Saturday, December 31, 2011

Washington Gardener Magazine PHOTO CONTEST Kicks Off!

The 6th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest kicks off now! Time to start sorting and picking out your best 2011 garden shots. The entry period is January 1-20, 2012.

Note that eligible entries must have been taken in the 2011 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!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Video Wednesday: How to Make a Moss Container Garden

A Moss Container Garden is a super-easy project and you can do it anytime of year. It is especially a nice garden to create with little ones. They can notice all the different kinds of moss that grows when out on an early winter's walk.

Watch this short instructional video and then make it with some moss, found objects, and your imagination.

The moss garden can be kept indoors or out. You can take it apart after you have enjoyed it and return the moss to where you found it or add the moss to your own garden.

If you make one, please take a photo and share a link to your picture in the comments section. I'd love to see your finished projects.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Primrose Path

This primrose by my back door has been blooming away since October and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. It was downright frosty last night, but that did not stop it. Maybe it is the exceptionally wet autumn we'd had or that it is in a fairly protected spot, I hope it keeps on doing its thing until spring comes.

Anything in your garden blooming now that "should not be"?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Garden of Lights Pass Winners Announced

Congratulations to the following pass winners of the December 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest:

~ Mike Carvalho of Silver Spring, MD
~ Jeavonna Chapman of Baltimore, MD
~ Katie Rapp of Gaithersburg, MD
~ Michelle Snow of Arlington, VA
~ Karen Sutter of Arlington, VA
~ Carla D'Anna of Laurel, MD
~ Kathy Parrent of Silver Spring, MD
~ Stephanie Richard of Rockville, MD
~ Stephanie Vermillion Fletcher of Reston, VA
~ Mary Olien of Winchester, VA

They each won a win a vehicle pass to Brookside Garden’s Garden of Lights Show in Wheaton, MD. The Garden of Lights is a half-mile walk through a landscape of almost a million 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 through Sunday, January 8, 2012 (with the exception of December 24-25 and January 2-5). 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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poinsettia Pointers ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ December 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ December 2011


~ Poinsettia Pointers

~ Magazine Excerpt: Growing Sweet Potatoes

~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2012 Seed Exchange Details and Advance Registration Form

~ Reader Contest: Win passes to Brookside Gardens' Garden of Lights

~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights

~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2012 Photo Contest Rules

~ Spotlights Special: Red Native Trumpet Vine

~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for December-January

~ The Top Local Garden Events Calendar for December-January

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!

and much more...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wolfgang Oehme: A Profile

It is with great sadness that I post this. I ran into Janet Draper of Smithsonian gardens on Friday morning outside the Downtown DC Holiday Market and she told me of Wolfgang Oehme passing away the day before. I tweeted out the news right away, but could not bring myself to do more until I let the news sink in a bit more. This year seems to have neen especially cruel in our local gardening world. We have lost too many great folks and much gardening knowledge with them.

Here is an interview with Wolfgang Oehme from the September/October 2006 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Wolfgang Oehme: Landscape Legend
By Kathy Jentz

You know you’ve “made it” in the horticulture world when you have a plant named after you. Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme,’ a variegated palm sedge, which was bred from a sport was found in Wolfgang’s garden.

I had the privilege of visiting Wolfgang Oehme this summer while on a tour with the American Bamboo Society of area gardens.

His home in Towson, MD, is on a large suburban lot off a winding road and suitably the approach gives little hint of what lies beyond.

Branches loosely woven together form informal barriers between the planting beds, driveway, and property borders. Rocks are stacked to form impressionistic totem poles and mark the corners of walking paths.

His front garden contains many of the bamboos he is a collector of and is so passionate about. A true collector, pots of rare specimens and trial plants fill up his back deck and patio.

This co-creator of the “New American Garden” has 43 kinds of grasses and sedges on his property, in addition to 111 ornamental trees and shrubs, 170 kinds of perennials, over 50 fruit and nut trees, and the list goes on. One thing he does not have room for? A turf lawn. His neighbors supply that .

Two bodies of water are separated by a tall wall of perennials and grasses. Closer to the house is a naturalized pond complete with croaking frogs. Hidden from view is the pristine lap pool where Oehme gets his regular morning exercise in.

Most surprising of all, he has a large edible garden at the back of his property that includes a riot of strawberries, garlic, fennel, figs, and more.

Wolfgang himself is generous with his time and knowledge — patiently taking visitors around and naming each plant from memory.

His son, Roland Oehme is also a practicing landscape architect. He specializes in “regenerative designs that enhance the environment and provide active enjoyment for people.” Roland and Wolfgang also host tours to Germany that feature innovative ecological designs.

Wolfgang’s landscape firm has given a great gift to downtown Washington, DC, with its bold installations as anyone who travels on downtown Pennsylvania Avenue can readily attest.

One pet project of Oehme’s is the Towson Courthouse Garden. Once a flat lawn with a few trees, the land has now been sculpted into an undulating parkland that is the pride of their county.

“Our job,” said Wolfgang in a 1985 interview, “is to provide the framework, an exciting combination so that the garden is like a painting or a symphony. Then we let the plants . . . express themselves.”

Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Inc., can be reached at 202.546.7575 or

Official Bio

Wolfgang Oehme, co-founder of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, is a distinguished landscape architect and horticulturist with more than 40 years of professional experience, nationwide and abroad. His career began in Germany, where he completed an apprenticeship at Bitterfeld Horticultural School in 1950 and a degree in landscape architecture at the University of Berlin in 1954. His early work in Europe during the 1950s featured the breadth of experience that marks his work today: from direct involvement with plants (Hamburg’s Planten un Blumen and nurseries in Sweden and England) to large-scale landscape design and land management projects (the Parks Department in Frankfurt and Delius Landscape Architects in Nurnberg).

Oehme moved to the United States in 1957. He designed golf courses, parks, and playgrounds for the Baltimore County Department of Parks until 1965, and continued practice independently from 1966 to 1974. His work included park systems for the new town of Columbia, MD, and many private residences in the Baltimore area.

In 1977 he founded the firm of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates with James van Sweden. Since then they have collaborated on a full range of landscape design projects, many of which are honored by distinguished awards and published reviews. His credits include redesign of all planting along Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Treasury to the National Gallery in Washington, DC, for the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation; the Virginia Avenue Gardens of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC; Morrill Hall Gardens at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; the National Education and Training Center campus for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Shepherdstown, WV; and the MacArthur Center retail complex in downtown Norfolk, VA. His practice also extends to his native Germany with projects in Chemnitz and Magdeburg.

Wolfgang Oehme’s creative use of herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses demonstrates how dramatic, multi-seasonal, and low-maintenance they can be. His recent honors for this work include the 2002 George Robert White Medal of Honor, awarded to him and Mr. van Sweden, in recognition of efforts to advance interest in horticulture. He is also a co-recipient with Mr. van Sweden of the 1992 Landscape Design Award by the American Horticultural Society, and he holds the Perennial Plant Association’s 1987 Distinguished Service Award for 30 years of active participation. His teaching experience includes the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Georgia.

Oehme and van Sweden co-authored Bold Romantic Gardens: The New World Landscapes of Oehme and van Sweden (Acropolis Books, Ltd., 1990; reprinted by Spacemaker Press, 1998). It received two Awards of Excellence by the Garden Writers Association of America. A series of books by Random House also feature the firm’s work. The series includes Architecture in the Garden (2003), Gardening with Water (1995), and Gardening with Nature (1997).

Mr. Oehme is a licensed landscape architect and a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Design Philosophy

Peers describe Oehme, van Sweden and Associates’ approach to garden design as the “New American Garden” style. The New American Garden is a metaphor for the American meadow. It reflects the year-round beauty of the natural landscape. It frees plants from forced and artificial forms and allows them to seek a natural course as they weave a tapestry across the entire garden plane. It results in layered masses of foliage that boldly celebrate the ephemeral through mystery, intrigue, and discovery. In sum, it is a basic alternative to the typical American garden scene — more relaxed, less like a formula, and more sympathetic to the environment.

Plants chosen for the New American Garden, especially perennials and ornamental grasses, require less maintenance, no deadheading or pesticides, and only limited water and fertilizer. These plants welcome change seasonally and, as they mature, botanically.

The built elements of the New American Garden share importance equally with the plants. Carefully designed walls, terraces, steps, and other “hardscape” features complement the surrounding “softscape.” Upon entering a garden, the visitor’s attention is drawn first to dramatic spectacles of planting and then to the practical beauty of built elements that firmly anchor the garden to the ground plane.
For further reading, here are two obituaries:
~ The Baltimore Sun
~ The Washington Post

The photo above is Wolfgang with large drifts of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ at the 2005 Federal Garden Show in Muenchen. © Roland Oehme.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Rosy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Mutabilis rose in bud

Mutabilis rose bloom

Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger)

Heather (Erica)

For the December 2011 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I still have a China Rose aka Butterfly Rose aka Rosa 'Mutabilis' in bud and in bloom. Meanwhile my "Christmas Rose" hellebores are just starting to open up just in time for the holiday. My pink Heathers are blooming the earliest I've ever seen them. It has been a weird weather year in th Mid-Atlantic US states, but I'm not complaining about the relatively mild December we've been having thus far.

So what is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video Wednesday: Save Seeds Before Winter

Another trip into our Washington Gardener Magazine video vaults. This one is a production. It is about How to Save Seeds Before Winter. Don't forget about the two upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges next January 28 in Maryland and February 4 in Virginia. I'll be posting Seed Exchange registration details in the next week.

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 also go directly to to watch it there.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Win Passes to Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights Show

For our December 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away passes to the Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights Show.

Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights is a half-mile walk through a landscape of almost a million 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 through Sunday, January 8, 2012 (with the exception of December 24-25 and January 2-5). 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.

To enter to win a vehicle pass to Brookside’s Garden of Lights Show, send an email to by 5:00pm on December 20 with “Brookside Lights” in the subject line and tell us your gardening resolution for the new year. 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 21.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Video Wednesday: Create a New Garden Bed Without Digging

Another trip into our Washington Gardener Magazine video vaults. This one is a production. It is about Create a New Garden Bed Without Digging pre-winter for spring planting. 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 also go directly to to watch it there.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Washington Gardener Magazine at Downtown DC Holiday Market

Washington Gardener Magazine will be on sale at the Downtown Holiday Market again this year.
The market runs from December 2-23 and is located on F Street between 7th and 9th Streets, right near the Gallery Place metro.

Look for us in the "Jentz Prints" Booth #6. We'll have a display with current and back issues for sale at $5 and subscription cards as well that you can fill out on the spot or take home to mail in later. Generally, the booth will be open 10:00am to 8:00pm each day.

I'll be helping out there for several mornings of the market, so stop by and say, "Hi!"

Thursday, December 01, 2011

5 Lucky People Won Lewis Ginter's GardenFest of Lights

The winners of our November 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest are:

~ Janet Benini of Washington, DC
~ Gloria June Sherman of Silver Spring, MD
~ Linda Martin of Falls Church, VA
~ Lauren Peterson of Rockville MD
~ Monica Scott of Fairfax, VA

Each winner receives passes for two people to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardenfest of Lights. I hope our winners will share photos from their visit!

A holiday tradition in Richmond, VA! The walk-through show features more than a half million lights arranged in botanical themes throughout the Garden. Visitors can also marvel at displays in the Garden’s Conservatory and decorations in the Visitors Center and the Education and Library Complex. GardenFest includes family-friendly activities, botanical decorations, model trains, a bonfire (weather-permitting), oversized “LOVE” artwork, courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and mazes of lights in the Children’s Garden, holiday dining, music, and more! The show runs Friday, November 25, 2011 - Monday, January 9, 2012. (Closed December 24 and 25.) The hours are 5:00 to 10:00pm. For more information on the Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights, visit:

We will be announcing our December 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest in a few weeks, so be sure to check back at our blog ( regularly for details.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Video Wednesday: Overwinter Tropical Bulbs

Here is my latest video demonstrating how easy it is to overwinter your tropical "bulbs" like canna and caladiums.

For those who want to play "spot the kitty," at about 1:40 in you'll start to see cat ears at the bottom right corner of the frame. That is my Santino wanting to know why I'm not petting him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Free Koi: Bring Your Own Net and Bucket!

So earlier this year, some misguided soul thought he would gift the world with 80 Koi fish bought from a pet store by adding them to the fountain at Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street in Washington, DC. Sadly, 20 died almost immediately. The 60 that lived will do what fish do when given a large space to fill, they spawned and soon there were several hundred more Koi inthe park fountain. (The park is Federal property and yes, this gentleman violated several laws with his ill-thought-out "gift.")

Now winter is approaching and the park fountain is drained so it does not get damaged in the freeze-thaw-freeze cycle, we area gardeners are all too familiar with. There are hundreds of small Koi needinga quick re-location to a new home.

The Washington Humane Society (WHS) has already spent one morning attempting to capture and re-locate many of the fountain fish. The Koi proved pretty elusive, so tomorrow at 10:00am (Wednesday, 11/30), the WHS will be back and the fountain will be partially drained to make fish capture a bit easier.

Michael Triebwasser, Humane Law Enforcement Officer at the WHS, is coordinating the rescue event. He says, "There are at least a couple hundred fish left of various sizes, ranging from an inch (and less) to 6-8 inches.  If you can give the fish a good home, you are more than welcome to take as many as you’d like."

If you have a backyard pond that can accomodate some rescued Koi, come on down with your net and a bucket to help out.

You can read more background about these fishy-tales at the Prince of Petworth blog here.

UPDATE: I went to the rescue and spent an hour sifting through algae-muck for the littlest of the fish. Boy, are my hands cold! I brought home 15 small ones -- half will go in my pond and the others to a friend's pond. I put up a photo album of the rescue event at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back Issue Sale!

You can request a single copy of any back issue for $6 each or any combination of 6 back issues for $24.
You can also order ALL 30+ back issues for just $100.
Prices include postage and handling.
Please specify the issue date(s) you would like. Order must be prepaid by check or money order.

Send Your Order to:
 Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910


March/April 2005

• Landscape DIY vs. Pro

• Prevent Gardener’s Back

• Ladew Topiary Gardens

• Cherry Trees

May/June 2005

• Stunning Plant Combinations

• Turning Clay into Rich Soil

• Wild Garlic

• Strawberries

JuLy/August 2005

• Water Gardens

• Poison Ivy

• Disguising a Sloping Yard

• Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

September/October 2005

• Container Gardens

• Clematis Vines

• Sponge Gardening/Rain Gardens

• 5 Insect Enemies of Gardeners

NOVEmber/DECEMBer 2005

• Backyard Bird Habitats

• Hellebores

• Building a Coldframe

• Bulb Planting Basics


• Garden Decor Principles

• Primroses

• Tasty Heirloom Veggies

• U.S. Botanic Garden


• Top 10 Small Trees and Large Shrubs

• Azaleas

• Figs, Berries, & Persimmons

• Basic Pruning Principles

May/June 2006

• Using Native Plants in Your Landscape

• Crabgrass

• Peppers

• Secret Sources for Free Plants

JuLy/August 2006

• Hydrangeas

• Theme Gardens

• Agave

• Find Garden Space by Growing Up

September/October 2006

• Shade Gardening

• Hosta Care Guide

• Fig-growing Tips and Recipes

• Oatlands Plantation

NOVEMber/DECEMber 2006

• Horticultural Careers

• Juniper Care Guide

• Winter Squash Growing Tips and Recipes

• Weed-free Beds with Layer/Lasagna Gardening


• Indoor Gardening

• Daphne Care Guide

• Asparagus Growing Tips and Recipes

• Houseplant Propagation

MARCH/April 2007

• Stormwater Management

• Dogwood Selection & Care Guide

• Early Spring Vegetable Growing Tips

• Franciscan Monastery Bulb Gardens

MAY/June 2007

• Roses: Easy Care Tips

• Native Roses & Heirloom Roses

• Edible Flowers

• How to Plant a Bare-root Rose


• Groundcovers: Alternatives to Turfgrass

• How to Pinch, Prune, & Dead-head

• A Trip to the William Paca House & Gardens

• Hardy Geraniums

September/October 2007

• Succulents: Hardy to our Region

• Drought-tolerant Natives

• Southern Vegetables

• Seed Saving Savvy Tips

November/December 2007

• Gardening with Children

• Kid-Friendly Vegetables

• Indoor Bulb Forcing Basics

• National Museum of the American Indian

• Versatile Viburnums


• Dealing with Deer

• Our Favorite Garden Tools

• Indoor Bulb Forcing Basics

• Delightful Daffodils


• Patio, Balcony, and Rooftop Container Gardens

• Our Favorite Garden Tools

• Coral Bells (Heucheras)

• Brookside’s Phil Normandy

• Japanese-style Garden

MAY/JUNE 2008 — Almost Sold Out!

• Growing Great Tomatoes

• Glamorous Gladiolus

• Seed Starting Basics

• Flavorful Fruiting Natives

• Build a Better Tomato Cage


• Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses

• Edible Grasses to Graze On

• Slug and Snail Control

• Sage Advice: Sun-loving Salvias


• Autumn Edibles — What to Plant Now

• Ladybug Lore

• Beguiling Barrenworts (Epimediums)

• The Best Time to Plant Spring-blooming Bulbs

• 14 Dry Shade Plants Too Good to Overlook


• Outdoor Lighting Essentials

• How to Prune Fruiting Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

• 5 Top Tips for Overwintering Tender Bulbs

• Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

• A Daytrip to Tudor Place


• Compost Happens: Nature’s Free Fertilizer

• Managing Stormwater with a Rain Garden

• Visiting Virginia’s State Arboretum

• Grow Winter Hazel for Gorgeous Winter Color

MARCH/April 2009

• 40+ Free and Low-cost Local Garden Tips

• Spring Edibles Planting Guide for the Mid-Atlantic

• Testing Your Soil for a Fresh Start

• Redbud Tree Selection and Care

• Best Local Viewing Spots for Virginia Bluebells


• Top 12+ Easy Summer Annuals for DC Heat

• Salad Table Project

• Grow and Enjoy Eggplant

• How to Chuck a Woodchuck from Your Garden

Summer 2009

• Grow Grapes in the Mid-Atlantic

• Passionflowers

• Mulching Basics

• What’s Bugging Your Tomatoes

• Growing Hops

FALL 2009

• Apples

• How To Save Tomato Seeds

• Persimmons


• Battling Garden Thugs

• How to Start Seeds Indoors

• Red Twig Dogwoods

• Unusual Edibles to Grow in Our Region

• Visit to Riversdale House


• Community Gardens

• Building a Raised Bed

• Dwarf Iris

• Broccoli


• Fragrance Gardens

• Watering Without Waste

• Lavender

• Potatoes

FALL 2010

• Vines and Climbers

• Battling Stink Bugs

• Russian Sage

• Garlic


• Paths and Walkways

• Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum

• Edgeworthia

• Kohlrabi


• Cutting-Edge Gardens

• Final Frost Dates and When to Plant

• Bleeding Hearts

• Onions


• Ornamental Edibles

• Urban Foraging

• Amsonia/Arkansas Blue Star

• Growing Corn in the Mid-Atlantic

Sunday, November 27, 2011

When Does My Subscription Expire?

A few of you have asked, "How do I know when my subscription runs out?"

On your address label on the Fall 2011 issue, above your name is a code.
It consists of two letters and two numbers.
The two letters are the issue:
   SP (spring), SU (summer), FA (fall), and WI (winter).
The two numbers are the year:
   11 (2011), 12 (2012), 13 (2013), etc.
So, if you see "SP12" that means Spring 2012 is your last issue in your subscription.

I hope this helps and that your holiday weekend was restful!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Social Media Subscription Special & Back Issue Sale

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm running this subscription special through December 5 in gratitude for all my online friends, followers, fans, and frequent commenters.

Print out the coupon above, fill it out and mail it in with your check/money order to get 10% off a year's subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine.

I'm also running a Back Issue Sale, full details can be found in on page 8 of the latest Washington Gardener Enewsletter posted here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Video Wednesday: Shutting Off Water Sources

Another trip into our Washington Gardener Magazine video vaults. This one is a production. It is about Shutting Off Water Sources 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 also go directly to to watch it there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Win Passes to Lewis Ginter's GardenFest of Lights in Washington Gardener Magazine's November 2011 Reader Contest

For our November 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away 5 sets of passes for two people to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardenfest of Lights.

A holiday tradition in Richmond, VA! The walk-through show features more than a half million lights arranged in botanical themes throughout the Garden. Visitors can also marvel at displays in the Garden’s Conservatory and decorations in the Visitors Center and the Education and Library Complex. GardenFest includes family-friendly activities, botanical decorations, model trains, a bonfire (weather-permitting), oversized “LOVE” artwork, courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and mazes of lights in the Children’s Garden, holiday dining, music, and more! The show runs Friday, November 25, 2011 - Monday, January 9, 2012. (Closed December 24 and 25.) The hours are 5:00 to 10:00pm. For more information on the Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights, visit:

To enter to win a set of two passes to the Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights, send an email with “GardenFest” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on Wednesday, November 30. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified by December 2.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Your Tender Plants Winter Protection ~ Washington Gardener Enews - November 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ November 2011

~ Giving Your Tender Plants Winter Protection
~ Magazine Excerpt: Autumn Onion native plant profile
~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2011 Day Trips
~ Reader Contest: Win passes to Lewis Ginter's Gardenfest of Lights
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Cool Wave Pansies
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for November-December
~ The Top Local Garden Events Calendar
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Video Wednesday: How to Clean & Preserve Garden Tools

Another trip into our Washington Gardener Magazine video vaults. This one is a 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, does not work, you can also go directly to to watch it there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Sunflowers in November

This autumn has been a wonderful "Indian Summer." The past few days in the Washington, DC-area were in the '60s and made weeding and raking a joy.

The line of sunflowers along my fence may look a bit scraggly as the other annuals I planted there have died back, but the sunflowers just keep right on blooming! I plan on keeping them up until the last flower finished up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NEW Fall 2011 Issue OUT!

Our Fall 2011 edition of Washington Gardener Magazine issue is printed and mailing this week. If you are a current subscriber, look for it in your mailbox soon. The cover story is on Herb Gardens for our Mid-Atlantic region.

Also in this issue is the Edibles column, “Growing Great Sweet Potatoes” by Cindy Brown. She shares her tips on how to grow them here and the best varieties for our area.

Our Daytrip is to the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. I visited there myself last year and cannot wait to get back next summer for an even longer stay.

You’ll also find in this issue:

• Best Cover Crops for Your Vegetable Garden

• Earwigs: Beneficial or Nuisance?

• An Interview with an Influential Local Community Gardener

• Meeting Up with the Potomac Chapter of the Herb Society of America

• Toadlily Plant Profile and Varieties

• Before/After of a Former Slave Cabin’s Landscape

• An Intriguing Personal Garden Story

• Coverage of several local events including our own Tomato Taste

• Answers to readers’ questions such as why are some azalea leaves losing color, what is eating the zinnia foliage, and much, much more...

To subscribe, go to and use our PayPal credit card link. OR, send a $20 check to Washington Gardener Magazine, 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring MD 20910.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Longwood Holiday Extravaganza Daytrip

Join Washington Gardener Magazine and Cheval's Garden Tours for a daytrip to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania on Thursday, December 15. The tour departs and returns to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD.

Get in the holiday mood and get all your gift shopping done in one day at one of the most beautiful displays in the world. Treat yourself and bring along a friend.

Remember that current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers get $5 off the registration fee!

Act soon as spaces fill quickly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fenton Friday: Season's End

I cleared out my garden plot at the Fenton Community Garden this past week. We have been blessed with some warm autumn days and it was fairly easy work to pull up the plants. I dug the last of the potatoes and plan to have them for dinner tonight. I gathered all the stakes and plant labels for re-use next year. Instead of a cover crop, I mulched with straw.

I was able to gather over 5 pounds of green tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants. I also plucked some hot peppers from the communal compost pile. I brought them over to Shepherd's Table and hope the chef there can use them.

The last of the beans I plucked and set on a screen in my sunroom to dry for seeds in next year's garden -- and for trading.

The only thing left growing in the plot now is my garlic, which I'll harvest next spring.

I did leave up some marigolds, as when I tried to pull them, both bees and butterflies got in my way. I will pull those last flowers out this weekend or next. Maybe I'll add another layer of wood chips to my pathways also as that is pretty warn away. Other than that, I'm done with the garden plot for the year and will turn my full attention to getting my hom garden set for winter. For starters, I have a lot of spring-blooming bulbs to put in and tender summer-blooming bulbs to store.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Video Wednesday: Winterize a Vegetable Garden - the Last Harvest

This weekend I went to Button Farm, a stop on the Maryland Emancipation Day tour, and left my camera! Luckily, I'll be reunited with my camera in a couple days, but meanwhile will have to reach into the vaults and share with you one of my oldie-but-goodie videos.

This one is a 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 also go directly to to watch it there.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New Blog - Cats in Gardens

Hi all -

I have started a new blog for fun all about Cats in Gardens, featuring (you guessed it!) photos of cats in gardens. Please visit and share your cats in gardens at:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Preparing Your Garden For Winter talk

Takoma Park Branch (DC) Library, Washington Gardener Magazine, and the Takoma Horticultural Club present:

"Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter"

When: Thursday November 10 at 7:00pm

Where: Takoma DC Public Library at 5th and Cedar Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20012
Who: Kathy Jentz, Editor of Washington Gardener Magazine
Grow a beautiful garden filled with flowers and foliage and still honor the Earth by using sustainable gardening practices. Learn how to prepare your yard for the next growing season in an eco-friendly way. Presented by Kathy Jentz, Editor of Washington Gardener Magazine, to celebrate the donation of 18 garden books to the Takoma DC Public library by the Takoma Horticiultural Club. Make sure to peruse the books on display while at the library!

FREE to Attend!

Friday, November 04, 2011

See Washington Gardener in person at Behnke Craft Show 11/5

Washington Gardener Magazine will be at the Behnke Nurseries holiday craft show on Saturday, November 5 from 10am-4pm at their Beltsville, MD location. Come by to subscribe or renew and to buy current and back issues of the magazine.

Find out also about our upcoming daytrip to Longwood Gardens on December 15 with Cheval's 2nd Act.

For full details on the Behnke Nurseries holiday craft show, go here:

Also, here is a list of some of the Behnke Nurseries holiday craft show vendors:

Fenton Friday: Documented on Video

Here is a student-made documentary on the Fenton Street Community Garden starring a few of my garden plot neighbors. You'll see my house/garden in the opening shot across the street from the garden. There are also close-ups of my basil and marigolds with bees on them. The garden plot season is definitely winding down here, so I'm glad they captured this point in time and hope it will show others just what a community garden is all about.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Video Wednesday: Bulb Forcing 101

Bulb Forcing 101

How to Get Spring Blooms in the Dead of Winter
By Kathy Jentz
Didn’t get all your bulbs planted before the ground froze? Don’t discard them! Instead pot them up for indoor forcing and enjoy an early springtime in the depths of winter.

If you were a good little gardener and got all your bulbs in the ground on time, there are still a few bulbs hanging around unsold at local area garden centers and on major markdown sales on the web and through mail order, snap them up now at these bargain basement prices and consider yourself a savvy customer. Next year, when you place your bulb orders, add a few extra to your quantities to set aside specifically for forcing.

Never forced bulbs before? Nothing to it. Here are the basics and a few extra tips I've learned from past experiments:
1. Bulb Selection. You don't need to buy any specific variety or kinds. You can just select a few bulbs from those that you would buy for outside plantings. After they are done livening up your winter home, you can plant them outside after the last frost so that they will return annually with your other bulbs. One note of caution, indoor bulbs can sometimes give off potent smells. Some people love them, some don't -- paperwhites and hyacinth are especially notoriously in the love/hate category. Experiment a bit, and you'll soon learn which scents are to your tastes and which are just too overpowering for inside your home.
2. Timing. Keep in mind that bulbs bloom within three-four weeks of removal from cold storage, which lasts about 12-16 weeks. So if you want blooms for a specific occasion, you need to work about 16-20 weeks in advance for planting time.

3. Bulb Planting. Regular bulbs should be planted in soil, but at a shallower depth than you would outside. The top of the bulb should be even with the soil line and have about 2" of soil below for root development. The container should have drainage holes. Because it will be inside your house and no one likes a leaky mess on their furniture, I recommended lining the bottom of the pot with scrap landscape fabric and placing the pot on a good-sized saucer filled with a layer pebbles. Place the bulbs pointy side up and with the "flat" side towards the outside of the pot and as tight together as you like. Crowding them actually makes a nicer visual effect than spacing them far apart. Tight quarters also helps the foliage from growing out too much and flopping over. Water the newly planted bulbs well. Place the pots in plastic newspaper sleeves to maintain a moist environment.

4. Cold Storage/Removal for Flowering. Place the potted-up bulbs in cold storage for about 12 weeks. Cold storage should be roughly 40-50 degrees and without light. Storage areas might include your basement, garage, or the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Different bulbs have different cold cycle times but most are between 12-16 weeks. (Tulips need the most time at a full 16 weeks.) Mark your calendars so that you don't forget about them. When you first remove them from storage, place them in indirect light and away from a heat source to prevent “legginess.” After two weeks, when they have sprouted and are several inches high, move them to a sunny, warm window. Once a flowerhead or bud starts to develop, you can then move it to your desired location with indirect sunlight to prolong the bloom life. Keep them watered regularly as soon as you remove them from cold storage. Enjoy!

Kathy Jentz is Editor of Washington Gardener Magazine. This winter she is forcing two dozen apricot tulips as holiday gifts for friends --- sh!

Washington Gardener Magazine, is the only gardening publication published specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs.

The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners. They have real-world knowledge and practical advice with the same problems you experience in your own gardens. They share their thoughts on what to plant in deep shade, how to cover bare spots, which annuals work best throughout the humid DC summers, and much more. If you are a DC area gardener, you’ll love Washington Gardener magazine!

The magazine is published four times per year with a cover price of $4.99. To subscribe to the magazine: Send a check/money order for $20.00 payable to “Washington Gardener” Magazine to: Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 OR to pay via Paypal/credit card click on the “subscribe” link at

Washington Gardener Magazine also makes a great gift for the gardeners and new home owners in your life!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Organic Gardening Practices Survey

For our October 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we asked our entrants to tell us if they gardened organically and why or why not those made that choice. Here is what some of our entries told us about their home gardening habits.
"I garden organically in my tiny vegetable garden," said Caroline Parr of Fredericksburg, VA."And mostly organically otherwise except for occasional sprays of Round up on recalcitrant weeds. I garden this way due to my parents, who composted everything and gardened happily together for many decades"

"I garden organically because the thought of man-made chemicals poured into my garden confounds me," commented Crystal Nguyen of Westminster, CA. "My garden aspires to be an unsullied haven and sweet blessing to all the bustling creatures who frequent it where, season after season, green happily bursts from the rare virgin ground heinously flanked by concrete and asphalt. It is important to me to give other life forms the opportunity of a more natural existence - of which we are often deprived."

"Our gardening is mostly house plants," explained Ron Horner of Kenosha, WI. "We have had a backyard garden with some fruits and veggies. Need to get back in to that."

Tom Mann of Clayton, NC said: "We organically garden for several reasons. While we're not yet certified, our gardens cater to wildlife. We love our birds and tolerate the occasional deer and rabbits that seem drawn to our yard and gardens, along with squirrels, turtles, and yes, even snakes.. We have a small (8'x10') goldfish pond so we've got to watch out for them as well. Most importantly, our children and their cousins, grandchildren and great nieces/nephew who live close by and are frequent visitors to our little slice of paradise. We want our yard safe for everyone, and everything, and in order to do that, we strive to work the yard as organically as possible, and that includes using Annie's Authentic Haven Brand manure teas for our veggies and flowers."

"I do not garden organically but, I’d really like to learn and remove all traces of chemicals from my garden," said Lara Ruiz of La Quinta, CA. "I have experimented a little and find my plants respond better without the harsh chemicals but I did have more aphid issues. I’m an amateur and open to learning how to garden organically for the health of me, my family and my garden."

Dale McCarthy of Carl's Watkins Pond Community Garden said: "I'm president of a community garden in the very densely populated community of King Farm in Rockville. The first plot in our organic garden is for children to learn to grow their own organic vegetables and edible flowers. They learn and practice composting, and we've even tried vermiculture - admittedly with limited success - and we would love to have some organic manure for next year's garden. We are about ready to plant our organic garlic the end of this month, and I would be really pleased to let the kids know (ages 5-11) that we have access to this important element to enrich their plots next season."
"I try to garden organically--especially for plants that I'll be eating!" explained Kenneth Moore of Washington DC. "Because I grow almost everything in pots, I try to use organic potting soil (trying to grow any edibles in a DC yard's soil is terrifying to me!). I'd love some of the MooPoo to give a little pep to my outdoor plants in the spring!"

"Yes! I am an organic gardener, taking full advantage of the mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria, compost, and mulch in the living soil! " said Geri Laufer of Atlanta, GA.

"I do garden organically as much as possible," said Paige Puckett of Raleigh, NC . "The only exception I make is when fire ants enter the garden. I have a toddler and a preschooler, and I can't risk their sweet little bare feet to ant stings. I've used a variety of fertilizers, but over the years I've moved towards natural sources, compost, and manures. I like being able to munch on arugula while I tend to the garden and not have to worry about chemicals being on the leaves. I'd love to try Moo Poo Tea, as I see people talking about it on their garden blogs and Twitter all the time. Thanks!"

Jeavonna L. Chapman of Baltimore, MD said: "I grow organically because it is cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly. Did I mention cheaper. I've know about the benefits of manure tea for years, but whipping up a batch was always a pain. This version is so easy. Just drop the packet in a bucket of water and wait three days. I mix it half-an-half. Very satisfied with the results. This was a terrible garden year - weeks of 95+ humid rain-free days, Two crazy hurricanes, Irene and Lee. I didn't expect much. I started to pull everything up after Lee, but Annie said keep feeding 'em. They'll be fine. I've got figs, cherry tomatoes and magnolia blossoms in late October. My plants are doing great. Thank you, Annnie and Haven Brand Manure Tea. I like quick, easy and effective. "
"I will not say I have an organic garden since I do not always use organic seeds nor organic dirt," explained Faith Hood of Falls Church, VA. "I do my best to keep it as organic as possible. I also try to draw the proper insects. Though, I guess my garden was so good, that it drew more plant-eating insects such as grasshoppers."

The winner of our October 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest is: Paige Puckett, who was chosen at random from all the submitted entrires. She receives a Sampler Pack of Manure Tea, which includes one each Cow, Horse, and Alfalfa manure tea bags from Authentic Haven Brand (a $13 value). Authentic Haven Brand ( offers a full line of all-natural, premium soil conditioner teas for the home gardener, landscaper, and farmer. Haven Brand uses only the highest quality manures from livestock that are raised on permanent, native grass pastures at the Haven Family Ranch.

So do YOU garden organically? Why or why not?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fenton Friday: Still More to Harvest

Frost/freeze warnings last night and snow(!) predicted for this weekend, caused me to run over to my plot at the Fenton Community Garden and see what I could salvage before the cold moved in. I was surprised at how much is still there. I picked ripe tomatoes, tomatillos, and an eggplant.

I also cut down my okra and it is a bit too woody for eating, so I placed them on a screen in my unheated sun room to dry out. I want to save seeds and also use them for craft projects. (Spoiler alert: Everyone is getting an okra Santa ornament for Christmas this year!) I'll also be sending some up to NY for my crafty, garden writer friend Ellen Spector Platt. She requested some for her dried arrangements.

Then I remembered I still had two rows of German Butterball potatoes (three mounds each) that I had not dug up yet. I unearthed one mound and found those gorgeous little tubers. Guess what's for dinner tonight? I'm going to leave the rest in the ground for a bit until I do the full garden clean-out.

Win a Sampler Pack of Manure Tea

For our October 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away a Sampler Pack of Manure Tea, which includes one each Cow, Horse, and Alfalfa manure tea bags from Authentic Haven Brand (a $13 value).

Authentic Haven Brand ( offers a full line of all-natural, premium soil conditioner teas for the home gardener, landscaper, and farmer. Haven Brand uses only the highest quality manures from livestock that are raised on permanent, native grass pastures at the Haven Family Ranch.

To enter to win Sampler Pack of Manure Tea, send an email with “Manure” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on October 30. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and tell us if you garden organically and why or why not*. The sample pack winner will be announced and notified by November 2.
*NOTE: Some of the contest entry responses may be used in future online or print articles by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Video Wednesday: How to Over-Winter Coleus

Washington Gardener Magazine ( shows you how to over-winter your coleus plants by taking cuttings from them and rooting them in water.

My cat, Santino, was a BIG help filming this one. Because he would get out of the shots, I worked him into the video. I think a star is born!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fenton Friday: Shared Herb-Cutting Garden Created

Last week, a bunch of us at Fenton Community Garden gathered and weeded out an unused corner of the fenced-in garden space. It was quick work after all these recent rains. I was shocked to pull up all of weeds with deep taproots like dandelions and Queen Anne's Lace fairly easily. We laid out two large pathways to make access and future weeding just as easy. I dug one large lavender (think it is 'Hidcote') from my garden and transplanted it over to start the perennial herb section. Others came in the last week to weed the border and add straw mulch. We'll see next spring about filling out the garden with additional perennial herbs and cutting garden plants.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Video Wednesday: How to Hold a Plant Swap

How to Hold a Plant Swap featuring the Takoma Horticultural Club, based in Takoma Park, MD, and the Takoma neighborhood of NW, Washington, DC.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Acorn-ucopia ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ October 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ October 2011

~ Acorn-ucopia: A Bumper Crop of Oak Seeds Litter Our Local Landscape
~ Magazine Excerpt: Earwigs - Foe or Friend?
~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2011 Day Trips
~ Reader Contest: Win a Sampler Pack of Manure Teas from Authentic Haven Brand
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: ‘Strawberries and Cream’ and ‘Blueberries and Cream,’ two new, lacecap, long-lasting "gift" hydrangeas
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for October-November
~ The Top Local Garden Events Calendar
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

Blog Action Day: Food

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011

I thought I'd take this world-wide Blog Action Day centering on Food to spotlight again the Plant A Row program organized by the Garden Writers Association. As gardeners, we know that the best way to source local, organic food is to grow our own. We also know that sharing that bounty is one of the greatest joys in life.

Here is an article I wrote about the program for our Washington Gardener enewsletter in July 2009:

Is your garden’s bounty overflowing?
Donate Your Excess to Others in Need

Are your tomato plants groaning with loaded down branches of ripe fruit? Do your neighbors pretend their not home when you come over with yet another bag of zucchini? Looking for a place to donate your garden’s bounty?
Plant A Row for the Hungry (PAR) is one answer. The concept is simple. There are over 70 million gardeners in the U.S. alone, many of whom plant vegetables and harvest more than they can possibly consume. If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food banks and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger. Food agencies will have access to fresh produce, funds earmarked for produce can be redirected to other needed items and the hungry of America will have more and better food than is presently available.
One in ten households in the United States experiences hunger, according to the U.S, Department of Agriculture. With the current economy, those extra fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden are needed now more than ever.
“Local help trickles down,” says garden writer and PAR spokesman Jeff Lowenfels. “PAR donations now really do mean acting locally and impacting globally.”
Lowenfels began PAR in his local Alaska garden column, when he asked gardeners to plant a row of vegetables for Bean’s Cafe, an Anchorage soup kitchen. Since then, PAR has grown exponentially through continued media support, individual and company sponsorship, and volunteerism. PAR does all of this without government bureaucracy and red tape -- just one gardener at a time helping their neighbors.
Carol Ledbetter, PAR coordinator at the Garden Writers Association, says, “Donating your excess produce is particularly important now... local gardeners’ donations are urgently needed. This is directly helping in our own neighborhoods.” Part of Ledbetter’s mission is to direct gardeners trying to find out where to donate their excess and also working with anyone wishing to start a PAR program in their local area. She can be reached at or 877.492.2727 (toll-free).
The Capital Area Food Bank has just launched the Grow A Row project. Gardeners throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area are encouraged to participate. Whether you grow an extra row, dig up your entire yard, or organize a collective donation from your community garden, we appreciate your contribution. Donated produce is provided to Capital Area Food Bank member agencies and local community organizations that have the capacity to use the produce. The Capital Area Food Bank works with a network of over 700 charitable organizations in the DC metro area, including food pantries, soup kitchens, youth programs, and emergency shelters. Contact Anika Roth (202.526.5344 x298 or to participate and they will work with you to determine the best way to distribute your produce to the community. All participants will receive a Grow A Row Participant sign to put up in their garden and will be recognized on their web site.
In Prince William County, VA, the Virginia Cooperative Extension office oversees a volunteer master gardener program which coordinates donations to local food banks. On Thursdays and Saturdays, they do collections at the Manassas Farmers Market. Local gardeners can bring their excess produce to donate and we also collect any unsold produce at the end of the day from the market. This saves the farmers from hauling it back home and stops needless waste. For information on this program, contact the Virginia Master Gardener helpline at 703.792.7747.
One little known but highly effective local excess produce donation program is Harvest for the Hungry at the USDA in Beltsville, MD. Between 70,000 – 100,000 pounds of produce (tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, melons, potatoes, sweet corn, squash, etc.) per year is harvested by volunteer groups and given to Food for Others. The USDA tests out hundreds of new plant varieties and at the end of their testing the food would otherwise just go to waste in the fields. Last year, in one weekend, over 200 Girl Scouts toured the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and then helped pick produce which Food for Others uses for individual food boxes and local DC area food banks. For more information on the program, contact the USDA coordinator at 301.343 8295 or visit:
During this harvest season, before you let your fruits and vegetables go to waste or straight to the compost pile, take a few minutes to pick a few and drop them off at your local area food bank or give them directly to anyone you know in need. The answer to your problem of excess is just a few minutes of extra planning and the satisfaction of giving where it is most needed.

Plant a Row for the Hungry Area Drop-Off Coordinators

Maryland —
Baltimore: Roberta Sharper (410.624.3144)
Hagerstown: Charles Stewart (
Kent County: Barbara Ellis (

Virginia —
Arlington: Lisa Crye, Arlington Food Assistance Center (
Boyce: Steve Carroll, State Arboretum of Virginia (
Central Virginia: Annette Pelliccio, The Happy Gardener (
Culpeper County: Rob Burnett (
Loudoun County: Julia Brizendine (
Newport News: Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop (
Prince William County: Paige Duecker Prince William County Extension (
Rappahannock County: Hal Hunter (; 540.937.4744)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Toad lily (Tricyrtis)

Fenton Friday: Tomatoes Still Going Strong

My Tomatoes Runneth Over

Green Zebra Tomatoes

Yellow Stuffer Tomatoes

The tomatoes at my Fenton Community Garden plot are still going gang-busters. Not only do I have a lot of fruit, but many plants are still setting blossoms. Here's to an Indian Summer that lasts through December!

Thanks to several days this week of torrential rains, I haven't been out to the garden plot much and certainly was not going to put out any seed in these nonstop gully-washers. I plan on starting radish, carrots, and greens once the ground dries out a bit.

'Coconut Ice' white sunflower
 I was sad to miss the first-ever Harvest Potluck we had in the community garden on Columbus Day. My friend, Angela Erickson Jandrew, passed away and I was attending her memorial service that evening. I have been thinking a great deal about Angela this week when I did get out between rains to my home garden. I looked at my fence row of sunflowers in bloom and remembered how much she particularly enjoyed that flower. It matched her sunny personality and I think I'll always think of her when I see them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video Wednesday: Super-Easy Seed Saving

Super-Easy Seed Saving with Washington Gardener Magazine. Here we are demonstrating seed collecting from a variety of flowering plants and herbs including basil, bronze fennel, marigolds, echinacea, and more.

Now is the ideal time to save seeds in the Mid-Atlantic and I hope you will attend our Seed Exchanges next year and share your seeds with us! Save these dates:
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, on Saturday, January 28, 2012
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA, on Saturday, February 4, 2012.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Fenton Friday: Saving Corn for Seed

So the corn plants at my Fenton Community Garden plot are done and played out, I'm yanking them out this week. Or rather, I TRIED to yank on them, but found their shallow roots are much stronger than expected, so I'll be digging them out. I'm saving the stalks for Halloween/Thanksgiving decor. I plucked off the last of the ears and am hanging them in my sunroom to dry out for seed saving. They actually are drying very nicely (see photo) so may go for decor use for a bit as well before I take off the kernels and label/store them for this winter's Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Video Wednesday: DC Farm to School Week 2011

This video is of DC Farm to School Week 2011 kick-pff event on 10/3/11. It is Washington, DC's annual week to focus on getting fresh, locally grown food into school lunches. This video features the chef competition, the school garden, and comments from the judges. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Favorite Autumn Perennials of DC-area Gardeners

For our September 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest , we asked readers to tell us about their favorite autumn perennial and why. Among our entries were these wonderful submissions:

~ Katie Rapp of Gaithersburg, MD, said: "Solidago: I love all goldenrods... nothing says early autumn to me like goldenrod catching the sun's rays in the late afternoon. I have a dwarf variety in my yard that I like very much (although the deer do, too)."

~ Madeline Caliendo of  Washington, DC, said: "Sedum because it turns a beautiful bronze color in the fall (and it is easy to grow...)."
~ George Graine of Falls Church, VA said: "Nipponanthemum nipponicum (Nippon Daisy). This perennial extends the growing season with daisy-like white flower heads to 2-1/2 " across. The leaves are also different from the usual shasta daisy foliage."

~ Lena Rotenberg of Keedysville, MD, said: "My favorite autumn perennial is Sedum 'Autumn Joy,' when the deer don't get to it... My friend Marney gave me my first few plants and I've since purchased a few more. This year they look gorgeous in my native bed!"

Did we leave out YOUR Favorite Autumn Perennials? You can add it in the comments here.
The winner of our September 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest chosen at random from among the submitted entries is: Lena Rotenberg of Keedysville, MD.

Congratulations, Lena! She wins a copy of The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra from Storey Publishing (a $25 value).

Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra, both Pennsylvania gardeners, are thoroughly obsessed with everything about gardens and gardening — digging, planting, designing, and creating great canvases of living color and texture. Their encouraging words, based on practical experience and the belief that there is more than one right way to create a garden, boost confidence and promote experimentation. Along with design basics, they present 20 garden plans, as well as the before-and-after stories of gardens they’ve created for themselves and their families.

Look out for future monthly Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contests announced in each issue of Washington Gardener's online newsletter.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fenton Friday -- Tomatillo: Food or Cat Toys?

purple tomatillos

So I have these five purple tomatillos I grew at my Fenton Community Garden plot sitting on my kitchen windowsill. They are pretty and all, but I have NO idea what to do with them. Too few for a salsa or really any recipe. Too tart to just eat them straight. So there they sit. Or should I say, there they MOSTLY sit as every morning this week I have found one or two rolling around on the kitchen floor. Cat toys in some nocturnal kitty soccer game. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see cat hair on the one that is second from the right as evidence. At this point, I may sacrific them all to the cats unless someone has a good recipe idea?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Martha Adventure

So it started a few weeks ago when a couple friends both separately mentioned wanting to take a NY trip this fall. I remembered I had wanted to take in a Martha Stewart Show taping sometime and figured I'd check the television taping schedule to see if any would make timing sense with the NY trips.

On the Martha Stewart web site, the first show listed was for a "Harvest" show and they wanted gardeners to bring in their home-grown edibles. I shot off a quick online note that night describing my new community garden plot and saying I'd bring okra. I got a call and email the next morning say "yes" -- to bring the okra (as no other applicants had mentioned it) and could I bring some gardening friends.

I immediately thought of my fellow garden writers and New York natives, Ellen Zachos and Ellen Spector Platt. I called the Ellens and they were both "in." I made my bus reservations and started planning my basket design and wardrobe. The show sent a few more notes asking again for more gardening friends, for garden advice tips, and to tell us all the rules. Those included not to wear black, tan, or grey; to not bring Martha "gift" or expect an autograph; to arrive on time (8:30am for our 10am live show); etc.

Packing up my basket the day before my departure, I saw I was a little low on okra so I added a strawberry basket in of tomatillos, yellow cherry tomatoes, and a small jar filled with ground cherries. I then asked a few fellow community gardeners if they had okra to spare. I cut 2 green from one plot and 3 reds from another. I figured more was better than looking skimpy. I'm glad I did as I lost a couple okra somewhere along my journey!

The morning of the show, the Ellens and I arrived at the studio to find a long line out front. We had a little time as they brought in groups a few at a time through security and screening. We compared basket contents with our line-neighbors and exchanged stories/backgrounds/introductions. It became clear to me that most others there were not home gardeners, but instead were professional farmers. Indeed, as we were grouped and seated for the show, they called folks in by their farm names. I was disappointed that the theme and focus had shifted off of backyard, urban growers, but I understand the staff had to make sure there was a full bounty and good turn-out.

While we waited outside, Joey, the warm-up guy, and a few producers came out and told those of us still in line to get ready for a camera pan and to put on our "TV smiles." They did a few passes with a steady cam then we got in and filled out release forms, checked our bags, and got seated.

Before the show and during the commercial breaks they played amped-up energy pop like Eminem and the Pussycat Dolls. I had to wonder if Martha actually liked it or merely tolerated it. 

The opening segment, Martha pulled out HER basket of home-grown okra and proceeded to cook with it. So, yeah, my presence or basket were not needed - LOL.

It was an interesting show with chef Emeril Lagasse as the only guest. He came in the ground and made a dish from the ingredients he collected from baskets. To me he seemed rather subdued and quiet, maybe Martha makes him nervous?

Next, they pulled a NY corn farmer from the audience and he got to use his sweet corn with Martha showing some cooking and preserving tips.

A segment taped at the National Heirloom Exhibition in Sonoma, CA, was very well done, and actually made me want to go to it next year. Though I believe the time conflicts badly with the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello :-(.

Most of the produce brought to the show went to City Harvest, a NY food bank. (You were given a choice if you wanted to take it back or donate it and Martha even commented off-camera that she knew it would be hard for some to give-away their home-grown babies as they put so much work into them.) I gave all the okra (about 5 pounds worth), but kept the jar of ground cherries as I promised to try and save the seeds for a few fellow gardeners. The ground cherries and tomatoes I shared with seat neighbors to snack on.

After the show, we all received two books, ""Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders," by Emeril Lagasse and "The Heirloom Life Gardener," by Jere and Emilee Gettle. I perused both on the bus ride back to DC. I'll be adding the heirloom edibles book to our review pile for the magazine and think I'll make the Emeril book a prize in a future contest.

Ellen Zachos in blue, Ellen Spector Platt in red, and me in tangerine sweater set (waving).

Don't blink or you'll miss me!

Emeril picks the lilac wine from Ellen's basket. I'm on her left.

Emeril trying to open Ellen's lilac wine on air.

During the Q&A, the women in front of us gets picked first. You can see Ellen Spector Platt's herb basket on her left and my okra basket to her right.

As the end credits roll, they panned up the aisle and you get a really good luck at us and our "tv smiles."

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Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

Today is Amazon Prime Day, so I thought I'd again share the garden products I use almost every day. These are the tried-and-true w...