Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seed Exchange Update: Still Spaces Left, No Seeds Required!

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.

For the registration form and event details go here.
To read about the speaker program, go here.
To prepare your seeds and yourself for the swap, go here.

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!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Video Wednesday: Celery Stalks at Midnight

Our EdibleHarvest columnist, Elizabeth Olson, shared the discovery of a Big Band-era hit called "Celery Stalks at Midnight." As she had just written all about growing celery in our January 2015 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, this tune really caught her attention!

Here is also a link to the lyrics:

And, um, had no one read Freud and been able to solve the mystery for this girl?

Video Wednesday: Garden Writers Association

Kirk Brown, GWA Vice President, discussed with Nursery Management during the recent MANTS 2015 how the Garden Writers Association can help the horticultural industry improve communication with their customers.

As many of you already know, I'm a big supporter of joining your professional association for many reasons - networking, job leads, training, etc. Don't let the "Garden Writers" name fool you, it is for all gardening communicators from radio show hosts to newspaper columnists to video bloggers. I urge you, if you are in the horticultural industry and do any communications tasks as part of your job, that you seriously considering joining. You can dip your toe in by attending a regional meeting or just jump in and come to the national meeting this September in Pasadena.

If you do decide to join, feel free to use me as a referral on the membership form -- I do get credit for bringing in new folks.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Washington Gardener Magazine ~ January 2015 issue ~ Monkshood, Celery, and much more

Washington Gardener is the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region. The January 2015 issue is being sent now as a PDF to all current subscribers.
It is also now posted at: http://issuu.com/washingtongardener/docs/washingtongardenerjan15/0

This issue includes:
~ Monkshood: Pretty Poison
~ Celery Growing Tips for the Mid-Atlantic
~ January Garden Tasks
~ Garden Photo Contest Rules
~ A Visit to the Robinson Nature Center
~ New Veronica Introduction
~ Winter Bird-Feeding Tips
~ Seed Exchange Details and Registration
~ Local Garden Events Listing
~ Wistful Winter Windowsills
and much more...

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

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seed Exchange 2015 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2015. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. For more information on the exchanges and how to register, go here.

Saturday, January 31 at Behnke Nurseries, Beltsville, MD

Saving Your Vegetable Seeds

Speaker: Paul Blundell, Owner, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
This workshop will give an overview of the hows and whys of seed saving.  We will explore the state of seed in the world today to discover why seed saving is not only a practical skill for gardeners to develop but also an important one for communities to practice.  We will then dive into the biology of seed production and cover techniques and considerations important for producing quality seed from most common garden varieties.  Resources for reference and further learning will be provided.
   Paul Blundell has been a worker-owner at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange since 2005.  SESE is a worker owned coop mail order seed company in Central Virginia which specializes in heirloom, open-pollinated, and organic vegetable seeds especially suited to the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast.  He has done a little bit of everything and a lot of a few things while there.  Most recently he headed up the design and construction of a new eco-groovy headquarters for the business.


Tips for Starting Ornamental Plants for Seed

Speaker: Carol Allen, Certified Professional Horticulturist
This talk will cover ornamental annual, biennial, and perennial seed saving and growing tips. It will cover: what flowers do best direct-sown versus started indoors, which seeds need special preparation, and the selection of best plants for our Mid-Atlantic region.
   Carol Allen has been involved in many aspects of gardening and horticulture since childhood and likes to describe herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years experience in the horticulture industry with special interests in Integrated Pest Management, landscape design, native plants, tropicals of many kinds, and especially orchids. Carol enjoys helping people understand how to care for their plants and holds a monthly diagnostic clinic in Washington, DC. After serving a term of two and one half years as supervisory horticulturist at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, Carol returned to college and earned a degree in horticulture. Fascinated by the interplay of pest and prey, Carol continues her education on plant pests and diseases. She enjoys teaching people how to outwit their garden pests with little or no pesticide application and also authors the “InsectIndex” column in the Washington Gardener Magazine.

Saturday, February 7 at Green Spring Gardens, VA:

Planting Schemes for Vegetable Gardens: Companion and Succession Planting

Speaker: Elizabeth Olson, Certified Professional Horticulturist
Explore different ways to maximize the space and yield of vegetables gardens. Systems include succession and relay cropping, intercropping, and crop rotation.
   Elizabeth Olson is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist and Specialist in Composting & Compost Utilization with the Maryland Nursery & Landscape Association. She is also a Certified Judge in a number of areas including Vegetables, Fruits & Nuts, Herbs & Vinegars, Canning, and Photography with the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs & Shows. Elizabeth belongs to the Garden Writers Association and is the “EdibleHarvest” columnist for Washington Gardener Magazine.  She has published kitchen garden articles on topics ranging from garlic to icebox watermelons.


Seed Saving Traditions

Speaker: Pat Brodowski, Monticello's Vegetable Gardener
The historic tradition of seed saving in America provides a meaningful model for modern gardeners eager to get the most from their gardens. Many special (and more common) garden plants are unavailable from commercial sources and need to be preserved from year to year. Learn the dynamics of seed production—pollination, timing, seed identification, cleaning, and storing.
   Pat Brodowski plants and maintains Jefferson's two-acre kitchen garden of about 180 vegetables and herbs. She has been at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation since May 2009. Previously, she was the Historian/Educator at the Carroll County Farm Museum.

For more information on the exchanges and how to register, go here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Win Two Passes to Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges

For our January 2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away two passes to either of the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (prize value $40).
   The 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, takes place on January 31, 2015 at the Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD AND on February 17 2015 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. You have a choice on which side of the DC beltway you want to attend! Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. The event also includes such “green” features as the garden book and catalog swap. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds and gardening inspiration!
   To enter to win the Seed Exchange Passes, send an email to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com by 5:00pm on January 23 with “Seed Swap” in the subject line and in the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on January 24.

See full details on the Seed Exchanges at http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2014/12/register-now-for-10th-annual-washington.html.


The winner of the January 2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest is Alison Kindler of Arlington, VA. Congratulations, Alison, and we hope you and your guest enjoy the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Video Wednesday: Building a Grow Closet

Local Maryland gardener, Gary Pilarchik of The Rusted Garden vegetable gardening blog shares his basic ideas for a grow closet, grow light stations, and ways you can start growing vegetable seeds indoors in this new video.

Monday, January 12, 2015

In Case You Missed It...

If you were away over the holiday season or just taking a break from the online world, you may have missed some of our important announcements about upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine events and deadlines. Here is a quick recap:

~ The 9th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest is now open for entry period, The submission deadline is Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Details are posted at:

~ The 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges take place on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the Behnke Nurseries in Wheaton, MD and on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats.
Details and registration information is at: 


~  The Washington Gardener Book Club will be discussing: Tulipomania by Mike Dash at the Shepherd Park "Juanita E. Thornton" Neighborhood DC Library for Tuesday, February 10 from 6:00-7:30pm. Details are at:

Washington Gardener Magazine has two tours this year going up to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The two tours are on different days; from different locations.  The first one is Wednesday, March 4 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to downtown Silver Spring, MD. The second one is Thursday, March 5 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. Details and registration information is at:

~ Local Gardening Talk Series on Capitol Hill next March-April. 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.
Details and registration information is at: 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Native Spotlight: Sedum ternatum

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 

Sedum and Carex

 An easy to grow shade-loving native groundcover

With few exceptions there’s not much green in the yard right now, covered as it is in a blanket of white. Under the layer of snow I know that a few green things survive. Most, unfortunately, are aggressive non-natives like English ivy, and the seemingly indomitable winter cress that has proven to be frustratingly hardy in my gravel driveway. But one of my favorite plants resting under the snow is Sedum ternatum, an evergreen groundcover native to much of the eastern U.S.

When I dug through the snow to take a look at one of my patches of Sedum, it didn’t look bad, but many of the leaves seemed so much tinier than I remembered  that I wasn’t sure I’d found the right plant. I found an explanation for this on the Missouri Botanic Garden’s website. In winter the stems break away and die, separating newly rooted plants from the mother plant.

Sedum ternatum is a small plant with nicely rounded fleshy leaves. Even at its peak of spring bloom it is no more than about six inches high, including the flower stalk. The white star-like flowers bloom for a few short weeks in April or May in our area.

early spring sedum
This versatile little groundcover likes moist conditions and part-shade to shade, but is also quite drought tolerant. In my yard it is one of the few things I have been able to grow under the dry shade of a large silver maple on a slope, together with the native Pennsylvania sedge, Carex pensylvanica. I have transplanted bits of it to the edge of my driveway, and from there to shady moist patches in the front yard. It seems happy wherever it lands.

It is easy to propagate (break a stem off and stick it in the ground) and to transplant. Just keep in mind that it is not the most rapid of spreaders, and as the plants are small, it is not the best choice for filling in a large space rapidly. On the other hand, if you decide for whatever reason that you need to take it out, removal is easy. But my guess is that you’ll want to spread it around the yard, not get rid of it!

About the author:
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at http://hummingbirdway.blogspot.com/.
This guest blog post is part of a monthly Native Plants series that Rachel will be posting here around the 10th of each month.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Video Wednesday: RootingDC

Rooting DC-2014 PKG from DC Intersections on Vimeo.

The 8th annual RootingDC conference is coming at the end of February and registration will soon be open, so I thought I'd share a video overview of last year's conference created by District Wire News.

Washington Gardener Magazine has been a proud partner since the start of RootingDC and will be involved once again this year.

Note that registration is free and open to all. The programming is focused on aspiring urban gardeners who are looking to grow their own food.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Lights, Camera, BLOOM! Celebrate the Movies at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Welcome SPRING at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Sick of COLD weather? Me too! 

Come join us for a day-trip to a virtual Garden of Delights at the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show!

Washington Gardener Magazine has two tours this year going up to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The Philadelphia Flower Show is the oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world. he theme for 2015 is “Lights, Camera, BLOOM! Celebrate the Movies.” Experience the combination of cinema and horticulture as the 186th PHS Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates everyone from Disney to Marilyn Monroe. Join us for a visit to magnificent floral and garden exhibits, special programming, and new attractions like the interactive Butterfly Experience. This is not your grandmother’s Flower Show … but she’s going to love it! The Flower Show attracts non-gardeners as well as die-hard green-thumbed people of all ages. Foodies of all tastes will love the Garden to Table Studio. Participate in the Lectures and Demonstrations series, Gardener’s Studio, and the “Make & Take” workshops. First-time and returning riders will enjoy the welcoming, custom details of our coach service.

The two tours are on different days; from different locations. Here are the details:
~ Wednesday, March 4 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to downtown Silver Spring, MD - includes a lunch and is nearby to public transit - see the registration form for more details:
~ Thursday, March 5 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD - includes a lunch and has free parking - see this registration form for more details:

Note: The forms are for printing and mailing along with your payment. They are not interactive online forms.
If you have any trouble printing them out, please send an email to kathyjentz@gmail.com and I can send the forms directly to you.
Our coaches fill up quickly, so please act fast to reserve your spot with us!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Camellia 'Yuletide' -- You Can Grow That!

Yuletide Camellia (Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide') is a gorgeous shrub covered in long-lasting blooms (up to four months) that will go far getting you through the worst of the winter doldrums.

According to Monrovia, This Camellia has "single, brilliant, fiery red blooms centered with bright yellow stamens make this a beautiful addition to the winter garden. Blossoms stand out in high contrast against glossy, dark green foliage. Excellent choice for a colorful hedge or screen, espalier, and border shrub. Mid season bloomer. Evergreen."

"Sometimes referred to as Christmas Camellias, the sasanqua varieties of Camellia are native to the evergreen, coastal forests of southern Japan. It was introduced by Dutch traders into Europe in 1869. 'Yuletide' is a chance seedling of Kanjiro and originated at Nuccio's Nurseries in Altadena, CA. The Japanese use the leaves of sasanqua to make tea, and the seeds are pressed into tea seed oil for use as a lubricant and in cooking and cosmetics."

This Camellia is hardy to zones 7-10, so may not thrive in the colder parts of our Mid-Atlantic region or may require some extra protection to get it through in very cold winters. Try it as a container plant, as a hedge, or esapliered against a brick wall.

The pictured bloom is from the grounds of the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, on Christmas Day 2013.

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 other You Can Grow That! posts.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Garden PHOTO CONTEST Kicks Off!

The 9th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest kicks off now! Time to start sorting and picking out your best 2014 garden shots. The entry period is January 1-21, 2015.
Note that eligible entries must have been taken in the 2014 calendar year in a garden setting within 150-mile radius of Washington, DC.

We have four major entry categories:

~ Garden Views (landscape scenes)

~ Garden Vignettes (groupings of plants in beds or containers, unusual color or texture combinations, garden focal points, and still scenes)

~ Small Wonders (flower or plant part close-ups)

~ Garden Creatures (any living creature in a garden setting)

Remember that garden photos need not all be taken during the first week of May nor should they all be tight close-ups of a red rose. Look for the unusual and for beauty in the off-season too. Our judges give equal weight to the following criteria when evaluating the entries: technical merit, composition, impact, and creativity.

Anyone can enter: professional or amateur, adult or student, local area gardener or visiting DC tourist. Past winners have included teenagers entering their first-ever photo contest and home gardeners trying out their new digital cameras. Our next Grand Prize Winner could be YOU!

See this page for the full contest details:

 Also, here is the entry form text:

Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest Entry Form:
• Name -      
• Full address-
• Phone number –
• Email –
• Years of photography experience-
• Whether you are a Pro or Amateur-
• Image File name and title-
• A brief description of each image-
• The category each image is to be entered in -
• The location where each image was taken -
• All available photographic information regarding the image (i.e. camera type, lens, lighting, etc.) -

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