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Seedbed Troubleshooting Causes Gardeners to Become Natural Technicians

March 15th, 2012

Seedbed Troubleshooting Causes Gardeners to Become Natural Technicians By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert These days when we\’re more and more inundated with technology, we can lose touch with the natural world. When I just think of all the computers I interact with on an average day – scanning groceries, pumping gas, text messaging on my cell phone, surfing the internet, answering email, driving my car, using Facetime on my iPad to connect with faraway family, punching phone buttons to get help with a bill, using the remote to watch TV, programming the dishwasher, turning... Read More

Sowing Seeds Indoors

February 21st, 2012

Sowing Seeds Indoors By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert Once upon a time, I lived in a very cold place where the winters (measured by the first and last frost dates) lasted from Aug. 15 to June 15. This was back in the old days. This was back in the old days. I understand that Burlington winters haven\’t been so bad in the last few decades. As a budding (no pun intended, of course) vegetable gardener, I did what I had to do: started seeds indoors. Back then, I rented a community plot and also plowed up the back yard and grew vegetables galore – enough to can tomatoes... Read More

The Patio – Wild or Tame?

January 31st, 2012

The Patio – Wild or Tame? By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert A few years ago I designed a front yard patio encircled by a low wall, in Phoenix where this is a popular style. A garden of native perennials and shrubs adorned the outer side of the wall and potted plants within. In such a climate the patio is like a room with no ceiling, and can be used any time it\’s not too hot outside. In the mid-Atlantic, like most other places, our weather varies more so our use of outdoor spaces is more complicated. We\’ve insulated and installed double-paned windows and a screened... Read More

The Color of Bark

December 19th, 2011

The Color of Bark By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert My drive to work is pastoral and meditative. As I go over the hills and through the woods, I often turn off the radio the better to absorb the beauty outside. Now that the trees have shed their leaves, I behold the wood skeletons of trees and shrubs in a colorful array. Some of the colored bark has subtleties that strike me because my eye is trained, like the interior designer who appreciates the many varieties of white paint. But others are as vibrant as any flower would be to any viewer. For the home gardener one of the most... Read More

Waiting for Blooms

November 18th, 2011

Waiting for Blooms By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert When you\’re 5 years old, one year is a fifth of your life – a full 20 percent. But when you\’re 50, it\’s only one-fiftieth of your life. Just the blink of an eye. This is why gardening gets easier as you get older. So much of gardening involves waiting and watching. When you\’re older, your sense of time expands, and waiting becomes easier. I remember planting flower seeds when I was 8 years old. I bought them myself at a corner dime store. The seed package showed the most beautiful blue morning... Read More

Maintaining and Using Perennial Flowers

October 25th, 2011

Maintaining and Using Perennial Flowers By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert Perennials have different lifespans and while some, like peonies, can live for many (some say up to 50) years, all plants will die sooner or later. But you can keep them going by dividing and replanting, or by keeping the seedlings. After flowering, let the leafy tops die down naturally, as they feed the roots which need to survive through the winter, and don\’t cut them off until the plant is dormant. Some plants go dormant and disappear in the summer, but their roots continue to grow and will send up... Read More

Compost

September 12th, 2011

Compost By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert Every October when leaves fall, my neighbors complain. But I rejoice. I welcome dead maple leaves and tuck their crumbly remains underneath my shrubs to decompose and feed the soil. I started gardening to seek relief from my children when they were young. In the garden, my plants never argued. They always did my bidding. It\’s easy to love flowers and leaves for their beauty, variety, and fragrance. It\’s also easy to feel power over them. I could move plants around or even kill them on a whim, if I didn\’t like their looks,... Read More

A Word on Weeding

July 24th, 2011

A Word on Weeding By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert In the perennial garden, this is the time of summer to rest on your laurels and enjoy looking at your garden. It\’s too hot to plant anything. But we still must weed. When I was a little girl, my mother used to encourage me to weed by telling me it was “good for the soul.” While I was out there building character, she disappeared — to read a book no doubt, and not a gardening book. Mom used to pull up new flowers her friends give her, but I apprenticed long and hard to learn to know friend from interloper... Read More

Make Your Own Chrysanthemums – and Use Them Too!

June 29th, 2011

Make Your Own Chrysanthemums – and Use Them Too! By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert The garden mum C. morifolium is one of the easiest perennials to grow and propagate.  It emerges in April or May and after a couple weeks it should be six inches high, with several pairs of lateral leaves. It\’s fully to half hardy, meaning that most varieties survive heavy frosts but some (like the ones used by florists) can only tolerate a little. If you want to have some fun, you can take some of the longer cuttings and poke them directly into the soil. I learned this one spring from a... Read More

Imagine Yourself Enjoying a Perennial Cutting Garden

May 11th, 2011

Imagine Yourself Enjoying a Perennial Cutting Garden By Deborah Clark NABBW’s Gardening Expert Mostly people think of annuals for cutting because of their continuous bloom over a long period.  But carefully selected perennials can also be used. I especially like the appeal of a garden that keeps coming back and has interest through the seasons. Here\’s how one of my favorite perennial gardens came into being: When the bulldozers plowed through the wild tangle at the back of this homeowner\’s lot, a dogwood, tall enough to provide mature beauty, was among the unexpected treasures. The... Read More