MARGARET ROACH A WAY TO GARDEN

By Margaret Roach

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A WAY TO GARDEN is the horticultural incarnation of Margaret Roach

Episode Date
Mulch With Bill Fonteno-A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach May 23, 2022
00:26:32

I get a lot of questions every year about mulch, about how to use it, when to use it, which kind to use. And today we'll talk about all that, but also even more important about what goes on in the soil beneath that mulch layer when you mulch with an organic material.

My guest today to explain all that is Bill Fonteno, Professor Emeritus of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University and former technical advisor to the U.S. Mulch and Soil Council, the industry trade association. 

May 23, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 16, 2022 – Uli Lorimer on Native Annuals
00:27:47

With the explosion of interest in native plants in recent years, I know I'm not alone among gardeners who are scouring catalogs and specialty nurseries, looking for the right native to match every garden purpose, from trees on down to groundcovers. A new book by Uli Lorimer, director of horticulture at Native Plant Trust, has added some plants to my wishlist, including some native annuals. And it even has me pondering diversifying my lawn with some violets and hunting down a few more native vines and...oh my goodness. 

Uli Lorimer, author of the just-published book “The Northeast Native Plant Primer,” has made a career of working with native plants. He was longtime curator of the native flora garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And in 2019, became director of horticulture at Native Plant Trust, America's oldest plant conservation organization, which was founded in 1900 as New England Wildflower Society. 

May 16, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 9, 2022 – Jeff Epping on Gravel Gardens
00:26:56

Today, we're going to do some gravel gardening—not merely applying a thin mulch-like top dressing of gravel to a garden bed, but planting right into a deliberate foundation of 4 or 5 inches of gravel. My guest is Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisc., where he created his first gravel garden in 2009. We'll learn what makes gravel gardens so appealing and how to create one, too. 

That first gravel garden at Olbrich Botanical Gardens that Jeff Epping and his team created wasn't the last. There have been three more since, and gravel gardens created elsewhere for clients. Jeff, who lectures regularly to garden audiences around the country about his passion for gravel gardens, even transformed the front yard of his home to one in 2018, and he's here to tell us why and how.

May 09, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 2, 2022 – Kenny Coogan on Carnivorous Plants
00:26:21

Have you ever grown a carnivorous plant—a Venus flytrap or sundew or pitcher plant, perhaps? I bet even a lot of keen gardeners haven't. Today's guest is going to encourage us to change that and maybe, as a start, adopt one that you can cultivate on your windowsill even. 

All in time for International Carnivorous Plant Day on Wednesday, May 4th, we're also going to learn about the plight of carnivorous plants in the wild, where they're disproportionately endangered. 

Kenny Coogan is a board member and education director for the International Carnivorous Plant Society. Kenny's also author of the recent book “Florida's Carnivorous Plants,” and he operates a carnivorous plant nursery in Florida. 

May 02, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 25, 2022 – Amy Highland on Trilliums
00:26:12

I’m thinking about Trilliums – prompted not just because these treasured spring ephemerals are coming into their season, but by the disturbing news in a report just published that found that 32 percent of all North American Trillium species or varieties are threatened with extinction. My guest is Amy Highland, the Director of Collections and Conservation Lead at Mt. Cuba Center, a botanic garden and native plant conservation nonprofit in Delaware, one of three organizations behind the findings.  

As Mt. Cuba Center’s director of collections and conservation lead, Amy Highland, a graduate of Purdue University’s Public Horticulture program, has traveled throughout the temperate forests of North America to find rare plants in need of conservation. She’s here today to talk trilliums—and also how we as gardeners can be more involved in conservation of native plants over all. 

Apr 25, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 18, 2022 – Justin Chapple on Seasonal Recipes
00:26:34

Finally, the first fresh flavors of spring are starting to show up at the farmer's markets, and before long in our gardens, with more to come every unfolding week. Chef and cookbook author Justin Chapple, who's also the “Food & Wine” culinary director at large, is here to help us with ideas to use the coming bounty, including easy but transformational DIY salad dressings and more. 

Justin is known for his energetic and very approachable style, creating what he calls “built-to-be-easy recipes." As part of his role at “Food & Wine,” he hosts their video series called “Mad Genius Tips,” the title of his first book, and he authored another called “Just Cook It.”

Apr 18, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 11, 2022 – Daria McKelvey on Plants of Merit
00:27:27

Even though I don't live anywhere near St. Louis, one of my most used and appreciated resources for plant information over many, many years has been the Missouri Botanical Garden, with its world-class offerings to gardeners both in person and online. One feature I look forward to each year is the garden's annual Plants of Merit list, and today we're going to talk about those standout varieties just in time to guide your springtime plant shopping. 

My guest today is Daria McKelvey, supervisor of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where she oversees its extensive indoor and outdoor gardens, its Plant Doctor answer line, and a lot of the website features I mentioned that I rely on so much. 

Apr 11, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 4, 2022 – Annie Novak on Soil and Compost 
00:26:44

Do I need a soil test? And what kind of amendments should I be adding to my vegetable beds or containers to get things off to a good start? And how can I fine tune my composting this year to optimize results? Those are some of the timely questions I covered with Annie Novak, manager of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden. 

Annie is also founder and director of Growing Chefs, a field-to-fork food education program, and co-founder of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Plus, she wrote “The Rooftop Growing Guide.” 

Annie will be one of the expert presenters at the upcoming Workshop Experience Weekend, May 7th and 8th, in the Hudson Valley of New York that I'm helping organize. 

Apr 04, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 28, 2022 – Sam Keitch on Umbels
00:25:46

I thought my obsession with Angelica blooms was a serious one until recently, when I met Sam Keitch of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, who takes it one step further. Sam has a passion for various other garden-worthy, umbel-shaped flowers—not just various angelicas, but other plants in the family related to carrots and parsley. 

Sam Keitch is Project Manager for Public Landscapes at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in Philadelphia, where he creates ecologically driven designs, often in urban settings, enticing pollinators and other beneficials to enjoy the gardens as much as the many human visitors do.

Mar 28, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 21, 2022 – Stay Fit While Gardening
00:26:46

What's your most important gardening tool? A new public television series reminds us that it's not a trowel or pruner or spade, but our body, which can also be stressed by gardening if we don't know how to look after it. "Taking care of your body while taking care of your garden, that's our mission," the creators of the GardenFit program say. 

Today's guests are the creators of the new GardenFit series on public television, a sort of reality show meets season long garden tour that takes us on visits to distinctive private gardens around the country. We visit not just the places, but meet the gardeners behind them and learn what ails them, so to speak, what they could do better to care for themselves, and to stay, as the title of the series says, garden fit. The prescription for that is provided by co-host Jeff Hughes, a fitness trainer who incorporates a cognitive slant into conventional training practices, who teamed with Madeline Hooper, a former public relations executive and passionate gardener,  to create the program. 

Mar 21, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 14, 2022 – Meg Cowden on Succession Planting
00:26:05

In late winter, we gardeners rev up around sowing those first seeds indoors under lights. But the promise of a bountiful vegetable garden that keeps on giving doesn't end there. Now is also the moment to make succession-sowing plans for the longer haul, too. 

A range of the smartest tactics to accomplish that is our topic today with Meg Cowden, author of a new book called “Plant Grow Harvest Repeat.”   Meg Cowden gardens in the Upper Midwest in Zone 4b Minnesota, but that doesn't deter her from eking out an extended harvest of a diversity of edibles that anyone, anywhere would envy. How she accomplished that is the subject of the new book.

Mar 14, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 7, 2022 – Brian Jackson on Peat Alternatives
00:25:50

Gardeners have increasingly heard the call to reduce or eliminate their use of peat moss, the most familiar ingredient in seed-starting mixes and potting soils—one that a lot of us have long relied on. But peat is not sustainable, and its harvest releases substantial CO2, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. So what to use instead? 

That's our topic today with North Carolina State University Professor Brian Jackson, an expert in soilless growing media or soilless substrates, as they are also called.   Brian Jackson is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State, and director of the university's Horticultural Substrate Laboratory. He's one of perhaps five U.S. scientists at public universities studying these materials and their role in horticulture and agriculture.

Mar 07, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 28, 2022 – Craig LeHoullier on Tomatoes
00:26:16

Sick of winter? What I find helps, besides the occasional warmish, sunny day, is thinking about tomatoes. And that's what we're going to do today with Craig LeHoullier, author of the hit 2014 book “Epic Tomatoes,” who has over the years grown some 3,000 varieties in his home garden and adds new ones to his list every year

Craig, who gardens in North Carolina, is a retired chemist with a longtime passion for tomatoes. He's the co-founder of the Dwarf Tomato Project, an advisor on tomatoes to Seed Savers Exchange, and the person who in 1990 named the popular heirloom Cherokee Purple from seed that had been passed down and eventually made its way to him. 

Feb 28, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 21, 2022 – Brad Roeller on Deer
00:26:15

While most of us focus on keeping deer from browsing our gardens, Brad Roeller actually once managed what was called a Deer Browse Garden as part of a 10-year research study to learn more about what these big herbivores do, and don't do, when offered the opportunity—and how different strategies affect their behavior. Tips for gardening where deer are present is today's topic.  

Brad has held top horticultural positions at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, at the New York Botanical Garden, and on a private estate. He's currently a trustee at Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, where he'll give a virtual talk on Wednesday afternoon, February 23, on effective solutions for dealing with deer.

Feb 21, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 14, 2022 – James Golden’s Wild Garden
00:26:57

There's an old expression in gardening, a folksy piece of advice that states: "Don't fight the site." 

James Golden has been guided by a more nuanced version of that idea in creating a much praised garden, a wildish, unexpected landscape in New Jersey called Federal Twist. It was even featured on the hit BBC program “Gardeners' World" with Monty Don. I've been reading James's new book about Federal Twist, and just like that old garden adage, a lot of his philosophy of garden making is about acceptance, about letting the place tell you what it wants to be. 

James Golden came to garden making later in life, when he was preparing to retire from a writing job in the corporate world. His new book is “The View from Federal Twist: A New Way of Thinking About Gardens, Nature, and Ourselves.” 

Feb 14, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 7, 2022 – Sam Hoadley on Native Hydrangeas
00:27:18

It's hard to name another genus of shrub that's more beloved by gardeners than Hydrangea. But with the overwhelming popularity of Asian species, like the big blue mop heads and summer into fall Hydrangea paniculata types, where do hydrangeas fit in as more and more gardeners favor native plants, and especially ones that support pollinators and other beneficial insects?

The native plant experts at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware have just released a report on the results of a five-year trial, that focused mostly on an important native species, Hydrangea arborescens, and what both gardeners and pollinators have to say about its range of cultivars. 

The last time Sam Hoadley visited the show, we compared the dizzying range of cultivars and species of echinacea. Today's topic is hydrangeas. Sam is the manager of horticultural research at Mt. Cuba Center, a long time native plant garden and research site, where he trialed 29 species in cultivars. Before joining Mt. Cuba, he was lead horticulturist for Longwood Gardens Hillside Garden, and he received his degree in sustainable horticulture from University of Vermont. 

Feb 07, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 31, 2022 – Christian Allyn on Invasives
00:26:32

When I saw news of an upcoming webinar about invasive plants listed on the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's website, I knew I wanted to sign up and listen in. And also that I wanted to talk to the presenter, who founded a business in 2016 to help private and public land owners with the remediation of Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, and other thugs that are crowding out native plants and destroying wildlife habitat. Invasives are our topic today. 

Our guest is Christian Allyn, who founded Invasive Plant Solutions when he was still pursuing a double major in horticulture and economics at the University of Connecticut. Rather than just watch the continuing ravaging of natural habitats by invasive species in Connecticut and Massachusetts where he practices, he decided to do something, to make it his career path. 

"This does not have to be our reality," he says, "We can choose to restore nature." 

Jan 31, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 24, 2022 – Owen Taylor on Ancestral Seeds
00:26:35

As regular readers and listeners know, I've had a longtime interest in the organic seed movement, especially farm-based companies that grow at least some of the seed they sell and are proud to tell you where they source the rest. I like to know where my seed comes from. 

Lately I've had the pleasure of getting to know a number of new-to-me companies, including Truelove Seeds of Philadelphia, whose website promises culturally important, open-pollinated seeds to people “longing for their taste of home.” Today's guest is Owen Taylor, one of its co-founders.

With Christopher Bolden-Newsome, Owen Taylor started Truelove Seeds, which offers a diversity of vegetable, flower and herb seed from more than 50 small-scale urban and rural farmers committed to community food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and sustainable agriculture, and who each share in the sales price of every seed packet sold.

Jan 24, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 17, 2022 – Ken Druse on Shade Garden Advice
00:26:39

The other night I hosted an online class about shade gardening, featuring Ken Druse, whom I met in 1992-ish, almost exactly 30 years ago to the day, when I interviewed him on the publication of his book “The Natural Shade Garden.” In 2015, Ken wrote a whole new shade book appropriately called “The New Shade Garden,” so I guess you can tell that shade gardening has been a consistent theme of his work in his own gardening efforts, and it's our topic today. 

You all know Ken, author and photographer of 20 garden books and a daring gardener and plant propagator. He spoke to me from his garden among the trees in New Jersey, to talk shade.  

Jan 17, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 10, 2022 – Ali Stafford on Latest Cookbooks
00:26:52

Did you maybe get or give a cookbook or two for a holiday gift? Well, hopefully you can make room on the shelf for another couple of good ones. Our expert guide who's been browsing and cooking from the latest crop is Alexandra Stafford, aka Ali, who has some goodies to share—perfect fodder for another January of sticking close to home as I know a lot of us are again with cooking as one of our mainstays of comfort and creativity.  

Ali Stafford, author of the essential cookbook “Bread Toast Crumbs” and creator of the website alexandracooks.com, is here to highlight some of the recent cookbook titles that she's finding irresistible. They range from topics like cooking more vegetable-centric means, to creative use of grains, and yes, even more ideas for delicious cookies. 

Jan 10, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 3, 2022 – Jenks Farmer on Crinum Lilies
00:26:36

Uh-oh, now I've learned that there's another plant I didn't think I could grow in my Northern garden, but it sounds like I can. Hello, Crinum lilies, you gorgeous size-XL bulbs that I thought were the domain of Southern gardeners only, and not for me. 

A new book about them by Jenks Farmer is teaching me otherwise, and making me want to order some bulbs.  

Augustus Jenkins Farmer, aka Jenks Farmer, is a longtime horticulturist and garden designer who's former director of Riverbank Botanical Garden in South Carolina and author of a couple of previous books. These days, he is, true to his surname, also a farmer specializing in growing and selling crinum lilies and a few other goodies from his organically managed 18th-century South Carolina farm. His new self-published book is called “Crinum: Unearthing the History and Cultivation of the World's Biggest Bulb.”   

Jan 03, 2022
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 27, 2021 – Missouri Botanical on Fraser Fir
00:25:47

"To discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life." – Missouri Botanical Garden mission

Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark.

The Garden is a center for botanical research and science education, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis. The Garden offers 79 acres of beautiful horticultural display, including a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden, historic architecture, and one of the world's largest collections of rare and endangered flora.

For over 158 years, the Garden has been an oasis in the city, a place of beauty and family fun—and also a center for education, science, and conservation.

Dec 27, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 20, 2021 – Joe Lampl on Lessons Learned
00:26:50

Being an ever-better gardener means staying open to change. As long as we've both been gardening, my friend Joe Lamp'l was saying to me the other day, we're still evolving, still learning lessons every single growing season. We were comparing notes on the phone about the season we just each put to bed, Joe in Atlanta and me up north in New York State, and decided to bring you into the conversation about what 2021 taught us and what we've got planned 2022, in case our aha's can help you be a better gardener too. 

Joe is the longtime creator and host of the public-television program “Growing A Greener World” and also of the “Joe Gardener Podcast.”

 As if he needed more to do, in recent years, he's created something else, the Joe Gardener Online Gardening Academy, a curriculum of virtual courses on topics from seeds to tomato, pests and weeds, to soil science and lots more. 

Dec 20, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 13, 2021 – Ken Druse on Garden Gifts
00:26:15

When Ken Druse and I talked on the program a couple of weeks ago about putting our tools away for the winter, all cleaned and oiled, one part we failed to mention: We're both eyeing some new tools, too, for the year ahead. 

All of them would make great gifts, we think, so that's today's topic: stuff we love or covet, for gifting or treating yourself to. 'Tis the season and all that, right? So ho, ho, ho.

Dec 13, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 6, 2021 – Patricia Buzo on Terrariums
00:25:36

I'm eyeing a vintage glass cookie jar I haven't used in years, and a big glass snifter, too, that's been sitting idle on a shelf in the sideboard for ages. And I'm thinking terrariums, and I'm thinking holiday centerpiece, or maybe a gift or two. Are you feeling crafty? Today's guest has expert how-to and design help for creating tiny landscapes under glass. 

Patricia Buzo started her terrarium design business, Doodle Bird Terrariums, in 2008, and sells her creations on Etsy. She's also author of the recent book, “A Family Guide to Terrariums for Kids,” which is suited to inspiring would-be terrarium makers of all ages—even me. 

Dec 06, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 29, 2021 – Jessica Allen on Lichens
00:25:56

Some of the most beautiful and intricate creatures in the garden are not plants at all. A diversity of lichens are showing off right now on tree bark and branches, on stones, on unpainted garden furniture and even soil, more visible since many of the garden's plants have quieted down visually for their dormant season. Let's go on a virtual lichen walk with lichenologist Jessica Allen, co-author of a new book on the subject.

Jessica Allen is an Assistant Professor of Integrative Plant Biology at Eastern Washington University. And before that she pursued her PhD at New York Botanical Garden in a joint program with the City University of New York. At NYBG she met lichenologist James Lendemer, and years later, when she conceived of creating the new book, “Urban Lichens: A Field Guide for Northeastern North America,” she invited him to collaborate, as they have continued to do on lichen research work over the years.

Nov 29, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 22, 2021 – Marta McDowell on a Secret Garden
00:25:50

Author Marta McDowell, a gardener and landscape designer in contemporary New Jersey, has an enduring passion for digging into history, particularly into noted authors and their gardens—what she calls the “connection between the pen and the trowel.” She's written books from that vantage point on Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and now her latest is on the prolific author Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of the classic “The Secret Garden.” 

Marta McDowell also lectures extensively, and teaches landscape history and horticulture at New York Botanical Garden. She's here today to talk about the subject of her latest book, “Unearthing The Secret Garden: The Plants And Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett.”

Nov 22, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 15, 2021 – Ken Druse on Last Fall Chores
00:26:16

It's been a strangely mild fall so far in the Northeast, where Ken Druse and I both garden. But as some recent overnight freezes served as a reminder: Get the must-do chores done or else, because who knows when the weather will lower the boom for good. 

On our lists, still: collecting some seeds of natives to sow later and cleaning and preparing tools for storage; lifting tender bulbs and tubers to stash; where to overwinter the nursery pots of things we bought that never found their permanent home in the ground (oops).

Ken, author of 20 garden books and an old friend, is back today to help with the countdown, to getting the garden really tucked in for the winter ahead, and especially to remind himself and me and all of us not to get lulled into procrastination, even if it has been in the 60s some days here the last week. 

Nov 15, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 8, 2021 – David Culp on Design Tweaks
00:26:30

Designer David Culp sees the garden in layers, but not just the most obvious landscape ones most of us do—meaning the canopy, the shrub layer and ground-covering plants. His view of the garden is more like 3D chess and then some: layers of color, texture, shape, and even the layer of time. He's here to offer us advice for looking at our garden’s many aspects with an eye to strengthening the overall impact. 

David has been making his own 2-acre garden in Pennsylvania for about 30 growing seasons, yet he still looks to tweak it regularly, to continue to fine-tune. David, a longtime teacher at Longwood Gardens, is lately teaching online in popular monthly webinars, hosted by Jim Peterson, the publisher of “Garden Design,” with their next one coming up November 11th. 

He's the author of “The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage,” and a follow-up book last year, “A Year at Brandywine Cottage: Six Seasons Of Beauty, Bounty and Blooms.”

Nov 08, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 1, 2021 – John Forti on Heirloom Gardening
00:25:44

When I saw news of a popular new garden book called “The Heirloom Gardener,” I thought it would be about growing vegetables or flowers of old-time, open-pollinated varieties maybe. You know: of heirlooms. But John Forti's latest book is about much more, about not just traditional plants, but traditional practices, too, that serve to connect us to the environment and to one another.  

John Forti is a garden historian and heirloom specialist and ethnobotanist, and a longtime leader in the slow-foods movement. He's currently the executive director of Bedrock Gardens landscape and sculpture garden in New Hampshire. 

Nov 01, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 25, 2021 – Lee Reich on Fall Prep
00:26:18

What are the forward-looking steps in your fall garden routine—the most important tasks you take now to get your garden tucked in, that really focus on success next year? Over at the part-farm, par-garden of Lee Reich in the Hudson Valley of New York State, his emphasis is on building soil health, and also on stashing his tender potted figs, so they're primed for another productive fruiting season in the year to come.

Lee Reich has degrees in horticulture, soil science and chemistry, and is the author of many books, including the just out one called “Growing Figs in Cold Climates.” He's a long time no-till organic gardener, and an expert pruner, and a grower of many unusual fruits, and someone I've turned to for advice for my own garden countless times over many years. He offered some advice to help us tuck in smarter.

Oct 25, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 18, 2021 – Ken Druse on Monocots
00:25:41

"What do you want to talk about when we tape our next podcast segment, I asked Ken Druse the other day, and his answer was succinct. 

"Monocots," he said. 

To which I said, "What?" 

"I want to talk about monocotyledons," he said, using the unabbreviated name of one of the two groups that all flowering plants fit into, the other being dicots. And so we will. And yes, it's geeky, but also a lot more revealing than you'd imagine. And also a hint that seemingly esoteric facts like the taxonomic relationships between plants can make for fun themes for a plant collection, or even a concept for a bed or border or display of grouped containers. 

Ken Druse is an old friend and a garden writer with 20 books to his credit, and most recently, one about fragrance called “The Scentual Garden,” and another called “The New Shade Garden.” He made a visit the other day to Wave Hill, the renowned public garden in New York City, where they have a whole monocot border that was in its glory, and hence our topic today: plants that are monocots and why to care. 

Oct 18, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 11, 2021 – Cary Oshins on Composting Tips
00:26:11

Have you made room in the compost heap for all that incoming organic material about to be created during your fall cleanup? Compost is today's topic with Associate Director Cary Oshins of the US Composting Council.

And we'll talk about everything from best how-to practices to improve your results, to all those claims about compostable plastic bags and devices promising to make instant compost. 

 

Cary Oshins is a life-long backyard composter, besides his day job at the composting industry group that was founded in 1990 to promote compost utilization and recycling of organic materials to benefit its members, society, and the environment.

He lent some of his insights at this key moment in our composting year.

Oct 11, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 4, 2021 – Marc Wolf on Native Shrubs
00:26:31

I'm always looking for more places to tuck native plantings, and my current mission is along my property edges, where I'm adding a more complex layer of shrubs and small trees adjacent to the big old canopy-level ones to increase habitat for beneficial insects and birds, in particular. 

I've been turning to today's guest for suggestions, and now we want to share some of our ideas with you for garden-sized native woody plants to enhance the diversity of your landscape. 

Marc Wolf is director of Mountain Top Arboretum in the Catskills of New York, 178-acre public garden that's open every day of the year, and where managing native plant communities is the focus. Marc has a particular appreciation for small native trees that we too often overlook, and we'll talk about some of his favorites and also a palette of native shrubs to delight you and the bees and the birds. 

Oct 04, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 27, 2021 – Ken Druse on Dividing Perennials
00:26:06

I've been scouting around in my garden for orphaned plants, ones that used to be in visually pleasing clumps or masses, but because of expanding shade or a naughty vole or who knows what, aren't looking as good as they used to. Over in New Jersey, Ken Druse has been digging and dividing some perennials, too, but for different reasons. 

And that's our topic today: what and when and why and how to dig and divide. 

Ken Druse is author of 20 garden books, and gardens on a small island in a river in New Jersey, which sometimes backfires as it did recently during Hurricane Ida, when the place flooded. He's no longer under water, and he's here to help us learn to dig and divide our way to a better garden. 

Sep 27, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 20, 2021 – Heather McCargo on Natives From Seed
00:25:27

Today we're going to get a lesson in winter sowing, sowing seeds in fall and early winter outside in a protected spot, a sort of easy DIY home nursery for making more plants. What we'll learn to propagate that way are specifically seeds of native plants—both meadow perennials, like asters and Joe Pye weed, and also various shrubs and even trees. 

My guest is Heather McCargo, who founded the nonprofit Wild Seed Project in Maine in 2014 and has been growing natives from seed for 35 years.

Native plants’ wild populations have shrunk alarmingly in that time. The mission of Heather’s Wild Seed Project is to inspire and teach more of us to grow natives and use them to repopulate the landscape, whether our home gardens or maybe a community project, like at a park or school or beyond.

Sep 20, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 13, 2021 – Darryl Cheng on Light for Houseplants
00:25:41

The days are getting shorter, and in my Northern garden, they're growing cooler, too. I know my houseplants will be screaming soon to come back inside, and then screaming all winter about the less-than-ideal conditions I'm offering, and how they'd like me to do better, please.

Darryl Cheng does better, using all the technical insights he can to make more than 100 houseplants feel at home in his Toronto condominium. But he also accepts that his place is not a conservatory or commercial greenhouse. It's not perfect. 

Darryl Cheng is better known on Instagram as @houseplantjournal, and as one of his 620,000 followers, I can say I enjoy being treated to his frequent posts, showing off his latest insights from ambitiously growing a condo-full of diverse houseplants. He began sharing his earliest houseplant adventures on Tumblr in 2013, and has grown his audience and more, more, more houseplants exponentially ever since. He's the author of the book “The New Plant Parent,” and creates the popular website, houseplantjournal.com.

Sep 13, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 6, 2021 – Julie Janoski Gives a Caterpillar Clinic
00:25:46

Today's guest answers even more Urgent Garden Questions each year than I do, in her role as plant clinic manager at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois—including lots each summer and fall about caterpillars galore, from bagworms to gypsy moths and fall webworms. 

Besides being an arboretum and public garden, The Morton is a world-class 1,700-acre research center, conservation and education organization, and it's preparing to mark its centennial in 2022.

Last year, 17,000 questions arrived by phone, email, or in person at the plant clinic, questions representing consumers from 48 states. Julie is a former landscape designer who has managed the arboretum's free plant clinic for three years, after volunteering there for five years before that. 

Julie and I talked about the most common questions we each get from gardeners, including ones about Magnolia scale and about all those hungry caterpillars and what to do to limit them next year.

Sep 06, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 30, 2021 – Meg McGrath on Vegetable Diseases
00:25:18

Here's how my head, which is always lost in the garden, I guess, works: The first thing I thought about when the pandemic started—when we got news of a new pathogen in the world—was how many plant pathogens I've written about in my career, and the trajectories of each of them. 

Dr. Margaret McGrath is a longtime vegetable pathologist for Cornell University, whom I've turned to over and again to better understand many such plant diseases. Meg, in turn, turns to backyard gardeners, like us, to help her learn more about basil downy mildew and late blight in tomatoes and, now, cucurbit downy mildew too.

It's true, she wants to know what we're seeing in our backyards. We can help her and vice versa. 

Besides her role as a scientist at Cornell's Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, New York, Meg McGrath is a keen gardener. Her applied research aims to improve the management of important vegetable diseases, and develop effective components for integrated pest management programs. 

Aug 30, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 23, 2021 – Toshi Yano on Editing and Dividing Perennials
00:25:35

Maybe you, like I do, have certain perennial beds that could use editing and some particular plants that need dividing in the process. That's just one focus of today's guest, Toshi Yano, in his role as director of horticulture at Wethersfield, a former private estate turned public garden in the Hudson Valley of New York, He'll tell us the how-to, and also about visiting this special place. 

Toshi is in his third year as director of horticulture at the former estate called Wethersfield garden in Dutchess County, New York, with its 3-acre formal gardens plus 7 acres of wilderness garden and commanding views of the Catskills and Berkshire Mountains. 

Toshi and his team are bringing the gardens back to life, and he told me about the place, and specifically about the tasks of editing and dividing that every perennial gardener needs to do, whatever their garden scale. 

Aug 20, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 16, 2021 – Ken Druse on Texture and Variegation
00:25:47

 

Texture and Variegation With Ken Druse - A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach - August 16, 2021

Ken Druse called the other day to say that he and his garden have the August lulls. The sort of annual dog days experience when it's way past spring, and still way before fall color, when maybe even some of the annuals you potted up or put into your beds in May for summer color might be starting to look less perky, too. 

"What holds the garden together in such a moment?" he asked as we chatted, and as he looked out the window. 

Texture, primarily we agreed, and at Ken's, especially some refreshing splashes of variegation and definitely the freshness of some white flowers. Using all of those effectively is our topic today. 

You all know Ken Druse as a regular visitor to my podcast, and author of 20 garden books and longtime friend. When he's not managing the antics of two troublemaking but gorgeous canines, he manages his extensive garden in New Jersey.  

Aug 12, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 9, 2021 – Noelle Orloff on Horticultural Vinegar –
00:26:57

In a recent industry newsletter, I saw a link to a story about the herbicide called horticultural vinegar, and clicked on it. And then, realizing how little I knew about this product that I see prominently displayed in every garden center I visit, I wrote to the story’s authors at Montana State University to ask them to tell me more. 

In our subsequent series of conversations, I learned a lot about these high-concentration vinegars, and most of all about reading product labels to be a smarter, safer consumer. 

Noelle Orloff is the Weed and Invasive Plant Identification Diagnostician at Montana State's Schutter Diagnostic Lab, where she identifies plants submitted by growers, ranchers and homeowners, and provides management recommendations if needed. She's also a passionate home gardener, and I'm so glad to continue our conversation out loud here today with all of you listening. 

Aug 09, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – Uli Lorimer on Propagating Ferns – August 2, 2021
00:26:00

By the time we hit August, some plants in the garden are a little beat up—or have at least needed deadheading, or even wholesale cutting back, perhaps. 

As delicate as they might look texturally from the moment of their first emergence in spring, though, the ones that always startle me by their incredible toughness are the ferns. That's our topic today, ferns—and specifically native ones—with Uli Lorimer of Native Plant Trust, who will tell us some fern lore and some fern care, and even how they reproduce so we can propagate more of them ourselves. 

Uli Lorimer has made a career of working with native plants. He was longtime curator of the Native Flora Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And in 2019 became Director of Horticulture at Native Plant Trust, the former New England Wild Flower Society, and America's oldest plant conservation organization, founded in 1900. 

Aug 02, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 26, 2021 – Ken Druse on Mint Relatives
00:26:26

Don't answer this question too quickly; take your time and think it over. How many mints are you growing in your garden? When Ken Druse suggested the other day to me that we talk about mints on the show. I thought, "Spearmint, peppermint, what?" 

But then I thought a moment longer and looked around and realized there were mint family relatives all over the garden, even unintentionally among the lawn weeds. So the many faces of mints is our topic today, but first these messages.

You all know Ken Druse, a regular visitor to the show and author of 20 garden books and also a longtime friend. When he's not managing the antics of two troublemaking but gorgeous canines, he manages his extensive garden in New Jersey. 

Jul 26, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 19, 2021 – Marianne Willburn on Tropicals
00:26:39

I was at the local garden center the other day, when a truck full of tropical plants was being unloaded. And in the heat of a summer day, they looked like just the right choice to bring home to liven up the place. But which ones among the many choices could become what Marianne Willburn calls “best friends,” and carry over year to year without too much fuss?

Marianne Willburn, author of the new book, “Tropical Plants and How to Love Them,” is a regular contributor to “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine, and to the popular multi-author garden website, Garden Rant dot com. She gardens in Northern Virginia and yes, a lot of the non-hardy things we call tropicals are among her faithful garden companions. 

Jul 19, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 12, 2021 – Chris Leahy on Birdpedia
00:26:59

How many bird species are there in the world and how many individual birds? And how do you even try to count? 

Do bird sweat, and how is their eyesight or sense of smell? What makes some eggs solid blue and others speckled brown, or are any two species’eggs the same size and shape and color? Well, these are just a tiny fraction of the disparate and fascinating questions answered in the new book called “Birdpedia” by today's guest, Christopher Leahy.  

Christopher Leahy retired in June 2017 from a 45-year career as a professional conservationist with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and was for 16 years director of its Center for Biological Conservation. He's the author of numerous books, most recently, “Birdpedia: A Brief Compendium of Avian Lore,” our topic today. 

Jul 12, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 5, 2021 – Patrick McMillan on Natural Communities
00:27:11

 

I've been looking forward to connecting with Patrick McMillan, who last October took over as director of the exceptional plant collection and astonishing landscape that is Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Washington. 

Besides wanting to know what's next there at a place that's been known for a long time for its influence on American gardeners, Patrick has a personal passion I'm very curious about. It's what he calls “natural community gardening,” as in taking our cues from habitats or plant communities in nature to guide how we design and care for our gardens.

Patrick came to Heronswood last fall from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he ran the South Carolina Botanical Garden and was a professor in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. He also hosted a PBS series called “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan,” and led the development of the botanical garden’s Natural Heritage Garden. His motto, in his words: 

“No matter how large a garden space is, no matter what you're doing, you try to make your passion come to life on your piece of ground.”

Jul 05, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – Nate Kleinman on Monkey Puzzle Trees – June 28, 2021
00:26:18

 

I have a fascination for seeds of unusual edibles from around the world, and the other day on Instagram, I saw maybe the oddest one of all: What about growing a monkey puzzle tree from Chile from seed? And who even knew that tree produced edible nuts? 

O.K., so maybe that wasn't on the top of your list, but how about carrots that are gorgeous purple inside or a diversity of textural kales from far off places for your fall garden? Those and more to tempt you are our topic today, but first these messages.

It was Nate Kleinman who caught my attention with his social-media post about seed for that unusual conifer, the monkey puzzle tree. Nate is co-founder of Experimental Farm Network , a nonprofit cooperative of growers, whose mission includes the core belief that agriculture can and should be used to help build a better world. I love browsing their online seed catalog for its many distinctive possibilities, including some you can sow in these next weeks for late-season harvests. 

Jun 28, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 21, 2021 – Brian Campbell on Radicchio and More
00:26:14

A story I wrote recently for my “New York Times” column took me on a fascinating, deep dive into the world of radicchio and put me back in touch with today's guest, organic seed farmer Brian Campbell of Uprising Seeds. 

Radicchio, with its long heritage in Northern Italy, isn't the only crop with Italian roots that the Uprising team is crazy about, so today we're going to meet leaf broccoli and cardoon, and some traditional Italian beans and beets, too, that would be just as at home in your vegetable garden. 

Brian Campbell, with his partner Crystine Goldberg, owns Uprising Seeds just north of Bellingham, Washington, which was the state's first certified organic seed company and features an assortment of exceptional vegetables and flowers. This year, they added the new Gusto Italiano Project to their lineup, a collection of radicchios and brassicas straight from Italy, and we talked about growing some of those selections and more. 

Jun 21, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 14, 2021 – Ken Druse on Shrub Propagation
00:27:20

Today we're going to do some multiplication, as in: make more shrubs, thanks to a lesson in propagating favorites like Hydrangea or elderberry or Physocarpus and more, courtesy of our friend and regular guest, Ken Druse. Ready to learn the basics of shrub propagation and have plants to share or to repeat in your own garden?

You all know my old friend, Ken Druse, author of 20 garden books. So rather than repeat the rest of his bio, I'll share some news. Ken's being honored the evening of June 17th, 2021 by Rutgers Gardens, the botanical garden of Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

And I'll have information with the transcript of this show on awaytogarden.com on how to buy a ticket for that virtual event, which of course I would not miss. The celebratory evening includes a video tour of his garden at peak bloom, and also a live Q&A session. 

Jun 14, 2021
Bruce Crawford on Small Trees – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 7, 2021
00:26:44

 

Looking around the garden as some of spring's show off shrubs and perennials fade, I realized how glad I am that I made room for some garden-sized trees too. Not too big and not too small, and the best of them are offering more than a single season of interest. Choice trees for the garden, and also some unexpected ways to use them is our topic today.

Here today to talk garden-sized trees and where at your place to make room for some to the best possible effect is Bruce Crawford,who from 2005 to 2020 was the director of Rutgers Gardens, the Botanical Garden for Rutgers University. He's currently the State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture with the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and a longtime instructor in the landscape architecture program at Rutgers.

Jun 07, 2021
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 31, 2021 – Jon Drori on ‘Around the World in 80 Plants’
00:26:55

Environmentalist and best-selling author, Jonathan Drori, says that for him, plant science is fascinating, but it's truly enlivened when it's entwined with human history and culture. In his new book, “Around the World in 80 Plants,” the followup to his hit “Around the World in 80 Trees,” he does just that. He enlivens plants both obscure and as familiar as the common potato.  

There are many plants we may not know at all, so everything about them is a surprise, of course, when we first come across them, but even commonplace plants like the dandelion have untold stories to share. Dandelions and 79 others are profiled in Jonathan Drori's new book, “Around the World in 80 Plants.” Jonathan, a former BBC documentarian who for nine years was a trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is on the board of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund, a fellow of the Linnaean Society and more.    

May 28, 2021
Ken Druse on Outdoor Treasure Hunting – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 24, 2021
00:26:41

Ken Druse and I are putting a new spin on weeding by giving it a new name: treasure hunting. Maybe the incessant, relentless nature of all those naughty things that keep popping up around the garden beds will be softened if we focus instead on the fact that we might just come upon some real goodies as we seek to rogue out the bad. 

Discovering treasure while we ferret out the trash, the trash being the self-sowns and other desirable volunteers the garden wants to give us is our topic today. 

Today’s guest, Ken Druse, is not a guest, exactly, but a regular on the show, a longtime friend and the author of an astonishing 20 gorgeous books about gardening. I’m so glad he’s here at this moment—when I am frankly having a bad case of garden overwhelm—to just commiserate and talk about what he’s finding out there in his own garden as he makes his rounds. 

May 24, 2021
Ali Stafford on Asparagus – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 17, 2021
00:26:19

 

One dimension of my friendship with today's guest is a years-long ongoing barter. She shares her cooking expertise with me and my extended family, and I give Alexandra Stafford and her husband gardening advice. It's a pretty sweet deal, and today Ali, creator of the indispensable alexandracooks.com website, is here to swap asparagus wisdoms, because 'tis the season.

 

On her Alexandra's Kitchen website or her extremely popular Instagram account @AlexandraCooks, Ali Stafford is always teaching, whether a technique that provides the aha we need to unlock the secret to a recipe, or how to use the best of-the-moment recipe ingredients in inspired combinations, especially vegetables and herbs. And if you haven't tried her no-knead bread recipe that's the foundation of her cookbook, “Bread Toast Crumbs,” well, you need to. 

May 17, 2021
Eric Eaton on Wasps – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 10, 2021
00:27:05

 

I just read a book that filled me with wonder and awe. Now, would it startle you to hear that it was a book about wasps? Don’t cringe and turn away; listen as I talk to entomologist Eric Eaton, author of the new book, “Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect.” 

The world would be a much worse place without wasps, if it were a place at all, is what I came away thinking about after reading Eaton's new book. Eaton is previously lead author on the “Insects of North America” volume in the popular “Kaufman Field Guide” series. We talked about fear of wasps, yes, and what to do when they set up housekeeping by your back porch, but also about how much they contribute to the environment. 

May 10, 2021
Uli Lorimer on Trilliums – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 3, 2021
00:27:47

It's Trillium Week the first week of May at Garden In The Woods, the headquarters of Native Plant Trust in Framingham, Massachusetts, the nation's oldest plant conservation organization with more than a century of history. Well, with a little help from today's guest, it can be Trillium Week in your garden, too, around this time each year.

Uli Lorimer has made a career of working with native plants, including a diversity of trillium species. He was longtime curator of the Native Flora Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and in 2019, became director of horticulture at Native Plant Trust, the former New England Wild Flower Society, which was founded in 1900.

May 03, 2021
Rebecca McMackin Ecological Landscaping – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 26, 2021
00:26:10

 

I watched a Zoom lecture the other day that really put into words a lot of the ways my own deepening understanding of ecology is shaking up the way I practice horticulture—from spring cleanup, right on to the last chore of the active year. 

The speaker was today's guest, Rebecca McMackin, director of horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park, where she leads the team that manages 85 acres of diverse parkland with a central focus on habitat creation of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows to build soils and support birds, butterflies, and other organisms. We talked about the dynamic tactics they use and when and why. Rebecca has worked at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City for over a decade. She has two master's degrees, in landscape design and in biology, and has served on the board of the Ecological Landscape Alliance. She’s currently vice president of Metro Hort Group, a professional organization in the city. 

Apr 26, 2021
Carol Gracie on Florapedia – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 19, 2021
00:25:32

There's the so-called language of flowers, as in the symbolism or sentiment attributed to a rose versus a pansy or a daisy. And then there's the actual language of flowers in botany, as in what's a sepal or a tepal and a bract, or what's a perfect flower technically speaking? 

Those are some of the many eclectic lessons, both scientific historical and just plant fascinating, that I took away from a new little book with a big name, “Florapedia,” by Carol Gracie, with the subtitle “A Brief Compendium of Floral Lore.”

Carol is a naturalist and photographer and popular lecturer who has written several previous books on wildflowers, including “Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast” and “Summer Wildflowers of the Northeast,” two favorites in my cupboard here. 

Apr 19, 2021
Steve Bellavia on Brassicas – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 12, 2021
00:25:34

They're among the most popular and good-for-you vegetables, but brassicas—broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and the like—can also be a little tricky to grow unless you start with the right variety, get the timing right, and have a preemptive action plan to outsmart pests. 

I got advice on how to accomplish all that from Steve Bellavia, who joined Johnny's Selected Seeds in 1993, where today he's product manager in their research department for peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Chinese cabbage. 

Apr 12, 2021
Doug Tallamy on Oaks – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 5, 2021
00:26:25

Every time over the years that I've spoken to today's guest, one word comes up: oak. If entomologist and University of Delaware Professor Doug Tallamy sounds a little fixated on native oaks, it's because they are the most powerful plant there is, and he wants us to be very clear on that and plant them. 

In his new book, “The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees,” he makes the case more strongly than ever, with twists and turns and the tales of all the creatures we depend on, who depend on the genus Quercus. 

Doug Tallamy is well-known to most every gardener as a longtime leading voice speaking in the name of native plants. His 2007 book, "Bringing Nature Home,", was for many of us, an introduction into the entire subject of the unbreakable link between native plants and native wildlife. He followed up with the 2020 “New York Times” bestseller, “Nature's Best Hope,” and now just out, “The Nature of Oaks.” 

Apr 05, 2021
Peter Kukielski on Roses – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 29, 2021
00:26:14

 

Roses are ancient plants with a 35-million-year history on planet earth, so maybe it's no surprise then that they have been a fixture in nearly every culture and many religions, too. In his recent book, “Rosa: The Story of the Rose,” rosarian Peter Kukielski tells lots of the stories of this beloved flower and our relationship to it, and its place in our cultural history. 

Peter Kukielski is former curator of New York Botanical Garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, where in 2008 to 2014, he implemented a new mission: to plant and trial roses for disease resistance and less chemical usage. He's the author of an earlier book “Roses Without Chemicals,” and the designer of a recent garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, Canada, a chemical-free province. And these days Peter gardens in Maine.

Mar 29, 2021
Helen O’Donnell on Flower Garden Favorites – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 22, 2021
00:24:46

I met today's guest, Helen O'Donnell, at a plant sale a couple of springs ago, before the pandemic scuttled most such big public events. Spring sales like that, where multiple small growers of unusual specialty plants gather, are my favorite place to shop because I get not just unexpected new things to bring home, but also I get to learn from the proprietors as I browse about what each goody is and how to grow it.

So second-best, I've been inviting some of them to the radio show and podcast this year to browse with us aloud, including Helen O'Donnell of Bunker Farm Plants in Vermont, who’s here to talk about special annuals and perennials we may want to seek out for our gardens.

Helen owns Bunker Farm Plants, part of a family farm operation in Vermont that produces meat and maple syrup, besides Helen's own selection of exceptional garden flowers that she raises mostly from seed. She's also a garden designer, so her choice of plants always includes their ability to perform. 

Mar 22, 2021
Ken Druse on Classic Garden Books – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 15, 2021
00:25:13

Do you remember your very earliest gardening books—the ones that transported you into the world of plants, whether that was last year or years ago? Or other books that have earned a permanent spot on your bookshelf as old trusted friends along the way? Ken Druse and I got to talking on the phone about our favorite formative volumes the other day, and decided we'd let you in on the conversation, too. 

 

My regular alter ego, Ken Druse, needs no introduction, but he is of course the author of not a small number of gardening books himself, 20 at last count, including some I know changed the way I look at plants. He's back today to take a stroll through our mutual garden bookshelves.

Mar 15, 2021
Jessica Walliser on Smarter Companion Planting – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 8, 2021
00:26:19

You've heard the expression “companion planting,” as in: What plants supposedly “love” growing alongside what other plants? But how many such pairings are folklore, and how many stand up to research? 

In her new book, “Plant Partners,” Jessica Walliser looks at the scientific evidence and shares pairings that can help us minimize weeds or improve soil or attract needed pollinators or other beneficial insects.  

Jessica is a horticulturist and self-described devoted bug lover who gardens near Pittsburgh. She's the author of the earlier books “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to your Garden,” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug,” and co-founder of the popular website savvygardening.com

Mar 08, 2021
Sam Hoadley on Echinacea – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 1, 2021
00:25:49

Any gardener shopping at a local nursery or paging through perennial plant catalogs can't help but notice there are a lot of Echinacea, or coneflowers, on the market—more every year, including in unexpected colors and some with extra-showy double flowers. 

But how good are all these new cultivars as garden plants? And maybe more important, how good are they at supporting pollinators? The native plant experts at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware have just released a report on the results of a multi-year trial of Echinacea, and their insights are our topic today. 

Today's guest, Sam Hoadley, is manager of horticultural research at Mt. Cuba Center, a longtime native plant garden and research site, where he trialed 75 different Echinacea. Before joining Mt. Cuba, Sam was lead horticulturist for Longwood Gardens Hillside Garden, and he received his degree in sustainable landscape horticulture from University of Vermont. 

Mar 01, 2021
Far Reaches Farm on Unusual Perennials – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 22, 2021
00:26:13

On the website of Far Reaches Farm rare plant nursery, shoppers can filter the plant listings by the usual expected things, like shrub or fern, or shade or sun, or hardiness zone. But there's also a filter for “shop by plant origin,” as in: where in the world each of the goodies hails from. And that filter hints at the fact that the nursery's owners are longtime plant explorers, and also preservationists.

 Kelly Dodson, who's here with me today, and Sue Milliken are the proprietors of Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, Washington, and also of the nonprofit Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy, that seeks to acquire and conserve horticulturally and botanically important rare plants, many of them from Asia. 

Feb 22, 2021
Ellen Ogden on Heirloom Vegetable Gardens – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 15, 2021
00:26:18

The subtitle of Ellen Ecker Ogden's latest book, “The New Heirloom Garden,” tells it all. "Designs, Recipes, and Heirloom Plants for Cooks Who Love to Garden," is how it reads. Throughout her career of writing, and lecturing, and teaching about kitchen gardening, Ellen always reminds us, it's not just the literal harvest and what we can cook up from it, but also the opportunity for beauty and for intimate engagement that the vegetable garden can offer.  

Ellen Ecker Ogden, with several books on food and gardens to her credit, was co-founder of the breakthrough seed catalog called The Cook's Garden, which introduced U.S. gardeners to a whole new palette of possibilities that back then were more familiar perhaps in Europe, but not here. She lives and gardens in Vermont, and I'm glad she's back today.  

Feb 15, 2021
Ken Druse on Native Spring Perennials – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 8, 2021
00:27:16

Facing a forecast of heaps of snow the other day, Ken Druse and I got to dreaming on the phone together of more colorful times ahead. Of the emergence, not so very long in the future, of spring's first woodland perennials, natives that do their thing early beneath trees and shrubs. 

“Hey, let's make it another edition of our Desert Island Plants series on the radio show and podcast,” we decided. And so favorite natives of spring are the topic.

Talking about our most loved spring native woodland perennials is a perfect fit for Ken Druse, whose books “The Natural Shade Garden” in 1992 and “The New Shade Garden,” published in 2015, each covered a choice selection of such plants. He's back today on Skype from his own snowbank, a few hours’ drive away from mine, to think spring and its fantastic native perennials. Attachments area

Feb 08, 2021
Phil Simon on Carrots – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 1, 2021
00:27:16

How do you build a better carrot for organic farms and gardens, and how do you grow one for the best results? I discussed those topics with longtime carrot breeder Dr. Phil Simon, who shared a fascinating little carrot history, too—like who knew that the modern carrot’s ancestors originated in Afghanistan? 

Phil Simon has been breeding carrots for more than 40 years. He holds a joint position with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Horticulture Department. More likely than not, you've eaten carrots with genetics that have come from his breeding work. 

Feb 01, 2021
Laura Parker on Seed Shopping – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 25, 2021
00:26:10

It will come as no surprise to regular listeners that I'm mad about small farm-based companies that sell seed grown without chemicals and with a regional focus. Seed matched to a particular set of conditions for best results. Today's guest is the founder of one such company, High Desert Seed in Colorado and even though I don't garden in the high desert, I confess I'm very tempted by the unique offerings like toothache plant and a gorgeous eggplant from India, all with wonderful stories behind them.  

Before Laura Parker founded High Desert Seed, she had many other seed adventures including working in India with activist and seed saver, Vandana Shiva and later back in the US becoming Executive Director of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. She's here today to talk about the importance of regionally adapted seed and showcase some goodies she's working on and also drop some names of other companies whose catalogs we ought to be browsing. 

Jan 25, 2021
Leslie Halleck on Seed Starting Lights – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 18, 2020
00:26:01

I'm on my third generation of seed-starting lights, a journey that began back in the day when shop lights with so-called cool-white and warm-white fluorescent tubes combined were all we gardeners knew. Eventually I moved up to newer, high-output fluorescents, and now maybe the switch to LEDs beckons. 

But how does a person shopping for grow lights find his or her way through the array of possibilities out there? That's today's topic, with horticulturist Leslie Halleck, author of the book “Gardening Under Lights” to help simplify things.

Sufficient light is maybe the biggest factor in the equation of success with seedlings and grow light technology is evolving fast. I asked Leslie to return to the show for a 101 on shopping for seed-starting lights suited to us as home gardeners. 

Jan 18, 2021
Nate Kleinman on Seed Shopping – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 11, 2021
00:26:48

Parsley that was bred not for its leaves, but as a root crop. Or a winter squash with vivid green flesh, instead of orange. And perennial onions called potato onions that multiply. These are just a few of the wonders of genetic diversity I've been poring over in the new 2021 listings from the nonprofit seed cooperative called Experimental Farm Network, whose founder is here today to officially kick off seed-shopping season with me.

Last year, during catalog season, I was introduced to Nate Kleinman, who's co-founder of Experimental Farm Network dot org, a non-profit cooperative of growers, whose mission includes the core belief that agriculture can and should be used to help build a better world. I asked Nate back to my public radio show and podcast to widen our palette of possibilities to try this year from seed. Besides unusual varieties you may wish to make room for, he also suggested some other unusual sources whose catalogs to browse. 

Jan 11, 2021
Niki Jabbour on Cold Frames – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 4, 2021
00:26:27

A neighbor with a new cold frame emailed me the other day, seeing colder weather finally in the forecast and wanting to know how to extend his season even longer inside the unit. Well, serendipitously, later that day I went to the post office and found a review copy of Niki Jabbour's new book, “Growing Under Cover,” waiting for me, and had some answers for my neighbor.  

Despite living in Nova Scotia, writer Niki Jabbour is a year-round vegetable gardener, coaxing harvests out of every manner of season-extending device imaginable, from cloche to full-on polytunnel. She's the award-winning author of books that include “Veggie Garden Remix” and “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.” And she returned to my podcast to talk cold frames, one of the tactical approaches in her newest book, Growing Under Cover, a book that helps us not just lengthen the season, but also outsmart pests and increase productivity. 

Jan 04, 2021
Ken Druse on Desert Island Trees – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 28, 2020
00:26:04

They're the garden's biggest residents, relative space-hogs who also dictate a lot of what goes on with the patterns of light and shade. I'm talking about trees. Today, Ken Druse and I are going to name some names of favorites, our desert-island trees, if you will—the ones we can't imagine gardening without. 

You probably knew it when you heard us try to narrow down our lists of desert-island shrubs a month or two ago on the podcast, that trees would be next. This time we tried to narrow down our list of must-have trees and explain why we can't live without each one. 

You all know Ken, great gardener, great friend of many years, and author and photographer of 20 great gardening books. 

Dec 28, 2020
Duncan Himmelman on Native Groundcovers – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 21, 2020
00:26:16

I've spoken recently on the show about my personal war on certain groundcovers I planted years ago that have turned out to be hideous thugs. Many other gardeners I hear from have likewise come to lament their overly cooperative, spreading plant choices, like rambunctious vinca or pachysandra. 

We all want groundcovers to do weed-suppressing duty and tie the garden together aesthetically, but the wrong choices can definitely backfire. Native groundcovers are a smarter alternative that will provide those and other benefits and they're today's topic.

My guest to talk about making the change is Duncan Himmelman of Mt. Cuba Center, the noted native plant garden and research center in Delaware, where he's the education manager. A course on native groundcovers taught by Duncan is one of the half-dozen on-demand recorded online courses that Mt. Cuba is currently offering.

Dec 21, 2020
Kate Spring on Microgreens – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 14, 2020
00:26:57

A “New York Times” column I did recently happily put me back in touch with organic farmer Kate Spring, who in our past conversations has always taught me how to think smarter about when to start seeds—like how to time succession sowings of vegetables for an extended harvest well into fall. This time she gave me a 101 on another kind of seed-sowing, but indoors, preferably under lights, and starting right now as winter descends. Today's topic is mastering microgreens. 

Kate Spring, and her husband, Edge Fuentes, founded Good Heart Farmstead in Vermont in 2013, which serves up to 100 customers each season who subscribe to their CSA share program. Their organic farming business is kind of a hybrid business structure called an L3C, a low-profit, limited-liability company, where part of the mission is to support Vermonters in need of food access. 

Kate's also a writer and the only person I know with her very own brand new yurt, which I can't wait to hear about after having seen it be constructed on Instagram. Attachments area

Dec 14, 2020
Chris Smith on Collard Greens – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 7, 2020
00:26:15

Heirloom tomatoes and pumpkins you've heard of, but why shouldn't heirloom collards get just as much love—and space in our gardens? Tell the truth: Have you ever even grown collards, whether an old-time variety or otherwise? You should, and to that end, National Collards Week begins December 14th, spearheaded by Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, the Utopian Seed Project and others, and that seemed reason enough to me to dig in and learn about this delicious green.  

To talk collards I called Chris Smith, a serious seed saver and permaculturist and writer. Though he was born in the U.K., Chris has a particular passion for traditional Southern crops. He's executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop trialing nonprofit working to celebrate food and farming, and his book, “The Whole Okra,” which we talked about on the show when it came out, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020.Attachments area

Dec 07, 2020
Ali Stafford on Baking Books – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 30, 2020
00:26:31

Yes, apparently more people gardened in 2020 than ever. And even before the holiday season was upon us, as it suddenly is, everyone was baking more than ever in this oddball year, too—and it seems publishing baking cookbooks at a prodigious rate as well. So today we're going to virtually bake together, or at least talk baking—like whether you should blind-bake that pie crust before filling it, plus ideas for goodies from cookies to snacking cakes, too. 

When Alexandra Stafford, author of the book “Bread Toast Crumbs” and creator of the website alexandracooks.com, has visited the podcast before in recent years, we've usually talked vegetable cookery or soups, because we're both big soup-makers. But 2020 is no normal year. And so what the hell? Let's bake. 

Nov 30, 2020
Katrina Kenison on Comfort Books – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 28, 2020
00:26:52

You've heard of comfort food and oh boy, have we all been hungry for that non-stop this crazy year. But how about comfort books—whether to keep yourself company as winter takes hold or to consider for gifting? That's today's topic with my writerly friend, Katrina Kenison, to help curate a collection for various tastes.

You may know Katrina Kenison as author of several books, including “The Gift of an Ordinary Day,” and “Magical Journey” and “Moments of Seeing.” She's a former literary editor at Houghton Mifflin, where she was series editor for “The Best American Short Stories” for 16 years and co-edited, with John Updike, “The Best American Short Stories of the Century.” Katrina's also a yoga teacher and an increasingly keen gardener in her own New Hampshire backyard. 

Nov 28, 2020
Bjorn Bergman on Seedlinked – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 23, 2020
00:26:17

What if I told you there's a new way to shop for seed where your purchase yields not just the packets, but also educational support, and the invitation to share your feedback—to participate in a virtual seed trial essentially, citizen-science style. 

Now I know that was a mouthful, but it's a brave new increasingly virtual world out there. And I want us to get in on the ground floor and learn more about the promise and potential of a newish entity called SeedLinked.com that a number of expert friends are part of. 

One who is participating tipped me off to a selection of curated seed collections that are part of the bigger digital undertaking. To learn more I called Bjorn Bergman, who curated the SeedLinked lettuce collection and is also part of the SeedLinked team. 

Wisconsin-based Bjorn is, like each of us, an avid gardener, and he's also a long-time participant in various Seed Savers Exchange programs. And he confessed to being positively mad for growing and eating salad. 

Nov 23, 2020
Emma Greig on Feeder Birds – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 16, 2020
00:26:34

A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach - November 16, 2020 - Emma Greig on Feeder Birds

A flock of robins visited my garden recently for a three-day long field day. By the time they decamped, I was down about 40 mature winterberry holly shrubs-worth of fruit, but we had fun together while the frenzy lasted. I love feeding birds with help from the garden plants or with supplemental birdseed too. And I love keeping records of who visits when. 

The annual winter-long citizen-science event called Project FeederWatch, from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is just getting under way this week, as it does each November. So what better time to talk about just that: the best practices, and also what all the data is telling scientists and can tell you, too.  

Dr. Emma Greig leads Project FeederWatch at Cornell, a citizen-science effort with more than 30 years of history and more than 20,000 participants in North America who don't just feed birds, but also share their observations. She joined me on the latest radio segment and podcast. [Carolina wren photo by Dan Pancamo, from Wikimedia.]

Nov 16, 2020
Ken Druse on Desert Island Shrubs – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 9, 2020
00:25:00

Shrubs: I think of them as the sort of human-sized plants, and they definitely are the backbone of the garden. Ken Druse and I each have a lot of different shrubs, and I asked him the other day, "If you could only have three, which ones would they be?" Well, that's our topic today—desert island shrubs.

You all know Ken, old friend, great gardener, and author and photographer of 20 award-winning garden books. He helped me try to narrow down our list of must-have shrubs to the real standouts, and explain why which ones made the cut.  

Nov 09, 2020
Duncan Himmelman on Weed Control – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 2, 2020
00:26:52

“There's always a weed out there, no matter when." That's what today's guest, education manager Duncan Himmelman of Mt. Cuba native plant center in Delaware, said the other day to me on the phone. And that means now, even as we approach the quiet season, weeds are lurking, and we need to know when and how to target our efforts to control them.

Duncan Himmelman, currently the education manager at Mt. Cuba Center, a renown native plant garden and research site, earned his doctorate in ornamental horticulture at Cornell before teaching college for 24 years. He's also managed a large private estate and designed gardens for private clients, so he knows from weeds and weeding. 

We talked about weed ID (and why it matters); about removal tactics and why skipping the chemicals makes the best sense, and more. Attachments area

Nov 02, 2020
Heather Holm on Bee-Friendly Gardens -A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 26, 2020
00:26:18

 

In a recent conversation with Doug Tallamy about ecologically minded fall cleanup, he raised the name of Heather Holm, and how some of the pollinator research she's been part of lately is informing how he shifts his approach to garden maintenance this time of year, and again in spring. I wanted to hear more, so Heather's here today to talk about how we can each support pollinators in our gardens beyond the season of bloom, in the offseason, too.

Heather Holm is the award-winning author of the 2017 book “Bees,” and before that of “Pollinators of Native Plants.” Her expertise includes the interactions between native bees and native flora, and the bees' natural history and biology. She joined me on the podcast to tune us into their needs.  

Oct 26, 2020
Ken Druse on Groundcovers- A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 19, 2020
00:26:34

 

What the word “groundcover” means has really changed in the years Ken Druse and I have been gardening. And I'll admit right here, some of the choices that I made to do the job of covering the ground under shrubs and trees at my place are now plants I want to be rid of. 

Last time Ken Druse, author of “The New Shade Garden” and 19 other books, was here with us, we promised to talk when he visited again about my groundcover eradication program, targeted at one rampant perennial and what might go there instead. 

And that's our topic today: groundcovers, out with the old, in with the new. Ken got me to detail what I am up to, and what I think are the next steps in turning large areas of mostly Asian plants into more desirable (and hopefully better-behaved) native ones. 

Oct 19, 2020
Julie Zickefoose on Bird Feeding – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 12, 2020
00:26:43

 

One of the ways many of us have been getting through the last few months is by taking comfort in the outdoors, in all that nature and the garden has to offer—by slowing down, looking around, and connecting. One person I know who does that as her 24/7/365 life practice is today's guest, wildlife rehabilitator and artist and author Julie Zickefoose. 

I have to admit to being a fangirl of Julie’s, and when I need a lift lately—and who doesn't in this most challenging year of all?—I often scroll through her Instagram to follow her latest wild bird rescue adventure, or her unfolding meadow showing off yet another sequence of bloom and beauty. Or frankly, sometimes just to enjoy the antics and videos and photos of the newest member of her family, a charismatic dog named Curtis, and their deepening bond. And I'm not even a dog person. 

Julie’s here to help us all focus, to keep an eye on the outdoors, and also to get ready for bird-feeding season. We talked about goings-on to have your eye on this fall, and also about getting ready for bird-feeding season. 

Oct 12, 2020
A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 5, 2020 – Doug Tallamy on Ecological Fall Cleanup
00:26:31

 

When I last talked to Doug Tallamy in February around the publication date of his latest book, “Nature's Best Hope,” I didn't want to go on and on about the advice in it about smart fall cleanup, which is one of the ways I know I've dramatically shifted the way I manage my own garden compared to 10 or even five years ago. But we were looking ahead to spring then, not fall. 

But now's the time, and I'm grateful that Doug is back on the show to do just that. Want to plan your most ecologically minded garden cleanup ever, and understand the consequences of each potential action you can take?  

The subtitle of University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy's recent book “Nature's Best Hope” is “A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard.” Meaning: The choices we make all year round, including the very important one of how we clean up in fall and again in spring, can help counteract an overdeveloped, fragmented landscape that puts the food web to the test. You and I are nature's best hope, and I'm glad Doug joined me on the radio program and podcast to help us learn to support it. 

Oct 05, 2020
Dennis Schrader on Overwintering Tropicals – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 3, 2020
00:26:38

I think of them as investment plants, plants that might not be hardy where I garden, but that with a little extra work and the right strategy can be carried over year to year, even without a greenhouse or the perfect spot to do so. 

Nobody I know has more investment plants than the list of 1,600 unusual annuals and tropicals that Dennis Schrader and the team at Landcraft Environments propagates to sell wholesale to nurseries, landscapers, and botanical gardens. With his husband, Bill Smith, Dennis Schrader has since 1992 operated Landcraft Environments in Mattituck, Long Island—specialists in unusual plants that add seasonal color and texture, and the look of the tropics to the garden. 

He’d like to encourage us to start a collection, too, and offered tips on how to keep them happy—tactical advice on plants we should consider investing in.

Oct 02, 2020
Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 28, 2020 – “Uprooted,” a Book by Page Dickey
00:26:16

The word “downsizing” was spoken more than once when Page Dickey and her husband were making plans a few years back to leave their beloved home and big old garden, called Duck Hill, in Westchester County, New York, for a new one.

Well, the new piece of land turned out to be bigger than the last, and it has fostered in Page a whole new relationship to gardening—especially, a more intimate connection to nature and the property's wild-ish areas.

Starting over, and the surprises along the way, are the subject of Page's new book, called “Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects on Beginning Again.”

Page is a popular garden writer and author of numerous books, including her newest called Uprooted. And she was the co-founder of the Garden Conservancy Open Days national garden-visiting program. I was so glad to welcome her back to the podcast to hear about what happens when a gardener transplants herself. 

Sep 28, 2020
Marc Hachadourian on Houseplants – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 21, 2020
00:26:27

Who are you going to tuck in with this fall and winter, as the garden starts to rest and we are all indoors more? Do you have any hand-me-down houseplants from a relative maybe, or plants that you bought that have been with you since college or your first apartment? Marc Hachadourian, Director of Glasshouse Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden and I answer yes, to both of the above. And he's here to talk houseplants and which ones make the best longtime companions to grow and even share—and how to grow them to perfection. 

Marc is also Senior Curator of Orchids at the New York Botanical Garden’s 55,000-square-foot Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and author of the recent book “Orchid Modern.” So no surprise that some of his suggestions are easy-to-grow orchids because, after all, he's, @orchidmarc on Instagram. 

Sep 21, 2020
Dan Hinkley on Making Windcliff Garden – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 14, 2020
00:27:04

I have a running joke with today's podcast guest, a joke I suspect thousands of other former customers just like me email him about regularly, too. Every spring cleanup I come up with more distinctive turquoise plastic labels in my garden that were the signature of Dan Hinkley's former mail order nursery called Heronswood. And I write to tell him so, or I send him photos of once-tiny plants he shipped me that are giants today in my yard—the plants named on those labels. 

Now Dan Hinkley has another treat for us all in the form of his new book called “Windcliff,” the story of the garden he has been making since leaving Heronswood, and where he now lives on Puget Sound in Washington. “A Story of People, Plants and Gardens” is the subheading the book, and it is rich with tales of all of the above that have influenced the making of the place. 

Learn about Dan’s insights into garden design—from avoiding beds of plants that are “as flat as a flounder,” to why to start with smaller plants than ones that fill the whole space right away. 

Sep 14, 2020
Ken Druse on Saving and Sowing Seed – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 7, 2020
00:27:14

 

Maybe you can feel it where you garden, too. A slight shift in the weather, which combined with shortening days, means summer is loosening its grip. It's not fall yet. It's not cleanup time, but what time is it in the garden right now? Ken Druse and I are each under way on projects that are just perfect for this moment, for the in-between time. From sowing biennials, to collecting seed of some annuals, to eradication of enthusiastic groundcovers and more that we want to tell you about.

Author and photographer and old friend, Ken Druse—the guy who was laughing a second ago—joins us again today as he does each month to talk plants, and this time, he wants to tell us what he's sowing and more. 

Sep 07, 2020
Jenny Elliott on Flowers for Drying – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 31, 2020
00:26:59

A reader emailed me not long ago, asking if I'd ever written a story or done a podcast about dried flowers—which ones to grow and how to dry them and so on. And no, I hadn't, I had to admit, so I called Jenny Elliot of Tiny Hearts Farm, a farmer-florist friend. And that's what our topic is today: what you can dry that you're growing now—yes, even your marigolds and things to forage for and more.

Farmer-florist Jenny Elliott with partner, Luke Franco, owns Tiny Hearts Farm in the Hudson Valley of New York, where they grow flowers organically, both for the wholesale market, for subscribers to their weekly flower CSA, and also for events in a normal year, including weddings that she designs and more. 

Aug 31, 2020
Matt Mattus on Bulbs You Should Grow – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 24, 2020
00:26:25

I suspect that you each have several mail-order bulb catalogs on hand, and also that each catalog devotes page after page to gorgeous photos of Narcissus and tulips, often right up front. Don't get me wrong, I love both of those. But today with help from Matt Mattus, author of the book “Mastering the Art of Flower Gardening,” we're going to look past those pages at some fantastic but too-often-overlooked bulbs and bulb-like plants that deserve a try. 

Before I placed my bulb order, I called Matt, who blogs on the website Growing With Plants, and on the latest podcast we showcased some of his favorite bulbs, including the most lily-leaf beetle-resistant lilies, and also some of his favorite bulb sources. 

Aug 24, 2020
Owen Wormser on Lawns Into Meadows – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 17, 2020
00:25:49

A new book came my way recently with a title that just said it all. “Lawns Into Meadows” is what it's called, and its author, landscape designer Owen Wormser, gave me a short course on meadow-making in a recent conversation we had.

“Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape” is his book’s full title, and its approach is focused on sustainability, regeneration, and beauty, says Owen, who owns Abound Design, a firm based in western Massachusetts. 

We talked about how to choose plants for a meadow or meadow garden; the steps required for proper preparation without chemical herbicides; aftercare tips and more. 

Aug 17, 2020
Ken Druse on Rejuvenation and Propagation – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 10, 2020
00:26:52

Today's show came out of a phone conversation that Ken Druse and I were having the other day, when I found myself confessing to him that I'd let things in my containers get, shall we say, a tad overgrown this season without the pressure of any visitors and tours to keep me in line. And how I was finally trying to get them back into shape for the rest of the season by pinching things. 

And just for fun, how I've been rooting some of the pinched-off bits in little jars of water. So all that's to say, Ken and I talked about a little midsummer rejuvenation—and also some of the less-obvious positive effects that can yield. Ken is author of 20 garden books, including one on plant propagation called “Making More Plants.” 

Aug 10, 2020
Ecology Lessons From Mt. Auburn Cemetery – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 3, 2020
00:26:54

Years ago, a friend who founded a botanic garden in Massachusetts took me to visit a landscape that he had long loved and admired. It was not just beautiful, but a designated National Historic Landmark—and one that was also a cemetery, on land that was consecrated for the purpose in 1831.

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts is still all those things—historic, beautiful and a place of burial—but in more recent years, its mission has also been one of environmental stewardship. Insights into how that has been, and continues to be, accomplished in an established landscape is our topic today.

David Barnett came to Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1993 as the cemetery's first director of horticulture. Today, he is its president and CEO, which he has been since 2008. Good thing Dave had not just a degree in horticulture, but also a PhD in ecology, since he has drawn on that background extensively in recent years to guide Mount Auburn, to see itself as an urban wildlife refuge, and a forward thinking model of sustainability.

Aug 03, 2020
Michael Balick on Poisonous Plants – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 27, 2020
00:26:30

A surprising number of people ask me about whether this plant or that plant in my garden or theirs is poisonous. And so when I saw news from the New York Botanical Garden about a just-published, fully-updated edition of a reference book on the subject, I thought, "Why don't I learn more about this?" (Meaning, why don't we learn more about this together?) To that end, I've invited one of its authors, Botanist Michael Balick, to talk poisonous plants with us.

In collaboration with Rutgers University medical toxicologist, Lewis S. Nelson, MD, today's guest, Dr. Michael J. Balick, who is vice president for botanical science and director of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden, has written the new Third Edition of the “Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants.”

I asked him about plant chemistry—why some plants have the toxins they do, and what we've learned from, and about, those plants. 

Jul 27, 2020
Ken Druse on Leaves First – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 20, 2020
00:26:56

Ken Druse and I both love leaves, and so do the naughty furbearing herbivores who have been visiting our gardens with a vengeance this season—but that's another story. Today's topic is leaves to love from the gardener's point of view, not the woodchucks’ or the rabbits.’

Ken Druse, friend of many years, and author and photographer of 20 garden books, including “The New Shade Garden” and “Making More Plants,” and most recently, “The Scentual Garden” about fragrance, is back to talk about what's getting our gardens through the midseason slump: leaves, whether big and bold or fine-textured, and in a range of colors, too. 

Jul 20, 2020
Niki Jabbour on Season Extending – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 13, 2020
00:26:30

Season Extending with Niki Jabbour - A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach - July 13, 2020

Longtime gardeners and first-timers went all out in this craziest of years, bringing the expression “victory garden” back into the headlines. We all planted in spring like mad—in fact, so much so that seed companies were swamped, and even ran out. But planting season is not over, not even up North where I garden. For late-summer-into-fall harvest and even beyond into winter, I've asked year-round vegetable grower Niki Jabbour to coach us in the next steps of succession sowing, and in smart tactics for plant protection, too, to stretch the season. 

Niki is author of three books so far: “The Year-round Vegetable Gardener,” plus “Groundbreaking Food Gardens” and “Veggie Garden Remix.” She's also a contributor to the blog SavvyGardening.com. She creates the award-winning radio program, “The Weekend Gardener,” which is heard throughout Eastern Canada, and she gardens with a vengeance in Nova Scotia. So, if Niki can do it people, so can we.  

Jul 13, 2020
Uli Lorimer on Native Plants – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – July 6, 2020
00:26:11

As more gardeners shop for native plants each year, more plant descriptions in catalogs and on nursery labels use the blanket phrase “pollinator-friendly” to catch our attention. But is that the whole story behind each plant that's so labeled, and how do we choose among the many named coneflowers or asters or heucheras, and figure out which one doesn't just look prettiest to us, but does the best ecological job? 

How can we each become more informed native plant consumers? I asked Uli Lorimer of Native Plant Trust, who has made a career of working with native plants. He was longtime curator of the Native Flora Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and in 2019, he became Director of Horticulture at Native Plant Trust, the former New England Wildflower Society and America's oldest plant conservation organization, founded in 1900. 

Jul 06, 2020
Daryl Beyers on How to Water – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – June 29, 2020
00:26:30

Summer: It's what I refer to as the season of dragging hoses, and for me at least this year, the fact that it seems to have stopped raining with any regularity or measurable impact is making it worse. This is the season when we must all pay strict attention to watering, but how, and how often, and what to give our attention to most and why?

I talked about watering best practices with New York Botanical Garden instructor Daryl Beyers, author of “The New Gardener's Handbook.” The popular course that Daryl teaches at NYBG is called Fundamentals of Gardening. And now Daryl, who has more than 25 years’ professional landscaping experience besides his teaching role, has put all the fundamentals into “The New Gardener's Handbook.”

Jun 29, 2020
Adrian Higgins of the Washington Post – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – June 22, 2020
00:25:55

The world is shifting focus again now toward opening up this time, several months after much shutting down. But as we do, I for one hope we won't turn too quickly away from awareness of the solace that the garden has provided and that it offers for us at all times, bad or good. 

Today's guest has been taking note of that in various ways in his columns for “The Washington Post” throughout the strangest and most chaotic of springs, exploring the garden as an anchor, a support. In his longtime role as gardening columnist there, Adrian Higgins always inspires readers to connect.  

I was so pleased to speak with Adrian, whose thoughtful work has inspired me for years. He delves beyond just horticulture and great plants—though always serving up plenty of both—regularly exploring stewardship of the environment, and even matters of the spirit.

Jun 22, 2020
Bill Noble on Garden Design – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 15, 2020
00:25:28

Garden designer Bill Noble starts his new book with this promise, "I'm going to tell you a story of the pleasures and challenges, both aesthetic and practical, of creating a garden that feels genuinely rooted to its place." 

His book, called “Spirit of Place,” profiles the making of his own garden in New England, but at the same time teaches us to take contextual cues from where we are gardening, along with other guiding principles of good garden design for any place—like how to create distinct outdoor spaces and also a sense of privacy, something that we all struggle with in gardens large or small. 

Bill Noble is the former Director of Preservation for the Garden Conservancy, and has worked with individual homeowners and public and private organizations to create, restore and preserve gardens for many years. In our conversation, he offered some garden design wisdom as we talked about “Spirit of Place.” 

Jun 15, 2020
Carol Gracie on Summer Wildflowers – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 8, 2020
00:25:44

The beloved wildflowers of springtime—the trilliums, the mayapples, the Virginia bluebells—are probably gone till next year, but don't despair. Here comes the next cast of players, the wildflowers of summer. The acclaimed naturalist Carol Gracie looks beyond their surface beauty in her new book on the subject, into their life histories and even cultural uses of plants like cardinal flower, lupine, milkweed, asters, goldenrods, and more. 

Carol Gracie, a former longtime educator at the New York Botanical Garden who also worked for The Nature Conservancy, has followed her own intense curiosity to become a leading expert on wildflowers. Now her second book, “Summer Wildflowers of the Northeast: a Natural History,” from Princeton University Press, forms the companion to her earlier spring volume. 

Jun 08, 2020
Ken Druse on Remembering Fallen Plants – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – June 1, 2020
00:26:26

I was crawling around weeding the other day and there it was, yet another turquoise colored plastic label I knew was from the original Heronswood Nursery near Seattle, which has been closed about 15 years. No plant, just a label. I found three such lonely turquoise labels that day, as I do each spring, reminders of plants I loved and lost. Yes, plants die, even in the care of experienced gardeners, and others just need to be gotten rid of. Plants we've known, but no longer grow for one reason or the other is the subject today with my friend, Ken Druse.

Ken Druse needs no introduction except to say he's the author and photographer of 20 garden books, including most recently “The Scentual Garden,” about S-C-E-N-T. He joined me via Skype to talk about all the plants we've loved before...and lost (like Ken's former Iris 'Summer Skies'). 

Jun 01, 2020
David Sibley on Being a Bird – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 25, 2020
00:26:35

If you're a bird person, as I am, you may feel as if you know today's guest, because one of his field guides, illustrated with his artwork to help you figure out who's who, is probably within reach at all times alongside your binoculars. In recent weeks I've been keeping company with David Allen Sibley's latest book, which is not a traditional field guide at all, after my beloved local bookstore left my pre-ordered copy on their stoop out front for curbside pickup. It's called “What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing--What Birds Are Doing, and Why,” and that was the subject of my conversation with David.

David Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of nature guides bearing his name, and lives and birds in Massachusetts. We talked about how a bird is ingeniously built for flight (and no, I don't mean just the obvious wings); why pigeons and chickens bob their heads when they walk; how birds seem to know a storm is coming and go into a feeding frenzy ahead of it, and many more insights.

May 25, 2020
Craig LeHoullier on Tomato Success – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 18, 2020
00:26:55

Tomato Success With Craig LeHoullier - A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach - May 21, 2020

Every gardener has his or her own tomato secrets, tips, and tricks they're sure will bring earliest fruit or the biggest harvest. Some of us swear by staking others by caging, some let their plants sprawl and then there's to feed or not to feed and what about preventing tomato troubles like blossom end rot or hornworm damage or yellowing leaves. 

And last week I wrote a tomato growing story as part of a garden series I've been doing in “The New York Times,” and this week I wanted to continue that tomato theme and talk about them with Mr. Tomato himself, Craig LeHoullier, a.k.a. NC Tomato Man and author of the classic book, “Epic Tomatoes.”  

Craig has gardened and grown tomatoes in areas of the U.S. as different as New England and Seattle, Pennsylvania and Raleigh, North Carolina, and lately in the mountains of Western North Carolina, too. He's one of the founders of the Dwarf Tomato Project that we've talked about on the show before, and generally just an all tomato all the time kind of guy. 

May 18, 2020
Ross Bayton on Botanical Latin – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – May 11, 2020
00:25:46

 

I'm grateful that when I began gardening, I fell in with a bunch of plant nerds who spoke not in common names but in botanical Latin, and turned me on to oddball mail-order nurseries whose entire lists were likewise written that way. Necessity was therefore the mother of invention. 

I absorbed at least a rudimentary command of the official language of plants, and my only regret is that I didn't learn even more. Now, thanks to the fun I've been having dipping over and again into the new book called “The Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names,” I'm further sharpening my skills, because botanical Latin opens up a world for gardeners willing to try learning some of it. 

What can a gardener learn from studying botanical Latin? Ross Bayton, a former editor of the BBC's “Gardeners World Magazine” created the “The Gardener's Botanical,” and when we spoke recently, he answered that question and more. 

May 11, 2020
Ken Druse on Post-Spring Garden Tuneups – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – May 4, 2020
00:26:35

A famous gardener Ken Druse and I know often says this one-liner: "Anyone can do spring." What he means is: and then what happens after that? 

What happens after the current tender colorful parade of beauty, with flowers everywhere and fresh green foliage expanding by the minute without our effort, is up to us gardeners—and that's the harder part. 

That's our topic today: What to do next to keep the garden going strong for the long haul: cutbacks and pinching and pruning and shearing and....

Ken Druse needs no introduction except to say he's been my go-to garden friend for decades, is the author of an amazing 20 books, all of which I have read, and he joins me once each month on my public-radio show and podcast. 

May 04, 2020
Brett DeGregorio on Amazing Bird Nests – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 27, 2020
00:26:27

I'm mad for birds, so much so, that I've been looking expectantly lately at the interactive migration maps on the BirdCast website and browsing reports coming in from ares to the south of me on eBird.com, wondering when my fair-weather, feathered friends will be joining me in livening things up in this strangest of springs.

That got me thinking about the reunion I most look forward to: a bird who uses shed snakeskins when building its nest. Yes, it's true. And how seeing that bird collect a snakeskin in my yard led me to Brett DeGregorio, a wildlife biologist who studies, among other things, the interaction between birds and reptiles. I'm hoping this interview about what bird parents are up against, trying to keep their eggs and nestlings safe, will encourage you all to watch more closely and ask more questions this spring when you see nature doing its wild and crazy things.

Brett is at the University of Arkansas, where he's Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit Leader. His lab there studies wildlife behavior, interspecies interactions, and conservation biology. His special interest? Reptile and avian conservation and behavior.

We talked about all the things birds incorporate into their nests—as status symbols, or as protection against predators—and how A species nest style is so true to form, Brett says, that, “You don’t even have to see the bird that built the nest to know what species it belongs to."

Apr 27, 2020
Cooking with What You Have with Lukas Volger – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 20 2020
00:25:40

Cook With What You've Got with Lukas Volger - A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach - April 20, 2020 

Just before things shifted in our world, I bought a new vegetarian cookbook called “Start Simple,” by Lukas Volger. Little did I know that just weeks later, its promise of “an uncomplicated approach to cooking that allows you to use what you already have on hand to make great meals you didn't think were possible” would sound not just appealing, but really the order of the day.  

Lukas Volger is the author of three previous cookbooks, and the co-founder and editorial director of “Jarry” magazine, an award-winning biannual publication that explores where food and queer culture intersect. I called Lukas to talk about dependable, versatile ingredients and how to use them, about how to cook better no matter what ingredients we have on hand, and also how to make vegetables last.

Apr 20, 2020
Dividing Perennials With Ken Druse – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 13, 2020
00:25:58

One of my favorite books by our friend Ken Druse is called “Making More Plants,” and though it's about all kinds of propagation, Ken and I talked the other day about what is maybe the easiest way of all to make more plants, which is by dividing them.

In most of the country this spring 2020, we're not out shopping at garden centers, browsing for new adoptees the way we usually would be. But maybe you, like Ken Druse and I, are ready to do some shopping in your own garden, looking for divisions of favorite things that would work elsewhere, or simply keeping that bee balm from overrunning everything else that shares the same bed with it. We discussed dividing plants—the how, the when, the why, and how even certain shrubs (not just herbaceous perennials) can be divided, too.

Apr 13, 2020
Jenny Elliott on Best Cut Flowers and Dahlias – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – April 6, 2020
00:25:04

Yes, yes, I know; you plan to grow the usual rows of zinnias, but what other among organic flower farmer Jenny Elliott's must-grow list of cutting varieties do you have lined up and ready to sow, or have a source of starts for? I asked Jenny for her list of flowers you shouldn't garden without.

Copake, New York-based Jenny is a farmer-florist with partner Luke Franco and their crew. They’re my beloved neighbors and friends, growing flowers organically both for the wholesale market, for subscribers to her weekly flower CSA, and also for events including weddings.

Because of the prospect of forced shop closures throughout spring 2020, Jenny and Luke will sell their favorite dahlia tubers by mail-order (or for local curbside pickup by pre-order behind her Hillsdale, New York, shop)—and Jenny will give an online class in how to succeed with dahlias, too, via Zoom. More on all that at TinyHeartsFarm.com. 

Apr 06, 2020
Ken Greene on the Power of Seeds and Sunflowers – A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach – March 30, 2020
00:26:06

Seeds and Sunflowers: Before the weeks got darker, Ken Greene and I had planned a chat about a sunny subject: sunflowers. Ken is co-founder of Hudson Valley Seed Company and also of the nonprofit called Seedshed, and though he and I did get to do some sunflower dreaming, we first veered into how seeds figure into such tough moments as we are currently facing, offering resiliency. And then the talk turned to Helianthus, including the silverleaf species I adore called H. argophyllus (below)—about which the birds and beneficial insects emphatically agree.

On the Hudson Valley Seed homepage this late March 2020 and at other seed sellers, you'll probably see a notice like this: "Please be aware that, because we are currently experiencing an increased demand for seeds, you may see a slight delay in receiving your orders." I asked Ken about that, too.

Besides being a seed person, Ken Greene is my across-the-Hudson River neighbor. We connected remotely from his home to mine, cell phone to Skype, to talk about the power of seeds and also the literal bright spot that sunflowers can provide. 

Mar 30, 2020
Ken Druse on Gardening as Refuge – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 23, 2020
00:25:24

Garden as Refuge: It's Thursday, March 19th, 2020, as Ken Druse and I are taping this show from our respective homes via Skype. In my weekly newsletter last Sunday, I said I didn't know just what to say, or how to begin, since nothing seemed the same as it had a mere seven days prior to that.

All I came up with was this thought, and it's how we'll start today's show, too:

Maybe more than ever before in my life, I'm grateful today to have a garden. What a blessing it feels like. I can't imagine the weeks and months ahead without the refuge it will provide. Perhaps you all feel the same way.

So Ken and I wanted to talk about what our gardens mean to us, and especially what they can mean to all of us gardeners in this unusual year.  

Fellow garden author Ken Druse and I have known each other through many gardening seasons, like about 30. And we've each been gardening longer than that. But this year already feels different, of course, and we wanted to talk about that, and what plans we have to take full advantage of the refuge aspect of our own backyards—and also of our indoor companions, our longtime houseplants, like Ken’s beloved hoyas and more.

Mar 23, 2020
Daryl Beyers on Composting 101 – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 16, 2020
00:25:43

Compost Smart: What's your composting setup? Bin, tumbler or open pile—or maybe even an ingenious set of three pits in the ground? And most important, how is it working? More effective composting tactics, along with other timely advice to prepare for spring, was the subject of my conversation  with New York Botanical Garden instructor Daryl Beyers.

The popular course that Daryl Beyers teaches at NYBG in New York City is called Fundamentals of Gardening. And now Daryl, who has more than 25 years of professional landscaping experience besides his teaching role, has put all the fundamentals into a new book, “The New Gardener's Handbook.” 

It was in its pages that I picked up some new-to-me tips on better composting and more—including the right way to water as you plant trees and shrubs; how to choose which limbs to prune off or keep when shaping and thinning; and how to rejuvenate overgrown shrubs (all at once, or in stages?). 

Mar 16, 2020
Kim Eierman on Pollinator Gardens – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 9, 2020
00:24:41

Pollinator Gardens: One of the most common questions that garden centers and other garden professionals are asked these days: How can I add more pollinator plants? Kim Eierman designs ecological gardens with such beneficial insects in mind, and is the author of the new book “The Pollinator Victory Garden,” and I got some advice from her on subjects ranging from wildlife-supporting spring cleanup tactics and timing, to how much of each plant is “enough” to make a difference, and which plants are native, anyway.

Kim is also founder of the garden business called EcoBeneficial, consulting on ecological landscaping and design, based in Westchester County, New York. She speaks nationwide to spread her passion for habitat-style plantings, and creates an occasional podcast series on the subject.

Mar 09, 2020
Women in Horticulture with Jennifer Jewell – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – March 2, 2020
00:25:27

Women and Plants: I'm a woman who's made a good portion of her career in the field of horticulture, specifically in the journalism end of the plant world. But until I read the new book “The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants,” I hadn't really visualized myself as part of something quite the way that I see in its pages.

A lot of gardening, and especially writing, is done on one’s own as a solitary pursuit, but the book brings to life a sense of community and common purpose among the woman portrayed, despite their different career choices—from research scientist to floral designer to operating a seed company and more—and despite the fact that they hail from around the globe.

Jennifer Jewell is author of "The Earth in Her Hands" and is also the creator of the popular "Cultivating Place" podcast, produced with North State Public Radio in Chico, California. We talked about some of the women profiled in it, from seed experts Renee Shepherd and Ira Wallace, to Annie Hayes of Annie's Annuals mail-order plant nursery, to activists like Vandana Shiva and in a different way, Debra Prinzing.

Mar 02, 2020
Native Plant Q&A with Ken Druse – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 24, 2020
00:25:42

Gardeners including myself want to add more, more, more native plants to their landscapes to support pollinators and birds and other native wildlife, but if our beds and borders are already established? Do we have to erase them and start over? Making room for habitat-style planting, even in an established garden that includes many “collector plants” from other parts of the world, is the topic with my friend, garden writer and photographer Ken Druse, along to help.

Figuring out which plants are native locally is one key first step, and included at the bottom of the transcript is a list of some places to start in that search (and how to find your state's list, and then your county's from there).

Speaking of native plants, we also tackled a listener question about pruning Magnolia grandiflora—the evergreen Southern magnolia.  And on the subject of collector plants, Ken confesses to his latest acquisition—probably the most expensive single bulb he ever bought.

Feb 24, 2020
Rachel Hultengren on Seed Stories-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 17, 2020
00:25:10

Seed Stories: Call me a seed nerd and I won't mind because yes, I'm obsessed with where seed comes from and specifically how critical it is to support organic seed breeders and farmers with our seed-shopping dollars. I'm also drawn to the stories of particular seeds—and not just old varieties or heirlooms, but the stories of new varieties, too.

I recently spoke to Rachel Hultengren, an organic seed breeder who likes to trace stories of seed and the seed breeders behind it. When I was scouting topics for this winter's Seed Series on the blog and podcast, I came across a trove of podcast interviews with organic seed breeders. It was hosted by Rachel, who in 2017 received her Master’s in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell, where she focused on bell peppers and winter squash and on establishing priorities for organic vegetable breeding in the Northeast. We talked together about why organic seed matters, and shared  some of her favorite seed stories.

Stories like how seed breeders try to hurry up the process with biennials like carrots, that normally don't set seed till their second year. About how a tasty, colorful range of dwarf tomatoes resulted from a giant online volunteer project mostly undertaken by amateur breeders. Or how seed breeders don't just go for flavor or size or disease resistance--but also "domesticate" the plants for traits like easy harvest of the seed itself. (A story about when that backfires starts in the recording at about 13:37.) 

Feb 17, 2020
Doug Tallamy on Nature’s Best Hope-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 10, 2020
00:25:58

Doug Tallamy: "Nature's Best Hope" is the title of University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy's new book, and the subtitle reads like this: “A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.” In other words, you and I are nature's best hope. Our actions count, and they add up to counteract a fragmented landscape and other challenges to the survival of so many critically important native creatures and the greater environment we all share.

Doug Tallamy's 2007 book, “Bringing Nature Home,” has been, for many of us, a wake-up call into the entire subject of the unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife, and now with more than a decade of additional research insights, he goes further in “Nature's Best Hope.”

Feb 10, 2020
Joe Lamp’l on Seed Starting Tips-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – February 3, 2020
00:24:46

Seed Starting: What really matters when we start seeds? What tweaks to our process or our gear can actually move the needle from so-so results or worse to closer to pro? My friend Joe Lamp'l wondered that, too, and undertook batch after batch of experiments to test a lot of the conventional wisdoms out there—many of which conflict with one another, by the way. And I couldn't wait to hear what he learned that we can each put to use in our own pre-spring seed-starting adventures.  

You probably know Joe Lamp'l as host of the popular PBS series “Growing a Greener World” and the Joe of joegardener.com website and podcast. And he's also creator of OrganicGardeningAcademy.com, with a suite of online classes including one about to debut on seeds, which we'll talk about, too.

We discussed which lights are best for seed starting, and how close to plants to hang them and for how long to have them on each day. We talked about watering tactics, too, and essential gear Joe relies on, and of course timing of when to start (not too early!).

Feb 03, 2020
Mobee Weinstein on Ferns-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 27, 2020
00:25:30

Indoor Ferns: I don't know about you, but I'm drawn to ferns, to their primitive flowerless beauty, their diversity of foliar textures and shades of greenness, to their range of sizes from tiny to towering. And I want to invite some to come live with me and my begonias and Clivias and other houseplants, but which ones will be the best match for our house, I wonder, maidenhair or staghorn or bird's nest or ...? I asked the author of “The Complete Book of Ferns,” a new book on ferns, both indoors and out.

Mobee Weinstein is foreman of gardeners for outdoor gardens at New York Botanical Garden in New York City. She's taught classes in indoor plants at the State University of New York and at New York Botanical Garden. And she is also the person who first introduced me to many of what have become my favorite houseplants, back when I was a beginning garden writer, and I'd visit her in the NYBG greenhouses while working on a story—some really special times. 

We talked about which indoor ferns are easiest to grow, and got a list of Mobee's favorites, plus some care tips for success. 

Jan 27, 2020
Nate Kleinman, Vegetable Breeder-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 20, 2019
00:25:09

Perennial edibles: A lot of what I learned about gardening, I learned from seed catalogs, always gravitating to ones featuring the odder varieties the better—plants promising lots of both personality and productivity. So when I got introduced to the nonprofit cooperative called Experimental Farm Network recently, I felt right at home.

My annual Seed Series continues with this seed source that is all new to me, including many unusual varieties available nowhere else but Experimental Farm Network dot org, the nonprofit cooperative whose co-founder, Nate Kleinman, was my latest radio/podcast guest. We talked about the EFN mission and the fascinating assortment of goodies they offer, including a whole stash of perennial edibles in their 2020 online catalog.

A core belief at EFN: that agriculture can and should be used to help build a better world, not help destroy it. Co-founders Nate Kleinman (in New Jersey) and Dusty Hinz (in Minnesota) grow most of EFN's seeds, and each year they're adding more growers to their roster, including inspiring plant breeders who often work in relative obscurity. Nate helped shine a light for us on these players, and some old and new varieties, that I think you'll be as excited about as I am.

Get the full, illustrated transcript of the show at this link.

Jan 20, 2020
Lane Selman of Culinary Breeding Network-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach January 13, 2019
00:24:40

Culinary Breeding Network: It's seed-shopping time, time to kick off my annual Seed Series on the show and website, and introduce you—and myself—to plants both traditional and cutting-edge worth searching out to try in this year's garden. Lane Selman, who showed off some of each of those for us in our recent interview, is founder of the Culinary Breeding Network, a collaborative community of plant breeders, seed growers, farmers, produce buyers and chefs aiming together to improve quality in vegetables and grains by creating and identifying and promoting more desirable cultivars.

Lane is also an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University who confesses to an obsession with a diversity of radicchio, among other weaknesses, and we talked about growing salads of gorgeous radicchio, and extra-flavorful varieties of fennel and arugula, about some exceptionally beautiful and tasty beets and more—including winter squash that last a very long time in storage and can be enjoyed cooked or raw, that you may not have grown but should. Here is the full illustrated transcript on A Way to Garden dot com.

Jan 13, 2020
Bird Migration Insights From 2019-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – January 6, 2020
00:21:51

Though I mostly stay put these days, no longer inclined to move very far beyond my home range, apparently I’m intensely curious about the subject of bird migration, which came up in questions I asked during several favorite podcast interviews in 2019.

The miracle of bird migration is a subject of much intensive study, especially in this age of rapid climate change. Migration actually originally evolved in large part as a response to changing climate, but of a far more gradual nature over the millennia and longer. Now scientists wonder how species will adapt–or if they can–to current faster shifts. At the end of 2019, Colorado State University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the University of Massachusetts published research based on analysis of 24 years of weather radar data, showing that the timing of spring bird migration across North America is shifting as a result of climate change. They saw a strong alignment between temperature and migration timing, especially in the fastest-warming regions.  On my latest podcast, I look back at other things I learned about migration in 2019.

Jan 06, 2020
Bonus Top Tips From 2019-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach(BONUS PODCAST)
00:24:39

2019 TOP TIPS: Another garden season is complete, and we’ve just passed the end of another year of the radio show and podcast, too, which I create each week to share with you, of course. But there is also a selfish factor at work, because I get to ask experts I admire the questions I need the answers to.

That’s today’s topic: top tips I got from 2019’s most popular interviews—like whether to use black or clear plastic to smother weeds, or how to diagnose the presence of dreaded invasive Asian jumping worms. And on a brighter note: when exactly to cut those peonies to have the longest-lasting blooms in a vase, and how to get maximum performance out of our familiar annual flowers.

So: On to the tips!

Jan 05, 2020
Ken Druse on Garden Resolutions – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 30, 2019
00:25:56

GARDEN RESOLUTIONS: What do you plan to do differently in the garden in 2020? Maybe something that didn't work out so well this year, or a project that's been put off so long that it simply must be placed at the top of the list for spring? Ken Druse and I have got some garden resolutions to share, a list that we recorded in December 2019 after a giant snowstorm blanketed both of our gardens and we tucked in and reflected together.

The previous time Ken had visited the show, just a couple of weeks prior, we got so sidetracked into talking about favorite tools that we rely on that we barely started sharing our garden resolutions, and then time ran out. So he's back as promised to make his confessions, and I will make mine.

Dec 30, 2019
Louis Bauer of Wave Hill on Garden Advice – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – December 16, 2019
00:25:54

Garden Design Ideas: A few of the gardeners I've learned the most from over my career have one thing in common: They've worked at Wave Hill, the exceptional public garden in New York City, perched above the Hudson River with world-class views and much more.

Even though my own garden is put to bed, the wheels in my gardener brain are still whirring. I'm looking for the seeds of ideas for the year to come, so to that end lately I've been rereading a book published just a few months ago, "Nature Into Art: The Gardens of Wave Hill" and from it and its current Director of Horticulture, we'll get some practical inspiration. Louis Bauer is just the third director of horticulture in Wave Hill's history, though the garden in the Riverdale section of the Bronx was founded in 1965.

In our latest interview, he shared tips on upcycling prunings into plant supports; how easy hedges can create serious architecture; how to encourage desirable self-sowns like poppies, larkspur and others to flourish; how repeating shapes (not just colors) can strengthen your designs; and why we each need one blank bed to "play" or experiment in each year.

Dec 16, 2019
Ken Druse on Garden Gifts – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – Monday December 9, 2019
00:25:26

By the time I finished fall cleanup in November, a few essential pieces of garden equipment were looking worse for wear, like that tarp I've been dragging around over a couple of seasons loaded with debris that suddenly looks more like lace than a tarp ought to.

Whether for ourselves or as gifts for gardening friends, my friend Ken Druse and I made a list of essential garden gear, what we use and love.

Garden writer Ken Druse is author most recently of “The Scentual Garden,” a big, beautiful book about fragrant plants. Besides top tools, we also gave a sneak peek about some of the promises we made to ourselves as we put the garden to bed—what we'll do differently next year, our early resolutions.

Dec 09, 2019
Ali Stafford on Spicing it Up – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – Monday December 2, 2019
00:26:11

Spice It Up: Standing in my kitchen the other day I had a craving, specifically for sesame or peanut noodles, for something I eat when I do take out or go out to eat. Because with such flavors we think we can't do it, like a good curry or Middle Eastern food or Mexican flavors—or those Chinese restaurant-style noodles.

The topic is how to spice it up in our home cooking, with guidance from some of the latest cookbooks to help us do so, or to gift to others who might need a flavor nudge.  

Alexandra Stafford of the Alexandra's Kitchen website, alexandracooks.com, and author of the wonderful cookbook “Bread, Toast, Crumbs” is here to help me—help us—get a little confidence about using spices to cook some of our favorite take-out flavors at home. We've been digging into the latest crop of cookbooks together for inspiration.And we’ll have a double book giveaway: Over on Ali’s website, enter to win a copy of “Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking.” On Margaret’s awaytogarden.com, “Mastering Spice” by Lior Lev Sercarz is up for grabs. 

Dec 02, 2019
Emma Grieg on How to Help Birds – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – Monday November 25
00:25:57

How to Help Birds: Research on bird populations published in fall of 2019 was alarming: 29 percent of all birds in the U.S. and Canada have vanished since 1970, a drop of 2.9 billion birds in our lifetime. In light of such news, Cornell Lab of Ornithology says it's more vital than ever that citizen scientist—like all of us gardeners—monitor their own backyard birds and share their sightings.

Today's guest, the leader of Cornell Lab’s Project FeederWatch, will tell us more about changing bird populations—not just rare birds but blue jays and juncos and other familiar species—and also about how data from birdwatchers helps, plus best practices for feeding birds this winter and more.

Nov 25, 2019
Long Litt Woon on Mushrooms – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 18, 2019
00:25:54

Mushrooms: I have only in recent years tuned in to mushrooms really at all, despite much of a life spent engaged with the outdoors. So when I saw a review in late summer of a new book called “The Way Through the Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning”—part memoir, part primer on fungi—it caught my attention.

"The Way Through the Woods" is by Long Litt Woon, an anthropologist originally from Malaysia who has spent her adult life living in Norway. It's at once both an invitation to the astonishing world of fungi and also the personal story of a path of healing from great grief. I was treated to a conversation with Woon, about how she got started with mushrooming and where it has led her.

Nov 18, 2019
J.C. Chong on Plant Pests – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 11, 2019
00:26:04

Plant Pests: In an issue of his “Pest Talks” e-newsletter not long ago, entomologist Dr. Juang-Horng Chong wrote something that I really loved.

"I often consider ignorance the most serious pest of plants," said J.C, as he is known, who has worked at Clemson University since 2007 and is an associate professor, running its Turf and Ornamentals Entomology Research and Extension Program.

J.C. also writes the “Pest Talks” newsletter that's part of the suite of magazines and e-newsletters from Ball Publishing, geared to horticulture industry professionals. That's where I first got to know his work. I called J.C. to ask how he advises us to become smarter observers ahead of when trouble is brewing in our gardens, and we got to talk in real life—about volcano mulching (don’t!); about asking your county or state cooperative extension for help with a diagnosis (do! and send samples, too), and how obvious clues like what time of year we see an insect and on what plant can really help in ID. 

Other subjects we talked about include spotted lanternfly; biological control and the bigger topic of integrated pest management; whether winter chill really does reduce pest populations, and more.

Nov 11, 2019
Margaret Renkl on Late Migrations – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – November 4, 2019
00:25:43

Margaret Renkl: In her recent book, “Late Migrations,” and also in big letters displayed across the homepage of her website, “New York Times” contributing opinion columnist Margaret Renkl reminds herself and her readers where to focus their attention.

"Every day, the world is teaching me what I need to know to be in the world," she writes.

Margaret Renkl—gardener, lifelong student of nature, and writer—lives and gardens in Nashville, Tennessee. Each Monday, her opinion column appears in “The New York Times,” billed under the loose rubric “Flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South,” and covering topics as diverse as hummingbird migration and the recent dire assessment of bird population decline, to capital punishment, and even country music. Since reading her book not long ago, I couldn't wait to tell all you listeners about “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss.”

We talked about our connections to nature, about the way we garden, and more. 

Nov 01, 2019
Katie Dubow on Garden Trends – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 28, 2019
00:26:00

2020 Garden Trends: I have to confess that I have weeded out and discarded a lot of press releases and new product announcements I've received each week as a garden writer all these years, touting this new gimmicky gadget or other.

But there's one announcement I look for each year, as I have for the 19 years it's been issued—because it’s fun, but it also makes me think. It's from the specialty public relations agency called Garden Media Group, and it's their annual Garden Trends Report.

Katie Dubow is creative director of the Kennett Square, Pennsylvania-based company, a women-owned and run public relations firm specializing in the home and garden industry, celebrating its 30th year in business.

She's also author of the agency's annual trends report, and we discussed the forecasts—most of them related to sustainability. Then we talked about some obstacles gardening is having gaining traction with the next generations (unless you’re talking houseplants!), and why that concerns us both.

Oct 28, 2019
Marta McDowell on Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 21, 2019
00:24:31

Emily Dickinson was a great poet, yes, but she was also an accomplished gardener and a devoted student of the natural world. An all new edition of a book on Emily as a gardener titled “Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life” is just out, and from it, we get not just her history, but a slice of horticultural history, plus a charming palette of plants for a poet's garden.

Author Marta McDowell, a gardener and landscape designer in contemporary New Jersey, has a particular passion for digging into noted authors and their gardens and has written books on Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and now a fully revised version of her popular one on Emily Dickinson.

Oct 21, 2019
Ken Druse on Fragrant Plants – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – October 14, 2019
00:25:29

Fragrant Plants: What kind of scents that plants offer up please you...or don't? How do you even describe what things in the garden smell like? I spoke with Ken Druse, author of the new book “The Scentual Garden,” about his fascination with fragrant plants.

There are a lot of good things I could say about having known Ken for many years, and one of them is that we've had each other to talk to along the way while we've been writing each new book, someone to ruminate with and refine ideas with time and again. So when Ken started telling me more than a year ago about what is now his latest and his 20th book, about fragrance, I was fascinated because frankly it's not something I know a lot about. Now, thanks to Ken and “The Scentual Garden,” I do.

We’ll have a book giveaway with the transcript of the show on awaytogarden.com

Oct 14, 2019
Michael Piantedosi on Plant Conservation – A Way to Garden with Mararet Roach – October 7, 2019
00:25:09

Invasives and Conservation: Sometimes when weeding in my own garden, I get a sense of overwhelm, a feeling that the unwanted plants are winning. So, if a gardener can be daunted, imagine how a conservationist with an expert eye must feel in the fight against invasive plants in the vast scale of the native landscape. Michael Piantedosi of Native Plant Trust acknowledges the weight of the task, but also calls himself “a hopeful optimist.” He'll share some of his strategies and also how we can each make an effort toward conservation.

For the past four years, Michael has worked at Native Plant Trust, formerly known as New England Wild Flower Society and the nation's oldest plant-conservation organization, as manager of the New England Plant Conservation Program and a seed-bank coordinator. Now he has been named Director of Conservation there, leading the internationally recognized team focused on documenting and saving imperiled plants and restoring habitat. 

Oct 07, 2019
Ken Druse Q&A – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 30, 2019 –
00:25:13

A Q&A with Ken Druse: The mad dash is on to put up the last homegrown foods and prepare to overwinter tender plants. And this month, Ken Druse and I are answering your Urgent Garden Questions about those and other topics, including osage oranges and more.

We even had a question about something you may have seen and wondered about, too: photos (perhaps from English garden books or magazines) of terra cotta pots placed upside down on the tops of garden stakes.

Ken, whose 20th book called “The Scentual Garden” is due out October 15th, 2019, is a longtime garden writer and photographer and friend.

Sep 30, 2019
Tom Christopher on Wave Hill – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 23, 2019
00:26:02

We can look at great gardens as works of art being delighted purely by the visuals or we can dig a bit deeper as we tour these landscapes and look for clues on how to become great gardeners ourselves. Now a new book about Wave Hill, the world renowned public garden in New York City, does just that. “Nature Into Art: The Gardens of Wave Hill” lets us feast on the design daring, the color plays, the garden pictures captured in its extravagant photography, but at the same time it tells us how they were accomplished, teaching us the tenants of the Wave Hill way of gardening that we can put into practice at home.  

Tom Christopher, a graduate of New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture and longtime garden writer and friend, wrote the new book. And along the way even Tom, with all his prior training, enjoyed a sort of insider's advanced course in garden making and maintaining. He's here to share some of the many Wave Hill “aha’s” gleaned along the way. 

Sep 23, 2019
Dan Furman on Unusual Fruit – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 16, 2019
00:25:55

Unusual Fruit: About 10 years ago, Dan Furman joined the nursery and mail-order operation his parents Kasha and David had started in 1989 in Connecticut to specialize in Chinese tree peonies, which are still a mainstay of the family business. Well, Dan brought with him a growing interest in edible ornamentals, he says, "to make landscapes more bountiful, not just beautiful." And with lots of personal research and experimentation, he has added a great assortment of them to the Cricket Hill lineup.

Sep 16, 2019
Julie Zickefoose on Blue Jays – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 9, 2019
00:25:48

Blue Jay Behavior: Like writer, artist and wildlife rehabilitator Julie Zickefoose, I am particularly fascinated and also often startled by the interface of birds and people. Her latest book, “Saving Jemima,” is the story of an orphaned blue jay and Julie's decision to try to help save it. And it's also a much bigger story with provocative chapter titles like “Who's Saving Whom?” and “Lessons From A Jay.”

Julie and I spoke recently about her eight-month relationship with Jemima. That special bird opened up many subjects for her, including patterns of blue jay movement and behavior that Julie was able to begin to grasp once she learned to recognize individual jays, including Jemima, by the markings on their faces. We even talked about Julie’s recipe for a winter feeder bird food called Zick Dough. 

Sep 09, 2019
Ali Stafford Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Recipes – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – September 2, 2019
00:25:29

The backyard harvest is probably coming in fast and furious, and the farmstand and farmer's market tables are loaded, too. So, what to do with all those gorgeous zucchini, tomatoes, and how to savor every kernel of the fleeting peak moment of sweet corn?

I called my friend Alexandra Stafford, author of “Bread Toast Crumbs” and creator of the indispensable food website alexandracooks.com for ideas, and she had as many as I have zucchini at the moment. Uh-oh. If you haven't followed Ali on Instagram, where her how-to videos and stories are like a short course in better cooking, don't delay any longer. She joined me on the radio show and podcast to talk about summer's best flavors, with recipes for squash, corn and tomatoes in particular--galettes and gazpacho, fritters and more. 

Sep 02, 2019
Marc Hachadourian on Orchids – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 26, 2019
00:25:48

Orchids: You can't live without them, and you can't keep them alive. I’m kidding, sort of, but who among us hasn't wished we could do better with a gifted or adopted beauty that just won't re-bloom, or generally looks less happy now than when it arrived last year?

I asked Marc Hachadourian, author of the new book “Orchid Modern” and senior curator of the world-class orchid collection at the New York Botanical Garden, to let us in on some insights.

Besides curating the orchid collection, Marc is Director of Glasshouse Horticulture at NYBG, overseeing the cultivation of tens of thousands of tropical and temperate plants grown for conservatory exhibitions and permanent display there. The Orchid Show there each March and April is a must-visit. And Marc's new book teaches us not just which ones to grow and how, but also kind of how to apply a mini-version of the signature showmanship and artistry of that big event to how we display our plants at home.  

Learn how to water properly, and the subtleties of repotting—a step most of us fear, and put off, which can really set a plant back. But which way to repot which kind of orchid, since not all want the same treatment? Most of all, get some ideas for using orchids more creatively: no more just those garden-center plastic pots lined up on a windowsill. And enter to win the new book by commenting in the box at the very bottom of the page.  

Aug 26, 2019
August Ken Druse Q&A – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 19, 2019
00:24:53

Your recent questions ranged from favorite blue hydrangeas to junipers with browning needles, and even birds tapping incessantly on window glass and tackling the weed oxalis or wood sorrel. It's Urgent Garden Question time, and Ken Druse is back to help answer what listeners asked about. Longtime friend and fellow garden writer Ken is author of many books, including “The New Shade Garden” and “Natural Companions” and “Making More Plants.”

And for those of you listening from near the Capital Region of New York State, Ken will join me at the New York State Writers Institute's second annual Book Festival on Saturday, September 14th, 2019, and we're going to have information about how you can join this wonderful, big, free day-long book festival and meet us.

Join Ken and Margaret at the Albany Book Fair

An amazing, author-filled day is planned by the New York State Writers Institute, on the SUNY-Albany Uptown Campus, on Saturday September 14th, 2019. From Dani Shapiro and Madhur Jaffrey, to Jamaica Kincaid and Joyce Carol Oates...we’ll be part of a group of more than 100 authors and poets participating. Ken and I will do a Q&A session together at 10:30 AM; we’ll also do individual events at 12:30 (Margaret) and 1:30 (Ken). Ken will be kicking off his upcoming new book—his 20th!—called “The Scentual Garden,” with a slide talk about botanical fragrance—and though the gorgeous new book doesn‘t come out till October, early copies will be available for sale, too. Get the schedule of all Festival events, and the list of participating writers. Come one, come all!

Aug 19, 2019
Brad Herrick on Jumping Worm Update – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 12 2019
00:24:50

Asian Jumping Worms: So-called crazy worms or Asian jumping worms, several invasive earthworm species that are spreading alarmingly in many areas and degrading soil and natural habitats, are probably the most common pest question I get from readers and listeners lately. Many of you have asked specifically, "How can I stop them?"

To find out what scientists know so far, I called researcher Brad Herrick of University of Wisconsin-Madison, who gave us a 101 last year on these destructive worms, and has since published some new insights that may in time help lead to answers.  

Brad is Arboretum Ecologist and Research Program Manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, where the staff first noticed the destructive effects of Asian jumping worms in 2013. He's been studying them ever since.

Aug 12, 2019
Robert Gegear on Beecology – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – August 5, 2019
00:25:17

Native Bumblebees: Biologist Robert Gegear wants our help. He wants us to become Beecologists, as in, citizen scientists who help with the study of the ecology of bees. Our native bumblebees, specifically. He wants us to get to know them by taking photos, and contribute to scientific research by sharing those sightings, and in the process, learn to make gardens and landscapes that support them.

Gegear is an assistant professor of biology at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, whose research interests include the conservation of native pollination systems, floral evolution, and bumblebee ecology. He's one of the founders of the Beecology citizen science project, with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Begun in Massachusetts, it is now getting data from citizen contributors over a wider area, and welcomes photos of bumblebees on flowers from throughout North America.

In our chat, I was surprised to learn that a bumblebee species may prefer a different plant for nectar than it does as a source of pollen, and also what role pollen serves for the bees (not just the plants they pollinate). And that though there are a lot of lists out there of “bee plants,” many of them aren’t based on research—but rather on less-formal observations of bees being seen on certain flowers. It's time for that to change, and each of us can help.

Aug 05, 2019
Ronna Welsh’s “Nimble Cook” – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 29, 2019
00:25:10

Nimble Cooking: Each season I ask my cookbook writer friend, Ali Stafford, what new books look exciting to her. And for spring she had one in particular she said I mustn't miss, “The Nimble Cook” by Ronna Welsh. Ronna asks us to think differently, to think about ingredients first, before recipes. And Ali was right, I love it.

Ronna Welsh, a former restaurant cook who operates the New York cooking school, Purple Kale Kitchenworks, has been teaching chefs and home cooks for more than 20 years. Her new book is called “The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals that Make the Most of Your Ingredients.” We talked about her approach, and even got a very different approach to making a frittata. 

Jul 29, 2019
Elizabeth Lawson on Primroses – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 22, 2019
00:25:51

Primroses: What's not to love about primroses? And I felt that way even before I read Elizabeth Lawson's deep-dive social and cultural history of them in her new book, “Primrose,” part of a botanical series from London-based Reaktion Books.

She introduced me to the best primulas for our gardens today, and some primrose legend and lore. Elizabeth Lawson is a naturalist and writer from Ithaca, NY, with a doctorate in botany. She's also the new president of the American Primrose Society. 

Jul 22, 2019
July Ken Druse Q&A – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 15, 2019
00:26:04

It's Urgent Garden Question time again, which means Ken Druse visited my radio show and podcast to help provide the answers about topics ranging from good and bad materials for making garden paths, to issues with powdery mildew on various plants, and roses with black spot-and even a question about transplanting ginkgo seedlings (or not).

When we spoke, longtime friend and fellow garden writer Ken was just back from a garden-filled lecture trip across the nation, with stops at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and in Northern California. He shared highlights from those stops, too, including various bold foliage plants he enjoyed seeing, while also answering listener questions.

Jul 15, 2019
Kevin Espiritu on Raised Beds – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 8, 2019
00:26:06

Raised Beds:  I built my old-style wooden raised beds for vegetables about 30 years ago, and they've served me well. Lately on social media, I love seeing younger-generation gardeners embracing raised beds, too, but using creative designs and even doing so in smaller spaces than mine, like Kevin Espiritu of the “Epic Gardening” podcast.

Kevin's new book, “Urban Gardening: How to Grow More Plants No Matter Where You Live,” includes many raised-bed construction styles to consider and his tips for success in growing in them. Kevin’s garden couldn't be much more different from mine. He's in San Diego Zone 10B; I'm rural New York Zone 5B. Most of his garden is in raised beds and other containers, and mine is mostly in the ground, but we have lots in common, too. We talked about successful above-ground growing methods and more. 

Jul 08, 2019
Chris Smith on Okra – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 1, 2019
00:26:17

Okra: If you had told me I'd be reading an entire book about okra, and often laughing out loud delightedly in the process, I'd have said, "No way." But here I've been lately, my nose in Chris Smith's just-published, “The Whole Okra: A Seed-to-Stem Celebration,” gaining an entirely new perspective on this much-maligned but resilient vegetable that Smith predicts will be important for future food security in a changing climate.

British-born Chris’s day job is as communication's manager for Sow True Seed in Asheville, North Carolina. Before and after hours, you'll often find him growing or maybe cooking and certainly eating okra, lots and lots of okra, or directing The Utopian Seed Project and serving on boards of other non-profits focused on seed and food security and sustainability. 

Jul 01, 2019
Lee Reich on Fertilizers – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 24, 2019
00:24:18

Fertilizers: What fertilizers should I feed my (fill-in-the-blank) plant? A lot of you ask that question, about things ranging from magnolias to tomatoes. Soil fertility, and how to best achieve it, is today's topic, with long-time organic gardener and author Lee Reich who, among his three postgraduate degrees, has one in—you guessed it—soil science.

All those different fertilizer formulas in the garden center, labeled for particular kinds of plants, seem to imply that we need to add something, no matter what. But is that always the case? Lee, the author most recently of “The Ever Curious Gardener: Using a Little Natural Science for a Much Better Garden,” talked with me about building healthy soil and growing healthy plants.  

Jun 24, 2019
Tom Seeley on Honey Bees – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 17, 2019
00:25:15

Honey Bee Hunting: Beekeeping is a “thing” in recent years, an increasingly a popular hobby, but our relationship with honey bees goes back much further to one we had as early human hunter-gatherers,  following wild bees in hope of finding their hives and the honey therein.

This history of the subject of beelining, the other way to connect to honey bees besides keeping hives, is the subject of the book called “Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting,” by Cornell University biologist Thomas Seeley, just released in paperback edition. Tom is the Horace White Professor in Biology in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell. He's been passionately interested in honey bees since high school, eventually doing his doctoral thesis on them, and his scientific work since has primarily focused on understanding the phenomenon of swarm intelligence with the help of these incredible animals. 

Jun 17, 2019
Jeff Jabco on Peonies – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 10, 2019
00:25:34

Herbaceous Peonies: Among shrubs, the most common ones I hear people wondering aloud about are hydrangeas, hydrangeas, and more hydrangeas. But when it comes to questions about perennials, herbaceous peonies top the list. To help us learn more about these extravagant, long-lived bloomers, I called peony expert Jeff Jabco of Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Jeff is Director of Grounds and Coordinator of Horticulture there, and an officer of the Mid-Atlantic Peony Society.

Learn from Jeff when and how to plant them for best results; which varieties stand up to wind and rain best without toppling; how to have a peony season that extends to about seven weeks of beauty, and even when to cut flowers and prepare them to be longest-lasting in a vase (that answer may surprise you).

Jun 10, 2019
Uli Lorimer on Getting to Know Native Plants – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 3, 2019
00:25:49

Native Plants: I hear many times each week from readers or listeners wanting advice about native plants—about pollinator plants, for instance, or making a meadow, or which woodland wildflowers to plant and how to care for them. Uli Lorimer has extensive experience with all of the above, and says the way to get to know native plants is to spend time outside among them, to observe them in their natural context. An adventure in field botany, he says, can inform your practice of horticulture back in the home garden.  

Uli Lorimer has made a career of observing and working with natives. He was longtime curator of Native Flora Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and recently, became director of horticulture at Native Plant Trust, the new name of the former New England Wild Flower Society, America's oldest plant conservation organization, founded in 1900.

Jun 03, 2019
Reprise of Stephen Shunk on Woodpeckers (2016) – A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – June 26, 2020
00:24:20

When I got my copy of the new “Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America,” I tracked down the author’s email address at once, and sent him a message: “I’m mad for woodpeckers,” I wrote, and Stephen Shunk wrote back: “Mad for woodpeckers is a very good thing.”

I suspect if you are not already, that by the end of this story and podcast, you’ll be mad for them, too, and positively amazed at their physical capabilities and their critical role in our ecosystems. Until I read his author bio, I felt lucky to live with six hardworking and highly entertaining woodpecker species here in my rural Northeastern garden. But Stephen, a longtime conservationist who also leads international bird tours lives across the continent, on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Bend, Oregon, in a spot that’s home to 11 breeding species. Jealous!

I welcomed Stephen Shunk to my weekly public-radio show and podcast in June 2016 to talk woodpeckers. Learn why most species are mainly black and white, and how they have evolved their anatomies to withstand all that hammering (which has been researched for insights to design football helmets, for instance).

Jun 06, 2016
Garden Music January 6 2020-A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach
00:22:48
Jan 28, 2013