Hottest Garden Rants of 2009


 It’s time for our favorite tradition here at GardenRant headquarters – the yearly round-up of Top Rants as determined by the number of comments. 

(We exclude contests because they always get lots of comments – for entirely different reasons.   For the curious, our Hottest Giveaways of 2009 were for a bulb book, for Eco-Tulips,  and a contest for the Best Short Fiction Contest, which drew the most comments of all – 115).

So without further ado, here are Truly the Hottest Rants of 2009, in ascending order:

10. Pollan takes on the Great American Lawn.  In a reprinted New York Times piece, Pollan ranted against the White House Lawn and proposed it be replaced with meadows and farmland.  Not a terribly popular idea, it turns out, though there’s lots of support for going organic on that famous patch of turf.

9. Only the Inexperienced are Cynical.  We ranted once again about the poor quality of garden reporting–specifically from writers who are first-time vegetable gardeners, who, because they are naive, spend way too much money and time on their gardens. Then they write pieces informing beginners that growing food is difficult and expensive. Most of our commenters–for once!–agreed with us.  You don’t have to spend insane amounts of money or time to have a lovely vegetable garden.  You just have to have some sense of what you’re doing.

8. If I want stuffed animals I would go to Toys R Us.  Unsurprisingly, not too many of our commenters (if any) were ready to leap to the defense of the unfortunate habit garden centers have of devoting huge amounts of shelf space to objects that have nothing whatsoever to do with gardening. Most of our readers joined in the rant—and added their own pet peeves. 

7.  The Real Dirt on Peat Moss.  Guest Ken Druse made the case that sphagnum peat moss is “environmentally bankrupt”, and almost all the commenters said “thanks for telling us”.  

6.  Smith & Hawken is Dead; Long Live Smith & Hawken.  Commenters (mostly) loved Maureen Decombe’s fond remembrances of the S&H she knew and loved, and many added their own.

5.  Generation Y – the Future of Gardening or the End?  In this one our guest Susan L. Morrison stirred the pot about generational differences – always a comment-grabber.

4.  Veg-Gardening Not in Current Strategy for DIY Network.  This was Joe Lamp’l’s story about DIY cancelling his very timely show, and GardenRant readers love nothing more than bashing stupid television programmers.

3.  Is it time to re-imagine the community garden?.  Guest Ed Bruske made the case for communally run gardens rather than individual plots for growing whatever the plot-renter wants, leading to mentions of Communism, Nazism, hippie values, and at least one “Good Grief!!”

2.  Where the $@*% is the Army of Gardeners?  Get off your Duffs and Make a Difference!  None of our own posts about lawn reform were as heated as Shawna Coronado’s all-out rant telling us to grow food, not turfgrass.  Again the Nazi label was flung into the fray. 

1.  What’s Invasive?  People Telling People what they Can’t Plant in their Yards. We ranted that paranoia about invasives is getting out of control when we’re being chided for allowing long-time country naturalizers like the orange roadside daylily or flag iris breathing space in our yards.  We unleashed a firestorm of pro-fear and anti-fear forces.  This is clearly a huge issue in our readers’ minds, one that probably deserves more exploration.

Final Word
Did you notice that 6 of the 10 Hottest Rants were written by guest bloggers?  We sure noticed, and we thank our awesome gardenblogging friends for helping us make GardenRant a place that stirs the pot.  And keep those guest posts coming, y’all.


  1. WOW! I can’t believe my guest post made the Top 10 – being called a lawn-nazi – an honor for sure! I love Garden Rant and all the wonderful readers, writers, and ranters who make this an awesome community.

    Building a place where we can all learn and help each other is priceless – thank you to Susan, Elizabeth, Michele, and Amy – great gardeners through and through.

    For me 2009 has been the most successful and happiest of my entire life – all because I was finally able to make a difference in the garden and in life. That is the wish I have for all the Garden Rant readers in 2010 – that they can find happiness in a garden as well!

    Happy 2010!

    Shawna Coronado

  2. Thank you so much, Garden Ranters — perma-writers and guest posters! I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read here in 2009 (and learned a bit too). I look forward to much more thought- (and possibly argument-) provoking garden ranting in 2010.

  3. I just checked out a few of the top 10 rants as well as those from earlier in the week (darn holidays have limited my blog reading lately) and as always am entertained on the way the comments seem to take on a life of their own. Shawna’s post on veggies over lawns seemed to get more folk worked up over her communication style rather than what she was communicating. And I love the way Susan’s post from a few days ago where she shares Billy G’s design sketch for her back yard morphed into a heated debate on the appropriateness of garden hoses to layout planting beds.

    Congratulations on keeping the conversation going! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in 2010.

    P.S. For the record, I’m firmly anti-garden hose as a design tool, but will refrain from calling those who choose this method hose-nazis.

  4. Always insightful, entertaining, and lively.
    I enjoy reading the rantings of the fabulous four and their guest bloggers.

    I especially thank them for alerting me to the Eco-Lawn seed by Wildflower Farms.

    That blog post has made a very positive difference on one family’s life.

    Keep it coming, be it laid out with a hose, seeded with lawn seed ( gasp ! a lawn ! ) or planted with veggies.

  5. I love this site! Thanks so much for keeping it real.
    I live in the Colorado mountains at 8000 feet and gardening is always a challenge and not always pretty, I gauge my success on how much I can harvest for winter and canning.


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