Let Local Wildlife Teach You the Value of an “Untidy” Garden

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. These links are independent, and I do hope you check out some of them!

a seed head from a flower, probably Queen Anne's lace, covered with snow

Two of the best short things I’ve read lately came out over the weekend. One is “Let Your Winter Garden Go Wild” by Margaret Renkl, and we’ll get to the other one soon enough, but what I want to draw your attention to is the broad topic they share. The best term for that common theme, “biosphere,” might seem to you like a rather new word, even a trendy one, but in fact Austrian geologist Eduard Suess first used it in 1875 when he wrote The Origin of the Alps. Read more

Discover the Dahlias and Design of Helena Ely

a black-and-white photograph of Helena Ely from around 1900

In 1880, Helena Rutherfurd married Alfred Ely II, a partner in the New York law firm of Agar, Ely & Fulton. Although they lived in Manhattan, the couple also owned a 350-acre country estate in northwest New Jersey. At Meadowburn Farm, Helena cultivated six acres around the house, and from her experiences arose three books on gardening. The first, A Woman’s Hardy Garden (1903), was reprinted 16 times before going out of print during the Great Depression. Her approach differed from the formal and Italianate styles that had become the dominant concepts in design back then, and came closer to that of William Robinson, who had published his once-controversial ideas in the decades before. According to The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Ely’s book “helped popularize the design of perennial gardens” [versus displays based on annuals] and marked a shift in culture Read more