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.

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