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 -

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