Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Video Wednesday: Garden Writers Get Happy!

I'm just back for the annual Garden Writers Symposium -- held this year in Pittsbugh, PA
I am exhausted from the 18+ hour ideas, but also inspired and most of all HAPPY to have such a wonderful week with my garden communication colleagues.
Take a look at this flashmob video we filmed there at Schenley Plaza.

Don't forget to PLANT SOMETHING!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Discuss the Signature of All Things with our Garden Book Club

For our final 2014 selection of the Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club, we will be reading:   
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

We will meet at the La Madeleine at 8435 Georgia Avenue  in downtown Silver Spring, MD, on Thursday, October 16 from 6:30-8:00pm. (Please plan to purchase some food and drinks while there, since we will not be paying them for this meeting space.)
The book club meetings are FREE and open to anyone who would like to attend.
Please RSVP to "WG Book Club" at I will be limiting attendance to 20. If you need to cancel, let me know ASAP so we can give your spot to someone else, should we have a wait-list. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This Petunia is No Pig

Guest Blog post by Rachel Shaw

Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) is a charming and tough native blooming now in my yard. The delicate pale purple flowers last only about a day, but are constantly replenished. Wild Petunia, like many common names, is a bit misleading; they are no relative of cultivated petunias, though the flowers do have some similarity in appearance.

Like half the plants in my front yard, my Ruellia were dug up on short notice this spring to be transplanted back following replacement of a broken sewer line. The Ruellia took this disruption in stride. They weren’t fussy about the poor quality clay soil brought up by the dig, and didn’t seem to need much in the way of supplemental water following transplant.

Previously they had coexisted happily in amongst the Closed Gentian, and with a somewhat more upright appearance in the moister, richer soil. Now in the more sparsely planted and drier yard, they have stretched themselves out, with a look that is more that of a ground cover. Note to the horticulture trade: promote Wild Petunia instead of Periwinkle!

What native plants are blooming in your yard or nearby?

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at

Check back here on the 10th of each month for the next installment in this guest blog series on Mid-Atlantic native plants.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Video Wednesday: Franciscan Monastery Gardens

Here is a terrific video of one of my favorite gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Franciscan Monastery in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. I visit it several times a year as each season brings more to see and explore there. I recently took my garden club along for a formal tour of the grounds and they raved about the bulb displays. The garden grounds are open to the public every day of the year. Best of all, it is FREE and accessible by public transit!

Find out about how you can schedule your own garden tour at

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Register for a Fun Flower Arranging Workshop

Join me on Sunday afternoon, 8/24, and get your flower arrangement on at On The Purple Couch in Kensington, MD. The class will go over Flower Arranging basics and then jump into playing with flowers. In class, we will discuss the basics such as container selection, how to get flowers to last longer, design techniques, stretching your flower budget, and much more.

Each attendee will leave with at least one arrangement of her own to take back to their home/apartment. You will learn how to make a country casual, hand-tied arrangement that you can take home and proudly display or give as a gift. Aside from learning the Hand-Tied method, we will cover: Sourcing Cut Flowers. Prepping Flowers, Flower Arranging Tools, Making Arrangements  Last Longer, and the Basic Rules of Arranging (and the ones you can ignore). No prior florist skills or experience required! 

And YES, men and children over age 10 are most welcome to register too!

Register at:

Monday, August 04, 2014

Naked Ladies: You Can Grow That!

Naked Ladies in my garden:  How scandalous!

Lycoris squamigera aka Naked Lady, Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, Resurrection Lily. Truth is, they are not lilies at all and are in the Amaryllis family.

They are gorgeous and are a great cut flower as well, lasting well over a week in a vase. AND they smell lovely to boot! THIS is why I don't leave Washington, DC in the summer swelter, would hate to miss these gorgeous blooms.

Lycoris grow from a large bulb and can take a year or two to recover and bloom after you plant them. They are an old-fashioned favorite and you will often see them coming up around old, abandoned home sites. If you are not lucky enough to inherit some pass-along bulbs, you can order them from heirloom bulb companies.
They are hardy to zones 5-9 and prefer a sunny to part-sun location. Naturalizes by bulb-offsets. Provide medium moisture in well-drained soils. Cover with mulch in winter.

In the spring, you will see the foliage come up and then quickly die back and disappear. In mid-summer, after a good soaking rain, the tall stalks will suddenly shoot up and the flowers will appear without any foliage, hence their colorful nicknames. These are the ultimate "set-it and forget-it" plant.

Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That! Day on the 4th of each month was started by C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening because she believes “Gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do.…We need to thoroughly saturate people with the belief that plants and gardening are worth doing because of the benefits gained.” Garden bloggers who agree post about something worth growing on the fourth day of every month. Read this month’s You Can Grow That! posts.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Fenton Friday: Basil Bonanza

It is Pesto time! Faced with a garden club summer potluck gathering tomorrow, I have to whip up a main dish. (Annoyingly, appetizers and desserts are not allowed and those are really the only categories of food in my repertoire!) So I looked to my community garden plot for inspiration and found that it is the perfect time to pinch-back and harvest handfuls of fragrant basil to make pasta with pesto sauce.

I'm a bit of a pesto snob, it has to be fresh, made with toasted pine nuts, and a loads of Romano cheese. Truth be told, the green component is really just a vehicle for delivering those delicious bites of nuts and melted cheese into my mouth.

What is your favorite pesto recipe?