Purple Passion in a Garden

My relationship with the color purple has gone up and down over the years. When I was ten I had a dark purple velvet party dress with a white lace collar. It was my favorite, and I would have worn it every day if my mother had allowed it. She didn’t, and eventually, Nature took its course and I outgrew […]

Garden Centers

I love to visit garden centers, and I make it a regular habit throughout the growing season. I don’t always buy, but I live in the hope that I will discover a new and different plant, or find just the right thing to fill a hole in my border, or uncover a source of inspiration in the displays. Recently though, […]

Strawberry Jar

For some reason, I have long been one of those sorry individuals who has never succeeded in buying a strawberry jar. I was going to get one last year, but I got distracted and didn’t get around to it until the time to do so was long past. I take some comfort in the fact that my problem is not […]

Feeling guilty about your garden

The suburbs are full of secrets, and my neighbor had one. It was not the stuff of soap operas or PBS documentaries or Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reports, but it was still clandestine in a small way. Sometimes, as she passed my house on her way home from work, she stopped to smell my roses. I don’t blame her, and when […]

Gardens in Bloom

One of the great things about walking for exercise is that it allows you to see marvelous things—architectural details on buildings, variations in paving and curbing materials, and, of course, gardens. Experience and the loud honking of other peoples’ horns has taught me that when you are at the wheel of a car, you risk accidents when you slow down […]

Snake’s Head Lily

If the guinea hen flower (Fritillaria meleagris) were a person, it would need therapy. For centuries it has been called all kinds of pejorative names—snake’s head lily, sullen lady, and even leper’s bell. Eminent garden writer Vita Sackville-West did not help matters when she referred to it as “a sinister little flower.” On top of that, it is small and […]

Digging Up Tree Roots – Major Endeavors

After much thought, I have decided that working on small projects may give you instant gratification, but working on big projects gives you life itself. I can say this with absolute certainty because at the moment I am working on four large garden projects. I am probably certifiable, and I am definitely stiff in the lumbar region, but I feel […]

Harvesting Garden Berries and Fruit Trees

I have just finished reading The Lost Gardens of Heligan, a wonderful book by [fill in name] Smits. The story, which is true down to the last botanical name, is about the rediscovery and renovation of Heligan, a 19th century estate in Cornwall. Like many other landed estates at the time, Heligan was almost completely self-sufficient, with the various gardens […]

Iris Explosion

Two years ago a friend divided her mother’s iris bed and gave me a big box of bearded iris (Iris germanica) rhizomes. They were strapping healthy things, ready to burst out of the box and start sprouting. The only aggravating wrinkle was that they were not sorted by color. But I had always wanted an iris walk, so I decided […]

Black Eyed Susan – Weedy biennial of North America

Reference books tend to damn the common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) with faint praise. “A weedy biennial of North America,” says one, disdainfully. “Probably the most common of all American wildflowers” says another. Just about the best thing that most authors can think of to say about this native plant is that it is the state flower of Maryland. If […]