Tammy Schmitt

About Tammy Schmitt

I am a passionate middle school teacher and gardener. I've gardened in South Dakota, South Carolina, and in upstate New York near the Canadian border. My current garden, in an overdeveloped suburb near Washington DC, has been my most challenging. My desire to create a true refuge for our native birds and butterflies has helped me battle unpredictable weather and compacted clay soil. My garden isn't perfect, but it's always a beautiful escape. Read my full blog at Casa Mariposa.

Supporting your garden’s wobbly bits

I once read an article about a gorgeous garden that was accompanied by a photo showing every plant perfectly positioned and well behaved. There was no slouching, leaning, or canoodling. There were no secret smooches between the flirty pink zinnias and that broad shouldered basil. If that garden were a party, they’d be drinking milk and playing bingo. Underneath those high collars and long skirts, those dames were trussed to the hilt. Continue reading

The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

Have you ever seen a piece of art and imagined it as a garden? I am not a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect. My only design experience comes from moving seventeen times in thirty four years and always having to cram my stuff into a new house and find a way to make it look appealing. But I am an art lover. Continue reading

Two thousand pounds of Carpe Diem

Before you read any further, I must warn you I’m a fairly energetic person. While this statement is in direct conflict with the sloth calendar that hangs in my bedroom for mornings I’m so groggy I need the type of empathy only an animal that sleeps 20 hours a day can provide, as a general rule once I’ve had a few hours to wake up, my energy level switches from a zombie-like trance to a steady simmer that keeps me going til I collapse into bed. Continue reading

My madness monologues

When I was a kid my mother, who was a nurse, kept a copy of the Merck Manual on her desk. At over 4,000 pages, it housed a diagnosis for everything that ailed you. If your problem wasn’t in the Merck, it was all in your head. But even the Merck has its limits. Despite reaching epidemic proportions every winter and spring, Geospatial Gardening Disorder has yet to be included.
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Trouble in Tomatotown

I’m done growing tomatoes. I’m done dealing with all the tying, staking, and supporting. I’m tired of furry, rat faced, bastard squirrels that take a single bite of a perfect tomato before flinging it to the ground. I can tolerate the tomato hornworms because I fill my platform feeders with them so the birds can feast. But I am absolutely fed up with all the damn diseases and plant problems that plague these vegetables. Continue reading

Plan D

When I was a kid growing up in California, I was always reminded of my grandfathers Swedish heritage. He came from a family of immigrants who had come through Ellis Island and made a life out of nothing. But my baseball loving, cocktail drinking, poker playing grandmother was English and German, a fact that was rarely mentioned. In her sewing room sat an old blue Carr’s biscuit tin covered with drawings of English royalty. Queen Elizabeth the First stared off into the distance while fat King Henry and prissy Sir Walter Raleigh glared from the sides. Continue reading

Amazingly underwhelming

I’ve decided to start a revolution. Nothing too big, mind you, just a small take over of the plant labeling industry. I’m tired of plants labeled “partial shade” and “moist, well drained soil”. I need absolute, bare bones honesty. They won’t always be fun to read and could send smaller nurseries into financial collapse, but at least I’ll always know what I’m getting myself into. Continue reading

The Bunny Blockade

I have a secret: I’m outrageously jealous of the rabbits living under my neighbor’s house. They have no deadlines, alarm clocks, or bureaucratic nutjobs to deal with. They spend their days eating, sleeping, and having sex. There are no bad hair days, wrinkles, or calories to worry about. They are always cute and I can’t stand it. Continue reading

Into the dark side; a dry shade redesign

I stand in the garden and stare. I do this often, all this standing and staring. I pace silently, my eyes scanning the shady beds, irritation rising in my throat like bile. The plants lie jumbled, a dog pile of leaves and stems. Brunnera squeezes past the hellebores for a quick glimpse of the sun, stretching across desiccated hostas and pop up violets to announce itself with a slight yelp. Continue reading

Pool Shark School of Surprise Attack

I have a sneaky suspicion that my garden is not all it appears to be. To the untrained eye it’s a colorful jumble of flowers, shrubs, and short fat dogs. But to the warren of rabbits snug in their earthen burrows beneath my neighbors foundation, it is the feast that fuels midnight parties, where I suspect the horny hares are quite busy going at it like, well… rabbits. I’m starting to worry that the main thing growing in my garden is simply more rabbits. I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. Continue reading

Portrait of a gardener

I’ve begun to notice that a variety of garden catalogs are carrying clothing designed just for gardening. This is an intriguing concept. On a typical day in my garden, I am happily clad in whatever holey, stained clothes were closest at hand and pay little to no attention to my appearance. Devoid of makeup and hair care products, my short locks stick out at odd angles and my blonde lashes are rendered invisible. Continue reading