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March 2014

Lies I Told My Little Sister - World Premiere!

Lies I Told My Litte Sister: Lucy Walters (front) plus Graham Rice and Ellen Foley. ©Lies I Told My Little Sister (all rights reserved)
A few days ago we returned from Tampa, FL following the World Premiere of the movie Lies I Told My Little Sister – written by my wife judy! – at the Gasparilla Film Festival. And what a treat it all was.

The 200 seat theatre sold out. The film was awarded “Best Of The Fest” and a second screening scheduled for the following day. There were lively Q&As featuring judy, director William J. Stribling, producer Jonathan Weisbrod, cinematographer Alex Gallitano and actress Michelle Petterson. There were the red carpet interviews with the press and with Fox News (see below, click to enlarge) and there were, of course, parties.

It was such a thrill to see the film on the big screen for the first time – and it looked wonderful.

The film is a comedy drama set during a family vacation on Cape Cod. As judy describes it: “A family trip, packing all the childhood baggage... After the death of her oldest sister, a globe-trotting nature photographer(Lucy Walters) is guilted onto a family vacation to Cape Cod - along with the younger sister she used to torment (Michelle Petterson). Amid recriminations, revelations, a very strange shopkeeper and an old romance, they square off against the patterns of childhood.

It also stars Donovan Patton (Blues Clues), Alicia Minshew (All My Children) and Ellen Foley (Night Court, Bat Out Of Hell).

In the picture (above, click to enlarge) star Lucy Walters leaves a scene on the beach where I (yes, me!, in one of my two scenes in the film - gulp) chat up Ellen Foley (she of the Bat Out Of Hell album) who plays one of the leading roles.

Next up is the Through Women’s Eyes festival in Florida (5 April)
Order tickets here (selling out fast)

And then the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida (8 April)
Order tickets here (selling out fast)

Follow the movie on Twitter or follow me on Twitter for news of upcoming screenings.
Follow Lies I Told My Little Sister on Twitter
Follow Graham Rice on Twitter

You can find out more about Lies I Told My Little Sister on the film's Facebook page (please “like” the page)
Lies I Told My Little Sister on Facebook

The movie’s website is here:
Lies I Told My Little Sister

Here's a guest blog post by judy for a big indie movie blog
Indiewire guest blog

And here's a newspaper feature about the Through Women's Eyes festival that features judy.
Herald Tribune feature

Finally, here's a snap of them being interviewed on the red carpet by Fox TV.
(l-r): interviewer, judy, Michelle Petterson (leading actress), William J. Stribling (director), Jonathan Weisbrod (producer).

Lies I Told My Litte Sister on the Red Carpet at the Gasparilla Film Festival. © All Rights Reserved

New! Graham Rice @ Organic Gardening

Graham Rice @ Organic Gardening - new series starts today
Great news today! I’m delighted to announce that today sees the start of another new venture for me, my own pages on the Organic Gardening magazine websiteGraham Rice @ Organic Gardening. Every week I’ll be writing about perennials or annuals, trees or shrubs or vines or ground covers, and even the occasional ornamental edible.

Native plants will, of course, feature and my special themes will include choosing attractive and dependable plants for different situations around the yard and around country; I’ll be highlighting gorgeous plant combinations; I’ll also be recommending plants that give far more than just a few weeks of color; and, in the great tradition of Organic Gardening magazine, I’ll be discussing plants that are inherently resistant to pests and diseases – ideal for no-spray gardeners like us.

The print edition of Organic Gardening magazine was founded way back in 1942 and circulates mainly in North America, selling about 300,000 copies an issue. The website is popular in America and around the world with the number of pageviews fast approaching four million in February this year, with the number of unique visitors up almost 70% at over a million. Just shows how this long-established old favorite has adapted to the digital world bringing more great - organic - information to gardeners everywhere.

Graham Rice @ Organic Gardening all launches today with pieces on spring plant combos, the hardiest of all perennials, blue-flowered bulbs, plants for a summer prairie and much more. There’ll be a new piece, with plenty of great pictures, to check out every Thursday at Graham Rice @ Organic Gardening. Please take a look.

Free online magazine for rock gardeners

The cover of the January 2013 International Rock Gardener features Galanthus 'Grake's Gold'For most readers of Transatlantic Gardener, spring is here or it’s on the way – and, in spring, a gardener’s attention turns to… rock plants. And for the serious alpine plant nut, there’s nowhere more interesting to go than the International Rock Gardener magazine.

This free – yes, free (but donations welcome) – monthly online-only magazine is published jointly by the Scottish Rock Garden Club and the Czech Prague Rock Garden Club and features authoritative yet very readable articles about rock plants and alpines of all kinds.

I was especially struck by the issue from January this year which is entirely given over to a review of Eranthis – the best known of which is the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, an invaluable early bulb. What a revelation to see so many lovely forms! You may be surprised to see that some are white (below, click to enlarge).

Recent issues have featured the orchids of Crete, rock garden White-flowered Eranthis pinnatifida featured in the January 2014 issue of The International Rock Gardenerconstruction, plant hunting in China and in Turkey and in other intriguing locations, botanical issues are explored, and bulbs are frequently featured. And everything is presented in way that suits readers all over the world.

It’s also very important to say that the photography is outstanding – and there’s plenty of it.

It’s only realistic to say that International Rock Gardener is not for real newcomers to rock gardening; it assumes a little knowledge of the subject and some of the plants discussed are not easy to obtain - although those tempting pictures will excite even the most basic novice. But this is a valuable window on the serious world of alpines and features many fine plants that most gardeners don’t even know exist.

And all you have to do is go to the International Rock Gardener page where you can download pdfs of every monthly issue going back to January 2010. And why not make a donation while you’re there?

* The snowdrop on the cover, by the way, is ‘Grake’s Gold’, the aconite is Eranthis pinnatifida.

Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum 'Maurice Dryden'. Image ©GardenPhotos.comTime for a look at another Powerhouse Plant, these are Plants For All Seasons - individual varieties which bring colour and interest to the garden for at least two seasons of the year. I feature over five hundred of them in my latest book, Powerhouse Plants, and every month in Gardeners' World, Britain’s top-selling garden magazine (and also available in the US) I focus on one very special Plant For All Seasons, highlighting three features of a single variety that bring color to the garden at different times of the year. This month, in the magazine, I feature Spiraea ‘Goldflame’ and next month it’s the lovely but long-winded Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’.

And every month or two, here on my Transatlantic Gardener blog, I bring you details of another Powerhouse Plant this month it’s Cyclamen coum (left, click to enlarge).

This unexpectedly tough little plant from Turkey and the Caucasus (hardy to z5, -29C) has two special features. First there are the small, neat, rounded, rather leathery leaves. These can be beautifully silvered, with or without a green edge, but in some cases are a rather dull uniform green – of course, choose the former. They emerge in the autumn and are followed in winter and spring (depending on the climate) by flowers made up of five reflexed petals held above the leaves on individual stems; in some cases, the flowers are attractively scented.

The flowers come in a range of colors from pure white through various pink shades to magenta and including some lovely bicolors like this one (above, click to enlarge) which is ‘Maurice Dryden’ whose pinkish red stems are another highlight.

So, with its long season of silvered foliage partially overlapping with its small colorful flowers, this is an easy and reliable little plant for a shady or partially shaded site and preferably in rich but well-drained soil. In fact this one of the easiest of all garden cyclamen and usually self sows once established. It’s lovely under hellebores with wild crocus such as C. tommasinianus.

There many varieties of Cyclamen coum, and they all set out in Chris Grey-Wilson’s excellent book Cyclamen: A Guide for Gardeners, Horticulturalists and Botanists (available in the UK and also in the US). Varieties to look out for include ‘Maurice Dryden’ (above) and ‘Silver Leaf’ although some nurseries sell them under descriptive names such as “Silver/Pewter Leaves, White Flowers”.

In North America you can order Cyclamen coum from Edgewood Gardens and in Britain you can order Cyclamen coum from Potterton’s Nursery.

North American readers can find out more about Powerhouse Plants here.

British readers can find out more about Powerhouse Plants here.

Conifer Society website review

American Conifer Society website home page
Plant society websites are sometimes - well, how shall we put it? – not very tempting, especially those of smaller societies. So, when I heard that the American Conifer Society had totally revamped its site, I gave it a little time to get the bugs out and I then took a look. And what a pleasant surprise.

The home page is appealing, colorful and contemporary, clean and uncluttered, with a navigation bar across the top and panels listing Events (Society events), What’s New (revealing how active the Society and its members are on the site, with regular additions, blog posts and discussions), and Videos (interesting, but could do with a technical upgrade).

The nuts and bolts of the Society’s organization and its activities are presented with the same attractive look, easy-to-read text and with clear and helpful secondary navigation. So often this part of a society’s site looks dull and far from enticing but the simple and elegant design works well.

The Discussion button brings us to a wide range of topics from the all-too-familiar deer problem, to plant identification, propagation and pests and to current queries such as whether it’s wise to knock accumulated snow off conifer branches. Sensible questions with thoughtful answers. All the discussions are available for anyone to read, but only Society members can ask questions or post replies. There are blogs too; posts are not frequent but they’re well written and genuinely interesting.

There’s a button for Regions, with material from the four regional chapters, and then the tantalizing button American Conifer Society website Conifer Database entrythat says simply: Conifers – where it all unfolds. Here you’ll find lucid background on size, shapes, uses and naming of conifers – plus the Conifer Database. This is a searchable database of information about conifers, and pictures, provided by the Society and augmented by its members – especially in terms of pictures.

You can search by conifer size, habit etc. or you can pick out a particular genus, species or cultivar to find out about. This is building into an invaluable resource - especially with the benefit of images uploaded by Conifer Society members which can give a far more comprehensive understanding of how a plant looks at different ages and different seasons than any book. But at present it’s a work in progress. The hardiness zone maps need to be clearer and many individual cultivars still have neither words nor text. So if you grow conifers, join the American Conifer Society and add to this expanding resource.

Like most plant society websites, the American Conifer Society site is built and supported by the society’s volunteer members. But, unlike some, this society has built a site that is appealing to potential members in its look and its content and also provides a valuable platform for its members to advance their enthusiasm for conifers, and exchange ideas and solutions to problems. And so much information is also available to the rest of us that it helps us all grow better conifers and tempts us to join.

You can join the Conifer Society here.