Gardener Question Time

I’m very flattered that John at A Walk in the Garden and Snow Bird at Gardens and Wildlife nominated me for the Leibster Award. This is one of a number of awards that garden bloggers give to each other as gestures of appreciation.

sally field

If you enjoy my blog, I heartily recommend that you also check out A Walk in the Garden as well as Gardens and Wildlife. Two very informative and entertaining blogs with different geographic perspectives – one from the American Southeast and the other from the North of England.

In any case, part of being a nominee for this award is answering questions from the nominators. So that will be the focus of this post. First, for John’s questions.

1. How would you describe your gardening style?

Obsessive, impulsive, impatient, colorful, informal bordering on chaotic.

front garden, anise hyssop, purple coneflower, brown eyed susan
Grass path through the front garden: bordering on chaos.

2. What new plant have you been dreaming about planting this year?

A bunch of plants I probably have no space for, mostly shrubs and small trees: Hawthorne, Witchhazel, Red Buckeye. In terms of perennials, I think I will be planting things mostly that I already have. Oh, I would like to squeeze in some Camassia somewhere – I should have space for those.

3. What is the most important lesson you learned last year?

Taller plants that are late to emerge can be shaded out by shorter plants that come up earlier. Sounds obvious, right?

4. Flowers or foliage?

Flowers, flowers, flowers.

Anise Hyssop
Flowers, flowers, flowers.

5. What characterizes the ideal nursery/garden center/etc. as the best place to obtain plants?

Good selection, knows how to take care of the stock, avoids pesticides especially neonicotinoids.

6. Potting soil: buy or mix your own.

Buy. I’m lazy about this kind of thing.

7. How did your love of gardening begin?

My father, who grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn, loved to putter around in our suburban yard.

8. What training/classes have you attended to improve your gardening knowledge?

I had been taking classes at the school of the Chicago Botanic Garden with the intent of eventually earning a certificate in garden design. Unfortunately, my work schedule has made it impossible to take any classes since early last year.

Anise hyssop and Mexican sunflower
Anise hyssop and Mexican sunflower

9. What plants together produce your favorite color combinations?

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) or Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa). Or Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) and Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).

Celandine poppy, grape hyacinth
Celandine poppy with grape hyacinth. I just like blue and yellow.

10. What gardens are on your bucket list?

The Alhambra (Grenada, Spain), Longwood Gardens (Philadelphia, USA), Hummelo (Netherlands).

11. What is your favorite winter plant?

Plants with red berries – Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Hawthorns (Crataeges sp.), Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum).

And now for the questions from Gardens and Wildlife.

1. What is the worst injury you ever sustained while gardening?

Breaking a front tooth by hitting myself in the face with a plyers. Don’t ask.


2. How would you deal with wet, slushy, soggy leaves that refuse to be raked?

Leave them until spring.

3. Have you ever had an invasion of bamboo trying to colonize your garden?

No, but in her book Mrs. Greenthumbs, the late Cassandra Danz wrote that the only approach that works is to persistently cut the bamboo stalks off at ground level over a long period. Eventually the roots starve. Trying to dig them up is completely futile.

mrs. greenthumbs2

4. Do you have any irrational fears regarding an animal or insect?

I’m generally OK with animals and insects. My irrational fears are usually about people, and I’m not sure that they’re irrational.

5. Have you ever danced barefoot in the rain or hugged a tree?

Not really … is there something in your past you’d like to tell us about?

Not me.

6. Do you believe that the moon can influence the growth of plants?

Never heard that before; I suppose anything is possible.

7. Do you have a favorite flower legend or superstition?

The one about how King Clovis of the Franks escaped an attack by following blooming irises across a river. This was why the iris fleur-de-lis became an emblem of France.

King Clovis of the Franks: saved by irises?
King Clovis of the Franks: saved by irises?

8. Have you ever used a plant medicinally?

Not that I can recall.

9. Which is more important to you, house or garden?

Garden, of course. Houses are a place to go when you can’t work in the garden.

10. Do you constantly talk/complain about the weather?

Probably. That reminds me of a joke regarding farmers who complain about the weather all the time. I heard it when I had a job that required me to travel extensively in Nebraska and the Dakotas. Anyway, here it is. Question: What do you call a basement full of farmers? Answer: A whine cellar.

11. What is the most you have spent on a plant last year?

I invoke my right not to incriminate myself.


So there you have it. In the next post we will return to Los Angeles.

60 Comments on “Gardener Question Time”

  1. Jason…..very funny. The most interesting part though was that you don’t have the room to plant things you would like. I hereby volunteer our backyard (hesitate to call it a garden)… we’ll buy the plant you choose, help you plan them… and do what you tell us to keep them alive. Like your father I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn and need all the help I can get. Jackie

  2. Great stuff. BTW about 60% of medicines are derived from plants so I think you have probably used plant medicines even if you don’t know. Here in Italy many people sow seeds, bottle wine, take cuttings plant according to the phases of the moon; as the moon controls water movement on earth it is possible there is something in it. I’ve had success sowing carrots at the correct time and not when the time is wrong but I have to do things when I have time and the weather is right so don’t personally follow it, but I think it may be one of those things that if it were tested in a proper scientific way might just turn out to be true.

  3. Agastache foeniculum – I used this in container gardens I assembled for a wedding client – such a great candidate – the bees on it constantly and when cut back, it regrew smaller blooms quickly and just in time. Loved reading your responses, and congrats on your award, glad I found you along with John’s blog recently – you are both kind spirited individuals, I can tell all the way from CT. Cathy Testa

  4. Well done on tackling two awards so effortlessly!I really loved your answers, I was laughing away! I love your gardening style, and what a shame you don’t have more space for trees, I just love hawthorn too. Oh….goodness me, your poor tooth, I certainly felt that one…..and loved the pic of you NOT dancing in the

  5. I really enjoyed this, Jason–thanks for the chuckles:). I see we have a few more things in common, a chaotic gardening style and a preference for flowers over foliage. But although I’ve broken or lost some crowns, I’ve never had it happen in the garden–yikes!

  6. Congratulations on your away! i really enjoyed reading your answers. Your flower garden is so lovely! But I really look at foliage first; texture, form and colors can be as diverse as flowers and the effect lasts much longer here in the Deep South where summers are brutal on flowers. And I am not pulling your leg!

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