Friday, June 29, 2007

Public Gardens to Cure Plant Blindness!

Here is an online link to this week's Top 5 Home & Garden Events listing on page 33 of yesterday's (June 28) print edition.

Our latest article in the Washington Examiner is out today. It is on the public gardens exhibit at the USBG. Having spent the last two days at the APGA meeting and this past Monday touring this outdoor exhibit put on by 12 public gardens from across the country, the timing was ripe and I was glad to be able to snag a few extra copies to share with some fellow APGA attendees today. Read the article online here (June 29 edition - page 61), or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today - the article is on R13 (Real Estate section - page 13).

At one of today's APGA conference talks there was a brief mention of Plant Blindness, which I'd heard tale of before and wish they'd go into more deeply. What is it? The affliction of many in the general public that makes them see right past anything green. Like many diseases, it is genetic. Hard-wired into us humans. We see color. We see movement. We filter out the background (i.e. plants). Just a matter of survival you know.

What I found really interesting this time was the speaker talked briefly about a real cultural bias against flora over fauna. That animal life is given far more weight than plant life. We are animal so of course that is how we view it and our innate prejudice is formed. That made me sit up and my ears prick forward. I had been feeling this undercurrent for years, but never heard it expressed so well. When I talk to naturalists and environmentalists, there is most definitely an animals-first, built-in institutional morality that I find slightly repugnant and off-putting. Hey, I love animals too - some of my best friends are of the mammal persuasion! But are we really honoring Mother Earth when we outright give preference to one category over the other? I think I may need to start a PETA equivalent for our green friends!

Saturday 6/30 from 10am-4pm is the first ever Going Green Fest at the new downtown Rockville, MD library -- easily accessible by metro and bus. I'll be there with a table along with 30+ other green vendors. Come by for lots of info on being green, freebies, and fun stuff. The event itself is free. Here is a link to more info. Please help spread the word as this is low/no budget affair and we hope for a good turnout so it can be an annual event.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Links and Such

Bridget Murray Law (pictured here), who I've met at past DC Web Women events, has launched a summer gardening blog on lime.com.

It's about her three-month-long experiment trying to grow veggies for her family in a tiny "former garbage heap of a backyard" on Capitol Hill.

Following up on an earlier post: Chip Py of GlobalWorming Worm Tea has asked me to spread the word about a peaceful protest he is organizing on Independence Day to assert our Constitutional rights. He was in a public street taking photographs and was hassled by a private corporation's employees. You may have seen this story in the local news lately and been outraged -- here is how to act. Please join it by bringing your camera to Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring, MD, at 12:00 noon on July 4. The full details are at: http://www.freeourstreets.org/what/

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Showing Off DC's Gardens

The GWA-DC Regional Meeting yesterday was a hit! Sold-out (actually oversold!) - which made for a full-to-the-brim bus load and meeting rooms. Hey, I'm not going to complain about success! Even the weather cooperated - keeping us overcast and hazy for nice photo ops until the full blazing sun burnt through by the afternoon.

The USBG and ASLA were terrific hosts. Pictured here is Holly Shimizu addressing our group in the National Garden. (NMAI in the background). Ed Snodgrass spoke on green roofs and had the room enthralled with this "hot" garden topic. No chance I can install one on my steeply angled Cape Cod house, though my more gently angled gazebo roof may be a likely candidate -- though being under the full shade of tall oaks may prevent that project.

One of the highlights and surprises of the day to me was at the tiny Folger Shakespeare Library knot garden. Our speaker, Frances M. Owens, was allotted a mere 30 minutes, but I could've listened to her all day long. What a difference enthusiasm and a love for learning make. It was the end of a long day and it could've been a really boring, dry subject. She made herbal uses of the 1500s fascinating. I'm definitely going back to interview her and pick her brains at a later date. She is an English instructor at the United States Senate Page School. Would've loved to have her as a teacher!

We had a last-minute schedule addition - a stop at the rain garden on H&9th Streets NW (I'm still digging to find the details behind who planned, paid for, and installed it). I think it was well worth it - if you are into taking urban concrete back and greening up the core city.

Since there is no official evaluation form for this event, I'd like to ask anyone reading this who attended yesterday's event to please post their feedback here in the comments field.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rain Out

The Summer Solstice Open Garden last Thursday went really well - a good number of visitors and had some great conversations. Then the dark clouds moved in and an unpredicted rainstorm began. So that cut attendance dramatically, though a few folks stayed or arrived later. Here is one of the two pictures I took at the event. Both taken of the inside of my gazebo where it was nice and dry. This is of my dad and a young visitor who was more interested in empty juice bottles than garden flowers. I'm lucky I even got a chance to take those photos. Because of the weather bringing it to a premature ending, I'll definitely look at some date this fall to maybe hold a similar, but shorter event.

This weekend was one event after another from my nieces' first dance recital to helping out at the local yoga studio to a brunch with the new DC Urban Gardeners groups. On my nieces' stage debut, you haven't lived until you've seen 3+ hours of toddlers shaking their tushies and gangly teens hip-hop dancing. It was about an hour too long for me -- though there were some highlights (aside from my nieces' onstage brilliance!) like a "windowbox ballet" featuring beginner ballerinas dancing artfully with window frames and posing behind them. The finale was "Thriller" -- which was actually pretty entertaining -- who knew third-graders make great zombies!

After that busy weekend I have the GWA-DC regional meeting I'm co-hosting tomorrow and the APGA meeting this Thursday-Friday. I was also supposed to do a radio interview on Wednesday - though that looks to be rescheduled judging by a message I just received. Could use the time in-office if it is!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Summer Solstice

Here is an online link to this week's Top 5 Home & Garden Events listing on page 30 of today's print edition. Pick up the Washington Examiner at any area metro station.
On the list and on my schedule is out Summer Solstice Open Garden later today - so frantically getting ready for that. Have not gotten to half the garden clean-up projects I'd hope to - but come 4:00 pm - it will be what it will be. Pictured here is Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) which is not quite as aggressive as my Wisteria vine - but that is like saying a grizzly bear attack does not hurt quite as much as a shark bite.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Smile for the Camera

Just a reminder of our Open Garden from 4-8 pm here tomorrow, Thursday, 6/21, in observance of the Summer Solstice. Details on the front page of our web site.

We have some additional goodies for this event. I won't spoil all the surprises, but will tell you that Chip of GlobalWorming WormTea has brought over 2 cases of the garden elixir for giving out to our guests (first come, first served).

Speaking of Chip, my head almost popped off when I read on a local blog about the photographer who was barred from taking pictures at a nearby outdoor shopping area. Then a day later, Chip told me he was that photographer! Go here to read the full story. When did corporations get to control a public street and dictate its terms and usage!

The truly ironic thing is their stated reason for stopping Chip to: “Protect them from people who might want to use the photographs as part of a story in which they could write bad things about us.” Well, THAT worked out just terrifically, didn't it? I think that deserves an extended belly laugh or at least a self-satisfied snicker.

BTW I've taken plenty of photographs at Downtown Silver Spring over the past few years including this one here of my niece, Savannah, taking a cool dip in the water fountain. Security guard standing just a few feet away and not a word.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Enews Out & Disappointing Turnouts

The Washington Gardener Enews June 15 issue went out on Friday and is now archived here for all to read. This issue includes a new Reader Contest for a hardy banana tree we are testing for our region. Also in it is our Open Garden invite, tips for creating a backyard wildlife habitat (for example the baby cardinal at left), a June to-do list, and much more.

In other news, we've had to cancel our trip to Longwood Gardens on Tuesday due to lack of registrations. We made the decision this morning. I'm really disappointed hat we could not get at least 20 folks to go but we are planning other trips and trying to see how we can make it work.

The Tree-iage day at Brookside Gardens yesterday was gorgeous. Wish we had more of a crowd though - despite lots of press and notice - the people just did not turn out as expected. Too bad as it was a great program and I even had fun making an herb garden planter at the Home Depot booth. I think that maybe trees are just not that sexy of a subject and many people choose to spend the glorious day working in their own gardens. I know as soon as I got home I wasted no time in getting out there to weed and plant as it was one of the few days in our whole DC weather year with mild temps (not too hot, not to cool), no rain, and low humidity.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Jentz says..."

Our latest articles in the Washington Examiner is now out. It is on being an "environmentally friendly" gardener, which to me is a no-brainer as I think most gardeners are scrupulous in their practices. I don't ANY who would intentionally do any harm to Mother Earth and are pretty mortified to find out about some of the sins committed by professional "gardeners" in the name of lush, weed-free golf courses and bug-free public parks. Read the article online here (June 15 edition - page 55), or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today - the article is on R7 (Real Estate section - page 7). BTW, if you ever want to see one of these Examiner pieces I do and can't locate it in their archives, I save a PDF of each one and can email it to directly to you. Someday when I get a spare minute (ha!) I'll post these PDFs on a new articles page I'm adding to our web site.

We talked about similar subjects for our recent radio interview on "green garden practices." Listen to our segment on today's edition of the Metro Connection show on WAMU 88.5 FM online linked here. I think it is about a 10 minute segment. Scroll down to "Chipmunks, Planting Trees and Recycling in the Garden." (In a few days this link may change and you'll probably need to search their archives section for it.) The chipmunks subject is not one I deal with, but I do hear from readers that they are annoying like jerks.

I was also interviewed this past week for an article (pictured above) about the Takoma Horticultural Club of which I'm currently President. It appears on page 18 - continued to page 27- in the June 13 edition of the Northwest Current. I assume we are in the other editions of the Current as well, maybe on different pages. The article is now posted online here: (scroll to page 18) and here (scroll to page 27). I'm referred to as "Jentz" and "Jentz says..." throughout the piece. Personally, I avoid the last name reference convention in my articles. To me it sounds so old-school journalism and is just off to my ear when I read it in other's work. Maybe it is a Gen X thing, but I don't see the practice continuing much longer in this century.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

One-Two-Tree List, Four-Five Cha-Cha-Cha


Here is an online link to this week's Top 5 Home & Garden Events listing on page 29 of today's print edition. Pick up the Washington Examiner at any area metro station. Of these 5, I'll definitely be at the Tree-iage event at Brookside with a table for the magazine. I would love to be at some of the other events listed but most take place the same exact timing as the Tree-iage event or on Father's Day, which I hope to be spending with family.

The trees pictured in today's Examiner and above were ones I took photos of last fall in the home garden of Alice Frandsen, Silver Spring Garden Club president. She is having a new outdoor lighting system installed so these are part of the "before" series. I'd say if you have a River Birch and don't up-light it, you are definitely missing a terrific opportunity to add beauty to your garden.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Start Spreading the News


After hemming and hawing for weeks, I finally booked my 2x2 network ad with the MDDC Press Network. It started running this Monday in 101 newspapers throughout the DC-MD-DE area. It should be in all versions of the local Gazette newspapers today, so I can go pick up a copy later and see it in actual print.

I made the ad itself a response coupon design. That way I can have a direct test result of the ads effectiveness. I need 70 new subscribers from it to break even on the ad cost. Obviously, I'm hoping for better. We shall see. Repetition is the key to breaking through the jumble of marketing messages and I think this ad, coupled with the our recent radio and TV appearances will start to click in with a few people -- especially the "how do I subscribe" queries I get on a regular basis.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hack and Slash

Continuing on in the Indiana Jones theme... this is exactly what I felt like over the past weekend of battling weeds and overgrown shrubs. I haven't gone the machete route yet, but don't think I wasn't coveting one I saw for sale at a small local hardware store. I mean, I'd like to have the time to examine each branch and prune with an artistic eye or a little more finesse -- frankly, that is just not realistic. Right now I'm just planting, weeding, and hacking back as fast as I can in prep for my Open Garden in 10 days. The gardens won't be Longwood-worthy, by any means. At this point, I just hope to have paths cleared and some gaps filled in before people arrive.

Today, I escaped the jungle for a few hours to tape a segment for Examiner soon as well. Back outside now to dig up some especially exasperating mulberry tree saplings that are sprouting up along my curb edges and any tiny sidewalk cracks they can find.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Slugs, why did it have to be slugs?

Our latest articles in the Washington Examiner is now out. It is on using plants as a living fence or barrier on your property. Hope a few folks are inspired to use something BESIDES Leyland Cypress. Of course, the photo they used is of just that and without my "bad idea" admonition caption. Read the article online here (June 8 edition - page 52), or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today - the article is on R4 (Real Estate section - page 4).

So, a relatively dry spring so far, but I have a big crop of slugs. Last year was a wet(ter) spring and hardly any slugs. Go figure. One thing I did discover - Tiger slugs can't swim and they float -- as two were belly up in my pond this morning. Lovely.

Now time to get out the Sluggo and sprinkle away. Luckily, they have stayed away from my hosta beds. I attribute that to my liberal sprinkling of crushed eggs shells that I distribute around the plants. I rarely bake these days, but when I do, I clean out the egg shells thoroughly than crush them up and put around my slug-vulnerable plants. The slugs now seem to be hiding out under the rocks and wild violet patch near my pond.

I will not disgust you with a photo of the slug floaters. Instead I share a nicer picture from my garden of a large Weigela shrub bloom, which I refer to in the aforementioned "Living Fences" article as a good choice for a boundary planting. Mine creates a solid barrier and reblooms in fall, which is always a nice bonus. I often cut whole branches for indoor arrangments as well.
And yes, that subject head was a paraphrase of the famous "snakes" line uttered by the fictional Indiana Jones. Did you know I used to run a Harrison Ford fan club back in the day? I'll save that story for a rainy day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Send in those Event Listings - Don't Be Shy!

Here is an online link to this week's Top 5 Home & Garden Events listing on page 27 of today's print edition. Pick up the Washington Examiner at any area metro station. Of these 5, I'll definitely be at the Kentlands tour. It is one of the area tours that is every-other-year, which I find irksome since if it is not annual than it definitely falls off my calendar and my radar. Luckily, I did track down the organizers and get the information in time for this listing and to attend.

More and more though I find being so time-stressed that in the groups are not proactive and contacting me with their details, that in the future it will only be the squeaky wheels that get the grease. In other words, if you are coordinating ant DC-area garden events - drop me a line several weeks before it takes place or you'll miss out on very valuable (free!) publicity!

I went on the Kentlands tour in 2005 and could have sworn I had taken photos on it, but for the life of me cannot find any in my computer files. So the picture above is cribbed from their web site - taken by a Helen Jurkowski. I will be taking plenty of photos this year and bringing along Peggy Chang, a photography friend as well to capture as much useable images as we can.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What's In a Name?

Had to do the Shakespearean reference in the title. After all it is DC's citywide Shakespeare Festival this year and I've already attended several different productions around town. I'm especially looking forward to seeing Jeffrey Carlson in Hamlet. Don't know who he is? Mark my words - you will soon. If you watched him as Zarf/Zoe on All My Children, I'm sure you are as big a fan as I am.

Back to the subject, I've been frustrated for some time by the fact that many, many folks can't seem to spell "gardener." Is it really that hard? I mean, it is one of the few English words that is spelled like it sounds -- "garden" then add "er." One after another I hear from people saying their email to me bounced or the web site is not working, when I dig further I find they are trying to access: http://www.washingtongardner.com/, which clearly does not exist. *Sigh* A typo I'd totally understand, but that deliberately missing "e" is going to be the death of me.

On principle as a writer and editor, I just cannot fork over the dough to pay to register that domain name misspelling and have it directed to our correct site. I mean why should people be coddled? They'll never learn if we do that. So here I am venting and I guess I'll just have to learn how to deal with it as it seems to be getting worse every passing week judging by my phone calls and in-person encounters. At least the magazine still comes out on top of the Google search even for the misspelled version of its name. For the record it is Washington Gardener Magazine at http://www.washingtongardener.com/!

BTW, the real Washington Gardner (pictured above) was some kind of Civil War hero and a Congressman from Michigan for several terms. Read more about him here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hot, Hot, Hot

I was trying to figure out for our Summer Solstice Open Garden how to do a celebration of the occasion. From my meager research I found that traditionally one observes the Summer Solstice by having a bonfire and then jumping over the flame to cleanse oneself spiritually. I did not think this was a "hot" idea. First, due to the obvious fire hazard and safety. Second, because I think that day, like most this time of year in DC, will by hot as Hades. No need to add an open fire to our already boiling heat and humidity. I looked at having tiki torches, rows of candles, or those copper fire-pit bowls. All still gave off actual heat and flame.

Then I went to several community yard sales last Saturday and the answered dropped right into my lap. Appropriately, the day of the sale was sweltering. One of the sellers was a neighbor a couple blocks away, Mark Behme, who had two large flame faces he'd created for Halloween sitting out in his yard to sell. I snagged them both for the bargain price of $10 -- total. They are pictured here. No way could I even buy the materials to make these flaming beauties for that amount nor do I have the talent, time, or patience for it either. Mark is an artist as you can see by his web site and he definitely has talent in spades. Have no idea what I'll do with these rather large decorations (about 4 ft. by 4 ft.) after the event, but I do know they will really set the mood for the occasion that day.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Longing for Longwood


Washington Gardener Magazine Hosts Longwood Gardens Tour
Organized by Garden Tours
Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 8:00am-11:00pm
Leaving from and returning to West Falls Church, VA and downtown Silver Spring, MD
Join Cheval Force Opp, Garden Tours, and Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine, for a day at Longwood Gardens, one of the world’s premier horticultural showplaces. Exquisite flowers, majestic trees, dazzling fountains, opulent conservatory, starlit theater, thunderous organ—all describe the magic of Longwood Gardens.

Schedule for the day:

• 8:00am West Falls Church, VA Board coach
• 9:00am Silver Spring, MD Board coach
• 9:00-11:30am En route: Snacks and water bottle, information packets, Longwood Gardens Q&A, and Longwood DVD
• 11:30am Arrive Longwood Gardens
• 11:30-1:00pm Lunch at Longwood CafĂ©
• 1:00-2:30pm Guided Rose Garden Tour and visit to the Gardens Shop

• 2:30-3:30pm Guided Tour: “The New East Conservatory”

• 3:30-7:30pm Explore and Dinner* on your own. Options include: 1,050 acres, 20 indoor and 20 outdoor gardens, two-hour self-guided audio tour, Heritage Exhibit in Pierce du Point House, Pipe Organ & Gallery, two Fountain Shows, InTREEgue exhibit, “Wonders of the Water Garden” talk, wine reception* in a beautiful garden setting, dinner at Longwood Terrace or Cafe*, and much more. *Dinner and reception are not included in registration package fee.

• 7:30-8:15pm Celtic Concert

• 8:15pm Board coach for ride home with snacks and garden DVD showing

• 10:30pm MD - 11:30pm VA Disembark from coach

This tour package includes:
• Onboard hosts: Kathy Jentz, Editor, Washington Gardener, and Cheval Opp, Owner, Garden Tours • Admission to Longwood Gardens and events shown on schedule

• Lunch, snacks, and bottled water. (Dinner on your own)

• Information packet and Q&A to assist planning your visit on coach

• Pre-trip information details sent after registration

• Two DVD showings

• Surprises and prizes

• Drop-off and pick-up at two convenient MD & VA metro stations

• Charter Passenger Coach with reserved seating and restroom
Join us for a delightful trip to Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square, PA. Come explore hundreds of lush acres, wildflowers in the woods, the sparkling fountain gardens, inspirational plant combinations, and grand sweeps of color everywhere.

Cancellation Policy: Full refund if canceled by May 20. A partial $50 refund until May 31. No refunds after June 1.
Questions? Cheval Opp at 703.395.1501

Name _____________________________________________ Address____________________________________________
Phone number________________________________________ Email____________________________________________
Name of seatmate____________________________________
Pick-up point: __ Falls Church, VA __ Silver Spring, MD

$99.00 each or $95.00 each for current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers

Check/money order #_______ ~ Please make payable to “Garden Tours” Send this registration form along with your payment today to: Garden Tours, 8000 N Park St, Dunn Loring VA 22027 Seating is limited - act fast.