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240. GardenRant Garden Blogger | DC Gardens | Susan Harris | Maryland
27th August 2018 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:53:31

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Wednesday June 27, 2018. I’m thrilled to introduce this guest, I was visiting my mom in NY and I took this book out of her library and it was called

Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives

And the introduction is by Susan Harris Garden Blogger from the GardenRant Garden Blog! And she is here with me today and i know you are just going to love her.

I grew up gardening a bit with both grandmothers and mother

I wasn’t really obsessed until I got help

The pay off once I got a little help, the result looked so much better.

I have been a really intense gardener ever since! 

I became very active in my local gardening club, I was writing in the newsletter. Someone said blogging was very easy so the very next day I started my very first blog, I started me in garden writing.

Shortly after Amy Stewart asked if I would like to partner?


Garden Rant

The Tagline is Uprooting the gardening world

pretty nervy

The mission was to have opinionated writing and be able to say what we wanted and not have to worry about advertising. That led to being paid to write for magazines. I’ve written for a lot of gardening companies in my area. It just kind of snow balled from there.

I call my audience green future growers, and I feel like they are like that are more then just gardeners, we’re trying to grow as much of our food as we can for a year so we can massively supplement our produce bill.

Green Future Growers

I know a lot of my listeners have green businesses, either seed companies, or education or not always market farmers but some kind of healthy nutritious business that requires a blog and do you have any tips for making that easier or for starting to becoming a successful blog writer.

Oh gosh

Well back then in 2005 there were so few of us we all knew each other

the event they call the Gardener Blog Fling

They just celebrated their 10th year by returning to Austin. I would say just reading each others blogs and getting together in person we’ve become a pretty tight knit group. I don’t do much blog reading anymore. After 13 years of blogging just posting once a week which is just right, I’m glad I have a platform to post things.

Garden Blog Writing Resources

  • how to get blog reader
  • write specifically for the web
  • there’s much to know about it

jump in

published my first blog

moved to different platforms

find it so easy

enjoy digital photography

You can show them off in many places


still I like the blogging because it’s not just photos because there’s text. I miss the text, if there was just pictures in Instagram. 

I notice similar things. I feel like when I’m on my phone my eyes get tired when there’s mostly just pictures. I like Facebook more because there’s more white space. I’m doing better with Instagram on my computer for looking and posting comments.

A little different tone

ranting quite a bit

Our least favorite home owner association rules that require you to have turf grass

Our least favorite chemical companies that does a lot of advertising that pushes people to have the perfect lawn!

We would often post about our favorite gardening shows on tv were gone!

I learned to garden largely by watching HGTV and watching 

Paul James Gardening by the Yard out of Tulsa

We had a lot to rant about at first.

You can’t keep repeating those same topics.

We’ve gotten a little political with the changes coming to environmental law. Typically you don’t here politics mentioned on garden blogs. Maybe if it’s plant related you occasionally go there.

We have stories.

There are seven of us that are regularly blog there. Some are regular story tellers, some of our contributors. They know a lot more then I do about plants.

I might have to check that out more. I’m a pretty vocal activist, I love that about my podcast I can actually be me. I love that about my listeners who come to be guests and guests who become listeners.

That was the best thing about going to NY was meeting listeners and guests like Elizabeth Leonard and Aiden Finney at Young’s Farms. 

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I just remember that both my mother and grandmother had beautiful gardens. My mother would rather weed then anything. What it did for her.

Emotionally spending time in the garden.

I did a lot with her, but as an adult I attempted to make my yard pretty, but I really needed a professional to really kick start it.

I have happy memories of Central Virginia, but I am from Des Moines. I grow pretty much the same plants. It has a pretty nice family history.

I love that not just like because I am a teacher but also because I took guitar lessons and it was like overnight I could play a million songs. It changed everything! So I’m a big proponent of getting help.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Joe Lamp’l he was talking about how people learn to garden with the TV shows gone, if you don’t have someone in real life one-on-one. The thing to find the very best Youtube videos that teach people to garden. If you can to find the ones that are high quality that are accurate, you can put the exact search terms in YouTube and get your answers very quickly. 

That’s a great way to learn.

Myself, I’ve enjoyed as a professional, being a garden coach for people

in person teacher

go to someone’s yard

jump start

give them design ideas

plant suggestions for what to put in the ground. Especially pruning is a very intimidating garden job and hard to learn. When you’re hacking away at their overgrown forsythia. 

one on one teaching

I personally didn’t get much of them myself. 

Paul James used to have this great gardening show who was very much an organic gardener and ornamentals!

I don’t grow food and I’m not a cook.

I learned so much about how to grow plants!

how to create a beautiful yard! A beautiful garden!


What would be like one tip on what would you give somebody on what they could do to give their yard? Is there a tip you can give?

Well to get some professional help design help, but if you know someone who has a garden that you think is pretty, you could ask them to give you some tips.

It does’t have to be a professional set of eyes, just another set of eyes from someone who you know. 

just an experiences

Visit gardens and garden tours!

free organic garden

That’s funny because when I was in NY I got my mom to finally put a new set of eyes on my Free Organic Gardener Course and she was helpful but it was like we never got past the first lesson.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

We moved to a town house

  • front yard and back yard
  • adopted 5 other gardens in my yard
  • tools in the back of my car
  • couldn’t stop

what’s growing well?


especially in one of them fairly large one story office building and a budget would reimburse me whatever I bought!

To create a low maintenance garden that won’t need a lot of attention for me in a couple of years. 

I think a great technique for a low maintenance garden.

mainly shrubs

that won’t get too big

combination of ever green and flowering ones

grow quite quickly


My favorite shrub now that I am putting everywhere. IS called Ninebark.

It is native in this part of this world. It grows fast and has purple foliage! So it really contrasts with another favorite of mine which 


So you have all that color without having to rely on flowers

color in the leaves

Some old evergreens I have incorporated.

Flowers are later in the year.

  • daffodils
  • black eyed Susan’s
  • pockets of perennials in between

couple of years down the road

Well see down the road how much maintenance it really is

good layer of mulch

perennial but mainly shrubs.

little drips and drabs of flowering

At my moms there was a house across the street that had black eyed Susans that looked so dainty etc.

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

I would like to stop trying new things

stop creating new gardens

I need to cut back

to add nothing more, frankly

Just take care of what I got and stop adopting new gardens! I’m having a lot of fun teaching people in my community to garden. Working with the city crew with the way they maintain city gardens. That’s my focus now. Thinking about that more then what to change in my garden.

I like that too if you can give them some ideas. Especially after being at my moms, and the landscapers do everything. But her neighbor’s do have the little flags that say don’t walk your dog here for 24 hours and it’s strange because it smells so good but it does look strange that there’s not a ton of weeds growing everywhere. They do have a lot of shrubs.

I have to hold my tongue

they’re still putting in dozens of annuals that need irrigation in full sun and a lot of weeding!

They have been doing a lot of

Plant choices

They are not preventing weeds so it’s a mess. Part of what we’re doing is just redesign, so that there’s just a lot less maintenance going forward. That’s the best we can do. It’s very gratifying. As we change some of the city landscapes we can use that as a teaching opportunity to show the residents what the changes are and why.

This is fascinating, I’ll bet listeners are thinking, maybe I should go talk to my town board or give a presentation. Why are they planting those annuals there? Even though guests talk about it a lot but I only think really about by my house, but I am already thinking about there are two places when you pull into Eureka where there are big signs with flowers so I am going to have to look and see what’s growing there. I love perennials. 

Mary Reynolds Movie on Netflix Dare To Be Wild

I was going to ask have you seen that movie Dare to Be Wild? On Netflix about Mary Reynolds? She wins like the Chelsea Flower Show in England. My mom just stumbled upon it. It’s about this real woman. She’s like the first woman and they just made a movie about here. It’s all about Native Landscaping.

Shrubs like Nine bark, Oak leaf hydrangea and Spirea Ogon

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.


Deer eating sedum

got a ground cover junipers

junipers do really well here and they are native

Giving up on salvias and tall sedum because of the deer.

Deer can be a challenge. The only that grows here they don’t eat is the peonies. Our place is kind of like a sanctuary because our neighbors are always shooting so the deer are all over so Mike has built nice fences.

Before we get to the root of things let’s thank our sponsors and affiliates!


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