Thursday, March 31, 2011

Washington Gardener Magazine Readers Tell Us Their Favorite Early Spring Blooming Plants

Congratulations to Suzanne Johnson of Laurel, MD. She is our March 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest winner chosen at random from among all the entries emailed in. Suzanne is receiving a signed copy of The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner.

The Nonstop Garden, published by Timber Press, gives gardeners all the information they need to create a productive, beautiful garden from the ground up. This easy-to-use guide is split into four main parts: the nuts and bolts of designing a mixed garden, the garden’s main attractions (trees and shrubs), the garden’s supporting cast (bulbs, annuals, edibles, and vines), and finishing touches (ornamentation, containers, and garden structures).

We asked our reader contest entrants this month to tell us: What is your favorite early spring blooming plant? Here are a few of their answers:

-- My favorite early spring blooming plant is Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop). I am also very fond of Hamamelis sp. and Heleborus sp. In my edible garden, it's the strawberries!
~ Christa of Rockville, MD

-- My favorite early spring blooming plant is Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauty.
~ Cindy of Falls Church, VA

-- Snow drops are my favorite early spring flower. It seems impossible that something so delicate looking could bloom when temperatures are still cold and spring seems like a distant wish.
~ Alexandria of University Park, MD

-- Both Joletta of Silver Spring, MD and Clydene of Greenbelt, MD said their favorite blooming plant was hyacinth.

-- My favorite early spring blooming plant is the anemone (all kinds including the Grecian Windflower - Anemone blanda; I have one that is blooming already).
~ Suzanne of Laurel, MD

-- Daffodil, always the bright yellow happy daffodil.
~ Katie H of Silver Spring, MD

-- My favorite early spring blooming plant is Hepatica. It is a native and I only have ONE in my garden. I am waiting until it gets larger so I can divide it!
~ Jan of Woodbridge, VA

Sherri of Rockville, MD said:
-- My favorite spring bloomer is the hellebores. It brightens up the shade in the very early spring, looks good all year long and doesn't get eaten by deer or rabbits.
(And many other entrants agreed with her and nominated Hellebores as their favorites too.)

So what is YOUR favorite early spring blooming plant?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Video Wednesday: Chris Turse on Wicking Trays

Here is a video from the recent Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange in Virginia. This is Chris Turse, Garden Coordinator of the Washington Youth Garden on the grounds of the USNA. His talk was about intermediate level seed starting and this two-minute clip is about wicking trays.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YOU Be the Judge: Rate the Smithsonian Orchids

GUEST BLOG by Tom Mirenda, Smithsonian Horticulturist

Have you ever wondered about all the various blue, red, yellow, and white ribbons awarded at flower shows, particularly orchid shows? Orchids, are arguably the most diverse of flowering plants and there are loads of subcategories within their ranks. You might ask yourself: ‘What makes one orchid better than another?’

Smithsonian Gardens’ latest orchid exhibit entitled: Orchids: a View from the East, features the interactions between orchids and their cultivators in China for close to 1000 years, bringing us from ancient bonsai like culture to modern day Taiwan where orchids are bred to have brilliant colors, superb form and floriferousness and then mass produced by biotechnology for the lucrative pot plant market.

Deciding what makes a superior orchid is determined by orchid judges, and Smithsonian’s exhibit and accompanying website ( gives their visitors (and YOU) the opportunity to be an orchid judge! Judge’s training takes from 7 to 10 years to complete, but you can express your opinion about some spectacularly beautiful orchids at the exhibit, or on their website. Don’t miss this chance to choose your favorite orchids, and learn about the subtle differences that make an orchid a champion.

About the Guest Blogger:
Tom Mirenda is an orchid expert. He has over 500 in his own home garage in Fairfax, VA. He has worked for the Smithsonian for 10 years and in his spare time sings opera.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cherry Blossom Fest and Alternatives

(One of our most popular posts, updated for 2011.)

It is almost Cherry Blossom Festival madness again in Washington, DC. This year, the National Park Service has predicted the blooms will go from March 27 through April 7. The predicted peak will be March 29 -April 2 when 70% of the blooms are doing their thing.

If you have been there/done that, hate the crowds, or just can’t get enough of those dainty pink and white blossoms, here are a few local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:

Public Gardens

~ The National Arboretum has a splendid and more varied display and LOTS or parking. Stroll around Fern Valley and the other gardens as well while you are there. Take the Self-Guided Tour: Beyond the Tidal Basin: Introducing Other Great Flowering Cherries from March 26 – April 10, 8:00 am-4:30 pm daily to explore the arboretum’s collection of over 2,000 cherry trees representing 600 different cultivars, hybrids, and species of various shapes, sizes, flower colors, and bloom times, including trees that have been created by arboretum scientists. Note: The free tour covers several miles of arboretum roads, and can be driven, biked, or walked. Pick up a brochure in the Administration Building.

~ Tudor Place hosts three Cherry Blossom Teaa and also a Blossoms and Bubbly night. Or take a stroll on your own through the spectacular Yoshino Cherry Blossoms during the full bloom. Inside the Historic Mansion, enjoy an up-close look at Tudor Place’s collection of early 20th century Japanese fans. Event and entry fees apply.
~ Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, WDC, has a marvelous orchard of cherries. There is an $8 admission fee that goes to support the gardens. Parking is also a bear in that neighborhood -- I recommend you walk or take the bus.

~ Hillwood Estate in NW DC is pleased to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with short guided tours of Mrs. Post’s Japanese-style garden. Docents will be available to answer questions between the tours. The suggested entry donation to Hillwood is $12 per adult.

~ Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, also has beautiful cherry blossom trees and many other flowering trees like plum, apricot, magnolias, and quince in bloom right now, and you don’t have to fight the crowds to see them. The gardens are also full of flowering bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, and hillsides of daffodils.

~ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA, has over 100 cherry trees surrounding a lovely lake that you can stroll around. Admission to the gardens is $5

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, has a ring of Yoshino cherry trees around their lake and Okame cherry blooms throughout the gardens. There is an entry fee of $10 to visit the gardens.


~ The Bethesda, MD, neighborhood of Kenwood for their stunning display. Park and walk in for an immersion in cherry tree lined streets.

~ An anonymous post to my blog, tipped me off that there are several blocks of cherry blossom trees creating an arch above the streets of Garrett Park Estates in Kensington, MD. Take Strathmore Road near Holy Cross Church, turn onto Flanders and then I think it’s Waycross. The trees span several streets, are lovely, and totally free of crowds!

~ Adam Bailey let me know that “Stanton Park and Lincoln Park on the Hill — and the Capitol Hill neighborhoods in general — have a good display of blossoms, too.”

Grow Your Own!

~ In the very first issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, we did a PlantProfile column on the selection and cultivation of cherry trees for our area. Ever since getting my weeping ‘Higan’ cherry, I feel no need to rush downtown. I keep a daily watch on my baby tree and celebrate loudly when the buds finally burst open. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Video Wednesday: 1st Ever Macy's DC Flower Show

I believe this is the first time I've incorporated a video that is not a Washington Gardener Magazine production or at least that I participated in making. I've made an exception for this one solely because it features the scrumptious Paul Wharton and also because I love the idea of a downtown flower show. Here is a bit more about the event which is timed to coordinate with the National Cherry Blossom Fest.


The spirit of spring is in the air at Macy’s Metro Center where, for the first time ever, live cherry blossom trees will take center stage at the Macy’s Cherry Blossom Show. From Sunday, March 27th through Sunday, April 10th, the Main Floor of Macy’s Metro Center will celebrate the era of renewal as it is transformed from a vibrant retail landscape to an unexpected floral wonderland complete with live blooming cherry trees. Visitors from across the country and around the globe will have the unique opportunity to enjoy this traditional sign of spring in the heart of our nation’s capital, regardless of the weather conditions outside.

This whimsical floral fantasy highlights the celebrated trees in partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Thirty cherry trees each week, ranging between 12 and 18 feet tall, will welcome both shoppers and arborists alike, elegantly guiding them along the main aisles of Macy’s Metro Center. At the culmination of the two week long celebration, 60 trees will be donated to the National Park Service, including 40 Okame trees with pink flowering blossoms, and 20 Snowgoose trees with white blossoms.

The Macy’s Cherry Blossom Show will also serve as a spectacular backdrop for two weeks of in-store special events, including fashion presentations, cooking demonstrations and musical and dance performances that will enchant floral fanatics while celebrating the rejuvenating power of the season.

Additionally, to get the public in the mood for the spring awakening, for the first-time ever, Macy’s Flower Show will scent its event advertising through a unique fragrance technology by partner Celessence™. The refreshing scent - a combination of lavender and chamomile, will give the public a preview of the lush garden smells that await their visit to the show.

For more than 60 years Macy’s has delighted generations of floral aficionados with spectacular presentations of lush gardens that showcase millions of live flowers, plants and trees from around the globe. Blooming in unison despite the various climates from which they originate, Macy’s Flower Show offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy these magnificent blooms together in an unexpected setting. With the introduction of the Macy’s Cherry Blossom Show, the cherry blossom trees that so vibrantly announce the arrival of spring in Washington DC are now an integral part of this long-standing tradition.

“Macy's 2011 Flower Show will be the largest and most ambitious effort in the show's history," says Robin Hall, Executive Producer of the annual event. "Our five flagship shows in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco with be joined by an all-new show this year, in Washington D.C., one that is being created as an extension of the National Cherry Blossom Festival." Hall added, "In the course of its two-week run, the Metro Center Show will feature a total of 60 pink Okame and white Snowgoose Cherries, two delicate species that are not part of the show in the Tidal Basin." On the D.C. Show, Hall concluded, "Macy's main floor will be transformed by this exquisite landscape of soft color punctuated with a series of beautiful Japanese Gardens."

“The National Cherry Blossom Festival has been working with Macy’s since 2008 and we are excited to expand upon this partnership,” says Diana Mayhew, President of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. “Additionally, as neighbors in the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, it makes perfect sense for Macy’s continued involvement in the Festival. We are certainly excited to see the cherry blossom trees bloom in-store. It is a great value-added element of the Festival.”

Free to the public, Macy’s Cherry Blossom Show will be open during regular store hours.

Macy’s Cherry Blossom Festival is presented in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. For additional information about these events contact the Macy’s Flower Show Hotline at (212) 494-4495, or visit

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mt Cuba: A Faerie Wonderland

Close your eyes, picture the most wonderful, faerie tale woodland garden of your dreams. That, my friend, is what Mt Cuba Center just outside Wilmington, DE, is to me.

This album of photos I took at Mt Cuba last year will give you a little taste of why I love it so:

So now, we have a trip planned to go back there on Thursday, April 21 and you can join me!

This is the start of a new partnership between Washington Gardener Magazine, Behnke Nurseries of Beltsville, MD, and Cheval’s Second Act Garden Tours. The partners will host four Mid-Atlantic region garden tours in 2011 and plan to expand to six tours in 2012. The 2011 schedule includes Mt. Cuba on April 21 and July 16 to Viette’s Daylily and Wine Festival. The trips all depart and return to the Behnke Nurseries location in Beltsville, MD.
See this flyer for full Mt Cuba trip details.

Details and tour information on the other tour dates are posted at,, and

I hope you can join us for Mt Cuba or one of the other amazing trips we have planned this year.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Battling a Pesky Foe: The Weed Warriors

Listen to the WAMU Metro Connection segment here: Battling a Pesky Foe: The Weed Warriors

Montgomery County, Md., launched the nation's first "Weed Warriors" program in the late 1990s: a group of volunteers certified to fight invasive plant species in area parks. Rebecca Sheir heads to Wheaton Regional Park with Weed Warriors founder Carole Bergmann and certified Weed Warrior Kathy Jentz, to hear about the group's latest struggles battling such a tricky foe. [Music: "Warrior" by Patty Smyth/Scandal from Greatest Hits]

Don't forget to also check our the photo gallery here that goes with the story. Carole Bergmann and WAMU Metro Connection producer Rebecca Sheir are pictured here at Wheaton Regional Park.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Early Spring Veggies ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ March 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ March 2011


~ Early Spring Veggies

~ Magazine Excerpt: Baltimore’s Historic Cylburn Arboretum

~ Reader Contest: The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner.

~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights

~ Spotlights Special: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Munchkin’

~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Mt Cuba Center Trip Registration Form and Details

~ Upcoming Local Garden Events

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!

and much more...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DCGarden TweetUp in Secret Seed Warehouse

Help America the Beautiful Fund sort and pack seed shipments at their not-so-secret-now Seed Warehouse in Ft. Belvoir, VA, on Sunday March 20 from 12:30-3:30pm. A bunch of us will meet at Metro Center at 12:00noon and we'll carpool out together. You can also drive directly there and meet us. We'll provide snacks and trade local growing tips.

Bonus: all attendees get to take home all the seeds they can fit in a tote bag. (Don't forget to bring an empty bag, a water bottle, and to dress for work in a dusty warehouse.) Limit of 10 participants: so sign up today by sending an email to: Please let Katie know if you will be joining the carpool or will drive yourself.

PS Even if you are not on Twitter yet, yes, you are welcome to join us too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Video Wednesday: Cherry Blossom Peak Prediction

I share my video with you so you too can experience the thrill of attending a live press conference and straining to hear the featured presentation. This took place March 3 at the cavernous Newseum, I was not 10 feet from the speaker podium and still could not make out what in the dickens Rob DeFeo, Chief Horticulturalist, National Park Service, was mumbling about. Bless his heart, really, it was like he spoke everywhere BUT directly into the microphone. After his official statement here, he had to be brought back to the podium and asked to repeat the exact bloom dates so we could all have it down right. Comparing notes around me, we all heard March 29 to April 2 or April 7. Turns out, what he actually said was March 29-April 3. Enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival in person in just a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Almost Spring!

Here are my blooms for mid-March 2011 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in Zone 7 DC/MD border -- much nicer than last year's post-blizzard bleakness. (As always, click on the photo to see it at original size and detail.)

Not pictured, but blooming away here: forsythia and winter jasmine.
So what is blooming in your garden?


Dutch iris





More Hellebore

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winning Displays at the Washington Home & Garden Show

Here are a few of the award-winning displays at the Washington Home & Garden Show. I co-judged these and gave my talk yesterday, now we are on the final stretch. The show runs through 11am-6pm today (Sunday, March 13). If you come, stop by Booth #514 and mention this post for a free pacl of native Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) seeds.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Discount Coupon for Washington Home & Garden Show

The 51st Annual Washington Home & Garden Show is this weekend -- Friday, March 11 - Sinday, March 13 at the DC Convention Center. The location is easy to get to via metro, bus, bike, or walking. Parking at the surface lot nearby on H Street is easy as well.

Here is a link for a DISCOUNT COUPON for $3 off the Friday entry fee.

Washington Gardener Magazine will be in Booth #514 alongside Jentz Prints (my brother's antique print business.) Come by and see us! I'll have current and back issues for sales, as well as signing up new subscribers, gift subscriptions, and taking renewals.

In addition, I'll be speaking at 5:00pm on Saturday, March 12 on the main stage. My topic is "Urban Gardening Challenges." Every year it tickles me pink that I have a few returning "fans" who come especially to see me talk. I hope to see them again this go-round along with many new faces.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Video Wednesday: Philadelphia Flower Show

Here is a little video I took last Saturday at the media (and PHS members) preview day for the Philadelphia Flower Show. It features the carousel of flower creatures under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The musicians are a band called Musette. I have two albums of photos I took (about 250) at -- stop by the page and browse at your leisure. I'm back up at the show all day today with our bus tour and will share even more photos when I return.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

PhotoSynthesis Opening Reception on Friday, April 8

You are invited to view the winning images of the 5th Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest at an art show in downtown Silver Spring, MD. All 17 stunning photos were taken in DC-area gardens. Both inspirational and educational, this show represents the best of garden photography in the greater DC metropolitan region.

The opening reception is Friday, April 8 from 6:30-8pm at the Adams Bank Lobby in the World Building on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. The reception is open to the public and is free to attend. After the opening, you may come by and view the photos any time during the normal bank lobby hours (M-F 9am-4pm, Sat 9am-12noon). The show runs through May 25.

The winning photos are also published in the Spring 2011 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine along with additional details on the entrants and their images. You can subscribe to the magazine for just $20 a year and start with this current issue or you can purchase the single issue at the opening reception. You may also buy the single issue at local Borders, Barnes & Noble, or B. Dalton book stores and several independent stores including Politics & Prose and the USNA Arbor House.

Washington Gardener Magazine is already announcing a 6th Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest. Start gathering your images now and throughout this year. Most all of the entry rules will remain the same as this year’s contest. We will again accept the entries during the first three weeks of January.
Washington Gardener magazine ( is the gardening publication specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs. Washington Gardener magazine’s basic mission is to help DC area gardens grow better. The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners.

Monday, March 07, 2011

First Daffodils of the Season

My 'February Gold' daffodils are oh, about a week, or so late. Still, I'm happy to see them! Daffodils are wonderfully reliable. They are deer-proof (poisonous), not as prone to bulb rot (like the more picky tulips), can grow under the deep shade of evergreens, and multiply on their own. What is not to love? If you plan it right by planting early, mid, and late-blooming varities, you can get a good 10-12 weeks of bloom from them over the late winter-early spring season here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Over the years I've added many varieties of daffodils to my garden. No overall scheme to it, no rhyme or reason. I just buy what I like and find a space for to squeeze them in.

One year I saw 'Tete-a-Tete' coming up along a park hill-side in Georgetown -- so cute, tiny plants with multiple blooms. I bought several dozen and put them along my back fence.

Another year, I visited Brent and Becky Heath at their bulb headquarters in Gloucester, VA, and marveled at 'Katie Heath,' named after Brent's mother. It has a double-head (two blooms) on each stalk. It is white with a pale apricot trumpet. Best of all it is good at naturalizing (spreading by seed and clump). I had to have it.

Some of my other favorite daffs are 'Actea,' 'Thalia,' 'Winston Churchill,' 'Ice Follies,' and 'Mt Hood.' I'm partial myself to the white-green end of the color spectrum, but certainly have my share of true yellows like 'King Alfred' and 'JetFire' in my garden also.

What daffodils are blooming in your garden?

Friday, March 04, 2011

School Vegetable Gardens Finally Permitted in Montgomery County, MD


By Erica Smith

School vegetable gardens: a great way to get kids outside, to teach lessons about nature, and to improve childhood nutrition? Or a menace to safety and a nuisance to maintenance staff?
That's the debate that's played out in Montgomery County, MD, over the last couple of years, although nearly everyone concerned seems to have been firmly of the first opinion and in fact that opinion has prevailed. You may have noticed the controversy popping up in local media here and there, and wondered what was going on. Here's a brief summary from my perspective as a minor participant in the process.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) issued its School Garden Guidelines in September of 2008, largely in response to concerns that gardens were often established by classes, clubs, and PTAs, but not maintained, and that some plants might not be safe for children. MCPS staff worked with University of Maryland Extension (UME) Master Gardeners (MGs) and garden education experts from the Audubon Naturalist Society's (ANS) GreenKids program to develop templates and resources for several model gardens that focused on native plants and pollinators. Over the next year, ANS and the MGs worked with a number of schools to establish successful gardens that fed curriculum needs and, due to the requirement that garden proposals include a maintenance plan, were less likely to be abandoned.

However, a number of observers began to notice that applications for gardens that included edible plants were routinely turned down by MCPS. This was in the same period that First Lady Michelle Obama was establishing a vegetable garden at the White House, and food gardening was a burgeoning trend all over the country. The irony was not lost on the MGs nor on Gordon Clark, Project Director of Montgomery Victory Gardens (MVG), who began to publicize the de facto MCPS no-edibles policy and urge community and governmental groups to help change it.

In December of 2009, County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who had been a champion of community gardens as established by Montgomery Parks, scheduled a public work session of Council committees to discuss school and community gardens. Many MGs and other interested members of the public watched as MCPS staff testified that school vegetable gardens were difficult to maintain, attracted vermin, were dangerous to children with allergies, and promoted use of pesticides (forbidden by MCPS rules except in dire circumstances). While sitting in the hearing room I read the draft of a document written by UME MG Coordinator and Grow It Eat It (GIEI) founder Jon Traunfeld that countered many of these problems and questions. "Food Safety in the School Garden" is now available at the GIEI web site.

In late February of 2010, county school superintendent Jerry Weast sent a memo to the Board of Education outlining MCPS objections to allowing edible gardens on school property, although he did follow up on a proposal made at the Council work session that MCPS work with Montgomery Parks to find sites near schools for community gardens. (They have, in fact, found several sites on MCPS-owned non-school property on which community gardens open to the public can be built, and work is ongoing to establish those.) MVG and the MGs began to write a letter in reply to Weast, which was finally completed in May and delivered in June after a number of community organizations had signed it as well. (This list of organizations continued to grow and by September had reached over 30, including Washington Gardener Magazine, the ANS, and the Montgomery County Commission on Health. During the winter, the Montgomery County Council of PTAs issued their own statement urging the establishment of school food gardens.)

In October, the County Council met in their capacity as the Board of Health and heard testimony from the Commission on Health and MVG in favor of allowing vegetable gardens at schools. By this time, the tide seemed to have turned, and in fact beginning in July, UME staff, MGs, and representatives from ANS and Parks had begun meeting with MCPS staff to explore options.

Together they reached the conclusion that the best first step was to develop guidelines for edible gardens in containers, and with admirable speed put together the Creating Your Edible Container Garden web site. This resource went online at the end of January and is available to MCPS staff, parents, and students to use RIGHT NOW, so please spread the word! The site includes links to many educational sites and lots of horticultural advice from GIEI. Master Gardeners are available to advise about site selection and provide mentoring during the growing season; contact information is on the site.

More support is available through classes scheduled this spring by Montgomery College. Click on the link and put "garden" in the search box to find the Garden Educator Training Course for those working with youth, and the Suburban Gardener Program for anyone interested in learning more about vegetable gardening.

MCPS staff have stated publicly that although container gardens are recommended to start with, applications for in-ground or raised bed gardens that meet all criteria will be approved. Let's hope that soon enough we'll have many Montgomery County schools with gardens as educational and lovely as the one at Hampstead Hill Academy in Baltimore, MD. Learning, nutrition, and fun: let's get kids growing and eating in the outdoor classroom this spring.

About our Guest Blogger:
Erica H. Smith is a Montgomery County Master Gardener and manages the University of Maryland’s Grow It Eat It blog. She battles groundhogs and garlic mustard on half an acre in Germantown, MD. She can be reached at This blog post originally appeared at

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Video Wednesday: Carla Hall Inspires Gardeners to Cook Creatively

Carla Hall was one of the featured speakers at the recent Green Matters conference hosted by Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.  Carla, a local caterer turned Top Chef superstar, spoke on careful food preparation. Her mantra is “cooking from the heart.” Carla believes that layering of flavors and deliberate, mindful cooking are the keys to enjoying eating and preparing meals. She urged folks not to cook with one eye on the television and the other planning tomorrow’s work schedule. Carla shared some tasty gems such as dropping an herbal tea bag in the boiling water when preparing rice or other grains. Her energy was infectious and the audience left in high spirits, ready to use her cooking tips in their own home recipes.

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