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Graham Rice
Pennyslvania USA, and Nothamptonshire, UK
I'm a garden writer, plantsman and photographer.
Interests: Apart from plants and gardens? Wildlife, reading just about anything, music of all kinds from Stravinsky to punk, my music radio show (The BritMix), fishing, movies, ceramics and glass of the 1950s and 1960s, art...
Recent Activity
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Sometimes, people ignore plants simply because they're common. We see them all the time, even growing by the side of the road, and they sink into our subconscious and simply fail to emerge. What is sometimes called the perennial sweet... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
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Review of Tweet Of The Day, the exceptional and beautifully illustrated new book that accompanies the BBC radio series. Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Thanks for your support, Beth. Much appreciated. One of the things that Ken Thompson points out in his book is that what seems to happen over the decades is that purple loosetrife arrives, sometimes it spreads a lot and may look dominant - but then it may well decline significantly to the extent that no one would think it a pest at all. OK, this may take a few decades but a few decades is nothing in biological time. That's what happened with Canadian pondweed in Britain: it arrived, it spread quickly, everyone decried it as a menace - now it's uncommon.
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But that's the point, T. P., research shows that although it looks as if purple loosestrife smothers everything - it doesn't.
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Purple loosestrife is not as evil as many people say, native swamp loosestrife can be more invasive. Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs comes in a much larger format, runs to over 950 pages, covers "more than 3,700" plants with 3,500 pictures and its cover price is two and a half times that of the Hillier Manual. So it covers about a quarter of the number of plants described in the Hillier Manual, has masses of colour pictures, costs substantially more but of course is focused more on plants grown in North America. And it's very very heavy.
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A review by Graham Rice of the invaluable new edition of the Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Yes, you may be right. I'm passing that way later today so I'll take a look and see if it's turned green - or died!
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Making the hour’s drive back and forth to my cardiac rehab three times a week, and often walking woodland trails on the other days, I’ve spotted some interesting plants along the way. A couple of years ago I wrote about... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Had another look yesterday, and there were insects on the wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, that's flowering in the same field now that the rudbeckia is fading and there were also a few on fleabane, Erigeron annuus. But none on the rudbeckias - very odd.
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Not so fast... It turns out that purple loosestrife is not such a menace after all. More in a post here soon.
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Yes, Joan, they're gorgeous. And now I have a friend who wants to re-create the whole thing on their own land!
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There I was, driving along counting all the European plants growing - and often looking very attractive - along the Pennsylvania roadside when in the distance I noticed a whole field of orange. In this part of the world it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Thank you, Ina, for your thoughtful remarks. A garden is, after all, a garden - not a restoration or re-creation of a wild habitat - so those who insist that we do not plant garden plants in our gardens are completely missing the point. More effective would be to campaign to reduce the number of deer in our forests to pre-colonial levels - a dramatic reduction in deer numbers would make a huge contribution towards protecting our native flora and reduce the impact of invasive plants that move in once the natives are eaten. And here's a link to my blog post entitled "Don't tell me not to grow buddleja" from back in 2008 http://transatlanticplantsman.typepad.com/transatlantic_plantsman/2008/06/dont-tell-me-not-to-grow-buddleja.html
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Thank you, Beth. You may remember that I stirred up the nothing-but-natives people with another book review a few years back (http://transatlanticplantsman.typepad.com/transatlantic_plantsman/2011/04/alien-plants-are-better-for-insects-than-natives-its-official/comments/). But it's really Ken Thompson who risks the wrath of the anti-alien people by writing the book in the first place! I urge you to read it and tell me what you think. I'm a great believer in science and, intuition guided by science, but the whole issue is drowning in hearsay and opinion presented as fact.
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To be fair, there's one reason that this plant should be a little more expensive than all the standard old heucherellas and than many perennials. The price includes a royalty paid to the developer of the plant. This royalty is only a small proportion of the total price and $20 or $30 is still crazy, but it makes a difference. And it's also true that many small local suppliers will not necessarily be able to supply these newest varieties.
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In Britain, this invaluable book is subtitled The Story and Science of Invasive Species; in North America, the more provocative subtitle is Why Invasive Species Aren't All Bad. Both are appropriate; look dispassionately at the science and it’s clear that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
All three agree that they're just too pricy. Hmmm... Have to say, though, that the packaging that I've received and seen from White Flower Farm has been exceptional
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Happy to allow the review to appear on the Scottish Rock Garden Club Forum. Please just credit my name and the Transatlantic Gardener blog.
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I’d read about xHeucherella ‘Copper Cascade’ and it sounded wonderful. A small-leaved trailer or ground cover with rosy coppery gold leaves all the year round. It seemed ideal to cover the bare soil around the edge of one of our... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Yes, those hibiscus look amazing. Most have been available in North America this year but are sold out now for the season; check in the fall and get orders in promptly.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2014 on Multicolored newcomers at Transatlantic Gardener
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Thanks for the good wishes,I hope to be posting here every week but I have to say that by 11 in the morning I usually feel like taking a nap! So frustrating!
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2014 on Spring and summer at Transatlantic Gardener
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Gardeners often pay more attention to what they hear over the garden fence than to science. Of course, friends and neighbors often provide good advice but sometimes they’re way off the mark. In this “let’s get it straight” book, Cape... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
Well, it’s been a tough season so far and that’s why posts here have been rather infrequent. First a heart attack, then acute lyme disease and then complications related to the lyme – I’m sure I’ll be fine in the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener
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Every year the good people at Proven Winners send us some new plants to try. This year’s parcel arrived recently and there are two plants that look especially tempting so I thought I’d mention them straight away – before they’re... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at Transatlantic Gardener