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finding refuge in our gardens, and hope in a hoya, with ken druse

IT’S THURSDAY, March 19th, 2020, as Ken Druse and I are taping this show from our respective homes via Skype. In my weekly newsletter last Sunday, I said I didn’t know just what to say, or how to begin, since nothing seemed the same as it had a mere seven days prior to that.

All I came up with was this thought, and it’s how we’ll start today’s show, too:

Maybe more than ever before in my life, I’m grateful today to have a garden. What a blessing it feels like. I can’t imagine the weeks and months ahead without the refuge it will provide. Perhaps you all feel the same way.

So Ken and I wanted to talk about what our gardens mean to us, and especially what they can mean to all of us gardeners in this unusual year.

Fellow garden author Ken Druse and I have known each other through many gardening seasons, like about 30. And we’ve each been gardening longer than that. But this year already feels different, of course, and we wanted to talk about that, and what plans we have to take full advantage of the refuge aspect of our own backyards—and also of our indoor companions, our longtime houseplants, like Ken’s beloved hoyas (like Hoya kerrii with its heart-shaped leaves, above at Ken’s) and more.

Important: We hope you will chime in after listening, or reading the transcript (or both), to share your own strategies with fellow gardeners. Use the comments box at the very bottom of the page.

Read along as you listen to the March 23, 2020 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

the garden as refuge, with ken druse

 

 

Margaret: Hi, Ken. We could tell everybody we’ve been talking virtually every day, haven’t we lately?

Ken: Yes, and we’re talking about what everyone’s talking about, which is the virus.

Margaret: And as you and I have talked about everything in our lives for the 30 years-ish that we’ve known each other, we’re talking about it through the filter of the garden. So it’s kind of an eerie juxtaposition out the window and on fair days outside, when we can go outside right now of sort of unfolding beauty and innocence, tiny bulbs, plump little buds, and the headlines hourly and daily. So I wanted to backtrack about what gardening means to us and sort of what brought us to it. How long have you been gardening? [A high-season view across Ken’s garden, above.]

Ken: [Laughter.] O.K., since I was very young. How’s that?

Margaret: Yes, a little boy?

Ken: Since I was a teenager. And I started with indoor plants and got really turned on. And then when I went to college in Rhode Island, I was kind of close to Danielson, Connecticut, which is where Logee’s is. And I was thinking about all this stuff, and I think that shopping has a lot to do with my acquisitiveness. And my interest in seeing a new plant, finding a new plant, thinking, well, they’re all so incredible. And shopping online is something you can do now solo really well.

Margaret: Uh-oh. So you’re going to be spending some money. You said you were a teenager and so forth. Besides the sort of amassing a collection, that sort of instinct that you apparently had, was there some other escapism or something else that brought you to it? I don’t know. I don’t want to project onto you. I mean, I can tell you mine, but I don’t know.

Ken: I know I have a need to nurture, and I just love, it’s so exciting to see… It seems like slow-motion in most cases, but to see a plant grow and thrive or something from a seed, sometimes that’s pretty fast. And then from a seed to, in your case, edibles, it’s a miracle. And to participate in that, I’m thinking how heartwarming it is. It’s a boost, and it makes you think about tomorrow.

Margaret: Yes, yes. I mean, for me, I was in my 20s, and I mean, you know this story; most of my listeners know the story. I was in my 20s. My father had died. The next year, my mother, who was 49, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t even think they called it that at that time, but that was the idea. And so there I was called home to care for my widowed mother, and that unfolded this strange time in my young life. And I was close to home. I had to stay close to home during the days. I had a job at night. Someone else came and cared for her at night. And what are you going to do? I mean, as I always say, you can only watch so much daytime TV when you’re 24 or 25 years old.

And so I got a garden book. Someone gave me “Crockett’s Victory Garden,” and that expression, “victory garden,” seems appropriate right now. And I just started doing the stuff in it. I started going to the local garden center, and whatever it said, I just bought those seeds or that plant and just did these crazy experiments and obviously killed most of the things in the early going. I didn’t know what I was doing. But that was my entree, was during a very dark time in my younger life. So it’s been a refuge for me, a number of times it’s seen me through. I have often said my garden has saved me many times.

So I find I’m thinking of spending more time outside because I can’t go anywhere at the moment. And all of my events, I’m sure like yours, have been postponed at least through May and I’m sure through June and whatever as well. Are you thinking of doing more? I’m trying to assign myself some projects, things I’ve put off because usually I have garden visitors, and I can’t make a mess, and leave the mess there for weeks, while I do a big renovation or something. And I’m thinking, “Well, this is the time, Margaret. Nobody’s coming.”

Ken: [Laughter.] Well, we already talked about me shopping, and I haven’t really gotten that into that, but I probably will. Usually I shop for something because I see something, and then I track it down online, and then that leads me to “Oh, they have the minimum order.” Oh, and then there’s five plants, and you only wanted one. And then there’s the shipping savings if you buy $149 worth of plants, not that I’ve ever done that.

But it’s almost time for me to spruce up the houseplants, and that’s something I can do, and it’s something I should do, do a houseplant rehab. Every day I run to the light cart to see who’s changed or what seed has sprouted, that miracle. I’m never tired of that miracle. So there’s that. I planted some perennials yesterday that came in the mail, and they were dormant. So that’s happening already, and that’s going to continue. I got a bare-root cherry tree that I’m growing in a pot. I don’t know why. [Laughter.]

Margaret: Right. Well, but whatever gets you through, I mean, I think, right? I love that you said “who’s” changed? You went to the light cart to look at all your little babies. You said “who.” You didn’t say “what,” you said “who.” And I think of them the same way. To me, plants are not some inanimate object, some “it,” right?

Ken: Mm-hmm.

Margaret: I think of them as who, not what.

So you said houseplant rehab. So this is a time for that, and we have time because we’re home, and we have time to notice. And that’s a good suggestion for me, because a lot of years I get so hectic trying to get ready for the open gardens-

Ken: Right.

Margaret: ...that I don’t do my re-potting of those houseplants on their way out the door for the summer. Do you know what I mean? I skip it. So that’s a really good one.

Ken: Well, I kind of do it when they’re on their way out, which is late, usually mid-May. And wouldn’t it be great for me to clean the leaves with a sponge and a couple of drops of dish soap and a quart of warm water and just clean off the dust?

But also some of them get a little sooty mold [above], and there’s all sorts of insects that can actually be removed with a sponge and a tiny bit of soap and water. So the things that are evergreen, which is most of the houseplants, and things that have from leaves like citrus and camellia, if you grow things like that, and philodendron, which you can grow almost anywhere, some of the philodendron. I put my hand under the leaf and just rub the top, just brush the sponge over it, and almost everything comes right off. And the plants look so much better, and then they say “thank you.”

Margaret: Yes, because, I mean, spending a winter indoors is not really their thing, and there’s all that unseen dust that moves around in the air with the heating system, when the heating system’s on in any house. And you find that fine dust. Like my clivias all have that by this time of year, and they need a nice tending. So you have a camellia. You grow hoyas, don’t you?

Ken: I do. There’s one at the kitchen window, and luckily that’s very close to the kitchen sink because if the plant’s small enough, it will go right in the kitchen sink and get washed off there. Or you have your clivias, and you probably take them to the shower.

Margaret: Yes, I do. I do, yes. But the hoyas, I’ve never grown them.

Ken: Some hoyas need a greenhouse, and well, we can talk about what they are. They used to be part of the milkweed family, but I think they’ve separated them now. But they’re semi-succulent. They have thick leaves. They’re pretty slow-growing, except in the spring when they kind of shoot. I have one wonderful one called Hoya kerrii, and I started with one leaf in a pot, and it stayed that way for about five years, one leaf in a pot, many years ago. [Laughter.] And then all of a sudden it just exploded, and now it’s a very big, vine-y plant. I have it on a wreath circle, stuck in this… Well, it’s a long story. But I’ve wound it round and round, and it has beautiful flowers when it blooms in the summer, and it has heart-shaped leaves. [Ken’s Hoya kerrii detail above, and trained as wreath at top of page.]

I have another one that has purple flowers. They don’t flower very often, and it’s important not to trim where the flowers come, because it blooms on spurs, kind of like an apple tree, and it’ll bloom over and over again on the same spurs. So you have to not cut those back.

Margaret: Oh, so don’t deadhead, so to speak? Oh.

Ken: Exactly. The flowers fall off. And they’re fragrant, almost all of them. And if you do cut it or trim it, it will bleed white latex, like a lot of succulents and milkweeds.

Margaret: Milkweeds, right, right. I mean, if a person wanted to think about adopting a hoya, where would they look? I mean, did you get yours from friends or what?

Ken: Well, I got the kerrii with the one single leaf at a flower show in Virginia, probably 17 years ago-

Margaret: Right.

Ken: Maybe more. And it was like $2.50. It was expensive for one leaf. [Laughter.]

Margaret: Right.

Ken: But Logee’s Greenhouses, as I mentioned before, they have some, and Gardino Nursery, I think it’s called. But if you look online, there are people who specialize in hoyas, and when you read about them, some of them make really good houseplants because they can take low humidity. And some of them want lots of humidity. The leaves are different on every single one, as are the flowers. They bloom in clusters. It’s kind of hard to describe. They’re like stars in these fireworks clusters, and some of them smell like cinnamon. And Hoya kerrii smells kind of like clove and tomato. In other words, it smells kind of like ketchup.

Margaret: That’s funny. And you’re the guy who just wrote a book about fragrance, “The Scentual Garden,” so I guess you’d have thought this through about what things smell like. Yes.

Ken: And this is a wonderful situation we’re in. It’s a terrible situation, but it’s a wonderful time to think about dreaming about fragrance, to feel a little better.

Margaret: Yes, get a whiff of something wonderful, yes?

Ken: Mm-hmm.

Margaret: Yes. It’s hard to describe something like a hoya, and we’ll show the pictures with the  transcript and also give the links to some of the places that do sell them. Because, as you just said, one of them you got 17 years ago as a leaf. I mean, speaking of using personal pronouns, this who, this creature is still with you 17 years later, a faithful companion, yes? So I mean, I think there’s something really positive about that. And as I’ve said many times before, my Clivia, my many giant pots of clivias are my grandmother’s. So I don’t even know if these plants are 60 years old or 70 years. I don’t even know when she got them. I’ve had them for more than 40. [Three pots of Margaret’s clivia in the back mudroom, above.]

Ken: Have you ever re-potted them?

Margaret: Yes, but it gets to the point where, I mean, where am I going to put all the… [Laughter.] You know what I mean. They’re in like 18-inch plus pots. And anyway, but yes, and that’s one of the things I think that I’m not going to put off this spring because I do have the time and I’m here. And I think that assigning myself little tasks like that in this very distracting and very difficult time is really important, to break up that refreshing your browser to see what the headlines… You know what? I want to get lost in re-potting the clivias, I think, right? I mean, I think that’s what we’re talking about, right?

Ken: Absolutely.

Margaret: Right, right, right. And another thing I was thinking about is, and I mentioned victory garden before or whatever, and that was my first book, and I was thinking victory garden now. It’s not a time of war, but it is a time that feels like that. And I thought I have these big, big bowls. They’re like 2-1/2, or 3 feet across, these low terracotta bowls [above, with coleus, alternanthera and phormium one summer], and I have them on the patio and near the house. And they’re sort of these where I put my “annuals” so that it looks showy during the garden tours.

Well, there won’t be any garden tours probably at all this year. And I thought well, maybe I’m just going to do all kinds of colors and textures of lettuces and greens in those, and it’ll just be my little… I’ll pinch a few here and there and make a salad or a saute, a stir fry every day. Do you know what I mean? I’m sort of rethinking since I’m going to be here mostly alone and doing my-

Ken: Well, and you don’t want to go to the market.

Margaret: Right.

Ken: You don’t want to be near people if you can help it. And especially with greens, you can buy canned food and things like that. But you really can’t buy fresh vegetables until the winter of things that will last, although speaking of winter, I will be growing some butternut squash in one of the few places I have a little bit of sun because I’ve had some success with ‘Butternut’ squash in bright shade and a little bit of sun.

'Butternut' squash after storing till springMargaret: Yes. That’s my favorite. And I have a few more from last year’s garden that are still with me because I grow the variety from Turtle Tree Seed. It’s just ‘Butternut,’ but it’s been selected for 25 years or something at Turtle Tree Seed—neighbors of mine, that seed company’s right near me—for lastingness. Every year they see which fruits last the longest and replant from those. I’m oversimplifying, but they’ve been selecting for two decades-plus for lastingness. And I’m telling you, I have these massive fabulous ‘Butternut’ sitting in the kitchen with me right now looking for their time in the soup pot or whatever. And they’re perfect in late March. [Above: Two fruits from Turtle Tree’s ‘Butternut’ stil in prime shape the next spring after fall harvest.]

Ken: Well, you got sun, so you might think about things that you can put up. I know you freeze a lot of stuff. But in the old days and during World War II, victory gardens as you said, a lot of people grew stuff that they could can. And people don’t can as much. Well, if you got a big freezer, that’s great. But growing things that you can can, so to speak.

Margaret: Yes. So I think for me, the garden’s going to look different. It’s going to be more about my connecting to it and right around the house and feeding me. Things that when the garden’s usually open to the public, certain days it’s not always the same focus, so that’s going to shift for me. The birds are super important to me now. I don’t know if you enjoy them there at your place. But I’m super-excited because a pair of Carolina wrens that has been with me all winter… They’re tiny birds and they have a lot of personality, like all the wrens, and this pair has been right around the house all winter and talking and making all kinds of fun sounds.

And they’ve been eyeing and clinging to the back porch post that has vines surrounding it all winter, sort of staring at the house, like staring from the edge of the porch posts at the house. And I’m thinking,  “What are you doing? Why are you always here all winter?” Well, it turns out they’re planning on using one of the old phoebe nests that was left behind last year sort of on the porch posts, tucked in the corner by the roof of the porch. They’re now building a nest on top of the phoebe’s nest from last year. [Laughter.] [Carolina wren, below, from Wikipedia.]

Ken: I have Carolina wrens too, and they think this is their house. They yell at me, or they yell at the dogs even more, every time I go out, it’s [Ken makes their chatter sound]

Margaret: Yes, chitter-chatter. Yes. Yes, yes. And again, this is a time to be happy for these treats. I mean, I’m looking forward to when all the insects, the bees start buzzing. I mean, I have honey bees collecting some nectar or pollen, whatever, from some of the early bulbs and the pussy willows and things. But I’m looking forward to the awakenings, because we need a counterpoint. Yes, so those are some of the things that are changing here.

Are you doing any other sort of projects? Because I said I can make a mess now this year, so I am going to do a few areas that I’ve put off rehabbing. Anything there like that?

Ken: Well, we took down a really big spruce tree, and now there’s a little more sun, and I want to figure that out. Well, usually the way I garden and plan and design is whoever comes in the mail, it’s an emergency, and they get plugged in, and that’s a garden-

Margaret: Right.

Ken: …in many cases. But I’ve got an opportunity to design and plan, so I’m going to take a good long look at that.

Margaret: Right.

Ken: I might develop another couple of areas. Certainly rehab, that’s definitely a big one. Every year I think I’m going to take all of the perennials out of the border, clean the whole thing up, and put them back. I did it once on big tarps and everything. And I’ve been putting that off for about three years, so maybe this is the year for that.

Margaret: Yes, it’s a good time right now. I was outside yesterday doing some pruning, and it was very satisfying. I mean, it’s not like I did anything epic-level or anything. No one else would probably notice the difference, but it just felt good. Do you know what I mean? And this is the thing I love about some of these simple tasks. There are tangible instant rewards, and you feel better, like you’ve accomplished something. And sometimes when all this other stuff is so big and we can’t control it, it feels good to take all the suckers off a branch of an old magnolia, right?

Ken: I think almost everything that we do feels good, and it feels good while you’re doing it. And then to my surprise, I take a few steps back and realize, “Oh, I’ve cleaned that whole space up.” I didn’t even realize I was doing it. You just get started, and before you know, you’ve weeded a whole area.

Margaret: Yes. I lucked out the leaves and fallen debris in one of my two in-ground water gardens yesterday. And I turned it on, and I’ll tell you the sound of the running water is also extremely welcome right now.

Ken: Soothing.

Margaret: It’s a soothing sound, yes. So tomorrow I think it’ll be a little warmer, and I think I’ll do the other one. So that kind of starts the season for me. Yes, yes. In the last minute or two— this is a trick question, a surprise question—but I was thinking we all need reading lists also. And I was going to re-read… I’m pulling out of the shelf, and I was thinking of re-reading some of the earliest garden books I read, some of the Gertrude Jekyll, the old English stuff, or I don’t know what. But anything that you would recommend to people that helped you when you got started gardening?

Ken: Well, you talked about the “Victory Garden” book. And I mentioned Logee’s, and it was the Logee’s catalog. It was before the internet, and I don’t think it had very many pictures, but just reading that catalog. So we both got started on paper.

Margaret: Yes, yes, yes. I find the seed catalogs can be really distracting and a great adventure, also.

Ken: And some of them go right to recycling, Ken [laughter]. Some of them, like Annie’s Annuals, gets looked at and looked at and looked at. And I think, “I can’t grow that. I really want it. It’s mouthwatering.” So the catalogs have arrived, and I’ll be looking at those, and I’d have to give it a little thought on what book I might look at.

Margaret: Yes, well, you’ll tell me. But Christopher Lloyd is another. I have all his books, the late Christopher Lloyd, who did Great Dixter garden in England. And I’m thinking I’m going to re-read… I forget which one, but I’m going to re-read some Christopher Lloyd, too, for inspiration. So anyway, it’s good talking to you as ever, and we’ll be chatting on the phone and everything. But thank you for sharing, as they say.

Ken: [Laughter.] My pleasure, Margaret.

Margaret: All right. Take good care. Be safe.

Important: We hope you will chime in after listening to the show, or reading the transcript (or both), to share your own strategies with fellow gardeners. Use the comments box at the very bottom of the page. Thank you all!

prefer the podcast version of the show?

MY WEEKLY public-radio show, rated a “top-5 garden podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper in the UK, began its 11th year in March 2020. In 2016, the show won three silver medals for excellence from the Garden Writers Association. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station in the nation. Listen locally in the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Eastern, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the March 23, 2020 show using the player near the top of this transcript. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

  1. Lisa Gail says:

    What a lovely podcast! I too have been finding much serenity in being in my garden at the moment. In my desire to work outside, I am having a hard time not pruning everything to the ground.

  2. Susan Kay says:

    Margaret, I follow your admonition not to walk around my soggy spring garden and lawns to avoid compacting the soil. And to support pollinators, I don’t rake or clean up any beds until there’s been a week of temperatures in the 50s. This spring, it’s been EXTRA hard to hold myself back. While I wait, I’m reading seed catalogs, garden books, and all these delightful comments from your fans!

  3. Carol says:

    Thank you so much, Margaret, for all you do, today especially for this wonderful discussion between two passionate gardeners. My first garden book was also The Victory Garden, and my first mentor Jim Crockett.
    I too am grateful that this time of staying home coincides with the beginning of spring–what a tonic it is, just stepping outside and feeling the sun and fresh air! Brought in my first bouquet of Tete-a-Tete daffodils the other day–never before noticed how sweetly they smell!
    Thanks, too, for sharing your story with us. Nature and our gardens truly bring us through the dark times of our lives, and bring joy to the good times.
    Our grandson, a millennial in Seattle, texted me the other day that he cannot wait to visit us again, and that our home and garden mean the world to him. Touched me deeply, as you can imagine.

  4. Gabriele Eleby says:

    I love listening to the conversations you have with your guests. There’s so much to learnwill miss the visit to your garden this spring. I count my blessings every day as I go outside to greet the flowers that dare to bloom. I garden in upstate New York as well. I also appreciate so much that I am lucky enough to have a garden, to have the funds to buy seeds and now and then splurge on plants, and to have the support of a patient husband who does all the heavy work. We will plant a vegetable garden for the first time in many years.

    Until it is warm enough to start spending all day outside, I also enjoy the birds at the feeder. I have conversations with the squirrel who scolds me each morning as he (she?) tries to get to the suet feeder…again. Our gardens, and all the life they hold, will keep me and all of us busy and sane this year.

  5. Ann says:

    I’ve been planning the veggie garden and weeding when it’s a little warmer. So good to be outside in the sun, chatting with neighbors over the fence line from a distance.

  6. Susan Gustavson says:

    Thanks for such a reaffirming conversation. A friend gave me a large section of her clivia and I potted it up and kept it out in the summer and then when I brought it indoors I read what you wrote about the dry period it need, and so I took your advice. It’s bloomed for two years now and is a delight.

  7. Mary Farrell says:

    I have just a few really early cold-loving greens started in raised beds, and am starting warm weather crops indoors. It was the book recommendations that brought back the memory of my now 42-year-old son, as his high school homework assignment, asking me what book I would take if I knew I would be stranded on a desert island. My answer was Ken Druse’s, “The Natural Shade Garden”. It’s still a beauty, even though his “The New shade Garden” is more current. I used that newer information in my year long challenge to the city council to change an archaic municipal ordinance restricting parking strip plantings to lawn grass. He may be partly responsible for a new, more intelligent code. Good health and good gardening to all.

  8. I absolutely love this podcast. I too am finding solace in my garden. Between the virus and the crazy weather we have had this year already it is a miracle that I have my sanity. I am giving full credit to my garden for keeping me sane. At least as sane as I can be. ;)
    I bought 4 garden books this past week. That is what I am reading. One is your latest book. I must say I liked it better than I did the first one even though it seems to be geared to a person that is just venturing into gardening. It has so much that anyone that gardens would enjoy reading it, and I did.
    I imagine that someone like you who is crazy busy and around people a lot is having great difficulty adjusting to a more quiet life. Hang in there. This too shall pass. I think you have it right in your head to carry on in the garden. It will always be there for you. Cheers.

  9. The day dipped into cold again; otherwise, I’d be outside, clearing. I am finding great comfort in watching Monty Don dig and plant on Gardener’s World—so soothing! And planning to read Gertrude Jeckyll. I lost five roses to stem canker this year, so I am thinking: tome yo start again. Blessings on all you do.

  10. Anne Margolis says:

    I miss being able to make a Spring visit the greenhouses at Logees , which is about 1 3/4 hours each way from where we live in MA. I’ve had to refrain from ordering any new indoor plants from them because we were preparing to “down-size,” had just put our home on the market before this virus crisis, & have not figured out where we’d keep my indoor “babies” if our house were to sell quickly.

    True confession: I am obsessed with Annie’s catalog & finally broke down & ordered 1 indoor and 3 (hardy) outdoor plants from my wish-list at Annie’s. They arrived a few days ago & instructions say “plant immediately.”

    Here’s a question for Margaret &/or Ken:

    Our zone is 6a & the weather this weekend has been lovely. But we’re due to get 3″ of snow tomorrow. Since Annie’s plants were grown outside in northern CA, is it safe to plant them outside HERE while we’re still getting snow?

    Please advise. And thanks for your wonderful postings.

  11. Simone Mercer says:

    I have a hoya cronosa(sp) that I think is 55years old. It used to be covered every summer with light pink flowers that would smell a whole room. When I finally transplanted it after 20 some years there was no dirt in the pot. It is just starting to flower again 8 years later. An old friend.

  12. Ruth Smith says:

    Yes! Solace in my garden… I’ve always said that my garden is my “happy place”. Weather forecast is for snow this week so I sit here imagining what and where new plants will be this year. Also mail ordered several plants “flowers”. In fact I can’t remember all I ordered so it will be a surprise when they arrive in May. Thank you for your podcasts. They keep me sane during this troublesome time.

  13. Sandy Lentz says:

    A favorite garden author you would love, (if you don’t already know him, Margaret, is the late, former garden columnist for the Washington Post, Henry Mitchell. His books are “The Essential Earthman”, “On Gardening”, and “One Man’s Garden”.
    I’m itchy to get outside, too, but it’s still cold and muddy here in suburban Chicago. I have had Hamemelis blooming since late January, now winter aconite’s little bowls of sunshine, and the first crocus blooms today. Thank goodness for our gardens!

    1. Hal Gershenson says:

      I picked up Henry Mitchell this week, too! So much of what he says is out of date, but his wit and warmth still are worth reading. My mother, who lived in DC said that, as soon as Mitchell mentioned a plant, it was gone from the area nurserys the next day. The nursery owners asked him to give them fair warning so that they could stock up.

    2. Hal Gershenson says:

      I picked up Henry Mitchell this week, too! So much of what he says is out of date, but his wit and warmth still are worth reading. My mother, who lived in DC said that, as soon as Mitchell mentioned a plant, it was gone from the area nurseries the next day. The nursery owners asked him to give them fair warning so that they could stock up.

  14. Nancy Schmaltz says:

    My garden awaits me in New Jersey while my husband and I are still in Florida where we spend February and March. I’m always anxious to return home as soon as possible in April to get the chores started and early seeds planted but not this year! My daughter and family moved into our house from their smaller urban home so they would have a separate office space and more outdoor yard to play in with their 3 year old daughter and dog. So far she’s planted sugar peas and I see pictures of her with my daffodils! I can be grateful for that!

  15. Louise says:

    I tended my indoor garden. Starting another Aristotle basil, since the mini bushes have kept me in basil all winter. And I planted mild hot peppers and mini dalhlias which are coming up. I also pruned leggy coleus.

    Soon I’ll begin working outdoors-likely the beginning of April.

  16. Nancy says:

    Margaret, thanks so much for your wonderful podcast and blog. I often listen to you on Sunday mornings but you cannot imagine what a welcome thing it is for me today to hear you and Ken talking about plants and birds and growing things. It helps refresh me so I can return to my job as an RN tomorrow. Thank you

  17. Kat F. says:

    Here in Kentucky we are waiting for the ground to dry out. The outdoors are my refuge and comfort. Thank you Margaret, for a weekly informative break, especially now.
    I would direct everyone to read Kentucky’s Wendell Berry’s poem The Peace of Wild Things.
    It is a balm for troubled times.

  18. Mary Malpezzi says:

    We had snow/ice on Thursday so our gardening will wait for a few more weeks. We will work on repairing the yard from the romping of our dogs-one a pup. We will put down sand and pea gravel. I will somehow fence off a few flower gardens and one vegetable garden. We have a very small backyard, which is good and not so good. I want to read further into your latest book to get more inspiration on how to move forward. Thank you for your podcasts-I have learned so much!

  19. Doreen Tignanelli says:

    Just had a nice surprise. I turned on the tv and there was a Martha Stewart Living show from 2003 with Margaret talking about A Way to Garden, the first edition!

  20. Kat F says:

    Correction to my comment. “Kentuckian Wendell Berry’s poem” The Peace of Wild Things”.Typing fast and not editing. Sorry

  21. Martha says:

    Speaking of Victory Gardens, it’s likely there will be many unemployed people looking for food as the weeks and months go on. Find out where your local food pantries are and what they allow as donations and what they want for donations. If you can grow more than your family needs, this would be a good year to plant extra for the hungry.

  22. Janet Cramer says:

    This was a wonderful post. I love that you shared your story of your parents and the unexpected way they lead you to gardening.
    I’ve been reading your blog for several years now and have always managed to resist ‘gotta have that!’, until I saw the blossoms on Ken’s Hoya Kerri. I have a lovely tricolored Hoya, which my mother grew for me from hers. I know these are not tidy plants but I will make a place for this, if I can find one. So far I’ve only found the variegated one, which is fine IF the bloom will look like Ken’s! Can you tell me?
    Thanks for your fine works! Stay well.

  23. anthony says:

    That’s the thing about flowers, and gardens; they don’t seem to be too concerned with the things that take up our time. I’ve had garlic coming up since early March, also chives, and now sedum, lupine, and even some peony action. The rose bush is doing fine, and I just began pruning a small 4:1 apple tree we have. In late fall, a jade plant that we’ve had for about 10 years began flowering, only the 2nd time I’ve seen a jade flowering. It winters in the house, at an east window. Check out my website for a photograph – it’s the third one down under the TAG “flowers”.

    I am looking forward to spending more time out there, including the raking, clearing beds, etc. Great podcast!

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