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Listen to Ketzel's Audio Welcome to Talking Plants

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The Doyenne of Dirt Returns!

The Doyenne of Dirt Returns!

Listen to Ketzel's Audio Welcome to Talking Plants

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Hello strangers and would-be friends,

It's a launch, and a long time in the making. What was once a Web site is now a blog. But that might not tell you anything, particularly if you want to know why Talking Plants and why me?

Well, I'll put it you in this fashion (my father was famous for that line), when was the last time a garden bummed you out? A wildflower betrayed you? A big tree let you down?

That's why we're Talking Plants here, and not talking politics. Or relationships. Or cures. This blog is dedicated to cultivating wonder and never-ending astonishment. I have learned — after two decades of fieldwork — that there's nothing like talking plants.

Listen. I am no Pollyanna poster child for emotional equanimity. (Click here for the TP list of Preferred Pharmaceuticals. OK, I was kidding. Stop clicking.) But don't let a lifetime of anti-depressants fool you. I am a gardener. Are you a gardener? Gardeners do not put plants in the ground in the hopes that they will suffer and perish. Gardeners plant to see tomorrow.

And if the plants croak? Or their colors are hideous? And the garden's no more than a concrete slab with a few crusty pots? So what. We imagined beauty and we reached for it. And whether it was in the buying, the planting or the imagining, we soared way above the fray.

And what a blessed relief it was.

So let's brag, blog, swap pix and stories, meet great gardeners and fellow slobs. I'll throw out a few, you crack 'em back. We'll dig dirt and make a glorious mess together. I have no doubt you'll be amazed just how lively and bizarre things will get once we start Talking Plants.



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Yay Ketz! Welcome to the blog life! Can't wait to see what you have planned on the blog. And I hope all the good people reading your blog will check out my blog, The Bryant Park Project.
(Full disclosure everyone: I'm a friend and think Ketzel is one of the bestest people in the world.)

Sent by Matt Martinez | 7:39 PM | 6-26-2007

Welcome to the intarblogospherwebs! Looking forward to seeing all the garden pictures on the group and reading your "plant nerd" posts.

Sent by Drew at ASLA's The Dirt blog | 9:44 AM | 6-27-2007

Ketzel, I've enjoyed your pieces on NPR for years. I heard the piece on hebes this morning on the way to work and thought immediately about the native plant controversy. I figured global warming changes priorities.

I'm a gardener in Chevy Chase MD, that just adopted two border collie puppies. My back yard, however, is like a landscaped Rock Creek Park, with many varieties of plants. I'm concerned about which ones are poisonous. I've looked online and gotten a list from the local poison control center and from a pet safety site. But they don't list all. I've sent an email to the poison control center with a list of additonal plants I have, asking if any are poisonous and received no response. Can you point me to a resource that would have detailed information about the toxicity of plants for dogs? I have a lot of astilbe, hosta, hardy begonia, heuchera, lysimachia, celedon poppy, fiddlehead fern, painted fern, gooseneck loosestrife, pulmonaria, liriopi, and wild ginger. But others too. I know about the ivy, hydrangea, nandina, day lilies, daffodils and yew that I have and am spraying some of those leaves with a bitter rosemary spray and keeping an eye on the pups otherwise. Any other advice anyone has will be welcome. Thanks for your help.

Sent by Karen Hill | 11:44 AM | 6-28-2007

Ketzel, my favorite NPR spokesperson (and how I miss your Weekend Edition show), you started it, where can we get a "Hort-Head" hat? Preferably washable, with wide know the type!

Sent by Janning Kennedy | 8:30 PM | 6-28-2007

Thanks so much for the chance to ask a question. I have a house plant that is now a tree and has grown out of space. I've had it for 30 years... a schefflera
that is now 9 feet tall. I got it when I graduated college in May 1977. It is still healthy, the trunk is about 3'' in diameter. I don't know what to do with it and would like to donate it to someplace that will continue to care for it. It hits the ceiling in every room in my home.(here on Long Island,NY)
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks, Michele

Sent by Michele Randall | 3:43 PM | 7-1-2007

Hi--my wife and I are proud parents of five new trees: a European White Birch, a Japanese Maple, a Ginkgo Biloba, a Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, and a Chinese Tallow tree. We live in Mar Vista, California--which is right next to Santa Monica and Venice. We're fairly close to the ocean (perhaps two miles) and the weather is fairly moderate. Today (July 5) it will get up to about 80 degrees. Here's my question: how much should we water these trees which were planted over the winter? My wife thinks once a week. It seems to me, from what I've read, that the Birch and Maple tree needs to have water twice a week for the first growing season. Who's right, my wife or me? Also, is it possible to do permanent damage to new trees by over-watering? Thanks!

Sent by Steve Myrow | 6:46 PM | 7-5-2007