Walter Cudnohufsky – Cultivating the Designer’s Mind

  • Post published:03/29/2019
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Walter Cudnohufsky says “Design is Optimism Personified.” I saw Cudnohufsky’s design and optimism myself, one day about 11 years ago. “Keep talking. Keep talking,” Cudnohufsky said as my Heath neighbors, Lynn Perry and Rol Hesselbart, brought out all their concerns about the landscape surrounding their new garage. I was invited to watch Cudnohufsky at work. It was a lively consultation and I was amazed at how patiently he listened, how carefully he observed the area. Lynn visited me…

New Ways to Make Compost and Vermicompost – Book Reviews

  • Post published:03/10/2018
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The first time I learned about compost piles was when a homesteading friend gave me a subscription to Rodale’s Organic Farming and Gardening magazine while we were still living in New York City. We had a tiny backyard in Manhattan, but we never did very much with it because of our fear of heavy metals in the soil. Adverse health effects caused by heavy metals are a real threat if you grow edibles. We moved to Heath 37…

New Books on Wellness, in the Garden and Kitchen

  • Post published:12/22/2017
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December is a season for new Books, great for gift giving. Shawna Coronado has shared her gardening expertise in many ways on TV, on lecture tours and in her books like Grow a Garden Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with a Purpose, but in her new book The Wellness Garden she shares her own history with painful osteoarthritis and how she learned to change her lifestyle for better health. The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat and Walk Your Way to…

Then and Now – I Celebrate My 10th Blogaversary

Today I celebrate another blogaversary. Ten years ago I inaugurated my commonweeder blog. As a reader and a gardener I enjoyed the little play on words as the commonWEEDER and opposed to Virginia Woolf's CommonREADER books of essays. I had the most basic of ideas about what a blog was, but a good friend who knows more about such things said  I needed a blog. I acknowledged in my first post that I did not know what was…

Secret Gardeners, Naturalists, and Wild Seeds

  • Post published:12/01/2017
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The Secret Gardeners – Britain’s Creatives Reveal Their Private Sanctuaries by Victoria Summerley with photographs by Hugo Rittson Thomas (Francis Lincoln $45) is a glamorous armchair tour of beautiful gardens created such creative people as Sir Richard Branson, Julian Fellowes, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rupert Everett, Sting and 20 other familiar and not so familiar British stars. Most of us don’t think we are engaged in garden design when we go out to plant a perennial bed or plant…

The Root of Laughter in the Garden

  • Post published:09/09/2017
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Laughing in the garden doesn't always come easy. But what can you do after gnashing your teeth over the squash borers, weeping over the discovery of leaf miners in the beet bed, growling at the Japanese beetles in  the roses, or pulling up garlic mustard for the umpteenth time?  I imagine the gods laughing at me. But those who are wise will laugh and stiffen our backs for the next onslaught. I thought of this when my friend…

Spirit of Stone by Jan Johnsen

  • Post published:03/03/2017
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Stone came into my garden last year. And I have to say it lifted my spirits considerably. There is nothing like a stone wall that you didn’t have to build yourself. In her new book The Spirit of Stone (St. Lynn’s Press $21.95)Jan Johnsen shows us the many ways that many types of stone can be used in the garden, from practical porous driveway paving to rustic or elegant stone walls, walkway paving, dry gardens, as sculpture and…

Late Bloomer by Jan Coppola Bills

  • Post published:12/03/2016
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Several years ago a friend asked me to give her advice about her garden which she said was out of control and too much work. When I visited I could see an immediate problem; her paths were too narrow. Wider paths would make it possible to walk through the garden side by side with a friend, and even provide better working space when it was time to weed or divide the collection of lovely perennials that comprised her…

Water-Saving Gardens by Pam Penick

  • Post published:08/27/2016
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Pam Penick, who grew up in the southeastern part of our country, wasn’t expecting the very dry garden she would get when she and her husband moved to Austin, Texas. The years she has spent learning how to have a beautiful dry garden have resulted in a desire to share all she has learned. The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water (Ten Speed Press $19.99) begins by showing us some beautiful…

All the Presidents’ Gardens

  • Post published:07/10/2016
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I just finished reading All The Presidents'Gardens which gave me a whole new perspective on Fourth of July celebrations. Our views of our presidents sometimes take the form of some character defining story, like young George Washington and his cherry tree, or singular achievement like Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase or Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.  In All The President’s Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses – How the White House Grounds Have Grown With America…