Friday, May 24, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Lee Buttala

Lee Buttala is a writer and organizational consultant. He is the former Executive Director of Seed Savers Exchange, an organization dedicated to the preservation of America’s garden and farming heritage, an Emmy Award-winning television producer of Martha Stewart Living and the creator, producer and director of Cultivating Life, a PBS series on outdoor living and gardening. He has written for The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, New York, and Metropolitan Home. As an editor, he has worked for Saveur, Garden Design and Interview, and for the book publisher Alfred A. Knopf. He also served as the preservation program manager for the Garden Conservancy and has studied garden design at Kyoto University of Art and Design, the English Gardening School at London’s Chelsea Physic Garden and the New York Botanical Garden. He is the author and editor of the books Cultivating Life: A Guide to Outdoor Living and The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving. You can also follow him on Instagram (https://www.igcol.com/user/leebuttala)

written articles

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: This is it

Lee visits a childhood home and learns a lesson about how a connection to nature and the land can lead us forward in our lives.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: In the greens

As we think about lawns, we should question their purpose—are they going to be heavily trafficked, are they simply an open space that we want to look across, or do they serve an additional purpose, such as helping to absorb rainwater or to feed pollinators? And most importantly, how much energy do we want to spend on maintaining them?

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Signs of life

Virginia bluebells and hellebores are the Punxsutawney Phil of plants. Their emergence reminds me that spring is on its way. I find comfort in these signs of spring, but also fret about the winter tasks still left undone

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: The world is abuzz

Some gardeners believe only native plants can support pollinators; others say non-natives can, too. Is it necessary to choose a side?

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Winter flowers

It’s such good news that many gardeners and entrepreneurs are starting small flower farms so we can have seasonal flowers, but what do we do in the middle of the winter season that remains a little bereft of flowers? Lee has suggestions.

The SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: A garden-variety moderate

Lee anticipates an upcoming presentation about transforming our gardens to be more than an expression of our concerns and fears about a changing world, and seeing them as a place where we can begin to find pleasure in our connection to what we grow.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Garden bound

So many garden books have us think primarily of the aesthetics of plants and how they contribute to the garden whereas “The Essential Tree Selection Guide” teaches us to think more broadly about the plant’s needs, how its success depends on what is growing around it, and how it contributes to the habitat and environment that is evolving before our eyes.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Winter solstice

Perhaps the tradition of bringing in a tree and greens is one way we combat the cold and darkness that is late December. If bringing nature in a little closer helps, I say do it by all means.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Holiday greens

There is nothing that helps me more to get through the shortest day of the year than the site of a winterberry wreath on the front door of a house, pine ropery festooning a Greek revival house on Main Street in Ashley Falls, or a towering spruce in a front yard or town center covered with Christmas lights.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Zoning Out

The USDA posts an updated hardiness zone map that will surprise many gardeners.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Gaining perspective

My recent visit to Middleton Place outside of Charleston made me realize that the new trend of opening gardens to the world around us is not, in fact, new.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Leaf matters

Plants are not dissimilar from humans, in that environmental conditions can impact infection. And just like us, plants are likely to survive these infections, but also just like us, plants benefit from having their beds cleaned of evidence of their illness so that they can get back into full health.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Under a rock

For many years I thought about rock gardening as part of an end of horticulture that was geared towards nerdy specialists, almost the Dungeons and Dragons’ end of the gardening universe

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Back to Earth

Munch’s landscapes connect not to the sadness of the human condition but to the subtle and interconnected relationship of humans and the natural world.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: For Piet’s sake

Stoke’s aster and Culver’s root, natives of the American prairie, sit playfully side by side with alliums and non-native sea hollies, making me feel that if only people, like these plants, could just inhabit a space and see the needs that we share in common, maybe we could all get along a little better.

THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Black thumbs

I have recently come to wonder if we should question why we are sentencing the plants we carefully cultivated to a certain death by putting them into the hands of a self-professed black thumb.
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