Gardening History

Collection Notes

Gardens contain more than flowers and vegetables; there’s history in that ground.

“Perhaps more than other occupations, gardening lends itself to philosophizing.” So begins “Autumn Thoughts,” by Diana Wells. It’s true, too. What other activity gives you so much time for contemplation and letting your mind wander while your hands are busy creating? And as we dig into the soil, we connect with the gardeners that have come before us, also contemplating the world around them. READ MORE

Bill Dugan


Winter Is Coming

Winter isn’t the season for everyone. “I shudder at the approach of Winter,” wrote Thomas Jefferson from his mountaintop in (cold) Virginia to John Adams in (colder) Massachusetts. “Winter is icummen in,” wrote poet Ezra Pound (Idaho). “Lhude sing Goddamm.”  READ MORE

For the Birds

In the two years I took to write my book, 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names (Algonquin Press), I had ample opportunity to think about differences between birders and gardeners, and the people in between who love both their gardens and the birds that visit them.  READ MORE

For Love and Money

Years ago my mother was in the hospital, and my sister and I gathered beech leaves to soak in glycerin, so they would keep through Winter. As long as either of us could remember she had done this every Autumn, sometimes mixing them with honesty, or money plant. Both she and my sister have died, but I still have the blue vase she used for these dried bouquets.  READ MORE

Autumn Thoughts

Perhaps more than other occupations, gardening lends itself to philosophizing. Knitters, I suppose, can make something of dropped stitches; or cooks can conjure shattering associations with a fallen soufflé. But gardeners (particularly garden writers) will contemplate the seasons...  READ MORE


For me, one of the best things about Winter is that I don’t feel guilty about not weeding (as I do for most of the rest of the year).  READ MORE

One Garden at a Time

The root word for “Spring” is springan (Middle English), meaning to “jump up.” It can mean a source of water, or a trap or coil, but for us gardeners it portrays a longed-for burst of life jumping up after the sleep of Winter.  READ MORE

Carpenters and Gardeners

I was talking recently with another grandmother. She had heard that you can raise your children either as if you were a “carpenter” or as if you were a “gardener.” Presumably this meant “according to rules,” or “with gentle nurturing.”  READ MORE

Growing From Seed

Late last Spring there were suddenly potted flowers in bloom for sale everywhere, offering an instant Summer garden. They were very tempting. But I began wondering how they fit in: the birds were only just beginning to nest; the leaves were a tender newborn green.  READ MORE


My father’s garden was beautifully kept, immaculately mowed and weeded—except for one corner that was totally fenced off so neither people or creatures (he had hens running free and several cats) could get in. It was, he told me, “for the fairies.”  READ MORE


Green has always been the color of youth and renewal: “April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go!” wrote Christopher Morley in 1931. For gardeners, green is what we long for after the seemingly endless days of Winter.  READ MORE

A Sprig of Lilac

It’s May, the month of my birth, the heart of what I think of as the season of tender green, before Summer’s heat strips it all away and makes going outside a torture.  READ MORE

Horologium Florae

Are you a morning person or an evening person? I am very much a morning person. I seldom wake after 5 a.m., but by 7 p.m. it’s dull to be around me! My husband was an evening person. He tended to be withdrawn at breakfast, whereas I never wanted to do much after the sun went down.  READ MORE

The Romance of the Rose

I am an unabashed romantic, heart and soul. I find romance in certain locations—England, Italy, and France come to mind—in historical legends, and especially in gardens. And there is one group of flowers that embodies everything a romantic flower should ...  READ MORE

Persnickety Pineapples

Some years back I was given a book about how to grow windowsill plants from kitchen scraps. Practically everything that you’re preparing to toss into the compost bin, says my book, can—with a little creativity and care—be turned into brand-new plants ...  READ MORE

Emily Dickinson, Gardener

Emily Dickinson published almost no poems in her lifetime. She became more and more reclusive as the years passed, eventually seeing almost no one other than members of her family. Most of us know this about the famous 19th-century New England poet.  READ MORE

The Last Garden in England

One-third historical fiction, one-third romance, and two-thirds stories of women gardeners, The Last Garden in England is such a delightful read that the book truly adds up to more than a whole.  READ MORE

Buried Treasure

Is anybody—other than me, that is—a fan of the BBC series “Dectorists”? The show centers around the adventures of Lance and Andy (Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook) of Britain’s (wholly imaginary) Danebury Metal Detecting Club.   READ MORE

Gambling Gardening with Tulips

By the time you read this I may have become the happy recipient of $15,000 per week—for life. By now my family and friends will have received generous gifts (say “Thank you,” Pat).  READ MORE

Manure, Sweet Manure

When, aged 40, I had my youngest son, I was considered an “older mother” (nowadays I would have to be another decade along to qualify), and the birth was considered somewhat risky. After it was successfully achieved, no first mother could have been more awed or elated.  READ MORE

And So to Bed

When after almost a year away, I climbed back into my own bed, I immediately felt a sense of homecoming. My bed was, in the words of Goldilocks, “just right.” We spend about a third of our lives in bed. We are (usually) born in bed and die in bed. No wonder that we love our beds.  READ MORE

What’s in a Name?

By the time you read this, we will (God willing) be back in our house, after over nine months (nine months!) in a hotel while damages from a house fire were being repaired.  READ MORE

Thou Shall Not Covet

One of the Biblical Ten Commandments admonishes us not to covet our neighbor’s house/wife/man- or maid-servant/ox or ass, in that order.   READ MORE

Planted by the Mind

In my student days, I lived in a sixth-floor studio apartment overshadowed by a high-rise office. My small container garden flourished or withered depending on two things: (a) the sun’s movement above the Minto condominium’s north tower and (b) whether my creative writing had gone well that week.  READ MORE

Poor Little Hearts?

Humans have used, loved, and exploited chickens for a very long time. Originally jungle fowl from Indochina, they were probably domesticated about 2,000 B.C. The Greeks and Romans not only ate eggs and chickens but also used them for cockfighting and augury.  READ MORE

Happy Ending

Gardeners, probably from prehistory, have looked for happy endings—but we have often been disappointed. Amongst recorded failures is Petrarch, who in the 14th century made several gardens, carefully consulting the moon and stars before planting.  READ MORE

Death of a Tree

Last May, the young man who lives in our garage cottage showed us a huge loose limb hanging over his roof, large enough to crush, at any moment, the cottage, not to mention our tenant.  READ MORE


It’s summertime, and as usual, my winter houseplants are crowding my porch. They are so spoiled—but some of them have been with me for almost half a century, dating back to when my mother-in-law lived with us. She died, about this time of year, more than 18 years ago.  READ MORE

Daffodils? Bah, Humbug!

I live in prosperous Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There are lovely parks, roads are clean, and every fall a group of businesses and nurseries plant literally thousands of daffodil bulbs for a program called Bucks Beautiful.  READ MORE

Wells on Walls

Stone walls do not a prison make. Nor iron bars a cage Minds innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage. Thus whispered Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey to his beloved Harriet when she was wrongfully imprisoned.  READ MORE

A Rose Is a Rose Is…Grace Darling?

I loved my mother, but I couldn’t grant her wish. She longed, she often said, to have a flower named after her. Flowers and plants named after people are, as we know, numerous.   READ MORE


Both were fine gardeners, but my mother and my step-mother could not have been more different. My mother was impetuous, untidy, and passionate.  READ MORE


“Who would therefore look dangerously up at Planets, that might safely looke downe at Plantes?” asked John Gerard in his famous Herball of 1597.  READ MORE

The Lady Bird’s Blessings

Again, an intrusion of aphids has found its way to the bridal wreath bush in my Maryland garden. The assailants have slowly drained the graceful shrub of its vitality. Year after year I’ve watched passively, hoping the natural order of things would mitigate the problem. Not this year. This is the year I will fight back!  READ MORE

Enter Your Log In Credentials

This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

GreenPrints is an active member of the following industry associations: