Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Philadelphia Flower Show Blogs

So the March/April '09 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is finally printing and out of my hair for now, that let me turn my time back over to other activities like preparing for our Philadelphia Flower Show trip next week. (Still a few spaces left - sign up now!) I was talking to one friend yesterday about what the Philly Flower Show is actually like. How to explain it? Like "Disneyland for Gardeners" sounds like hype, but really it isn't. Maybe I should under-sell it and say it is like a flower show - but BIG. It is the largest and oldest such event in the world, yet comparisons are all relative and is bigger and older really better?

Well, I went over to the show's web site intending to shoot her the link so she could read up on it herself when lo I find they have added a new show blog that follows the show set-up and behind-the-scenes of it all. I'm not sure their blog would sell anyone on the event who hasn't already experienced it, but it is a great tease for those of us looking for clues of what we'll be viewing next week. This photo of Moda Botanica's exhibit under construction, for example, could go a lot of ways -- Seussian floral arrangements? Formal Italian villa? Mystical Fairie forest? Can't wait to see.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm SO ready for spring to be here

WAMU Metro Connection's host and producer, David Furst, stopped by to look for early signs of spring in my garden. The segment repeats over the weekend and you can listen to it online here. Radio being a non visual medium, I promised to post a few photos of what we were looking at exactly. Here they are -- including one of David himself. The shot of the path includes the flowering Winter Jasmine and Heather as well as the almost-open 'February Gold' Daffodils. It is a bit tough to make it, but the shot of the hyacinth bulb coming up is pretty nice and definitely says to me, "I'm SO ready for spring to be here."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You're Really Bugging Me Now

Is it at all surprising that I had nightmares last night? Yesterday I attended two bug talks, did the layout for the InsectIndex column for the upcoming March/April 2009 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, then I found a multi-legged critter scooting around my cat's dinner bowl late last night. On top of that there all the stinkbugs that have invaded my home and many others in the DC-area this winter. *sigh* I'm NOT a bug fan in the first place so all of this insect convergence and synchronicity is just giving me the back-of-the-neck creepies.

One of the talks yesterday was by Dr. Doug Tallamy whom we profiled in the Nov/Dec 08 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. He got some plant folk in the room riled up with his tent caterpillar defense. In his opinion their entire defoliation of a tree is no biggie and should be tolerated as the trees re-grow their leaves fairly quickly. He thinks the tent caterpillars are a terrific bird food source and besides they are native to this area. He has a point and some research to back him up in that the trees do recover from the denuding, but upon further reading I find that if they attack fruit trees this disrupts the fruiting cycle and doesn't that mean someone else's food source is hurt down the line?

Back to the layout deadline grind and escorting more stinkbugs from my home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Indoor Blooms to Brighten a SAD February Day

Today is one of those yucky, awful February days of freezing rain and cold breezes. You just want to curl up in bed and never get out. That was not an option for me, no matter how tempting it was to play hooky and give in to my severe SAD symptoms. A few things brightened my day today though, so I thought I'd share with those who may be similarly afflicted. Here are forsythia branches I forced, along with a daffodil I likewise brought into early bloom indoors, and finally my cat, Chantilly, posing with my blooming Amaryllis and a glittery praying mantis a friend gave me as a belated Christmas gift yesterday. (If the flash wasn't so bright, you could see better that Chantilly's green eyes match the mantis and the plant leaves perfectly.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Early Season Bloomers for the Mid-Atlantic area

Washington Gardener Enews

Vol. 5, No. 2 ~ February 15, 2009 issue is now sent out and archived.

Washington Gardener Enews is the free sister publication of Washington Gardener Magazine. Both the magazine and enewsletter share the same mission and focus — helping Washington DC area gardens grow better — though our content is different. In the monthly enewsletter, we address timely seasonal topics and projects; post local garden events; and, include a monthly reminder list of what you can be doing now in your garden.

We encourage you to subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine as well for in-depth articles, inspirational photos, and great garden resources for the Washington, DC-area gardener. Without your support, we cannot continue publishing this enewsletter.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spring is Just Around the Corner

It is the 15th and Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and their are hints of spring finally out there in my garden. A few snowdrops are up, the heather by my back step is pinking up, and the winter jasmine is finally putting on a decent show. Inside, my 'Red Lion' Amaryllis missed Christmas - though it it putting on a terrific show for Valentine's Day.

My 'February Gold' Daffodils look like they my open any day and my indoor forced species tulip bulbs and forsythia branches are also just days away.

The first day of spring is March 20, just a month or some, but it still sometimes it seems so far away.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Greener TV

A camera crew from Access Montgomery Cable's new TV show, "Think Green," came out to tape the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange and the segment started airing this week. They did a great job pointing out the green benefits of seed saving and starting. I'm hoping it gets a few more people thinking about growing their own plants from seed.

Unfortunately, you can only see it if you are in Montgomery County, MD and subscribe to cable. It is on Channel 21 and reruns all this month on Saturdays at 3:00 pm and Thursdays at 10:30 pm.

I have taped it and one of these days will take the time to figure out how to convert and upload all these clips online.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Deadlines Deadlines Deadlines

Busy busy busy -- spring must be around the corner.

If you have an event, ad, or anything to submit for our Feb 15 '09 issue of Washington Gardener Enews, you have until Midnight this evening to get it to me [WashingtonGardener (at)].

For the March/April 09 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine -- get your ads and submissions to me by end-of-business this Monday, 2/16. And yes, I know that it is President's Day, but we busy-bee publishers celebrate it by working on layouts and ignoring all the tempting store sale circulars.

On other deadline tips, the RootingDC Forum on 2/21 is filling up fast as is our bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show on 3/4, so get your registrations in asap. I also hear that Brookside's Green Matters is expected to max out soon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Washington Gardener Magazine Day at the upcoming Capital Home & Garden Show

Saturday, 2/28 is Washington Gardener Magazine Day at the upcoming Capital Home & Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA.

We'll have many of your favorite Washington Gardener Magazine writers and columnists there speaking on topics of direct interest to area gardeners including: Vegetable Gardening: Techniques and Tasty Varieties by Cindy Brown, Green Spring Gardens; Landscaping with Natives by Cheval Force Opp, Garden Tours; Zone Busting – Growing Plants that Should NOT Grow in the DC Area by Jim Dronenburg, Four Seasons Garden Club; and many more. We may sneak in a few additional surprises as well.

If you attended the recent Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, then you received a free admission pass to the show in your goody bag.

For those who missed the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, we'll be giving away several pairs of admission passes to the show as our February '09 Washington Gardener Reader Contest prize drawing -- details on how to enter will be announced in the 2/15/09 issue of the Washington Gardener Enewsletter and after 2/16/09 on our web site.

More details on the Capital Home & Garden Show are at We hope to see many of you there!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

White House Food for Thought

Guest Blog by Barbara A. McEwan

Today the rational for the White House grounds are far different from what they once were since we are now far more aware of the need for national leadership in a variety of activities that were typically performed just by individual for their own benefit. E.g. a home garden of some sort provided necessary food, the responsibility of the wife, but the landscaped grounds as we know them at the present time were few and far between except for the wealthy who could afford hired help. Women gardening for decorative purposes? That was a man's job although females with determination might provide suggestions.

Now the question of a food supply is becoming center stage because of the population explosion in countries worldwide including ours. To supplement our fruits, vegetables, and grains, we now increasingly use South America, Mexico, South Africa, and Asian sources for then. Yet food banks supplying the needy with nourishments in the US are no longer uncommon in spite of this. Meanwhile exporting countries still have their own hungry people they ignore as we do ours in preference to profit.

Leadership from our new president is vital to solve this mammoth problem and Obama is capable of doing so providing a large scale example of an organic garden in a highly visible area with the produce going to the White House kitchen and local food pantries. A small garden designed and maintained by the Obama children would help greatly to get their parents involved. Washington Gardener magazine subscribers are a logical source of leaders who can serve as teachers. Set up groups in various locations which do not already have them, they can provide instructions concerning how to grow your own food to people who feel the need for guidance or just need a push to put a garden in their own yards that will sow their neighbors and friends what they can do to reduce the size of their grocery bills. This will collectively make an impact. The magazine can print regular reports on the results.

Barbara is the author of White House Landscapes: Horticultural Achievements of American Presidents and Thomas Jefferson: Farmer. She resides in Forest, VA.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Gardening in Eden - For Reals Now

Jack Eden's obituary appeared in today's WaPo -- read it here. Jack's column and local radio spots spanned about three decades, so many DC-area gardeners are very familiar with Jack's image and name. He was a bit "before my time," so I know him mostly by reputation and second-hand stories. The fact that he was self-taught and really caught the gardening bug later in life make him someone a lot of budding gardeners could relate to. He had a straight-forward style and was not one for flowery prose or excessive verbage.

His web site,, which is full of general gardening advice and not really locally specific, is still up and definitely worth a perusal.

I have to confess that I'm in obituary nut. I read them like other people watch soap operas. The obituaries are hands-down the best writing and most fascinating stories in the paper. You just can't make this stuff up! Ordinary people who have remade themselves several times and who have multiple hobbies are common. You think you know someone, but truly you do not.
The most interesting sentence in Jack's obituary for me was this one: His "Garden of Eden" column ended abruptly in 1996 over a payment dispute involving the Internet use of his column. Reading between the lines I take that to me Jack was not willing to sign over all his future rights to his columns without just compensation. And good for him! If there had been more folks like him a decade or so ago, perhaps today writers (both on and off-line) might be able to support themselves by writing for a living.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Going to Seed Guest Blog

Check out my guest blog over at Washington Home & Garden Magazine's web site. It is about the few seed packs I found after last Saturday's Seed Exchange. I'm STILL cleaning up from the event, which includes writing thank you notes, making lists of ways to improve next year, etc.

I'm holding off in reading through the evaluations because I always need to distance myself a bit and have a stiff drink in my hand before I tackle those. No matter how many "excellents" I flip through, it is always that one cutting comments that sticks with you.
Someone last year wrote that "the lunch was insubstantial." Fact is, we did not serve lunch, but did have a snack break after 2pm pf healthy items like clementines and granola bars. But because that comment felt like a sucker punch, I made sure this year to set expectations appropriately in advance by repeating everywhere I could in the pre-show information that we are only having a light, healthy snack break mid-afternoon. Then I went a bit crazy in buying dozens of bags of apples and 20 boxes of granola bars, plus other goodies.

Now I have 30+ leftover apples in my crisper drawer, I'm hoping to have some time this weekend to convert those to apple sauce or a few pies. Anyone got any efficient apple peeling tips?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Photo Contest Winners Announced

I still have a great deal to do post-Seed Exchange , but I did not want to keep you all in suspense any longer if you were not able to attend the awards ceremony last Saturday. Here, listed below, are our winners ofthe 2009 Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest.

The winning photos will be published in the March/April 2009 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine and will be on display at a local photo show. I have posted a few here, but these small, low-res versions hardly do them justice.

You are ALL invited to the photo show opening reception. It is in the early eve on Friday, March 27 at the World Building in downtown Silver Spring, MD (on Georgia Avenue near the DC border). Full details coming soon.

2009 Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest Winners List

Grand Prize
Richard Paul Weiblinger
Image: Lillie6307

First Prize – Small Wonders
Ed Knepley
Image: Lotus Macro

Second Prize – Small Wonders
Maria Ramos
Image: Life in Green

Third Prize – Small Wonders
Nan McCoy
Image: Good Morning Glory

Honorable Mentions – Small Wonders
~ Ed Knepley
Image: “Say Ahhhh” Iris macro (pictured second from top)
~ Mario Ramos
Image: Simply White

First Prize – Garden Views
Dudley Warner
Image: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Lilypad Pool

Second Prize – Garden Views
Danielle Koontz
Image: Trees abstract Great Falls Nat Park

Third Prize – Garden Views
Mario Ramos
Image: Colors (pictured at bottom)

Honorable Mentions – Garden Views
~ Ray Lehr
Image: Fall Morning
~ Liesl Wiederkehr
Image: Fields of Gold

First Prize – Garden Creatures
William B. Folsom
Image: Meadowlark8

Second Prize – Garden Creatures
Richard Paul Weiblinger
Image: Butterfly9879 (pictured at top)

Third Prize – Garden Creatures
Grace Gary
Image: Frog in “Black” Pond

Honorable Mentions – Garden Creatures
~ Benjamin G. Sullivan
Image: Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly
~ Ray Lehr
Image: DragonFly

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