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December 20, 2010


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Raised beds! They seem to discourage the weeds, slugs and snails - and I'm hoping in my new garden, the bunnies as well. Weeding is so much easier, especially for those of us with fragile backs. And the plants are at eye level, where they can be most appreciated.

Brenda Kodama

I love plants. Talk to any of my friends and family members and they will agree in unison. My low maintenance tip is to to do research before you buy your plant. It is very easy to fall in love with a plant at the nursery and buy it impulsively. Then you find out it that it grows too fast, or needs more light or needs better drainage or is invasive, the possibilities are endless. The bottom line is all this heartache and headache may have been avoided, by reading the tag, or asking the nurseryman or searching the internet on the needs of the plant. A bit of homework ahead of time will ensure that your plant will thrive in your yard. Well, that's my 2 cents, hope it makes sense, and I will see you in the garden.


We decided a few years ago that one of the most time consuming aspects of our property was the huge, water guzzling lawn we had. It was taking precious time away from all the fun gardening projects...like growing flowers and veggies! Soooo, we replaced it with beautiful, creeping, flowering thyme. No more mowing, fertilizing, watering...it stays green year round, is a carpet of lavender in the spring and is a bumble bee magnet! It is much gentler on the earth and us!!


Years ago I found a book on low maintenance gardening and the author suggested using copious evergreen shrubs to give a full look to the garden and to make a great foil for perennials and flowering shrubs.

I doubt my entry is the most inspiring but believe me my evergreens inspire me. :)

valerie Easton

Hi Janet,
thanks for reminding me of "I heard a bird sing in the dark of December" -- a hopeful poem for these darkest days....

Janet Lewinsohn (Jan)

Hi Val: I am recalling the wonderful heartening Solstice verse you shared last year. I have further shared, "I heard a bird sing in the dark of December" with so many others and thank you again for this gem. Happy Solstice and Holidays...
Jan L.


Hi Val,
For me, a very low maintenance garden resulted from what I call "cram-scaping": planting shrubs, mostly broadleafed evergreens, in soothing mounds that resemble a natural maquis environment. The sweetly resinously scented foliage crowds out weeds, the plants are drought-tolerant (even resent summer water!) and the gravel paths discourage the growth of weeds. I rarely water these shrubby areas, but get the pleasure of admiring their rich green, gray, gold, and burnished copper foliage all winter long. So sweet! Thanks for your always enjoyable posts.


Working with instead of fighting with microhabitats and the plants in them! There is nothing I can do to dissuade the wild horsetails that grow on our front slope, as they're thriving thanks to an underground stream that sometimes (as in this rainy season) flows out from the base of our driveway and curb. After a few years of trying to get rid of them by cutting, putting down plant barriers, and the like, I came to peace with them by planting drought-tolerant short shrubs and groundcovers that stood as tall as horsetails and mingled with them (drought tolerante because, ironically, the slope is very dry and sunbaked in summer). No more weeding...seldom water it...kind of shaggy but always green with spots of color and bark and shape of twigs...and little chance of me tumbling off the slope in my dotage.


We contacted a local nursery to purchase 5 of our trees that were planted too close to the house (by the previous owners). They paid us for the trees and left open space for more suitable, low maintenance items. And, the best part is that our home won't be a treehouse in 10 years.


I got rid of 27 high-maintenance hybrid tea roses. After the deer came twice this last spring I gave away the few survivors and put in deer-resistant shrubs and perennials. Low maintenance and I'm back to what I love about gardening.

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New Book: Petal & Twig

  • Petal & Twig Made The New York Times!
    From Anne Raver's review: "Valerie Easton, a Seattle-based garden writer, discusses the art of growing and arranging cut flowers in “Petal and Twig: Seasonal Bouquets With Blossoms, Branches and Grasses From Your Garden” (Sasquatch Books; $16.95). Written as an informal diary, with photographs of arrangements from her own garden, and tips on cutting and keeping flowers fresh, the book inspires ideas not only on what to grow but on how to combine (or not) those beauties inside. See review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/garden/new-books-on-growing-and-arranging-flowers.html?scp=1&sq=petal%20&%20twig%20anne%20raver&st=cse
  • The first reviews on the new book are in! From Publisher's Weekly:
  • "Open your eyes and keep it simple: those are two lessons Easton passes on from her own 40 years in the garden. When selecting and arranging flowers for bouquets, you needn’t spend a bundle buying a bundle of imported flowers.....The result will be unique, local, imaginative, and inexpensive. Color photos throughout illustrate and inspire."

In the News

  • Montreal Blogger Reviews "A Pattern Garden"
    I was so pleased to find that "A Pattern Garden" is still being reviewed...check out Allan Becker's generous review on his Garden Guru blog.. I felt like Allan really understood what I was working towards in that book....he writes...."There is a delightful abstract quality to this publication. In it, the author takes good garden design to a higher, more spiritual level. Instead of discussing the aesthetic and scientific elements of design, as so many traditional garden design books do, she focuses on the role played in garden design by archetypal ideas - a.k.a. patterns - that reference the longings of human beings. These pleasure and comfort-rooted ideas are those that inspire designers to create gardens that are satisfying beyond their beauty." see more at http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/journal/valerie-easton
  • Planting art
    Check out this interview with Val in the Chicago Tribune on using art in the garden...

The New Low Maintenance Garden

  • Reviews Are In....
    "Over the years, countless books have espoused a low-maintenance approach to gardening. None have been as engaging, practical, or inspiring as this latest of Easton's contributions to the gardener's bookshelf,"
    - Pacific Horticulture magazine, Jan/Feb/Mar 2010

    "A handy guide to a garden you can raise without a corresponding increase in your blood pressure..handsome and informative...."
    - Metropolitan Home, Dec. 2009

    "This book is an invaluable addition to the garden library – destined to be a classic for many years to come."
    - Garden Design Online

Photo Credits

  • The banner and portrait photos were taken by Jacqueline Koch; all other photos by Val Easton unless otherwise credited.


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