Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

Who is the BIGGEST Sexiest Tease in the Garden? February 24, 2014

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

If November is about the slowing down and putting the landscape to bed for a few months, and December is about focusing on our indoor garden, then January is surely about the long, hazy dream of what a landscape COULD be with catalogs and wish lists, but what is February? February is the TEASE. The spell you can’t break. The sexy, lusty, take you right to the edge TEASE.

It’s the itch you just can’t scratch, the pleasure behind desire. You nearly break into a sweat at the faintest whiff of daphne perfume. The thrust of a brand new tropical plant in front of you that you simply must have because it nearly makes you forget your own name. The subtle mention of when we might get a glimpse of skin-baring (or fleece shedding) sun sends thrills up your spine.

The sensual act of browsing the garden tool aisles has you imagine your skill and prowess using them is nearly enough to send you over the edge. And as you gently brush up against watering tools and seed packets or sexy bulbs swollen and ready for planting, it’s almost too much to take. Yes, February is the ultimate spring tease all right, nature is a powerful summons.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

Your seeds might be started inside, under the hot, horticultural, sexy glow of electric stimulation. Or maybe you are just playing it cool, having been burned by the tease before and not being able to fully complete the act before a late cold snap yanked you back to your senses.

Yes, you KNOW exactly what I mean. In February we achingly want to be outside, it’s almost an inner panic, a dizziness that only working in the soil will satisfy. But the cold, rain and snow has us locked up behind our computers, wantonly ogling others fertile blooms and foliage in warmer locales where they are already harvesting the rewards.

I am certainly NOT immune to this. I too have been exquisitely frustrated and come close to reaching out for the long distance satisfaction of a warmer climate landscape. In fact, I am maintaining my “grounds-keeping” (wink wink nudge nudge) just in case such an occasion pops us where I can hop on a plane at a moments notice to indulge my cravings. I am NOT above flirting with the idea of leering at a landscape in Santa Barbara or the Spanish Riviera to fulfill my gardening appetites and refine my gluttony for the fine bouquet of warmer air.

There is a palpable attraction to jumping on a plane to a landscape where there are bees buzzing over HOT flower sex, stigmas, pistils, receptacles, ovules…Oh my! But there is a point when it just feels wrong. It’s like I am breaking a sacred bond with late winters essence. When my credit card and my self-respect simply have to say, enough is enough.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

I have to embrace what I have here at home. No, really! Until I can cultivate my horticultural design thirsts in less expensive and more meaningful ways. I can appreciate those mouth-watering, handsome landscapes that make me swoon feverishly from my corner of the country for a wee bit longer. I will learn how NOT to give in to the luscious gluttony of plants that I can’t have and landscapes that I will never come to know physically. I will resist the temptation of flying out-of-town to have a fling with another climate. I will refuse delivery on the notion that I MUST escape my day-to-day gray and I will maintain what respect I have left for my commitment to rain-wear and fleece.

The urges and wantonness that February propels us toward are soon going to be satisfied by March. It’s only a little longer and surely, I can keep my urges under control until then, right? RIGHT?! OK, I realize now that what I really want February to do is to take it slow. To gradually, deliberately move in a way that makes me tingle with each and every bud taking its sweet time to emerge – NOT TOO FAST now! We don’t want to rush things. I’m going to savor every single wet, spring kiss. I’m going to be aware and appreciative of every moment and of the enchantment of it, for real this time. If it has to be an un-hurried build-up to the mind bending explosion of outdoor excitement in July and August, then so be it, I relent.

Winter Garden in The Seattle Arboretum- The Personal Garden Coach

The Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

The best thing I can do right now is relax and to give in to the tease, to enjoy the craving. I don’t want to rush with too much fervor right past the delicate dance of the early spring. This weakness in my self-control could ruin my appetite for later. Isn’t Mother Natures role in this whole thing to bring us the aphrodisiac, the splendid appetizers before the feast? Maybe curled up in front of the fire, basking in the arousal of a plant catalog is just the sort of titillation we all need to get by, at least for a few more weeks right?

We can do this. I may need to invest in some more Cinnamon Whiskey – but we can do this, after all, we’re ALL Hort-heads of one sort or another. Whether we like to admit it publicly or not- we all WANT it. But, now is the time for calm, for dignified behavior, for waging the war on lust.

So, bring it on February – wait a minute its March next week? Ha! I’m heading out-of-town for a plant show!!

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November Sun – Cold Color Celebration November 20, 2013

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Sunny November days in Seattle are a pure unadulterated bonus. Our gardening climate is alternately dazzling and maddening at the same time. The depth of gray in winter seems to last forever and the utterly outstanding glory of summer here fall at the opposite end of our horticultural universe for an exquisitely painful short period of time.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
-   Emily Dickinson

We can grow such wide array of plants here that it makes many in other parts of the world green with envy. So, on a crystalline blue-sky day like today, it feels like we are COMMANDED to get outside and document its glory for everyone to see. I did just that in my robe and jammies this morning for you! If nothing else, it may just be to document it for us so that when we are nearly suicidal on the gray days in January and we want to hop a plane to Las Vegas, we remember why we live here.

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Fatsia Japonica blooms

It occurred to me as I took this shot that the years of the heaviest Fatsia bloom, we’ve also had the hardest winter. Hmmmmm……..

We rely on many a Huechera for some November color here in the Northwest because we don’t really have too many flowers at all. So the WIDE variety of foliage colors are a very welcome sight here in gray land.

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Note the Fuchsia near the bottom still doing her thing! I scared the (bleep) out of a poor local Hummingbird trying to get this shot. Ooops!

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Another plant that “tolerates” our wet cold winter climate, is Phormium, or New Zealand Flax. You need to understand that I do say this somewhat tongue in cheek today. I lost about 27 of them a few years back after an ice storm. When the cold almost 2 inches of thick ice melted off of them, they actually looked fine until they succumbed to Crown Rot.
That was about 5 years ago now and I have recovered from my cynacism toward them, but only enough to have two. So, far. I just refuse to fall in love again and have my gardeners heart and wallet broken again. :-)

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Having said that, I do have a torrid love affair with my Fatshedera. If I have to buy a new one every year, I’m cool with that. This variegated one was particularly lovely with cold weather color and the light of the morning coming through her.

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“If I’m ever reborn, I want to be a gardener—
there’s too much to do for one lifetime!” 

-   Karl Foerster

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Wordless Wednesday- The Nordstrom of Autumn Color October 16, 2013

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October 2011 Foliage and Blooms 100

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October 2012 Mitch Evans Garden 110

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October 2012 Mitch Evans Garden 134

 

A Summer Summary Garden Tour October 2, 2013

Except for one freeze that lasted two days this last winter, here in the greater Seattle area you could safely say that ours was the winter that never happened. Consequently, between the release of Fine Foliage in the spring, my own business and my nursery work, there was no real need for me to update much of my garden for spring and summer this year, it was looking pretty darn good.

Then, in the waning days of August, I received a call from a magazine wanting to come and shoot in my teeny-tiny garden and my containers in 10 days! Scurry, scurry, scurry, rally the troops, plant, plant, plant, clean, clean, clean!

It turned out better than I ever imagined and we celebrated with an impromptu party on a lovely August evening that coincided with my birthday. It couldn’t have been a more perfect gift!

Now as autumn has placed its boot firmly in the rain and mud, this short burst of wild activity, color and enjoyment of the garden is now at its end and I trudge damply toward the clean up and pre-winterization of the garden and containers.

The one thing I did promise myself however, was that I would post a summer wrap-up of the finished (When is it ever finished?) garden for this season to share all of the hard work my friends and I put it in, in such a short time frame.

My special thanks go to Heather Little Bradley and Ryan LaPointe for their invaluable contributions in such a mad-cap few days!

Now, as it fades into the cool, low light of the shorter, wetter days of fall, I can move on to appreciating it in a whole new way. At least until chaos reigns again this spring. Plans are already brewing! :-)

Enjoy the wrap-up! Click on photos to enlarge.

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I hope this end of summer garden wrap-up tour inspired you to plan for spring and summer in your own garden for 2014. Unfortunately there are just too many plants here to list them all by name, but if you want any specifics, I am happy to oblige.

If you would like to look at more photos like these, join me on my Facebook page by clicking here.  We have fun there learning all kinds of stuff!

 

What Really Worked – My Favorite New Plant This Year September 8, 2013

I suppose I should have amended that title to include “New to ME This Year” because many of you will say “What? – I’ve had that one for years!” It’s not really a new plant on the market at all. Its been around a while. But, I just haven’t warmed up to STOKESIA ‘Peachie’s Pick’ (or the Stokes Aster), until now.

Stokesia and Headshot
I think it was the foliage pairing that did it. And me being the “Fine Foliage” girl that I am, well…ya know! The fat lavender blooms looks so great with that soft coral edge of the Acalypha wilkesiana that it just made me fall in love. What a fantastic bloomer it’s turned out to be in late summer.

Here is some information to learn more about that fabulous Stokesia.

Now for more eye candy from other wonderful garden designers on what their favorite new plant was this season. Be sure to click on their links too and learn more!

Asbell-SiamQueenhttp://www.therainforestgarden.com/

Benderhttp://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/category/the-grumpy-gardener/

Carolynhttp://www.cowlickcottagefarm.com/blog/

Chrishttp://fromthesoil.blogspot.com/

Helenhttp://gardeningwithconfidence.com/blog/

Jennyhttp://www.jpetersongardendesign.com/

Kyleehttp://ourlittleacre.com/

Shawnahttp://shawnacoronado.com/

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Sunset On A Garden – Stacie Crooks Landscape September 7, 2013

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If you Google Stacie Crooks, you will automatically realize what a powerhouse designer you have just found if you didn’t already know about her. Stacie Crooks is a nationally recognized Seattle-based garden designer and educator. Her work has been published in the Seattle Times, Sunset magazine, Horticulture, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, Seattle Metropolitan and Fine Gardening. Stacie’s work appears in books written by Valerie Easton, Julie Moir Messervy, and Marty Wingate and several Sunset books.

As if that weren’t enough, Stacie also served on the Board at the historic Dunn Garden for 10 years and is currently serving as a trustee for the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

Stacie’s affiliation with these additional organizations is impressive indeed: Northwest Horticultural Society, Pacific Horticultural Society, Historic Dunn Garden, Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, Northwest Perennial Alliance, Garden Conservancy, and the American Horticultural Society.

Now Stacie is preparing to enter a new chapter in her life and this means selling her home and garden of over 20 years, and moving on to an exciting opportunity to start over in a new location. She doesn’t yet know what this new adventure looks like yet, but she says “No matter what, I am going to have a pool!”

I was VERY privileged to be invited to join a small group at Stacie’s home recently for a yearly garden soiree’. Generously, Stacie allowed me to come and visit her garden early for an opportunity to get photos on a warm sunny evening. So, I took advantage of the late day light and got as many pictures as I could.

The mature garden is fat and fluffy, sophisticated and serene. But, above all, its low maintenance and drought tolerant, one of Stacie’s signature design esthetics. Below are some of my favorite shots from that wonderful evening.
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The abundant look of the borders is carefully color coordinated and yet casually elegant.

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As the sun began to set and I was losing my light, my focus was no longer on the garden but on the beautiful and amazingly talented group of women at this soiree’.

Soiree July 2013

L-R: Stacie Crooks, Christina Salwitz, Nita-Jo Rountree, Marty Wingate, Gillian Matthews, Debra Prinzing, Janet Endsley, Tina Dixon

Lucky for me, I got to meet new friends, say farewell to an amazing landscape and look forward to having the opportunity to see the sun rise on Stacie Crooks new adventures. :-)

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Garden Designers Roundtable – Maintenance June 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — personalgardencoach @ 6:00 am
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Does this garden look low maintenance to you?

As The Personal Garden Coach, one of the TOP things that clients ask for most frequently is a “Low Maintenance” garden. My job is to ask a lot of questions, delve into the sometimes hidden meanings of key phrases and find out what this means to each individual gardener. It can have a HUGE number of variations.

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The idea of maintaining our landscape has different meaning to different people, depending on what your experiences and soft spots might be.  Here are a few of the hidden meanings behind this phrase “I want a LOW Maintenance landscape or garden.”:

1) My parents made me weed and mow the lawn as a kid, I don’t want to be in a position tobe “forced” into hard labor on my valuable weekend ever again.

2) We just removed a giant juniper and an over grown rhododendron that I’ve been hacking back now every year for the last 10 years and I don’t want to deal with THAT again.

3) Does it bloom? If so, I don’t want to deal with it.

4) I have a dog/deer that eats my landscape, I don’t want to deal with that.

5) I want my mow and blow guys to deal with it.

6) ***My personal favorite – Why can’t I put that 20 foot shrub/tree in the garden? I can just machete it to three feet right?

Once we have determined what exactly your specific “issues” are with maintenance, then we can get down to the nitty-gritty of the topic. HOW MUCH maintenance time are you willing to put into your landscape?

20 minutes per day after work with a glass of wine or a beer in hand?

Quickie weekend mowing, edging and catch a weed here and there?

One day per month, filling the yard waste bin and planting?

Full blown weekend warrior with projects like installing a terrace of pavers and
building an arbor after visiting the nursery in the morning?

It’s likely that you’re somewhere in the middle of all of those typical scenarios. My point is that we’re often not terribly conscious of what we really can or even want to commit to doing when it comes to caring for our landscape. Its really important that you’re realistic with yourself and what you will be up for when it comes to the weekly labor of love that it takes to care for a beautiful landscape.

On the flip side however, there are many people out there who also automatically assume that a particular landscape automatically MUST be a high maintenance and laborious place to be if it looks THAT great. I am here to tell you that it’s not so at all!

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A very low maintenance vignette

It’s all really about how you view your commitment of money, time and labor, right? I am forever telling my clients that I think it’s really un-cool for a plant to be taking up real estate space in my landscape, space that I’m paying a mortgage and taxes on, and this plant (whatever it might be) has the NERVE to send up suckers everywhere, bloom for MAYBE a month out of twelve, not have ANY interesting fall color and zero winter interest. Ugh…..

If I’m going to be spending MY money, time and labor on a plant or a planting plan for that matter, I want it to have as much bang for my buck as I can get. That’s at the heart of the idea of “right plant- right place” in my opinion. But, let’s also be certain not to forget that a low maintenance landscape is also set up for success before you have any maintenance problems anyway, right?

Proper plant spacing, efficient and effective watering techniques and above all, excellent soils and mulches that support your plant investment and deter weeds. This is the insurance policy that you take out when you are “Pro-active and not re-active” when it comes to maintaining your garden and landscape.

Cutting the lawnNow, there is such a thing as an “Over-maintained” landscape too. We’ve all seen that right? Hedges clipped to within and inch of their life. Trees pruned into strange and alien shapes. The space between the plants is SO aggressively raked that you can see the roots of the trees on the surface of the soil. This is a topic that I could spend days on by itself.

Maintenance of your garden or landscape is a commitment to consider for sure when you’re planning or remodeling. Be sure to take the care advice on plants from your local independent garden center sales person, county extension agent/master gardener or horticulturist. It will keep your expectations realistic and your goals achievable. Also, remember that what might SEEM low maintenance to one person might be an astronomically high investment in time and energy to another. That’s why good guidance is SO crucial!

To see more fabulous blog posts from the other Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable please follow these links below:

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

 

Garden Designers Roundtable – Celebrating Trees May 28, 2013

The definition of Dendrolatry: Tree worship, refers to the tendency of many societies throughout history to worship or otherwise mythologize trees.

If that is true, then yes, I am hopelessly guilty. I admit it, I have had a close relationship with trees from a very young age. Trees have had a significant place in my life spiritually as well. But, then again, so has most of man for as long as we’ve been around. Here is a great link to learn more.

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Whether it is because of their inherent elegance, grace and majestic beauty…

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Or their winter interest….

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Or Autumn color against a blue sky…

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Or magnificent flower…..

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Foliage that can’t be denied…..

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A conifer of striking color and dimension…..

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Or simply a sacred place to rest and contemplate the world…

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Trees are magical, mystical and ever present beauties that we dare not take for granted. They are the life blood of this amazing planet that give us the oxygen to fill our lungs, paint our hearts with color and shade and heat our homes.

Planting a tree is the ultimate act of positivity about the future.

Tattoo 2013

To see more fabulous blog posts from the other Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable please follow these links below:

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike: EnergyScapes Inc. : Minneapolis. MN.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Design Style Book May 15, 2013

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Book Review and Tool Give-Away Party: Indoor Plant Décor May 6, 2013

Book Review: Indoor Plant Décor

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by Kylee Baumle & Jenny Peterson

160 pages
St. Lynn’s Press, 2013
List Price: $16.95

This jewel of a book is not only a bountiful little purse-sized plant shopping companion to take with you to the greenhouse, it’s a style and inspiration powerhouse for your home’s houseplants. If you feel challenged by choosing plants for your home and bewildered by the array of choices, then Kylee and Jenny have your answers, by giving you the elements to succeed with 21st century charisma.
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Starting with a guide to eight décor styles to springboard from, readers will begin to understand what they can do to create the comfortable and warm feeling that the houseplants bring to your home. From Peaceful Zen to Vintage, each styleboard has gorgeous images and décor style ideas provide you with tips, tricks,  how-to’s and care instructions to bring your design ideas to life. Plus, they have taken great care to give options for low maintenance plants as well as options for those of you who are not afraid of a plant Diva or two.

Indoor Plant Décor really takes the idea of customizing your houseplant displays to another level of inspiration. With emphasis on textures, colors and home décor in addition to plant selection, this book takes a holistic approach to interior landscaping. Artwork, fabrics, lighting, flooring and more go into each carefully considered combination.

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In the care and feeding of plants section titled Practical Matters, Kylee and Jenny begin with the admission that they too have also killed houseplants, like the rest of us. They offer enthusiastic encouragement up, its OK, keep trying, no guilt here. How refreshing!

The Houseplants at a Glance sections are genius, laid out according to the ease of maintenance with such group titles as Easy Breezy, Moderately Manageable, and Design Diva’s the reader will find options for every location in the house.

Whether your design style is simple, traditional or wacky, you are going be so inspired with the ideas in Indoor Plant Décor you will want to get in your car and immediately head to your local greenhouse for some new plants to dress up your home!

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St. Lynn’s Press graciously supplied me with a copy of Indoor Plant Décor for my review but you can order your very own copy NOW on Amazon.com right here!

Kylee Baumle enjoys photographing gardens as much as she does tending to them. Her photos have been published in trade catalogs, garden magazines and books. She writes for several gardening publications, has a weekly local newspaper column on gardening and has appeared on America’s Web Radio show, America’s Homegrown Veggies, the web TV show, Garden World Report, and has been a guest host on the popular #gardenchat on Twitter. Kylee currently shares living space in rural Ohio with her husband, two cats, and over 200 plants in their house and conservatory.
Read Kylee’s great blog, Our Little Acre here!

Jenny Peterson lives in Austin, Texas. She is a landscape designer and freelance writer specializing in small spaces. Her deign work has bee featured in Garden Up! (Cool Springs Press, 2011) on vertical gardening, in Small-Space Container Gardens (Timber Press, 2012), and in Horticulture and Cottages & Bungalows magazines.  She is a horticulturist and a member of the Garden Designers Roundtable. She writes on her blog, J.Peterson Garden Design (www.jpetersongardendesign) and is a regional writer for Houzz.com.
Read Jenny’s fabulous blog here!

Excited about designing with houseplants? Want to win a GREAT tool for helping to care for your new plants? YES you do! Leave a comment on this post and you are automatically entered to win this lovely watering can for your houseplants courtesy of Master Gardner!
(Give-Away is open to US residents only)

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Master Gardner is giving away this adorable Stainless Steel Watering Can.

Also -

Several other bloggers are participating in this virtual book tour, each offering a different prize. Visit each blog and leave a comment on the giveaway post for a chance to win that prize. The more blogs you visit, the more opportunities for you to win some goodies!

Steve Asbell – The Rainforest Garden
Debra Lee Baldwin – Gardening Gone Wild
Carolyn Binder – Cowlick Cottage Farm
Shawna Coronado – Shawna Coronado
Charlotte Germane – Dirt Du Jour
Pam Penick – Digging
Stacy Risenmay – Not Just a Housewife
Erin Schanen – The Impatient Gardener
Rebecca Sweet – Gossip in the Garden

Robin Horton – Urban Gardens

 

 
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