On Gardening

My perspective and philosophy on making gardens has evolved quite a bit over the past decades. There were times when I coveted every new rose released by my favorite growers, David Austin and Sons, and filled my garden with heirloom and popular hybrid roses. I also collected heirloom fruit trees, grew my own vegetables in various plots and even plastic baskets on a condo deck, and experimented with fruit bearing shrubs.

Those passions met hard reality once we moved to our Forest Garden here along College Creek in Williamsburg. Gardening as entertainment has by necessity evolved to something else in this wild space. Oh yes, I still collect favorite genera; they just have to be plants that deer won’t graze.

These essays about gardening, written between 2013 and 2020, reflect the changes to my own philosophy of gardens and gardening. We had already been on this property long enough, when I began A Forest Garden in June of 2013, for me to realize that what I had always done before in other gardens wasn’t working in this one. I had already been networking with neighbors and keeping notes on what did an didn’t work. My first posts were a summary of what I had learned in our first four years here.

Since then, I’ve kept up with the work of many different naturalists and landscape designers: Rick Darke, Piet Ouldolf, Dr. Doug Tallamy, Ken Druse, Thomas Rainer, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, Dr. Michael Dirr, and so many more. I’ve networked with local gardeners and naturalists to learn all I can from them. I look at a garden now more as a web of life, and less as a space to satisfy my very human needs for beauty, food, and expression. Magic happens when our human efforts assist in re-weaving the web of life, so often left broken by modern development.

You may or may not agree with the opinions expressed in these essays, but my hope is that they will inspire your own ruminations about how we interact with our personal landscapes. And I hope you find a few useful ideas that you can apply in your own gardening.

WG 2021

A New Vocabulary for Gardening: The Natural Habitat Garden February 2016

Six on Saturday: When Wood Breaks Into Bloom April 2020

Six on Saturday: Rain Gardens August 2020

Six on Saturday: ‘Garden Bathing’ July 2020

Six on Saturday: A Gracious Plenty June 2020

Six on Saturday: Always Another Surprise May 2020

Six on Saturday: Meeting the Challenge April 2020

Where in the World? May 2018

Continuous Effort August 2019

Time Marching On May 2019

Plants Want to Live May 2019

Dry Shade Solutions April 2019

Something Borrowed, Something New (Hellebores) March 2019

Green Thumb Tip # 14 Right Plant Right Place December 2017

Green Thumb Tip #15: Conquer the Weeds February 2018

Green Thumb Tip #16: Diversify! March 2018

Green Thumb Tip # 19 Focus on Foliage May 2018

Green Thumb Tip # 20: Go With the Flow June 2018

Living With Reality May 2017

Why Do We Garden? June 2013

MBWA June 2013

Permaculture July 2013

Gardens for Wildlife

Re-Weaving the Web April 2018

Six on Saturday: Wildlife Friendly Perennials May 2019

Butterfly Musings September 2019

Happy Birthday? Eastern Black Swallowtail August 2018

Late Summer Nectar August 2019

Who’s Welcome to Dine? September 2019

Where Have the Butterflies Gone? September 2013

Critter (Deer, Squirrels, Rabbits, Voles, etc.) Management

Gardening in a Place With Deer July 2015

Our Herd of Deer October 2013

Trees and Shrubs

Native Beauty September 2017

Arbor Day: Planting a Beautiful Future April 2018

Weathered January 2018

Seasonal Changes

Evergreen February 2018

Timing is Everything March 2019

Green Thumb Tip # 23: From Small Beginnings March 2019

Expect the Best April 2017

“Why Does It Always Rain On The Iris?” and Other Gardening Conundrums April 2017

Six on Saturday: Embracing Spring April 2019

It Lived! May 2018

Faith and Patience June 2017

Six on Saturday: Fruits of the Season August 2020

Six on Saturday: The Dance August 2020

Another Chance at ‘Spring’ August 2019

August Wonders August 2017

Six on Saturday: Going and Coming October 2020

Six on Saturday: Endless Summer October 2019

Dichotomy, or, Courageous Gardening November 2017

Winter Gardening January 2017

Adventures in Gardening

Micro Gardening February 2015

Sunday Dinner (Photography and Quotations)

Sunday Dinner: Gardening

Sunday Dinner: Exercise of Imagination