Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Now Don the Art Exhibit Curator + Gazette Article Link

Today's Gazette has a great article on our Seed Exchange. In the Silver Spring edition it is on page A8. Freelancer Rachel Mauro came to the event and did a nice write up on it. No photos, but we can remedy that next year. No link online -- maybe it takes a day or so for the content to go up, but I've searched every which way and the piece is not there yet. If I ever find it, I'll update this with a link asap. Basically, Rachel did a nice summary of the day's events including a good plug for the photo contest and upcoming art show. UPDATE: The Gazette article link is now up here.

Pictured here is another of our Washington Gardener Photo Contest Winners. This one is by Patricia Deege. I thought it was appropriate considering the weather forecast for white stuff tomorrow. Our judge, Josh, said one of the best things about this photo was the cropping out of the sky - and he's right, if I took this photo, that is exactly what I would have done a big band of blank gray sky above and certainly not as high quality scene-framing, separation, and focus. And yes, low-res online veiwing just does not do it justice.

Speaking of which, as a newbie art exhibit curator I'm now challenged with figuring out what sizing and framing to designate for this show. I'm obviously thinking "keep it simple" with black wood frames and white mats so the stunning color photos can stand on their own. However, the sizing is tough as some images were square and will not crop easily to 8x10 or 11x14 -- nor would I want the winners to have to adjust their images in a way that might impact them. Though how do size them for consistency? I'll ask around and visit a few photo galleries to see what they do. Then there is the issue of pricing - for those that want to sell. What is fair market value? Do we get a sales commission cut? I'd at least like to make back the cost of the framing and opening reception party as well as event marketing. And if none sell? Well, I did not go into this photo contest with the expectation of a show in any case.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And The Winners Are...

The winners of the first annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest were announced at the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange last Saturday in a presentation by our judge, Josh Taylor of Archiphoto Workshops. There were many 'oohs' and 'aahs' as Josh first showed the entries he had narrowed down to his first cut of about 60 images. This was done as a moving montage to music. Then he presented our 17 winners and described why each was chosen and what minor tweaks they might have done to possible take them to the next winning level. As a garden photographer myself, I found that portion of the talk most educational and enlightening. I have so much more to learn!

If you missed this presentation, note that Josh will be presenting a garden photo workshop this June to the Silver Spring Garden Club. He has been asked to show the contest montage and winners again as part of his talk there. They meet the 3rd Monday of the month at 8:00 pm in the Brookside Gardens Visitor Center, Wheaton, MD. It is free to attend.

The winning photos will also be published in the March/April 07 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine along with additional details on the entrants and their images. You can subscribe to the magazine for just $18 a year and receive that issue in the mail. Or purchase the single issue directly from us for $4.99 (postage included) when it comes out on March 1. Or buy it for the same price ($4.99 plus tax) at local Borders, Barnes & Noble, or B. Dalton book stores after March 3.

Finally, you will be able to view the winning images IN PERSON at an art show! The opening reception is Friday, March 23 from 7-9 pm at the Adams Bank Lobby in the World Building on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. You are all invited. If you miss that evening, come by and view the photos anytime during the normal bank hours. They will be up through May 25. We expect a good deal of press coverage of this art show, so be looking out in the local papers. We will, of course, send you another invitation closer to the event date with full details.

Yes, we WILL be having a 2nd Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest, so start gathering your images now and throughout this year. We will keep most all the entry rules the same as this year, but are looking at adding a few more categories. (Suggestions are welcome!) We will again accept the entries during the first three weeks of January with the winners announced at the annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, which next year will be January 26, 2008.

One of the Honorable Mention winners in the "Small Wonders" category is pictured above. It was taken by Evelyn Jacobs and is brreath-taking. Obviously, a low-res, blog-friendly version of the image does not do it justice.

The complete the list of winners will be posted to the Contest page of our web site shortly. Congratulations to them all! We had such a marvelous crop of entrants that were truly daunting and inspiring. I was awed by the level of talent out there.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Seed Exchange 2007 Wrap-Up

I have lots to do to wrap-up this year's successful Seed Exchange. On my to-do list: totaling the attendee numbers (my current rough count was 50+ registrants); tallying the evaluations; sending out thank yous to our speakers, sponsors, and volunteers; unpacking/repacking all the supplies and extra goody bags; sending out a wrap-up story and photos to the local press; etc.

This year we made a few improvements and changes that I think we'll keep for future years, including: setting the seed swap tables up in a middle row instead of against the wall which improved traffic flow and adding a "show 'n tell" period where people could talk about their seeds, other local garden groups and events, ask garden questions, etc.

Lessons learned this year:
1. Probably not going to work with the USNA again for the foreseeable future - being canceled on without warning just 5 days prior to the event took about 10 years off my life - at least all worked out for the better in the end and the Montgomery College location was a perfect solution for us.
2. Save the most sought after Door Prize items for last - though it is hard to predict which are the most coveted as that is highly subjective. Was it the gorgeous Seedheads book from Timber Press, the David Austin Roses, the hellebores from Sunshine Farm, the $100 gift certificate to Garden District, the Juneberry bush from Edible Landscaping, the worm tea from GlobalWorming, or one of the other 20+ items? All seem equally great to me.
3. Add a children's fee and maybe a few activities for the youngsters. Last year, for our first annual event, no one brought kids nor did they even ask to do so. This year, several asked and brought children prompting me to add a discount children's fee on the spot. Of course, this little fellow (pictured above) got in free-of-charge and was a perfect angel, allowing his parent's to enjoy the talks and peruse the seed selections at their leisure.
4. We had to cater it ourselves due to the venue change and loss of FONA food sponsorship. We had a more substantial food selection than last year's -- from the healthy (whole fruit and granola bars) to the filling (cheese crackers, cookie packs, and pecan rolls). All food was purchased as prepackaged and individually wrapped portions for sanitation and storage purposes. We hit the quantity right on the head. Next year, we may add more on the healthy end of the spectrum and perhaps look for another outside food sponsor.

Some early feedback:
~ Great Show on Saturday. - Peter
~ Good job, Kathy. It was a fun event! - Judy
~ Kathy, just wanted to commend you on the seed exchange. All the hardwork you put into it was very evident. I thought it was a great event!Congrats! - Cindy

Next year's Seed Exchange is 1/26/08 -- remember National Seed Swap Day is the last Saturday in January. Keep that in your date book!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Psst! Get the Inside Scoop on the Cut Flower Industry!

The Four Seasons Garden Club and Washington Gardener Magazine are co-hosting a book talk by author Amy Stewart: Flower Confidential. It will take place Wednesday, February 7, from 6:30-8:45 pm at the West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street NW WDC ~ near the Foggy Bottom metro. This event is absolutely free and is open to all.
You may be familiar with Amy through the blog she shares with three other highly-opinionated garden writers, GardenRant, or her previous garden books, The Earth Moved and From the Ground Up. When Amy said she was coming to DC on her publicity tour for this book, I jumped at the chance to arrange for her to give a talk to a local garden club. I knew this would be a win-win-win situation all around. Plus, I finally get to meet her in person and dish the dirt as it were. Here is a little bit about her book from her publicity materials:
Flower Confidential is an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought--for better and worse--to achieve perfection.
Does it matter that a bouquet of roses travels halfway around the world before it arrives at your supermarket or florist? Or that growers force tulips to bloom in December? Are we being tricked when a scientist engineers a lily that doesn’t shed pollen?
For over a century, hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists around the world have worked to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature could provide. Almost any flower, in any color, is for sale at any time of the year.
Amy Stewart travels the globe to take us inside this dazzling world. She tracks down scientists intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horticultural legend who created the world’s most popular lily (the ‘Star Gazer’); a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorian farmer growing exquisite, high-end organic roses that are the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. She sees firsthand how flowers are grown and harvested on farms in Latin America, California, and Holland. (It isn’t always pretty.)

The library meeting room where we will gather fits 150 people total and we anticipate a very good turnout. Get there early to get a good seat!

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Holly Jolly January

Our latest Washington Examiner article is now out. It is all about Hollies and was inspiresd by the Holly Nursery Tour the Four Seasons Garden Club hosted that I tagged along with earluer this month. Read it online (Jan 26 edition - page 54) or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today - the article is on R6 (Real Estate section - page 6). It is also in the Baltimore Examiner edition online (Jan 26 edition - page 101) or print version on R37 (Real Estate section - page 37). I much prefer you read the Baltimore version this time as it is a full-page and includes all the photos and their cutlines.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Most Excellent Examiner

"President George Washington did it. Jefferson did it. So did Ben Franklin.
"All three historic figures were plant seed swappers, according to Barbara Melera, co-owner of a 350-year-old seed house.
"On Saturday, people in the greater capital area will continue the tradition at the Washington Seed Exchange, held at the Takoma Park-Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College...."
To read the rest, pick up the Washington Examiner and flip to page 3 or view the article online here. For most details on the Seed Exchange itself, see yesterday's blog post.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Major Changes at the Seed Exchange!

PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD - we are trying to avoid anyone making a needless trip to the National Arboretum all the way downtown and back out. Please forward this note to any area gardener or gardening group you may know.

The Washington Seed Exchange has CHANGED LOCATIONS to the Montgomery College campus in Takoma Park, MD. The event takes place this Saturday, January 27. Here are links to maps of the campus:
You may park for free in the college's garage on Fenton near the corner of King Street. Then please walk up Fenton and cross to New York Avenue. Make a right just after the MP (Mathematics Pavilion) across the small courtyard to the building marked SN (Science North). We are in the 100 Lecture Hall room. Don't worry - we will have tons of signage up.
The campus is also easily accessible from both the Silver Spring and Takoma Park Metro stations, local Ride On buses, and the Metrobus.

Over $1,500 worth of door prizes will be given away!!!
Every attendee gets a Goody Bag with over $30 worth of garden products! Expert Speakers! Terrific Networking! Solid Garden Advice!

Washington Gardener magazine, the publication for DC-area gardening enthusiasts, presents the second annual Washington Seed Exchange. This seed swap will be in-person and face-to-face. You bring your extra seeds and swap them with other gardeners. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds, new garden friends, and expert planting advice.

On Saturday, January 27, 2007 from 12:00 – 4:00PM

Registration fee is $15 per person at the door. Current Washington Gardener subscribers, FONA members, and MC students/faculty/staff receive a discount rate of $10 per person. (And yes, you may subscribe to Washington Gardener at the door to get the discount price.)
There is a limited enrollment of 125 maximum participants so be sure to arrive early!

If You Have Seeds to Swap
Please package them in resealable plastic zipper or wax sandwich baggies. Put an average of 20 seeds per baggy — more for small seeds like cleome, fewer for large seeds like acorns. Then label each baggy with a white sticker (such as Avery standard 5160 address label sheets) giving all the information you have on the seeds. If known, include the plant's common and scientific names; its soil, sun, and wateringneeds; and, its origins — where and when you collected the seeds. If you don't know all the information, that's okay, just try to provide as much as you can.

What If I Don't Have Any Seeds to Swap?
Come anyway! Even if you don’t have any seeds to trade, you are welcome to attend! We'll have plenty of extra seed contributions on hand and many attendees will be there just to learn, network, and prepare for next year's seed collecting.
Expert speakers will give brief talks on seed collection and propagation tips. We also have expert speakers to talk about the importance of propagating native plants. There will be ample time for individual Q&A throughout the program with the staff, the featured speakers, and invited experts as well.

12:00-12:30 Registration and seed drop
12:30-12:35 Introductory remarks and overview
12:35-1:00 Seed Saving with Kids
- Jenny Guillaume, Washington Youth Garden
1:00-1:25 Propagating Native Seeds
- Sylvan Kaufman, Adkins Arboretum
1:30-1:55 Heirloom Vegetable Seed Collecting
- Barbara Melera, D. Landreth Seeds
2:00-2:15 Refreshment Break
2:15-2:45 Seed Show & Tell
2:45-3:15 Seed Swap!
3:15-3:45 WG Garden Photo Contest Winners & Tutorial
- Josh Taylor, Archiphoto Workshops
3:45-4:00 Door Prizes and closing remarks
- Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener magazine

How Do We Swap?
As you check-in, staff will collect your seeds and place them at the appropriate seed category tables.You will be assigned a random seed swap number. There will be a short period for attendees to preview all the seeds brought in and available for swapping. Then, you will be called in by your number to pick a seed pack from each of the category tables (if desired). After the initial seed swap is complete, attendees are free to take any of the left over seeds and to trade seeds with each other. Dividing of packets is encouraged and extra baggies plus labels will be on hand for that purpose.

What Types of Seeds?
Seed swap categories will include natives, edibles, herbs, exotics, annuals, perennials,and woodies (trees/shrubs). If you can pre-sort your seeds in advance into whichever of these seven major categories fits best that would help us speed up the process on the swap day.

Door Prizes! Goodie Bags!
All attendees will receive a goodie bag at the end of the seed swap in exchange for filling out an evaluation form. The bags include seeds and items donated by: • America the Beautiful Fund • Nichols Garden Nursery • Organica Biotech • Thompson & Morgan Seedsmen, Inc • Washington Gardener Magazine • Whole Foods Market Silver Spring
In addition, we have some incredible door prizes to give away especially for area gardeners. The following companies have generously donated items: • American Horticultural Society • Edible Landscaping • Friends of Green Spring Gardens • Garden District — urban garden center • GlobalWorming • National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc. • Timber Press, Inc.• Washington Gardener Magazine

Please help spread the word about this change in location!!! The good news is due to this, we can lower the price for attendees now to $15 per person ($10pp for FONA members, Washington Gardener magazine subscribers, and MC students/faculty/staff). All registrations will be done onsite at the event. No pre-pregistration needed, but if you are coming, please RSVP to so we can have a head count for the refreshments and seating.
Hope to see you on Saturday!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Garden & Gun - wha???

So I get wind today of a new regional magazine with "garden" in the title. Thought for a second it could join our Regional Gardening Magazine yahoo discussion group. The new mag is called "Garden & Gun" and if THAT doesn't get your attention on the newsstand, nothing will. I have to see their new logo, front cover, and web site design! (Since no image or link was availble, here a tleft, is the aptly named "Garden Gun" hose sprayer.) I came across it in the Wooden Horse Magazine News, yet no graphics accompanied the story. Did a quick Google search and the only thing I could find was this piece in BrandWeek. Still no graphics to be had. Damn people, talk about suspense! According to these sketchy reports, it is due out in May and will target the Town & Country set, but aimed at those in the South. Um, call me provincial, but is that really the title that will appeal to the modern, moneyed, gentile southerner? The fact that the NRA HQ is housed just south of DC in the NoVA suburbs is scary enough, but I refuse to believe that guns are so symbolic a part of southern culture that you would build your brand around them. And please clue me in on their relation to gardening other than that desire by many who border parkland hereabouts to shoot a few deer with them?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Get On The Bus

Okay, okay, I've been lectured on this and I should know better -- it is not a "bus" it is a "coach" and I will not use the b-word again. Anyway, I've partnered with fellow Garden Writer Association member Cheval Force Opp and her new Garden Tours company to take a bunch of folks up to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Wednesday, March 7.

Want to know more?
Go to:

Never been to it? I'm not going to sugarcoat it for you, you WILL be overwhelmed when you arrive by the sheer size of it and the crowds and the almost overpowering sweet flower smells. But, take a minute, catch your breath, then focus. You are going to love it. I can safely predict that after you go once, you'll join the thousands of other flower, plant, and garden lovers who make this an annual tradition.

What sets our tour apart from all the others? 8 Great Reasons!
1. We feed you! That's right, lunch is included on the way up as well as a hardy snack on the way back
2. We entertain you! We'll have garden-related DVDs to view, flower trivia contests, prizes for best (dressed, on time, etc.), and just plain silly games for your day off work.
3. We'll hold a lively show preview talk! Cheval and I will be at the show on Sunday-Monday and get a behind-the-scenes tour with the show management. We'll pass on any tidbits we learn to you.
4. We are going up later and arriving later then all the other crack-of-dawn folks! That means you'll hit the exhibit hall when it is at its least crowded and have some time to sleep in on the morning of your cherished day off.
5. We take care of the details! Cheval will be your acting "den mother" for the day and you can just concern yourself with all the great things you will see. You can leave the driving, directions, and parking hassles to our coach transport. We also provide you with a packet of show information so you can arrive ready to hit the Flower Show running.
6. We leave from a convenient location! Downtown Silver Spring's metro Kiss 'n Ride lot is our start and stop point so you can take the metro, train, or metrobus in or have a friend drop you off or drive yourself and park in the many downtown parking garages for the day. Many who live in the area can just walk or bike on down.
7. We let you pick your seat-mate! Yes, no worry of being stuck with some weird-o on the Greyhound or of getting separated from your friend. If you are traveling with someone and want to sit together, just let us know and we'll place you together in our handy seating chart.
8. We set a great price! Whether you go by train or drive yourself - by the time you add up all the costs (gas, toll, parking, meals, etc.) and the price of the show ticket, you'll see we are a terrific bargain. Not only that, but we are giving Washington Gardener subscribers $5 off our fee. And yes, you can sign up for the trip and subscribe at the same time to get the discount.

Now what are you waiting for? Treat yourself and a friend or loved one to a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show today. Seating availability is limited and the deadline is approaching so register ASAP. Download the registration form at:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Going Daffy

The Jan 15 Washington Gardener Enews issue was sent out on Monday and is now archived online.

On Sunday, I took this photo for our "What's Blooming" column in the Enews. The next day about 10 of these February Gold daffodils popped into full bloom. Now we are having a wicked cold spell. I cut a bunch to enjoy indoors. We will see how the others survive the next week or so of freezing temps.

We have a new ad partner: Garden District, an urban garden center in the trendy 14th and U shopping district. They are looking to expand their staff - so if you have any desire to pursue a hort-related career (see our Nov/Dec 06 magazine cover story), this is your chance to apply. Their web address is:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jan/Feb Issue Out

The Jan/Feb 2007 issue of Washington Gardener magazine is now out. The issue has articles on growing Daphne, Orchids, Asparagus, Conifers, and much more. I think my favorite piece may be the BeforeAfter column on the NSO Decorator Show House. We got some gorgeous shots and the designer's drawings that really demonstrate how to take an overgrown, plain landscape to a welcoming showplace.

Subscribers should have got it last week or should get it shortly in their mail box. If you subscribe by February 20. we'll start you with this issue. Just $18 a year to subscribe! Go to today. Single issues are also on sale for $4.99 at DC- area stores including Politics & Prose, Alchemy, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What NOT to do in the Garden

Our latest Washington Examiner article is now out. It is entitled: "Garden Resolutions: What NOT to do in 2007" and is about common gardening mistakes. Read it online (Jan 12 edition - page 70) or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today - the article is on R14 (Real Estate section - page 14). It is also in the Baltimore Examiner edition online (Jan 12 edition - page 87) or print version on R31 (Real Estate section - page 31).

We got a great bump for our Photo Contest today in the DC Master Gardener's blog site and a pick up from that at Wonkette. Word also went out to several area camera clubs so the submissions are really starting to roll in. Some really impressive work so far. I'm so glad I'm not judging it - wouldn't know where to begin. I'm keeping our expert judge anonymous for now as he/she has taught many area courses on garden photography and I'd like him/her to not be contacted by former students, photographer friends, etc. Having judging a web site design, landscape, and other contests myself, I know that people will do what they can to seek favor from judges and influence the outcome. I could tell tales, but I'll leave that for my memoirs...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Swapping Seeds - Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

UPDATE: The location and pricing has changed - please check the blog posted dated 1/24/07 for all the updates.

The seed swap is a fundamental part of human history. Seeds were one of the first commodities valued and traded. Today, modern gardeners collect and exchange seeds for many reasons ranging from cultivating rare, heirloom varieties to basic thrift. The exchange of seeds perpetuates biodiversity. It is an act of giving and the ultimate form of recycling.

The second annual Washington Seed Exchange, co-hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine and the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA), takes place on January 27 at the Arboretum visitor center. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats.

New to this year’s event is the first annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest. This contest offers an opportunity for all levels of photographers to present their best shots of gardens in the greater Washington, DC area. More than $500 in prizes will be awarded!

The first annual Washington Seed Exchange (pictured here) was held on January 26, 2006. After that event’s success, seed swaps in other cities across the nation have joined in celebrating National Seed Swap Day on the last Saturday in January.

Subscribers to Washington Gardener Magazine receive a $5 discount off the admission to the Washington Seed Exchange. The event is limited to 125 attendees and is expected to sell out. Registrations are accepted only via mail and must arrive by January 26. A registration form can be printed out from the USNA web site:

UPDATE: The location and pricing has changed - please check the blog posted dated 1/24/07 for all the updates.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Links to Linger Over

Got the rainy Monday blues? Today I thought I'd share a few links of interest with you.

First, is our staff photographer, Drena J. Galarza. (That is her at left.) She has just debuted her new web site offering her portrait photography services. You can browse it at: .

Second, is the new web site of Donna Williamson, Donna ran the Grandiflora magazine, a regional publication that preceded our own. She has some of the back issues on sale at her site as well as some interesting articles and bonus items.

Third, my friend Julie in Dallas, TX, sends word that today's Ask Amy column has an interesting letter from a homeowner in DC who is plagued by some neighbors who frown on her landscaping. Here is a link to the letter. Without actually seeing the yard in question, it is difficult to judge or take sides, but certainly anyone who sends anonymous notes is a coward. I'd love to know exactly where this person lives and who this psycho neighbor is -- if either party is reading this, please come forward with facts and photos!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Global Warming Not To Blame - This Time

Many of you probably read the story in yesterday's WashPost Metro section on the supposed early-blooming of plants in the DC area caused allegedly by global warming or an extremely mild winter. Within the story it is pointed out that the "early" Cherry blossoms may well be a variety that regularly bloom in winter.

I'd also like to point out the fact that all the "Forsythia" referred to in their article as being seen in bloom all over town is most likely Winter Jasmine instead. Even experienced gardeners seem to get the plants mixed up and it is a shame, as they both deserve a place in your landscape for no other reason but then to lengthen the flower season. What is the difference between the two other than the bloom time? The Winter Jasmine flower is a bit smaller and more of a buttery yellow, while Forsythia is a larger, more sunshine yellow bloom. The Winter Jasmine can be evergreen, while Forsythia blooms in early spring on bare branches, then leafs out. Finally, Winter Jasmine can be pruned into shrub form, but left naturally it is a weeper and looks striking spilling over the top of a stone wall or along a steep bank. It is not a fast grower and likes damp soil. Forythia has a weeping form, but most definitely grows upright in shrub form. It prefers well-drained soil and is a fast-grower (to say the least!). Pictured is a planter near the mall downtown filled with Winter Jasmine.

And all that bulb foliage that is thrusting out of the ground now? Relax. It happens every winter. You just notice it more without a layer of snow, mulch, or leaves.
UPDATE: Tune into WETA 90.9 The Intersection from 11:00am-12:00noon on Friday, January 5 for a lively discussion of this topic. Join the conversation.

PS Looking to get your photography skills up to par for our Garden Photo Contest? Visit this terrific page for some great basic photo tips. I especially like #5 Use Natural Lighting and #17 Move Closer.

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