othman | February 19, 2018 The tradition of planting and gardening at the White House dates all the way back to the first president to ever take office, when John Adams planted a vegetable garden. But the tradition of planting trees on White House grounds started with Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson planted a grove of trees on the lawn. Over the past 200 years, numerous U.S. presidents have carried on this tradition of tree planting, whether it was planting memorial trees or planting trees as part of the landscape design. Here are 6 things you probably didn’t know about trees on the White House grounds. (Facts taken from The White House Historical Association.) While the White House was being rebuilt after the 1814 fire, James Monroe increased tree plantings on the grounds based on plans by architect Charles Bulfinch. The federal government used Charles Bulfinch’s planting scheme for a t..
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