Friday, May 27, 2011

Fenton Friday: Soil and Toil

This week I planted three Bush Bean seedling plants between the squash mounds at my Fenton Community Garden plot. My theory being when the bush beans mature all at once, I'll harvest them, then pull up the whole plants and by then the squash will be meandering and need the space where the beans were growing. We'll see if this particular inter-planting theory works or not.

I added one mound of 'Long Green Improved' Cucumbers from seed. This seed pack was given to me to trial by the Fabulous Beekman Boys and is from D Landreth Seed Company. The soil is 50-50 mix of the wretched stuff originally at the garden plot site and an organic soil mix, Mr. Natural, that I'm trialing.

David Hadary, President of Green Stripe Products in Alexandria, VA, called me up and asked me if I'd like to trial some of the Mr. Natural soil mixes in the garden plot and I thought that was a great idea. Little did he know the toil he was in for! He came by today and we dug out a 3x5ft bed and mixed in 50-50 of the Mr Natural CLM (Complete Landscape Mix). I think it will be worth it though to see how it does in comparison to adjacent beds and garden plots. The CLM mix is all organic and is made up of hen manure compost, worm castings, pine bark humus, coarse natural river sand, and Permatill expanded slate. In that bed, I'm planting 7 different Tomato seedlings, one Eggplant, and two Basil plants.

David (pictured above) and I probably lost about 5 pounds each in sweat working that new planting bed this morning. The sun was scalding and the infamous DC humidity has definitely moved in. Worst of all, was the cistern had run dry the night before and was awaiting a refill from our busy garden leader, so we weren't even able to splash a little water on our faces for relief. I went home and hand-carried a few gallons of water from my rain barrel over to the plot to at least get the tomato plants and other seedlings a drink until tonight's predicted thunderstorms.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Video Wednesday: Wings of Fancy Brookside Butterfly Show

Today's Washington Gardener Magazine Video Wednesday montage is from the Wings of Fancy butterfly and caterpillar show that runs all summer at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. Take a minute to sit back and enjoy some beautiful butterflies and the jazzy tune called "Nice & Easy" from my friend Dane Riley.

BTW, the original video is posted to If you are viewing this link anywhere else, you may not be able to experience the video footage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Photo Contest Moves to Virginia for the Summer

Winning photo by Mike Whalen
Tomorrow is the last day to view the Washington Gardener Magazine Garden Photo Contest winners' show in Silver Spring, MD. The "PhotoSynthesis" show will then move to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA.

SAVE THE DATE for the opening reception on Friday, June 10 from 5-7pm at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The show features the 17 winners of the 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Garden Photo Contest. The reception is open to the public and you are encouraged to bring along family and friends. The photo show will then run from June 11-August 9 at Meadowlark.

BTW, are YOU gathering images for next year's contest yet? Remember our rules: taken within this calendar year and in a garden-setting within 150-miles of the US Capitol building. We will start accepting the next garden photo contest submissions on January 1, 2012, but you will kick yourself if you are not taking, gathering, and sorting your garden images through out 2011 in preparation for it. Every year I hear from people who wish they'd started collecting their images earlier and missed out of the contest entry deadlines. This year, I'm giving plenty of advance notice and will repeat the reminders every few months.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reader Contest: Name Our Garden!

For our May 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a year’s subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine. (Should a current subscriber win, we will add a year to their subscription.)

Name Our Garden! We need a name for the Washington Gardener Magazine headquarters’ garden. It can be serious or funny, whimsical or clever. The name can incorporate one of the garden’s features or the nearby street names (Fenton or Philadelphia) or can be completely outside-the-box. Garden features include a small goldfish pond, five 80-year-old oaks, lots of lavender, roses, and other perennials. The garden is set on an urban corner in downtown Silver Spring near Montgomery College, Takoma Park, and the Washington, DC border.

To enter to win a year’s subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine (valued at $20), send an email to by 5:00pm on May 31 with “Name Contest” in the subject line and tell us: What you would name the Washington Gardener Magazine headquarters’ garden? In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced and notified by June 2.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fenton Friday: Planting and Putzing

Marigold seedlings

Pumpkin 'Summer Ball'

Potato growth emerges

This second week at my Fenton Community Garden garden plot was full of rain, so I hardly got over to the garden. I went once to check on it and weed a bit. Then was back over today to do more planting. First, I put a bright green string around my plot to set it off more as I'm in a middle spot, bordered on 3 sides, and have yet to meet my direct neighbors. Next, I checked on my marigolds and potatoes that I put in last week and was pleased to see they are already up!

Okra, Tomatillo, and Ground Cherries

I planted two each of the following: Okra, Ground Cherry, and Tomatillo. Finally, I created three small hills for a Zuchinni, Pumpkin, and Honeydew melon. All of these newly planted seedlings this week came from plant swaps/exchanges I've attended over the past month and so they are free!

Thinking on it, so far the only money I have spent on the plot was the rental fee of $30, $1 for the bright string at the local dollar store, and about $5 for seed potatoes. I'm going to try to keep track of any other garden plot expenses I may have this year and see if I can figure out the costs versus the dollar value of what I actually grow. Of course, the expenses will not include overhead and my time, but it will be interesting to see the end results.

Ladybug visitor

BTW, I think it is a very good sign that one of the first visitors to my plot was this little ladybug. Sweet!

Party With the Peonies!

You've read about her fabulous garden in the Spring 2011 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine and in last week's Washington Post, now you can see it in person!

Party With the Peonies: Gail Gee's Private Garden Preview Party and Open Garden
Saturday, May 21, (Raindate: May 28)
Though the garden is known for its fabulous, rare peonies, which should be in full glory during this special morning in May, there’s much more to this three-acre paradise. It was created as Gail’s personal pleasure garden and features wonderful color combinations in the English Style. This is an event to benefit Brookside Gardens.

Preview Party 9:00–11:00am
$35 per person, Event number 138799 (registration required at
Sip cool drinks and sample tasty treats as you stroll through Gail Gee’s spectacular garden in Fulton, Maryland during a festive Preview Party. Preview Party attendees will have first choice (prior to Open Garden hours) of select intersectional peony varieties and other signature plants, which will be available for purchase. As a preview guest, you will be one of the few who will receive an exclusive tour of the garden with Gail and Phil Normandy, Brookside Gardens’ Plant Collections Manager (who has consulted with Gail on plant selection and design from the garden’s inception in 2001).
During the Preview Party, Washington Gardener Magazine staff will be there selling copies of the Spring 2011 issue and signing up new subscribers. A portion of all Washington Gardener Magazine sales at the Preview Party will go to benefit Brookside Gardens.

OR attend the Open Garden, 12:00–4:00pm Gail’s garden will be open for self-guided tours in the afternoon.  $5 per person Event number 138849 (Advance registration encouraged at

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Get a Head Start on Summer Flowering Bulbs ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ May 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ May 2011


Get a Head Start on Summer Flowering Bulbs
~ Magazine Excerpt: Bleeding Hearts, Woodland Lady
~ Reader Contest: Name Our Garden and Win a Year's Subscription
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Gurney’s® Li’l Big Pixie Crunch Apple Tree
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List
~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2011 Day Trip Details
~ Upcoming Local Garden Events
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

The Washington Gardener Enews is the monthly online sister publication to our quarterly print publication, Washington Gardener Magazine. Both publications share the same editorial mission, but their content, delivery method, and frequency are completely different. To subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine, see the form on page 9 of the linked ENEWS or go here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video Wednesday: Love Song of a Plant Pathologist

The annual Maryland (and DC) Master Gardener Training Day is always a great time of meeting new friends and old, education, and networking. Washington Gardener Magazine sets up a table in the vendor area and we offer Master Gardeners a 10% discount on subscriptions. The day is always a great success for us and I'd never miss it. One little-known side benefit is Master Gardeners have talent and a great sense of humor! Don't believe me? Check out this video of a group singing their original composition "Love Song of a Plant Pathologist" to the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer." Sing along, won't you?

BTW, if you are reading this post anywhere other than at its original posting on the Washington Gardener Magazine's blog than you may not be able to access the video. Go to: to see it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Favorite Flowers

Bourbon Rose  'Zephirine Drouhin'
The irony of this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is that almost ALL my favorite flowers are in bloom at the same time, yet I am not able to enjoy them. From early-April to mid-June, my own garden is a massive jungle of weeds as I run to tour other's gardens and attend every possible local garden event.

I did smarten up a few years ago though and moved my top favorites to positions where I will encounter them daily coming and going -- right next to my front and back doors, at my high-traffic corner, etc. That way I and visitors can enjoy them, if even for a brief passing moment.

I have pictured them here and hop you will share your favorite flowers in bloom right now as well.

Peony 'Festiva Maxima'

PS In case you are reading this post elsewhere, it is originally posted to my blog at, and when you view it at the blog, you can click on the original photos to view them at larger sizes and in more detail.

 Clematis 'Silver Moon'

 Bearded Iris

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fenton Friday: Measuring and Mulching

bare un-measured plot
I'm starting a new garden and a new blog feature. Every Friday I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space -- not so big to be overwhelming, but big enough for me to get some decent growing space. As with many maturing gardens, most of my initial full-sun space at my own place has been taken over, which has left me scant room to plant any edibles and, dang it!, I wanted to grow some Sugar Baby watermelons again. I also want space to try out plants and to compare/contract my results with that of my Washington Gardener Magazine readers.

All mulched up

After months of watching the county parks' crews bulldoze the space, removing layers of concrete, gravel, and compacted soil then adding several cubic tons of soil, this week we finally got to move in. The parks people (Hi, Ursula and David!) provided the garden plot with a surrounding deer fence, a cistern, and piles of free mulch. We gardeners were like horses at the starting gate, just bursting with pent up energy. The first evening we measured and re-measured to make sure we had our garden plot areas staked properly. Then I went home and wheeled my handy-hauler across Rt 410 to the garden so I could move mulch in. (Yes, it was quite amusing to the passing college student to watch me run across the lanes of traffic with shovel and big plastic wheelbarrow in tow -- har, har.) I set up a shredded bark mulch border/walking path around the whole plot, then ran a walking path down the middle. That left me with two long, growing beds about 3.5 ft x 9 ft each. I covered those with leaf mulch (good stuff!). I'm determined NOT to spend the summer fighting weeds in the sweltering heat.

Cobrahead plant marker

The next day I came back with potato slips. I put in 4 rows of 3 plants each: two rows are Banana Fingerling and two rows are German Butterball. I marked the rows with fancy plant markers from the good folks at Cobrahead. The markers are made from tough recycled plastic with corn cob filler and I think look really snazzy. My penmanship could use a little work though...

Yesterday, I went over to the plot and at the entrance I did a row of dwarf Marigold seeds and put in a couple of potted Calendulas to mark the row. I'm going to hold off on the rest of my potted vegetable seedlings waiting in my driveway until the garden's cistern is filled and there is an onsite water source for these thirsty plants.

I have already found one big problem with community gardening -- at least for me. I cannot resist socializing (see my 1st-6th grade report cards as proof). Already, I have spent WAY too much time greeting and chatting with fellow plot gardeners. Some of whom I have known a while (Hi, Beth!) and others whom I'm just meeting. When I went over yesterday and no one else was at the garden, I immediately felt like, "Oh darn, I'll come back later." But then, was like, "Where is that coming from? I'm supposed to be here to get something actually done!" I'm going to have to keep a tight reign on myself and am bringing a kitchen timer with me for my plot gardening sessions to keep me on task.

 I hope you will check in weekly for my Fenton Friday updates and will also let me know how YOUR edibles are doing this year. I want to hear it all -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Want are you planting in your vegetable beds?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Video Wednesday: USNA Azalea Collections

Here is a little video montage I put together of footage I shot during the peak bloom of the US National Arboretum azaleas. Don't worry if you have not gotten over there yet, still plenty in bloom to see!

BTW my musically talented friend, Dane Riley, provided the music for this video. It is called "Caribbean Smooth" and it is from his album, "Acoustic Black." You can find out more about Dane's music at his web page,

Friday, May 06, 2011

Garden Event Weekend to the MAX

Do not call me, text me, email, etc.! Well, at least do not not EXCEPT a response this week. Nothing personal, but there is WAY too much going on in the local gardening world her is the DC-Baltimore corridor and far too few hours in a day. Those marked with a * are the ones I'll be attending.

Here is a sampling of what is going on this first full weekend of May:

~ Silver Spring Garden Club GardenMart at Brookside Gardens*
~ National Public Garden Day*
~ Cathedral Flowermart 2011*
~ Capitol Hill Restoration Society house and garden tour*
~ Georgetown Garden Tour*
~ 6th annual Herb Day celebration at the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory
~ Cylburn Arboretum Market Day
~ Carderock Garden Tour Day in Bethesda, MD
~ Square Foot Gardening­ workshop in College Park, MD
~ Container Gardening Class with Montgomery County Master Gardener Donald Snyder at
the City of Takoma Park Community Center
~ NFI May seedling sales at Community Forklift
~ Baltimore FlowerMart
~ Tudor Place Mother's Day Tea
~ Green Spring Gardens Basic Gardening: Edibles and Ornamentals-Mix it Up! plus a Mother's Day Tea
~ The State Arboretum of Virginia 22nd annual Garden Fair
~  Talk on One of Americas Oldest Gardens at the Maryland Historical Society
~ Smithsonian Gardens Garden Fest*
~ Green Landscaping For You and the Chesapeake Bay at the Cora Kelly School, Alexandria, VA

Know of more local Mid-Atlantic garden events this weekend? Add them in the comments here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Video Wednesday: Walk the Line

Ever wonder what is like to be at the FONA Garden Fair on members-only opening day? Walk the line with me and see the gauntlet of plant-a-holics ready to pounce on prime specimens. It was a morning fit only for the brave of heart and the fast of hand. Dare you take up the challenge next year?

(Apologies for some of the sound problems, though it doesn't appear to be, it was in fact a very windy day.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Prince Charles Visits DC Garden

This afternoon, Prince Charles of England visited the Common Good City Farm (CGCF) near Howard University in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. The farm's mission is is to grow food, educate, and help low-income DC community members meet their food needs. CGCF used to be located a few blocks away and was named the 7th Street Garden. Washington Gardener Magazine readers will recognize the 7th Street Garden name from a Before-After feature we did on the gardens a few years ago.

Pictured here is Pertula George, CGCF Executive Director, chatting with Prince Charles near the compost bins, followed by a gaggle of press and security. More photos are posted from today's visit at Washington Gardener Magazine's Facebook page.

Monday, May 02, 2011

What is the best-smelling plant growing in your garden right now?

For our April 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener awarded passes to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ “Stickwork” Sculpture show by world-famous artist Patrick Dougherty.

From May 2 - 22, watch as artist-in-residence Patrick Dougherty builds a large-scale, temporary sculpture of woven sticks and saplings in the Anderson Meadow at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA. They are calling the process “Meadowmorphosis.” Dougherty arrives at the site of each new installation with no preconceptions as to what he will create. Using locally gathered natural materials and drawing on inspiration from the surrounding environment, he designs larger-than-life sculptures.

The contest two winners, chosen at random from among the contest entries, each receive a set of four passes (valued at $40). They are:
~ Ann Marie Moriarty
~ Tom Pluecker
Congratulations to Tom and Ann Marie!

Entrants were asked to tell us: "What is the best-smelling plant growing in your garden right now?"
Fragrant choices included:
~ Lemon Mint
~ Viburnum Carlesii
~ Daphne odora variegated (winter daphne)
So what is growing in YOUR garden now that is scent-sational?

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