Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bulbs Around Town

Here is a link to an old press release about the National Park Service's bulb plantings all around town - http://www.nps.gov/ncro/PublicAffairs/Tulips.htm.

I've asked for an update on this as well as guide/layout of what bulb varieties were planted where in DC, but no one can seem to track one down at the NPS office. Pretty frustrating as I'd hope to include a comprehensive map in our March/April issue. They were able to track down the planting map from last year, but not the current one. In any case, I'll let you know when/if I do and at the very least this link will give you an idea of the size and scope of the bulb plantings they do around town.

This is one of the many times I have to shake me head in disappointment as printing this map would be a win-win-win-win for the magazine, our readers, the bulb sellers, and the park service. They are nice folks and seem a bit undertstaffed and probably under-budget. Comparing their press office to those of the corporations I deal with for story research -- they are not even in the same league -- as for-profit press agents live and breathe to get this kind of coverage. For a writer to actually call and initiate the request for info, with them not having to push it in emails and phone calls is a fantastic bonus for them. Oh well, got the bulb library request for next year in my tickler file of 2007 story ideas.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

V is for Very Good Gardener

Saw 'V is for Vendetta' this weekend and was blown away by this film. I got to about 2-3 movies in the theater per week so I'm a pretty jaded and tough critic at this point. Finally, a film that does not insult the intelligence of its audience! Multi-layered and complex it is worthy of several viewings and much discussion. Every set detail, every line, every plot twist is superbly crafted. My reason for siting it on this blog is that there is a sub-plot about the "Scarlet Carson" rose. (This variety does not exist. In the graphic novel, it was a 'Violet Carson,' which does. I assume the change was made so that a deep-colored variety could be used. Although it unfortunately dropped the "V" alliteration.) After sitting through umpteen number of movies and TV shows that portray improbably gardens -- ex. Gilmore Girls, which I adore, has a Connecticut Inn with year-round gardens full of May blooming flowers (Wisteria, tulips, etc.) -- or who stick obviously fake flowers with visible wire stems and plastic foliage everywhere (ex. Wedding Crashers), its nice to see a movie get it right.

You may not like 'V' or his politics, but you have to give props to anyone who lives underground and can grow roses like that! (The heat lamps and large planting urns are all shown discretely in the background.)

There are literally hundreds of folks on www.imdb.com and other blogs plus movie discussion boards talking about this rose. These are not gardeners, most are teen movie viewers who are craving to know more about it. If someone isn't breeding a "Scarlet Carson" and marketing the hell out of it - they are missing an incredible opportunity!

There is also a scene in the movie inside a private orchid greenhouse - very nicely done - as well as veiled references to the source of Nitrogen in the explosives V uses. (*Spoiler alert*: If you see it and wonder how V blew up the Larkhill prison from inside his cell, in the graphic novel it is revealed that V procures lots of fertilizers and other chemicals to grow his pampered roses in the prison yard.)

Seen any other great or blatantly wrong movie portrayals of gardens/gardening?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

DC Area Garden Blogs

Recently, I was contacted by volunteer gardeners in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood who have put together a beautiful photo blog of their plantings: Biltmoretriangle.blogspot.com. What a lovely site and I can't wait to follow their progress.

Do you have a DC area garden blog? Please drop me a line, we'd love to feature and link to you. My goal is to have everyone possible linked here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Welcome Spring!

Although tomorrow it may snow, today is sunny and clear. I'm so looking forward to being in sandals and sundresses again. In my garden the forsythia bushes are blooming like neon billboards. My flowering plum is delicate and demure. My scilla and vinca offer points of light blue accents in shady areas. The crocus borders and patches along with the snowdrops are pretty much petered out. Around my front and back entrances I have a feast of heather, primroses, daffodils, and winter jasmine. I even have some very early violets popping up (see photo). Can't wait to get out when it warms up (and any potential snow melts!) and do my final early spring clean-up of all the flower beds.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blog Down

Another annoyance to add to my day. Just found out this morning that my blog page has been "down for maintenance" since Wednesday. Only way I found out is by accidentally clicking on my own blog link when I was accessing one of my friend's blogs. Just wish I'd gotten an email or some other notice of this. Oh well, guess can't be too picky about "free."

What other annoyances you might ask? (As if you would, LOL! I know we all have many these days.) Well, the USPS has entered back on my list of struggles . Since the March/April issue was mailed I'm getting back about one copy a day sent to a subscriber but misdelivered back to me - arghh!!! So I stick a post-it on it and put it right back into the system. Crossing my fingers these folks get their issues in a reasonable time-frame.

Annoyance #3 this morn (and last I'll list for today) is the telemarketer calls I get. Okay, working at home is great, but when you are at an office you just never know the amount of daily "junk calls" your answering machine gets but no messages are left. I'm on the do-not-call registry, that of course does not prevent Dell, Visa, or other companies I have a "relationship" with to call on me nor all the charity calls. I'm pretty polite to them - though increasingly am losing my patience as the calls seem to invariable come in clumps and right when legit business calls are coming in.

Maybe it is just the gray, lingering winter weather. Thanks for letting me vent. Tomorrow I promise more positivity and a smile or two.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Issue Out & Gift Cards

Realized I never posted about the new issue. Here is a cover image. The articles I especially am proud of are the pieces by Gene Sumi on Pruning technique, the cover story by yours truly, and the azalea profile by Kate Tyndall. It is now available in area Borders, Barnes & Noble, and B. Dalton book stores and a few independents. Of course can also buy the single issue direct from us and at the area garden events* we'll be at this month and next. If you subscribe now, we start you with this issue and don't forget we do gift subscriptions!

Speaking of our gift subscriptions, I had been doing custom gift cards by buying sets of nice looking garden-themed blank cards at gift stores and then generating the text in Word and pasting it into the cards.

After seeing the vintage seed packet cards offered by our friends at D. Landreth Seeds in Baltimore, MD (http://www.landrethseeds.com/), I talked to them about doing a bulk card purchase and we discussed which design we thought would work best for all occasions. We settled on their Sunflower card and will be getting our order in next week. I'm excited as these cards are gorgeous pieces of frame-able art themselves. The cards are unique and not available elsewhere. In addition, they are from a local company and reflect our regional ties, which makes it even nicer for the gift-ees in my opinion.

*Area events we'll be at in the next 6 weeks include:
Hillwood Gardeners Day (http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/programs.html), Leesburg Flower & Garden Fest (http://www.idalee.org/parks/events/flowergarden/) and the Baltimore FlowerMart (http://flowermart.org/)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Time for a New Post

A week since my last blog post! Ack! Well, two of those days were spent at the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year was good for the networking and story ideas - but other than that not much new or ground-breaking to report.

The rest of my week has been spent running around for various errands and events - with little home time to clear out my back emails or post to this blog.

Spent today with Judy Tiger of Grow (www.growdc.org) looking at various sites around DC that are applying for grants to do gardens. One of them, a youth detention center in NE, had a stunning inner courtyard. A long, narrow enclosed space that could have been very pedestrian was done with a kind of figure 8 series of curves and beds. Pretty much all shrub plantings - tough, low-maintenance and long-lasting. They are so lucky to have this and the landscape architect did a fantastic job. The science teacher there has applied to fill the planting beds in one end of the courtyard with edibles and herbs as a teaching tool and for student involvement. I'm not sure if this is the best use of this stunning space - corn, peppers, basil, etc. but I appreciate their lack of alternatives and need to use what they have. We also had a conversation with the director about what tools the teens could use to garden with. What an interesting problem: how to garden with nothing pointed, sharp, metal, or heavy. Gloved hands make great digging tools and I suppose will have to do - looks like plastic spoons may be one of their only other options. Makes it almost primitive and certainly more in touch with the basic growing principles. However, I know few gardeners who would be willing to give up their favorite tools! For myself, it is a good pair of hand-pruners and my trusty little trowel that never leave my hands as I work my way around my garden. Since we've been blessed with unbelievable gorgeous weather this weekend that is where you'll find me...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Back on the Radio

Today I went to WMET1160am offices near Dupont Circle in downtown DC to pre-tape the "Garden Gurus" radio show. It will air tomorrow (Saturday, March 4) from 8-9 am and can be heard also via the Internet at www.wmet1160.com. If you miss it, they tape it and post it to their online archive a few days later at the same web address.

Today was fun - with two new hosts - the show was much more relaxed and conversational feel. I think we also got to squeeze in a great deal of info for the beginning gardener on containers, seed starting, forcing branches, and early spring garden chores. Crammed a lot into one hour!

I'm off to Philadelphia this Sunday-Monday for the Garden Writers Association meeting in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flower Show. I so enjoyed the GWA event last year as a newbie and can't wait to go back a year later and chat to some new and old friends.