Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 New Year's Gardening Resolutions

Congratulations to Tiffin Shewmake of Rockville, MD, is our December Reader Contest winner of a handcrafted necklace by Foster Hall Design. Tiffin was chosen at random from among the entries received. Be sure to enter our next monthly contest. Upcoming prizes include garden tools, passes to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, orchid plants, deer repellant, and much more.

Contest entrants this month were asked to share their 2011 New Year's Gardening Resolution. Here are some of the entrees:

"My New Year's gardening resolution is to USE the seeds I've saved and start them in time so I can stay out of the garden centers with their many temptations! This is really a resolution to keep my budget in line."
 ~ Lucy Goszkowski, Annapolis, MD

"My 2011 New Year's Gardening Resolution is to engage and inspire people to see ourselves as stewards of a common legacy whose every-day gardening practices can either enhance or injure both our land and our lives." ~ Ruth H. Axelrod, Frederick, MD
(Ruth is the new Chair of the Frederick County Master Gardeners Bay-Wise Committee, which is dedicated to educating people about conservation gardening and, thus, improving the condition of the Bay.)

"Here are my 2011 garden resolutions:

(a) In 2011 I resolve to weed more conscientiously--especially in early Spring.
(b) In 2011 I resolve to do a better job of planning my annual garden (instead of just jumping into it.)
(c) In 2011 I resolve to try 3 new things (plant a new and different heirloom vegetable, plant a new ornamental plant, try tp grow something vertically)."
~ Madeline C., Washington, DC

"New Year's gardening resolution:

Be mindful of when my native plants and veggies are seeding, and collect and preserve my own seeds. I'll have to teach myself to do that, but it's worth it -- for the planet and for my wallet!"
~ Lena Rotenberg, Keedysville, MD
"My major Gardening resolutions are:

1 - I will NOT over-plant the vegetable garden. No matter how lonely the tomato plants look when first planted, they will grow and unlike school children, don't need to be surrounded by friends.
2- Stop thinking about creating a bed for asparagus and actually put one it.
3-Do not leave seed packets out where they get rained on."
~ Tiffin Shewmake, Rockville, MD
My own gardening resolution is to actually harvest and consume (or give away) the edible I grow instead of letting them languish and rot for lack of time and pre-planning. Shame on me.
So what is YOUR 2011 New Year's Gardening Resolution?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Tree Recycling Tips

You may have already disposed of your Christmas tree, evergreen swags, and wreaths, but if you haven't already -- consider one of the following methods for truly recycling your once living tree:

~ Bird Feeder and Habitat: Prop your tree up along a fence to make a bird feeder and add color and excitement to the winter garden. Utilize orange slices, suet, seed, or peanut butter smeared on a pine cone. You can also string unsalted popcorn to attract the birds. This is especially lovely after a light frost or snow. Birds come for the food and stay for the shelter in the trees branches.

~ Mulch: Even if you don’t have your own chipper, you can still skip the local yard waste pick-up and make your own evergreen mulch. Use a good pair of pruners to cut the branches off and spread them on the ground as a "blanket" around your roses and tender perennials.

~ Firewood: Use the trunk and thicker branches for kindling/firewood in your fireplace, outdoor firepit, or patio Chimenea.

Pick one of these ideas or all three and remember to: reduce, reuse, recycle.


If you want to put the tree out for pick-up, here are links to cities and counties in the DC metro regarding how to recycle your tree. This listing below was put together by the United States Botanic Garden Sustainability Team.






CITY OF ALEXANDRIA VA (hit holiday tab)





Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video Wednesday: Last Chance to Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Still have any tulips or daffodil bulbs not yet planted? After a month of early frigid weather here in the Mid-Atlantic, looks like we are finally getting a thaw this weekend and it may be your last chance to get those bulbs in the ground in time for spring blooms. The soil will be just workable enough for this purpose and it is far better than letting your bulbs languish and rot in storage.

To help you get motivated, here is a little video of bulb planting tips that local NBC4 put together from a story in Washington Gardener Magazine and put on the air in October 2008.

View more news videos at:

Monday, December 27, 2010

5th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine PHOTO CONTEST Kicks Off!

The 5th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest kicks off now! Time to start sorting and picking out your best 2010 garden shots. The entry period is January 1-22, 2011.
Note that eligible entries must have been taken in the 2010 calendar year in a garden setting within 150-mile radius of Washington, DC.

We have four major entry categories:

~ Garden Views (landscape scenes)

~ Garden Vignettes (groupings of plants in beds or containers, unusual color or texture combinations, garden focal points, and still scenes)

~ Small Wonders (flower or plant part close-ups)

~ Garden Creatures (any living creature in a garden setting)

A little tip: we have far more entries in these last two categories than in the first two. Meaning, your odds of winning are far higher in the Views and Vignettes categories.

Remember that garden photos need not all be taken during the first week of May nor should they all be tight close-ups of a red rose. Look for the unusual and for beauty in the off-season too. Our judges give equal weight to the following criteria when evaluating the entries: technical merit, composition, impact, and creativity.

Anyone can enter: professional or amateur, adult or student, local area gardener or visiting DC tourist.

See this PDF for full contest details.

Best of luck to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Video Wednesday: Philadelphia Flower Show Trip

This one minute video photo montage is just a taste of what you'll find in store at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Here are a few stats to wow you:

~ The country’s premier landscape designers and florists are featured and turn 10 acres of exhibit space into a floral fantasy world with exotic plants and eclectic designs.

~ More than 580 artistic and horticultural classes are exhibited with more than 2,000 entries in classes ranging from miniature settings to pressed plants.

~ Over 150 vendors, from across the United States and as far away as the country of Wales, sell plants, flowers, orchids, sheds (even a small barn!), floral-inspired furniture from the romantic to the practical, artwork, unique food and garden-related crafts and supplies.

To sign up to go up to the Philadelphia Flower Show with Washington Gardener Magazine and Cheval's Garden Tours, use this registration form.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gardening By The Rules: Washington Gardener Enews Dec 10

Washington Gardener Enews December 10


~ Gardening By The Rules: 5 to Break, 5 to Make

~ Magazine Excerpt: Russian Sage

~ Reader Contest: Basil Leaf Necklace by Foster Hall Design

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest Announced

~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights

~ Spotlights Special: Erysimum Fragrant Star (‘Walfrastar’)

~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange Registration Form

~ Upcoming Local Garden Events

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!

and much more...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Video Wednesday: Create a New Garden Bed WITHOUT Digging

This week's video is on Create a New Garden Bed WITHOUT Digging. This technique is also known as Layer Gardening or Lasagna Gardening (as coined by Pat Lanza. Though it is unseasonably cold here in the Mid-Atlantic this week, this is one garden task you can still do outside and put yourself well ahead for the next growing year.

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is another production. BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial. If the above viewer screen, does not work, you can go to to watch it here.

Here are links to the previous Video Wednesday clips:

~ Who Am I?

~ Shutting Off Water Sources

~ Brookside's Garden of Lights Preview

~ How to Clean and Preserve Garden Tools

~ Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest

~ Save Seeds Before Winter

~ How to Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

~ Sow a Cover Crop and Mulch Before Winter

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Twiggy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

A big freeze has moved into the Mid-Atlantic, so I just don't feel like going out in the wicked artic winds and taking any garden photos for the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I did take some time earlier this week to trim all my Red Twig Dogwoods (Cornus sericea) and make a tall bouquet for my sofa table. We wrote about Red Twig Dogwoods (and Yellow/Gold varieties) in Washington Gardener Magazine's Winter issue last year. There are so many wonderful selections available from 'Artic Fire' to 'Winter Beauty.'

I'm in the midst of working on this year's Winter issue and it has been slow-going so far. With this early cold and unrelenting gray skies, it is just so hard to get motivated. Don't know about you all, but I want to spend my days curled up in bed with the cats, stacks of newspapers, and a good reality show. How do you all get through these shortest days of the year?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Video Wednesday: Who Am I?

It occurs to me that I should have started off the Video Wednesday series with an overall introduction video.
Seems like I just assume that you all know who I am and what Washington Gardener Magazine is all about.
Silly me! In this crazy-busy world, who can keep all their live friends straight much less all their Facebook pals, Twitter followers, blog readers, etc. So here it is, better late than never, right?

I taped this almost exactly a year ago for Shirley Bovshow's Garden World Report. My segment is about 11 minutes into the show. You can speed ahead and just watch that part, but then you'd be missing Shirley's infectious smile and all the other great people she introduces you to in this episode. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

DC's Downtown Holiday Market

I'll be helping out again this year at my brother's booth, Jentz Prints, during the Downtown Holiday Market near Gallery Place in WDC.

I'll have the current issue with me for sale. If you contact me the day before, I can also bring back issues if there are any you need to buy. I'll also have regular subscription plus gift subscription cards.

Here are the dates I'll be there:
Dec 6, Dec 8, Dec 9, Dec 10, and Dec 13
each of these days from 10am-12noon

I buy most of my holiday presents here each year (shhh, don't tell those on my list!). The self-taught artist and crafters are my favorite: necklaces made from scrabble pieces, collage art boxes decorated with Broadway musical programs, magnets decoupaged with naughty classified ads, handknit Ipod cozies, etc. And yes, after spending two hours with their enchanting fragrance wafting right at me, I do succumb to the fresh hot mini-donuts. So if you see powdered sugar sticking all over my lipgloss, don't judge! I'm only human. :-)
Here is the market information:

While you are at your keypads, can I ask a quick favor?
If you have enjoyed my radio garden segments, can you take a minute and let WAMU Metro Connection show know at: which garden segment from this past year was your favorite? They are doing a year-end Best-Of show and want your opinion.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Springtime in Paris with Washington Gardener Magazine

Join Cheval's Garden Tours and Washington Gardener Magazine
for a trip to Paris by way of the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Avoid the airfare, jet lag, and TSA groping. Immerse yourself in Parisian culture -- food, flowers, fashion, and fun -- just a short luxury motorcoach ride away.

After what promises to be a long, cold winter -- you deserve it!

We are sending out the details a bit earlier this year for those who requested it as a holiday gift option.
See our PDF with the full information and registration information posted here.

Open publication - Philadelphia Flower Show Tour

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Video Wednesday: Shutting Off Water Sources

This week's video on Shutting Off Water Sources is incredibly timely with a huge cold front moving into the Mid-Atlantic area. We had our real first freeze this week and there is even a prediction of snow early next week. If you have never had trouble with a water pipe freezing and bursting, count yourself lucky. I hear many horror stories from new homeowners who were never told they needed to turn off their outdoor water for winter nor even where the shut-off valve is -- if you don't know where that valve is, make a point to find where yours is today!

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is another production. BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial. If the above viewer screen, does not work, you can go to to watch it here.

Here are links to the previous Video Wednesday clips:

~ Brookside's Garden of Lights Preview
~ How to Clean and Preserve Garden Tools
~ Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest
~ Save Seeds Before Winter
~ How to Winterize Your Vegetable Garden
~ Sow a Cover Crop and Mulch Before Winter

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorite Holiday Season Plants

For our November 2010 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we gave away passes to the Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights Show. Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights is a half-mile walk through a landscape of 940,000 twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. The show runs Friday, November 26, 2010 through Sunday, January 9, 2011 (with the exception of December 24-25 and January 3-6). The hours are 5:30 to 9:00pm, with the last car admitted at 8:30pm. Entry is by car/van and is $20 on Mon-Thurs and $25 on Fri-Sun.

The winners are:

- Alexandria Lippincott of University Park, MD

- Katie Rapp of Gaithersburg MD

- Kristen Menichelli of NE Washington DC

- Cathy Wintermyer of Cheverly, MD

- Patti Pride of NW Washington, DC

Congratulations to all!

The winners submitted their favorite holiday season plant and I have compiled them here:

~ My favorite holiday plant is the cranberry because it fills so many holiday roles. It is delicious; I couldn't imagine Thanksgiving turkey without it. I love to string it with popcorn for the birds outside at the holidays. Its color is simply gorgeous. And it is native to our country, and to the New England region that I love.

~ My favorite holiday plant: Amaryllis -- love those big, gaudy flowers!

~  My favorite holiday flower is the cyclamen—wonderful deep red color (and it is not a poinsettia).

~ My favorite holiday plant is the venerable Christmas cactus because it is like earthbound fireworks--a true celebration of the season in plant form.

~ My favorite holiday plant definitely has to be red poinsettia. I know it can be tacky, and over used at times, but there is definitely something about that plant that immediately makes me think of the holidays. Probably, it has something to do with the poinsettia fundraiser my church growing up in NC would have every year. You knew it was the holidays when those started showing up in every corner, and it was a treat to take them home during the midnight service on Christmas Eve. Now, as a young adult, something about them makes me smile every year, and think of my family who are far away. Living in DC urban suburbs, I'm glad to have some color in the winter, and a plant that looks happy and bright besides my Christmas tree.

So what is YOUR favorite holiday season plant?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Washington Gardener Named to Best Garden Blogs

In all the USNA azalea flap this past week, I neglected to share the great news of being named Blog of the Day at the new Best Garden Blogs web site. is the invention of the tireless Anna Flowergardengirl, a North Carolina gardener and blogger extraordinaire. Anna says her goal is to list the best quality garden blog sites. She carefully screens each entry and I can already see I'm in great company!

In other news, I've done a couple guest blogs recently. One was for Behnke Nurseries' revamped blog being edited by Susan Harris of GardenRant fame. My guest blog there is on Container Gardening for Fall/Winter see the link here.

The other recent guest blog was for the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog, It is on Collecting and Swapping Seeds and our upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges. Read the post here.

BTW, I am always looking for local Mid-Atlantic region gardeners to do guest blogs here at the Washington Gardener Magazine blog on all things related to our area's gardening scene. Drop me a note, if you have a guest blog idea.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Part 2 of Save the USNA Azaleas… and Boxwoods, Daylilies, and Daffodils for that matter!

Since our guest blog post on Sunday by Don Hyatt on the planned destruction of a major portion of the US National Arboretum (USNA) azalea collection, things have gone viral. Uber-viral one might say. The story has been picked up on news sites and local blogs from MSNBC to GardenRant to the Prince of Petworth. It is all the buzz on Yahoo discussion list and Facebook pages. Disbelief and utter outrage being the two most commonly shared reactions. Many think this is a hoax. I can assure you that it is not.

The USNA de-accessioning plan calls for removing undocumented azaleas as well as the removal of the boxwood, daylily, and daffodil collections. According to the USNA: “Long-term plans already exist to remove nearly all of the azaleas of unknown pedigree on the Glenn Dale Hillside (about 20-25% of the total azalea collection) so that they may be replaced with known Glenn Dale azalea introductions massed in large groups for visual impact, and to secure the germplasm holding with multiple plants. The plan now will shift to fast-track removal of azaleas of unknown pedigree so the area is less of a maintenance burden. Most removals are expected to take place in the summer of 2011. The first steps in de-accessioning the National Boxwood Collection are the development of a complete and accurate inventory, communicating the availability of cuttings or rooted cuttings of the plants on the inventory, propagation of plants, and distribution of the resulting plants. Selected plants from the National Boxwood Collection and Perennials Collection will be moved or propagated to form the basis for new plantings elsewhere at the arboretum; for example, near the walled Morrison Garden in the Azalea Collections. This will create a smaller collection footprint that the Gardens Unit will be able to maintain with reduced resources.”

Aaron Cook. president of the Azalea Society of America, reacted: “By anyone’s conservative estimate this is at least 50% of the collection. There is valuable germplasm in this group as can be attested to by some of the foremost azalea breeders in the country… There is no active azalea breeding program going on at the arboretum… As a matter of fact, the last Azalea introduction by the National Arboretum of any significance was ‘Ben Morrison,’ which was selected from the very group of azaleas slated for destruction.” That introduction was in 1972.

The brunt of outrage has been focused on USNA garden unit leader Scott Aker -- some calling for his resignation. Scott is not permitted to reply on the record. All press inquiries are now forwarded to the Arboretum’s interim director Dr. Ramon Jordan so that the USNA message can be coordinated and clear. I spoke to Dr. Jordan twice in the last few days and here are some of the clarifications and facts he wanted to share.

“We were impressed and amazing by the outpouring of responses. I have been reading all the blog postings, comments, and online threads. The emails are streaming in and my Blackberry is on fire. We are grateful for the public’s interest in the USNA and pleased to see how many regard the Arboretum and the azaleas in particular as a national treasure. That tells us that we must have been doing something right to garner such love and loyalty and that Scott Aker’s guidance of the garden directions is indeed praiseworthy.”

“We have heard the responses and are definitely taking a second look at our decisions. There have been some creative solutions proposed and all of them are being considered. I will be reevaluating with all these responses in mind.”

“The fact is we did lose the private funding of two gardener positions and addressing this has been a very difficult decision that we had to make. While we still have them (through February 2012), we need to use them, while we can, to catalog and move the plant collections to save what we can. This is a huge loss for us. It is 10% of the USNA staff, but really 30% of the actual gardeners.”

“The USNA has 159 volunteers who gave us 10,000 hours of labor which is equivalent to 6 full-time employees. We’d love to see an expansion of that volunteer program. Truthfully, though, most of our volunteers are retired and they are not able to do much of the tasks that we need in the gardens.”
“Our funding budget is flat – both the congressional contribution and from FONA – in terms of real dollars we are actually losing value every year.”

“This is nothing new – in the past the USNA has had to announce de-accessioning of collections due to severe budget cuts, but the reaction this time has been overwhelming.”

“We do have a challenge in being the only Federally funded arboretum and our mission is research, education and public outreach. We are looking at all funding alternatives. Since we are a Federal agency we are limited in the ways we can do that, but we are allowed to sell plants or plant materials [seeds, germplasm, propagated cuttings]. For example one blog poster suggested auctioning off the plants to raise money and to give them a permanent home. Our Koi auction last fall raised $10,000. FONA has said they are happy to help with a fundraising event of that sort. The problem is this one-time fundraising is not sustainable and in a year or so we’d be back to making the same tough de-accessioning decisions. What we need is a sustaining solution to keep these two garden positions funded ‘permanently.’”

“The abandonment plan some have proposed will just not fly. We are the USNA and we need the ground to be maintained at a level to our standards. We cannot just let a section go to weeds, disease, and invasives. The azaleas require much more high-maintenance care than others have implied. For example, there is regular pruning and spraying for diseases.”

“Arguments can be made for one collection over another and we are open to hear them. Many question why, if the private funding of the two positions for the Asian Valley was what was lost, the other collections must suffer. But we manage the arboretum as a whole and have to evaluate it that way. We created a decision-making matrix and again, it was a difficult process, to choose among factors such as public appeal, plant research potential, industry interest etc. “

“About 75% of the crape myrtles sold in the US come from USNA germplasm, I don’t have the corresponding figure for the azalea collection, but I know it is of value to the horticultural industry and that is one of the constituents that we serve.”

“My key take-away points are that we do have time both for finding funds to replace the two positions and  yes, we can and will re-evaluate the decision to de-accession plants at the U.S. National Arboretum.”

Dr. Jordan will be sending a more detailed responses to my questions after the holiday weekend, so look for a Part 3 next week. Meanwhile, a letter dated November 15 that he wrote to the major stakeholders is posted at the Save the Azaleas web site here.

Next Steps

Since Don Hyatt’s guest blog post went up, a Web site and Facebook page have gone up to marshal support for saving all the azaleas. The local and national plant societies for Boxwood, Daylilies, and Daffodils are also gathering their troops and deciding how to proceed. The Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) have indicated that they will also be putting together a statement and plan of action and I will announce those updates as they become available.

Dr. Jordan indicates that there is a possibility of a meeting of all stakeholders and the general public with the USNA decision-makers – details TBD.
Photo credit for Save the Azaleas blog posts: Don Hyatt

Video Wednesday: Brookside's Garden of Lights Preview

Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights is a half-mile walk through a landscape of 940,000 twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. The show runs Friday, November 26, 2010 through Sunday, January 9, 2011 (with the exception of December 24-25 and January 3-6). The hours are 5:30 to 9:00pm, with the last car admitted at 8:30pm. Entry is by car/van and is $20 on Mon-Thurs and $25 on Fri-Sun.

For our November 2010 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away passes to the Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights Show.
To enter to win a vehicle entry pass* to Brookside’s Garden of Lights Show, send an email to by 5:00pm on November 30 with “Lights” in the subject line and tell us your favorite holiday season plant and why. In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on December 1.
*Entry is by vehicle, then you walk the gardens' light show on foot. You can bring as many people in your vehicle as will fit. Bundle up and don't forget your camera!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum


by Don Hyatt 

On November 8, 2010, Aaron Cook, the President of the Azalea Society of America, learned that the U.S. National Arboretum in NE Washington, DC, plans to remove the mature azalea display on Mount Hamilton. The Garden Unit Leader at the National Arboretum, Mr. Scott Aker, announced that the azaleas will be cut down in the summer of 2011 and their stumps painted with herbicide. Many of us are upset by this decision.

The azaleas on Mt. Hamilton create one of the prime floral attractions in our Nation’s Capital. The lovely mature azaleas, many of which are over 60 years old, occupy perhaps 3 to 6 acres of the 446-acre Arboretum. There is no space issue. The azaleas are not overgrown or in decline. Working with many volunteers during the past 20 years, Ms. Barbara Bullock, the Azalea Curator, has restored the beauty and health of the collection after years of neglect. The azaleas are among the oldest and most spectacular specimens in the U.S. They are a National Treasure.

Historically, these azaleas are of particular importance to the U.S. National Arboretum since they were developed by its first Director, Benjamin Y. Morrison. They represent the top 2 to 3% of the 50,000 to 75,000 seedlings he raised when developing the famous Glenn Dale Azaleas. Morrison’s colossal breeding project has had no equal, and it produced the first large flowered azaleas hardy in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Below are the three primary reasons Mr. Aker has given via email inquiries regarding the decision to destroy the azalea collection. Following Mr. Aker’s statements are some facts that seem to contradict his reasoning.
1) The azaleas attract too many visitors, and that creates problems

Aker: “I cannot dispute the beauty of the display and its value as an attraction for our visitors. Currently, again in part to diminishing resources, we are now unable to accommodate the crowds of visitors in April and May when the azaleas are in bloom. We have inadequate parking and restroom facilities.”

Fact: The Arboretum has several large parking areas, and for years has provided a shuttle service to get around to the various attractions. The Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society has held its flower show at the Arboretum during peak azalea time for nearly 40 years. Its members have not observed any difficulties, even in 2010 when the show coincided with the busy Friends of the National Arboretum plant sale.

Fact: The Arboretum received $9 million in Federal stimulus funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That money has been put toward the renovation of the Administration building and includes adding more public restrooms. That facility is closed now but should reopen within the next 18 months.

2) Because the Asian Valley Exhibit lost private funding, the Arboretum will remove several other collections

Aker: “Recently, we learned that a donor that has supported two gardener positions on our staff will no longer be providing that support, and the loss of this staff has resulted in the need to deaccession collections. We will be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection.”

Fact: Neither of the privately funded positions involved the Azaleas, Boxwoods, or Perennials. There is no reason to eliminate federally funded positions in order to replace those private gardeners. Mr. Aker makes the staffing decisions, and Ms. Bullock continues to be the only person assigned to the 20-acre azalea collection. The physical removal those large azaleas will incur additional expenses. Denuding the hillside will increase the risk of erosion.

3) The azaleas are not well documented

Aker: “We do not have documentation for any of the plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside. Although Morrison's breeding records do exist, no labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can know its provenance beyond conjecture.”

Fact: Ms. Bullock and volunteers have been making excellent progress on plant identification. Many of the original Glenn Dale varieties have been positively identified on the hillside. They have used plant records, Morrison’s notes, registration data, and comparisons with known forms. Even unnamed plants whose parentage may never be identified still have merit and can be introduced. The striking bicolor azalea ‘Ben Morrison’ is one of those unknown plants. It was named by another Arboretum Director, the late Dr. John Creech, to honor the original hybridizer.

An irrevocable decision such as cutting down the Glenn Dale Azaleas would not likely have been made if the Arboretum had considered its ramifications. Originally, the Arboretum had an Advisory Board that provided expert advice to its leadership, but that group was dissolved in 1994. You can still advise USDA officials of your concerns:

1. Dr. Judith St. John, Deputy Administrator, National Program Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705 Phone: 301-504-6252 Fax: 301-504-4663

2. Dr. Joseph Spence, Beltsville Area Director, 10300 Baltimore Blvd. Bldg. 003, BARC-West, Room 223, Beltsville, MD 20702 Phone: 301-504-6078 Fax: 301-504-5863

3. Dr. Ramon Jordan, Interim Director, U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: 202-245-4539 Fax: 202-245-4574

Guest Blogger Don Hyatt is a retired teacher and avid gardener. Don is recognized as a national authority on azaleas and rhododendrons and has served on the national boards of both the Azalea Society of America (ASA) and the American Rhododendron Society (ARS). He can be contacted at or at


Part 2 is now up at:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Video Wednesday: How to Clean & Preserve Garden Tools

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is another production. It is about How to Clean & Preserve Garden Tools for Winter. Enjoy!

BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial. If the above viewer screen, does not work, you can go to to watch it here.

Here are links to the previous Video Wednesday clips:

~ Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest

~ Save Seeds Before Winter

~ How to Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

~ Sow a Cover Crop & Mulch Before Winter

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Washington Gardener Enews Nov 2010: Plants for the Holiday Season


~ Plants for the Holiday Season
~ Magazine Excerpt: Easy-to-Grow Garlic
~ Reader Contest: Passes to Brookside Gardens winter lights show
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Ornamental Kale ‘Glamour Red’
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List
~ Upcoming Local Garden Events
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Cherry-Pink Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Sharing a new acquisition for this month's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. It is Chrysanthemum 'Sozan' -- an anemone mum that is a bright, cherry-pink. It is tall and flops, but looks good trailing from a hanging basket. I won two of these plants at the raflle during the Friends of Brookside Garden's annual meeting a few weekends ago. As it is only semi-hardy to our region, they may not survive and I'll just enjoy them for their beauty this season. Since I have two plants, I'll try planting them in two different spots and see how they winter over.

Also blooming away still in the November garden are: Meidiland and Mutabilis roses, Sheffield Pink mums, impatiens, petunias, zinnias, Encore azaleas, Montauk daisies, nemesia, geraniums, many grasses, and tons of drying hydrangea heads.

What is blooming in your garden right now?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No Room to Garden? Use Your Truck or Barge or Bathtub

Seriously, if I hear one more person say to me, "I don't have room to garden," I'll go Norman Bates on them. You have room, you are just to lazy to go and find it. Rent a community garden plot. Ask a relative/friend/colleague for a patch of their earth. Explore unused spaces like roofs/window ledges/front steps. I've seen gardens in stored canoes hanging down restaurant walls, in unused bathtubs, on office parking lot islands. "No space" is flat out no excuse.

In the category of found garden spaces comes a new documentary from the guys behind King Corn. Truck Farm! is about literally a farm planted on a truckbed. They use greenroof materials to install the base layers and the rest is just basic gardening -- good soil, plant seeds, water, park in a sunny spot. Truly meals on wheels -- Genius!

Last week, I caught a screening of Truck Farm! and a discussion with the filmmakers at the Smithsonian as part of the Resident Associates program. The film is more than just the truck planting, thank goodness, it is about the urban farming trend in general and how growing our own food is bringing new life to emply places in our inner cities. Other inventive urban farm examples in the docu include gardens on a barge, over a baseball field, in an apartment lobby window, and on top of a Brooklyn factory roof. The filmmakers commented that after completing their work many more urban farms in even more inventive spots have come to their attention and more are taking root every day.

So I say it again: "no space" is no excuse. Where will you grow your garden?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video Wednesday: Sow a Cover Crop & Mulch Before Winter

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is another production. It is about Sowing a Cover Crop and Mulching Before Winter. Enjoy!

BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial. If the above viewer, does not work, you can go to to watch it here.
Here are links to the previous Video Wednesday clips:

~ Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest

~ Save Seeds Before Winter

~ How to Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

Monday, November 08, 2010

Garden Communicators Lunch Connections

Clint Albin, Cheval Force Opp, and I chatted in Dallas, TX, at the recent Garden Writers Assn meeting about how few times we all see each other in person in our own city, so I put out a open invite for Garden Communicators (speakers, bloggers, writers, photographers, editors, etc.) in the greater DC-Baltimore region to join us for lunch. Ten of us gathered at Vicino's* and chatted up a storm.

While mostly white, female, and middle-aged, the 10 of us were from a range of backgrounds and garden communication outlets -- from big city newspaper reporters to hobby bloggers to garden center employees. We definitely spanned the spectrum of hort industry interests.

We had an "introduce yourself" round and then a "brag/share/challenges" round. It was great to hear what projects met with success and what are coming on the horizon from talented local communicators.

Most of the "challenges" expressed were in making the connections between what consumers actually grow or, more likely, do NOT grow, and what garden centers sell, what we write about, what public gardens display and teach, etc. We can be doing a much better job of coordinating our messages and giving garden consumers news that they can actually use.

For example, we seem to all be covering food gardening extensively, yet there is still an outreach problem for the general public. They find it daunting and costly. Furthermore, once folks do go to the effort to grow it, then what? We need to complete the loop for them.

There were grumblings about social media and the demise of many local news outlets. It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to a notably absent local garden writer (directly invited, but no response) and his unkind words regarding a nearby public garden many of us adore. We mourned the recent death of one of Robin Ripley's chickens and thrilled to Cheval's road trip stories. Some of the communicators shared their "what-I-told-my-boss-so-I-could-attend-this-lunch" tales. Others comments on the direction GWA is headed and whether it was serving its membership's needs. Thankfully, the Cooks Source debacle did not rear its ugly head and we all were headed home or back to the office to digest our meals in peace.

We'll be doing this again. Likely timing will be early January at MANTS in Baltimore, MD.

*The well-worn East Silver Spring, MD neighborhood, family, Italian eatery -- great food, good service, low prices -- 10 of us ate and ate and it came to under $95! Hey, any restaurant that gives us free aps and dessert has my loyalty.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

People, Plots, and Plants of DC - Part 3: Temple Gardens and Kalorama Community Gardens

Profiling Community Gardens Across the City

Temple Gardens and Kalorama Community Gardens

Guest Blog by Susi Baranano

Temple Gardens can be found behind the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on 15th and S Street, in Ward 2. The Temple Gardens was established in 1990 and gets its name from the Masonic Temple because it is on ¼ acre of their land. There are 70 plots available to DC residents who do not have a garden space at their residence. DC Department of Recreation laid down the original plots in the spring of 1990 and DC Urban Forestry Administration provided the woodchips for the walkways.

Poppy Path, Lavender Lane, East and West Boulevard are the names the gardeners have given to the woodchip walkways dividing the plots. Chard and chili peppers stand tall in one plot, green and red peppers in another, spearmint and rosemary in another. Squash grows on the ground. Tomatoes are still on the vine. Morning glories wrap the fence. A boot filled with plants sits in the corner of another.

Kalorama Community Gardens is located on the corner of Kalorama Park, a 3-acre park located where 19th,Street, Kalorama Road and Columbia Road intersect in Ward 1. Kalorama, which means “beautiful view” in Greek, was once an estate. Like nearly all estates in DC, it was subdivided into smaller lots, of which the Park is one of them. Kalorama Park was once federal land, but in 1971 it was transferred to DC.
Alongside the Kalorama Gardens are hedges that date back to the original Kalorama estate. Robins and sparrows hide and perch in the hedges, and eat insects among the 19 plots. A water line to the garden is the source for the garden. Each spring area residents can enter a lottery for a plot that will be theirs for up to 5 years as long as they live in the area.

The Park sits on a little hill, surrounded by tall apartment buildings that look down on it. This little park has it all: Benches lining the walkways, the Kalorama Community Center with yellow slides and red swings for children to play, a dog park, oval grass plot and padlocked garden plot.

Searching for people, plants and plots!!! Contribute to this new guest blog series about DC’s community gardens, contact me at

Read Part 1 of the People, Plots, and Plants of DC series on the Whitehaven Community Garden and Melvin Hazen Community Garden at:

Read Part 2 of the People, Plots, and Plants of DC series on the Newark Street Community Gardens  and the Frances Community Garden at:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Video Wednesday: Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is another production. It is about Collecting Your Last Harvest in preparation for putting your vegetable garden to bed for winter. Enjoy!

BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial. If the above viewer, does not work, you can go to to watch it here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I encountered this Black Widow spider a few days ago while volunteering at Accokeek Foundation's EcoSystem Farm in southern Prince George's County, MD. A group of us found out that turning over the farms large compost pile was an adventure in survival. This Black Widow had many sisters. I'm not generally afraid of spiders and gladly share my living space with any that will consume mosquitos and other unwanted insects. However, I was only too glad to be quickly done with that chore and to be able to breathe easy that none of us was bitten. If you ever meet one of these ladies face-to-face, you won't forget it. Impossibly large, shiny and bold, she is glamorous, mesmerizing, and truly frightening.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dangerous Plants of DC

Just in time for Halloween frights, my latest garden segment on WAMU's Metro Connection show is now online as
>>Rebecca Sheir joins gardening guru Kathy Jentz on a nature walk in downtown Silver Spring, MD… and discovers that when it comes to the region's plants, something wicked this way comes. From poison berries to leaves that can put you in a coma, some of the D.C. area's plants are just plain scary.<<
   Be sure to check out the photo gallery of poisonous plants taken on our walk-about including Nandina and Hydrangea (both produce cyanide!). To read more about dangerous plants, see Amy Stewart's book Wicked Plants, our October 2010 Enews issue and our current issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener printed and mailed!

Our Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine has printing and mailed this week. If you are a current subscriber, look for it in your mailbox soon. The cover story is on Vines and Climbers. There is a listing of over 20 vining plants that do well in our Mid-Atlantic gardens.

Also in this issue is the tantalizing Edibles column, “Easy-to-Grow Garlic” by Cindy Brown. She shares her tips on how to grow garlic here in the Mid-Atlantic and the best varieties for our area.

Our Daytrip is to the Monticello, Jefferson’s famous residence outside of Charlottesville, VA. I visited there myself this past summer and have to say his vegetable garden is impressive.

You’ll also find in this issue:

• Russian Sage: A Perennial Pleasure

• Best Bulbs for Soggy Spots

• Confessions of a Plant Hoarder

• Native Woodland Aster

• Seed Bombs for Guerilla Gardening

• Poisonous Weeds

• Battling Stink Bugs

• Nick Weber’s Heritage Rosarium & Dahlia Patch

•New Tree Benefit Calculator

• coverage of several local events including our own Tomato Taste

• answers to readers’ questions such why their Cucumbers are Bitter

and much, much more...

To subscribe online, see and use our PayPal credit card link. Or print out the form posted here ( and mail it in with your check.
   You can also buy the single issue at various local stores such as Borders in the DC-area, the USNA Arbor House, Natural Art Garden Center, and many others. 
   Finally, see our table or magazine staff at upcoming local garden events. Find us next at the Nov 15 Silver Spring Garden Club and Nov 17 Takoma Hort Club meetings. Tap us on the shoulder to buy the current issue or start a subscription.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video Wednesday: Save Seeds Before Winter

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is a production. It is about Save Seeds Before Winter. Enjoy! (BTW, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load while listening to a brief sponsor commercial.)

Speaking of Seed Saving, our dual Seed Exchanges are set for early 2011. In the drab, dreary heart of winter, join us for seed swapping, expert speakers, great goody bags, and much more. Save these dates: January 29, 2011 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD and February 5, 2011 at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. Registration and full details will be posted in early December.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Urban Garden Talk Series Canceled

Washington Gardener Magazine's Urban Garden Talk Series Canceled

Our DC Urban Garden talk series with the Historical Society of Washington, DC (HSW) has been cancelled.

We have rescheduling one of the the three urban garden talks and expect to hold the other two at venues this fall/winter in/around DC:
• On Monday, January 17, you can see Michael Twitty on “In Search of African-American Heritage Seed” at the Silver Spring Garden Club meeting at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD.

Please keep checking in with us for details and future talk updates.
Connect with Washington Gardener online on thi blog and at:

• Washington Gardener Discussion Group:

• Washington Gardener Twitter Feed:

• Washington Gardener Facebook Page:

• Washington Gardener Web Site:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Video Wednesday: How to Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

I'll be sharing a video each Wednesday, starting off with some older ones I've made. Then, when I've run out of all those, I figure it will force me to finally get on the stick and produce some new ones. This one is a production. Enjoy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wicked Plant Tales in Washington Gardener Enews Oct 2010 issue

~ Review of Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
~ Magazine Excerpt: Poisonous Weeds
~ Reader Contest: Passes to GreenFestivalDC
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: New Arborvitae Stands Amazingly Tall & Straight
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List
~ Upcoming Local Garden Events
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

People, Plots, and Plants of DC - Part 2

Profiling Community Gardens Across the City

Guest Blog by Susi Baranano

The Newark Street Community Gardens was started in 1974 by local resident Ann Chase as part of National Food Day in 1974. It is located on DC Parks and Recreation land, atop of water tributaries including the Fourth Branch that flows into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This 4.5 acres community garden, has 220 plots, 80 trees and 25 different bird species, (and crickets) against the backdrop of the National Cathedral. About 10% of the gardeners live outside the neighborhood.

Mary (pictured here with her straw hat with a sunflower pin) of Newark Street Community Gardens has been planting there for some 10 years, ever since her trees in her backyard grew up and shaded it. This was a hard summer for her and her fellow gardeners. However, her zucchini’s did well, and she just finished planting seeds of lettuce, arugula and cilantro fall’s cool weather and harvest in a month or so. Her garden is still full of zinnias – pinks, fuschia, yellow, red, orange.
In Ward 2, Frances Community Garden can be found behind the Francis Stevens school and the Francis Community Pool, overlooking the GW Parkway. Just about two dozen plots (5'x25' or 10'x25') line up along the edge of the field, overlooking the GW Parkway and the Potomac creek canal running alongside. These plots are on DC land – specifically of DC Parks and Recreation. Imagine gardening on a hot summer day – while hearing squeals of joy from the pool and from the new school playground (with yellow slides, red ladders) and the running water of the Potomac creek along the commuter traffic! This is truly a community garden in Washington. DC.

Searching for people, plants and plots!!! Contribute to this new guest blog series about DC’s community gardens, contact me at

Read Part 1 of the People, Plots, and Plants of DC series at:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Oct 2010

It is Garden Blogger Bloom Day again -- the 15th of each month -- when we garden bloggers say what is blooming in our respective gardens then link to each pther and post centrally to

It was pouring rain yesterday so I ran around inbetween the drops and snapped just a few photos for today's post. In the gloom, it is no surprise what stood out to me but these two red blooms and one white one.

First is the Hydrangea 'Pink Shira,' which is the truest red of any hydrangea I am trialing -- even those that are supposed to be lipstick red do not compare. The color on mine may be influenced by the alkaline soil, as it is planted a few feet from a brick wall. So your color mileage may vary if you have the same hydrangea in your garden.

Second is the "feely flower" or at least that is what my younger niece calls it and she gets quite exapperated when I don't know that she is talking about Celosia (Celosia cristata) aka Coxcomb or Cockscomb. To me, "feely" means Lamb's Ear. I think of this one as the "brainy" flower and associate it with Halloween timing.

Third is the Nippon Daisy aka Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum aka Chrysanthemum nipponicum and Leucanthemum nipponicum). I had never grown it before and got this plant at a garden club swap last month. It is in a sunny spot next to my gazebo. I'm eager to see how it does next year and if it proves as low-maintenance and hardy as its tag promises. 

So what is blooming in your garden today?

Watering Without Waste

(For Blog Action Day 2010, we are all focusing on water issues. Here is the GardenBasics column I wrote for the Summer 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.)

So far in 2010, our gardens have gone from drought to deluge and now back to drought again. Typically, in the greater Washington metropolitan region, the six weeks in the heart of summer, from mid-July through the end of August, are our driest period of the year. On top of that, it is typically the same time that we gardeners abandon our plants for a few days or weeks of much-deserved rest and relaxation away from home. But what can we do to ensure our green buddies are still alive and thriving when we return from vacation? Here are a few tips for keeping them moist, along with my personal pointers for saving water in general:

• Try one of the various polymers on the market, such as SoilMoist. When you plant up your containers, mix the polymers in with the potting soil. Follow the directions for mixing and proportions exactly — a little goes a long way.

• Already planted up all your containers? It’s not too late to add polymers now by gently poking in a pencil near the roots and adding the hydrated polymers in the hold. This works for planting directly in the ground as well. If you have a plant that is especially thirsty, add polymers around the base of it so you do not have to water them so often.

• Install a rain barrel. You can make one yourself at numerous area workshops or purchase one from a garden supply company. (See related story on next page.) Use it to hand-water any container plants. Mine seem to greatly appreciate rainwater versus the chlorinated tap or hose water. A rain barrel at each downspout can save hundreds of gallons of water per year.

• Bring a bucket or two in the shower with you. Collect the water you run to get the temperature right and your rinse water to dump on your thirsty plants. This latter, soapy “gray water” actually provides a bit of bug-resistance to your plants, as well as giving them a good drink.

• Water in the early morning. You’ve heard this before, but, if you want to minimize evaporation and get the most benefit from your waterings, you’ll do it early and, for bonus points, pick an overcast day to beat the drying effects of the summer sun. (Of course, this will ensure it will rain right afterwards!)

• When watering with a hose or watering can, aim the water at the soil. No need to drench the plant. Wet leaves can actually invite fungal diseases. Soak the plant root zone.

• Measure and time your watering. Set a kitchen timer or put out cleaned tuna cans to keep track of how much you are doing each time. Optimally, you will water your garden and lawn just once or twice a week and give it a good, slow, long drink of 1-to-2 inches total. Don’t forget your trees! Young trees need 25 gallons each, according to Casey Trees.

• Invest in soaker hoses, flow timers, and extra water outlets to make your task easier and more precise. No need to over water or let the excess flow down the sewer drain. Sprinklers that spray the sidewalk and pathways do nothing for your plantings.

• If it rains more than an inch in any given week, don’t water your lawn and garden that week! Override your timers if you have them. Nothing is more wasteful than having lawn sprinklers going full blast during or right after a good rain.

• Make a point to check your container plants daily. They dry out much quicker than those in the ground and may also be blocked from receiving direct rain by porch roofs or other obstructions.

• Make a drip irrigation system out of recycled soda bottles. This is perfect for watering your containers while you’re away for a time. There are many sources of directions for this project. I found an especially easy-to-follow one you can make at

• Look for other water sources around your home. I often dip a watering can into my pond and give my tomato plants a nice, healthy dose of fish-fertilized water.

• When you clean out your birdbath, dump the old water on nearby green things.

• When it really rains during a summer storm, your rain barrels can fill in minutes, so put out a few extra containers to collect that overflow as well.

• You may be able to connect a hose to your clothes washer, dehumidifier, or AC unit to re-use that gray water for indoor and outdoor plant watering.

Look with new eyes at all the water you use and could possibly re-use. May you and your plants be in the best of health and well-hydrated throughout the growing season! o

Kathy Jentz is Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine. Se gets her daily weight-lifting workout by carrying loads of rain barrel water to all her hanging plants throughout the summer. She can be reached at Wgardenermag at aol dot com.

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