Steve Bender
Steve Bender grew up in Lutherville, MD and was exiled to Alabama in 1983 for reasons that remain secret to this day. He loves fried okra and often selects dinner wine based on whether it goes well with fried okra. His mission is to make gardening uplifting, accessible, and inspirational to all. He will no doubt succeed. Follow him on Twitter: @grumpy-gardener. Also on Facebook: facebook.com/SLGrumpyGardener.

Recent Posts By Steve Bender

How Southern Living Saved My Christmas

Grumpy faced a conundrum. How to pick just the perfect Christmas tree to make this the very best Christmas of all time? Should it be a Fraser fir, blue spruce, Douglas fir, white pine, or a privet bush? And how should it be lit and decorated? LEDs? Magnolia leaves? Ribbons and bows? Candy canes? Grumpy couldn’t decide. Fortunately, the decorating […]

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Five Truly Awful Garden Gifts

There are less than five shopping days until Christmas. You’re really stuck for gift ideas for that special gardener in your life. Lucky you! You came to the one site that will honestly say that sometimes no gift is better than a really stupid one. Avoid these five gifts at all costs.

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December Is The New Spring

I know I shouldn’t complain. It’s the middle of December. It should be windy, raining, cold, and altogether miserable. This is how we spend the holidays in central Alabama. Instead, we’re dining al fresco and walking barefoot. And as you can see from the photo of my rhododendron above, plants are partying like it’s spring break at South Beach.

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Stop Torturing Me With Maples, Sharon Bailey Nelson!

Everyone who knows how much Grumpy loves fall color knows how miserably depressed he is right now. Fall color here in Central Alabama was awful. Call it “Fifty Shades of Mud.” Yet one person in Tyler, Texas shows him no mercy. Every 15 minutes, she posts a picture on Facebook of yet another glorious Japanese maple in her yard, like […]

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Never Leave Your Wife With The Leaf Blower

Dear readers, you know that for years Grumpy has railed against the senseless and short-sighted act of raking or blowing fall leaves to the curb to be hauled off by the city to landfills. He has championed the environmentally friendly alternative of chopping them up with the lawn mower and turning them into compost to enrich your garden’s soil. Yet […]

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How To Kill Your Amaryllis

I think you’ll agree with me that growing beautiful plants gets old after a while. Wouldn’t it be great if someone came up with an easy way to kill them? They have! Now you can buy amaryllis bulbs coated with wax in a rainbow of festive colors! I mean, what says Christmas better than a bright yellow amaryllis bulb destined […]

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Why You Can’t Kill That Mess In Your Mulch

Like any person with proper breeding, you keep your garden neat. Every year you dress up your garden beds with a fresh layer of mulch. This year, you used bark muck. Then it rained. A revolting sight greeted you the next morning. “Oh, gross! What the #$@* is that stuff?”

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Try Some Trilliums

Among all the woodland wildflowers of eastern North America, trilliums rank high among people’s favorites. Named for their three-petaled spring flowers sitting atop whorls of three leaves, they’re found all the way from northeastern Canada to central Alabama and Georgia (USDA Zone 8). White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) is both the showiest and easiest one to grow. That’s why I just […]

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Bugs — If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

As you’re preparing this Thanksgiving’s menu, don’t overlook unique side dishes that will make your feast the most memorable of all. Forget the cliche mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, congealed salad, and other boring sides you’ve suffered through decade after decade. This year, let’s feature a renewable food source that’s inexpensive, highly nutritious, and will have your […]

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Mow, Don’t Rake, Those Leaves!

“The debate is raging at my house,” writes a faithful reader, “what to do with all those leaves? The teenager favors a) leaving them or b) blowing them into the shrub beds. Hubby says we have to rake and bag. I took out my New Southern Living Garden Book but couldn’t find any advice other than to compost, which hubby […]

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