The Dirt

My favorite Fine Gardening articles ever!

Recently Steve Aitken, FG’s editor, asked the FG editors to name our favorite article from the past 20+ years of FG. That’s a tough one! Rather than just one, I thought I’d share my favorite 10 from the last few years. We have published over 130 issues, after all. Some of these are online now, so you can check them out right away. Here goes (in reverse chronological order)!

“Get the Weeds Out” by Barbara Pleasant (#127, May/June 2009)
I love how this article gives you realistic, practical ways to battle the weeds. Barbara doesn’t tell us to go out every single morning and weed the whole garden, and that if we don’t, we’re total slackers. She gives us several real strategies that work. You can use just a few or all of them. You will prevail. Maybe.

“A Dynamic Design for a Garden Passageway” By Scott Endres (#120, March/April 2008)
Scott is one of the most talented garden designers I’ve ever met, and the minute I stepped into his garden I was his biggest fan. Not only is this narrow garden beautiful, it’s meticulously designed. Everything is on purpose, and it truly works. And he understands the number one rule of success for a garden pathway: a spectacular destination. I wanted to linger on his back patio for hours. I did, actually.

“Plants with Personality” by Laura Crockett (#116 July/August 2007)
As soon as you read this article, you’ll want to go outside and get to know your garden all over again. Are the plants you’ve chosen relaxed or charismatic? Wallflowers or stars of the party? Perhaps you’ll learn something about yourself in the process, too.

“Container TLC” by Jennifer Benner (#116 July/August 2007)
Articles on how to design a stunning container are a dime a dozen, but this article tells you exactly how to keep your containers looking their best from spring to fall. It’s a hands-on, informative overview that will give you confidence and know-how. What more can we ask for?

“Overwintering Tender Plants” by Steve Silk (#112, November/December 2006)
I’m a fool for tender plants, and Steve Silk is my guru. He overwinters hundreds of plants every year, and he has it down to a science. This article has saved me uncounted time and money. I don’t need to buy all new plants for my containers each spring, as long as I refer to Steve’s advice every fall.

“Footloose and Flower Free” edited by Michelle Gervais (#109 May/June 2006)
Fine Gardening holds a container design challenge every year, and my favorite by far was 2005’s: designing a spectacular container without the benefit of flowers. Our readers showed us some magical containers that were colorful, fun, and even outrageous, all without one single flower. Foliage rules!!

“How to Make Your Photos Look as Good As Your Garden” by Jake Miller (#104 July/August 2005)
I’ve referred people to this article time and time again over the years. Unlike a lot of photography articles, this one is easy to understand and yields instant results. Seriously. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to improve your garden photography with just a few small adjustments.

“Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers” by Steve Silk (#97 May/June 2004)
This article was so popular that we turned it into an entire special issue the next year. The Thriller, Filler, and Spiller concept is so popular now that it’s become ubiquitous. Kudos to Steve Silk for giving new gardeners container confidence and experienced gardeners a new way to look at container design.

“Fertilizing Basics” by Sandra Gorry (#96 March/April 2004)
What do those numbers on fertilizer bags really mean? This article tells you. After reading it, you’ll know whether you should buy 10-10-10 or 5-2-4, or 20-10-4. See? It’s confusing!

“Create a Pebble Mosaic” by Jeffrey Bale (#82 November/December 2001)
Haven’t we all had enough of articles about mosaic art? Yeah, yeah, smash a few china plates, get out the mortar, and make a stepping stone, right. But, oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Jeff Bale may very well be the most talented mosaic artist I know of. His pebble, not tile, mosaics are so spectacular that he’s part of my whole “If I won the lottery…” daydreams. I’d like to fly him across the country and give him free reign in my garden. It’s never going happen. I have to resign myself to ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his designs in this article. Or actually gathering the motivation to make a pebble mosaic myself. He does make it look pretty easy.

View Comments


  1. SteveA 11/13/2009

    Michelle, I couldn't help but notice that there is nothing on this list that I either wrote or edited.

  2. MichelleGervais 11/14/2009

    Well, you'd better get cracking, Steve, and kick out an awesome article or two, fast! In the meantime, what are your favorite articles??

  3. SteveA 11/16/2009

    They are all my favorites.

  4. valleygardener 11/23/2009

    I have enjoyed all these articles. So much good information in all Fine Gardening articles but the most special to me are any articles written by Sydney Eddison. She has a marvelous style of capturing her garden experiences and experience in her articles. Keep them coming Sydney.

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