Spring 2017

At The Gate

Six of the fifteen stories in this issue are by men; nine by women. That’s actually a high number for the guys—sometimes males get the byline on only four GREENPRINTS pieces. Likewise, the vast, vast majority of GP readers—over 80%—are female.  READ MORE


Typing on a laptop in a garden

Elizabeth S. Riall: From Humansville, MO: “My childhood garden has grown up with me and now consists of a three-acre produce operation our family runs together.”

Stephen A. Richardson: Raised in England and Scotland, served at sea in World War II, and retired in 1974, 96-year-old Stephen has written since childhood.  READ MORE


My Row of 2,000

I was invited to a wedding happening the next Wednesday. When you go to a wedding, you dress your best. You do your hair, wear lovely clothes, polish your shoes—and don’t forget your fingernails! Well, my hair could wait until the last minute. I had a new dress hanging ready in the closet. My shoes were shined. But my fingernails …  READ MORE

I Hate Cutting Grass

During the early 1950s, my wife, Peggy, our four small children, and I lived in Ithaca, New York. Like all households, we had the chores of doing laundry, cooking, shopping, looking after the house and grounds, and getting up at night to comfort a crying child.  READ MORE

The Survivor

Who can resist little daffodils, with their bright yellow baby faces? What a perfect choice for a ribbon of space between the side yard chain-link fence and the sidewalk. And delightful they were the next year, a row of little sunbeams to cheer passersby.  READ MORE

The Botanical Magician

Dad may have been a geologist at work, but the first spring in our new Baton Rouge yard, my brother Dave and I learned he was also a botanical magician. A magician who had one remarkable trick: getting us to work in the garden.  READ MORE

An Injured Goose

The Canada geese like our backyard here in eastern North Carolina. When it rains, little lakes form and stay for days. There’s not much grass, but there’re plenty of tasty, juicy weeds.  READ MORE

Get To Stay

The house I bought here in Houston is assaulted by flowers, shrubs, and trees: a phalanx of thriving, and obstinate, plants. The man who built it, Mr. Anderson, spent his retirement growing things.  READ MORE

The Plant That Was Held Prisoner

Before I get to this week’s Exciting Episode, I have to brag about my tomatoes. Almost everyone I spoke with said that this past year’s tomato harvest was awful. Mine was so good I had to go down into the basement.  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


I need help. I am a Maine gardener. I don’t mean I need help because I attempt to grow fruit and vegetables in Maine—in the mountains, no less. That’s a sickness for which there is no cure.  READ MORE

A Dish Best Not Served

Growing up, I dreamed of marrying someone who loved gardening as much as I did, and together we’d become one of those cute little old couples you see tending their fertile plot of land.  READ MORE

My Most-Hated Vegetable

For a lot of us, chances are it’s beets. Just 11% of home gardeners bother to grow beets, and professional farmers don’t do much better.   READ MORE

Taking A Moment To Be Still

I’d had a long session with the trowel, the weed eater, and my hand pruners, attacking weeds, setting out plants, and generally tidying up my shade garden. Sweaty, dirty, and tired, I found a chair and a bottle of water and decided to catch my breath.  READ MORE

Black-Eyed Suzies

As soon as I shut off the engine, Mom grabbed the handle and shoved against the car door. “Hey, hold on a minute,” I said. Too late. Arms pumping, curls bouncing, my mother hurried through the gate of her favorite garden nursery, her idea of paradise.   READ MORE

The Hidden Life Of Trees

Gardeners often ask me if their trees are growing too close together. Won’t they deprive each other of light and water? This concern comes from the forestry industry.  READ MORE

Why I Didn’t Want To Go To Italy

Get in the car! We’ve got to pick up our passports before the post office closes at noon,” my husband shouted—over our teenage sons’ MP3 player. Over the high-school spring break, our family was traveling to Italy on a trip chartered by the school.  READ MORE


If Your Knees Aren’t Green

Without a Garden No Longer


One March Day


A Ballet in the Biosphere

Instant Salad Garden

Broken Trowel

The Gas Garden

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