Friday, November 28, 2014

NEW DC-MD-VA Gardening Calendar 2015 from Washington Gardener Magazine

Now available! The Local DC-MD-VA Gardening Task Calendar 2015 from Washington Gardener Magazine. It includes monthly task lists for local DC-MD-VA (zones 6-7) gardening and photos of gorgeous flowers from Washington, DC-area public gardens.

All new art for 2015!

The calendar is a great gift for yourself and any area gardeners you may know!

Order here:

NOTE: Be sure to specify on the initial order page what month you wish to start the calendar with as you can customize it for any 12-month-span you like.

Here is a sample of one of the interior art pages:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Video Wednesday: Jan Kirsh, Eastern Shore Landscape Designer and Sculptor

Here is a video share from Garden America Radio Show:

"From Maryland, Jan Kirsh has worked with Eastern Shore clients to help them with residential landscape designs so that their outdoor living spaces are places of beauty and respite. She also creates fruit and vegetable sculptures in any size out of oil-based clay, then cast and fabricated in materials suitable for indoor or outdoor displays. Similar to her signature landscape designs, her sculptures express exuberance and joy. This morning she will share some of her ideas for landscape design and incorporating sculpture in the garden. Visit her website at"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reader Contest: Win a Copy of Windowsill Art

For our November 2014 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a copy of Windowsill Art: Creating One-of-a-Kind Natural Arrangements to Celebrate the Seasons by Nancy Ross Hugo (retail value: $18.95).
   Local Virginia author, Nancy Ross Hugo, demonstrates how to use the windowsill as a platform for small, simple displays that celebrate the seasons and reflect the personal style of their creators. Her fresh approach uses bottles, jars, and other small vases to showcase arrangements of locally collected leaves, seedpods, flowers, fruits, and twigs.
   Windowsill Art is published by St. Lynn’s Press, an independent publishing company based in Pittsburgh, PA. See the review in the curreny Washington Gardener Magazine issue on page 10.
   To enter to win the book, send an email to: by 5:00pm on November 28 with “Windowsill Art” in the subject line and in the body of the email please also include your full name and mailing address. Tell us: “What is your favorite way to decorate your windowsills?” The book winner will be announced and notified by email by November 30.

Congratulations to our "Windowsill Art" book winner: Leah Cohen of Winchester, VA!
Please be sure to enter our next reader contest.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday week!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Upcoming Classes at On The Purple Couch

I have two upcoming classes at One The Purple Couch in Kensington, MD. See the flyers above for full details (click on them to see at full size) and also visit to learn more and to register. The class on November 30 is all about Holiday Plants and include bulbs two-ways -- Paperwhites for now and Tulips forced for enjoying later. Then, the class on December 3 is all about Terrariums and we'll make some lovely Terrarium Ornaments together.

Tonight, On the Purple Couch is having an open house from 5-9pm and I'll be there with a table previewing both classes as well as selling our "Keep Calm and Garden On" buttons and magnets, current and back issues of the magazine, and demonstrating what you'll make in the classes described above. There will also be other demos and pop-up shops so come out and bring your friends for a lovely pre-holiday evening!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Washington Gardener Magazine ~ November 2014 issue ~ Growing Lovely Leeks, Fabulous Fringe Tree, Stopping Spider Mites, and much more...

Washington Gardener is the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The November 2014 issue is being sent now as a PDF to all current subscribers.

It is also now posted at:

This issue includes:
~ Growing Lovely Leeks
~ American Umbrella Leaf
~ November Garden Tasks
~ Local Garden Events Listing
~ Guerilla Gardening
~ Meet Stamp Photographer Cindy Dyer
~ Stopping Spider Mites
~ A Deadly Leaf Fungus Can Affect Gardeners
~ Fabulous Fringe Tree
~ Detecting Lead Hotspots in Urban Gardens 
and much more...

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the December 2014 issue are due by December 10.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Video Wednesday: How to Get Spring Blooms in the Dead of Winter

Bulb Forcing 101: How to Get Spring Blooms in the Dead of Winter
By Kathy Jentz

Didn't get all your bulbs planted before the ground froze? Don't discard them! Instead pot them up for indoor forcing and enjoy an early springtime in the depths of winter.

If you were a good little gardener and got all your bulbs in the ground on time, there are still a few bulbs hanging around unsold at local area garden centers and on major markdown sales on the web and through mail order, snap them up now at these bargain basement prices and consider yourself a savvy customer. Next year, when you place your bulb orders, add a few extra to your quantities to set aside specifically for forcing.

Never forced bulbs before? Nothing to it. Here are the basics and a few extra tips I've learned from past experiments:

1. Bulb Selection. You don't need to buy any specific variety or kinds. You can just select a few bulbs from those that you would buy for outside plantings. After they are done livening up your winter home, you can plant them outside after the last frost so that they will return annually with your other bulbs. One note of caution, indoor bulbs can sometimes give off potent smells. Some people love them, some don't -- paperwhites and hyacinth are especially notoriously in the love/hate category. Experiment a bit, and you'll soon learn which scents are to your tastes and which are just too overpowering for inside your home.

2. Timing. Keep in mind that bulbs bloom within three-four weeks of removal from cold storage, which lasts about 12-16 weeks. So if you want blooms for a specific occasion, you need to work about 16-20 weeks in advance for planting time.

3. Bulb Planting. Regular bulbs should be planted in soil, but at a shallower depth than you would outside. The top of the bulb should be even with the soil line and have about 2" of soil below for root development. The container should have drainage holes. Because it will be inside your house and no one likes a leaky mess on their furniture, I recommended lining the bottom of the pot with scrap landscape fabric and placing the pot on a good-sized saucer filled with a layer pebbles. Place the bulbs pointy side up and with the "flat" side towards the outside of the pot and as tight together as you like. Crowding them actually makes a nicer visual effect than spacing them far apart. Tight quarters also helps the foliage from growing out too much and flopping over. Water the newly planted bulbs well. Place the pots in plastic newspaper sleeves to maintain a moist environment.

4. Cold Storage/Removal for Flowering. Place the potted-up bulbs in cold storage for about 12 weeks. Cold storage should be roughly 40-50 degrees and without light. Storage areas might include your basement, garage, or the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Different bulbs have different cold cycle times but most are between 12-16 weeks. (Tulips need the most time at a full 16 weeks.) Mark your calendars so that you don't forget about them. When you first remove them from storage, place them in indirect light and away from a heat source to prevent "legginess." After two weeks, when they have sprouted and are several inches high, move them to a sunny, warm window. Once a flowerhead or bud starts to develop, you can then move it to your desired location with indirect sunlight to prolong the bloom life. Keep them watered regularly as soon as you remove them from cold storage. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chilly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Encore Azalea

This Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is frigid. It feels more like the dead of winter than late autumn here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (zone 7). One bright spot is this Azalea, one of the reblooming Encore series. I was sent it as a trial plant years ago and it is finally living up to its name and giving reliable blooms all year round.

Also still in bloom in my garden, despite the deep freeze, are sunflowers, salvia, snapdragons, pansies, alyssum, and Nippon daisies.

What is blooming in your garden today?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fenton Friday: Final Garden Plot Report of the Season

It is official. The polar freeze came through last night and the summer crops in my plot at the Fenton Community Garden are done. I'll be ripping them all out and putting down a layer of compost then mulching with straw. At this point I'm calling the plot "done" for the season. I still have some onions and garlic bulbs to put in and some more hardy greens I want to start from seed. I will also be continuing to harvest from my cool season crop beds that include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, parsley, radishes, and carrots. This will be my last Fenton Friday report for 2014. Look for the weekly community garden plot updates to start back again next March. Keep checking this blog though for news on the upcoming Seed Exchanges, trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show, Garden Photo Contest, and much more!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Video Wednesday: Shutting Off Water Sources for Winter

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This week's video on Shutting Off Water Sources is incredibly timely with a huge cold front moving into the Mid-Atlantic area. If you have never had trouble with a water pipe freezing and bursting, count yourself lucky. I hear many horror stories from new homeowners who were never told they needed to turn off their outdoor water for winter nor even where the shut-off valve is -- if you don't know where that valve is, make it a point to find where yours is today!

This one is another production. 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 screen, does not work, you can go to to watch it her
OR go directly to:

Friday, November 07, 2014

Fenton Friday: Cold Crops Coming In

Broccoli heads forming
This week at my garden plot in the Fenton Community Garden we dodged the frost/freeze that hit points south and west of us, but it looks like this weekend may may dip to the '20s and that may be that. As you see pictured below, my tomatoes are still producing well, but I think the flavor is really lacking and I may just pull them out, even if we don't get hot by this predicted frost.

Elsewhere in my plot, the cool season crops are revving up. The Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts are heading and my goal of having them by Thanksgiving to feast on is looking actually realistic!

I harvested my one and only Kohlrabi today as I doubt that it will get much bigger and, well, I wanted to see what it tasted like. I eat mine peeled, then cut up raw with a ranch dip. How do you like your kohlrabi?
Brussels Sprouts sprouting

Garlic emerging

Kohlrabi done and harvested

Last of the 'Sun Gold' Tomatoes

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Video Wednesday: Top 5 Summer Annuals

Watch Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Les Parks as he reveals the NBG top 5 summer annuals from this past season. I totally concur with Coleus 'Redhead' -- mine keeps going on and on. Keep this list handy for next year.

If the video does not play above, then you can go to watch it at:

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Herbaceous Peonies: You Can Grow That

Herbaceous Peonies are among my favorite flowers. Peonies are easy to grow and will reward you with armfuls of luscious blooms every May-June. Once established, the only care they need is to have the old foliage cut back in fall.

Select a sunny, well-draining spot in your garden for peonies. Be sure to give them space to grow as well as this perennial grows to shrub-like proportions in a single season. Having said that, 
herbaceous peonies really do play well with others in your perennial borders and combine well with roses and clematis.

The only "trick" to herbaceous peonies is to not plant them too deep. When you get a peony root division, you will see the red-ish "eyes" (new emerging plants). Plant them with the tips of the roots pointed downward andthe eyes set just an inch or so below the surface of the soil. Amend the planting hole with peat. Then mulch it over with leaf compost. Do not add in any fertilizer.

Herbaceous peonies are shallow-rooted so try not to dig or bother the plants too much around their crown area. When you weed, just cut them off at the soil level.
You may have to give the heavy blooms some staking and support, but I find I cut them at the bud stage to enjoy indoors often enough to not have to worry about the characteristic peony flop.

If an early summer storm is brewing and your peony is in full bloom, run out and cut all the blossoms that you can as a hard rain can often pummel and destroy these beautiful flowers. So disappointing to go out after a storm and see your peonies beaten to mush!

Mid- to late-autumn is the best time to prune back the peony foliage to within a couple inches above the soil. 

Peonies don't need dividing and they actually resent being disturbed. But, if you want to separate and share them, do so in early fall for the best results.

Pictured above is 'Do Tell' peony at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC.

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

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