Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video Wednesday: Late Winter Blooms

This jazzy video from Meadows Farms garden centers youtube collection is a good round-up of what is blooming in late winter/early spring here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winter - Early Spring 2012 Issue Now Out

The Winter 2011- Early Spring 2012 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is printed and mailed. Current subscribers should have it in their mail boxes shortly (if not arrived already.)

In this issue:
~ All About Local Green Roofs and Walls
~ Top 10 Plants for 2012
~ Visiting Baltimore's Rawlings Conservatory
~ Growing Radiant Radishes
~ A Prison Yard Transformed
~ A Glossary of Garden Terms
~ Heavenly Heaths and Heathers
~ Hurray for Native Hepaticas
~ The Secret to a Weed-Free Garden
~ A New Invasive Insect Pest
~ Best Berry Varieties for our Region
~ and much, much more

To subscribe for the full year for $20 starting with this issue, do so by March 15. You can buy the individual from us by sending a check for $5 postage included. Send a check to "Washington Gardener" to Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910. You can also subscribe online via PayPal using this link.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Win Tickets to Orchids Galore! at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

For our February 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away two sets of four passes each to Orchids Galore! at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA. Orchids Galore! runs from March 10 - April 22.

Hundreds of orchids will dazzle the senses with color, fragrance and beauty throughout the Garden’s Conservatory. Discover how orchids traveled from native habitats to become a popular fixture in many homes, including tales of plant explorers who traveled far and wide to collect these enchanting plants. Learn about current issues related to conservation and saving wild orchids threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and over-collection.

To enter to win one of the four sets of two passes (valued at $40), send an email to by 5:00pm on February 29 with “Orchids Galore” in the subject line and tell us: what is your favorite orchid. In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced and notified by March 2.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Video Wednesday: The Story of the Green Zebra Tomato

Barbara Melera of D Landreth Seed Company shares the story of the Green Zebra tomato during her recent talk at the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Early Season Bloomers for the Mid-Atlantic ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ February 2012

Washington Gardener Enews ~ February 2012


~ Early Season Bloomers for the Mid-Atlantic

~ Magazine Excerpt: Radiant Radishes

~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show Tour Details

~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for February-March

~ Reader Contest: Win passes to Lewis Ginter's Orchid Show

~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights

~ Spotlights Special: Columnar Fruit Trees

~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for February-March

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!

and much more...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

 In bloom February 14, 2012m in my garden on the Washington, DC/Silver Spring, MD border -- zone 7A (was 6B) :



'February Gold' Daffodils


Not pictured: Pansies, Hellebores, Primroses, and Winter Jasmine.
So what is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Video Wednesday: Florist Behind-the-Scenes on Valentine's Eve

Thought you all would enjoy this one-minute video of a long-time, local florist business. I took this footage the day before Valentine's to go with this story I wrote from the Silver Spring Patch that is posted here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bring Your Valentine and Join Us at the Philadelphia Flower Show!

Washington Gardener Magazine is once again taking local DC-MD-VA gardeners up to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. What sets this tour apart from all the others? 8 Great Reasons!

1. We feed you! That's right, lunch is included on the way up as well as a hearty snack on the way back in case you were too busy flower-gazing at the show to stop and eat before the return trip.

2. We entertain you! We'll have garden-related DVDs to view, flower trivia contests, prizes for bests (dressed, on time, etc.), and just plain silly games for your day off work.

3. We'll hold a lively show preview talk! I will be at the show on Saturday for the press preview and get a behind-the-scenes tour with the show management. We'll pass on any tidbits we learn to you.

4. We are going up later and arriving later then all the other crack-of-dawn folks! That means you'll hit the exhibit hall when it is at its least crowded and have some time to sleep in on the morning of your day off.

5. We take care of the details! We'll be your acting "den mother" for the day and you can just concern yourself with all the great things you will see. You can leave the driving, directions, and parking hassles to our coach transport. We also provide you with a packet of show information so you can arrive ready to hit the Flower Show running.

6. We leave from a convenient location! Downtown Silver Spring's Starbucks on Ellsworth Drive is our start and stop point so you can take the metro, train, or metrobus to Silver Spring metro or have a friend drop you off or drive yourself and park in the many downtown parking garages surrounding Ellsworth Drive for the day. Many who live in the Silver Spring/Takoma Park/NW DC area can just walk or bike on over.

7. We let you pick your seat-mate! Yes, no worry of being stuck with some weird-o on the Greyhound or of getting separated from your friend. If you are traveling with someone and want to sit together, just let us know and we'll place you together in our handy seating chart.

8. We set a great price! Whether you go by train or drive yourself - by the time you add up all the costs (gas, toll, parking, meals, etc.) and the price of the show ticket, you'll see we are a terrific bargain. Not only that, but we are giving Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers $5 off our fee. And yes, you can sign up for the trip and subscribe to the magazine at the same time to get the discount.

Complete registration information and form can be downloaded here. Register soon as we are over half-full at this point and expect a sell-out.
PS If that date, time, or location of this trip, does not work for you, we have a second tour on Tuesday, March 6 leaving earlier in the day from Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. Full details here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

RootingDC Roster of Stellar Presenters

RootingDC is a FREE Urban Gardening Forum held annually in February. This year it is on Saturday, February 18th at Coolidge High School in the Takoma neighborhood of WDC. Pre-registration is open now and you are urged to sign-up now to save your spot. (There are 500 openings and we are already over 300 attendees.)

Presenters this year include:
~ The Keynote Address: Why Gardening is Essential to a Sustainable DC by Brendan Shane – District Department of the Environment
~ Ethnic Foods in Washington, DC: The impact on immigrant and indigenous Populations byYao Afantchao – UDC Extension Educator
~ Getting Dirty: Soil Basics by Maureen Moodie – Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
~ Backyard wildlife gardening in the District: Attracting pollinators with native (and edible) plants by Julie Dieguez – Audubon MD/DC and Damien Ossi – District Department of the Environment
~ DC Area Historic Heirlooms: Growing and Eating and Healing With History by Michael Twitty –
~ Canning for Beginners by Bradley Kennedy
And many more! Read the whole schedule at
Eagle-eyed readers will also see that I'm speaking on: The Best Fruit Trees for the Mid-Atlantic Climate and Small-Space Gardens. This session was standing-room-only when I gave it at a DC library last fall with many requesting a repeat, so I anticipate a full room again. Be sure to also stop by and say, "Hi" at the Washington Gardener Magazine table in the information area.
I hope to see you there! And don’t forget to donate now to support the RootingDC forum! Donations are fully tax-deductible.

Friday, February 10, 2012

MoCo Home Show This Weekend

Washington Gardener Magazine will be at the Montgomery County Community Home Show this weekend (Feb 11-12) in Shady Grove/Rockville, MD. I hope to see you there!

Here is a $1 off the entry free coupon you can print and use:

General show information on the event can be found at:

The event is aimed at home owners looked to remodel or improve their homes and yards. It is all indoors and features some home-improvement celebrity speakers from HGTV, so you may want to plan your visit around the talks you want to attend.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Video Wednesday: Ira Wallace on Squash Seed Saving

An excerpt from the Seed Saving From Squash and Peppers talk. Presented by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange at the Saturday, January 28, 2012, Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Seed Exchange Recollection

Guest Post by Kristen Menichelli

I just wanted to send you a quick email to say THANK YOU for once again hosting the seed exchange this year, and to tell you how much I value it. In my day job, I work for a children's theatre in production so I don't see the sun a lot. Gardening for me started 3 years ago when I moved from an apartment to a small rowhouse in N.E. D.C., and became quickly obsessed with growing anything edible in my (still urban) backyard. Of course, being in my early twenties, I also became quickly obsessed with learning everything about my new hobby from books, internet forums, and listservs.

One of my early discoveries was your magazine and subsequent blog and listserv. Both have provided such clear and useful information that I knew I had to go to the seed exchange last year. My experience was so fantastic then that this year I returned, bringing 5 of my friends with me! I found the experience once again to be rewarding both mentally and in more physical seeds. While I would have preferred a more practical "Fundamentals of tomato growing in our region" type of workshop, the heirloom tomato talk was still inspiring and entertaining, especially the questions at the end and the blight prevention tips. The same goes for Linna's class. Some great overall tips and tricks I hadn't considered before. As usual, the swap was a ton of fun! I got many of the seeds I was hoping to find, and ended up doing mini-swaps after with many people who wanted those artichoke seeds! I even won that last container of critter-ridder type stuff and swapped it with the woman who had won the book on vegetable garden problems, since she has more pests of that nature, and I can always use a new helpful book!

While I always enjoy the swap, it was fun for me as well to watch my friends enjoy it too! One was there to get seeds for her school garden - she works teaching gardening to kids after school but she has such a limited budget that she has to make every purchase count. She was delighted to get so many seeds that her kids wanted to grow for such a great "price", plus enjoy the day as well! I have to say my favorite comments though were from one of my friends who said "I sort of knew what this was, and I was excited for it, but I didn't know how much FUN it would be!".

Thanks again for all your hard work in making this event happen two weekends in a row! One last tidbit - I counted up the retail cost of the seeds I got and between the goody bag and the few I picked up, it was $72!! Not to mention the classes, the materials and magazines in the goody bag, and an overall lovely day and I'd say this is easily one of my favorite events all year.

Kristen Menichelli is also a Independent Beauty Consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Shop online with me here at

Monday, February 06, 2012

National Ag Library Tour Invitation

Washington Gardener Magazine is hosting a tour day of the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD, for local garden clubs and select guests on Sunday, February 26 from 1-4pm. The National Agricultural Library is normally open to the public only during regular business hours, so this is a special opportunity for those who work full-time or those who are not in the DC area to travel to town for it. The tour will include a behind-the-scenes look at the library’s special collections. From actual specimens brought back by USDA explorers to vintage seed catalogs, this library is a treasure-trove of garden history and research. If any local gardeners would like to attend this event, they should RSVP with their full names Kathy Jentz at before Friday, February 24. Note that the NAL is a Federal property therefore a photo ID and advance registration is required.

I have gotten a few inquiries asking why visit the National Agricultural Library and what is so special about it? I think the easiest way to explain it is to share with you an excerpt from the DayTrip column we published about the collection in our Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine:

Treasures Await

Inside the NAL is a vast collection of resources that are unavailable online. Much of this collection is not readily available from other sources. Some of it is one-of-a-kind and only resides at the NAL. The NAL staff is just at the beginning of a decades-long project to get many of these rare items on the web. It is a painstaking endeavour and federal funding for the undertaking is in short supply. “For over a decade, the NAL has suffered from benign neglect when it comes to federal budget appropriations,” observes John Peter Thompson, president of the National Agricultural Research Alliance — Beltsville. “Without national stakeholders applying pressure for new money, the library has been unable to secure necessary funding. Write or call your Congressmen and send a copy of the letter to the Secretary of Agriculture to urge them to address the inadequate budget appropriations.”

We are indeed fortunate to have this wonderful resource in our own backyard, so to speak, and easily accessible to DC-area residents. While we may think today we can look up anything on Google, it is simply not true. The vast majority of plant research and records is not available anywhere on the Web. A trip to the NAL is well worth your time to get a close look at just a fraction of what research is actually out there in the horticultural world.

Here are just a few of the exclusive NAL collections you can visit in person:

• Over 200,000 nursery and seed catalogs — old and new.

• Tens of thousands of photographs of plants and gardens around the world — some taken by plant explorers along with detailed notations in their travel journals.

• J. Horace McFarland collection of photos and negatives of gardens and plants which includes original art for horticultural books and nursery catalogs his printing company produced.

• Research records of the US National Arboretum; lots of history of those gardens.

• Botanic Garden Photograph Collection; mainly US sites, but some international.

• A full set of the Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

• 15,000 rare books — probably two-thirds of which are on plant sciences.

• Herbals -- quite old and fragile, but useful today for identifying medicinal plants.

• A comprehensive collection of bulletins published by USDA.

• Over 7,000 watercolors of fruits and nuts with a few vegetables in the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection — 1880s to 1914. (Pomology is the science of fruit breeding and production. Did you know that where the Capital Beltway (I-495) cuts through College Park and Beltsville was a vast USDA fruit research orchard, which has now moved to near Kearneysville, WV?)

Established by Lincoln

The library’s 15-story Abraham Lincoln Building is named in honor of the president who created the Department of Agriculture and signed many of the major US laws affecting agriculture. Lincoln’s background as a pioneer farmer on what was then the western frontier and his years as a country lawyer made him a representative of the frontier, the farmer, and small town democracy.

He had a desire to see agricultural research given a central role and greater investment by the government so that farmers using their own labor or hiring labor (i.e., free men) could grow food and produce related goods profitably. He urged more efficient and intensive cultivation in order to increase production to the full capacity of the soil.

NAL was created with the USDA in 1862, and established as a national library by the Congress to be the primary agricultural information resource of the United States. Congress assigned to the library the responsibilities to:

• Acquire, preserve, and manage information resources related to agriculture and allied sciences;

• Organize agricultural information products and services, and provide them within the United States and internationally;

• Plan, coordinate, and evaluate information and library needs related to agricultural research and education;

• Cooperate with and coordinate efforts toward development of a comprehensive agricultural library and information network;

• Coordinate the development of specialized subject information services among the agricultural and library information communities.

NAL is the only library in the United States with the mandate to carry out these national and international responsibilities for the agricultural community.

Scope of NAL Collections

The NAL collections contain nearly 3.6 million items covering all aspects of agriculture and related sciences, and are a comprehensive resource for agricultural scientists, policy makers, regulators, and scholars. The origins of the library’s collections date to the congressionally approved 1839 purchase of books for the Agricultural Division of the Patent Office, predating the 1862 establishment of the USDA itself. The collections date from the 16th century to the present, including the most complete repository of U.S. Department of Agriculture publications and the most extensive set of materials anywhere on the history of agriculture in the United States.

Currently, the NAL initiates and coordinates these exchanges with over 5,000 partners from 106 countries worldwide, accounting for about 70% of all periodicals currently received.

Additional Offerings

In addition to the fabulous botanical treasures in its special collections (only some of which are viewable online at the National Agricultural Library has a treasure-trove of horticultural publications in its collections, which can be borrowed through your local public library or Land Grant University Library (

The Library’s Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) ( carries a lot of specialized information on horticulture and on organic agriculture. Mary Gold of AFSIC is one of the Master Gardeners in the library and is happy to assist in answering your questions. The NAL employs about 165 librarians, information specialists, computer specialists, administrators, and clerical personnel, supplemented by about 80 contract staff, cooperators from NAL partnering organizations, and volunteers.

The NAL also operates the National Invasive Species Information Center (, which is an excellent gateway to invasive species information; covering Federal, State, local, and international sources.

So that gives you a little taste of what you'll discover on our three-hour-tour of the National Agricultural Library. I hope you can join us and please do RSVP soon as spaces will fill fast.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Seed Exchange VA Update: Yes, you CAN Register On-Site

We still have some spaces left, so you may register on-site at the Washington Gardener Magazine 2012 Seed Exchange on Saturday, February 4 12:30-4pm at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA.

On-site registration opens at 12:00noon and is on first-come basis until we fill all the seats. The program begins promptly at 12:30pm.

We recommend that you print out the registration form and fill it in and bring it along with a check made out to "Washington Gardener" in order to speed things up and keep the registration line moving quickly.

For the registration form and event details go here. To read about the speaker program, go here. To prepare your seeds and yourself for the swap, go here.
And yes, you can attend and participate, even if you have no seeds to swap. We always have plenty of extra to share with new and beginning seed starters!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Video Wednesday: Seed Starting Tips from Jon Traunfeld of UMD HGIC

An excerpt from the "Seed Starting Tips and Techniques for Hardening Transplants: Common challenges of starting from seed and how to overcome them" talk. Presented by Jon Traunfeld from the University of Maryland Extension Service at the Saturday, January 28, 2012, Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.

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