Thursday, June 26, 2008

Open Garden Count Down

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 27 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. You can find the Examiner in the many red street-boxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here at left -- you can click on it to read at 100%.

The #1 featured event is of course our Open Garden tomorrow night. Details here.

I've baked the cupcakes, about 50% of the garden is weeded, and I have stocked up on drinks and candles. I'll be scurrying around like crazy in prep for the Open Garden, but plan to be able to relax and enjoy the actual event. Hope to see many of you there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drinking Ants

Okay so I have picked no mulberries so far - unless you count the 2-3 I picked to test for ripeness as I passed the nearby trees. They were sweet and good, but I haven't had 5 minutes to go back and gather more or even check in with you all on this blog.

The July/August 08 issue of the magazine is now done, laid out, proofed, and at the printer. I've been spending the last few days furiously getting ready for our Open Garden on Friday. I have tried to get help from some local teens offering their lawn care and weeding services - so far lots of calls and none have actually showed up. Oh well, I more a DIY person anyway.

Yesterday I think I was delirious from the heat and intensive pruning because I reached for my can of Coke and drank a big long draw before I even looked at it for bees or wiped the top off. My payback? A mouthful of tiny ants! A big surprise for them and for me. I spat and rinsed and repeated, I still feel like I may have swallowed more than a few of those buggers. This is not half as cool or funny a story as Ozzy Osborne infamously snorting a "line" of ants. At least I can say I was sober for it and was not purposely consuming them. Every time I hear that Ozzy story I picture those poor ants and their last thoughts as the giant nostril nears them, "WTF?!"
It was a good lesson to learn though as it shows me that any food or drink I put out Friday can be overrun by ants within minutes so I'll be keeping a close eye on things now. Better I have eaten those ants then my guests!
(Photo by Scott Bauer USDA-ARS)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Picking Mulberries in the Summer Sunshine

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 25 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. You can find the Examiner in the many red street-boxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can click on to read at 100%.

As previously mentioned, I'll be at the Capital Beltway Perennial Show at Behnkes in Beltsville all day on Saturday (item #1). Tomorrow I'll be at the press preview day of the Power Plants exhibit (item #2) at the USNA. Between those items I'm trying to finalize the layout and proofing of our July/August magazine issue and get it off to the printer. Then I'll turn my focus to getting renewal letters out and prepping my place for our Open Garden on the 27th. THEN I feel like maybe I can take a day or maybe half-day off to relax and enjoy the summer. One thing on my to-do list is "picking mulberries." I fear I may have already missed the window on that, but hope some are still around next week or after so I can pick and freeze them for a friend to make mulberry wine. Evidenced by all the sidewalk staining around here, I'd say the birds and I still have many left to share.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Perennial Show Update

Behnkes just let me know: "We are going to be open Friday night even though we aren't doing the wine tasting. 6 to 9pm, Beltsville only. Special store wide sale to kick off the perennial show, Twilight Madness, 25% off all regularly priced plants and hard goods, Friday night only, 6 to 9pm only, Beltsville only, the 20th of June only. Does not include services like delivery, planting, or landscape. Items on sale already at a better price keep the better price, so it's really 25% or more off everything."

Then Saturday and Sunday is the actual Capital Beltway Perennial Show - see the full event details and a coupon for those days that we post here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What's the Story, Morning Glory?

The new Washington Gardener Enews is out and archived here. It is dated Vol. 4, No. 6 — June 15, 2008
The annual vines story reminds me that every time I mean to go out and direct sow my nasturtium and other summer-season seeds, it rains. I mean not just rain, but a full blown gully-washer. So it'd be a waste to even try to sow seeds right now. Yet another storm is forecast for this afternoon. I'm hoping by early next week this storm-heat-storm cycle will modulate to something a bit more seed-sowing friendly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Worried about the Tomato Scare? Grow Your Own!

I just want to add my quick 2 cents to the McD's tomato recall and worry that everyone is voicing about the source of the salmonella-tainted fruits. Our current cover story is all about tomato growing and NOW (mid-June) is actually the optimal time to buy those started tomato seedlings at your local garden center or farmer's market and plop them into the warm earth. YOU have complete control of the hygiene and handling of your crop. You can go all organic and not need to worry about store-display perfection. Best of all, what is more LOCAL than your own garden?

Looking for yummy varieties? In the print magazine, we list the favorites of many local growers and tomato-aficionados. They range from the ugly-but-tasty Cherokee Purple to the sweet-as-candy Sungold. One that is fairly new-ish to the marketplace is this Tomatoberry, which we featured in our spotlight column of our monthly Washington Gardener enewsletter last year. For those who missed it, here is a direct link.

Perennial Show Details Debut

Here are the details on the upcoming Behnke's Perennial Show on June 21-22 in Beltsville, MD. Note that the Friday evening wine reception has been cancelled. I wanted to share this a week early here so you all plan well ahead to join us.

Attached in these JPG files are the schedule of events and an extra coupon for you all. See more details on our web page here. I'm not even going to mention the weather out loud for fear of jinxing it. If all goes as planned I should be there in person all day Saturday and just leave the person unstaffed on Sunday but full of information and flyers to pick up as I'll be in Frederick for my nieces' dance recital.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Urban Trees are Street Smart

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 street-boxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can click on to read at 100%.

Here is more info on item #2 - a talk I'm giving as part of the DCUrbanGardener's monthly series.

This Saturday - Urban Trees and Shrubs - Kathy Jentz
WHEN: Saturday, June 14 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
WHAT: "Small Trees and Large Shrubs for Urban Gardens"
Join Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, as she explores the possibilities of what small trees and large shrubs you can plant in small urban lots. Tailored to the District of Columbia region and what grows best here, the choices will cover natives, edibles, and ornamentals -- from full sun to full shade. For every place there is a tree that is a perfect fit. Even if you only have a few pots to plant in, a tree can be part of your urban life.
Suitable to ages 12 to Adults.
To RSVP (not required), email or call 202-383-1828.
WHERE: Historical Society of Washington, D.C., 801 K St. NW, Mt. Vernon Square, Washington, D.C. (near Gallery Place Metro).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Annual Open Garden Details

A Midsummer Garden Revelry
Friday, June 27 from 7-9pm
Hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine
Back for year #3 by popular demand!

~ Come by with your garden questions
~ See our trial gardens in progress
~ Pet our garden watch-kitty, Chantilly
~ Renew or subscribe to the magazine in person
~ Purchase gift subscriptions
~ Pluck a weed or two as a keepsake souvenir
~ Single copies of our back issues and current issue are also for sale
~ Pick up a pack of seeds with any purchase
~ Take photos of whatever is in bloom for our upcoming Photo Contest
~ Light refreshments (rumor has it Mojitos are being mixed up!)
~ Buy tickets for the Parade of Ponds* to benefit Shepherd's Table
~ Children's activities - Fish Pond and Faerie Garden
~ Information table on various area garden events and groups (bring your flyers and cards to share)

AND only you lucky blog-readers get a sneak preview of my latest garden addition -- a potting bench I had stored new in the box for over a year and finally got help in putting together this morning. My helper was current Takoma Hort Club President Wendy Bell and also got assistance from some folks who just stopped by to chat and then one desperate call to my dad. (Yeah, I humbly had to make sure on what order you follow ~ screw-hole-washer-nut or screw-washer-hole-nut or what?)

Come to 826 Philadelphia Ave. (Rt. 410), Silver Spring, MD - at the corner of Fenton - across from the Public Storage building. Look for the flamingos and tiki torches.

Please walk, bike, bus, metro, or car-pool. We are a 10-15 minute walk from either the Silver Spring and Takoma Park metro stops. Also, several Metro and Ride-On bus routes pass nearby. If driving, there is limited free parking available nearby on King Street and in public garages/lots along Fenton.

Contact us if you need more specific directions.

The Open Garden is rain or shine. We'll quickly duck in the gazebo or in the house, if it storms.
The event is free. Registration/reservations are not required. Please pass this invite on to your DC-area gardening friends and family.

*This Parade of Ponds in the DC-area takes place the last weekend of July -- all proceeds benefit the local nonprofit Shepherd's Table. I'm really excited about this and hope it become an annual tradition as it has in other areas of the country. I encourage folks to carpool and make an occasion out of it - a really nice way to spend a summer weekend! The tickets for it are available though Premier Ponds web site and I also have a stack of them I can sell to anyone who is interested.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yes, It IS Hot Enough - Thanks for Asking

The house pictured here was next to one of the 9 garden stops on the Cleveland Park Garden Tour last Sunday. I had to snap this photo (Do we say "snap photos" anymore in the digital age?) because I'm a big fan of lavender and green color-combo. I think this homeowner should deed their house to us as our new magazine HQ. It'd look very sporty with a big "Home of Washington Gardener" painted across the porch roof.

The fact that I did not pass out during this mostly uphill garden walk on Sunday nor during the entire day outdoors at the Rockville Flower and Garden Fest on Saturday is testament only to my handy "wet-rag." This flower was definitely wilting in the record temps, so I keep on-hand a bright orange handkerchief that I occasionally soak in a bottle of ice water that I bring along than ring it out and tie around my neck for immediate, cooling relief. Sure I look a bit old school and maybe even a bit downscale, but who cares! I'd rather look dorky and Tom Sawyer-ish than be riding in the back of an ambulance from heat stroke (again - ahem).

Friday, June 06, 2008

Save the Greenhouse

Many have seen this already in the Post and elsewhere (including the snarky column in this week's City Paper), but in case you missed it, Sioban asked me to pass this on to you all.

Dear Friends,

Many treasure Washington's National Cathedral Greenhouse -but it is being closed down by June 29th and all the staff have been sacked despite an enormous outpouring of community support to keep it open! Please help us get this shortsighted decision reversed!

Sign the petition at:

For some it is a peaceful sanctuary, for others a spiritual haven, for others it still offers the best quality herbs and plants anywhere around the city. The stated mission of this, the people's national church is to cater to all peoples of all religions and none and what is more universal than plants/nature?If you can help please send your emails throughout the network from the grass roots to the very highest boughs. There is a outpouring of heartfelt grief that we are about to loose the greenhouse forever and that future generations will be unable to benefit from in the same ways that it has so significantly shaped the lives of so many here today.
Thank you in advance for anything you feel you can offer-we have little time to achieve much in the coming short weeks before it is lost forever. It has been part of the city for sixty years and has been designated as 'from another era' and no longer needed given our 'ability to now buy plants at Home Depot' by the Associate Dean for Development. This to me shows the Cathedral is vastly missing the point and needs to hear just why it is important to so many people who have environmental respect and appreciation and want to keep DC (sustainably) green!
Thank you in advance on behalf of a rapidly growing community of people who want the 'Nation's Church for all people of all religions and none' to take a real leadership role in the environmental stewardship/sustainability movement, and not just pay it lip service. In their strategic report online they claim they want to address peace and social justice issues broadly-well it the environment is central to these goals! I ask them that they merely practice what they preach. As in this link to the 'Starthrower' sermon, a call to protect the environment by the Rev. Lloyd given in 2006. Beautiful they need to be applied.

~ Sioban Farey

For my own part I have written a letter and signed the petition. I urge you to do the same.

Happy Birthday to ME

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Home & Garden Events on page 26 of today's print edition in the Washington Examiner. You can find the Examiner in the many red street-boxes around town. I saved a screen capture of the listing as a JPG and posted it here -- which you can click on to read at 100%.

This week is a bonus listing of all the top events for the summer. This weekend, I'm at booth #18 at The Rockville Town Square Flower & Garden Festival on Saturday, June 7th from 11am - 5pm. The event will feature over 30 flower and garden related exhibitors, authentic Japanese garden displays, demonstrations, store specials, entertainment and more! Visit for more information.

So I turned 40 on Wednesday. The universe acknowledged this by sending a fierce thunderstorm to Silver Spring, MD that afternoon. We lost power, cable, phone, and internet. (No, I was not deliberately ignoring you all.) I think this was my back-to-basics lesson for my journey over the hill. What did I learn? I already knew I was a TV and email addict, but I hadn't realized that having no phone service would be equally trying on the nerves. Normally I'm quite happy not to get a phone call for several hours -- blissfully so. However, picking up the receiver to just dead air is very eerie. Perhaps I've watched one too many horror flicks. I'm back on the grid now and ready to catch up on these blogs.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Smell the Roses

At the end of the Brookland House & Garden Tour on Sunday, we dropped by the Franciscan Monastery for a stroll. The roses are perfection right now -- run, don't walk over there asap to catch them at their peak. The Monastery grounds are free and open to the public -- plus it is very near the Brookland metro stop on the red line. (Yes, it is all up hill to get there, but then all down hill on way back ;-) The grounds of the Monastery are open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Here are a few rose pics I took there on Sunday.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The butterflies are here!

Guest blog
by Jessica McFadden,
A Parent in Silver Spring

The butterflies are here! Now through mid-September from 10-4 each day at Brookside Gardens, your child and you can be surrounded by live butterflies. "Wings of Fancy" features Asian, Costa Rican and North American butterflies flying freely through the south conservatory and feasting on fruit and tropical flowering nectar plants. Butterfly nirvana is achievable right in Wheaton!

Be sure to request to borrow a Butterfly Discovery Backpack for your child during the tour. Filled with activities and other tools of a lepidopterist (butterfly expert), the backpacks enrich the butterfly garden experience for kids aged preschool and up.

If you and your kids can recite The Hungry Little Caterpillar from memory, don't miss the butterfly "births" as the colorful newbies emerge from their cocoons in the glass cases in the middle of the exhibit. As you can see here, my kids are entranced.

If you have children that are not yet walking, be aware that strollers are not allowed in the butterfly exhibit. There is stroller parking right outside the entrance and slings, Bjorns and baby packpacks are welcomed.

This is a great playgroup, school or birthday outing for groups of 15-30 kids on week days. If your group is aged 6 and up, just call 301.962.1467 to reserve a special butterfly viewing.

Professional and amateur photographers can have the butterfly exhibit all to themselves and a limited number of other camera wielders. Two Saturday mornings per month from 8-10am, Brookside Gardens welcomes 10 photographers and their tripods to capture the butterflies on film. Cost is $20 and ParkPASS reservations are required. See dates and course numbers for shutterbug viewings here. Cameras are allowed all other times, but tripods are limited to those select mornings.

Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly Exhibit
Brookside Gardens South Conservatory
1500 Glenallan Avenue
Wheaton, MD - just 1 mile from Silver Spring and 3 miles from NW DC
Kids 2 and under are free
Kids 3-12 are $4
Adults and kids 13 and up $5
Purchase tickets at the Brookside Visitors Center or Gift Shop

Jessica's blog, A Parent in Silver Spring, is loaded with tips and info for the stay at home mom or dad, but also has plenty of interest for the rest of us who just want to find out what is cool and new in the greater Silver Spring, MD area.

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