Monday, December 31, 2007

Swapping Seeds: A Gardening Tradition and Hallmark of GREEN Living!

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 Third Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, takes place on January 26, 2008 at the Brookside Gardens visitor center in Wheaton, MD. 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 garden book and catalog swap. Participants are encouraged to bring their gently used garden books and mailorder garden catalogs to trade with each other. Any leftover publications at the end of the swap will be donated to the National Agriculture Library in Beltsville, MD.

The first annual Washington Seed Exchange 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 each year 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 encouraged to send in their registrations by January 20. A brochure with registration form can be printed out from the PDF posted here.

Please help spread the word on this fun, green event!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Chores

Last Friday was a decent day to work outside -- in the 50s and hardly any wind. So local gardening man for hire, Dan (pictured here trimmed up one of my variegated euonymous bushes), and I tackled the jungle in my back garden and tamed most of it. I cleaned out the pond and discovered two "floater" goldfish -- RIP. Dan cut my wisteria down to a 3-ft nub and I plan on training it as a standard (i.e. small tree form). I planted another 100+ bulbs that arrived last week as a gift from Brent & Becky's. We rescued my arbor that the wisteria was twisting and crippling. It is now moved to the front yard garden. Dan raked up piles of Oak leaves. This was after I'd already done one thorough raking out for curbside pick-up in November. We bagged up most of the leaves, but added another 6ft x 10ft pile to my compost corner as well. It should go down a bit in volume over the winter, but it will take a couple years to be usable as compost. Dan hacked back most of my roses and other shrubs. I trimmed my flowering plum and crabapple trees a bit too. Not exactly the right time of year for this pruning, but like our former Governor-- they desperately needed a good haircut! I still have much to do -- a pile of compost/mulch in my driveway to spread on all my front and side yard beds, a living Christmas tree (blue spruce) to harden off and transplant outside, still more leaves to rake from my side yard, a potting bench I have yet to put together (18 months and counting!), and much, much more. It was a good 7 hour day of work though and my back area beds have never looked so spic and span. :-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reindeer Games

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 23 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

You will not have found listed in the Examiner one of the best area garden events of the past week, as it was invite-only. The Four Seasons Garden Club's annual holiday party was the perfect observance of the Winter Solstice. Greenery and tree provided by Behnke Nurseries Co. Special guest Rudolph the Red-Nosed (err, Red-Balled?) Reindeer made a fashionably late appearance and in a complete reversal of Reindeer legend actually governed the Dirty Santa gift exchange game.

I often hear complaints at other garden clubs of "where are all the men?" I'll let the photos, courtesy of LAUDBEARDC, speak for themselves.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Berry Christmas!

I had been saving this link until a particularly depressing and dreary day. I'd say that a gray, rainy, and cold day-after-Christmas fits the bill. Here is a bit of summertime dreaming to cheer you up. The Washington City Paper had published an article last June comparing demure, local Maryland strawberries to their Goliath-like California cousins. Who won? Puh-lease. No contest. Read the mouth-watering piece here and if you froze any of those wonderful local berries, time to thaw some out and mix yourself a nice year-end margarita.

We wrote about growing your own strawberries in one of our first issues and I had decent success with a patch of Ozark Beauty ever-bearing ones. (That was my biggest "bumper crop" pictured here.) However, visiting creatures ate more than I did. Plus, they are not long-lived plants and all have pretty much petered out. Looking over all the drool-worthy garden catalogs now flooding my mailbox, I'm tempted to purchase another two-dozen plants. Instead I'll leave it up to our expert local growers and just visit their pick-your-own fields once or twice next June to gather a few pails full. That will leave my sunny edibles patch open to try out some more experimental goodies.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Since a white Christmas is not predicted for the DC region, I thought I'd pull out this photo from our little "snow event" earlier this month. Have a wonderful rest of 2007!
I'll probably post here a few more times before the year is out, but I know many of you are already gone (maybe just mentally?) and won't be catching up with your blog reading until 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

DC Rats Party in Wee Hours

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. No big surprise that most of the events are Christmas-related.

I'm scrambling to get the Jan/Feb issue of Washington Gardener Magazine finished and to the printer before this weekend. I feel like the whole world has taken off work these past few weeks and it is making it tough to get those last few photos, stories, ads, etc. pried out of them so I can complete the layout. Clue to PR folks everywhere: if you want to pitch a story to your local media, holiday and vacation time is a great window and be available for last-minute, odd-hour calls -- our usual sources are all MIA and real news is pretty scarce.

Meanwhile, I'm at the DC Holiday Market in booth #3 (Antique Prints) today and tomorrow. I have shifted my hours to 11am-1pm as the few folks who did walk through the market before 11am were not interested in doing anything but looking and chatting.

I have a gross story to share about city wildlife. ** Stop reading here if you have a delicate constitution.** Yesterday, as I was opening the booth for the day and putting everything to rights, I looked down and saw the toolbox had been pushed forward and was peaking out from under the back table. Thinking it was a bit odd, but not terribly unusual, I lifted up the table skirt to push it back in. What greeted me was the detritus of a rocking rodent holiday party. Scattered, half-chewed chocolate-covered pretzels, rat urine, and miniature poops -- all neatly arranged on a plastic case lid that had fallen just behind the toolbox. No one who worked in or near the booth will admit having left those pretzels out, so I can only guess that some rats found them in a nearby garbage can and brought them over for sharing at their party. I don't know if I'm more miffed about the leftover mess or about not receiving an invitation! Where is the Inside Edition rat patrol when you need them to enforce these etiquette rules?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wanted: the BEST in Gardening Photography from the Greater DC Region!

Enter the Second Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest and have a chance of getting your winning images published! Whether your take the photos in your own backyard, a nearby public garden, or while visiting friends and family in their local gardens, there are so many photographic opportunities to be found. Let’s show off the best in DC-area gardening!

This year we have added a new entry category for a total of three classifications:
Garden Views: Beautiful, dramatic, or unusual perspectives of a garden landscape, including wide shots showing the setting. Subject can be a private or public garden.
Small Wonders: Tight close-up images or macro shots of a single flowers, plant parts, fruits, vegetables, etc. Subject can be photographed in a private or public garden.
Garden Creatures: Images of insects, birds, frogs, domestic pets, etc. in a private or public garden setting.

This contest offers an opportunity for all levels of photographers to present their best shots of gardens in the greater Washington, DC area. Contest entries will be judged on technical quality, composition, originality, and artistic merit. More than $500 in prizes will be awarded!

For the full details and entry form, see this page on our web site or see the full details in the Jan/Feb '08 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Penguin Fever

March of the Penguins was "okay." Happy Feet was just alright, despite the stellar use of Prince songs. You want penguins to swoon over? Take a look at these felted penguins created by the staff of Green Spring Gardens who created many wonderful bird-themed holiday decor vignettes all over the property. The penguin-graced mantel is on display in the Green Spring's manor house at the public gardens in Fairfax County, VA. I got am up-close look at them during the recent Gardener's Open House they held there. The decorations will be on view until early January. I fell in love with these cuties, but they are not for sale! Too bad, I would've scooped them all up. I'm not the only one, seems many others became enchanted and the staff is discussing making more to sell in their gift shop next holiday season as well as offering a class in felting and how to make these fabulous, flightless birds. I'll be first in line for both.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dec 15 '07 Washington Gardener Enews Now Out

The Washington Gardener Enews 12/15/07 edition was sent yesterday and is now archived. This monthly online newsletter is a complement to Washington Gardener Magazine and is fully supported by subscriptions to the print publication. If you are not already a subscriber, please consider signing up for a magazine subscription today.

Read it online anytime here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bloom Day

Here is my monthly posting for the Gardener Bloggers Bloom Day. Like most others in Zone 7, I have just a few pansies and such outdoors, but inside I have a real indoor garden riot. I lost my one blooming orchid to a cat-astrophe (see previous post here). I'm making up for it with paperwhites, Christmas Cactus, and poinsettias in every room. I also have blooms on some of the tender plants I brought in to winter over including begonias and coleus. I left my geraniums out too long this year and they got badly iced but a surprise deep freeze last week :-(. It will be another month or so before all the bulbs I'm forcing are ready to emerge from my vegetable crisper drawers. I had to laugh at a house guest who came over and actually thought I'd stocked those drawers full of good-for-you vegetables and tried to pull some of the promising bags out. While the tulip bulbs are edible*, as they are already potted up in premium soil, I prefer my guests snack from my cookie jars and junk food cabinets instead.

*According to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm: "All parts of tulips are edible and the bulb can be substituted for onions (although they are a little more expensive and less flavorful). The petals have little taste but can be used to garnish a dish, chop a few petals and throw them in a salad, sugar them to decorate a cake or use the entire flower for a fruit bowl, pinching out the pistil and stamen in the middle."

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Little Fruity?

Tip of the mouse to friend and fellow blogger, Julie B, who passed on a link to the Fallen Fruit group. Apparently these folks did not read Genesis and had not learned the lesson about picking forbidden fruit. They believe that any fruit reachable from a sidewalk, alley, etc. is grown there for the sharing. They write on one "nocturnal fruit forage":
We meet a lot of residents when we stop in front of their houses with flashlights,shopping carts, bags and fruit pickers. They are usually happy to see us and offer to let us pick more fruit inside their properties. Its rare, at least in LA, to find people who actually use much or even any of the fruit growing on their properties. The mission of FallenFruit is to change that.
Note that "usually happy" point. Can we hear about those that are not so happy? Now this may be an East Coast vs West Coast thing, but I'm thinking that around here that practice may get you a beat down or arrested. If you have a fruit tree in your yard and some branches overhang into a public right-of-way, how do you feel about this? It'd be one thing if they scouted out trees, contacted the owners, and got permission in advance to glean from them. It is an entirely other thing to be coming up to homes at night, declaring the fruit "public," and essentially stealing it. I fully appreciate the attempt to eliminate so much waste, but is this the best way to go about it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gift-Giving Made Easy

Get the gardeners in your life a gift subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine. We send your giftee the current issue and a personalized gift card -- 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.

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 28 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ad Libs

Our 2008 Media Kit is now posted online here. It contains all of our advertising details including the ultra-bargain $100 classified ads we have recently added to the magazine. Also in the media kit is our editorial calendar of deadlines and themes through early 2009.

I'm doing a big push now to get new advertisers and focus more on that aspect of the magazine's revenue potential. With the help of friend, Nancy Burns, we are tring to making in-roads with the local garden centers and suppliers. To me it seems like a no-brainer that these folks should be part of our publication that reaches 5,000+ gardening fanatics in the DC-area, but ad sales are a tough business and not for the faint of heart. Any tips you can share are much appreciated!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Urban Park Springs to Life

Today I was at a ceremonial tree planting and photo opportunity at a new, much-needed green space in downtown Silver Spring. The park is located at the corner of Burlington (Rt. 410) and Fenton.* Many of you in the area may recall that just a few years ago this site was an unattractive entry to our downtown district. It had a large, ugly billboard and condemned home. The lot was filled with trash and debris. At the urging of the East Silver Spring Citizens Association (ESSCA), the parks department has done a wonderful job in cleaning up, re-grading, and landscaping the property.

Recently, local residents (including yours truly) planted over 200 tulip bulbs there. They were donated by the Takoma Horticultural Club. The planting today was of a Crabapple Tree and Ginkgo Tree -- both chosen for their beauty, longevity, and pollution resistance. The trees were purchased through a grant from the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Fund and matching funds from ESSCA.

It is the goal of ESSCA to see this property joined with the nearby Fenton Street Park by the purchase of the corner property separating the two sections of the park. Once this is accomplished in accordance with Silver Spring CBD Master Plan, we will have a green space that is an anchor to the Fenton Village and appropriate, welcoming gateway to our community. Silver Spring residents, businesses, Montgomery College students, bike path users, and many others, have all expressed a desire to see this gateway to downtown Silver Spring become an attractive asset and restful green space for the entire community to enjoy.

Pictured here is the "before" photo I took of the park site a year ago. This is after the billboard and condemned house were removed -- at which point it became a mud pit and illegal parking lot. The "after" picture here is from today's planting. It gives you just a taste of the future great green space it can soon become.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Forget All Your Troubles, Forget All Your Cares

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. Item #3 is the Gardeners' Holiday at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA, this Sunday, December 9. I'll have a table there from 12-4PM. Please stop by to place gift subscriptions to Washington Gardener Magazine, purchase current and back issues, etc. I don't get out to old Commonwealth as often as I'd like so catch me there during one of my rare sojourn's across the Potomac. Green Spring's Garden Gate Gift Shop has a fabulous collection of gardening tools, apparel, and books available to round out your gardening gift basket. While shopping enjoy free refreshments, holiday music and view the beautiful decorations fashioned by their talented volunteers and staff.

My brother, Ulli, has a booth for his "Jentz Prints" antique print sales from Friday, December 7 - Sunday, December 23 at the Downtown Holiday Market. I'll be helping out there on 12/10, 12/14, and 12/17-21 from 10:30am to 12:00noon (or so). I'll have the November/December 07 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine with me and can also take subscription and gift orders. The holiday market is on the F Street sidewalk between 7th and 8th Streets, NW in front of the National Portrait Gallery. A festive atmosphere and live musical entertainment will accompany more than 50 local exhibitors and artisans selling a diverse array of goods and high-quality gift items, such as photography, jewelry, knits, paintings, cultural crafts, seasonal beverages, prepared foods, and more.

I'll be doing a lot of my Christmas shopping at both of these events as my own holiday preparation are woefully behind schedule. I usually have my cards sent, lights hung, and tree up by now. At this point, I'll be happy if I just get the cards out before Santa's arrival. Maybe this year I'll just enjoy everyone else's light and tree displays. And don't even bring up cookie baking! I try out one new recipe each holiday season. That might still happen as I've stocked up on baking supplies (except eggs!), but may be one of those delirious, late-night in the kitchen sessions. The late-night-baking cookie results are often delicious though not necessarily photogenic or gift-worthy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Snow of the Season

Thank goodness that Drena, our staff photographer, came over yesterday for a photo shoot of useful garden tools and not later in the week. The snow is picturesque, but would look out of place in our early spring issue.
I'm posting a couple pics I took in my side yard today of this first snow of the season. The local weather folks are always alarmist, so I ignored their snow forecasts -- thinking if we do get any, it'd be a dusting at most. Well, I can admit when I was wrong and the predictions were dead on it. It looks pretty out there right now - an unusual, white Hanukkah. Wonder what Christmas day and New Year's will bring?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blown Away

I often say it is not the cold I hate so much as the wind. I can handle a cold, calm day. A cold, windy day is just outright inhumane torture. For the past 24 hours or so we've been getting sustained 50 mph winds. In short, stepping outside to get the mail sucks and blows. One good thing that has come of it as that in the past day all the leaves from my five huge, 75+-year-old oak trees have come down -- and I do mean all at once. Yesterday, I had a shady back yard. This morning there was full sun and about a two-foot feet thick layer of leaves on the ground. By this afternoon, thanks to the winds, many of those leaves have blown on down the street. How can I arrange this natural leaf-blower action every year?

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