Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dog Days and Cactus

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 33 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 dog days of summer are now coming upon us and our traditional area drought is looming. With all the rain we have gotten already this year, I'm certainly not complaining. We just need to remind ourselves that for the next six weeks our usual weather pattern is nary a drop. So if you are going out of town, find a gardening buddy or neighbor to swap watering chores with. And while you're at it, why not attend the Cactus Show and pick up a cheap hardy succulent or too to fill in a few barren holes in your growing beds.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tomato Tasting at FreshFarm Market – Silver Spring

‘Big Boy’ vs. ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ hybrid vs. heirloom, the tomato wars have just begun. Everyone is sure that their tomato pick is the tastiest. Join Washington Gardener Magazine at the FreshFarm Market in downtown Silver Spring, MD, on Saturday, August 23 from 10am-1pm for a Tomato Tasting. Best of all, this event is free!

Farmers at the market will contribute their locally grown selections -- from super-sweet ‘Sungold’ to not-so-pretty ‘Cherokee Purple’ – and we’ll explore which tomatoes make the short list of favorites. We’ll have tomato growing tips, tomato recipes, tomato activities for kids, and much more – all to celebrate one of summer’s greatest indulgences – the juicy fresh tomato.

Gardeners Repent!

At the Maryland Native Plant Society meeting last night there was an open forum discussion of native gardening versus regular home gardening. I kept quiet as ridiculous statements were made such as "home gardeners only do it for themselves, while native gardeners do so for the betterment of the world" and "native gardening is morally better to do than other forms." Yes, that's right folks. By planting roses, apple trees, and garlic, you are going to burn in the fires of Hades. Shame, shame on you for wanting to feed your family, commune with nature, beautify the world, experiment, get some exercise, socialize with others, stop your hills from eroding, or one of the hundreds of other reasons we all garden outside of the natives-only palette.

Judging by the packed house last night, many came to learn about introducing natives to their home gardens as the night's talk was promoted, but many left early as the evening turned into a preachy and strident confab on why natives-only is the righteous way to go.

I have many natives plants in my own garden, but I'm far from native-only and can't say I'll ever go that route. The natives-only advocates and purists actually kind of frighten me in their dictation that their way is the only "right way." Talk like this starts down a road of intolerance that I find dangerous.

IMHO, native-only home gardens are just as artificial a contrivance and imitation of nature as any other form of gardening. If that is your thing, go for it, but don’t dare dictate how others should garden or pass judgment on those who have other gardening passions. Being native-only is a hobby pure and simple. And really, there is nothing wrong with that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Days in the Blueberry Patch

My nieces think they are just hilarious -- when I ask them to demonstrate picking blueberries for the camera, they stuff them instead in their mouths. As you can see, not much ends up in the buckets. I still came home with enough to make two berry cobblers and have enough leftovers for snacking and blueberry shakes for the next few days.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Parading Ponds

This morning I go to visit 5 of the 35+ properties on the Parade of Ponds tour. Pictured here is one I saw - a stream bed with a series of ponds cascading down a front lawn -- a very unusual set-up and down impeccably well. The tour continues this afternoon and all day tomorrow. Best of all - ALL proceeds benefit Shepherd's Table. Go here to buy your tickets last minute.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Staycation Ideas

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 34 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%.

I plan to spend the weekend touring ponds and farms in the local area. I will pretend though that I'm in Tuscany or the south of France, cause this is as close as I'm getting to any of those in the foreseeable future.

My other "staycation" plans are to borrow more DVDs from the DC library. I just found out they have a very liberal three-week loan period for them and a pretty darn good collection of new stuff and old classics. I go to on average of 2-3 movies a week through the DC Film Society and other film preview groups I belong to so there is not much I have not seen. And if I haven't yet, it's probably because I have no desire to do so. Still a few good films always lip through the cracks. Never did get to Disney's Cars nor Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and I'm in the mood now for some lighter, fluffier summer fare now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Staycation Plans

Last Saturday while at the Kenilworth Water Lily Fest I did a call-in segment to a live radio show, Travel'n-On. I met co-host Tonya Fitzpatrick at a Silver Spring Marketing Team meeting awhile back and we finally had this chance to work together. We talk about the beauty of Kenilworth and the great idea of a "staycation" or playing tourist in our own hometowns. You can listen to it online here - I'm in the first segment. We plan to do another show together later on this year about regional gardening daytrips and maybe more gardens worth traveling to around the world.

Soil Nerds

First off, it is soil not dirt. Got that? Dirt is what you track in on your shoes, soil is a living universe of microorganisms that supports all life on this planet.

Last week I attended the pre-opening press conference for "Dig It! The Secrets of Soil" exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. Sounds thrilling right? While the subject is pretty *ahem* dry and musty. I did learn a few new things like just how little we know about our soils. Like air and water, we are not making more of this essential element and once we've stripped off the top soil and poisoned the layers below we are basically screwed.

An off-hand comment at the press conference led me to the NRSC web site, which I'd never heard of before and here I thought I had traveled all over the USDA's various sites! While there, I have hit the mother-lode for soil nerds. This page tells you everything you want to know about testing your soil quality yourself. True DIY. Since Maryland and DC do not offer free soil tests for their citizens, we have to take it upon ourselves to find out what toxins we have underfoot or what nutrients our soils lack. The earthworm assessment test caught my eye. Basically, you dig up a square-foot of earth than flush out the earthworms with a noxious mustard-water mix, then count them up. Of course, you rinse off the poor things before returning them back with the soil. The interpretative guide states: "About 10 earthworms per square foot of soil (100 worms/m2) is generally considered a good population in agricultural systems." And if you just read that and thought to yourself, "Huh, I wonder how many earthworms per square foot are in my yard?" Congratulations, you are a soil nerd.

The Dig It! exhibit runs until January and there are plans to have it travel across the country. Pictured here are soil samples from 54 US states and territory. No surprise to see DC, VA, MD, and DE are basically red-orange-yellow clay.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Parade of Ponds Makes Big Splash for Shepherd's Table

Washington Gardener Magazine is proud to sponsor the first annual PARADE OF PONDS. The event takes place on the weekend of July 26 -27 from 9:00am-5:00pm daily. It is a self-guided tour of water gardens, ponds, and water features in the Washington DC Metro area -- from Falls Church, VA to Frederick, MD. There over 35 locations featured on the tour. They include mainly residential properties with a few commercial entities as well.

All ticket sales benefit Shepherd's Table, which provides food and services to the needy in our local community. Shepherd's Table is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and is hosting events all year long culminating in its Gala Celebration with an American Acoustic Concert at the Kennedy Center. More on Shepherd's Table here.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at Sun Nursery in Woodbine, MD, Johnson Nursery in Laytonsville, MD, and Seibel's Restaurant in Burtonsville, MD. They may also be purchased online here.

This event was organized and is hosted by Premier Ponds. Premier Ponds installs, maintains and renovates a wide range of natural water features throughout the region.

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.

The Smoking Fire Pit

Over on the left coast at Sunset's blog there is a two-part post on fire pits in gardens and their impact on those with asthma:

I have to say those fire pit bowls sold at Target are mighty tempting and I have a big circle of concrete out back so I can easily see plopping one in there. Then I'll be sitting next to it in my Adirondack chairs on a chilly Autumn eve, sipping hot cider, and roasting marshmallows. But for $50-100, I have never felt that big an urge to get one. After the Chimenea craze of a few years ago, these fire bowls just seem like one more fad that will fade fast. They go along with the Beadazzler and Crimping Irons -- seemed cool at the time, but really more bother than they are worth. You use them once or twice and then they just take up valuable real estate. And really, how could I enjoy those marshmallows knowing I might be sending one of my asthmatic neighbors to the hospital.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kenilworth Waterlily Festival

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 30 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%.

We'll have a table signing up new subscribers at this Saturday's Kenilworth Waterlily Festival. The last 2 years I've done it have been hot as Hades, but with a nice dash of DC humidity to make even my straight hair curl. For four hours I can handle it and actually enjoy the cleansing sauna effect. The fun part is watching the tourists and AC-dwellers rough it for their short time visiting out there. The sweating is worth it though to see those 1000s of waterlilies and lotuses in bloom. Nothing like it. I haven't meant anyone who visits and isn't instantly smitten. Best kept secret in the city -- and because it is a national park property, it is absolutely free to attend. Arrive early as the blooms close up in the heat of the afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Edible Chesapeake Reprints Tomato Story

The Summer 2008 edition of Edible Chesapeake has a reprint of the cover story from our May/June 2008 tomato-theme issue. You can pick up Edible Chesapeake for free at area Whole Foods or farmers' markets. See the full list of pick-up spots here.

BTW our tomato-theme issue is a practical sell-out -- just one case left. For the first time ever I'm having to figure out how to handle back issue orders for it. Should I get down to the very last few copies of this issue, I'll probably take it off the order lists and reserve it only for those buying full-sets of all our back issues. Being a "completist" myself, I think that is the fairest way. So with that I announce our new ALL BACK ISSUE SPECIAL. Buy all 20 back issues from March/April 2005-May/June 2008 for just $90 including postage. A $120 value. Send a check for $90.00 payable to “Washington Gardener” magazine to: Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910.

July 15 '08 Washington Gardener Enews Out

Washington Gardener Enews
Vol. 4, No. 7 — July 15, 2008

The issue was sent out yesterday and is stored now here.

Nursery Pot Recycling Collection

Below are the details on the new nursery pot recycling program in Montgomery County, MD. This new program was announced on July 1, but it took awhile for us to get clarifiaction on what "flower pots" were acceptable for recycling and what was not.

For those Washington Gardener Magazine readers in nearby jurisdictions that do not have pot recycling yet, I've set out a tall blue recycle bin in my back driveway* starting today. It will be labeled "nursery pots" so you can drop off your extra pots. (Please single plastic pots only. No film 2-, 4-, or 6-packs!) I will set them out for pick-up every Thursday morning. Feel free to drop off your pots anytime in the bin.

*The driveway entrance faces the Public Storage at 7800 Fenton Street - near the corner of Philadelphia Ave (Rt 410) in downtown Silver Spring, MD. You can walk over from either the Takoma and Silver Spring metro stations, bike over on the nearby path, or take the bus (#17, #18, F4/F6 all stop by within a block).

> Can you please offer more guidance on "flower pots" –
> do you take ALL kinds of plastic pots?

We’ve discovered that the term “flower pot” is limiting – yes, all colors of pots are accepted. And, perhaps “plant pot” or “nursery pot” would be more descriptive? (What do you think? What do *you* call them?)

I'm going with "nursery pot"

> Are film-plastic 4- and 6-packs okay?

No, these are not accepted. A rule of thumb is that if the container is flimsy/crinkly, then it is not accepted.

> Please also share how they are being recylced precisely.

The pots will be recycled just like the other plastics we accept. The plastic items are chopped up into small pieces, rinsed, and then formed into plastic pellets. Those pellets are then used to make new plastic items.

> What is a “garden product” by your definition? Do you mean pesticide and herbicide? Fertilizers as well?

Yes, the products include pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. If you have specific ones, we can check on them.

This applies even when the containers are rinsed, because the workers on the sorting line have no way to know whether or not a hazardous product container has been rinsed, or whether any liquid in them is the actual product. So, to avoid shutting down the sorting line because of a hazardous product cleanup situation, our program does not accept this container type.

Please let me know how we can continue to make the plastic information more useful. I’ll be updating our how-to page as we refine our guidance, and using our blog to discuss specific containers.

Happy gardening!
--Susanne Wiggins
IT Specialist
Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services

Thanks, Susanne, for getting back to us with the full details. I've already gone through my garden shed stacks and loaded up my bin with round plastic pots that I know cannot be re-used for plant exchanges or club plant sales because they have plant breeder name-branding printed on them such as Proven Winners and Gardener's Confidence. Great to know they will get a new life at some point.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In The Pink - Again

I totally missed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day last month so I was determined to do it this time round. Walking around this morning I see I have a great deal of pinks and purples and just a smattering of other colors. I guess you can take the Barbie away from the girl, but the girl still gravitates back to her blond roots.
Here is a partial list from memory:
~ echinacea - regular purple and pink-doubles - no sign of my 'White Swan'
~ common daylilies and doubles - just ending
~ liatris
~ pickerel rush
~ water lilies
~ rose of sharon
~ cosmos
~ roses - mutabilis red and white
~ black-eyed susan
~ rose campion
~ hostas
~ liriope - white bloom stalks, purples are later in the season
~ Brazilian verbena
~ petunias
~ impatiens
~ heucheras
~ various hydrangeas - all coming up shades of pink!
~ creeping verbena - deep purple - yay!
~ lavender
~ seed geraniums
~ hollyhocks
~ buddleia
~ Phlox 'Davidii'
~ and a few blooms on my squash and tomato plants

Monday, July 14, 2008

Drive By Plantings Continue

Washington City Paper reports a lack of guerrilla gardening in this city. I'm thinking the need to open their eyes and look a bit harder. Instead of trolling the Net for links bragging about growing deeds, take a walk around the city and see them actually taking place. Just last weekend I saw some colorful, but illegal, flower boxes on an otherwise drab mid-rise apartment, a corner traffic island stuffed full of sunflowers, and a crazy quilt of veggies in a back parking lot of a Chinese restaurant.
Oh yeah, I'm posting no pictures to protect the "guilty" parties involved. I thank them all for their generosity of spirit.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Weeding is the new Knitting

My "how to weed" interview aired today on WAMU Metro Connection -- tune in and listen to it on the old-fashioned airwaves when it repeats over this weekend or on your computer here.

We talked about the joys of weeding -- how Zen it is -- and you know, as much of a chore as it can be, once you start a session weeding, it is hard to stop. You get into a rhythm and the world disappears around you. You focus on just that patch in front of you. Blissed out. The trick is the starting part. You have to get in the right frame of mind. First you get out the knee-pad and dandelion tool. Then you stroll around the garden for awhile trying to find a good spot to start. That makes you thirsty so you go inside for a drink. While in there the phone rings and oh yes, these dishes need putting away. Next you remember an urgent email that needs answering. And hey, another pops up while you are still answering that one and then another follows that. The cat bugs you next for her pre-dinner snack. You say to yourself, I'll go back to weeding next, first though that stack of bills needs stamps. Pretty soon another day has passed and no weeds have been pulled, but didn't you get a lot done while avoiding weeding? Welcome to my world, the island of paradox where procrastinating equals being ultra-productive.

We also chatted on the radio a bit about treats for critters in your garden -- the kind you want to feed like Koi and songbirds. I have not broken open my new box of Cheerios yet, but when I do my pond fish are you going to get a few Os. Heck, they can have the whole box, if proven that they like them -- I'm not a big cereal eater really. I'm more a toast or oatmeal kind of gal. I once read about an anorexic whose secret "bad" treat for herself was a slice of buttered toast. Others may mock and go for Sugar Smacks or Lucky Charms, but I'm with her there -- pure heaven.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Lily By Any Other Name...

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 23 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%.

Please ignore the fact that a Water Lily is shown representing the Lily Show at Brookside this weekend. I sent in tree photos to go with the Tree ID class at Green Spring Gardens, but I guess someone thought they had a better idea. Too bad they picked the wrong kind of flower.

Monday, July 07, 2008

July/August 08 Issue Now Out & Mailed

The July/August 2008 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out. Highlights include:
~ Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses
~ Edible Grasses to Graze Upon
~ Slug and Snail Control
~ UK Embassy’s Head Gardener Jim Adams
~ Sage Advice: Sun-Loving Salvias
~ How to Weed
~ Treats for Your Birds, Fish, & Earthworms
~ Richmond’s Treasure — Maymont’s Gardens
~ What’s the Story, Morning Glory?
~ Nat’l Capital Daylily Club
~ Local Garden Tours’ Season Wrap-up
~ Global Warming for Gardeners

I'm pleased with it overall and am quite enamored in particular of the spring garden tour wrap-up spread. I designed it to look like it came straight out of someone's scrapbook pages. And if you haven't seen a scrapbook in the past 10 years, you haven't seen a scrapbook. Here is a great site to get you inspired. In my case, the magazine spread will serve as my own scrapbook memory pages of the tours as my scrapbook cabinet of supplies and pages has remained untouched for a couple years now except for adding photo prints of the nieces to my "to be done" drawer.

Current subscribers should get their copy of the July/August 2008 issue in the mail in the next week or two. It was mailed before the holiday weekend.

If you want to start your subscription with this issue or just but this individual issue,
Click Here.

Top Garden Events for the Holiday Week

Here is the online link to this week's The List: Top Gardening Events for the week ahead on page 25 of last Thursday'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%.

June 08 Contest Winners Announced

The winners of our June 2008 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest are:
~ Mavis Burdett, Silver Spring, MD
~ Nancy Busick, Colonial Beach, VA
~ Mona Potter, Ellicott City MD
~ Katie Rapp, Gaithersburg MD
~ Naomi Todd, Washington, DC
Each winner of our June 2008 Washington Gardener Reader Contest received a set of two passes each (worth $10 per set) to the "Wings of Fancy" - Live Butterfly Exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, The event runs May 3 through September 21, 2008 from 10:00am to 4:00pm daily.
Asian, Costa Rican, and North American butterflies take flight in Brookside’s international exhibit celebrating its 12th season. Be surrounded by butterflies flying freely among the tropical flowering nectar plants. Come witness the butterfly life cycle as tiny eggs hatch into crawling, chewing caterpillars, which then encase themselves in jewel-like chrysalides and emerge as sipping, flying adult butterflies. Learn about the best annual and tropical plants, and hardy shrubs that are used as nectar sources to attract butterflies to your own garden.
Stay tuned for our July contest to be announced on the 15th.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Not on Vacation - Just Busy

I've got several blog posts I'm working on furiously - all in various states of done-ness so you may see several days of no posts followed by many in one day - you'll love ;-)
Happy belated Canada Day to all my north-of-the-border friends and an early Happy Independence Days to my fellow US citizens!
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
- Kathy

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...