Welcome to trowelTART.

Welcome! I know, I know—just what the world needs: another blog. Then let’s call it a gardening journal, something I’ve always wanted to keep. If you’re interested in following along, I’m thrilled. If you have stories of your own to share, even better. The more the merrier.

I’ve been kicking the blog thing around for years, although the initial idea was to write about parenting, back when my kids were toddlers. I ditched that notion after reading the newspaper columns of a Local Writer of Some Reknown, who wrote relentlessly about her kids—intensely personal, embarrassing and sometimes cringeworthy tales that should have stayed within her circle of intimates. It was an instructive example, one I didn’t want to emulate.

So why gardening? Because I’m passionate about it. And I can write about it without embarrassing my children.

I’m intrigued and challenged by the endless possibilities gardening offers. Since starting my first garden from scratch 20 years ago, and subsequently working for gardening books and magazines, I’ve learned a trick or two. The most enduring lesson I’ve learned, though, is how much I still have to learn, which is where you come in.

I’ve always savored the camaraderie of the gardening crowd. The best gardeners I’ve met generally aren’t experts with horticulture degrees. (I know one of those, too, and she’s spectacular—but most of us don’t have a horticulturist on speed-dial. And anyway, she’s way too busy and expensive for a house call.) I draw inspiration from other hobbyists, people who enjoy figuring things out as they go along and taking the inevitable disasters in stride. I’m not dismissing books and magazines as resources—after all, they’re helping to pay my kids’ tuition—but I love the immediate intimacy of sharing a thorny gardening problem with a fellow traveler and hearing, “Oh, I had that problem, too. Here’s how I fixed it.”

I share my experiences in that spirit, and for what they are—the work of a rank amateur. My gardens won’t win any awards, and you’ll never see them in a national magazine. They’re flawed—too bare here, not enough color there, too crowded over there. But the beauty, the challenge, the unending joy of gardening is that it’s always a work in progress—boundless opportunities to turn last year’s debacle into this year’s triumph.

So, welcome to my garden. I’m going to enjoy having you along for the journey.

You’ll occasionally find other information here, too—books I’m reading, music you might enjoy, a few green (read: cheap) tips and tricks, maybe the occasional recipe. And probably the occasional reference to my wonderful children. But nothing cringeworthy.

Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 6:20 pm. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are 13 comments on this post.

  1. Unembarrassed Son says:

    Many thanks to Local Writer of Some Reknown for sparing me (too much) embarrassment.

    Posted at March 25th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

  2. Sammy says:

    Hey, TT, welcome to the blahgosphere (as a blahgging friend spells it…)!! I look forward to learning from your new adventure!

    Posted at March 26th, 2010 at 10:55 am

  3. Mark Brunswick says:

    and with capital letters, too!!!

    Posted at March 30th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  4. Vickie says:

    this will be fun to follow…trowel tart? you truly have a way with words..

    Posted at March 30th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

  5. tt says:

    Mark, I gotta do something to earn my keep around here; might as well start typing like a grownup.

    Posted at March 30th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

  6. Dorothy says:

    Visiting on the recommendation of one Nancy Nall. I might hang around – your description of your garden sounds just like mine! I’m self-taught and always learning. We bought three acres in 2008 and moved into our newly-built house in January 2009. So all the landscaping is being done by us. We had fantastic luck with our vegetables last year, and our big project this spring and summer is putting in a meandering brick walkway from the front yard to the back. Oh and another massive vegetable garden as well.

    Posted at April 2nd, 2010 at 12:37 pm

  7. tt says:

    Welcome, Dorothy! We self-taught gardeners have to stick together. I’d love to hear about your brick walkway project. I have an ugly spot just screaming for a pathway — we’ve stomped the grass to smithereens. Something must be done. Let me know how it goes!

    Posted at April 2nd, 2010 at 1:17 pm

  8. Judybusy says:

    Hi there, another visitor from NN.com! I look forward to hearing about your garden. Maybe I missed it, but where are you gardening? I’d love a gardening website where life is also in the comments. For the past few years, the local newspaper had a blog run by three women, but I don’t know if they’re doing it this year. There were always a small group of us that commented on the subject at thand, and I’ll miss it!

    So, to begin a conversation, I had our large, poorly-performing lilacs cut down last week. Now I’ve got promising shoots, but suspect some soil amendments are in order. Any thoughts? I’d prefer organic suggestions. I read that bloodmeal is good, but that seems a little narrow. Thanks, one and all!

    Posted at April 2nd, 2010 at 2:05 pm

  9. tt says:

    Hello there, Judybusy. My garden is in the upper Midwest. I wouldn’t worry too much about those lilacs. I did a rejuvenation pruning on mine a few years ago — they’d grown so tall I could never cut off the blossoms, which you really need to do for good bloom the following spring. It was a good 12 feet tall, and cut the living daylights out of it, getting it down to about 4 feet. Lilacs are virtually indestructible; you can probably get away with doing absolutely nothing, which is what I did. Just sit back and wait for it to rejuvenate itself.

    Posted at April 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

  10. Karen says:


    I knew about the tart thing from way back, but didn’t know about the obsession with trowels ’til now. So which came first — the interest in gardening or the Michiana Farm Journal?

    Question #2: How would sweet woodruff do in dry shade in zone 6?

    Posted at April 2nd, 2010 at 5:01 pm

  11. tt says:

    Karen, I’ve always been interested in gardening—just never had much of an opportunity until we got a house with an actual yard. Hanging out with all those farmers didn’t hurt, though.

    Sweet woodruff is hardy in zones 4 to 8, so you’re good to go on that front. As for dry shade, it probably depends on how dry it is. I have never, ever watered any of my sweet woodruff (unless it’s in pots, waiting to be transplanted). It survives nicely on whatever rainfall it gets. So, unless your dry shade is in a weird sheltered spot that gets no rain whatsoever, it would probably work. Let me know if you decide to try it. I have just such a spot, perpetually shady and dry as a bone, with no clue what to plant there. Maybe I should give this a whirl.

    Posted at April 3rd, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  12. Dorothy says:

    Chiming in to add that I found this website http://www.gardenersindex.com via Facebook last year and it seems like a very friendly place, with lots of useful information and advice. They had a group for several states, but there had been none for Ohio. So of course I started the Ohio group.

    Also – we’re going to an auction on Saturday for a landscape business that is closing and we’re hoping to get some pavers and/or wall block. Our biggest concern is getting enough to finish the job, but I wouldn’t be averse to mixing and matching with other block we buy commercially. If we mix it all together, who will know the difference, right??

    Posted at April 5th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

  13. tt says:

    Oh, my…that going-out-of-business sale sounds like a gardener’s wet dream. I am so jealous. Good luck finding what you need, Dorothy!

    Posted at April 5th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

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