Anne Raver’s Funky Taste in Gardens


IMG_0795 Anne Raver is the long-time garden writer for the New York Times, now an occasional contributor there.  (Because yes, coincident with the rise of gardening, especially among the young, the Times has reduced it to an afterthought.)

Over the weekend Anne spoke to the DC-area Rock Garden Society about “Great Gardens I Remember” and it turns out that her choices are far from what you might expect – the word “great” conjuring up gardens about as relevant to 21st Centery gardeners as Versailles.

What she showed us were the wild, funky gardens of people like Chuck and Leslie Close on Long Island (here’s her 2006 piece about it); Bill Noble in Vermont; Wayne Winterrowd, Duncan Brine, (here’s her article about him); and Abbie Zabar’s terrace garden in Manhattan.  Plus Seattle’s Gas Works Park, a utility plant-to-park conversion, and the to-die-for new garden of Dan Hinkley on Whidbey Island overlooking the sound.  (Aside to Dan:  Put some photos of it on your website, will ya?  It’s criminal not to share a spot that beautiful.)

Below, views of the wild and funky garden of Duncan Brine.  Photos by Duncan.



Six years ago Anne moved from New York back to her family’s Maryland farm to take care of her mother, and is here to stay.  She and her boyfriend Rock live in an apartment above the barn, and Anne’s now writing about farm preservation.  They’ve converted fields of GMO soy and corn to hay, and the wildlife have responded by coming back to stay, too.  They built a very cool labyrinth from a design they saw on Youtube, and I’m hoping to see it when it fills in next year. (Aside to Anne:  Hint!)

UPDATE:  Thanks to Duncan Brine, I just got connected to Anne on Facebook and discovered we were in the same class in college!  Here’s the story – a Marylander and a Virginian set off for the wilds of Northern Ohio at the same time, then meet (ahem) years later through gardening.  I love it.

Help Anne Get on the Web
Like all garden writers not regularly employed by a newspaper, Anne needs to get herself on the web, but doesn’t know where to start.  So friends, what would you suggest for a small website that’s easy to keep current?  And by “easy” I mean for a total nongeek.  It must be pretty, of course.

On another technical issue, Anne revealed that a crash of her hard drive had wiped out years of photos.  That nightmare is a lesson for us all, and a damn good reason to subscribe to Mozy for just 60 bucks a year.  I finally signed up with Mozy after realizing that the external hard drives I thought were protecting my photos are still vulnerable to theft and fire.


  1. The easiest, most intuitive are the blogging platforms like WordPress for a techno-newbie. Even easier than that is Posterous which allows you to post to email and Tumblr. If I was just starting, I’d choose one of the last two.

    I’m a long time Anne Raver reader and although I still look at the now HOME section (Garden has been eliminated from the Section title even) on Thursdays in the Times, they really could do a better job of covering what’s outside the HOME!

  2. It was my guess Anne likes SCRUFFY !!! Somehow it always came thru in her NYTimes work.

    (Please, Anne, get your blog going. Can’t wait.)

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. Why not a TypePad blog instead of a website? It’s easier than ever to do static pages, and to put a horizontal nav bar or a list of links to static pages in the sidebar.

  4. As far as a WEB site goes , the I Mac platform makes it so easy that even I can figure it out ( and I am basically computer illiterate)
    But if Anne is looking for interaction then a BLOG would be more suitable than a WEBSITE, which does not usually engage the public in conversation.
    Most all of the blog sites are easy to use so I think it comes down to aesthetics and convenience in the choice.

  5. Nice to see this article. I’m a big fan of Anne Raver’s work as well. My family bought her book “Deep in the Green” for me for Christmas. (Sometimes they listen!)

    I’d say WordPress too — it’s easy.

  6. I’ll second an above comment–Wordpress and other such are very customizable, and while they can get really complex if you get into their guts, there’s no reason to go there if you don’t want to!

  7. Been with blogspot for over a year. The only thing I prefer at WordPress is that you can use CommentLuv.

    Just start. You can always tweak the bits you don’t like. Or move later …

  8. Anne, first, congratulations on joing Garden Rant. Looking forward to reading your articles here (and in The New York Times of course.)

    Regarding your question for putting your content on the Web, you can go two routes: a blog or a personal Web site. There are lots of free options for blogs — WordPress, LiveJournal, Google’s Blogger (Blogspot). And there are some easy to use sites that offer free templates for Web pages, like and

    — Nick

  9. I don’t recommend the website route; it takes too long and too much money to attract any serious visitors.
    I would go with sort of a blog. Not a blog like the existing 100+ that offer the thoughts and comments about gardening in the lives of some very interesting and articulate writers.
    The sort of blog uses a blog platform (I use wordpress), Anne should think like a columnist on her sort of blog. A columnist (and she is world class) tries to get a personal twist either in fact or in writing style but is free to write about almost anything one wants as long as it is informative, entertaining and holds the reader right down to the end.
    I would keep the sort of blog to 300 to 400 words which is in most cases enough space for one good idea or one good story. The sort of blog should not try to offer more then one idea or one story each day; otherwise it becomes a real blog and you are competing again. This probably makes no sense but it works for me.

  10. Anne Raver is a great writer–interesting, witty, and realistic. I always enjoy reading her on the NYTimes site, and I look forward to her blog or website! (whatever ends up working best for her–)

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