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Gardening en Español, a green roof and other notes from Uruguay

Karena Hogg, a Uruguayan landscape designer waves a copy of the book I wrote with Nigel Dunnett on green roofs.

For the third time in five years I’m lecturing in Spanish-speaking America (you can read my accounts of lecturing in Mexico here, and here – that was an experience!) . Being interpreted (see my recent post about Argentina). We always have the same discussion – why aren’t there more books and material on gardening in Spanish? So many books are either translations from English or books published in Spain, and not particularly relevant to the Americas. Interest in gardening and landscape is growing in South America, and the Estados Unidos itself  is gradually turning bilingual. Any visitor to the US, especially the south-west, is aware of how much garden work is done by workers from Mexico and further south; some of whom are now settling and setting up their own garden maintenance businesses. Gardening is turning Spanish, but where are the books and other media? Continue Reading →

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I’ve discovered Chanticleer

This pic sums up Chanticleer: a great place to sit, nicely customized. A touch of whackiness, but completely sound.

This is an amazing garden, not just for being a garden, but for the staff and the way it is run. Working at Chanticleer is not a job, but a mission and a passion.

Fran has written about the garden before on GWG, but it has so much to offer, I make no apologies for writing about it too. At this time of year though (I was there in mid Oct) there is not so much plantlife to write about – its all for its winter hibernation soon. There is plenty else to enthuse about though. Continue Reading →

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Autumn Focal Points

Seeing as how most of the Northern Hemisphere is now experiencing autumn at one level or another, I figured it would make this next lesson on garden photography a bit more relevant if I actually show some fall photos.  (Yes, California has fall color too…)

The focal point of a picture is its subject, the story of the photograph.  It is often the focus point as well (the focus point being the point of sharpest focus), but for our lesson in composition, I want you to think about what you are trying to say with your photo.  Organize the frame so that your viewer can’t help but see your focal point. Continue Reading →

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The peat debate – or should we really eat kittens for breakfast?

It was not my intention to write about the contentous subject of peat in gardening but a friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times on the subject, which deserves wider distribution. So, maybe I should take the plunge.

There was a time when, in the UK, we all used lots of peat in gardening, we dug it into the ground as a ‘soil improver’ and used it as the basis for remarkably consistent and high quality potting compost. Some plants did not like it – as it could get terribly soggy in wet winters outside, but on the whole it was a fantastic material for potting compost. It has remarkable stability as it takes a very long time to decay.

Then we realized that in order to supply us with peat, lots of valuable habitat (peat bogs) were being destroyed in order to get at the peat underneath. Conservation organizations began to campaign against its use, and in the UK, they have more or less won, as the NYT piece explains, the government is trying to ban it.

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How Steve Asbell Created The Illustration for Gardening Gone Wild’s Redesign – And A BIG Giveaway

As soon as I knew that an illustration would be the centerpiece of the header for the redesigned Gardening Gone Wild, the first person that came to mind was Steve Asbell. I had become a big fan of both his illustrations and writing. Working with Steve was a pleasure. He was responsive to my suggestions and persisted until he got it right. The passiflora he created is magnificent – and it has a feeling of magic to it. – Fran Sorin

Steve says: What plant do you think best sums up the name ‘Gardening Gone Wild’? My own answer hit me square in the nose one day when Fran informed me that I couldn’t draw a Gloriosa lily for the header because it was too exotic. Brainstorming for a native and temperate alternative, I came up with what I believe is one of America’s most beautiful natives: Passiflora incarnata, AKA the Maypop vine.

Those of you who have ever grown a Maypop vine will nod knowingly when I say that you don’t own a passionflower so much as it owns you. The Passiflora incarnata vine starts off as an innocuous potted plant or self sown seedling, but by the end of summer its tendrils and runners run rampant over nearby shrubs and flowerbeds with the kind of fervor that only hedge clippers and a horde of caterpillars can contain. You’ll rue the day you planted that passionflower vine.


Passion fruit drawing

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