Category Archives: Flowers

More Space Than You Thought – Podcast 29


Fern Richardson grows “tons of herbs,” “tons of succulents,” lots of vegetables, and at least six trees—on a balcony. I’m not quite sure of the tree count, because after I counted to six, I’m afraid my hearing did the auditory equivalent of glazing over—I just wasn’t entirely functional for a moment there.

When she was listing them—the kumquat, the apricot, the fig, the two apple trees—I squawked “TWO?” so loudly that I had to lower the volume of that one word in the recording, to preserve my listeners’ hearing. There are two, Fern quite reasonably replied, because apple trees cross-pollinate with a nearby tree of a different variety.

I know this, of course, but still—two apple trees on a balcony? And lest you envision some Hollywood terrace big enough for a swimming pool, let me give you the exact dimensions of Fern’s garden space: four feet by ten. (4’ x 10’)

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Green Thumb Sunday: Larkspur in the Rock Garden


My first Green Thumb Sunday, and I’m all a-twitter, like my older sister before her first high school dance–How ‘s my hair? How’s my dress? Do these shoes go with this dress? How do I look? (It turned out she’d done it all wrong–she’d dressed up, and everyone else was wearing blue jeans. Hmm.)

I do realize that posting a day late is not generally recommended. Anyone who wants to go into that can check the previous post.

For my debut GTS post, I’ve chosen the larkspur in our rock garden.


A collaborative effort between my husband and me, this garden is one of the most successful in the yard. It needs almost no care,

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Bowing to the Inevitable

All evidence to the contrary, I do have a garden.  

Circle_garden_2 This is what we generally call the Circle, I’m not sure why. (Actuallly, it looks sort of square here, which is weird.)

When we moved in seven years ago, there was a  circular hole in the cement of our patio. Herbs, I thought, since the Circle is about two steps from the French doors to the dining-room/kitchen area. Yes, and some perennials for color. Restock with annuals every year? Forget it.

The first time I took a shovel to this dirt, I just about gave up the plan to plant anything at all. It was almost solid, knit together with a mat of finely meshed roots. I dug through it all, mixed in plenty of compost, and set out the first plants. Well and good.

That fall, I decided to add more compost, and being still under the impression that all amendments must be dug in, I got out the shovel, set it to the dirt, and found–the same thing I’d encountered that spring.Circle_flowers1_2

This went on for a couple of years. (I’m a slow learner.) Then, I noticed that although some things never did well in the Circle, others thrived. C_white_anemone I could put pansies from the same box, on the same day, into the Circle and into the border by the lawn, no more than five feet away, and the former would languish while the latter would grow to the size of small bushes.

My little spring bulbs, however–snowdrops, grape hyacinth, miniature iris–did just fine, and I neverCliff_anemone_stem_2 heard a peep out of the delphinium. Anemone flourished, as did the tiny red-flowered native cliff anemone.And the herbs–oregano, sage, thyme–kept us supplied all year long.

Clearly, it was time to throw in the trowel. So I did. Anything that wanted to live there, I decided, would have to make it on its own. It would get no help from me. Since then, the only digging I’ve done there has been to make holes for new plants.Cliff_anemone_flr_cu_2