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.

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