TROPICAL DREAMS             A slow spring is absolutely painful.  After waiting all winter for the warm soft breezes and pollen-induced sneezes that herald spring in this part of the world, it is awful to have to put up with cold rainy weather.  It seems to dampen the spirits without appreciably diminishing the pollen count.             Still, there are compensations.  The […]


GREEN UNDERPINNINGS             I always feel badly about removing an established plant.  I am not talking about uprooting something so that it can be moved to another place in the yard or even given away to a friend.  I am referring to the situation where a plant is not going to be salvaged unless someone picks it up off the […]


SHOWHOUSE FLOWERS             If you ever thumb through the pages of a “shelter magazine” such as House Beautiful or House & Garden, you will see photographs that contain very few human beings and lots of flowers and plants.  This focus on greenery is not restricted to the one or two feature articles that such publications generally devote to gardening.  Growing […]

Twining and Vining

Twining and Vining             I started thinking about vines when I found a turn-of-the-last-century photograph of my house, and noticed that a vine used to climb up the pillar to the right of the front door.  The large front porch, so beloved of realtors, was, at the time, almost completely obscured by a curtain of vines.  They must have been […]

Gardening Support

Longwood Gardens             From time to time I rail about people who are long on money and short on taste.  The ones that irritate me the most are those who buy themselves “instant” gardens, complete with mature trees, shrubs and perennials, not to mention all manner of overwrought gazebos, water features, ornaments and terraces.  Frequently all of this is crammed […]

Spring Clean-Up

Spring Clean-Up             Lately I have been reminded of the classic German chorale melody that organists know as “Schmuecke Dich”.  Johann Crueger composed it in 1649, and in some Christian hymnals the first line of the hymn sung to the old melody is “Deck thyself my soul with gladness.”             When I go outside to do spring clean up in […]

The More Things Change

The More Things Change            At this time of year, with the earth frozen, or at least semi-frozen, catalog madness strikes many gardeners with a considerable wallop.  Sometimes when you are in the throes of this particular seasonal disorder, it is helpful to take time out to regain perspective.  I usually do it by walking around my garden and reminding […]

Preachers In The Woods

Preachers In The Woods             A few weeks ago I finished Bill Bryson’s excellent book A Walk In the Woods.  The author, an American who returned to this country several years ago after living twenty years in England, decided to walk the Appalachian Trail as a way of reconnecting with the land.  Since Bryson is a professional travel writer, I […]

Garlands And Gum Trees

Garlands And Gum Trees A previous owner of my house loved the color brown. The outside is painted two shades of mocha. The kitchen has brown print wallpaper and brindle-toned tiles on the counters. The upstairs study features walls strewn with brown paisleys. The TV room is engulfed by something that can only be described as cocoa-colored pseudo-Egyptian patterned wallpaper.  […]

What to Do in February Gardening

What to Do in February Gardening The North CLUMPS of dahlia tubers may be planted in boxes of soil or sand. If the new shoots are broken from the tuber when they are 2 or 3 inches high and potted in light, sandy loam, they will soon root. From 25 to 50 cuttings may be obtained from the average clump. […]