Ready For My Close-Up

On most days, the only way I get through my life is by reminding myself that it's okay to have very relaxed standards about pretty much everything. The whole house needs to be vacuumed, but it's not as if Good Housekeeping is coming over to do an inspection later this afternoon, and besides, nobody ever died wishing they'd spent more time running the vacuum cleaner. So that can wait. I spend my days in grubby jeans and oversized...

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The Garden of 2009

January never really feels like the beginning of the year to me. September, with its end-of-summer, back-to-school vibe, is the time of year that makes me feel like I’m starting over. January just feels like more of the same: more cold, more wet, more long, dark nights. But I can’t help but look ahead and think about what I want to do differently in the garden this year. And I’m not afraid to call them resolutions. Everyone I know has...

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Visitors to the garden

I was headed outside today with the intention of cutting down the overgrown verbena bonariensis, which was looking quite brown and dull now that it's truly winter.  But there were three bright yellow finches–at least, I think they were finches–perched on the wiry stems, picking seeds out of the flowers.  So the tall purple verbena stays. I couldn't get too close without scaring them off, but here are some highly...

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Bloom Day

Among garden bloggers (a small but mighty force in the blogosphere) there is a tradition of posting a photo of whatever happens to be blooming in your garden on the fifteenth of each month. It's a useful practice for a gardener; if you keep it up for a couple of years, you will be able to look back and notice that your pear tree has been blooming earlier than usual, or that the poppies that used to fill your front yard have disappeared,...

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Garden Gifts, 2008

It used to be such a simple, innocent question. What do you want for Christmas? Tell me and it will save me the trouble of buying the wrong thing. Tell me and you'll probably get it. It's a question we've heard from our spouses, parents, children, friends–what do you want? And just like that, you could name it. Some sparkly little thing that caught your eye. As long as it was modest and perhaps scalable (you'd be just as...

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What I’m Thankful For: Dirt

Last week I posted a survey on GardenRant asking gardeners if the economic downturn had put a dent in their horticultural shopping habits. Of the 85 people who voted, a third are going to the garden center a lot less than they used to in order to avoid temptation, and another twenty percent have brought spending to a complete halt. Not good news for garden centers. But there were some bright spots among the comments people posted: Several...

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The Obama Garden

I wrote this on the morning after the election, as I was trying to tame my hangover in time for more champagne at another victory party that night. During his acceptance speech last night, President-Elect Obama laid out many challenges that Americans face, but he overlooked our most pressing problem: what to do with all those hours that we have been devoting to obsessively checking the polls and monitoring YouTube for Sarah Palin snafus that we...

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BATS!

It was just another typical evening in the Stewart-Brown household. ME: Honey, would you like to hear some fun facts about bats? SCOTT: Actually, I was just wondering if there were any fun facts about bats I hadn’t heard already, so your timing is perfect. ME: Did you know that there’s a guy at HSU who has developed software to record the sounds that bats make and then analyze the data to identify which species are...

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Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

Those of us who garden on California’s North Coast tend to live in a state of denial about the fact that we are actually gardening in the Pacific Northwest. We like to think of ourselves as California gardeners. You know, California. Santa Barbara. Monterey. That sort of thing. But the fact is that we have much more in common, climate-wise, with our horticultural compatriots in Portland and Seattle. So when Timber Press sent me a copy...

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