Ramblin’ through Dave’s Garden is intended to be more about gardening than the landscape business that is Dave’s profession. Occasionally, there will be a “how to” or landscape information type post, but there are so many “happenings” every day in the garden that there will be plenty to write about.


Dave has worked for Meadows Farms Landscape department in Northern Virginia since 1976. He has a one acre+ garden begun in 1989 in Warrenton, Virginia where he moved once his previous house had run out of planting space. He plants as much stuff as his wife will allow, and tests new plant introductions and other landscape products. The garden features 6 ponds and numerous patios and paths. It is a lot of labor, but mostly a labor of love.

With more than 40 years experience from this, and previous gardens, Dave has experienced the highs and lows that come with gardening. He has used these lessons to add new products to Meadows Farms line, and to improve the quality of their services.


These are a few pictures of the ponds in Dave’s garden. Through the years he has added ponds and changed the existing ones with the same thing in mind, “do as little maintenance as possible”.


The gazebo sits next to the Swimming pond. In addition to flowering trees and shrubs there are tropical plants, bananas and elephant ears.

50 Comments Add yours

  1. cinny says:

    You’re not oversized, but who are those little Keeblers around you?

    1. davermfarm says:

      I like to call them the little people.

  2. SCOTTE says:

    Great info. I admire the stuff you post and the quality information you offer in your blog! Keep up the good work dude.Please visit my blog http://trendy-jewelry.angelfire.com/blog/

  3. Susanna says:

    I stumbled across your site while desperately searching info on swimming ponds. I’ve had the pleasure of building one small garden pond, but have since moved (more space!). I just want to say I absolutely love your blog and pictures!

    Thanks so much for sharing! You did an awesome job and the labor of love is worth it, I’m sure. (Envious!)

  4. Lino Lin says:

    I enjoy reading your blog. I got bitten by a tree bug this year and had planted 30-plus shrubs and trees in my property so far this year. By the way, I live in Cincinnati, OH. I found I have quite a few trees that you also have. Atlas cedar, Japanese stewartia, forest pansy redbud, cornus florida, cornus kousa, bunch of different hydrangeas … Just to name a few. I visit some of my favorite local nurseries frequently just to see if they have something special. As my quest and knowledge of beautiful trees grow, I often end up bringing home something new after each visit. After reading your blog about Franklinia alatamaha, I found one in my favorite nursery and thinking about taking one home. I think I have a good spot for it with good drainage. Anyway, good to see the photos of your plant collection. It would be nice if you can also post more of tree stories you heard or beautiful trees you see. Thanks.

  5. killdawabbit says:

    Your ponds and gardens are beautiful! I aspire to have ponds that pretty. I love your blog. Thanks for doing it.

  6. Rob says:

    Dave, I have been visiting your website for several years and have obtained much useful information. I sure wish your nursery was here in NC on the coast where I live. Hubby and I are redoing the front yard and, although I am a Master Gardener and considered to be a “plant Expert” by the state of NC ,we need some advice on what to plant and where to plant it. We have several nurseries near us but they usually offer the same plants every year due to a lack of imagination and a failure to educate themselves and the public. The Internet is a Godsend.
    Your gardens are beautiful and I agree with you. There is never enough room for all the plants one wants.

  7. Lynda says:

    Just finished reading your latest blog about bringing in tropical plants and loving toadlillies. I am a Master Gardener from Loudoun Co.
    I enjoyed every word and have now signed up to get your blogs.
    I like your writing style and now have toadlilly fever.
    Do you think since I no longer have a house, that I could plant some in
    a container and have success? Can you give me details on how to do upkeep in the winter, like would they need to be ignored or watered?
    I have to garden with containers now. My first season here I went wild.
    I am so glad with the summer we had this year, I hardly planted anything in a container. I call my self a lazy Master Gardener.
    I have been getting drought tolerant plants for along time. But this year,
    I did not want to be a water slave like last year.

    1. Dave says:

      I have not grown toad lilies in a container, but I don’t think that it should be much of a problem. I would expect that they should be able to overwinter outdoors, and should need to be watered very little since with cooler temperatures the soil does not dry as quickly.

  8. Judy says:

    Just found your blog and it’s wonderful! Thanks

  9. Really enjoyed reading your blog and deeply envious of a whole acre! I have a tiny plot in central London and I keep buying plants in the vain hope that, by some miracle, my garden will expand to accommodate them!

    1. Dave says:

      Every spring I wish that my acre would double so that I could plant more Japanese maples, redbuds, and dogwoods. I’d love to plant a yellowwood and a red chestnut, but there’s no where to go but onto the neighbor’s property. My wife and I moved to this larger property from a much smaller plot when I ran out of space. I couldn’t bear to start over now, so I’ll wait for my sons to get places of their own.

    1. Dave says:

      Thank you for your kindness. I hope that my photos inspire others to expand and enjoy their gardens, and that my words can help to explain the joy I experience without being too clumsy.

  10. Molly says:

    Dear Dave,
    I live in Vienna, VA.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is a wonderful and helpful creation. Please keep it up for the benefit of us eager gardeners. By the way, I have a dozen 4×4 boxed square foot garden inside a deer fence, a small lilypond, and an arbor and a screened patio.

    Please include seasonal plans for square-foot gardens.
    I shop all the time at Meadows Farm in Reston off Rte7W
    I got a cotton plant and a Malabar spinach plant from the Green springs Garden in alex, VA and was so excited when the cotton plant grew and bloomed this season itself!

    Love the pictures of your garden and ponds-do you open it up for the public to visit and learn from? I would love to see it since my hubby & I frequent all gardens possible.

    1. Dave says:

      After a number of requests I’ve considered opening the garden a few times in the spring. In the past I’ve thought it a bit too presumptuous to consider that anyone would care to see my garden, but perhaps I’m wrong. My second concern is that if people visit I have to clean up my messes. I can live with brush piles at the periphery of the garden forever more, but I’d have to clean them up if guests are invited. Anyway, I’m considering.

  11. You’re in my area!!! I might come see you about my pond questions.

    Tammy from Casa Mariposa

  12. brooklyn mom says:

    My goodness, what a wonderful blog!! I hope you don’t mind a question, as you seem to know so much about so many trees, including very specific Japanese Maples… Do you know which varieties of Japanese maples are very low pollen/low allergen, and also are the most shade tolerant? I have a shady courtyard and a highly pollen allergic son, and am looking for a gorgeous small to mid sized tree… Any recommendations would be so very welcomed!

    1. Dave says:

      I’m sorry, I don’t have a comparison for you in pollen levels between Japanese maple varieties. There are no dramatic differences that I see in the number of blooms per tree, so I’d think that pollen levels for the same sized trees should be fairly similar. I don’t know of any reference that could supply accurate information on relative pollen production levels between varieties. My primary allergies are in early spring to the shade tree, native red maple, and I’m not bothered at all by the later blooming Japanese maples, but I don’t know if that’s is meaningful or not.

      There are Japanese maples that are better suited to part shade. I don’t think I’d recommend a maple for an area in deep shade, but with a part day sun or filtered sun most will work. With less sun the red leafed varieties will fade considerably, so green or variegated leaf types could be your best bet. After the amount of sun, my first consideration in selecting a Japanese maple is the amount of space it requires. The weeping varieties will ultimately take up at least an area eight or ten feet across, while the upright varieties will consume less floor space because they are wide at the top so that you walk under the tree’s canopy.

      1. brooklyn mom says:

        Thanks so much for your thoughts, Dave!!

  13. Jen Gardener says:

    Hi Dave,

    I’ve just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, just to say I think your blog is great 🙂



  14. Debbie Grant says:

    Just received my first and very timely Dave’s Blog via the Meadows Farms email. This is real! No sugar coating the stuff that works and things that don’t. A wonderful rectation about what this year’s hard winter has possibly done to our plants. I see that there is a posted history of blogs and I will be diving right in and reading them all. Dave “speaks” without sounding so far beyond our level of skills, whatever they may be and the pictures are wonderful. This is a site every gardner should be atune to. I would love to hear him speak sometime and meet his oh so tolerant wife! debbie fearless gardner

    1. Dave says:

      Debbie, I maintain my one acre garden without assistance, and perhaps despite the help of my wife. I suffer through the same problems and heartbreaks as any gardener, but I have the excellent fortune that my profession is also the joy that consumes my leisure hours.

  15. S says:

    Great blog and nice gesabo.
    T Ryan London

  16. Melinda says:

    Hi Dave: I stumbled on your site trying to identify a Pine that didn’t look right, and I think it is a Japanese umbrella pine. But what really got my attention was the Gordinia. I have a small tree that I can’t identify, and that may be it. Iis the trunk of a young tree vertically striped?
    I’ve moved to a place with a lot of introduced trees, and can’t ID most of them. A fun challenge. I hope you’ll open your garden in the Spring.

    1. Dave says:

      Both Franklinia and Gordlinia have gray bark. In my garden gordlinia is too small to display the characteristic bark of a mature tree, but the larger Franklinia has rectangular fissures. I don’t suppose that I have any particular talent for determining the identity of trees from descriptions or photographs, but by working from obvious characteristics such as deciduous or evergreen, and period of flowering, an identification is often possible.

      1. Melinda says:

        Hi Dave, I’m still trying to ID many of the trees in this wonderful garden that I got a year ago. It seems that the introduced trees were put in around 1979, and with the passing years are crowding each other. A lovely Kousa Dogwood is crowding an equally lovely Japanese maple. The Cherry trees have huge crops this year, but the trees are so tall that I can’t get the tons of Cherries ripening. I feel that I need to cut and slash my way around but can’t bring myself to do any thinning – too much good things in too small of a space. What do you do when this happens?

      2. Dave says:

        I don’t think there’s any easy answer. When I have something that’s become overgrown I must decide whether the plants can coexist and continue to thrive, or if both will be damaged if one is not removed. In some instances pruning can remedy the problem, at least temporarily, but often a tree will respond to pruning with more vigorous growth, so it does no good. If there are two trees or shrubs that are growing into each other and one must go, I have to decide which is the most favored, or the one that will thrive long term. In these few cases I cut the tree or shrub at the root. Fortunately, mos plants will tolerate substantial abuse, so I rarely have to remove any.

  17. Yvonne says:

    Dave: do you do garden consultations? I love your entire garden and follow the blog.

    1. Dave says:

      There is nothing I enjoy more than talking about gardens, but I have full time responsibilities supervising a few hundred landscape designers, staff, and crew personnel. Fortunately, there are a few times each year when I can talk gardening and not only the nuts and bolts of figuring the daily operations of a landscape company. If you’re in the DC area I’ll be working three days at Meadows Farms’ display garden at the Capital Remodel and Garden Show beginning February 27. Here, I can talk gardening until I lose my voice. If you’re local, please stop by and we can talk for as long as you’re willing to listen.

  18. Yvonne says:

    Thank you, Dave. Will definitely try and stop by. Just came back from four days in Seattle at the NW Pacific Flower and Garden Show. Was fantastic.

  19. Hello Dave. I’m a willow grower from Vermont and have about 250 different species, hybrids and cultivars. I found your blog through a customer wanting Salix caprea which I had never heard of. He said you got it from Dan at the old Heronswood nursery. You you still have this plant? If so I’d love to trade cuttings with you. I’ll trade you any five cuttings each of four of my varieties for five of SCV! Love your blog, by the way. Michael

    1. Dave says:

      At this point I planted the pussywillow so long ago I don’t have any idea where I got it. You are welcome to have the cuttings. I don’t need anything in exchange. Please let me know when the best time is to make the cuttings, how they should be protected for mailing, and the length of the cutting. If you’ll let me know this information and your address, I’ll take care of it. Instead of going through the blog, my email address is [email protected].

  20. That’s Salix caprea Variegata!

  21. Cheryl says:

    Have just discovered your wonderful entertaining and informative blog through Meadows Farms. As a local, can I add to the people asking if you’d open your garden occasionally? We have a garden club which hosts open houses at various gardens each spring and they are always popular. I think people would love to see what you’ve done and you don’t need to clean up! One of the things I particularly love about your blog is that you write about the birds, bees and animals visiting the garden and that you don’t spray. I stopped using any pesticides after I noticed my neighbors yard was getting so many more birds than mine. And now I enjoy all sorts of lovely birds, butterflies and animals too (though, thankfully, not snakes!). Looking forward to reading more. Thank you.

    1. Dave says:

      Thank you for writing. I have hosted a few garden clubs, and would be happy to do so again. Of course, the garden’s peak is in May, and you are welcome to visit then. I would be horrified for anyone to see the garden today, after eight weeks with little rain and no irrigation.

  22. freedam says:

    I love this blog and photos! But what do you do about the leaves in the fall! Your pond looks pretty big. I’d love to know what you use for skimmers!

  23. Jing Zhang says:

    your garden is so beautiful. how do you take care of it without exhausting yourself? i am already overwhelmed by my small yard.

    1. Dave says:

      By planting trees and shrubs, and then covering much of the ground between with low growing perennials and evergreen ground covers I eliminate much regular maintenance. In most areas there is never a need to add mulch again, so my annual budget goes towards adding more plants. Still, there’s enough to keep me busy.

  24. donpeters43 says:

    Dave, did you mistakenly turn off comments in your weekly blog???

    1. Dave says:

      Apparently, an update that caused this, but I think I’ve fixed it. Thanks for the alert.

  25. Andreas Menz says:

    Dear Sir, i ‘ve read about your variegated willow, standing relatively “disregarded” in the far background of your garden, but i find it quite amazing. And unique, too. Is there a way to contact you (different from this here?) to ask for some propagation material?
    Kind regards,
    Andreas Menz

    1. Dave says:

      I regret that this willow faded over several years and finally died.

      1. Andreas Menz says:

        Thank you for your answer. Sorry to hear!

  26. James Hughes says:

    How would you describe the environment that your Goodyera pubescens is growing in? I have 3 that have survived for several years but are not multiplying. I garden inside the beltway in MD.

    1. Dave says:

      Unfortunately, they are in drier shade than I’d prefer, though I’ve seen their native habitat is near shallow rooted trees. These have been in the ground for a few years without spreading, and these are the first flowers, so perhaps they’ll seed.

  27. Thi NG says:

    I am interested in the edgeworthia chrysantha flant. But I can’t see it on your web. How can I buy it?
    Thank you!

    1. Dave says:

      Meadows Farms garden centers do not have edgeworthia in stock at this time, but possibly later in the spring. If you shop at a particular garden center you could request for them to order one for you. That could speed them along.

  28. Emily Goodrich says:

    Was researching hard freezes bc we had one a Christmas that was a drastic shift in temperature. Happened to notice the url. Grew up near and with the Meadows family. I know you’re work. Bravo. Nice to get advice from a trusted hometown source

    1. Dave says:

      Great to hear from you. I hope your garden made it through without damage. Often, we can’t tell until new growth begins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s