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Letters from the Garden

verbena bonariensis withstands frost in fall.

The autumn garden: Beautifully alive and definitely dead

We’ve had several frosts now (Indian Summer, where are you?) so the garden is a mishmosh of dead and alive right now. Some things are looking great and so much else is looking terrible. I’ve been trying to take some mental notes for the future. I went heavier on the annuals this year than I would have liked, in part …

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The island of colorful gardens

There’s something special going on at a little island smack dab at the meeting point of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. I’ve never been to a place outside the tropics where a garden can be filled with every color and have it work like it does on Mackinac Island. The air there is clear, the skies seemingly always deep blue. …

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I’ve been a bit slow in posting this week, in part because it’s that horrible just-back-from-vacation thing where you’re running around and feel like nothing is getting done, but also because I took SO many photos this year that it’s taking me awhile to get through them. I tell ya, Mackinac Island is heaven for a gardener. There is so …

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As promised, last weekend I banged out all the container planting (save for three small containers on the front steps that I usually plant with whatever I have leftover).   I like to show the starting point for my containers because they are all a little sparse. I think people who are new to creating container designs are disappointed if …

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Friday Finds


What a crazy week here. So much that was supposed to get done, didn’t. Work was nuts, the garden needs attention and there is this little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, “Hurry up and get on with summer.” This is standard operating procedure for this time of year for me and so many other people. …

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Although it was a major topic in fall, I’ve not said much about the circle garden lately. To catch you up to speed here’s the deal with the circle garden, which is not at all a circle, but “oval garden” is not the least bit catchy. When we bought our house it was a derelict vegetable garden that was mostly …

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It’s high time I tell you a little about the containers I planted this year. I like to show you them early in the summer if only to prove that no container looks great when it’s first planted (and some look positively pathetic), unless you start with enormous plants, which few people do. It takes time for them to grow …

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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.

Thank you to Wave Petunias for partnering with me on this post.  I’m often asked a question that is perplexing to me: “Do you grow annuals or perennials?” I don’t fault the people asking the question as I think there are some people who grow one or the other, and perhaps that was more typical […]

Nothing stops me in my tracks more than when I’m looking at a garden jam-packed with color and texture and come across a spot of bare soil. It puts a screeching halt to well-planned flow.  Gaps in the garden happen because the plant that was supposed to be growing there didn’t, or perhaps because other […]

What more can we ask from a gardening book than to be inspirational and education? Two new books with more than a little in common manage to strike the right balance of both, complimenting each other, much as the personalities of these enthusiastic and generally delightful gardeners do. Claus Dalby, the Danish gardener known for […]

If there is a support group for planter addicts, let me know, because I need it. I love a good container, but finding one is a different matter.  I have two non-negotiable requirements for most planters: they need to be big and they need to look good. Weight, style and even cost are all things […]

Is there any task that has so many rules and yet so many people tackling it in different methods more than growing plants from seeds? It can make the whole process even more confusing. Each way to start seeds has its pros and cons, and although some are better than others for starting particular seeds, […]

There’s a well-established garden-making process around here: Every other year I make a new garden space. It is a lot of work, puts me behind in other areas of my arguably already too-large garden and takes a bit bite out of the plant budget. By the end of the project I swear I’m all done […]

What can I say about the 2021 garden? I have been putting off thinking about it too much because well, I have regrets, and when we are only given so many summers in this lifetime, it stinks to use one on a garden that you don’t love. Don’t get me wrong, I am way more […]

No matter how much I’d like to be one of those people who makes notes throughout the year of gift ideas for family and friends, I am but a mere mortal who, in the throes of a panicked gift-buying season, ends up scouring online gift guides that claim to know the innermost desires of the […]

At a time of year when there’s no shortage of faux decor—faux trees, faux berries, faux garlands, faux mistletoe, for starters—it’s nice to have a few real plants around. The plants we typically think of as “holiday” plants don’t usually bloom at this time of year. Rather, they are forced (although perhaps “t

Growing oddball plants—those plants that aren’t commonly grown in the area—is almost always rewarding. Since there is no real way to measure success, any sign of a plant doing what it’s supposed to do is chalked up in the win column. In other words, I keep my expectations low and hope to be pleasantly surprised. […]

Thank you to Inside Outside House & Garden for partnering with me on my post. As usual, all words and thoughts are mine. Check out the promo code at the end for a free trial. “No new gardens.” Perhaps you’ve heard me say this a few times before, but it turns out no matter how […]

I’ll admit it: My gardener brain switched into fall to-do list mode awhile ago. But somewhere along the line in between planning where bulbs will go and remembering which plants need to be moved, I looked up and found some great plants showing off in the garden. It was, once again, a good reminder to […]

This time of year is all about soaking in the garden and making mental (or more likely, photographic) notes about what worked and what didn’t. Some things are as simple as a plant that just didn’t perform or as complicated as being happy with how a design sketched on paper came to fruition. But somewhere […]