Thursday, January 31, 2008

Photo Contest Winners Announced

The list of 2008 Washington Gardener Photo Contest Winners is now posted on our web site here. The winners were shown and announced on Saturday, 1/26 at the 2008 Washington Gardener Seed Exchange. They will all be published in the March/April 2008 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. They will also be on display at an upcoming photo show so you can view them in superb quality.
The opening reception of the Photo Show is Friday, March 28 from 6-8pm at the Adams Bank Lobby in the World Building on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. The reception is open to the public and is free to attend. After the opening, you may come by and view the photos any time during the normal bank lobby hours (M-F 9am-4pm, Sat 9am-12noon). The show runs through May 22.
Thank you to all our entrants for their marvelous submissions! Our judge, Katherine Lambert, commented, "This was really tough to choose at the end - but a lot of fun." Start taking and gathering photos for the 2009 contest and we will be in touch with the contest rules and entry dates later this year.

Relief is spelled O-R-C-H-I-D-S

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 21 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. You can find the Examiner in the many red streetboxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can now click on to read at 100%.
Item 1 is the USBG Orchid Show opening on Saturday which I intend to get to that very afternoon as I'd like to take photos while the exhibit is fresh and new. They do switch out flagging orchids over the course of the show to keep things looking good and that makes follow-up trips just as enjoyable. What I enjoy even more is slipping into the Jungle room and take deep breaths of warm, moist air. I make no secret of hating the cold in general and this bleak time of year in DC in particular. My only proven antidote seems to be an hour or so inside a steamy plant-filled greenhouse. The Jungle at the USBG is tops of my list, but close seconds go to the Bird House at the National Zoo and the Conservatory at Brookside. Any of you have candidates for DC-area hot houses to take off the winter chill?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Seed Exchange Review

Kathy Tinius sent the following Seed Exchange review to the Burtonsville Garden Club and said okay to letting me share it with you all. I'm still sorting through the stack of evaluations. If you attended and want to comment or give suggestions for next year's event, please do so here or mail/email your evaluation forms in asap. Below is Kathy Tinius's review along with a couple pictures that our staff photographer, Drena Galaraza, took at the event:

I was able to attend the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange on Saturday and it was probably the best gardening deal in the area!!

The event was hosted by Kathy Jentz, the bubbly editor of Washington Gardener magazine, who kept the event light and friendly, but moving forward on a tight schedule with really good structure around the seed swap itself.

The afternoon began with check in, a goodie bag (loads of seeds!), and a welcome from Kathy. The first speaker was Gene Sumi, from Homestead Gardens, who gave a very informative talk about hardening off seedlings. It was the first time I absorbed how long this process should take (7 -10 days) and exactly how to do it (place the flat in cold sunshine for 30 minutes the first day, longer each subsequent day).

Then Mark Smallwood [pictured here] from Whole Foods Market spoke about companion planting – and about his long history working with an organic farm and as the refuse/recycling czar at Whole Foods. Mark is an ex-sports coach and you can tell – it was a rousing and very informative talk!

A gentleman from USDA (he was a last minute sub and I didn’t write down his name) [Bob Greisbach - KJ] gave an overview of how each of us small gardeners impacts the biodiversity and gene pool when we save seeds. The impact is both good (preserving old varieties) and bad (saving seeds of hybrids or non-representative varieties). Enlightening and really not preachy – loaded with science!

A delicious light break was provided by Whole Foods. Then it was time for show and tell—those who brought interesting seeds told the stories of them. Kathy introduced some of the special participants in the crowd.

Then it was time for the seed swap. It wasn’t necessary at all to bring in seeds (I didn’t!), although that would be fun. The group went up three times (in smaller groups) to select one packet of seeds each time; once this was done, it was a free for all for 15 minutes. Any leftover seeds were given to local groups. The varieties of seeds were very nice and not overwhelming. Some regular plants like marigolds, lettuces, sunflowers – some unusual plants like golden rain tree, trumpet creeper (eek!), and monarda.

The Washington Gardener holds a photo contest each year; next on the agenda was the review of the finalists and the naming of the winners – very fun! Then the final door prizes were awarded (she had probably 25 very nice door prizes!)!!

I would encourage anyone to go next year! You don’t even need to pick up any seeds (you get so many in the goodie bag…), the speakers were just top notch!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Radio Days

We got two great boosts on the radio this morning for the Seed Exchange Mike McGrath, WTOP's Garden Plot host, called me yesterday to quiz me about the event. This morning he talked with the morning show hosts about it. It aired at 8:50am and they gave me a link here. Immediately my phone began ringing off the hook. Apparently the Brookside Gardens phone also began to overload as they called me to get the full event details as well. Earlier in the week, I taped an interview with David Furst on WAMU's Metro Connection. It aired later in the morning and is archived here. The phones then really went off. Great PR, but a very stressful day. Below are some tips for Seed Exchange attendees to make the day smooth for everyone. I'm off to keep packing and printing out signs for tomorrow's event.

Seed Exchange Quick Tips:

- Registration starts at 12noon. If you can come with reg form pre-filled out and check to "Washington Gardener" or exact change, that'll speed things up for everyone.

- I think most of you are familiar with getting to Brookside and parking should be plentiful for our event. Just in case, here is a link to directions/map. We will be in the Visitor Center in the Main Auditorium. There is additional parking down the hill at the Conservatory.

- We recommend eating lunch before coming. We will be serving a healthy snack break mid-way through the event courtesy of Whole Foods -- fruit, cookies, cheese, etc. We have bottled spring water - if you have a travel mug, bottle, or cup you like, bring that to fill up. We will have some plastic/paper cups on hand, but are trying to keep this event as 'green' as possible.

- We will have generic "hello my name is" tags for you to fill in-- if you have your own name tag from work or another event, by all means bring it. Again, we are trying to recycle and make this event eco-friendly. We may do prizes for the most creative name tags :-).

- When you get your goody bag at check-in, please make sure to label it with your name -- all the bags look alike and can get easily mixed up.

- If you are bringing seed catalogs to give-away, be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with your personal information on it.

- We screen incoming seeds and cannot accept any invasives listed in the "Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas" booklet from the National Park Service. See their listing here.

- Carefully pack and label your seeds as best you can. The more information you can provide, the better. More details on seed packing and labeling in our event brochure.

- Here is the updated event schedule:
12:00-12:30 Registration and seed drop off to WG Staff & Volunteers
12:30-12:35 Introductory remarks and overview - Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener magazine
12:35-1 “Solving Problems with Propagation & Hardening Off” – Gene Sumi, Homestead Gardens
1-1:30 "Succession & Companion Plantings" – Mark Smallwood, Whole Foods Green Mission Specialist
1:30-2:00 “Seeds vs Tissue Culture” – Robert Greisbach, USDA
2:00-2:30 Refreshment Break & Seed Swap Preview
2:30-3:00 Seed Show & Tell*
3:00-3:30 Seed Swap!
3:30-3:45 Garden Photo Contest Winners Presentation
3:45-4:00 Final Door Prizes and closing remarks - Kathy Jentz Washington Gardener magazine

*Show & Tell participation is voluntary. We encourage you to introduce yourself, share some fun facts and background on the seeds you bring, or tell us about any local garden projects or groups which you are involved in.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seed Counting

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. You can find the Examiner in the many red streetboxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can now click on to read at 100%.

Hmm, I wonder what garden event for the weekend will be listed as #1? ;-) I'm so immersed in Seed Exchange count-down mode right now that if anyone talks to me about any suvject not related to this even, I may have to karate chop them. Got signs to make, pre-reg lists to double-check, program to layout and print, snacks to buy, name badges to make, etc. Are my own collected seeds sorted and labeled? No! But maybe I'll get to that during the actual event.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gazette Gives Seed Exchange Boost

Local reporter Kristina Gawrgy called this week asking about the Seed Exchange and her piece is published on page A-14 of the Silver Spring/Takoma Park edition of the weekly Gazette. Here is the link to it online -- scroll down to: "Brookside hosts Seed Exchange."

In the print version, the article appears on the same page as the teaser ad for the upcoming MoCo HomeShow on March 29-39 which I'm participating in as well as an ad for the Wild Bird Center in Wheaton, MD, a supporter of the Silver Spring Garden Club, of which I'm newly elected as president. Small world or just a clever page layout person?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The "Best" Garden in Baltimore

Today's email inbox brought over 300 emails (as usual!) among them was one from Gardener's Supply featuring these colorful clogs in a garden setting. I adore this image. Ever since I got their new cataloga few weeks ago, I've been dreaming of ordering a pair in every color they have and making my own such garden display. Sure I already own 5 pairs of Crocs and various other garden clogs, but I don't have any pink or brown or yellow -- yet! In that same Gardener's Supply email notice I saw a link to a customer video by Alegra Best, Baltimore, MD. Too curious, I had to drop my other tasks and watch. She starts off by saying in tongue-in-cheek that she has the "best" garden in Baltimore and by the end of the video I think you'll be agreeing with her. Very inspirational!

On a side note, Gardener's Supply has donated to our upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchange a cute Pour & Store Watering Can for our door prize drawing. If you have yet to sign up to attend the event, no worries! Just fill out the registration form and bring it with you to the Seed Exchange. Onsite registration begins at 12:00noon and the program starts at 12:30. All takes place at Brookside Gardens this Saturday, January 26.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Entry Period Now Closed

The entry period for the 2008 Washington Gardener Photo Contest has ended.

We had over 300 photo entries and, once again, I'm SO glad I'm not the judge. I scrolled through the entries and grabbed this one at random to show as an example of the quality of entrants we received. It is by Ed Knepley for the Garden Creatures category. I must say I'm quite envious. I've tried to capture birds and bugs in my gardens for the past 5 years and nothing I've taken even comes close to Ed's image. I think large part of that is due to impatience. I've been known to yell at birds for not turning and giving me the right angle. This year, I'm going to take a deep breath and let them pose when they are ready.

All entries received have been confirmed and are now being judged. If you entered and have yet to receive an email confirmation, please call our office at 301-588-6894 immediately.

Winners will be announced this Saturday, 1/26 during the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at the Brookside Gardens Visitor Center, Wheaton, MD. There is an entry fee to attend and participate in the Seed Exchange. The Seed Exchange entry fees are $15 per person (or $10 for Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers). See details here.

All photo contest entrants will be informed of the winners by 1/31. We will then publish the winners in the March/April 08 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

A photo show featuring the winning entries will take place this spring. Everyone is invited to the photo show's opening reception and we will post details as soon as they are available.

Start gathering your entries now for the 2009 Washington Gardener Photo Contest. Contest entry forms and details will be available beginning this summer.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

WaPo Mentions SeedEx

In today's Washington Post Real Estate section, Joel Lerner, mentions our upcoming Seed Excahnge. Her is a link to the full article here and this is the relevant excerpt below. So far no phone calls, but I figure this is a holiday weekend and folks are more likely to go online and google than pick up a phone these days.

Seed swaps. There are many showy annuals, as well as vegetables that are
ready to be eaten the same year they are planted from seed. There are also some
fast-establishing perennials such as black-eyed Susans and tickseed ( Coreopsis
grandiflora) that offer fairly speedy gratification.

Seed collection is a sensible hobby, and I have seen a resurgence of interest in this age-old practice. There are seed-collecting sets with small glass-covered cases, bags,
magnifier and other tools. There is an advocacy Web site ( that offers information
about how to organize a seed swap and discusses the benefits of this type of

You are encouraged to collect seeds for Washington Gardener
magazine's third annual Washington Seed Exchange, 12:30 to 4 p.m., Saturday,
Jan. 26, at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton. Whether or not you have seeds to swap,
you will leave with some new ones for your garden. (Fee: $15. Registration in
advance. Call Kathy Jentz at 301-588-6894 for more information.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

36 Hours and Counting Down...

Second Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest entries are still being accepted until 11:59pm Saturday, January 19. Entries can be emailed or saved to CD and delivered in person, overnighted, or mailed -- just as long as they make the deadline.

For those thinking about entering, I can tell you the competition is wide open and your chances of winning are very good.

Here is a link to the entry form and details.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Creative-SS Lunch Bunch

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 22 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. Since some folks say they have trouble with the Examiner's PDF viewer and others can't find a copy in the many red streetboxes around town, I tried something different this time and saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can now click on to read at 100%.

NOT on this list is a local networking luncheon I've started. For the past year or so I've been watching DCWebWomen gather in NoVa and Bethesda/Rockville area and thought we need a regular event like that here in Silver Spring too. So I finally dove in and sent out the invites to various creative and neighborhood list servs. From the reaction they are getting, I think the turnout is going to be big. I've called Panera to warn them. :-)

Here are the lunch details:

FIRST EVER - Creative-SS Lunch Brunch on 1/18
Please extend this invite to anyone you think might be interested:
Calling all work-from-home creative folks in the greater downtown Silver Spring area!
All are welcome -- Writers, designers, illustrators, bloggers, artists, editors, etc.
What? Buy lunch, eat, and network.
Why? Get out of the house and meet some new folks.
When? Friday, 1/18 at 12:00 noon
Where? *Panera, 8541 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 - on the corner of Colesville & Georgia
Bring? Your business cards, work samples, candy... whatever you'd like to share.
I'll have "Creative-SS" signs up around our table so we can all recognize each other and sit together.

RSVP not necessary - just show up.
If this is first one is well-attended, we will set future dates, trade emails, and hope to make this a monthly thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Year's Garden Resolutions now out in new WG Enews issue

The January 15, 2008 Washington Gardener Enews issue is now out and posted to our archives site here. The feature story is on New Year's Resolutions for the garden and gardener themselves. I have to confess that I'm not much for resolutions myself. I prefer a more seat-of-the-pants goal-setting pace -- meaning when I see a problem I try to fix it right then and there. Many times though I'm swamped with other things, so I see the problem and right it down in my To-Do list to fix it intending to do so asap, but then keep transferring that item to subsequent To-Do lists until I get sick of re-writing and finally do it or just let it fall off the list entirely at some point. Really, how many times do I need to remind myself "turn compost pile"? After a while I have to face reality of my limited time and resources and admit that it is just not doing to get done. When are my garden gnomes going to get the hint and pick up the slack?
PS To the hellebore bud pictured above, WHEN are you going to open for me. I'm waiting!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bloom Day

I thought this month would be a bust for outdoor blooms to show as part of the Gardener Bloggers Bloom Day. and that I'd just have to list all my indoor ones. But after carefully checking I found exactly ONE early bloom on my Winter Jasmine open day and ONE late bloom on my PJM Rhododendron. If you look close at the rhododendron bloom (the pink one, for you non-plant types that might be reading this), you'll see tiny now flakes as I took these photos during the first snow flurry of the year today around noon. The snow didn't last long and nothing stuck. Sure is frigid out there now and glad I'm all cozy indoors now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Photo Contest Heats Up a Frosty Day

Entries for our 2nd Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest are now starting to roll in. There is still plenty of time to prepare and get your entries in to us by January 19. See the full contest details and entry form posted here.

The photos here are by frequent contributor Bob Nixon who wanted to show that even on a bleak, gray winters day there is natural beauty to be photographed in the garden. I hope his pictures inspire you and that I'm flooded with entries in the next week.
We have 3 categories -- close-ups of garden plants, garden landscapes, and garden creatures. There will be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners in each of these categories plus one overall grand champion. That makes 10 winners in all. Right now, the odds of wining are VERY Good - hint, hint.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Lazy Blogger

Today I attended a party where the agenda was eat, talk, eat, more, talk more, and still eat more. Therefore, this blog entry will be short on text and long on photos. I took all of these pics within one small corner of my garden to capture all the wildlife I could witness in a few minutes.

Included here is a brand new bird's nest I discovered in a forsythia bush, what I think is two sacks full of praying mantis eggs, birds sunning and bathing themselves a the edge of my pond, more birds hanging out in a shrub, and one sneaky Chantilly unsuccessfully trying to nab on those happy birds.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm Getting MANTSy!

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. It was a pretty hard to gather the list this week due to Item #4 - the MANTS (the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show) in Baltimore this Wed-Fri. Basically, the entire horticultural industry is there and no one is offering events and workshops back at the public gardens, nurseries, or anywhere.
I spent the day there today myself. I'm happy to report that the normally long and irritating registration lines weren't so bad this year. Witness the photo at left, and before you leap to the conclusion that it means attendance was down, I can assure the hall was just as crowded and aisles as jam-packed as usual. It was fun catching up with friends and acquaintances like Angela Treadwell Palmer of Plants Nouveau. She is pictured here with one of her new giant flower introductions. Okay, that one is made out of craft store materials, but she does offer some stunning (and real) plant selections that we feature in the 2008 plant preview story in our Jan/Feb '08 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.
I would share more photos of all the cool and interesting things I saw at MANTS, but I confess to putting my camera away after the first two hours and never getting it back out again. I know, "Bad editor, bad, bad." (As I'd say to my cat, Chantilly.) My excuse is my arms were too overloaded with literature and samples. Plus, I had to leave at least one hand free for the generous candy bowls of bite-sized Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, and Jolly Ranchers! My sweet tooth bites me in the rear -- again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Doh! A Deer

Dealing with Deer is the Jan/Feb '08 issue cover story of Washington Gardener Magazine and obviously on the minds of many local folk who have seen their yards recently decimated by hungry deer. Today's MNCPPC press release (here) describes the public's reactions to a recently announced deer-control hunt expansion and it is eye-opening. Things sure have changed in the last 10 years!
A decade ago this kind of thing was vociferously protested as cruel and inhumane. Now the hunts are actually being welcomed and encouraged by area residents. In their current large numbers they are no longer so Disney-cute. Instead, the deer are being seen as a disease-carrying, destructive scourge on the level of roaches, pigeons, and rats. See our current issue for the latest methods local gardeners are using to deal effectively with this plague.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Gnome has a New Home

Don't you just want to give him a pinch on the cheeks? I hope he pulls his weight and a few weeds in the veggie plot. His name is Gerd the Gardener and he comes from the Alpenland catalog. I got him for Christmas from my paternal Grandmother Mamie in northwest Indiana. He is now #3 in my growing gnome collection.
I have a real soft spot for these guys because one of my fondest childhood memories is of playing in my maternal grandparent's garden plot outside of Bayreuth along side several of their vintage gnomes. My nieces enjoy visiting my gnomes and giving them names and back stories. What is it about these foot-tall vinyl garden ornaments that makes them so lovable?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blogging Bloggers and The Bloggers That Blog About Them

This post is long overdue! Here finally is the link to a blog-writing workshop I attended last month. It was led by online writing guru and local garden gal, Merry Bruns. At left is the pic I grabbed off her "About us' page, she'll be "thrilled" that I used it. I think she looks damn good though and should post this on every one of her web pages. She used this Washington Gardener blog as a case study -- not necessarily one to use as an exemplary blogging example, mind you, but more as one that is a work-in-progress.
The "Writing for Blogs" workshop was well-attended, I think chiefly because it was free and on a fairly hot topic. Most of the attendees were professional writers of some sort -- ranging from government publications to corporate PR who seemed most interested in starting a blog in their work capacity. I don't know why I assumed before the workshop that most of the attendees would be free-lancers or writers-for-fun-not-profit who wanted to blog for a creative outlet. I thought it was going to be a bunch of hippy-dippy creative folks sitting around with their poetry journals just awaiting an online audience.
Instead, I see a room full of very serious suits and hear cranky questions like, "Just how much time is this going to take in my day?" "Is there ANY money at all in this?" "Aren't people just going to copy and steal my work?" Not bad questions per se, but none of these are big concerns to me nor to other regular bloggers I know. My head is in such a different space than these folks. "It is what it is," would be my answer to all of the above. Luckily, Merry, not I, was their instructor that day and tactfully and succinctly addressed all their concerns.
Sometimes I need a reality check and I got one that day -- reminding me that corporate DC (aka K Street Corridor) life is just not for me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hidden Treasures

Here is the online link to my latest garden article for the Washington Examiner. It is on page 27 of today's print edition and addresses new habits to form and bad habits to break for the new gardening year.

All of the photos with this article were taken at the Falls Church, VA Garden Tour last April. It was so gracious of these home owners to open up their spaces to garden gawkers like me that day. Looking through my photo files from the past year I realized how many stunning images I'd gathered from private gardens like these. Makes me wonder how many garden treasures are locked up in backyards and hidden behind gates away from the public eye. Such a waste and a shame so many of them are in places that no one, but the gardener themselves and a few select guests, will ever get to see.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Step Right Up!

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 22 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner.

BTW if you are considering whether or not to go to the Seed Exchange based on whether you have seeds or not -- no worries! Seeds are not required. Neither is previous knowledge of gardening! We have plenty of both to share and pass along to you. That is the purpose of our event!

The 2nd Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest is now open! We are accepting entries until Saturday, January 19. See the categories and rules posted here.

Congratulations to Ellen Johnson of Greenbelt, MD! She is the winner of our December 2007 Washington Gardener Reader Contest. We are mailing Jan today spring-blooming bulbs from our friends at Brent and Becky's Bulbs. She can still plant them up until the ground is frozen hard and unworkable, though they may be a bit shorter and later than they normally would if planted earlier. Or she can use these great bulbs as an opportunity to try her hand at indoor bulb forcing for wonderful, fragrant blooms to brighten up your late winter days. For complete instructions on indoor bulb forcing, see the “GardenBasics” column in our November/December 2007 issue of Washington Gardener magazine.

The bulbs in our giveaway include 10 each of the following:

· Hyacinthus China Pink -- a sport of 'Delft Blue' is soft pink with coral stripes on the outside. Many tubular, slightly reflexed florets cover the 8"-10" stems making one large flowerhead; two linear leaves per stem; their rigid, uniform structure lends them for use in geometric designs; plant where the sweet, reminiscent fragrance of spring, can be enjoyed.

· Narcissus La Belle -- a precious little intermediate flower that gives a garden a bright spot and lots of color punch; great in pots; 6"-10"; late-mid spring.

· Tulipa Yellow Baby -- (pictured above) cute as a button; a real half-pint that is about half the size of the popular 'Monte Carlo'; sort compace and fully double; rich buttery yellow; superb in pots and windowboxes; early midseason; 8"-10"; spectacular with Hyacinthus 'Delft Blue'; early-mid spring.

Stay tuned for news about our January '08 Washington Gardener Reader Contest.

Featured Post

Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

Today is Amazon Prime Day, so I thought I'd again share the garden products I use almost every day. These are the tried-and-true w...