The future of mulch, or what to do with barren soil in the landscape

THE PAST Years ago (many years ago, pre-Muddy Boots) we would get calls in spring asking us to “turn over” the soil in the homeowners’ “planting beds”. “Turning over” soil meant laboriously digging up clods of soil and then pulverizing them with the point of a shovel. The areas to be turned over were patches […]

Your Plant Nemesis

Do you have a plant nemesis? This spray-painter clearly does – and it’s the lowly privet. He’s emphatically declaring that he does not intend to plant them, and is discouraging us from the same. (I realize there’s an alternative explanation for this involving the lack of a dictionary, but I’m sticking with my interpretation.) When […]

Ephemeral Landscaping

If you liked to draw on the driveway with chalk when you were a child, there’s an art festival for you in Victoria, BC. The art is not for sale, and it’s not hanging in wire cubicles lining the street. It’s painted on the street with chalk. The subjects aren’t spaceships or stick-legged monsters – […]

Tenacious R

Weeds are plants that grow where you don’t want them, and plants growing in the cracks of sidewalks and driveways are frowned upon in polite society. The Wild Petunia in this photograph may be a weed in my neighbor’s sidewalk, but in mine it’s a symbol of the prairie clinging to a place where it […]

Rod Serling and the Squirrel Tail

There’s no mention of Rod Serling’s gardening/landscaping interests on Wikipedia, and I’m sure he was making another point, but I couldn’t help thinking of the famous Twilight Zone episode when I saw this squirrel tail grass. In “The Eye of the Beholder”, a woman undergoes a series of facial reconstruction surgeries to correct a deformity. […]

Comic Book Crabapple

How well do you know your Batman villains? This is the Two Face of crabapples. There is an explanation for Two Face, and it doesn’t involve acid. Many crabapples are really two trees – a flowering “top” grafted to a rootstock of a different crabapple or apple variety. I don’t like to plant grafted crabapples […]

Landscaping on Fire!

I was driving by this dump truck-sized yew on a recent windy day when a large puff of smoke erupted from the top and blew across the yard. At least it looked like smoke. In fact, it was a huge puff of pollen, shaken loose by a gust of wind. Yews have flower-like structures like […]

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