Meet Nancy J. Ondra, Plantswoman!
Nancy J. Ondra is a renowned garden writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience growing and experimenting with perennials and plant combinations. She is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen respected gardening books. In The Perennial Matchmaker: Create Amazing Combinations with Your Favorite Perennials, she has distilled her in-depth knowledge of color, texture, and seasonal effects into a simple approach for surefire planting success.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in SE Pennsylvania, zone 6B/7
I’ve been gardening my entire life, got my first job as a teacher!
About 10 miles from
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Ive always lived here, we have a family farm
I can’t remember not gardening
there isn’t a specific one
over any book
I treasured that catalog
one cent jumbo packet
it was just a penny
I just remember being so entranced by the variety of seeds
I can’t imagine any company
How did you learn how to garden organically?
I actually grew up in the suburbs but we always had the farm,
we didn’t think of it organically
four years of being inundated with pesticides
i don’t think I want to do
took an internship at Rodale Press
I need a job
this will be great
Sort of learned by being innundated
encyclopedia of Organic gardening
doing a lot of big books back then
visiting the Rodale Institute and taking classes up there
That’s my last one
It’s my favoritist one!
People really respond to ideas for combinations
it’s so easy
impulse buy perennials
plant them here or there based on what they need
take it to the next level as people say
when you’re doing perennial combinations
don’t go out and buy new plants
what is doing well
what can you move to put next to each other
purpleish pink phlox
inspire people to move them
an annual is a plant that grows from seed to seed
make flower the next year
could live from year to year
for a certain number of years
annuals in some places
You can theoretically move them any time of year
ideally if somethings gonna bloom in the spring
roots all settled in
where it wants to be it’s where it wants to go
early summer bloomers
move them in the fall
move them in the spring
about 6 months ahead
Fall is a good time for moving a lot of things.
Aster ornamental grass that’s gonna bloom in the fall
is a good time to think about the combinations
looking at this pink phlox
break off flowers and carry them around
move those two together
why is phlox easier
just the way it works out for me
I don’t know
maybe it has something to do
phlox is easier to move
sometimes I’ll move both of them if something is in the wrong spot
you can really
as long as you keep them watered and
I usually harvest the wild brambles
that way I don’t have to give them garden space
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
It’s almost an acre of flowers and vegetables
managed meadow of cedar plants
not all 4 acres
Pretty much everything has grown
Blessed with rain every 3-4 days
pastures are green still
plants are just so lush
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
I always like to try new plants
something I’ve gotten into
harvesting for drying
I last year, it makes a difference if I’m working on a book
last year I was doing more pressed flowers
meant to get back into that this year
when I was cutting back
throwing this stuff in the compost pile when I could be drying it
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Sort of balanced the wonderfulness of the rain
deer have found their way into the garden
thoguht we had an understanding
coming into the garden
net the entire vegetable garden
they said ok well go into the flower area
lillies and daylillies have suffered
horrible this year
so much for the roses
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Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?
watering I hate watering!
Right it takes a long time.
And it’s never as good as the rain! I hate wasting water, it’s never good enough.
Mike’s always like did you water today? And I’m like I watered yesterday. Nothing like the rain.
Anything to do with seeds
Got any tips for listeners?
Idk what’s a seed
what to collect
if you’ve grown things from seed you know what you’re looking for.
if you’ve grown a zinnia from seed you’ll recognize the seeds.
Just give it a try. It’s really not that hard.
preserving a favorite you’ll have seeds to share too!
Right, there’s always so many seeds in each flower etc.
We had a wonderful gardener out this way named Joanna Reed
I saw her house on a tour
The best advice
back into your work
if you have a big area that you are that youa re digging or mulching or you’re weeding, orient yourself so that you are always looking at what I did and not what I have to do.
That’s gotten me through a lot of big products.
looks at how much
My brother is also a professional gardener and he got me hooked on these things called
meant for shearing she3p
But they look basically like a garden scissors, they work like scissors but they are sort of a cross between scissors and pruning shears!
I always wanted longer then blades then pruning share
I will use them to pry weeds out of the soil because they have pointy tips
work as a professional gardener, these are almost attached to my hips.
in the interest of full disclosure
useful llama items
places that sell animal tools.
self-sharpening. I’ve used them for years and not had to sharpen them.
I don’t really cook so