Friday, June 28, 2013

Fenton Friday: Everybody is Getting Garlic for Christmas!

So I went a bit crazy last fall planting garlic in my garden plot at the Fenton Community Gardens.
It was just a few heads and I planted all their cloves. I had the space, so why not? Well, today I literally "reaped what I sowed."

I dug them all this evening between thunderstorms and washed them off. Then I spread them out on laundry racks in my sunroom to cure for a few days. They are so heavy that my racks are bowing under their collective weight.

I counted over 40 large heads and several more small ones that got lost in the shade of other plants and never fully developed. And when I saw "large" I mean almost fist-sized! Looking at last year's garlic harvest on this blog that I was so proud of, I have to laugh, though that is probably more the amount I'd actually use in a year.

So what am I going to do with all of these? I will enter a few in the county fair, a few of the good-sized ones I will save for planting this fall, some I'll use for making pesto and other recipes, but most will go as presents. I'm going to bundle them with a bottle of olive oil and a stoneware garlic grating dish. Several local potters are making them now and I haven't found anyone that does not love this as a gift. I buy them whenever I see them at local craft shows. Hmmm, maybe I should take up pottery next and make my own?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Win Passes to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA!

For our June 2013 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away 3 pairs of passes to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. Each set of two passes is a $22 value. The passes are good until June 30, 2014 and are good for one-time daily admission (including Butterflies LIVE!).
With something for all ages and interests, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden ( is a place to learn about plants, to marvel at nature, to relax in a beautiful setting, to take gardening classes, or to have a wedding or a business meeting. A wide variety of experiences are offered through its diverse gardens and facilities.

To enter to win one of the three pairs of passes, send an email with “LGinter2013” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on Sunday, June 30. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and tell us: What is Your Favorite Public Garden to Visit and Why. The pass winners will be announced and notified by July 2. Some of the entry responses may be used in future online or print articles.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Video Wednesday: Summer Flower Show at Phipps

This week's featured video is from my garden writer friend, Doug Oster of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Doug takes you on a tour of the Summer Flower Show in the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. This would be an easy day trip more most of us in the Mid-Atlantic and the glass art mixed in with the plantings looks stunning. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Garden Photo Show Reception THIS Sunday

You are invited to view the winning images of the 7th annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest at an art show at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. 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 photo show reception is Sunday, June 30 from 2:00-4:00pm at the Meadowlark Visitor Center's lobby. The opening reception is open to the public and is free to attend. You may also come by and view the photos any time during the normal Visitor Center hours (10am-8pm daily). The photo show runs through August 25.

The winning photos are also published in the Spring 2013 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.

Washington Gardener Magazine is already announcing a 8th 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.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens ( is a park of beauty, conservation, education and discovery. Throughout the year at this 95-acre complex are large ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections. Walking trails, lakes, more than 20 varieties of cherry trees, irises, peonies, an extensive shade garden, native wildflowers, gazebos, birds, butterflies, seasonal blooms and foliage create a sanctuary of beauty and nature. Meadowlark is part of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pet-Friendly Gardening in Washington Gardener Enews June 2013 issue

The Washington Gardener Enews ~ June 2013 issue is now sent to all current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers. It is also posted and archived online at:

~ Pet-Friendly Gardening -- Cats and Dogs Can Coexist with Your Gardens
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for June-July
~ Magazine Excerpt: Squash Growing and Fighting the Vine Borer
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for June-July
~ Reader Contest: Win Passes to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Canna ‘South Pacific Scarlet’ from seed
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more... 
You can access it as well as all of the other Washington Gardener Enews back issues online now and anytime in the future at

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rainy Day Garden Gazing

On a rainy Sunday like today where Mid-Atlantic gardeners are stuck inside, I wanted to point out that I have literally thousands of photos posted on the page of local private gardens, visits to public gardens, and from garden-related events in the area. Today is a great day to sit and scroll through them for inspiration and ideas.

The photo above is from a trip to the Winterthur in Delaware that I made with fellow garden writers/bloggers this past week. I'll be adding photo albums from Nemours, the Morris Arboretum, and Mrs. Hamilton's private state over the next few days.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Fenton Friday: Garden Apprentice

This week at my plot in the Fenton Community Gardens I had a helper! Alex Getachew is a student at the Montgomery College campus down the street and asked if he could join me in the garden to learn some new skills.

We tackled a few chores including pulling out the spent sugarsnap pea vines and re-wood chipping the central path in the plot since most of that washed away in last week's torrential rains.

Then we weeding out many basil and cosmos seedlings and planted the Cucumber 'Marketmore' seeds I got from Botanical Interests.

The strawberries have stopped producing any fruit so we thinned out the runners. I left a few in my plot and cut the rest that had started to root and brought them home to pot up. They look a bit sad right now. Will see if they recover as I'd like to donate them to a school food garden.

Alex went home with a bag of lettuce and lots of sweet, tender basil. He reports that he made a great pesto with the latter. I hope to do the same with my basil and also with a batch of garlic scapes I cut earlier in the week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Video Wednesday: Spring 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine

Spring 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine

Here is our new issue video -- just 30 seconds of fun. Be sure to select the high-resolution (360p) to watch it full-screen.

The Spring 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine issue is now out. The cover story is on creating Great Garden Soil in 7 easy steps. You’ll also find in this issue the 2013 Photo Contest Winners and much, much more...

To subscribe, send a check for $20.00 payable to Washington Gardener Magazine today to:
Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910
or go to

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spring 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Now Out!

Our Spring 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine issue is now out. The cover story is on creating Great Garden Soil in 7 easy steps.

You’ll also find in this issue:
• Squash Growing Tips
• Plant Profile of Asters
• 2013 Photo Contest Winners
• Eastern Hemlocks Threatened
• Never Let Weeds Go to Seed
• A DayTrip to 11 Smithsonian Gardens 
• Avoiding Crape Murder
• Duo of Native Azaleas
• Lovely Native Carolina Spiderlily
• And much, much more...

To subscribe, send a check for $20.00 payable to Washington GardenerMagazine today to:    
                    Washington Gardener
                    826 Philadelphia Ave.
                    Silver Spring, MD 20910  
or go to and use our PayPal credit card link.


New issue out!

The SPRING 2013 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is being printed and mailed this week to all Washington Gardener subscribers.

The June 2013 issue of the Washington Gardener Enewsletter will be posted in the next few days. Look in that for our monthly event calendar, local garden to-do list, a feature story on Pet-Friendly Gardening, and much more.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Passionate Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

It is the 15th of the month, which means Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day again. To view links to other garden bloggers' blooms around the world to see what it blooming in their gardens and to read their collective comments, go to

This month the garden seems alive with passionate hot pinks and reds. I'm not a big fan of red in the garden, but somehow it was found a niche in mine. Here is a small selection of what is blooming in my garden on the Washington, DC/Silver Spring, MD border -- solid USDA zone 7.

a trial plant from Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. Echinacea 'Supreme Elegance'
Cityline Hydrangea 'Berlin'
Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)
Daylily 'Earlybird Cardinal'

So what is blooming in YOUR garden this month?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fenton Friday: Water-Logged

So I thought LAST week at the Fenton Community Gardens we were soggy! This week, we got at least another 6 inches dumped on our gardens and the weeds sure are happy about it! I did manage to get a little gardening in between rains.

My sugarsnap peas and strawberries are starting to peter out now. Still getting bags full of lettuce and the carrots are almost ready to dig.

How is your garden growing?

Fresh strawberries on chocolate cake
first baby carrot of the season
okra seedlings finally up!

purple bush beans flowering
SunSugar tomatoes forming

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Video Wednesday: Dumbarton Oaks Sparkles

Cloud Terrace is a new contemporary art installation in the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. I visited a few weeks ago with the Garden Writers Association regional meeting that met in Washington, DC.

Cloud Terrace takes the form of a hand-sculpted wire mesh cloud suspended over the Arbor Terrace and embellished with 10,000 Swarovski elements water-drop crystals mirrored in a reflecting pool.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Fenton Friday: Tropical Rains

This year brought in cooler temps and much needed rain at the start of the week and again to close out the work week with the edge of a tropical storm going past the Mid-Atlantic. The rain is definitely welcome after last week's soaring temps and many trips to hand-water my garden plot at the Fenton Community Gardens. Every day I have picked a pint of strawberries and another one of sugarsnap peas. The lettuce I cut before has all rebounded and I'm having a tough time keeping up with it. I also went urban foraging and collected a pint of serviceberries. With all this bounty, I'm now exploring ways to freeze and preserve my excess -- a "problem" I have not really had before.

The new/replacement Okra seeds are in, but everything else has to wait until the rains stop and the plot dries out a bit. I tied up my tomato seedlings and made sure they were all labeled.

How is your edible garden growing?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Favorite Local Garden Centers in DC-MD-VA

For our May 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we asked our readers, "What Local Nursery/Garden Center You Shop at the Most and Why?"

Here are a selection of the responses:

Douglas Reimel wrote, "I probably used to shop the most at Behnke's because of the superior quality of plants and materials, but I just moved to Clarksburg and now have the "Germantown" Meadows Farms about one mile away, and they seem to have a reasonable selection (stuff everyone has) and similar pricing....  I also shop at Johnson's occasionally, so really I don't have one predominant nursery anymore....I shop around."

Melissa Merideth said, "My Favorite local nursery/garden center is Behnke's in Beltsville (also like River Road store). Why? Beautiful selection of plants and knowledgable staff always available!"

Katika Floyd shared, "I shop most frequently at Holly Woods and Vine in Alexandria, VA, because I like their selection and most importantly it is on the way to my community garden plot."

Wendy Bruno said, "I shop at Behnkes in Beltsville, MD, for best selection and prices as I have 
for 30-40 years. For mulch I go to Country prices, most convenient, and they 
load it."

Eric Kaika said: "I shop at 2 places the most: Patuxent Nursery and Homestead Gardens. Not only are they conveniently located near me, but they have the largest selection of plants, amendments, and knowledgable staff. I always enjoy going to both places, even if its just to window shop."

Justin & Meridith Mackay-Smith shared, "I shop at Horton's in Winchester, VA. It is very close to me, but they also have an amazing selection of plants and garden tools, decorations, soil amendments, and other landscaping supplies.  It is also just a very pleasant building to visit and the staff and owners are helpful,pleasant and knowledgeable. On top of it all, it's a locally owned business. What more could you ask?"

George Graine wrote: "The local garden center I like to shop at is Betty's Azalea Ranch.  This is really a misnomer, but probably carried over from earlier days. They have a tremendous selection of plants that are well cared for, knowledgeable and pleasant staff that go out of their way to help you, and make suggestions for alternatives as appropriate.  AND TOO, the price and quality of plants cannot be beat."

Stephanie Richard said, "I frequent a number of garden stores, but I go to Johnsons in Olney, MD, most since they are convenient." 

Rena Munster said, "Old City Green [in WDC] is my go-to gardening shop. This is a great neighborhood gem. I like supporting small business like this that also give back to the community."

Katie Rapp said, "I shop most often at Potomac Garden Center only because it is literally walking distance from my house. The garden center I love the most is Thanksgiving Farm out in Frederick County. It's worth the drive."

Michael Koller list her favorite Nursery/Garden Centers as: "The Home Depot, D.R. Snells, Stadler’s, and Meadows (GT)."

Suzette Agans said, "I shop most frequently at Behnkes in Beltsville because they have a good variety of plants, including native shady plants, and other garden goodies, also love the classes. Frequent sales, excellent service (love the pay for the mulch, soil etc. inside) and these nice young men, put it all into my car trunk.  I shop at least twice a month spring and fall."

Dorothy Wells wrote, "I love Sun Nurseries at 14790 Bushy Park Rd, Woodbine, MD 21797. I live in WV, but travel to Baltimore frequently. Every opportunity I can, I stop at this nursery which is right off Rt 70 in between my home and Baltimore. They have a huge selection of perennials, woody shrubs, and trees. I think they charge competitive prices. Their knowledgeable staff is always friendly and able to answer my questions, although most times I am self-serve. There are good signs explaining each plant and the nursery is laid out well so it is easy to find what I am looking for. I have bought many healthy shrubs and trees from Sun Nurseries and intend to buy many more."

Did your favorite DC-MD-VA local garden center not get mentioned? Let us know in the comments section below.

Congratulations to the following contest winners selected at random from among the submitted responses:  
Peggy Cairns, Silver Spring, MD
George Graine, Falls Church, VA 
Eric Kaika, Kettering, MD
Melissa Merideth, Bethesda, MD 
Dorothy Wells, Kearneysville WV
   They each win two passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit (each set has two passes and is a $12 value).
   Running daily through mid-September, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, Brookside Gardens South Conservatory features live butterflies. Come witness the butterfly life cycle as tiny eggs hatch into crawling, chewing caterpillars, which then encase themselves in jewel-like chrysalides and emerge as sipping, flying adult butterflies. Learn about the best annual and tropical plants, and hardy shrubs that are used as nectar sources to attract butterflies to your own garden.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Video Wednesday: Urban Foraging for Serviceberries and Mulberries

Early June is Urban Foraging time for Serviceberries and Mulberries here in the Mid-Atlantic! I hope you enjoy my two-minute video and that it inspires you to go out to do some foraging of your own.

I originally posted this video directly to this blog in early June 2011, but many of you were unable to view it. It is now up on the Washington Gardener Magazine Youtube channel for ease of viewing and sharing:

Read more about both berries at this Washington Gardener Magazine blog entry:

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Astilbe: You Can Grow That!

Astilbe (False Spirea) is a perennial for that wet, shade spot in your garden. Feather-y blooms atop fern-like foliage give this plant a graceful appearance. It can take some sun, but will burn in hot afternoon summer sun.

It is deer-resistant and tolerates clay soils well. Use mid-border in a mixed garden bed or in a container as the central feature. It spreads slowly and is fairly easy to divide. It is generally hardy down to Zone 4.

Astilbe is often seen in white hues, but also check out the different colors offered in the Astilbe chinensis 'Visions' collection -- from dark red to pink-purple.

I inter-plant mine with early-spring bulbs such as 'Thalia' daffodils so that the emerging Astilbe foliage in mid-spring covers the bulbs as they die-back. Also, I leave the flower heads to dry on the plant as remain attractive for many months. You can cut them back in winter when they start to look ratty.

Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That! Day was started by C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening because she believes “Gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do.…We need to thoroughly saturate people with the belief that plants and gardening are worth doing because of the benefits gained.” Garden bloggers who agree post about something worth growing on the fourth day of every month. Read this month’s You Can Grow That! posts or stop by the You Can Grow That! Facebook page to read all of the posts.

Monday, June 03, 2013

6th Annual DC Plant Swap on Saturday, June 15

6th Annual DC Plant Swap Details
hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine

What: A Plant Swap -- bring and receive free plants to expand your garden

Why: Free Plants! Last chance to do so before the season heats up.

Date: Saturday, June 15

Time: starting at 11am bring your plants for sorting by category (shade perennial, groundcover, herb, etc.) -- swap starts promptly at 11:30am -- do not be late (the swap goes fast and can be over in a matter of minutes!) - after swapping, we can socialize, snack, buy farmer's market goodies, and trade more info on the plants we brought - we plan to conclude and be cleaned up by 12:00noon. so you will have the rest of the day to plant and enjoy your Saturday.

Place: H Street Farmers Market at H & 13th NE -- near Union Station
(The market runs from 9am-12n -- NOTE NEW LOCATION!!! The market is no longer at 8th Street!)

Who: anyone is welcome as are any of your friends, relatives, or neighbors -- it is FREE -- feel free to forward on this invitation

How: be prepared to BRIEFLY introduce yourself and describe your plant swap offerings

~ a name tag - home-made or from work or school -- whatever works
~ pen and paper - you will want to take lots of notes as folks describe the plants and their growing conditions
~ plants to swap - pot them up NOW -- the longer they can get settled in their pots, the better their chance of success and survival - (no plants to share? see note below)
~ labels - fully label all your swap plants with as much info as you have - optimally that will include: common and scientific name, amount of sun needed, amount of water needed, any other special care notes, and color of the blooms (if it is not currently in flower)
What NOT to bring: common orange daylilies* and any invasive species - use this list to screen your plant offerings
*Hybrid daylilies are fine and totally welcome, but the common orange ones (aka "Ditch Lilies") usually end up with no takers and we end up having to throw them into compost.

What if you do not have plants to swap? Come anyway! Bring refreshments like cold drinks and yummy finger foods to share with the other swappers:-) Be sure to also bring cups, napkins, utensils, serving spoons, etc., if your food item requires those for consuming it.

A BIG thanks to FreshFarm Markets for hosting us and giving us the space to do this. Don't forget to shop at the market before the swap!

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