Saturday, March 31, 2012

See Me Today at the Forklift!

Join Community Forklift in Edmonston, MD, (DC area's thrift store for building materials) to celebrate spring at their Annual Garden Party and Spring Sale, its official kick-off for the spring home and garden season!

They’ll have lots of low-cost used & new lawn & garden tools & supplies for sale while supplies last! Arrive early for the best selection. The party includes a DJ, live music, 2 free gardening workshops, a free seed give-away, costume contest (for people and dogs!), and much more! The party runs all day from 9am to 6pm, see schedule below for more details. Hope to see you there!

Door Prizes: 10 AM – 5 PM

Free Workshop: 10:30am - Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring's Growing Season, by Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine

Lemonade Lunchtime Potluck: Noon – 3 PM - Bring a dish to share! Or, buy fresh-grilled hot dogs & burgers (both meat & veggie options) to support CF!

DJ One Heart Muzik: Afternoon - DJ One Heart Muzik will play your favorite tunes
Live Music

Michael Sevener will be playing his guitar and harmonica starting at 2pm

At 4pm, the M.R. Jam Band will be playing "geriatric hippie rock and roll!"
Juggling Lessons: Two Afternoon Sessions (weather-dependent) - Local juggler and artisan “Deciduous Dave” will be teaching basic juggling!
FREE Seeds & Planting Advice: 2 PM – 5 PM - The Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI) will be distributing vegetable & flower seed packets courtesy of America the Beautiful Fund
Free Workshop: 5pm - Free Urban Orchards from Casey Trees by Josh Singer, Casey Trees

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fenton Friday: Early Potatoes

This week we had a bit of a cold and very windy spell so I have not been over much to my garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden. Yesterday I found German Butterball seed potatoes I had stored away and most of the had sprouted (see photo). I figure I have nothing to lose so I went ahead and planted them in two rows today. This is a much earlier potato planting than I did last year so I hope to avoid the pest problems I experienced last summer. Next week, I'm planning on starting several rows of edibles (radish, carrots, lettuce, etc.) by direct-sowing that is IF the weather cooperates.

Odes to Our Favorite Native Plants

For our March 2012 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine asked readers to submit emails naming their favorite native plants in a drawing for six Trillium cuneatum plants from Sunshine Farm & Gardens (
We have chosen our winner at random from among the many contest entries and she is: Katie Dott of Towson, MD.

Congratulations, Katie! The six Trillium plants are on their way to you shortly. Despite their exotic, magical, mystical appearance, most Trilliums are quite easy to grow and Trillium cuneatum is no exception. Trillium cuneatum is native to 11 Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. Here’s a plant that you will instantly fall in love with as its deep burgundy flowers bloom for an extremely long period of time in early to mid Spring. With the most exciting marbled foliage and with no two plants alike, their silvery leaves electrically light up even the shadiest of gardens.
Sunshine Farm & Gardens is the brainchild of Barry Glick. In the past 32 years they’ve managed to amass a diverse collection of well over 10,000 different, hardy to zone 5 perennials, bulbs, trees, and shrubs from every corner of the Earth on their 60-acre mountain top at 3,000 feet in beautiful Greenbrier County WV.

Favorite native plant choices singled out by our contest entrants included: Coneflower, Dogwood, Trilliums, Bottlebrush Buckeye, Serviceberry, Virginia Bluebell, Bloodroot, Paw Paw, Bee Balm, May Apples, Twinleaf, Franklinia tree, Baptisia, Virginia Sweetspire, and Mahogany Fawn Lily (Erythronium revolutum).
Three of our entrants decided to go beyond just naming the plant and giving a quick reason. They wrote wonderful odes to their favorite natives, so I decided to share them below:

I would be a cupplant if I were a native plant in this region.

I have had cupplants growing in my back garden for about 9 years now, they are floppy, sloppy and a bit shabby sometimes but they are the most generous of all plants in the garden. They bloom from July through the first frost and many different pollinators frequent them. Unlike other plants in my yard which seem to be favored by one pollinator or another, one type of bee or another type of fly. I love when goldfinches visit the blooms and then fly off as I come into my driveway, it looks like a chunk of the yellow flowers with dark brown stems has broken off and flown up to perch on the telephone wire. Many birds come to my yard to eat the seeds.

But my favorite feature of the plant is the little cups of water at the stem of each leaf. A huge diverse community of beings depend on those little water sources, as far as I can tell. Dozens of different types of insects and a few birds visit my stand of cupplants and drink from those tiny reservoirs, especially during the height of a DC August. One year, an enormous emerald green June bug took up residence and, like a mini Mussilini it took over. It would do a large circle around the whole stand of 25 plants at head level a few times a day, patrolling way out over my neighbor's trashcans and back over a chunk of my driveway. Big and beautiful, it was a thug. It would challenge all the larger things that approached the stand, including me, and, when not busy being a bullying pest, would sit on a favorite leaf with its head in one of the cups. Then, suddenly, one day, it was gone. Maybe it took on something more of a thug than it was. I missed it.

Anyway, I love cupplant because it supports a huge community with divergent needs. A stand of cupplants is like a little green city, and being a city girl, I love that.

~ Ellen McBarnette of Washington, DC

My native plant is Amsonia hubrichtii. It has beautiful, fine texture and moves beautifully in the breeze. It's large enough to function as a shrub in the garden, but I don't have to worry about damage from shovelled snow piled on it, since it's a herbaceous perennial. The pale blue flowers aren't showstoppers, but on the plus side, they don't weigh down the plant and go with any other color. Its season to shine is the fall, when it turns bright gold. I've had people pull into my driveway and say, "What is that plant?" Like a peony, it's a large plant that takes a few seasons to hit its stride, but is well worth the wait. Mine is about 5-7 years old and is about 4' x 4'. It requires absolutely no attention from me during the summer--no deadheading, pruning, or pinching, and very little watering. I understand it can be cut down (in late spring, maybe?) so its ultimate height is shorter. I've never had any pest or disease problems with it. It looks stunning in big groups, and to my mind, is a great substitute if you've seen a few too many masses of grasses. It doesn't have the winter interest of a tall grass, however. It's one of my very favorite plants.

~ Lucy Goszkowski, Annapolis, MD

My native plant -- how to choose?

I would say Spigelia marilandica -- who can resist the ruby red and yellow throats of this thing that grows so beautifully without any hybrid machinations? Certainly not the hummingbirds.

Perhaps, no, I am Sanguinaria canadensis, one of the first woodland harbingers of spring. It's like our own personal variety of snowdrops -- yes, winter is coming to an end.

But, really, acknowledging that I like to have my toes in the sand during the summer, I'm really probably Asclepias tuberosa, with my tiny little orange lanterns lighting up the summer hours. And, I'm useful for helping people understand that yes, it's okay, and yes, it's desirable for larvae to eat your garden plants--especially it's monarch butterfly babies doing the munching.

But you know what? Maybe I'm overthinking my identity here; maybe herbaceous perennials are over-rated. Maybe I'm really more like Illicium floridanum -- I look like a rhododendron with my broad evergreen leaves, but rub me and I smell like a freshly made gin-and-tonic. Too bad my little white flowers aren't as nice-smelling; "fishy" doesn't sound like the best description.

I know! Rhapidophyllum hystrix! That's definitely me! I'm totally tropical, but I'm tough as nails -- you can find me growing strong even in Montreal winters. No, really. I'm not a palmetto, and I won't die off.

Perhaps I'm really the kind of person who is better suited for a longer-term relationship. I'll give you flowers and fruit, but only if the birds don't get it before you do. Amelanchier canadensis, that's me; I'm bigger and more beautiful than blueberries and just as tasty.

No. Bigger. I've got much more of a statement to make. I'm definitely Liriodendron tulipifera, towering tall and uninhibited over the forest, but still showering everyone below with my fantastical flowers. You'll definitely spot me growing ramrod straight even with plenty of neighbors around.

My native plant is anything that stops and makes me think, gives me an excuse to tell other people about it so they, too, can stop and think. We are absolutely stewards of the lands we inhabit, and though there is a place in the garden for the showy and exotic, far more things depend on our willingness to make way for the humble and local. I'm the spring ephemeral, the understory shrub, the open woodland canopy and the grasses and sedges in between. I'm a part of the natural world, and the natural world is part of me.

Happy Spring, Washington Gardener Magazine!

~ Michelle Donahue

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Video Wednesday: Box Turtles

I was asked to share this video and note to educate people about not taking in turtles from the wild:
Box turtles are emerging early because of this uncommonly mild winter, and we'd like to keep as many wild as possible, rather than having them picked up and turned into pets. Also, due to the unusually warm winter, many will be sick and in need of rehab care, since they've used up their fat reserves too soon.

If someone wants a box turtle as a pet, there are some that cannot go back to the wild and have already been pets on​watch?v=X_935eZl84k

I made the video and I'm giving permission to have it reposted whereever it can do some good.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Win 6 Trillium cuneatum Plants from Sunshine Farm & Gardens

For our March 2012 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away six Trillium cuneatum plants from Sunshine Farm & Gardens ( to one lucky winner chosen at random.

Despite their exotic, magical, mystical appearance, most Trilliums are quite easy to grow and Trillium cuneatum is no exception. Trillium cuneatum is native to 11 Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. Here’s a plant that you will instantly fall in love with as its deep burgundy flowers bloom for an extremely long period of time in early to mid Spring. With the most exciting marbled foliage and with no two plants alike, their silvery leaves electrically light up even the shadiest of gardens.

Sunshine Farm & Gardens is the brainchild of Barry Glick. In the past 32 years they’ve managed to amass a diverse collection of well over 10,000 different, hardy to zone 5 perennials, bulbs, trees, and shrubs from every corner of the Earth on their 60-acre mountain top at 3,000 feet in beautiful Greenbrier County WV.

To enter to win the 6 Trillium plants (valued at $50), send an email to by 5:00pm on March 29 with “Sunshine Trilliums” in the subject line and tell us: What is your native plant? In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced and notified by April 2.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Is Your Email Correct/Current in Our Subscriber Database?

If you are a current Washington Gardener Magazine subscriber and did NOT receive an email in the past few days with a PDF version of the Washington Gardener Enews March 2012 issue attached, that means we do not have a current/correct email address for you in our records. Please send an email with "Subscriber" in the subject line to and your name and address in the body of the email so that we may verify the subscription status and then update our records with your current email address.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Got a Gardening Question?

Got a gardening question you need answered?
Ask our KnowItAll columnist!
Send your questions to and please use the subject line “QandA.”
Please also include your first name, last initial, and what city and state you are writing from.
Then look for your answered questions in an upcoming issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Picture Sharing

'Thundercloud' Flowering Plum
Love looking at beautiful flowers, plants, and gardens? Have I got a treat for you! I take literally hundreds of photos when I got to visits in both public and private gardens, yet I can only use a select few in the magazine, enewsletter, and on this blog. I think that is a shame, as many of the photos I do not use are full of awesome planting ideas and combinations. So I post them in albums to the Washington Gardener Magazine's Facebook page at

Yes, you have to register and be a Facebook member to view them, but after testing out several photo-sharing sites and randomly polling fellow area gardeners, this is the easiest and most used service. It also allows you to share the albums and photos on your own Facebook page, "like" them, comment on them, and, if you see yourself in any of them, tag yourself.

Another way I'm sharing garden photos is on Pinterest. I'm there at (BTW, if you are not on Pinterest yet and need an invite, just give me a shout.) I have several boards there. One of them is just for favorite plants I've photographed growing in my own garden. Another is of Washington Gardener Magazine's covers. Not all the covers are up yet, but I'm slowly adding back issues as I can and I hope you will "pin" a few of your favorite issues to one of your own boards.

When you get a few minutes on a rainy day, I hope you'll stop by and visit the Facebook albums and Pinterest boards and share some of your own garden photos as well!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fenton Friday: Pea Crazy!

I'm back in plot #16 at the Fenton Street Community Garden. This is the start of the growing season as just had mulch delivery though our cistern is not filled with water yet. I spent a few days clearing off the straw, adding compost to my beds, and weeding. It is now pristine.

A few days ago, I put Sugarsnap Peas 'Sugar Ann' and another unknown variety in cups with water. I meant to do it only overnight, but my schedule got away from me and I did not get them planted until today. See the image here of the soaked peas starting to sprout.

I also pre-soaked a few varieties of Sweet Peas including an early multiflora mix and 'Black Knight' both from Landreth Seed Company and 'Blue Ripple' from Thompson & Morgan. I mixed all the sweet peas seeds in one cup together so I'd have a random color mix.

Then I lined up supports all along the length of a 18-ft long bed. I planted the sugar peas on the south-facing sides of the supports and the sweet peas on the north-facing sides. I'm not sure I did the correct thing with facing them that way, but we'll see how it goes. My hope is that one side will shade the other as they grow and I'll either have a bumper crop of edible sugarsnap peas or cut-flower sweet peas -- or, weather-permitting, both!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is it Time to Plant?

A few days ago, someone posted to a local garden discussion list ready to plant their tomatoes out now since it is so unseasonably warm out right now. Here was my reply:

According to a web chat with climate experts and phenologists* last week, while our winters are starting later and ending earlier, our last average frost dates are NOT moving. They have stayed consistent despite the other calendar date shifts. That means we have a longer growing season overall, but our summer annuals will still get zapped by late frosts if put out too early.

What you can do now is plant shrubs, trees, and perennials. You can divide and move established perennials. You can start seeds indoors for peppers, tomatoes, herbs, etc. You can plant cool-season annual flowers and vegetables out now including peas, alyssum, broccoli, radish, etc. You can clean-out and prep your garden beds. You can take soil tests and add amendments as needed.

There is no shortage of garden tasks to be done right now! Save your warm-season annual flowers and vegetables until all threat of frost has passed.

*Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Video Wednesday: A Visit to the National Agricultural Library

Last month, Washington Gardener Magazine hosted a special visit to the USDA's National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD. This video shares a few of the special collection highlights.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hardening Off Your Seedlings ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ March 2012

Washington Gardener Enews ~ March 2012


~ Hardening Off Your Seedlings

~ Magazine Excerpt: Heaths and Heathers

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

~ Reader Contest: Win Six Trillium cuneatum Plants from Sunshine Farm & Gardens

~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights

~ Spotlights Special: Native Baptisia Shorter Hybrid

~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for March-April

~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!

and much more...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Growing Fruit Trees in the Mid-Atlantic

I'll be talking about "Growing Fruit Trees in the Mid-Atlantic" at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA, on Saturday, March 17 at 10am. This is an expanded talk from what some of you may have seen at RootingDC or elsewhere.

To sign up, go here or just come a few minutes early and register on-site.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day BURSTING Forth

Wow, what a difference from last year's mid-March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in my Zone 7 DC/MD border garden. This year's mild winter and record high temps have sent shock-waves through my garden. It looks more like our usual mid-April right now. It might actually be easier to list what is NOT in bloom. Here are a few pics of what is in bloom now from my ornamental plum tree to my tiny scilla bulbs. Hope Mother Nature leaves me some blooms to carry on for the rest of spring...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Video Wednesday: Philadelphia Flower Show 2012

Experience the recent Philadelphia Flower Show 2012. First, dive in the ocean, then join a beach party, next design your own Hawaiian short, finally stroke an exotic bird.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Washington Home and Garden Show

Washington Gardener Magazine will be at booth #1421 at this weekend's Washington Home and Garden Show. The sho runs Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11 at the DC Convention Center.

See me, Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine's Editor at 6pm Friday and again 3pm on Saturday for "Urban and Small Space Gardening" talk on the main stage. Whether your yard is 10-acres in the suburbs or a postage-stamp sized in the city, you have the challenge of using your garden space and resources (time, energy, fund) as efficiently as possible. Learn tips and tricks for getting the most out of your space and thinking outside-the-box for creative solutions to common landscape challenges.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Video Wednesday: Seed Packet Decoding

Linna Ferguson of speaks about Seed Package Information at the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange 2012 in Fairfax County, VA.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lewis Ginter Orchid Show Winners

Our February 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest winners are:
~ Judy Thomas
~ Madeline Caliendo
~ Judith Daniel
~ Janet Benini

Janet said, "My favorite orchid is the purple paleopsis that I've had for 6 or 7 years. This year it has THREE spikes with a total of 16 blossoms (so far). It's in a window with a plant light above and a humidifier nearby and seems to be very happy!  Thanks for the great work you do. I always look forward to receiving my Washington Gardener."

Judy T. noted, "Naming my favorite orchid is like naming my favorite child, near impossible. But I will share an orchid that I find fascinating, that I have never seen except in photographs: the ugly, Warty Hammer Orchid: it has an impossibly cool pollen-delivery method. I learned about it though John Alcock's An Enthusiasm for Orchids' Sex and Deception in Plant Evolution 2006, Oxford University Press."

They each receive two passes (valued at $44) to Orchids Galore! at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA. Orchids Galore! running 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.

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