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Letters from the Garden


Can we just talk about faux plants?

Before I launch into what is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to a rant on this blog I want to just say that I firmly believe in the idea of doing what you like in your own house and garden. These spaces should please you, and if they please someone else in the process, I consider that a bonus. …

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Sweet peas

How to grow great sweet peas

According to my seed-starting spreadsheet, which I make every year to tell me when and how I’m supposed to be starting seeds, March 14 was the day to start my sweet peas. But I couldn’t wait any longer so I got all wild and crazy and planted them last weekend. (I’m a seed-starting rebel, I tell you!) If I could only …

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foxglove seed mistake

You won’t believe the big seed-saving mistake I made

A few years ago I grew ‘Dalmation Peach’ Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) for the first time. It’s a gorgeous foxglove, carrying peach to pink flowers atop 2-1/2 foot tall stems. But its best feature is that it will bloom the first year, unlike most foxgloves, which are true biennials and don’t bloom until the second year.  But finding seed for sale …

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Seed starting plan

A seed starting plan for hoarders

This started as a post to share what I’m growing from seed this year. What it evolved into is a sordid tale of seed hoarding, a gardener so traumatized by a never-ending winter that she completely overestimated her ability to grow so many plants and, in the end, a way to justify it all. As I’ve said before, I find …

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makana silver artemisia

Some of the best new plants coming to your garden

I’ve just come off the first few presentations of a talk I’m doing on some of the best new plants you’ll find in garden centers this year and spending all that time looking at new plants has me seriously excited about some of them.  There are so many new plants coming on the market this year that it makes me …

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Great little trees for special places

There aren’t a lot of opportunities to add really special plants to established gardens. Special plants require very specific placement so they can be seen and appreciated, and surrounded by a cast of supporting characters that don’t threaten to try to upstage the star. When I finally decided in fall to attempt a rescue mission on a declining dwarf Japanese …

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sweet pea bouquet

Kicking off seed-buying season with Floret

Despite ample time over the holidays to figure out what seeds I want to order, I’ve not gotten my act together on an official seed order yet. I know my must haves, which include Chelsea Prize cucumbers, and ‘Gigante’ Italian parsley among many others, but I haven’t gotten around to checking if I need to buy more of those favorites or …

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The Impatient Gardener blog was started in 2009 and its library of posts includes practical how-tos, plant guides, favorite garden gear, successes and failures and much more. If you’re looking for something specific, the search function at the top of the page can help.

Earlier this week I opened my garden to a group of master gardeners. Although this wasn’t an official garden tour, there was a still a bit of last-minute fussing, the kind where you look at your own garden with a more critical  eye. That led to pulling out a “more natural” area next to the […]

Me in February: I’m going to grow an entire garden from seed this year! I will grow all the things I’ve grown in the past and add in at least 20 new varieties because I am a seed-starting machine! And I definitely need to grow a whole flat of everything because I need backups if […]

I do, on occasion check out a few gardening groups on Facebook. For the past couple of weeks they’ve been full of posts like this: “What is eating my plant and how do I kill it?” A variety of answers come in, but in every case there’s at least one answer like this: “Put Sevin […]

Once a year I go to Mackinac Island, an 8-mile-round island at the top of lakes Michigan and Huron. And for the last several years I’ve been giving a bit of a photo tour here. It’s become something of a tradition to bring you a few photos, although some years both the plantings and the […]

If you’ve been reading this blog for a number of years you know what’s been up. If you’re newer you may think I fell off the face of the Earth. So this post begins with an obligatory apology. Every summer I head out in mid-July for a week or a bit more. And every year […]

I admit I’m an espalier novice. When I first saw an espalier tree (I’m guessing on “Gardener’s World” or in a British gardening magazine), I thought I had stumbled upon some great European secret. Silly me. Espalier is happening everywhere, and it’s definitely growing in popularity in North America. And why would

I’ve been gardening seriously for a couple decades now and I was starting to think I knew what made me happy in the garden. I never expected that 165 gallons of water would become one of my favorite things. When I designed the vegetable garden I left a big space in the center for some […]

I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced a spring like this. Cool days and cooler nights have persisted far longer than whatever can be considered normal, even in these days of weather that seems to have lost all semblance of normalcy.  The partner to the cold temperatures is rain. In May it fell in long, […]

There are plants in my garden that are coddled within in inch of their life. I check on them often enough that I usually know when a new leaf has emerged. And then there are the other plants that just quietly do their thing for years until one day you blink and wonder where that […]

The effects of our extreme winter are still showing up in the garden. With the cool, wet spring we’ve had (as much a blessing for a busy gardener who is thankful that the weeds aren’t head-high as  it is a curse), everything is slower than usual. In fact I estimate that most things are still […]

At this time five years ago I would have been about 10 big contractor garbage bags in to my annual garlic mustard weed pull. The property, actually the neighborhood, was full of it. I would pull the stuff until my hand cramped up and no more garbage bags would fit in the car to be […]