Saturday, November 30, 2013

Buy Local Special for Small Business Saturday

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm running this subscription special through December 5 in gratitude for all my online friends, followers, fans, and frequent commenters.

Print out the coupon above, fill it out and mail it in with your check/money order to get 10% off a year's subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine. It is a local garden magazine for the greater Washington, DC region. By local gardeners, for local gardeners. All about what grows in zones 6-7. Independent, woman-owned. It is also a certified Green Business.

Please tell all your local gardening friends to Buy Local this Small Business Saturday!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Garden Task Procrastination Epidemic

For our November 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we askedWhat Garden Task You Always Procrastinate On and Why?”

We received a tremendous response and I have grouped the dreaded chores below. It seems that no aspect of gardening is immune to being put off to another day. Even the most devoted gardeners I know seem to find one chore that they loathe and ignore from weeks on end. For me, it is cleaning out the beds in early spring. I think that it is more the cold than anything that makes me out it off.

We selected one of the submitted entries at random to the Washington Gardener Local Gardening Task Calendar. Each month includes a list of what to do in the garden for local DC-MD-VA and Mid-Atlantic gardeners, along with a gorgeous photo of a seasonal flower from a local DC-area public gardens’ collection. The calendar winner of our hot-off-the-press 2014 Local Gardening Task Calendar is Ellen McBarnette of Washington, DC. Congratulations, Ellen, we hope the task calendar hopes curb your procrastination in 2014!
If you did not win a calendar, you can order one for yourself and as gifts for your favorite local gardeners by going to: (Note that you can select the calendar to start with whatever month you choose.)

What Garden Task You Always Procrastinate On and Why:


UGH... pruning the three azaleas in front of my front bay window! Since these three rarely get to flower due to their being located outside my deer exclosure and therefore constantly de-budded, they do need to be trimmed back every year to keep the scraggly branches below the window area. So, constant, tight-space, maintenance, and NO FLOWERS!!!! (Thanks! Love the mag!)
~ Alison Regan

I procrastinate on pruning because I always forget when I'm supposed to prune the different types of bushes.
~ Mary Lane Renninger

The garden task I most procrastinate in doing is trimming the bigger bushes.  Of course, a good reason they are bigger is because I keep putting off the shaping and trimming.  But it’s so much work to do it right - clip, eyeball it, clip again.   The best ones are those that need minimal clipping, like the nandinas.  But those spireas are a challenge to keep in their space.  And in order to keep them blooming, I need to trim them 2 or 3 times/ season.  Ugh!
~ Alberta Mikulka


Another year has passed, and my resolution to eliminate the horrible oriental bittersweet in my woods is still unfulfilled. In the spring and fall, I am too busy planting, in the summer it is too hot and the ground too hard, and now it is too cold. I should knuckle under and hire someone!
~ Margaret Fisher

Weeding, because it's tedious work.
~ Sylvia Midgett


What I most procrastinate on: Planting! I buy plants at a sale because they’re cool and of course don’t have a clue where I’m going to put them. So they sit under the maple tree in the front yard until I figure it out. Also: spraying plants to keep the deer away. Just nasty!
~ Sherry Marshall

I always procrastinate on planting my bulbs in the fall. I keep thinking we'll get one more warmish day... and then I end up out there planting on a not-so-warm day.
~ Anastasia MacDonald

The task I procrastinate on the most is planting!  Sometimes I find something irresistible at the nursery, and buy it without a specific place in mind for it.  Things that I buy for a particular spot generally get planted promptly, but I suffer from terrible gardener's indecision for the others.  (The plants sometimes suffer too, as they wait and wait to get in the ground.)  This can get to be a sizeable problem, since I'm a sucker for anything new and different at the nursery.  This fall, I have an absolute goal:  My garden club is going on a great 4-day garden and nursery tour next spring, and I will not allow myself to sign up for it unless everything--everything--that's still in a pot has a home.   Because I'm bound to find a few more irresistible things on the trip.
~ Lucy Goszkowski

I always procrastinate planting fall bulbs. Why? First I want to make sure the ground is cold, and second, something in me is reluctant to give up on the chance that there will be more balmy days to come.
~ Anne Hardman

In my pursuit of the eternal summer and the warm season's harvest, I put off replacing my summer garden for my fall one til it's all too clear that if I wait any longer, it'll be too late to plant even that. Strange thing is: I enjoy my fall garden every bit as much as my summer one! 
~ Sue Gleason

I procrastinate on starting seedlings. I don't have much space for starting them in my house, and don't have any special lights set up.  This makes me think I shouldn't bother....and then in late March when you can smell the earth warming up the urge is too great, and I start a few seedlings, wishing I'd done so earlier.
~ Alexandria Lippincott


I shrink from the odious task of thinning my baby plants.  I know it needs to be done, but I feel just awful cutting their little heads off. After all, I brought them into this world. But then, .........I just shake it off and do the deed!
~ Arlene M.

Thinning seed babies because I want to try and save them and pot them separately to make more plants.
~ Nancy L. OConnor


Raking leaves is the task I procrastinate.   I claim I'm not procrastinating, that I am using the leaves to keep my garden from freezing.  
~ Annie Shaw

I leave fallen leaves everywhere -- flower beds, open spaces, driveways, anywhere they land. Why? Perhaps because I think they should stay there, right where nature put them. I'd mulch them but my mower's broken (this year's excuse). Usually I wait till I'm ashamed to have the neighborhood's messiest front yard. Maybe I'll leave the back yard leaves where they are this year. 
~ Carol Jaka

When you live in an old neighborhood with lots of trees, especially oaks, doing something with the leaves becomes almost a full time job. Raking, blowing, composting - whatever is your "pleasure."  In addition, the real procrastination comes from blowing leaves off an almost flat roof (tar and gravel).  You have to climb up a 20' ladder, haul up the blower and electric cord.  In addition to that you need one or two mulch bags to gather up all of the fallen branches from the trees. Then you have to blow out the leaves from the gutters and be careful that you don't clog up the downspouts. Of course then what do you do with the leaves that came off the roof. Using the word procrastination is a very mild way of putting this situation.
~ George Graine


About my yuckiest garden task…We have a terrible deer problem at my house.  Fencing the property is not an option because of its layout, so I have to use deer netting for those plants that really need protection – mostly azaleas, hydrangeas and mountain laurel. The job I procrastinate most on in my garden is checking and moving netting when a plant has grown through it. It has to be done three or four times a year, and for plants closest to the house I do pretty well. But the plants farther out in the garden get neglected, and then it takes a really long time to cut away the netting and put new netting up. I hate standing there and cutting for the long time that it takes to disentangle lots of new growth – aaargh!
~ Shirlie Pinkham


Turning the compost heap. Reason for procrastination: I find those great big grubs that live in there intimidating...
~ Ellen McBarnette


The task I often procrastinate about is clearing old desiccated plant material - particularly tomato vines - at the end of the season in my community garden plot.  I've even tried to excuse it by telling myself the old vines provide good bird habitat.
~ Linette Lander


I always procrastinate on edging my garden.  I see all the landscaper companies around making everything look "just so" and I think it is a matter of pride that my garden definitely has a home-done look, until I finally finish it off and clear the edges.  
~ Patty Friedman


I always seem to put off the garden pond maintenance for fall. After all, you have to wait until the lilies stop blooming, right? Then I find myself climbing into frigid cold water up to my unmentionables to pull up the lilies and prune them, then drop them back. While I'm in there I also prune the iris and any other plants. I check on the fish (which I do daily, just not from on top of them), and finish up by cleaning out my skimmer filter and basket. If I've been smart enough, I brought a towel, otherwise I'm shivering on the patio while I remove my pond sneakers. Maybe next year I'll do better. :-\
~ Howard Gorinson

What garden task do YOU procrastinate on?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Video Wednesday: How to Save Seeds Before Winter

How to Save Seeds Before Winter
In this video, Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, demonstrates how to save seeds before winter. I hope you are saving and carefully labeling your seeds for our upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges this coming January/February! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Win a 2014 Local Gardening Task Calendar

For our November 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a hot-off-the-press 2014 Local Gardening Task Calendar.
   Each month includes a list of what to do in the garden for local DC-MD-VA and Mid-Atlantic gardeners, along with a gorgeous photo of a seasonal flower from a local DC-area public gardens’ collection.
   You can order one for yourself and as gifts for your favorite local gardeners by going to: (Note that you can select the calendar to start with whatever month you choose.)
   To enter to win a Local Gardening Task Calendar, send an email to by 5:00pm on November 27 with “Garden Calendar” in the subject line and tell us: What Garden Task You Always Procrastinate On and Why. In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The calendar winner will be announced and notified on December 1.

See below for a sample calendar page for December. Click on the image to see it at full-size.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Video Wednesday: The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive Story

At today's second annual Trees Matter Symposium hosted by Montgomery County Parks they shared the story of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. David Milarch, co-founder of the archive, was unable to attend in person due to health issues, but chimed in via remote connection. The topic of collecting DNA and cloning ancient tree materials is fascinating. It will be interesting to see how his project develops over the next 20 years.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gifts from the Garden ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ November 2013

The Washington Gardener Enews ~ November 2013 issue has been sent to all current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers.

~ Gifts from the Garden
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for November-December
~ Magazine Excerpt: Getting to the Root of Growing Great Carrots
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for November-December
~ Reader Contest: Win a Local Gardening Task Calendar
~ Mum’s The Word
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ New Plant Spotlight: Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’
~ What NOT To Do in the Garden Now
~ 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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gazebo Gazing on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

For this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day share, I decided to take a walk around the plantings at the base of my gazebo to see what was flowering there. The gazebo is in part-shade and generally is a little more protected from the elements than the rest of the garden. Here are the four blooming plants I found:

Nippon Daisy

Toad Lily
Encore Azalea

Annual Salvia
Elsewhere in the garden, we got zapped by a wintry freeze this week. I have lost some summer annuals, but others hang on -- including some wave petunias, begonias, sunflowers, nicotiana, and even a few zinnias. I will probably clear them all out this weekend though as we have also had very little rain and I don't think it is worth continuing to water them at this point in the season.

What is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Video Wednesday: Maryland Farm & Harvest


A new series is debuting on Maryland Public Television this coming week all about agriculture, farms, and local growing in the state. Here is a preview clip from the series. It will air 7pm on Tuesdays and then repeat over the weekend on MPT and MPT2.

I'm really looking forward to episode #2 which will feature: "A 5th-generation Kent County grain farm family grows radishes to help clean up the bay. Women farmers network to market their products. Heirloom tomatoes grown and sold locally." Also, episode #5 caught my eye for a segment on "the big business of plant nurseries." I hope that in future episodes they explore more of the states' Eastern Shore wholesale nurseries that supply so much of the East Coast's ornamental plants.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club 2014 Selections
With the success of our first full year of the Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club, we are announcing our 2014 selections and schedule so that you can get a head start on obtaining the books and reading them.

For our first 2014 selection, we will be reading: Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart.

I am reserving a meeting room at a DC Library in early February. (We will move the location around to various DC library locations near public transit for each meeting pending library staff approvals, the location will be confirmed to you when you RSVP.)
The room allows food and drink and you may bring your dinner and/or snacks to share.

The book club meetings are FREE and open to anyone who would like to attend.
Please RSVP to "WG Book Club" at I will be limiting attendance to 20. If you need to cancel, let me know ASAP so we can give your spot to someone else, should we have a wait-list.

In case you like to read ahead, the other book club selections for 2014 are:

~ American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn by Ted Steinberg
~ Into the Garden with Charles by Clyde PhillipWachsberger
~ The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I will announce the date for the next book club meetings after each previous meeting. We will meet roughly once each quarter.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Garden Frights: What is Lurking in Your Flower Beds?

For our October 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we asked our readers to tell us: “What is the scariest creature you have ever encountered in your garden? What made it so scarey?” Here are a few of their answers.

~ The scariest creature I've seen in my garden is pictured here. Wondering what it is? Well, I certainly was. It's actually two assassin bugs mating. As if the image of this creepy-crawly times two was not creepy enough, it's location on my daughter's swing set clinched our fear factor ten-fold. Of course, my child found this bug curiously fascinating - not scary at all. Leave it to the adult Master Gardener to be creeped out by a bug. When I looked it up, I found that the assassin bug "attacks its prey with a vicious stabbing motions, using the 'fang' at the front of its head." While I was looking it up, my daughter went back outside and gently transported it to safer ground. All I could say was, "Oh, thanks sweetie." She's none the wiser, or is she?

 ~ The scariest creature I found was a Cicada Killer. It was almost 2" long and looked like a giant yellow jacket coming out of the ground. I thought at first is was a plastic toy insect. Something one might see especially as Halloween approaches.  

~ The creepiest thing I ever found in my garden was while turning over my compost pile. I dug in with my garden fork and flipped over a large, matted section and saw a perfectly preserved bird skeleton. I quickly mixed it back in figuring the calcium was good for my plants.

~ I came face-to-face with a Black Widow Spider when cleaning out a brush pile. Shiny and aggressive -- she charged right up my shovel towards me. I'm not ashamed to say I screamed and ran.

What  scarey encounters have YOU had in your garden?

From the submitted entries we chosen one winner at random to receive a 1-quart bottle of LavaMite ( Congratulations to Brenda Lynn Kouyoumdjian of in Fairfax, VA! The prize retail value is $35. LavaMite is an organic spray designed specifically to kill spider mites without hurting the host plant. It can been used on many different types of plants, including fruit and vegetable bearing plants, houseplants, and more. Simply spray LavaMite onto the leaves of the affected plant and all spider mites that come into contact with the spray will be dead within 30 minutes. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Cutting Garden: You Can Grow That!

A home full of fresh-cut flowers is a welcoming, warm place. When those flowers come from your very own garden it is even more rewarding. It is a joy each time you look at the blooms t in your own home or at your work place to know they came from your own labor of love. A hand-cut bouquet from your own garden is always the perfect gift. When you grow a cutting garden, you’ll have plenty to gather for yourself and to share. 

The cutting garden is simply a bed of flowers and foliage plants which the gardener has grown specifically to use in flower arrangements. Often situated at the backs of vegetable beds, along the sides of houses, and skirting fence lines, the cutting garden is a practical alternative to the age-old gardener dilemma of not wanting to cut your most beautiful blooms from your carefully landscaped gardens.

When designing a cutting garden, there is no need to worry about the overall looks of the growing beds as you will be using it for continual materials for your flower arrangements. Pick a site with full sun and good drainage. Cutting gardens can be started from seed, much as you would your vegetable garden, or you can use divisions from your perennial plants. You may also purchase an assortment of potted annuals to add to the mix.

Your cutting garden can be a place for experimenting with new plants and colors that you would not have otherwise chosen in your landscaped beds. A few tips to make yours a success include planting in wide rows for easy harvesting, deadheading regularly to promote flower (nor seed) production, and choosing a variety of early, mid, and late season flowers.

When making selections of plants for a cutting garden, the plant choices are almost endless. You may want to stick to those annuals and perennials that are long-stemmed, sturdy, and do well once severed from their host plant. Here is a list of suggested cutting garden flowers and foliage plants suitable for growing the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area:
  • Artemisia
  • Asters
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Celosia/Cockscomb
  • Cosmos
  • Dianthus
  • Echinacea/Coneflowers
  • Gladiolus
  • Goldenrod
  • Lavender
  • Liatris
  • Lilies
  • Lisianthus
  • Mums
  • Peony
  • Sages/Salvias
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Sunflower
  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia
Of course, you can always supplement your cutting garden arrangements with flowers, grasses, branches, and foliage cut from other plants in your gardens, but having a growing bed dedicated just for cutting purposes encourages you to use them more and to not worry about the old "to cut or not" debate.

All who are involved with You Can Grow That! (YCGT!) believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. Find out more at

Friday, November 01, 2013

Fenton Friday: Last Basil of the Season

It is time to close out my garden plot at the Fenton Community Garden. I will still be visiting it over the cold months and harvesting greens and root crops. It has really slowed down now, so this will be my last "Fenton Friday" post until early Spring.

Unlike most of the rest of the DC-metro area, our community garden got a few light frosts but not a hard freeze yet. Tonight though things may change as a low of 28 is predicted. I will pull out the remaining the tomatoes and basil plants. I am thinking one last batch of pesto for the freezer.

Then, next weekend, is our communal garden clean-up gathering where we weed and mulch the shared pathways and garden areas. My hope is that this time, it will not be an all-female gathering and that representatives from more than just 5 or so of the 44 plots at the Fenton Garden show up. What is it with all the lazy men at our garden? Sometimes one or two new people or even a few males show up and help for a bit, but they usually show up way late and have some excuse to leave early.

Sorry for generalizing, but it really is irksome to see the heavy work taken on by the same few ladies each time. What do you experience at your community garden? Do both genders take on the necessary chores equally?

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