Friday, November 30, 2007

Gifts for Gardeners

Our latest article in the Washington Examiner is out today. Read the article online here (Real Estate section - November 30 2007 edition - page 26) - or grab the print version at the red street boxes around town today. It is on Gifts for Gardeners -- and of course that list includes a gift subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine. :-) We send your giftee the current issue and a personalized gift charge - just attach a note to your order letting us know what you would like it to say. For those at a loss for words, we usually just say "Happy Gardening!" and at this time of year we add a "Happy Holidays!" You can fill out a gift subscription order online here or just send a check for $20 with your order details to Washington Gardener Magazine, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910. As long as we get it by December 20, we can get it to your giftee by Christmas.

If you need more Gardener Gift Ideas, tune in to WUSATV9 tomorrow, Sunday 12/2 from 8-9am. I'll be on showing some fun gift ideas for the gardener in your life or yourself. Hey, I know I'm not the only one who shops by the "one for you, one for me" method ;-). The segment will most likely air during the last 15 minutes of the live broadcast.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bad Kitty

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 29 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. Note that they botched our credit link and it should direct you to our site.

Also in today's edition of the Examiner is a Yeas & Nays piece on Kitty Kelley getting caught maliciously ripping plants up in her Georgetown neighbor's yard. It was all caught on the neighbor's security cameras. I had to read it through twice to let that one sink in. Looks like they'll need to update the infamous muckraker's unauthorized bio. (Cover picture above.) Poisonous indeed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PR Plea - eeze!

One of the "joys" of being a magazine publisher is the mountain of junk press releases I have to plow through every day both online and off. Amid the 100s of v_agra and p_nis-extending emails I get are some of the most lamest product releases! For instance, look at the opening line of this one:

The TwoDaLoo is billed as the world's first toilet two people can use ... at the exact same time. is selling the unthinkable to help save the planet and bring couples closer together.

Truly what does this PR person who sent this to me have in mind?! Do they seriously think this is this really something a regional gardening magazine would be interested in? What really singes my tail feathers is that because I have to spend time wading through all the spam and just plain old crap like this, I have very little time to follow up and the cool garden gadgets and new plants I'd love to trial. I don't dare set any spam filtering on. Tried it. It blocked all the good and still let in a ton of the bad.

Every media person and every publication out there is experiencing the same thing. My plea is, if you have a legit press release to target it very selectively and it might just surface out of the slime ooze and make it into a story. If you are not legit or are determined to spam the known universe, I hope your reap that bad Karma you are sowing sooner rather than later.

(I got this Karma meter image from a Google search - apparently though that web site is no longer around and I cannot link to it. Ironic.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Main Event: Kitty vs. Orchid

Spoiler alert: Kitty wins. The champion is pictured here -- well satisfied with her champion status. Yeah, I bet you were thinking that orchid could give a real proper hurting to kitty or at least put up an actual fight. No, it went down like clay pigeon -- shattered and defenseless.

The newly acquired orchid was blooming beautifully and lasted exactly 48 hours in my house before Chantilly accidentally* swung her tail too vigorously while sitting on the back of the sofa. She knocked the orchid off the neighboring table to the floor. The flowering stem snapped in 3 pieces. Nothing was salvageable of the blooms, but the plant itself is okay. Fat lot of good that does me as the dirty little secrets of this orchid lover include: A. I think orchid plants without blooms are not especially attractive (i.e. downright ugly); and, B. I have never gotten one to successfully re-bloom.

Should I let it live for months as it mocks my every attempt to baby it into re-bloom or just chuck it now and admit defeat? Stubborn as I am, I'm going to give it a try with a healthy touch of realistic pessimism at my eventual prospects of success.

*I say accidentally, but I know that feline brain was secretly jealous of how much attention was about to be lavished over those gorgeous blossoms in the coming month.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Buy Nothing Day Potpourri

I'm spending the post-Thanksgiving Day lull catching up on my chores and starting a few new craft projects for gifts. In the spirit of Buy Nothing Day, I will stay away from the stores, though that has not stopped me from surfing some shopping sites online nor plowing through the big stack of newspaper ad circulars. Still, I'm in the frugal spirit and haven't seen much of anything that interests me enough to pull out a credit card.

I'm a little miffed to not be mentioned at all (for good or bad) in Adrian Higgins' Washington Post Home article on his garden magazine reading choices. When I went online at their page to make a comment on the article, I see a few loyal readers have already jumped on there to endorse Washington Gardener Magazine. What a nice thing to see.

Way too cold with frigid winds to spend much time outside in the garden today. I did a little wind storm pick up and trash collecting. I curse whoever invented those cheap plastic bags that seem to gravitate like magnets to the deep reaches inside my groundcover rose bushes. I'm not a Smashing Pumpkins fan, but that is just want I did this morning with a few of my larger pumpkins as a treat for the squirrels . They had already been chewing on the thick outer shells of many of the small pumpkins I have lined up by my back drive, so I thought I'd make it a little easier for them and the birds to get at the good stuff inside.

Darn! Somebody beat me to the idea of a "What Happens in the Garden, Stays in the Garden" T-shirt and the pricing is much better than I could offer through our magazine's T-shirt page. I even like their design better than what I'd had in mind. Oh well, back to potting up bulbs for indoor forcing and dreaming up my next get rich quick scheme.
How are you spending your Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 27 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

Pictured here are a couple of the mum topiaries from the annual Chrysanthemum Society show in the conservatories at Brookside. This temporary display closes on Sunday, so get out there and see it in person asap.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gardening After Dark

Today was a rare glorious 60+ degree autumn day. No chill wind. No gloomy fog. Just a perfect dawn of jacket-free weather. I ditched my pile of paperwork and the big email backlog to spend the afternoon planting bulbs, moving azaleas, potting up begonias for indoor window sills, and general mucking up the garden. I only came in when I did as it got too dark to see the ground. You know you are garden-crazy when you start to consider investing in a miner's helmet light!

I posted about the practice of post-dusk gardening back in July here and observed how an innocent gardener can easily be mistaken for a nefarious grave digger. I know if one of my neighbors was out there hacking away at the earth past their bedtime, I'd have to seriously consider a call to the cops. It is just as well the darkness forces me indoors, when else would I have time to write these blog posts or browse through my seed catalogs?

Pictured here is one of the new displays at Brookside's Garden of Lights. Strolling through holiday light displays is one nighttime activity in the garden that we can all enjoy without raising undue suspicions.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hail the New Queen, Same As the Old Queen?

Okay not quite "Queen," but after handing over my presidency of the Takoma Hort Club last week, last night I was elected president of the Silver Spring Garden Club - they have no web site to link to or online presence of any kind - that shall soon change. I don't think they are quite aware the changes that will be coming - LOL. My impression is they are quite happy with the status quo, as they should be since Alice Frandsen, their president for their last 15 years, did such a wonderful job and really built it up into one of the biggest and best garden clubs in the area. However, this is the 21st C though and I'm about to drag them into it.

Last night's meeting we were treated to a talk about the British embassy gardens and the recent visit by QE2. We were joking post-election about just how I should be addressed. Madame President? -- too stuffy. El Jefe? -- too stern. I'm thinking more along the lines of Your Grace or Your Excellency -- something that calls out a particular admirable trait in one. Maybe, Your Greenness?

More gorgeous local fall foliage from north up New Hampshire Avenue pictured here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Keep on Fallin'

(With apologies to Alicia Keys.) The autumnal leaf display of the greater DC area is one of the most beautiful that I've ever seen. Despite the dire predictions from our drought-plagued summer, the trees are putting on a show straight out a Buchanan tartan plaid. Even my usually drab brown oaks are an intense deep red. Hope you all get out for a walk in a local park this holiday week for some leaf-peeping and photo shooting.

To get a weekly fall foliage update for Virginia go to or call the Fall Foliage Hotline 800-424-LOVE. No such site for DC or MD that I've found.

Pictured here is a small oak tree (I think) from along the C&O Canal up by the MD-WV border.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Making My Bed

Our first in a five-time ad order in the Washington Post Book World appears today.

I spent this morning visiting a local garden in the Japanese-style with the Four Seasons Garden Club, then planting bulbs in a nearby park, then refurbishing my 4x8 ft edibles bed. I was actually not planning on doing that bed over today -- it was towards to bottom of a long list of tasks I have and certainly many other things are more pressing like taking out my screen doors and putting in the glass ones. However, I found some perfectly usable lumber sticking out of a dumpster across the street and inspiration struck. Several trips back and forth following by several bucketfuls of animal manure compost and the bed is a blank, rich chocalate brown palette just waiting for seed next spring. I have no idea just what I'll plant, as I tend to pick edibles not for necessity, but instead for which is most fun to grow. I'm thinking the Moon and Stars heirloom watermelon and those Baby Boo small white pumpkins. We shall see what muse strikes me at the next growing season.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas is 40 Days Away - Got Your Shopping Done Yet?

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 38 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. This list is a special Holiday Season Preview edition. I took this photo of a gardener hard at work during last year's Garden of Lights at Brookside.

Preparing that event list caused me to move out of my autumn bliss and into winter angst. In general, I shun the rushing of the seasons. People starting talking and prepping for them weeks/months in advance and the second they arrive, they are on to the next occasion. Of course, it happens every year at Christmas. I can't stand when people ask why my tree is still up and decorated on January 5 -- Hello! Epiphany, anyone? Christmas starts, not ends, on December 25.
The seasonal rushing that I really notice and abhor is the Memorial Day to Labor Day period -- I want to wallow in what little springtime we get in DC. Don't tell me it is summer "now" when that is actually 3 weeks away by the calendar and Farmer's Almanac. Further, do NOT tell me on Labor Day summer is over and the pools are all closing when we still have a good month of great swimming weather!

So here we are a week before Thanksgiving and we are already talking about shopping for presents and decorating with lights, if you want to get a jump on the season join me at the Holiday Open Houses at Behnkes in Beltsville tonight 6:30-9pm and at their Potomac location on Saturday from 12-4pm. Local crafters will be there along with Santa. Come by our Washington Gardener Magazine table -- we will have current and back issues on sale, holiday gift subscriptions, taking renewals, etc. Even if you are like me and are not yet ready to get into the Christmas spirit, come by to meet some fellow gardeners in a genial setting and enjoy a cup of hot cider.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Autumn Blooms

Since I'm always crazy busy on the 15th of the month and tomorrow is no exception with a press conference on the National Mall in the AM, getting the latest issue of our Enews out in the afternoon, and doing a table at the Holiday Open House at Behnkes in Beltsville in the PM, I'm posting my Gardener Bloggers Bloom Day entries today.

The first photo is of a colchicum which just popped up after the steady rains we had for the past few days. I had given up all hope that the batch of fall-blooming bulbs I'd ordered were ever coming up -- this one bloomed and is being followed by about 5 others. Late, but certainly welcome.

The second photo is of another Mum Society seedling purchase (see earlier Go Team entry). Again, can't recall this one's name. I'm going to call it "Mum Sandwich," since all the blooms are in tight bunches of 3-4 flowerheads like this one.

Aside from these two, I have the following on parade at the moment:

  • Alyssum
  • Aster monch
  • Beautyberry/Callicarpa - not blooms, just brilliant purple berries
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Cosmos
  • Grasses (various)
  • Hydrangea (red)
  • Impatiens
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Mums, various including Sheffield Pink
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Rhododendron PJM
  • Roses (Alba Meidiland)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Tulip Thief

The latest edition of the free weekly Washington City Paper reports on a disturbing incidence of theft on Capitol Hill. No, not your tax dollars -- this time. Apparently now folks in DC have to chain down their newly planted bulbs. Full report is here. Now I can see why some people are tempted to steal blooming roses or figs or tomatoes -- even though I find the practice about as low as selling crack to preschoolers-- but I cannot wrap my head around the effort and lunacy it takes to actually go and dig up someone's unsprouted bulbs. You'd have to know when and where they are planted -- I assume by observing them, then you have to trespass and risk getting caught digging them back up -- all-in-all not a quick operation. That is a lot of premeditation for something that is worth around 50 cents each. In the article they mention a possible secondary market - to whom? Does anyone out there buy their bulbs on a street corner from some shady old man? I think not. Tulip bulbs are edible, so I wonder if that is it. Hunger I get though there are certainly easier ways to obtain a free meal in this city.

(Photo courtesy of

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Are you kidding me?

Our latest WAMU Metro Connection gardening segment is now online here. If the link moves, you can always go to then put in my last name "Jentz" in their search option.

Today I went out to Star Gazing Farm in Boyds, MD, to pick up several buckets full of composted animal manure. They are testing the process plus results and hope to have it for sale next year. Since I was getting dirty in the muck, I did not bring my camera. What a big mistake! The animals were in rare form today. One goat in particular needs a little home-training. I took his pic from of their web site where I also see his bio shows his name is Newman. Yeah, he looks all cut and innocent, doesn't he? He fooled me too -- at first. But then he started trying to over turn the buckets of manure compost, get between me and the shovel, open the car doors, get inside the car trunk, pull out the tarps, etc. All in a matter of about 30 seconds. His picture here also doesn't convey his size -- he comes to about my shoulders and his head is same size as mine, which means his horns are petty formidable. As goats go, he was fairly harmless, but he sure would be a pain to have around on a regular basis.

When I spoke on that WAMU segment this week about "Gardening with Kids,"this is definitely NOT what I had in mind.

Update: After writing this blog entry, I read Newman's full bio story here. It appears he is quite the infamous scamp and clearly my experience with him was not unique.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Baby Boomers and Their Aching Backs

Our latest article in the Washington Examiner is out today. Read the article online here (Real Estate section - November 9 2007 edition - page 6), 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 on Baby Boomer Gardening. Specifically how aging boomers have impacted gardening trends in the last few years. My subhead that didn't make it in the Examiner was "Perennials are Going Out, Along with their Backs."

This morning I saw a piece on one of the early shows on the Millennial generation, who is now hitting the college and job market. They described these kids as being in for a shock when they start real jobs and have to do actually do work since none of them spent summers doing yard work, working in food service, baby-sitting, etc. -- as none of those activities would get you into a good school. Are we really raising generations of kids that think this way?

One thing I can say about Boomers is, as a group, they certainly are not afraid to get their nails dirty and jump in there to do the hard, manual labor.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Go Team!

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 27 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

The WAMU's Metro Connection radio show segment on "Gardening with Children" should air tomorrow than be archived on their site. I'll post a new link as soon as it is up.

Today I also book a 5-times as for the Washington Post Book World's classified section for the holiday season. I debated on that versus the Magazine or the Home section. In comparing ad prices, Book World wins hands down and frequency is the key. Also I think in Book World I reach more "readers" versus "skimmers" -- the readers are the ones more apt to actually subscribe. It should start running 11/18 through 12/16.

In the middle of sending out renewal notices now - fun, fun, fun. Actually not that bad, stuffing envelopes and slapping on stickers while watching "Ugly Betty" next to the fireplace with a cat curled on your lap is a pretty nice evening in.

Pictured here is a mum I got from one of the local Chrysanthemum Society sales last spring - I think the starts were $1.50 each or so. All I remember is I bought 3 different plants, stuck them in, and promptly ignored them -- no pinching in July as I should have and no watering throughout the drought. For that, they did pretty well. This one has a name like "Redskin Fan" - I forgot to note the exact title it had in my garden journal, but I do remember that it was described as blooming in the team colors and sure enough it is.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Spreading the Karma

This weekend I put together baskets full of gardening goodies along with a gift subscription to our Washington Gardener Magazine for two silent auctions. The first took place last night, The Farmlands Feast, and was a benefit for the FreshFram Markets. The second is the 43rd Annual Holy Cross Hospital Celebration Gala, which is this Saturday, 11/10. If you take a look at the silent auction catalog see item #28 -- they added to our gardener's basket of our magazine, tools, lotions, seeds, etc. a $300 Stadler gift certificate -- now that is something to bid on!

Today I was going through my October '07 WETA guide on my way to the recycle bin and saw that the "Hometown Hero" last month was Butterfly Bob. Since I missed it on the air, I watched it online here. Robert Speaker is truly a hero for giving his time to the butterfly project at the Washington Youth Garden. It takes a special and patient person to work with kids, plants, and butterflies on a regular basis.

Someone left a nasty, anonymous note under my back door yesterday morning. I won't go into the details of it except to say this cowardly bully has a problem with the way I maintain my yard and what I plant in it. Clearly he/she is not mature enough to actually address me in a direct manner nor sign their name to their opinion.

Pictured with this entry is my front entrance - I'll be switching out the seasonal items soon. Have to say I'm enjoying the orange motif for now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nov/Dec 07 Magazine Issue Out

The November/December 2007 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is hot off the press and now mailing to all of our subscribers.

This issue featured a "Gardening with Children" cover story. I'll be on WAMU's Metro Connection show talking about that very subject this week. I hear from so many wannabe gardeners that they don't have time to get out there because they "have kids." Now that has to be the lamest excuse I've heard. Seems to me once they are past the put-everything-in-their-mouth phase, kids and gardens are a natural match. My friends with young ones always complain about the ferocious energy-level these tykes have, get them in the garden I say! Give them a small shovel and have them dig a few rows for your spring-blooming bulbs. Call them dinosaur eggs or whatever you have to get them in the planting mood. That should keep them busy and productive for at least two hours this weekend.
This issue has pages of ideas for getting young gardeners growing into green thumbs. You can subscribe now online or by mail or see us at a number of upcoming holiday season events to subscribe in person. Our upcoming events schedule is on the front page of our web site.

It was such balmy weather today that I planted a half-dozen pots of pansies into my hanging window boxes. I should have taken more advantage and heeled in a number of perennials I've been sent to trial out. They are all in 4" (or less) pots and are "not ready for prime time" so to speak nor do I really know where I eventually want to put them in the garden so they sit by my potting shed until my procrastination gives way to action. I predict that will be about the same time as our first snow flurries. At which ppint, I'll shove them all together under a leaf pile for planting next spring.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bee Minus

I saw the Bee Movie at a preview screening earlier this week, but didn't want to blog on it until after it was released and folks got a chance to see it. I'm not going to spoil the story line in any case. I had mixed feelings about this one.

On the one-hand, I really enjoyed it. Some good laughs and overall I'm clearly FOR bees and all pollinators. On the other-hand, this movie gets so many things factually wrong it is almost bizarre. In some aspects they are scrupulous in detail, in others they treat pollination like it is fairy tale magic. One spore of pollen just touches a dead plant and it springs back to life in full bloom no less -- don't all we gardeners wish it were so! I won't even go into the depictions of cherry trees and roses blooming in tandem and Central Park as a ridiculously opulent ocean of flowers.

Now far be it from me to want to spoil a good story with the facts, but I think this movie sends out some weird mixed social messages and the morality of the "good" characters is wobbly to say the least. Some bugs are okay to kill and it is even funny to do so. Sometimes you can break the rules just as long as it benefits you personally. Ignore all the Hollywood movies that tell you to be an individual, being part of the group is better -- except when it isn't. You come out of it wondering if any of the plot lines were actually thought through or they just threw together a bunch of funny-sounding scenes. I expect better from the talents involved, that's why this movie rates a B- in my book.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Hangover

Why isn't Halloween a national holiday? People have to leave work early anyway to rush home to make it before dark plus get the kids dressed, fed, and out the door. And does ANY school work really get done that day?

Last night I assisted in my niece's trick-or-treating out in the suburbs. They are pictured here -- two cats that think they are just purr-fect. We were followed around by a real orange-and-white adolescent cat. I suppose he had a sweet tooth as well or just figured some kind of treats might come his way.

BTW, here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 25 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

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