Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years = New Photo Contest Season + Happy Hunting

The 3rd Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest entry period runs from January 1-21, 2009.

The winners are announced at the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange on January 31, 2009 and then are published in the March/April 09 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine and are displayed at a local art show, PhotoSynthesis, this spring.

For a complete list of the 2009 contest rules, download the PDF linked here. A blank Word .doc entry form can be downloaded here.

We look forward to seeing your wonderful work!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas Trip

One of the best kept secrets in DC is that Christmas Day is a perfect time to visit all the downtown monuments and the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Mall -- much easier parking and non-rush fares on Metro, crowds are fewer, and the holiday decorations are still fresh. Not just the outside gardens, but the USBG's main building is open too. (Tip: do not go near the USBG bathrooms that day unless truly desperate -- phew!) When I arrived on Christmas afternoon, it was crowded with families and couples. I'd wager fewer than 5% of those I saw there or viewing the Capitol Christmas Tree are from the DC-area. Judging by the bus-full of Japanese college students that pulled up, tour operators know about this Christmas Day option, but we need to let the hometown crowd know that there is an alternative to crowded movie theaters and bad Chinese food when the house starts to close in on them and they need a little air. Also surprisingly open on Christmas Day itself is Mt. Vernon, one of these years I'll make it over there to see that in full holiday regalia.

The day after Christmas, I toured Hillwood to see the Christmas decor and the winter interest in the gardens. This was my first time seeing it at this time of year and it is was stunning. During the growing season you don't realize how many gorgeous conifers and other evergreens are on the estate. The orchid house is a big draw as well. The perfumed air hits you as you enter and They close for the whole month of January, so you need to get over there quickly.
We have done in depth Daytrip articles in Washington Gardener magazine on Mt. Vernon, Hillwood, and the USBG, which can be purchased in our back issue collection. It is always fun to revisit them and see how they change each season.
We are blessed in the greater DC-area to have so much within an easy travel distance to us. We have covered many of the local gardening attractions in the past 4 years of the magazine, you'd think I'd be stumped for more entries to visit. On the contrary, I have a folder stuffed with brochures for "must do" places and we have just begun to hit the highlights. For 2009, we have many more Daytrips planned. Look for features on local wineries, knot gardens, and a few more surprises in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Linking In

Today my Google alerts brought me a flood of Washington Gardener links. Of course, some are way old and others totally irrelevant to us (such as citations for Washington Gardner Elementary School), but three new ones caught my eye.

Two were mentions in this month's issue of my hometown paper the Takoma/Silver Spring Voice -- both by friends and fellow garden writers -- A Garden Survey for Winter 2008-2009 Washington and Fruit trees for suburban growers.

The last link of interest was a very nice video review from the Left Coast, which I never would have stumbled across if it weren't for Google. Ann Robinson of The Oregonian says:
CONTENT *** (excellent)
While watching one after another video on putting a garden to bed, I picked up lots of helpful tips that I think my garden will thank me for, such as collecting seeds and sowing a cover crop. It's hard to face the reality that the garden's done for the year, but the simple, clear advice helped get me motivated. Many of these segments are done by Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington (D.C.) Gardener magazine. Read the rest of her review here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Tips on Whitefly and Fungus Gnat Control

Carol Allen, Certified Professional Horticulturist IPM Specialist, read the recent blog link to our current Washington Gardener Enews issue and our cover story on indoor plant pests. She sent along a couple of suggestions and comments:

First - You will bring in fungus gnats for sure with your potted poinsettias and amaryllis. Though the large producers make an attempt to control them, it is inevitable that you will get one or two and they will multiply! Your suggestions of running your plants on the dry side is a good one- especially with poinsettias and amaryllis - those are the conditions they prefer in our low light homes.

A first line of defense would be to replace the top inch or so of the potting medium immediately. New potting soil is fine, there is no need to use sand. Sand would only keep the top layer dryer. The adults will lay eggs in it if it is moist. The fungus gnat larva reside in the top layer where they can get oxygen. They don't go much deeper because conditions are too anaerobic. Also, fungus gnats feed mostly on decaying organic matter, with an occasional snack on roots. Especially dying roots from overwatering. Do we see a correlation here? Uh-huh!

Sticky traps will slow down the adult population only - but that helps. The best control is predatory nematodes applied to the soil surface. These little tiny bug-seeking-missiles-of-doom ferret out the fungus gnat larvae and re-create some thing from a Steven Spielberg movie. I leave the rest to your imagination. Scanmask is a tradename. We carry it at Johnson's in NW and it is available on line. The only downside is that it makes a large quantity, but it stores in the refrigerator - the nematodes are in a dry stasis, no need to fear for your lasagna - for 20 months.
As for whiteflies and scale - a wiping down of the leaves will help, but a magnifying lens to see what you are doing would improve your chances of getting rid of eggs, pupae and larvae. I suggest you use a neem or horticultural oil spray instead of insecticidal soap. The soaps are pretty useless on any phase other than larvae and adults (whitefly) and only larva (crawlers) of scale insects. The eggs and pupae will go unmolested. Insecticidal soap has been known to damage new plant growth, another reason why most IPM folks prefer the oils.

Thanks, Carol. Many of you local DC-area gardeners may know Carol (aka The Orchid Lady) from her frequent orchid repotting workshops and her talks she gives at many local area garden clubs. Which reminds me that I'm booking the 2009 Silver Spring Garden Club speaker schedule next week and I need to add Carol on to that roster.

Photo by Jack Dykinga, ARS.USDA.GOV. Pictured is a tiny pirate bug, Oris insidiosus, feeding on whitefly nymphs.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Can of Spotted Dick?

Sarah Palin came to the Four Seasons Garden Club's annual Holiday Party last night to preside over the gift giving exchange. Ever the maverick, this plucky gal wore her furs and held court as if she had actually won the recent elections. You betcha!

At one point in the exchange, I ended up with a can of Spotted Dick. My mind immediately began to run down the list of folks to re-gift this too as a joke, but I was saved later in the exchange when someone actually willingly traded me for it. I imagine that the can may come back for an appearance at next year's exchange.

The most fought over gifts were a garden trowel and a hyacinth bulb with forcing vase. In a room full of gardeners, these items traded hands numerous times and I had the hyacinth myself for about half the trading time. My ploy at keeping it out of sight under a nearby chair did not work as it was never out of mind it turned out. I ended up with a quite nice Orchid photo and a quite tacky Wacky Wakers rooster alarm clock. Don't be surprised if that alarm returns next year!

Photo credit: Wendy Bell.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Annapolis Outlaws Lawn Fertilizer

I was happy to see the email yesterday from Suzanne Klicks, University of Maryland, Central MD Research & Education Center, announcing the City of Annapolis had passed legislation that bans lawn fertilizer sale or use within the city limits and on city-owned property. They are particularly targeting anything with phosphorous in it. Organic fertilizers (compost) are allowed as is using fertilizer on brand new lawns, in garden beds, on trees/shrubs, and in greenhouses. This a great step, but reading through the details I see it really is just a case of the City of Annapolis having to legislate commonsense. Provisions of the new law include:
~ No person shall apply lawn fertilizer when the ground is frozen.
~ No person shall cause fertilizer to be applied to or run onto any impervious surface including parking lots, roadways, and sidewalks. If such application, occurs the fertilizer must be immediately contained and collected and either legally applied to turf or placed in an appropriate container.
You think?!? It is a sad day, my friends, when the city has to actually tell you these things and fines if you don't follow through.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Subscriptions and Renewals

New Gift Subscriptions:

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 can 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 before December 22, we can get it to your giftee by Christmas.

Renewal Gift Subscriptions:
If you gave a gift subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine last year and want to renew it, we will send your giftee a postcard alerting them of your renewal. To renew your gift for one year, just send a check for $20 with your order details to: Washington Gardener Magazine, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910. If you would like to renew the gift by credit card or Paypal, let us know and we can send you an online invoice. As long as we get it before December 22, we can get the postcard to your giftee by Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Few Days Away

I'm here in Indiana for my grandmother's funeral. Not a planned trip and certainly not good timing - but when is it ever? My grandmother, Mamie, was 93 and passed in her sleep so I can be thankful for some blessings.

I'm actually typing this from the Francesville town library, one of those old Carnegie grant buildings -- now remodeled and outfitted with a bank of online computers -- just one old farmer and me typing away on a quiet Friday afternoon. You've got to love small towns.

I plan to be back home Sunday night and to get out the Washington Gardener Enews on schedule 12/15 and then pour myself back into working on the Jan-Feb 09 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine to get it off to print before the Christmas holidays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Photo Contest Season Kicks Off

You have a few days off coming up and it is time to gather and reflect on all that happened in 2008. While sorting through, be sure to look at all the photos you took this year for eligible entries into our garden photo contest. The three main entry rules are:
- the shots must have been taken in the 2008 calendar year
- the shots must have been taken within 150-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol building
- the subject of the shots must be garden-related (i.e. plants, plant parts, garden fauna, garden tools, etc.)

The 3rd Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest entry period runs from January 1-21, 2009.

The winners are announced at the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange on January 31, 2009 and then are published in the March/April 09 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine and are displayed at a local art show, PhotoSynthesis, this spring.

For a complete list of the 2009 contest rules, download the PDF linked here. A blank Word .doc entry form can be downloaded here.

Start collecting your photos for the 2009 contest. We look forward to seeing your wonderful work!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Forget All Your Troubles, Forget All Your Cares...

My brother, Ulli, again has a booth for his "Jentz Prints" antique print sales now until Wednesday, December 17 at the Downtown Holiday Market. It is in booth location #8.
I'll be helping out there on Mon-Fri from 10:30am to 12:00noon (or so). I'll have the November/December 08 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine for sale there and can also take subscription, renewals, and gift orders.
The holiday market is on the F Street sidewalk between 7th and 9th 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.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Anyone Speak Portuguese?

One of my many other hats is as President of the Silver Spring Garden Club. We are planning a trip to PORTUGAL next April. In anticipation of that trip, we have a meeting next Monday that will include a presentation by club member John Gordon of Belvedere Landscape Design on Portugal’s beautiful gardens. We will also provide full trip details and holiday treats.

If you are thinking of going on the Portugal trip with us (SSGC membership is NOT required to go, but at just $10 a year shouldn't break the bank ;-) or just want to see and hear about some stunning, sunny gardens on a chilly winter’s day, please plan on joining us. The meeting is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Monday, December 8 from 7:00-9:00PM

WHERE: Silver Spring Library’s Downstairs Main Meeting Room
8901 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910
(The library is about 5 blocks north of the Silver Spring Metro and on several bus lines.)

Will I be going myself to Portugal? Well, first I need to renew my passport which expired last year, then I need to clear those dates, and raise the funds. Then purchasing a Portuguese phrase book will be next on my list. Let's just say, I WANT to go and if we get our 20 minimum, I'll seriously be considering it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ask the Expert


Got a gardening question you need answered?

Washington Gardener Magazine is starting a new column in the print publication with our Jan/Feb 2009 issue. Our garden Q&A will be answered by the experts at Maryland's Home and Garden Information Center -- in other words, the Master Gardeners and the folks who teach the Master Gardeners.

Send your question to use subject line "Q&A" and please include your first name and what city/state you are writing from. Then look for your answered questions in upcoming issues of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Schoolyard Greening Photo Reception

Last night was the Opening Reception for the showing of the DC School Garden Week Photo Contest 2008 winning images. Washington Gardener Magazine donated some prizes for the contest and helped judge again. This was the second year of the contest and a third is planned so if you are or know a school kid in DC, get start collecting those garden photos for 2009 entries.

Washington Gardener Magazine has our own annual Garden Photo Contest and while we do not have a separate children's category, anyone of any age is encouraged to enter. The entry form is being finalized and posted this week at our web site, so look out for that.

You can see all the DC School Garden Week Photo Contest winner's images linked online here. Though if you are in downtown DC and near the MLK Library anytime in December, stop by the 2nd Floor lobby for a bit to peruse the winners on display and the cases full of related schoolyard greening information.
Pictured here at top is Grand Prize winner Melissa Wood and at bottom are Julia Hiemstra and Emma Vicini sharing 3rd place. All three winners shown here are middle schoolers at Horace Mann. That school sure puts out some great photo and gardening talent. Of the 100 photo entries turned in this year, about a third came from Horace Mann. Can you guess that one energetic teacher might be behind that trend? I hope other DC school teachers, parents, and administrators get the gardening bug and join in the schoolyard greening programs as enthusiastically.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sound the Acorn Alarm?

So first the WaPo prints a story about the lack of acorn crop this year, then today I got this in the CCAN Climate News enewsletter:
>>Have you heard the unbelievable news? Oak trees across most of Maryland have failed to produce a single acorn this year!! It's true! Some naturalists believe it could be global warming. It's the kind of ecological weirdness scientists say could be in store with more climate change.<<

C'mon now! This is just the kind of fear-mongering, quasi-scientific-based misinformation that critics of global warming will pounce on. When people write this things based on slim anecdotal evidence, it only invites more scorn and doubt on the green movement.

In my own backyard, the acorns have been quite abundant this fall, though smaller in size than the past few years. I've had so many that I had to go down to the hardware store and buy a new street-worthy broom to sweep them all up off my walks and driveway for the safety of those who walk there.

Last year and the year before, folks were yammering about the incredible acorn overload we had after a few years of light or no production. Nobody that I recall claimed it was global warming during those very unusual acorn boom years. It is just another of Mother Nature's mysterious cycles. Some years we have great tomatoes and bad melons, sometimes that reverses. Sometimes we know why (a cool, long spring) and other times we never will.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Free Shipping for Holiday Gifts

Thought I'd share this one-day-only offer from Our page of Washington Gardener gear is here. For free shipping, use coupon code: FEMHOL14.

Which reminds me to put on my marketing hat to say that Washington Gardener subscriptions make great gifts as well and they ALWAYS include shipping. To purchase a subscription for yourself or as a gift, go here.

Back to for a moment, I'm always recommending them to friends who have school or family reunion shirts to make, but also to my artist friends as a great way to get their artwork out there and order some for themselves to wear. Here are a few shops from friends and folks I'm involved with:
Feel free to add your shop address in the comments field here too.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Feeling Fruity

I know you probably can't even stand one more word about food or eating after this holiday weekend of gorging and leftovers, but over at the DC Urban Gardeners blog is a good summary of growing fruit in the metro area.
One tree not mentioned in the piece is the Mulberry. Perhaps because they have done far, far too well in our urban neighborhoods and their fruit is now considered more a curse than a treat. We always disdain what is commonplace and yearn for what we cannot have. Witness that every winter, about the end of January, I find myself in a garden center eyeing the fruiting lemon trees. Oh, how tempting they are - with that luscious smell, those glossy leaves! Yet, I pull myself away, knowing how quickly they'd die in my home, and move on to the displays of more hardy plants that will stand a chance for me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seasons of Lights

Washington Gardener Magazine is a sponsor of Brookside's Garden of Lights and we will have a Contest for free passes to Brookside's Garden of Lights as our Reader Contest next month. The show runs 11/26/08-1/4/09 (except Christmas eve and Christmas day).

A few tips on visiting the light show:
~ Go to the Visitor Center first and buy the 3-D glasses for the kiddies and yourselves -- makes for a really fun evening and you can take the glasses home to stare at your own tree and neighborhood lights.
~ Go on "off" nights - this year they are open Mon-Thurs -- the line of cars is much shorter and it is $5 less than the busier weekend nights.
~ Don't miss the new creatures - lion, giraffe, etc. and the ever popular Nessie and croaking Frog.
~ Car or van pool! Fit in as many folks as you can as the price is per vehicle not per person.
~ Bundle up - you'll be walking outside for 30+ minutes or so - and for your own sake, don't wear heels.
~ Look down. Even though your distracted by all the gorgeous light displays, be aware that the paths are dark and there may be unexpected steps - especially be careful on wet or icy nights.
~ Bring a toy or nonperishable food item to donate.
~ Finally, fill out the visitor's survey to be eligible for a prize drawing and tell them Washington Gardener Magazine sent you :-).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Latest WAMU radio segment: Lighting the Garden

Here is our segment from WAMU's Metro Connections show last Friday. (It reran a few times over the weekend as well.)

>>This is a tough time of year for gardeners. With so many of us waking up in the dark to drive to work and then leaving the office after dusk, it sometimes seems as if we won't see the garden again until spring. Kathy Jentz, Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine brings us some tips on how to light your garden during the winter months.<<

Listen to this segment:
Real Audio
Windows Media

Order a copy:
CD Transcript

Related Links:
Washington Gardener Magazine
Brookside Gardens - The Garden of Lights

New Poster Says It All

On my way to WUSA9TV to do the "Gifts for Gardeners" segment early this morning, I pulled out the new ReadyMade magazine to read on the bus ride. As usual, most of the projects are just not for me. Like the table made of scavenged parts including an old skateboard, pretty interesting, but I'm never do it nor would I want it in my home. But the reason I like ReadyMade so much is not necessarily that I'd actually make any of the actual projects they show, but that it gets you THINKING and inspired. And that, my friend, is pretty rare on the newsstand these days.

One cool thing in the issue was an article on reinventing the WPA-era posters for today. This one at left, has me jazzed. I want to see it on every t-shirt, tote bag, and billboard in the nation. You can get it as a PDF FREE DOWNLOAD. The art is by Christopher Silas Neal. He says, “Solving the world’s energy and food problems would do a great deal to strengthen the global economy, prevent disease, and reverse the effects of climate change. The original Victory Garden program was designed to ease pressure on the public agricultural supply and support the war effort by encouraging families to grow their own food. I wanted to expand this idea to the broader concept of buying and eating local food.” See more of Christopher’s work at

Saturday, November 22, 2008


So I get invited to sit in the grandstand at the Silver Spring Holiday Parade. I have seen this parade for years from various points at street level and even marched in it myself as part of the Purple Line (pro-transit) group, but I had yet to see it from the VIP section. The good part is that we are right next to Channel 7(8)'s Doug Hill announcing and explaining all the parade participants. Most are self-explanatory and are well-signed, a few though I was glad to have Doug describe. You get to hear fun facts like that Miss Maryland 2008 , Louise Schlegel, is from Silver Spring, but competed as Miss Allegany County. I see after googling her that this was her second year competing for the Miss Maryland title. I don't know about you, but for me, beauty competition are so odd a concept, it is liking learning about the strange customs of a foreign country.

The other fun part was that my friend, Saunya, got to be interviewed on her favorite part of the parade -- "the Bolivian dancing groups" for the record. After the 5th Bolivian dancing group in the route though, one wonders if there were any DC-area Bolivians NOT in the parade. The other good part of the grandstand seating is that all the groups pull out the stops when they come in front of you so that they can be filmed and judged. Though that can be a mixed blessing, it gets kinda awkward when the entire marching band is inches from your face -- you sort of don't want to stare them down, but then looking aways seems rude. Then there is the up-close, high volume brass and drum section, which today was not too bad as it was so frigid (28 degrees!) that I had 3 hoods/hats on covering my ears!

Here are some pics I took - mainly of the crew from Brookside Gardens. I'm not sure who is in the Mantis outfit. Whomever it was, he definitely had his Wheaties this morning -- a lot of pep in that step!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Lost My Impatiens

Last night's freeze was brutal and about a monthly early in my recollection. Dang, I'm wearing long johns just to retrieve the mail. What happened to autumn?! I still have many, many bulbs to put in. I'm hoping that by the weekend we get a thaw and our normal 50 degree day averages return.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sidewalk Leaf Prints

Nature-made sidewalk leaf prints are one of the few real pleasures of autumn for me. These are a few that I took with my camera phone on the walk home from yoga yesterday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gloomy Bloom Day

All my oaks dropped most of their leaves at once this week followed by three days of rain now. That means my entire place is calf-deep in wet leaves. Leaving very few blooms or much of anything to see right now until the rain leaves tonight and we have a few days o dry so I can rake these all up.

What I did manage to get a photo of today for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day was this interesting cosmos. It popped up in September and start blooming in October. Still going strong in November. I love the color variation on it and now am just waiting for it to go to seed so I can collect and save these separately. It might not come back true-to-seed, but it is worth a shot.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Top 15 Plants for Dramatic Lighting

Our cover story on Outdoor Lighting in the current issue of Washington Gardener magazine describes the many methods for lighting your garden. One thing that got bumped due to space restrictions was our top 15 listing of plants to highlight with dramatic lighting, so I thought I'd share them here. If you have any of these gorgeous trees and shrubs in your garden, take the time to look at them at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. Consider how they can be spotlighted and showcased for the best effect. Feel free to share (in the comments section) your own choices for plants that deserve spotlighting.

  • Thanks to Mark Oxley of Outdoor Illumination for providing many of the plant suggestions on this listing.

The crape myrtles pictured here are at the American University campus near a stretch of turf called "the beach."

  • American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
  • Crabapple (Malus spp.)
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
  • Dogwood (Cornus kousa and Cornus florida)
  • Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus 'Contorta' )
  • Hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha)
  • Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) and Japanese Laceleaf Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum)
  • Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
  • Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
  • Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
  • Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plans for the Weekend

Come in out of the rain Saturday and get your holiday groove on. Washington Gardener Magazine will have a table at the Behnke's Holiday Craft Festival & Open House this Saturday November 15 from 11am-7pm. We will be taking renewals, new subscriptions, gift subscriptions, and selling current/back issues. (Note that this is at their Beltsville, MD location.)
. Visit with OVER 25 Local Crafters & Vendors and discover unique gifts & hand-crafted treasures you’ll want to keep.
. Stroll through greenhouses full of beautiful Behnke Signature Poinsettias and many other colorful holiday plants
. Enter several Door Prize drawings
. Purchase Raffle Tickets. All proceeds to benefit: Autism Speaks / Cure Autism Now.
. Join in Fun Holiday Activities from 4 to 7pm
. And don’t miss a visit with Santa from 4-6pm.
Behnke's will be accepting Toys for Tots donations.

This is a bit early for me to get in the Christmas spirit. (Yes, I did just dare use the C-word.) But I figure I may as well give in at this point. I've already started my holiday shopping at the GreenFestival last weekend and have been perusing cookie recipes in Martha Stewart, so singing carols and hanging the lights are not far behind.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ode to a Gray Squirrel

Oh, little gray one. I found your lifeless body - stiff and bloated - in back of my gazebo. You and your brethren stole tomatoes, chewed through all my pumpkins, and tore out flower bulbs by the dozens. I wished you ill, but never wished you death.

Oh, furry one, how did you pass on? Was it the stray cats? A neighbor's rat poison? Perhaps a deadly duel with a rival mate? I'll never know, but Chantilly and I will miss your happy-go-lucky antics and flirting tail. RIP, little gray one.

(Out of respect for the deceased, no photos to share today.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Need for Low-Cut Blouses, Just Bid

Get your holiday shopping done early at the CHEJ Online Auction and you get to invoke your inner Erin Brockovich at the same time. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) provides community groups with the tools, direction, and encouragement they need to prevent harm by keeping dangerous chemicals out of the air, water, food, and consumer products. They have assisted more than 10,000 communities in the past 30 years and will be able to continue with your help.
We have donated a year's subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine to the cause -- bid on it for yourself or as a gift, to access the auction Go Here . The auction will run until December 1, 2008.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Investing in Your Garden

In Saturday's Baltimore Sun, Nancy Taylor Robson wrote about Garden Assets -- ways to do a little work now and get big dividends in the next growing season. In that piece she quotes me and also gives a nice reference to our Seed Exchange that takes place every January at Brookside Gardens. I'm about to start the intense period of Seed Exchange planning and promotion so you'll hear much more about that in coming weeks. I had 200 "save the date" flyers printed to give out at this past weekend's Green Festival and all were gone by the show's end. We definitely had intense interest in that and I expect a sold-out crowd again for our 1/31/09 event.

Friday, November 07, 2008

GreenFestival is Here, at last!!!

Everyone I know is sick and tired of me talking about how great the GreenFestival is -- how it is the only show that does things RIGHT. Like the food - not hockey-puck convention center hamburgers, but instead delicious catered Indian food, vegan mac & cheese, yummy pastries, samples of fair-trade chocolate, and lots more. You won't starve there or hate yourself in the morning. Then there is the fact that they actually compost any food waste and recycle all the paper and other products consumed at the show. Anyone who has worked shows before knows the tremendous amount of waste that one event can generate. The mountains of cardboard boxes, paperwork, food containers, etc. are just shameful in that they are rarely re-used or recycled. Did I mention you can attend for FREE? That's right, you can volunteer, donate books, help an exhibitor, etc. and get in for $0. I could go on, but I'll spare you. Instead I'll share here my top 5 picks for speakers to go see at GreenFest this year:

1. Cradle to Cradle: A World of Good Design ~ William McDonough
2. Greener Gardening ~ Joe Lamp’l, The Joe Gardener Company
3. Urban Vegetable Gardening ~ Ed Bruske, DC Urban Gardeners
4. Demonstration: Apartment-scaled Composting with Worms ~ Lindsay Paige Savoie
5. From Eco-weak to Eco-chic ~ Sylvia Wright, The Wright Scoop

We are in booth #644 - hope to see you there!
Ed's talk did not happen, but the other four did - I went by each for a few seconds each just to check out the crowd and say, "hi!" to the speakers, if I hadn't already seen them that day. All were well attended with folks thirsty for green gardening knowledge. Which reminds me I need to get in gear and send in a speaker proposal for next year's event as soon as they open that up.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Washington Gardener Sheds Light on Your Garden

NEW issue out...

Washington Gardener Sheds Light on Your Garden
– Outdoor Lighting Essentials

At this time of year, gardeners across the DC-area wake up in the dark and get home from work well past dusk. Even though the temperatures may still be pleasant, they cannot enjoy their leisure time in their gardens in the pitch black. From solar fixtures to fire pits, the many options for bringing light into your landscape are outlined in the new November/December ’08 issue cover story of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Washington Gardener Magazine’s November/December 2008 issue is jam-packed full of terrific timely articles for gardeners in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Inside it is:
· Holiday Gifts for Gardeners
· How to Prune Fruiting Trees, Shrubs, and Vines
· 5 Top Tips for Overwintering Tender Bulbs
· Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick
· Is Your Bird Feeder Really a Weed Seeder?
· Emerald Ash Borer: A Serious Threat
· A Daytrip to Tudor Place
· Should You Plant Your Lilies in Fall
· Bringing Nature Home with Doug Tallamy
· HortHappenings: Latest Local Green Industry Events
· Outdoor Lighting Essentials
· And much, much more.

Washington Gardener magazine ( is the gardening publication specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs. Washington Gardener magazine’s basic mission is to help DC area gardens grow better. The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners. The content of the magazine gives real examples that residents of the greater DC region can use immediately in your own garden.

Washington Gardener is a local, independent, and woman-owned business based in Silver Spring, MD. The publication is dedicated to promoting the best practices for area gardening.

To subscribe to our magazine: Send a check for $20.00 payable to Washington Gardener magazine to: Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 OR click on the “subscription” link at to subscribe online using a secure credit card transaction.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

MonkeySee, Monkey Do

Being born in the Year of the Monkey 1968, it was a natural thing to hook up with for a set of instructional online videos on gardening. This set is on Preparing your Vegetable Garden for Winter. Here is the link:

We filmed all these segments in one long day and you might notice my clothes getting dirtier as the day wears on. You may also note when I've just ingested and sugar or when I sorely need some.

In addition to my clips, features three other local gardeners that I know personally and have blogged about before Susan Harris, Ed Bruske, and Mitch Baker. All of these are great to check out -- none are longer than your average TV commercial break.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

WHO you gonna call?

The WHOmobile aka White House Organic Farm Project rolled into DC this past weekend. I stopped by to check it out at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Yes, the same site, as some loyal blog readers will recall, of our most controversial post to date.

This time it was a bit more feel-good of an event, though I did witness one older gentleman haranguing the WHO crew about just how they were going to have an organic farm on White House property when in this day and age security is such a top concern. Really, is that what it comes down to? If we give up a pesticide-soaked front lawn, the President will suffer bodily harm?!? Are our choices and our thinking really so limited in the 21st Century? Come on. There really is no reason that the same maintenance staff who diligently mows, blows, edges, and sprays the White House lawn can't be employed in more earth-friendly lawn practices, at the very least, and maybe even plant a few rows of edibles as symbol of a more sustainable shift in thinking of the new current White House resident. Count me in as one who thinks we can achieve, if we just believe.

I'm off to vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fall is for Planting

My latest radio interview on WAMU Metro Connections aired last Friday and over the weekend.

Here is the link: Gardening with Kathy Jentz

The only 'gardening' some of us can even contemplate at this time of year involves raking leaves off grass. But Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, says this is a great time for planting. ...

WAMU: Metro Connection -

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Little Lost Ladybugs

We wrote recently about the local Ladybug Invasion problems, but it seems certain ladybug species are not doing as well as others. If you guessed those dwindling in number here are the Eastern native ones and that the Western and Asian ones are thriving, you'd get a star from teacher. Seems like all I read about lately is Asian beetle this and imported disease that. Some day it'd be nice to read about an Eastern native plant or bug taking over the West Coast or Asia. Anyone have examples? Or are we Easterners just not made of the conquering stuff?

Back to the lost ladybugs... USDA’s ARS is seeking the public’s help looking for a few special bugs. The researchers are asking people to photograph every ladybug possible and then to send the photos to Cornell Univ. so they can inventory the insects. The scientists are particularly looking for rare species, such as the nine-spotted, two-spotted, and transverse lady beetles. The “Lost Ladybug Project” online allows participants to track and map the ladybug data.

Check out the advice on HOW to photograph your found ladybugs. In particular, they want you to "chill them" so they will be still for their close-up. They say: "Lady beetles can be chilled in a freezer safely for 5 minutes (over six may kill them) and this will quiet them for 2-4 minutes." I don't know about you, but that seems like it could go easily awry. I mean, a kid gets the bugs, pops them in the garage freezer, mom calls him in for dinner, then two days later the bugs are discovered a bit "over-chilled." Here's to hoping people can tell time accurately and that they don't get distracted mid-chilling.
My ladybug photo here was taken without the assistance of chilling, though note that these two they were part of a ladybug release party I attended last year so were pretty groggy, shook up, and hungover at this point when I took the shot.

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