3 Take-aways from Garden Writer Meet-ups by Susan Harris

I love hanging out with other garden writers, and have done quite a bit of that this year – at several local and regional events and especially, the Garden Blogger Fling in Minneapolis and the Garden Writers conference in Atlanta. I caught up with old friends, made new ones, and had fun. But did I learn anything useful? Pick up any tips? Three take-aways come to mind. On a tour-bus in Minneapolis I noticed several bloggers using a portable iPhone charger that’s surprisingly small, lightweight, and cheap – just 13 bucks. I bought one and now use it all the time. To illustrate how small it is for this post I asked one of my cats to pose with it – because we just don’t have enough cat pics here on the Rant. In Atlanta I attended a talk by Seth Reed and Mason Day about social media in which we were told that the best way to reach gardeners these days is with Pinterest. My first reaction was along the lines of “Oh crap!” at the thought of doing yet another social media platform. But then..
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We have a winner! by Elizabeth Licata

Congratulations, Chris Bosacki! I will be contacting you via email. Thanks for playing, everybody! Some great tips, too, like: -planting grape hyacinths, which throw out a few green leaves in fall, as a reminder not to dig up existing bulbs -plant a wall of daffodils around a tulip bed -use rocks as vole/etc. deterrent -chicken wire works Happy bulbing. We have a winner! originally appeared on Garden Rant on October 20, 2016.
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Gifts of Autumn by Evelyn Hadden

In temperate climates, autumn showers us with a cornucopia of visual stimulation before we enter the season of dormancy. Here are some of my favorite examples of this season’s gifts of beauty. Food. Is there anything more glorious than the last harvest, spread across the dining room table? Not only can deciduous foliage take on strikingly different colors, but also the leaves may crumple and twist into unusual shapes, and their positions change too, as they bend or drift to the ground. Many grasses relax into graceful fountains, and the low-angled sun sets their color-bleached heads dramatically aglow. A loss can also be a gain when fallen foliage reveals hidden views. Amid the many changes, evergreens delight with their reassuring consistency of shape and color. As the lowering temperatures chase away the flowers, every lingering bloom is that much more precious. What do you appreciate most about your garden in autumn? Gifts of Autumn originally appeared on Garden Rant on Octo..
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Here come the bulbs—and a GIVEAWAY by Elizabeth Licata

And that’s not close to all of them. I did it again. Slightly over 1,000 bulbs have either arrived or are on their way to my smallish urban property. By far the majority of them are tulips that will mostly be planted in big pots, but there are also 50 tazetta, 200 hyacinths, and various narcissus, erythronium, and lilies. I laid off on the scilla, muscari, and galanthus this year because what I’ve already planted seems to be establishing. Bright Parrot in Feb. The hyacinths will all be forced, with some given as holiday gifts. I’m also forcing a bunch of tulips, mainly parrots because I love the way they brighten up the house in late February, when you really need it. Unlike many other gardeners I know, deer are not an issue in my neighborhood. What I do have is fairly deep shade where the tulips should go, so there’s even less chance of return than hybrid tulips would have in any conditions. That’s why big pots are the answer. They don’t take up space in the garden and I can put i..
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Remedial Gardening by Thomas Christopher

My wife Suzanne and I used to have our best fights in the garden. I don’t remember her actually throwing a trowel at me, but on several occasions I’m sure she came close. I’m also sure it was my fault. I had an idea that we would garden together. That she would hold the plant while I dug the hole. Or vice versa. But when I envisioned this scene of horticultural harmony, I didn’t consider a couple of facts. First, that I had married a strong-minded woman who wouldn’t necessarily agree with me on which plant to place where. And second, that, thanks to an old-fashioned apprenticeship with European-trained gardeners, my idea of cooperation was a lot like that of Captain Bligh on the Bounty. As the senior in gardening experience, I felt entitled to issue directives and advise on technique. Suzanne, who comes from a large family of Irish women (five sisters, no brothers) doesn’t tolerate mansplaining. Eventually, after enough heated exchanges, I began asking other couples how they gardened..
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Why I can’t get too excited about the White House vegetable garden by Elizabeth Licata

A Lake Erie beach. It would be nice if someday people could swim here. Of course, it’s very good that the White House and the National Park Foundation have decided to maintain a food patch on the property. And let’s be clear on one thing right away: I am a big fan of both Obamas and would be happy to see them stay in the WH indefinitely. Kudos also to the Burpee Foundation for its recent $2.5 million gift to maintain the garden after the Obamas leave at the end of the year. It is important to eat seasonally and locally, which I try to do, though without growing the food myself. But the WH garden never seemed like much more than a stunt to me, albeit a good one. Nobody really finds a vegetable garden all that revolutionary. It sets a good, sensible example, but there are other gardening examples that might be more startling—at least to many Americans. Like less lawn or lawn alternatives. Like more native plants. Like a meadow on the property. I’ve enjoyed the photo ops of kids harvest..
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Are You Afraid of Gardens and Nature? by Allen Bush

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky. December 2008. Most of us know that gardens and nature are good for us. And good for our children, too. Dirt is healthy for kids, but forcing them outdoors does not work the way it once did. Baby boomers, as youngsters, got kicked out of the house after breakfast. We weren’t allowed back until lunchtime. We got tossed out again and came home dirty for dinner. Boomers practically grew up outdoors. (Until I am sentenced to the lockdown unit of assisted living, I will wander around gardens and nature.) In the meantime, it has been harder than anyone imagined unplugging our grown children—the selfie generation—and connecting millennials to salamanders and sassafras. Bernheim, June 2016. When smartphones arrived, less than ten years ago, it became possible to be outdoors, unhinged from a desktop. But mobility only added to the “nature deficit.” There was a deepening disconnect to the natural world. Time-sucking social media ..
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Preserving the White House Kitchen Garden by Susan Harris

The White House Kitchen Garden was in the news last week, as Michelle Obama dedicated the garden and unveiled other “updates” made to preserve the garden. Via the White House: Making the garden even more accessible to kids and world leaders alike, the updates include establishing a revised layout with a new threshold, an entryway with an arbor, a wider walkway, and a gathering area with a table and benches. Underneath the new arbor rests an inscription stone, which reads: WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children Still, there’s concern and speculation about the fate of the garden, with ABC News noting the food preferences of the Clintons and Trumps: As first lady, Clinton directed chef Walter Scheib to bring “contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House,” Scheib later wrote. There was even a small garden on the White House roof for growing produce, a..
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Garden Design’s New Issue Comes with 5 Videos and Sadness, Too by Susan Harris

I’ve done nothing but heap praise on Garden Design Magazine since its relaunch as an ad-free, more plant-focused publication under the direction of its new publisher, Jim Peterson. And I savor every gorgeous issue before reluctantly loaning them to my nonsubscribing friends. (Full disclosure – thanks to Jim’s attendance at recent Garden Blogger Flings, he’s become a friend.) Still, there’s something new to gush about at Garden Design – videos! There are teasers for each new issue, like these: Click here to view the embedded video. Click here to view the embedded video. And here are three more videos about topics covered in the issue: Honey Crisp apples , American Bonsai, and Desert native plants. Because I’m all about videos these days, I asked Jim what’s coming next from the magazine, video-wise. The first type of videos supports stories in the magazine…and then can go in the appropriate section of the web site permanently. Our goal right now is 3 videos per issue and we start p..
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How I stopped worrying and learned to accept hydrangeas the way they are now by Elizabeth Licata

H. macrophylla ‘Alpenglow’ If I was bitter, I’d say that the industry has done its best to destroy hydrangeas, at least the macrophyllas I used to buy, with their deep, true colors. I can’t find the two brilliant pink macrophyllas I bought many years ago—‘Alpenglow’ and ‘Princess Beatrix’—at any nursery anywhere these days. What I do see are endless rows of vapid, wishy-washy Endless Summer macrophylla hybrids, as well as the new Annabelle (arborescens) hybrids, and quite a number of paniculata hybrids. None of them offer the multiplicity of big, long-lasting, clearly hued blooms of those original two. But there are more important things to be bitter about. I am getting rid of one of the Endless Summer hybrids I was talked into—Twist-n-Shout. This is an unattractive, lanky, and disappointing plant. The flatish blooms (when it has them) has are a sickly lavender (interior) and washed–out pink (exterior); they start slow and continue slower. I’ll keep the Blushing Bride ES hybrid; it d..
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