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Moving Schipka Laurel for Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'

Picture it - a 6 ft. tall Schipka Laurel used to stand here (I forgot to take a "before" shot and don't feel like searching for one).  I knew when I planted it that it was probably a bad idea but thought it would be good for a fast-growing screen along the back fence-row. I'm sure all gardeners do this, especially if you have a new garden and are eager for greenery. In all fairness to the laurel, it is a useful plant and I would argue even a beautiful one when nicely maintained. Before I dug this one up, I stood back and admired it and felt the guilt pangs stabbing at my heart.  I removed a much larger laurel than this a few years ago and they are not the easiest plant to dig out. I was determined to save this one and I believe I was successful.  Here is a thought and you can take this to the bank - the pot you choose to hold a plant that you dig up will ALWAYS be too small. Always!  So, after finding the largest pot I could, here it is, after being cut back pretty dr

Three Gardening Books

Beatrix Farrand - Garden Artist, Landscape Architect 
by Judith Tankard
Monacelli Press, 2022

I got this book for Christmas but I wasn't aware that it is a reprint of a 2009 edition. However, I never read that one so all is good. This is a big, beautiful book on one of my favorite landscape designers.

Farrand's career began around the turn of the century (1900). Not only was she the rare female professional but she hailed from a prominent family (she was Edith Wharton's niece) and the fact that she wanted to enter any profession was looked upon as odd.

However, despite those challenges, she flourished and soon established a stellar reputation as a talented designer and consummate professional. Her initial assignments came from family friends which included such names as the Rockerfellers and Vanderbilts. She would design many gardens for estates in New York, Long Island, Maine and the Northeast. She would also work on college campuses and botanical gardens.

Her most famous work - and probably my favorite garden - is Dumbarton Oaks, located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C. I had the chance to visit it in 2007 and have been fascinated by it and the woman who made it ever since. Farrand was masterful with using hardscape elements - terraces, stonework, garden art, benches, etc. - and the way she combined these elements at Dumbarton Oaks is spectacular.

Many of Farrand's creations are no longer in existence. However, some are being rediscovered and revived. I've never visited any of these gardens but I would love to see them one day. They include the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden and the Abby Adrich Rockerfeller Garden in Bar Harbor, Maine.

This beautiful book includes chapters on her notable works and the photographs and original illustrations and maps are beautiful.

The Countrywoman's Year
by Rosemary Verey
Little, Brown & Co., 1989

This little book is a fast read and perfect for reading a chapter or two at bedtime. Verey takes us through each month in her garden and discusses the goings-ons around her country home in Gloucestershire. 

There is actually not that much gardening per se. She writes about the weather and she was obviously fascinated by old texts and weather folklore. She also talks about life in the country village. If you long for an idyllic English countryside with country lanes, rock walls and charming gardens surrounding quaint cottages (like I do)- you get the picture. 

This little book is beautifully illustrated with black and white engravings from a variety of artists.

The Dirt Diaries: 30 Years in the Garden
and Still Scratching the Surface
by Lynn Hunt

Another little book great for a chapter or two before dozing off at night and one that will certainly get you in the mood for spring. The author talks about creating a new garden in the mountains of North Carolina as well as the heartbreak of leaving a former garden.

The author is a Consulting Rosarian Emeritus and a Certified Horticultural Judge for the American Rose Society. She has many chapters about roses, both old and new varieties and the David Austin roses. She also discusses growing roses in the shade, pairing them with clematis and how to prune them.

In addition to roses, she also has chapters on ferns, peppers, dahlias and rhododendrons as well as musings on dealing with squirrels and other nuisances in the garden and the joys of bird watching.

The photographs in this book are really beautiful (the one of the rose 'Zephirine Drouhin' is particularly drool-worthy).


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Phillip, thank you so much for the lovely review. I am so pleased you enjoyed the book. By the way, had to leave that Zephirine behind in Maryland and it got torn out with the rest of my garden as well. Heartbreaking. Thank you again my gardening friend.

  2. Nice reviews, Phillip. I have other books by Rosemary Verey but not that one so I'll look for it (not that my garden's anything like an English garden).


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