top of page

10 Garden Gleanings from 2019

Michele MacKinnon

“It’s hard to say whether a garden is a metaphor for life or the other way around.”
~ Sydney Eddison, Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older

Garden Gleanings from 2019.jpg

Photo credit: Michael A. Russo, Trout Lily Farm, LLC

Here’s a roundup from another year cultivating my garden and my garden knowledge.


  1. Practical tools—An inexpensive bread knife is my new favorite tool. It makes fast work of weeding, dividing gnarled root balls, and opening bags and containers.​

  2. Butterfly weeds as monarch nurseriesMichigan State University recommends cutting back a third of the Asclepias tuberosa stems as they start to bloom and cutting another third by the time the regrown stems start to flower. It may reduce predators of monarch butterfly eggs and provide monarch caterpillars the tender leaves they prefer eating. Maximize the advantages of butterfly weed with more tips from my recent article, Milkweed: Amplify its Benefits for Monarchs and Pollinators.

  3. Flower farming momentum—Between Debra Prinzing’s creation of Slow Flowers and Erin Benzakein’s of Floret, demand and excitement for sustainably grown, local flowers continued rising in 2019. There’s a corresponding increase in new flower farmers who praise the inspiration, education, and network offered by these two petal-pushing paragons. 

  4. No-dig garden = no-pain gain—Skimming sod off a lawn to create a garden is painful. The “no dig” approach is the cure. My 50’ x 4’ no-dig bed, created late in 2018, produced a bounty from tomato and zucchini plants to Queen lime zinnias, lettuce, basil, and marigolds in 2019. Try no-dig for your next garden. ​

  5. Peony mildew remedy—From WTIC 1080’s “Garden Talk” show, this fish-milk recipe kept peonies vigorous and freckle-free. To a quart size spray bottle add: one cup milk, one tablespoon fish emulsion fertilizer concentrate, and one teaspoon liquid dish soap. Top up with water. Spray developing foliage every two weeks until flower buds form. Apply when plants are shaded or in the cool of early morning.​

  6. Angelic pollinator plant (Angelica gigas)—Its thick purple stalks, purplish broccoli flower-shaped heads, and huge incised leaves are a visual feast. The bonus is those heads offer a feast for pollinators of every shape and size.​

  7. Pros of poison ivy—This top skin irritant is also a top food source for fall-migrating birds. For their sake, let poison ivy roam in areas where human contact is less likely.​

  8. Shrub love—Select sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), which deer ignore, over our state flower, ornamental mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), which deer devour. 

  9. Help pollinators help us!—We’ve heard "bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.” Let’s return the favor and grow plants that feed pollinators. Learn which plants to use and lots more. ​

  10. Beware the spray painted pine—Norfolk Island pines might be spray painted to appear greener and healthier— yikes! Take a close look before you buy one.


Maybe one of these tips, or those from last year’s 10 Surprising Garden Discoveries from 2018 will rev up your garden results this year.

Michele MacKinnon, is a UCONN-Certified Advanced Master Gardener, garden educator and speaker. Contact Michele MacKinnon for information or questions.

bottom of page