img.jpg
Crrritic,

They asked for it!


A few weeks ago, the Ranters were asked by Time.com’s Money publication to supply a list of good and bad ways to spend money in the garden.

I’ll be honest; I usually hate this kind of crap. However, this time, the writer, Brad Tuttle, did a fantastic job. He took what could have been a boring how-to and made it into a sassy, challenging list of basic gardening beliefs—things that the Ranters feel very strongly about.

Check it out.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on June 26, 2014 at 8:00 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Who’s Ranting About Us.

img.jpg
Crrritic,

Fall Color Marred by Cleavage

Guest Rant by Wendy Kiang-Spray


I am not an arborist.  Nor am I a landscape architect, city planner, neighborhood developer, or anything of the sort. This is why I’m so confused about the planting of large trees under phone and power lines.  Throughout my neighborhood, these trees grow so large that they need to be viciously pruned regularly.  The beautiful color this time of year highlights only the part of the tree that actually exists.  It’s impossible to admire the gorgeous trees in my community with their brilliant oranges and golds and not notice that through the top center, many trees are cleaved practically in half.  It always makes me think of the T-1000 in Terminator 2.  Unlike the liquid-metal robotic villain in the movie though, the poor trees can’t recompose.

A little over 10 years ago, I planted a Southern magnolia about 5 feet from my house.  That…might be a problem if the tree grows to its full size.  But hey, I was young, just bought a house, and nothing makes one feel more adult than planting a tree.  All I knew at the time was that it was pretty and I wanted it.  But the arborists, or city planners, or landscape architects, don’t they know better?  Shouldn’t they have better options for types of trees that should be planted right up under the telephone and power lines?  Doesn’t it make more sense to choose the right kind of tree rather than sending an army of trucks out to whack the tops of these way-too-tall trees every year?  Perhaps there’s some very good explanation for this.  Just a layman here.  Can someone help me understand?

Wendy Kiang-Spray is a freelance garden writer working on her first book about growing and cooking Chinese vegetables. She gardens in Rockville, Maryland and volunteers with the DC Master Gardeners. Follow her garden happenings at Greenish Thumb or on Facebook.

Posted by

Wendy Kiang-Spray

on November 7, 2013 at 8:10 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Guest Rants.

img.jpg
Crrritic, Ministry Of Controversy,

Urban prairie envy


I’m not the owner of this house, nor am I the designer of the pictured front yard, but I do admire  the knowledge,  commitment and creativity of whoever made this garden.

I came across this house on a random trip around town while driving down a street that I may not ever have seen before.  Finding it is a testament to a friend’s practice of purposely driving unusual routes from point A to point B on occasions when you’re not in a hurry. I was with the aforementioned friend and we took a detour for him to show me a small hidden park in Manhattan.  This house was a WBC (wow!-brake!-camera!) event—defined by a moment when you are stunned by a garden while driving, suddenly slam on the brakes, and take a photo out the window to document the vision of the gardener.

Here is everything we’ve been talking about in natural landscape: a smaller, minimal-carbon-footprint house, a front yard of ornamental grass that needs mowing only once a year (composed primarily of what I think is Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’), and a few native perennials to brighten up the edges (notice the Rudbeckia remnants at lower right).  It seems to be right out of the recommendations of such influential texts as Sara Stein’s Noah’s Garden. I didn’t go creeping around the house, but there is likely only a very small back yard surrounded by some woody areas. I took this photo knowing I’d blog about it, all the while hoping that the owner wasn’t calling the police about the stalkers taking pictures from the road.  (The house number was eliminated from the picture.)  They’ll get a visit soon enough, however, from the Garden Tour group with an eye towards being a future tour site.

I love this landscaping and this house (particularly since our empty-nest home seems suddenly too large), but I also know that I can’t do this on the Flint Hills prairie that I live on. This property is relatively safe, surrounded as it is by miles of paved crossing roads, but imagine this yard and house out on the Kansas prairie (or in Southern California) with a grass fire moving towards it.  Yikes!

Posted by

James Roush
on October 6, 2014 at 7:48 am, in the category Guest Rants, Lawn Reform, Real Gardens.

img.jpg
Crrritic,

Garden in a gun

While some conspiracy theorists believe that shadow organizations such as the Illuminati or the New World Order or the American military-industrial complex are heck-bent on taking over our lives, ProfessorRoush has long suspected that marketing groups are the real shadow organizations that will bring about the downfall of civilization.  After all, they’ve already convinced us to buy bottled tap water at prices exceeding that of our dwindling oil supplies.

As further evidence of my theory, I learned today that an Indiegogo campaign has formed to convince willing fools such as myself to part with money for the promise that a prairie garden can be created by haphazardly firing shotgun shells packed with flower seed into a field.  Several hours ago, if you asked me what I thought “shotgun gardening” was, I’d have envisioned a haphazard assemblage of shrubs, flowers, grasses, and plants stuffed hither and yon into the landscape without a specific plan.  I certainly wouldn’t have expected that it meant that I could step out on my back porch and, true to VP Joe Biden’s recent suggestion, “fire off a couple of rounds” and create a garden.

Indiegogo, for the unenlightened, is a site that lets anyone use its “powerful social media tools” to create campaigns for raising money (or, if you prefer, suckers to fleece).  The Shotgun Garden Indiegogo campaign is run from www.flowershell.com, where you can purchase twelve-gauge shotgun shells loaded with twelve different kinds of seeds including peony, poppy, cornflower, daisy and sunflower seeds.

I have a plethora of experience strewing countless “meadows-in-a-can” around my environment without altering the forb/grass ratio of the native prairie to any appreciable degree, so I’m somewhat skeptical that a few shotgun shells full of flower seed will improve the outcome.  And these are live shells, dangerous in their own right.  What if I mistook Flowershells for rock salt while chasing off the pack of teenage boys who constantly circle my daughter?  “You’re no daisy” might not work anymore as a nineteenth century throwback insult for those boys.  I certainly can’t risk the chance of contributing to their delinquency if their backsides each sprouted a personal poppy field.

No, Indiegogo’s efforts are wasted on me because I’m certainly not going to waste my hard-won cash on Flowershells, despite how interesting and tempting they might seem to a bored gardener in winter.  My gardening money is going to have to be wasted the old-fashioned way, attempting to grow meadows from a can.

Posted by

James Roush
on December 23, 2013 at 7:48 am, in the category Guest Rants, Taking Your Gardening Dollar.

img.jpg
Crrritic,

Super-Duper Chanticleer Book and Contest

The Book, available next month from Timber Press, is the story of the garden from its very own gardeners. And Chanticleer Garden is a garden that’s designed and managed, not just cared for by gardeners, so they reveal more than pretty images – though Rob Cardillo’s are amazing.  It’s called The Art of Gardening – Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by R. William Thomas (shown here during my 2006 visit) and his team.

This is one of maybe two gardening books I’ll actually read this year, because for me Chanticleer is such an exciting place – garden as performance art, and modern.

The Contest is exciting, too, compared to most book launches in the gardening world. Prizes include “luxury accommodations for two,” $200 worth of a “premier dining experience in historic Wayne, PA”, invitations to the launch party, and copies of the book. Click here to enter before September 4th. Multiple chances to win! 

The Photos here, which I took on my two visits to Chanticleer, are pretty enough but wait ’til you see Rob Cardillo’s versions of these scenes and many more in the book. To die for.

Design Ideas from Bill Thomas from lead author Bill Thomas are already available on A Way to Garden, and they’ll whet your appetite for more.

My Blog Posts about the garden include photos of my May 2011 visit and a review of the book Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden by Adrian Higgins and Rob Cardillo.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on August 21, 2015 at 8:17 am, in the category Books.