The Crinum of Downton Abbey

Victorian Britain was the epicenter of fashion, trends, politics, and horticulture.  Natural history and plants were serious studies, serious hobbies for the rich. Sailors, explorers, and traders brought plants from all over the world to tempt rich collectors. An abundant supply of coal meant hot-houses and conservatories allowed for tropical plant gardening. Those collectors who…

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The Greatest Show

Silver-haired and with a brand new knee, Momma peers into a draped diorama of shrunken heads, leaning in to listen to a much pierced young man, with gauge opening in his ears big enough you could pass a cupcake through, a handlebar mustache, and a Baltimore accent — which is oddly akin to our own.  …

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Mother’s Day Lily Farm Gathering

Mother’s Day Plant Sale!  We occasionally spiff up the farm and invite guest. Announcements for these private events go out via our email list only. Gatherings for cool gardeners, for great clients and old friends, we limit guest numbers but don’t charge anything. These are thank you days. My Momma, Gloria Farmer is the heart…

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Why I Decided to Self-Publish

‘Funky Little Flower Farm’ stories include memories like my coming out, of being with my father on his deathbed and Momma’s memories of her grandparents. I want to share them, but I want control over how they get published now and forever. When I struck a book deal with a publisher for my first book,…

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The Earliest of Flower Gardens

There’s a patch of paper whites and snow drops in our pasture that’s older than I am. Just behind the little shed that’s been pony shed, goat shed and now donkey shed. Those are the kinds of bulbs I want in my gardens. From a practical stand point, because they come back, they thrive and…

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Trends in Foodscaping

“Over the past decades, our plant pallet changed in ways other than you might expect. Plant explorers and breeders bring new plants into nurseries. They, as well as garden designers, decorators and all sorts of cultural leaders, become the tastemakers, slowly changing which plants we can get hold of…..One slow, huge change, tracks our shift…

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I Will Survive! Flowers for a Disco Queen

When a horticulturist (or anyone) comes up with a new plant, they get to name the plant.  Older, more genteel generations named plants to honor their wives or Alma-matter.  Think of Azalea ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’ or ‘Clemson Spineless’ Okra. When I found a special crinum, I got my first chance at naming. Decades ago, I’d…

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A Good Excuse to Write

Why would a wildlife conservation magazine ask me to write for them?  I don’t get it either — kept thinking it was some sort of scam. “Could you write on how gardening soothes the restless soul?”, they asked.  Well that just struck a cord and I wrote a very person story.   It’s in their magazine,…

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Kill the Confederate Myths: 5 Better Vines for Southern Shade

When we started building Riverbanks Botanical Garden, 20+ years ago, we had to deal with a Pennsylvanian’s idea of southern architecture. The building, walls and walkways of some grandiose vision of antebellum structures that only ever existed in bad movies.  It reminded me that, as a teen, I loved Aunti Mame as much as any…

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Dreams of Milk and Wine aka Crinum x herbertii

A friend visited last weekend.  He woke up in the night and wrote this little poem: “Milk and Wine,” the old man said. “It’s all I drink these days. Clarity of purpose, strength of bone.” “A strange request,” the waiter said. “But noble, and will do.” And he went over to the bar, to pour…

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