Jane Milliman

From the Publisher: July-August 2021

by janem on July 13, 2021

I’m in year four of my “new” garden and more in love with it every day. The structure is complete (for now), so I just get the fun of planting. Best part is that at this moment, there’s lots and lots of space for new plants, so I can be very indulgent (for now)!

There are scads of volunteers this year. They include the usual things you’d expect like cilantro, milkweed, and mullein (yes, a weed, but a useful one for me at the moment), but there have been several surprises as well. In the tiny kitchen garden, there are lots self-sown of nasturtiums and cherry tomatoes—so many damned tomatoes that I moved them all out and started a little colony in another bed. There are also a few dill plants, not in the garden, but flung about the pathways. There is nicotiana everywhere, some of it already in bloom as of late June. Perilla, one of the most useful plants I can think of, followed me to this garden as it has every garden since I first planted one single one probably 25 years ago. I love its shimmery purple foliage as a foil for almost anything. 

Last year was my first growing red buckwheat, and it won’t be my last—there will probably never be a last, there’s so much of the stuff. Ditto the crazy beautiful firecracker vine—Ipomoea lobata (morning glory)—which couldn’t make me happier. I have so much of it I’m constantly fobbing it off on other gardeners. But the most unexpected volunteer is castor bean. I have three little plants that are about to become three very large plants, and I hope they repeat this performance next year. 

On the cover you’ll see another very popular self-sower, kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate. I don’t have any of that, but I have a feeling that if I plant one, it too will be with me forever. 

Thanks, as always, for reading—


Jane Milliman, Publisher


From the Publisher: May-June 2021

by cathym on May 5, 2021

Dear friends, 

As we were wrapping up this issue, Cathy wandered into my office. “We should make this one the love issue, she said, “because there sure is a lot of talk about love in it …” 

She was joking, sort of, but why not? Natives, pests and diseases, curb appeal … these are all good themes, but we gardeners are a passionate bunch. We love our gardens, we love plants, we love birds, bees, rain, and sunshine—just about everything that goes along with digging in the dirt*. 

Colleen O’Neill Nice is back for the first time in a few years with a story about her love of zinnias. And Carol Sitarski contributes “Eating your flowers and loving it,” which contains perhaps my favorite sentence in this issue (referring to apple blossoms): “Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors.” But the grandest, most epic love story inside is that of Larry Nau, his wife Lili Liu, and their internationally renown collection of lotus—parts of which can be made into chips and pizza, interestingly. Everyone loves chips and pizza. 

As for me, I’m in love with my rockery. The whole garden, really, but especially that. The wallflowers growing up against it are not just blooming now (late April)—they never stopped blooming at all through the winter, even under a foot of snow now and again. There’s also a tiny Cyclamen coum I planted almost exactly a year ago—in bloom! The pinks are all budded up, the lewisia is ready to go, and there are even squirrel-planted tulips blossoming on the hillside above. If the best fertilizer is the gardeners’ shadow, this year it should do quite well—I can’t keep away.

As always, thank you for reading—and lots of love!


Jane Milliman, Publisher

*Yes, I know some readers don’t like the word “dirt.” “Dirt is what I empty out of the vacuum cleaner, not what’s in my garden—that’s soil,” they say. I say, before you criticize someone for this vocabulary choice, look up both words in the dictionary. 

End rant!


From the publisher: March-April 2021

by cathym on March 12, 2021

Dear friends, 

Sometimes we pick an issue theme, and other times the issue theme picks us. For this one, we had planned something along the lines of “Your Backyard Oasis,” but when we started assigning stories, another topic kept popping up—that of creating a backyard habitat that makes a positive difference in our environment. 

Experts agree that not everything you plant needs to be native, but to support the insects so crucial to our ecosystem, you should at least have some. When I attended a webinar with Doug Tallamy (author, most recently, of Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard) last fall, he talked a lot about this—in fact, it was the only thing he talked about. 

Tallamy makes the argument that caterpillars (and hence moths and butterflies) are where it’s at, and then recommends “keystone” plants that are the most supportive of them. In other words, some natives are better than others. Happily, Mr. Tallamy has teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation to bring you an online native plant finder where you can “search by zip code to find plants that host the highest numbers of butterflies and moths to feed birds and other wildlife where you live.” You can access it at
nwf.org/nativeplantfinder and get some help making your backyard a true oasis for many species. 

For reasons that I think need no explanation, our annual Odyssey to Ithaca, usually the first Saturday in June, has again been canceled. We will offer a similar plant-finding and -buying trip September 11, 2021. Stay tuned for details. 

Thanks, as always, for reading.