Saturday, September 24, 2016

Breezy morning

Breezy morning

Grasses and bananas are so different, but I love the way they both catch even the slightest breeze and dance in the wind.  It's a pleasant morning in Washington, DC and I'm just back from a trip to Atlanta for the GWA Annual Conference & Expo, sorting through the 600+ garden photos I took in 4 days and trying to get back to this blogging thing.  But right now, there's something to be said for just sitting on the roof deck and gazing at the garden while everything looks its very best at the end of the growing season.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vacation care for indoor plants

Indoor plantsIndoor plants, 2016

I'm not a happy traveler; I admit it, I'm one of those people who worries whether I locked the doors or left the stove on.  As a gardener, one of my more realistic worries is coming home to dead and dying plants.  I've been growing plants indoors for over 40 years, originally houseplants, although now I primarily propagate plants from seeds and cuttings for planting outdoors later.  I know exactly how much water each plant needs, and how often.  I examine nearly every plant, nearly every day, and water each one exactly when it needs it.  But what to do when I can't be home to take care of them?  Below are some of the ways I help my plants (and my sanity) survive this perilous time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Isabella had two daddies

Sleepy kitty

Today a piece of my soul is missing, a piece I never knew was there before a skinny, hungry cat, barely more than a kitten, found her way into our garage from the back alley on a September afternoon in 2003.  For not quite 13 years, she became the center of our lives.  Yesterday, I rushed home early from an out-of-town trip to say good-bye to our baby.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Plants and politics

Entrance bed (cropped)

Gardening and politics don't often cross paths, and when they do, it can get unpleasant.  I've avoided political issues in this blog because, first, none ever came up, and secondly, my political opinions weren't the least bit relevant to the subject matter of this blog.  That changed with North Carolina House Bill 2, widely (but inaccurately) portrayed as a "bathroom bill".  In reality, this bill goes far beyond that issue to give a special "screw you" to the entire LGBT community.

Saturday, April 23, 2016



Nothing to say right now, just a few photos of my begonias.  These are all hybrid seedlings from my breeding program, rapidly outgrowing their space under the lights indoors and needing to go out in the garden very soon.  I really like a couple of them, but will any of them prove to be hardy?  Only time will tell!  Click on the photos to go to zoomable originals in Flickr.





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Beheaded Botanist


Sitting at my computer in my comfortable office, handling herbarium specimens that are often well over a hundred years old, I sometimes forget how dangerous it could be to collect these specimens in the 1800’s, and how many of these collectors came to bad—and sometimes violent—ends.  One such end inspired a story by Rudyard Kipling.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quick and easy begonia propagation

Begonia hybrid

One reason begonias are so popular is because they're ridiculously easy to propagate.  When I was a kid, I was introduced to begonias when my mother brought home a leaf that a woman in her bridge club had given her.  I already knew how to propagate african violets from leaf cuttings, and this woman told my mother that begonias could be propagated the same way.  It worked, and I was hooked.  I've since discovered that most begonias can be propagated from leaf cuttings.  About the only ones that can't are cane or "angelwing" begonias, which have to be propagated by division or stem cuttings.