Author Archives: Rhonda Nowak

Rhonda Nowak

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. Here, she offers useful gardening tips, plus a related literary quote, based on what’s happening in her flowerbeds, containers, raised vegetable beds, greenhouse and yard-scape. The Literary Gardener is for locals who agree with author Bill Richardson: "Novels and gardens – I like to move from plot to plot.”

Thinking of growing in a community garden?

“One of the wonderful things about growing plants in a community garden is that so many things are possible,” said Mary Foster, director of the Community Garden Network in the Rogue Valley. Foster worked with teens from a youth shelter several years ago to establish the Community Garden at Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. More […]

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Welcome temperamental March in the garden

Rogue Valley gardeners, let’s greet “Dear March” by planting a berry bush and some seeds for cool-season crops. Indoors, it’s time to sow eggplant, bok choy, kale, celery, and mustards in peat pots, as well as Chinese cabbage, peppers, and tomatoes in trays/flats. Sow seeds directly outdoors for: radishes, carrots, lettuce, peas, arugula, cilantro, collards, […]

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My plastic womb

Sweet is the lore which nature brings; Our meddling intellect Misshapes the beauteous forms of things – We murder to dissect. Enough of science and of art; Close up those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives. – William Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned,” 1798 In this week’s Literary […]

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What’s on your garden reading list this winter?

“The garden is a ground plot for the mind.” ~ Thomas Hill, The Gardener’s Labyrinth, 1577 In Sunday’s column, I shared my winter reading list for fellow literary gardeners – those who agree with garden designer and writer Mirabel Osler (1925-2016) who wrote in a A Gentle Plea for Chaos (1989), “Books nourish a gardener’s […]

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Foraging for Poetry

My wicker basket swells. I forage for our supper but poems cling like lace on lichened branches stanzas tumble from the boughs as copper petals catch the breeze. ~ Jo Parfitt, “Foraging for Poems,” 2017 Fall in Southern Oregon is a great time to forage in our gardens and neighborhoods for home décor because there’s […]

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Caps Off to the Yellow Jackets

I clean in a swarm of yellow jackets, sure they won’t sting me, so they don’t, though they can’t resist the fish, the slime, the guts that drop into the bucket, they’re mad for meat, fresh death, they swarm around whenever I work at this outdoor sink with somebody’s loving catch. ~ David Young, “A […]

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A lesson in verse about sprinkler head maintenance

“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” ~ Baba Dioum, Coordinator General for the Conference of West and Central African Ministers of Agriculture Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forestry engineer, spoke these words as he presented a paper […]

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A goat for the gorse

Each sunny day upon my way A goat I pass; He has a beard of silver grey, A bell of brass. And all the while I am in sight He seems to muse, And stares at me with all his might And chews and chews. ~ Robert William Service, “The Goat and I,” 1933 Robert […]

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Flowers by the sea

When over the flowery, sharp pasture’s edge, unseen, the salt ocean lifts its form—chicory and daisies tied, released, seem hardly flowers alone but color and the movement—or the shape perhaps—of restlessness, whereas the sea is circled and sways peacefully upon its plantlike stem ~ “Flowers by the Sea,” William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) Perhaps it was […]

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Barrels of flora

“Wine is poetry in a bottle.” ~ Clifton Fadiman, American editor and author (1904-1999) Some might say wine is poetry in a barrel, and I could say the same for plants. I’ve had success growing a variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs and dwarf-sized trees planted in wine barrels in my garden at home and […]

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