Category Archives: Landscaping

Too Many Spruce–?

I’ll never look at my garden the same way again.

Only a few pages into Sue Reed’s Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden (New Society Press, 2010) I started glancing around my  yard with a new eye. How well did our trees funnel summer breezes and block winter ones? Were deciduous trees and conifers planted in the optimal places?

Well, I already knew the answer to that one: no. I’ve got five large spruce grouped on the east and south-east side of the house, and while they do a marvelous job of keeping us cool during heat waves (like the one last week), they do an equally good job of blocking winter sunlight and preventing passive solar warming of the house. And by large, I mean fifty or sixty feet tall–much, much taller than our two-story house.

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Podcast #7 – Permaculture: Everything Counts

Permaculture has to be one of the most interesting gardening movements I’ve discovered recently, and I have to thank Jerome Osentowski and Kareen Erbe hugely for letting me interview them about it. The idea of perennial food gardens delights me, and in permaculture that’s just part of the picture: it’s a whole philosophy of living sustainably, and of getting as much of what you need from your own plot of land as possible. I’m all for that, and as I mention part way through—well, both interviews , I think—it’s given me a name for something I’m already trying to do.

I’m honestly not sure what I was up to when I stumbled onto Jerome Osentowski’s Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, which more or less blew my mind. Four greenhouses, and no power needed from off-site? Figs and passion fruit growing at over 7,000 feet? Hello? Continue reading

Organic lawn care: a matter of definitions, or a moral dilemma?

I’ve got a question for all of you: Can an organic garden service that farms out toxic weed control still call itself organic? Has it sacrificed its integrity, its very soul, or is such language uselessly hyperbolic in such a case?

Let me explain how the question arose. Given the paucity of garden-related businesses that had booths at Bozeman’s poorly-named home and garden show (subject of one of my more acerbic posts), I had time for conversations with the folks staffing all three. Indeed, I swooped down on the two booths for organic gardening services, partly out of sheer delight that they existed, but in part to ask a highly pertinent question: How did they handle bindweed on a residential property?

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Bozeman home and garden show: not so much


A lesson learned: be chary with your guilt


Last year I missed this show. I saw a sign or heard an add, and the next time I turned around, it was over. Immediately, I was stricken with guilt. After all, as a garden blogger, shouldn’t I be running around the country to see garden shows? If I’m not flying to England for the Chelsea show, at least I can attend the local one. But I didn’t. Hence the guilt.

This year, I actually got to the show (thanks to my friend Ellen), and I have to report that last year’s paroxysms were a complete waste of good guilt.

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Doing it Right: Pearl Fryar’s Vision

Fryar, arches
Source: the WebGallery at Fryar's website,

There’s a new garden on my must-see list: the gardens of Pearl Fryar, in Bishopville, South Carolina, where he creates such unlikely and beautiful topiaries as those above—and below.

I should mention that I’d never heard of Pearl Fryar until the Garden Monkey linked to GardenHistoryGirl’s post about him a month back. And she’s not the only garden blogger to write about him, either; Tales of the Microbial Laboratory included a post over a year ago, around when the documentary, A Man Named Pearl came out. (You can see the trailer here.)

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