Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Video Wednesday: Garden Successes and Failures of 2014

Last night I participated in the live Garden Chatter via Google Hangout with terrific hosts Brenda of #GardenChat fame and Adam Cortell of Digging the Garden. My fellow guests were Linda Ly of and Scot of 

We discussed our gardening successes and failures from the past year and also what we look forward to growing in 2015. What are YOU planning to grow new in the next year?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Discuss Tulipomania with the Washington Gardener Book Club

For our first 2015 selection, we will be reading: Tulipomania by Mike Dash. I have reserved a meeting room at the Shepherd Park " Juanita E. Thornton" Neighborhood DC Library for Tuesday, February 10 from 6:00-7:30pm. The library room allows food and drink and you may bring your dinner and/or snacks to share.
(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 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.

I will announce the date for the next book club meeting's date and location after each previous meeting. We will meet roughly once each quarter/season.
The other book club selections for 2015 are:

~ Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
~ Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell
~ Teaching the Trees by Joan Maloof


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Washington Gardener December 2014 issue: Thomas Rainer at the Intersection of Wild Plants and Human Culture

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

It is also now posted at:

This issue includes:
~ Thomas Rainer at the Intersection of Wild Plants and Human Culture
~ Praying Mantis: Friend or Foe
~ December Garden Tasks
~ Local Garden Events Listing
~ Growing Citrus Indoors
~ Maryland Master Gardeners End Phone Line
~ Grass Roots Exhibit at US National Arboretum
~ New Grafted Tomato on Potato Roots
~ Season’s Greenings at the US Botanic Garden
and much more...

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

SUBSCRIBE TODAY by using the link at the top-right of this blog page.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Video Wednesday: The Flower Show “Celebrates the Movies"

Here is a preview of  the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show: Lights, Camera, BLOOM theme.
Personally, I cannot WAIT for the combination of my two passions -- gardening and movies!

Travel to the Philadelphia Flower Show Trips 2015 with Washington Gardener Magazine
• March 4, 2015 depart from downtown Silver Spring, MD
• March 5, 2015 depart from Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD

Registration and details on our trips will be posted in the next few days. Save the dates and stay tuned!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Roses for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

On the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day as Christmas approaches, the Christmas Roses aka Hellebores (Helleborus niger) are coming up right on time here in my Zone 7 garden on the DC-MD border. Here is a photo:

In addition to the Hellebores, I have PJM Phododendron and pansies going strong outside. Inside I have an assortment of typical holiday plants -- Paperwhites, Poinsettia, etc. along with a few violets and geraniums hanging on in bloom.

What is blooming in YOUR garden now?

Register now for the 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges

The 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, takes place on January 31, 2015 at the Behnke Nurseries in Wheaton, MD AND at February 7, 2015 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. You can attend both or you have a choice on which side of the beltway you want to attend!

Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats.

Registrations are streaming in now and we expect a sell-out of both locations. We urge you to pre-register to guarantee yourself a spot.

The event also includes such “green” features as the garden book and catalog swap. Participants are encouraged to bring their gently used garden books and mailorder garden catalogs to trade with each other. Any leftover publications at the end of the swap are donated to the National Agriculture Library in Beltsville, MD.

The first annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange was held on January 26, 2006. After that event’s success, seed swaps in other cities across the nation have joined in celebrating National Seed Swap Day each year on the last Saturday in January.

Subscribers to Washington Gardener Magazine receive a $5 discount off the admission to the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange.

The registration form is posted below. Please print it page 2 and fill it out, then mail it along with payment by January 25 (see update note below) to Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910.

UPDATE 1: The speakers have been announced, See their details here:

UPDATE 2: We still have some spaces left, so you may register on-site at the Washington Gardener Magazine 2015 Seed Exchange on Saturday, January 31 12:30-4pm at Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. On-site Registration opens at 12:00noon. 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.
    We also still have spaces left for the Seed Exchange on February 7 at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. You can still mail in your registration for that, please ensure that it will arrive by February 5.
    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!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Win Passes to Lewis Ginter's GardenFest of Lights in Washington Gardener Magazine's December 2014 Reader Contest

For our December 2014 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a family 4-pack of tickets to Dominion GardenFest of Lights in Richmond, VA.

The Dominion GardenFest of Lights,  A Legacy in Lights:  120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden rins through January 12, 2015. (Note that it is closed December 24-25). A holiday tradition featuring more than half-a-million twinkling lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, firepit with s'mores and hot chocolate (for purchase); nightly family activities & more. The region's ultimate holiday extravaganza! Here’s more on this year’s show:

To enter to win the family 4-pack of tickets to the Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights, send an email with “Gardenfest of Lights” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on Friday, December 19. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, and mailing address as well as your New Year's gardening resolutions. The ticket winner will be announced and notified by December 21.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Natives Spotlight: Red Osier Dogwood

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea), can be a bit unruly during the growing season. The two in my backyard tend to flop as the season progresses, perhaps because the large shade leaves weigh down the slender stems. Once the leaves fall the stems return to a nice upright position. This is the time of year when these shrubs come into their own, the red stems providing winter cheer, especially when highlighted against snow.

I usually prune my Red Osier Dogwood pretty hard in February, to encourage new growth and bright stems. The tradeoff is that I don’t get flowers, since they bloom on new wood. This year I plan to experiment with cutting a few older stems to the ground and leaving others. Even though the floral display is not considered this shrub’s strongest feature, it would be nice to have some blossoms, as well as berries for the birds.

This spring I learned by accident just how easy it is to propagate these plants. I decided to use some of the trimmed stems to make a funky little trellis for my pea plants. I put three stems upright in the ground, and loosely attached some stems to them horizontally, using several of the shrub’s flexible small twigs to tie the pieces together.  Later in the spring I noticed that leaves were unfurling on one of the upright stems. Voila, I had inadvertently started a new dogwood in my vegetable garden!

Red Osier Dogwood is a native that is widespread throughout the U.S. except for the southern states. It likes moist soil, but should do well in all but the driest areas, and can handle a range of light conditions from sun to shade. Plant these shrubs where you can seem them from a window in winter and they are sure to lift your spirits in the dark months.

About the Author 
 Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, MD. She blogs at
   This guest blog post is part of a monthly Native Plants series that Rachel authors for Washington Gardener Magazine around the 10th of each month.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Video Wednesday: The Story of The Park at LeDroit

Watch this lovely video from Casey Trees as it shows the transformartion of The Park at LeDroit in Washington, DC, through the gift of trees and community volunteerism.

UPDATE: Oddly, fo some this video is displaying as "private." If that is the case for you, here is the direct Youtube link: 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Local Gardening Talk Series on Capitol Hill next March-April

I'll be giving this Local Gardening Talk Series on Capitol Hill at the Hill Center next March-April. Sign up soon to reserve a space.

When: Mon, 03/09/2015 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Repeats every week until Mon Apr 13 2015 (except Mon Mar 16 2015).
Cost: $50 per class or $235 for Entire Series
Category: Food and Garden
Join Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener for this wonderful 5 class series as she helps you prepare your garden for Spring. These classes are great for non-gardeners and expert gardeners looking to brush-up. Register for the entire series HERE.

Kathy Jentz is editor and publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine. A life-long gardener, Kathy believes that growing plants should be stress-free and enjoyable. Her philosophy is inspiration over perspiration.

Session 1: Local Gardening Resources and Sources (Register for this class HERE)
What annual garden festivals are worth attending? Which public gardens fit my needs? What are the best places to shop? Where do I find out more? You will receive a special reference handout listing local gardening classes, shows, public gardens, web sites, garden books, and much more.

Session 2: Regionally Adapted Plants (Register for this class HERE)
Plants that have proven themselves in the Mid-Atlantic. Low-maintenance gardening is the goal of many of us in our busy lives and the key is planting the right plants got our local climate. We'll talk about some native plants, of course, but mostly we'll explore the tried-and-true plants that can take clay soil, deer, and/or periods of drought. Season-by-season, we'll share our favorite plants that excel in our local gardens.

Session 3: Local Gardening 201: Common Challenges (Register for this class HERE)
So you have been gardening for a few years, but still feel like there are some holes in your gardening knowledge and you are frustrated by a few obstacles? This class is for you. We'll take it to the next level and talk about local gardening challenges like poor landscape drainage, gardening on a slope, dealing with deer, planting in clay soil, etc. We'll examine case studies of local gardeners who have conquered these common garden challenges.

Session 4: Getting the Garden Ready for Spring (Register for this class HERE)
Can you feel the difference in the air? Birds and buds are waking up as spring fast approaches! There is so much to do in the garden, but where to begin? We'll look at what to tackle first, what can wait, and what you need not bother with at all. Get organized and get inspired for a new growing season ahead.

Session 5: Small Space Garden Design – Squeezing it all in to your Urban/Suburban Garden (aka Getting the Most out of Small Space Gardens) (Register for this class HERE)
Using examples from area gardens, Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher of Washington Gardener magazine, will illustrate basic design principles for maximizing garden space. Kathy will address common small-space challenges such as creating privacy and adding light to shady areas. She will also give ideas for low- or no-budget solutions.

Register Here »

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus): You Can Grow That!

Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are a great holiday season project for beginning gardeners and for doing with children. These Mediterranean bulbs are pre-chilled for you so they are virtually ready to "pop" once you place them in water. 

They are generally inexpensive, around $1-2 each, so you can buy several and pot them up as gifts for everyone on your list. 

I like to place them individually in votive candle holders or heavy-bottom rocks glasses then line them up on windowsills, down the middle of a dining table, along the fireplace mantel, or singly next to the bathroom sinks. You can also take a large glass bowl or tall vase and place several bulbs in together to make a forest of paperwhites. I have used fishbowls, teapots, and old watering cans. Really anything that is water-tight can be used, so look around your home for inspiration.

To anchor the bulbs in and preventing them from toppling over as they grow leggy, you can place the bulbs in a variety of decorative media from aquarium pebbles to glass marbles. (You can always use potting soil to plant them in, but that is messy and not as pretty, IMHO.) I like to use hydrating water beads that you can get from florist supply and craft sources. They come in many shades, but I tend to stick with the classic clear ones. Whatever media you use, keep the water level only up to about the bulb's hip area so as not to rot it. If your home is as dry as mine in winter, you will need to top off the water every few days, so keep an eye on that.

Once "potted," place them in a sunny window until the leaves emerge and a stalk with flower bud started to form (usually about 10 days to 2 weeks), then place them wherever you'd like to display them.

After the flowers start to fade, pull the bulbs out of the water and pry off any marbles/stones/glass that you want to re-use next year then throw out the whole plant in your compost pile. In our Midatlantic USA region, they are not winter-hardy so there is no need to try and plant or save them for next season. 

Warning! The scent of paperwhite blooms is a love/hate thing. I personally fall on the "not-my-favorite smell" end of things, so I keep paperwhites in well-ventilated rooms and out of any bedrooms. If you really cannot stand the scent, there are paperwhite varieties that are lighter in fragrance than the mass-produced 'Ziva' that you find everywhere. These you will need to special-order from bulb catalogs long before the holiday season. They include 'Inbal' and 'Galilee.'

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Video Wednesday: Button Farm

Button Farm: A Living History 
A short documentary video produced by Docs In Progress Intro to Documentary Production students Jihan Madyun, Peggy Tevis. The video profiles Button Farm, a living history center in Germantown, MD. People of all ages come to learn about 19th century slave plantation life and the heroic story of the Underground Railroad.

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Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

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