Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Win a Signed Copy of Homegrown and Handpicked: A Year in a Gardening Life in the April 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our April 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a signed copy of Homegrown and Handpicked: A Year in a Gardening Life by Carol J. Michel ($14.999, Gardenangelist Books, https://www.maydreamsgardens.com). The sequel to the popular essay book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, which taught us about gardening math, distance, time, and other important fundamentals, Homegrown and Handpicked is a journey through the seasons, with just as many laugh-out-loud, hey-that’s-me stories as the first book.
  One of our book reviewers, Erica H. Smith, read it and wrote in our January 2019 issue, “Any gardener, in fact, will feel some affinity with these well-written depictions of horticultural happenings. Michel grows everything from trees to pansies to zucchini; she buys too many plants; she’d rather mow the lawn than clean the house. I can relate!” and “This book would be a great gift for a fellow gardener, or for that person in your life who doesn’t quite understand why you are so into gardening and so peculiar about it, or for yourself, for those days when charm and whimsy would be just the right flicker of light in the darkness.”
   To enter to win Homegrown and Handpicked: A Year in a Gardening Life by Carol J. Michel, send an email to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com by 5:00pm on April 30 with “Homegrown and Handpicked” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the April 2019 issue and why. Include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced on May 1.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

April 2019 Washington Gardener: Garden Tours, Blackeye Peas, Peonies, and much more...

The April 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.

Inside this issue:
  • Spring Garden Tours Round-up: Explore the Best Private Gardens in Our Region
  • Top Tips for Peony Success
  • Earliest, Sweetest, Easiest Spring Peas
  • Grasscycling for a Healthy Lawn
  • Native Pussytoes, an Almost-ideal Groundcover
  • Bamboos for the Home Garden
  • Bountiful Blackeye Peas
  • DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar

and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the May 2019 issue are due by May 5.

PS  Subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine today to have the monthly publication sent to your inbox as a PDF several days before it is available online. You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here: http://www.washingtongardener.com/index_files/subscribe.htm

Friday, April 19, 2019

Fenton Friday: Lettuce Eat

This week the lettuces are taking off. They are almost full-size and I think ready for cutting and making a few big salads. The wire cage did its job, there were no rabbit incursions. However, something is nibbling at one of the lettuce mixes. Maybe slugs? I'll try sprinkling a bit of Sluggo around it after the storm system passes through the area today.

The pea plants are also putting on some growth, but no flowers yet.

I harvested a BIG batch of asparagus.

I never got time to weed or plant the radishes and carrots. Maybe can get to that on Easter Monday. Then next on the to-do list will be sowing a cutting garden.

What is growing in your edible garden this week?

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the FentonStreet Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bloom Day: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

two lilacs - one pink, one purple
Move over, Santa! Spring is in full swing and every bird is singing with joy! If I weren't tied to this desk, doing our April issue layout, I'd be outside twirling away madly like Maria in the Austrian hills.

It is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day again! On the 15th of each month, we gardeners with blogs share a few bloom photos from our gardens. 

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, we had a few bad wind/thunderstorms this past week, but today it is sunny and calm,

In my garden, I have a multitude of blooms. Here is my list of what is in flower today:

- Carolina Jasmine
- Corydalis - yellow and purple
- Redbud Tree
- Lilacs
- Primroses
- Violas
- Snapdragons
- Rhododendrons
- Forsythia (ending)
- Weeping Cherry Tree (ending)
- Alyssum
- Epimedium 'Pink Champagne' and 'Sulfur'
- Leucojum 
- Azalea (just opening)
- Hellebores - various
- Daffodils - various
- Tulips - various
- Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) 
and more....

I cut a bunch of 3 big Lilac bouquets and plan to do more this week.

So what is blooming today in YOUR garden?

redbud - straight native species
last fall I planted this "river" down my front slope

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fenton Friday: Asparagus Between the Weeds

This week we built a rabbit-proof cage for around our lettuce crop. (We'll share plans in an upcoming DIY post.)

The peas are popping up too and will soon need a rabbit-barrier in place as well.

The weeds are starting to get away from me as I spent the week running around the tour various gardens and attend/give garden talks. Despite their incursion, the asparagus is still emerging and throwing up several deliciously edible spikes.

What is growing in your edible garden this week?

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Community Gardens of the DMV: Common Good City Farm

By Johnny Moseman

Sitting on V Street between 2nd and 4th Street in NW Washington, DC, is a community garden like no other. Established in 2007, Shaw EcoVillage gave permission to Common Good City Farm to direct garden programs at the 7th street site and they then named it the “7th Street Garden.”

This garden stood from 2007 to 2009 and then after their work each year  expanding our programs to feed more people, educate DC residents’ young and old, and contribute to the sustainability of the organization they were invited to their new location that stands in LeDroit Park in 2008.

Now, over 10 years of farming on almost half an acre in the middle of DC, Common Good City Farm can feed more people through their farm market, engage more students in their Seed to Table Workshops and Youth programs, and serve more community members at their events.

The goal of Common Good City Farm is to “create a vibrant, informed, and well-nourished community through urban farming while also actively engaging with all members of a diverse community and create opportunities for connections on our farm, while emphasizing intensive vegetable production and modeling best practices in sustainable urban agriculture,” according to their website.

“Our goal is to feed people and bring them together while also helping teach them about healthy environmental practices,” Executive Director of Common Good City Farm, Sam Wetzel said.

Since January 2007, this garden has provided over 10 tons of fresh produce to the community, engaged over 2,700 adults and 4,500 young people in educational programs, and hosted over 3,000 volunteers.

Common Good City Farm offers a plethora of free community events that help provide hands-on training in food production, healthy eating and environmental sustainability. They also hold an after-school activity for students to help teach them healthy eating as well as cooking skills. All upcoming events can be found on their website (www.commongoodcityfarm.org).

“We just want to get better at what we do,” Wetzel said. “We are very hyper-local and focused on helping the neighborhood. We just want to stay connected with people and also spend time with our hands in the dirt.”

There are no current plans for expansion, Wetzel said, citing that the nature of expansion creates a disconnect between the community and they want to stay as connected with the community that they help each year.

To get involved, Wetzel said the best way is to come to some events and check out the garden, talk to people and see what they like. There are also two open community work days coming up where people can come and volunteer if they want to start helping out.

Come join hem on Saturday, April 20, 2019, at 10am for their Spring Kick-Off Event.

About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Fenton Friday: Feeling Fresh

emerging pea shoot
Our last Fenton Friday post was mid-November when a freeze pretty much ended what he had left in our community garden plot. It was a long, cold winter with a few dips into polar vortex temps, but the plotted is cleared and things are looking good for coming season. There is still a fair bit of weeding to do, which I hope to complete this weekend.

Returning from last year are Garlic and Asparagus.

Newly planted from seed by the magazine interns are three different kinds of Peas and three different Lettuce varieties. We are building wire rabbit barriers for protecting both crops - we have temporary ones right now as the seedlings emerge.

I plan to add in Radish and Carrot seeds in the next few days and to renew my Strawberry patch, which seems to have all petered out.

What is growing in your edible garden this week?

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.
lettuce under bunny barrier

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Community Gardens of the DMV: Columbia Gardeners

By Johnny Moseman

Ever since the 1960s, Columbia, MD, has had their own set of community gardens that foster and inspire leadership, committed memberships, and thousands of hours of hard work.

Starting in 1968, Columbia activist Evelyn Haynes persuaded Columbia developer James Rouse to donate land for for community gardening. Initially, 30 people gardened on land that is now the Columbia Mall.

In 1974, word had spread and soon 1,000 families rented garden plots to use. This was when the term "Columbia Gardeners" (CG) was coined and they began to campaign to keep the plots permanently.

Howard County’s first permanent garden came in 1977 at the Elkhorn Branch Community Garden on Oakland Mills Road. Two more permanent gardens were added in 1988; one in Long Reach and the other on Martin Road. Both of these sites added raised beds for physically-challenged gardeners.

In 2010, 100 plots were added to these gardens through cooperation with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Today, there are over 600 plots across the three garden sites.

Gardeners within CG have a very diverse background and range from novice gardeners to expert gardeners, representing countries all over the world as well as those from cities to those that grew up on farms.

Each site offers garden plots that are approximately 20 by 25 feet, access to these plots by common pathways, centrally located water supplies, common compost bins, wood chips, parking, a locking entrance gate, and picnic tables.

Gardeners are then responsible for any work that needs to be done on their individual plot and they can grow whatever fruits, vegetables, or flowers they please in those plots.

CG’s mission is to provide safe and affordable garden space to community residents, be a knowledge-sharing resource for healthy, sustainable gardening practices, partner with other groups and communities to enhance gardening opportunities.

They hold a variety of social and educational events from April through October, including talks by Master Gardeners, talks by regional gardening experts, seed exchanges, garden work days, bird walks, butterfly walks, plant diagnostic workshops, garden tours, and picnics.

All information regarding Columbia Gardeners or future events they are holding can be found at columbiagardeners.com or their Facebook page.

About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

Photo Source: Columbia Gardeners

The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.

Monday, April 01, 2019

DIY: Watering Can Pours Crystals

By Alexa Silverberg

Have an old metal watering can wasting away in your basement? Maybe one that has holes in it and that is no longer usable for watering, but is still pretty or has sentimental value? Use this fun and easy do-it-yourself project to create beautiful garden accessories out of new or recycled materials.

Things you will need:

Watering can 
Beads, crystals, or old necklaces 
- Thread, fishing line, or string*


1. Cut the string of beads/crystals into smaller pieces. You want them to be different lengths about 3-5 inches each.

2. Push the cut bead string through the holes in the top of the water can's pour spout head. Use tweezers if necessary to help pull through the string.

3. Tie string into secure double knots. 

4. Repeat stringing until you achieve the desired look.

5. Hang your masterpiece in your garden!

*Pro-tip: don't have string handy? Dental floss will do the trick!

About the Author: Alexa Silverberg is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland and is from Short Hills, NJ. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine this spring semester.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dutch Tulip Days in DC

the entrance staircase
By Charlotte Germane

While we waited for the cherry blossoms to bloom, a flood of intense spring color arrived in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood when 15,000 tulips filled the residence of the Dutch Ambassador for #DutchTulipDays.

Ambassador Henne Schuwer has an enviably direct pipeline to tulips; his home country is the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world, and that includes the 450 million tulip bulbs sent to the U.S. each year.

This week his official residence was a floral showcase for Tulip Days, to celebrate the horticultural ties between the Netherlands and the U.S. After an early morning press preview, the Ambassador hosted a series of diplomatic lunches and receptions.

Ambassador Schuwer said that Tulip Days “is an old tradition that we picked up three years ago to fill the house again with flowers.” He mentioned Keukenhof, the 500-acre Dutch park where seven million bulbs bloom each spring, and his wish that the D.C. display could “bring a little bit of Keukenhof here.”

the 17th-century-style tulipiere
Van Gogh reproduction

Fifteen thousand tulips certainly made a start in recreating that floral experience. The design expertise behind the modern and traditional arrangements came from florist Susanne Schrijvers, based in France and the DC-area. Schrijvers banked the imposing staircase in orange blooms, the Dutch national color, packed closely in rectangular containers.

Simple modern displays around the edges of rooms included groups of metal buckets with bunches of multi-colored cut tulips, or windowsills lined with glass cylinders of water holding blooming tulips — stems, bulbs, roots, and all.

Console tables beneath Old Master paintings featured airy arrangements of tulips especially grown in France for their long stems, combined with branches of cherry blossoms. Each round table in the dining room was centered with a silver bowl containing just one variety of tulip, with no repeated colors from table to table. The dining room and library fireplaces had “flaming” mixtures of tall red and yellow tulips.

An unusual container was the 17th-century-style tulipiere, a tower from the days of Tulipomania, created to spotlight the wildly expensive tulips of that era.

The living room stars were two Van Gogh reproductions, loaned by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, with harmonizing tulip tributes at their feet.

Schrijvers wanted a knockout display, to honor the culmination of the Ambassador’s service in Washington. She not only increased the number of tulips over past years, but added living walls of tropical plants in the library, and out-sized Boston ferns in the stairwell.

The floral tribute echoed the Ambassador’s reflection that “a bouquet of flowers was never given in anger, a bouquet of flowers is a gift of love and a gift of respect.”

You can see many more photos from the Tulip Days event at the Washington Gardener Facebook page.

About the author:
Charlotte Germane recently jumped the Potomac from the American Horticultural Society to Georgetown's Tudor Place, an historic house museum and garden. She spent four years as the first Digital Communications Manager at the AHS, following three crunchy years in communications and public relations for the largest organic gardening supply company in the U.S.

Friday, March 29, 2019

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region

(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2019.)

It is Cherry Blossom Festival madness again in Washington, DC. If you have been there/done that, hate the crowds, or just can’t get enough of those dainty pink and white blossoms and want more, here are a several local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:

Public Gardens

~ The National Arboretum has a splendid and more varied display and LOTS or parking. Stroll around Fern Valley and the other gardens as well while you are there. Take the Self-Guided Tour: Beyond the Tidal Basin: Introducing Other Great Flowering Cherries  to explore the arboretum’s collection of over 2,000 cherry trees representing 600 different cultivars, hybrids, and species of various shapes, sizes, flower colors, and bloom times, including trees that have been created by arboretum scientists. Note: The free tour covers several miles of arboretum roads, and can be driven, biked, or walked. Pick up a brochure in the Administration Building.

Tudor Place is a lovely place to take a stroll on your own through the spectacular Yoshino Cherry Blossoms during the full bloom. Event and entry fees apply.

Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, WDC, has a marvelous orchard of cherries. There is an $8 admission fee that goes to support the gardens. Parking is also a bear in that neighborhood -- I recommend you walk or take the bus.

Hillwood Estate in NW DC is pleased to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with short guided tours of Mrs. Post’s Japanese-style garden. Docents will be available to answer questions between the tours. The suggested entry donation to Hillwood is $12 per adult.

Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, also has beautiful cherry blossom trees and many other flowering trees like plum, apricot, magnolias, and quince in bloom right now, and you don’t have to fight the crowds to see them. The gardens are also full of flowering bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, and hillsides of daffodils.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA, has over 100 cherry trees surrounding a lovely lake that you can stroll around. Admission to the gardens is a mere $5

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, has a ring of Yoshino cherry trees around their lake and Okame cherry blooms throughout the gardens. There is an entry fee of $10 to visit the gardens.

~  River Farm in Alexandria, VA, is a historic 25-acre site on the banks of the Potomac River. River Farm was once part of George Washington’s original five farms, and currently the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. The grounds offer spectacular river views, a wildlife garden, and delightful children’s areas. 

Green Spring Gardens near Annandale, VA, hosts Ikebana flower arrangement workshops and has flowering cherry trees in its collection. There is a class fee and they fill fast so register today.

Neighborhoods & Other Less-visited Spots

~ The Bethesda, MD, neighborhood of Kenwood for their stunning display. Park and walk in for an immersion in cherry tree lined streets.

~ Sarah Lawler suggests The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II is a beautiful spot to see cherry blossoms. It is located near Union Station at the intersection of Louisiana Ave., New Jersey Ave. and D Street, NW, WDC. And across the street is a grove on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

~ Foxhall and Reservoir Rds, NW. Washington, DC. The Foxhall Village neighborhood near Georgetown has cherry blossom-lined streets that are known as the best-kept secret among locals.

~ Brenda Lynn shared she always bikes from Arlington, VA, in order to avoid having to park to take metro. It's a beautiful ride, and one could also bike along the GW parkway in VA to view all the blooms along the Potomac River

Anacostia Park at 900 Anacostia Drive, SE. Washington, DC. Cherry trees bloom along the Anacostia River at the 1,200-acre park that is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas.

~ An anonymous post to my blog, tipped me off that there are several blocks of cherry blossom trees creating an arch above the streets of Garrett Park Estates in Kensington, MD. "Take Strathmore Road near Holy Cross Church, turn onto Flanders and then I think it’s Waycross. The trees span several streets, are lovely, and totally free of crowds!"

~ Adam Bailey let me know that “Stanton Park and Lincoln Park on the Hill — and the Capitol Hill neighborhoods in general — have a good display of blossoms, too.”

~ "Scott Circle, at Massachusetts & 16th, also has some great cherry blossoms," reports John Boggan. 

~ Katie said, "There's a neighborhood off Query Mill in North Potomac, MD, that has streets lined with cherry trees. Not as fantastic as Kenwood, but if you're in the upper Montgomery County, it may be more accessible. Streets include Moran and Bonnie Dale. It blooms a few days later than Kenwood."

~ There is a website that lets you enter your zip code to find blooming street trees near your location. To try it out, go here: http://www.dccherrypicker.com/

Grow Your Own!

~ Ever since getting my weeping ‘Higan’ cherry, I feel no need to rush downtown. I keep a daily watch on my baby tree and celebrate loudly when the buds finally burst open. I highly recommend it. 
   Here is a video we created about growing ornamental cherry trees locally: 
   In addition, in the very first issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, we did a PlantProfile column on the selection and cultivation of cherry trees for our area. 

Got other DC-area Cherry Tree viewing locations? Please share them in the comments below.

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