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.”

Help for dead dirt

“Soil remediation is a process of developing the life of the soil by introducing beneficial bacteria and fungus in their living state.” – Frank Holzman, Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming, 2018 I recently found a brand new thrill in a rented excavator as Jerry and I cleared away several root balls of gorse shrubs at […]

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Late-summer-to-fall bloomers

“Every flower blooms at its own pace.” – Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem, 2011 In Sunday’s column (September 1, 2019), I shared suggestions from retired nurseryman, author, and horticulturalist Baldassare Mineo for five late-summer-to-fall blooming perennial flowers and shrubs. Here they are with pictures from Baldassare’s garden, […]

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Rejuvenate with a forest bath

“Shinrin-yoku is lke a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. And when we are in harmony with the natural world we can begin to heal.” – Dr. Qing Li, “Forest Bathing,” 2018 In Sunday’s Mail Tribune column (August 18, 2019), I suggested taking a break during […]

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Take a break to assess garden successes and failures

“Success is counted sweetest By those who ne’er succeed. To comprehend a Nectar Requires the sorest need.” – Emily Dickinson, “Success,” 1864 In Sunday’s Mail Tribune column (August 11, 2019), I posed 21 questions to assess garden successes, or “nectars” as Dickinson named them, as well as the season’s “sorest needs.” I recently took a […]

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Are Tomatoes Easy to Grow in the Rogue Valley?

Homegrown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes, Wha’d life be without homegrown tomatoes? Only two things money can’t buy, That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.  – John Denver, “Home Grown Tomatoes,” 1988 If you are a gardener in the Rogue Valley, growing at least one, if not a dozen, tomato plants every summer is practically a requirement […]

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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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