Thursday, December 29, 2016

Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges Registration NOW Open

Washington Gardener Magazine presents the 
12th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges
on Saturday, January 28, 2017, from 12:30–4:00PM
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
Registration is now open at
on Saturday, February 4, 2017, from 12:30–4:00PM
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Registration is now open at

Join us for:
Seed Swapping
Door Prizes
Planting Tips
Expert Speakers
Goody Bags

NEW This Year:
Make-it Take-It Seed Crafting Table

Washington Gardener magazine, the publication for DC-area gardening enthusiasts, is hosting the 12th annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens and Green Spring Gardens. These seed swaps are in-person and face-to-face. You bring your extra seeds and swap them with other gardeners. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds, new garden friends, and expert planting advice.

On Saturday, January 28, 2017, in MD
and on Saturday, February 4, 2017, in VA
from 12:30–4:00PM
(Foul weather that day? Call 240.603.1461,
for updates about possible snow/ice delay.)

We are holding a duo of Seed Exchanges one week apart on opposite sides of the Washington Beltway. We urge you to attend the one closest to you.
   One exchange will be held at Brookside Gardens, 11800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD. The other will be at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.

How to Register
Register online at for the 1/28/17 event and for the 2/4/17 one.
    Registration fee is $20 per person. Friends of Brookside members, Friends of Green Spring members, and current Washington Gardener subscribers receive a discount rate of $15 per person.
We strongly urge you to register in advance. There is a limited enrollment of 100 participants at each location!

We are GREEN!!!
Garden Book and Seed Catalog Exchange
Seed Exchange attendees are encouraged to bring their used or new garden books and seed catalogs to swap and share at this year’s event.
   We also ask you to bring your own water bottle or reusable mug and a home-made nametag. We will have a“best nametag” contest, so get crafty!

Event Hashtags #GardenDC and #SeedSwapDay

If You Have Seeds to Bring and Swap
Please package them in resealable plastic zipper or wax sandwich baggies. Put an average of 20 seeds per baggy — more for small seeds like lettuce, fewer for large seeds like acorns. Label each baggy with a white sticker (such as Avery standard 5160 address label sheets) giving all the information you have on the seeds. If known, include the plant's common and scientific names; its soil, sun, and watering needs; and, its origins — where and when you collected the seeds. If you don't know all the information, that is okay; just provide as much as you can.
Yes, you can bring unused or opened commercial seed packs.

What If You Don't Have Any Seeds to Swap?
Come anyway! Even if you don’t have any seeds to trade, you are welcome to attend. We'll have plenty of extra seed contributions on hand and many attendees will be there just to learn, network, and prepare for next year's seed collecting.

Education Program
Expert speakers from the local gardening community will give short talks on seed collection and propagation tips. There will be ample time for individual Q&A throughout the program with the featured speakers, and invited experts as well.

(Note: This schedule is subject to change.)
12:00-12:30 Registration check-in
12:30-12:40 Introductions
12:40-1:20 Gardening talk
1:20-1:55 Gardening talk
2:00-2:15 Snack break and room reset
2:15-2:30 Seed Swap preview time
2:30-3:00 Seed Swap
3:00-3:30 Photo Contest winners
3:30-4:00 Door prizes and closing talk

How Do We Swap?
As you check in, staff will collect your seeds and place them at the appropriate seed category tables.
You will be assigned a random seed swap number. There will be a short period for attendees to preview all the seeds brought in and available for swapping. You will be called in by your number to pick a seed pack from each of the category tables (if desired).
After the initial seed swap is complete, attendees are free to take any of the left over seeds and to trade seeds with each other. Dividing of packets is encouraged and extra baggies with labels will be on hand for that purpose.

What Types of Seeds?
Seed swap categories will include natives, edibles, herbs, exotics, annuals, perennials, and woodies (trees/shrubs). If you can pre-sort your seeds in advance into which of these seven major categories fits best, that would help us speed up the process on the swap day.

Door Prizes! Goodie Bags!
Each attendee will receive a goodie bag at the seed swap. The bags include seeds, publications, and garden items donated by our sponsors. In addition, we have some incredible door prizes to give away especially for area gardeners.
   If your organization would like to contribute seeds or garden-related products for the goodie bags and door prizes, contact Kathy Jentz at 301.588.6894 by January 22.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Garden PHOTO CONTEST Kicks Off!

The 11th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest kicks off now! Time to start sorting and picking out your best 2015 garden shots. The entry period is January 1-21, 2017. 

Note that eligible entries must have been taken in the 2016 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 (click on the image to read it at full size):

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.)

For any contest inquiries, contact

Video Wednesday: 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show, Holland: Flowering the World

The 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will showcase the extraordinary plants, creativity and talent of this region’s top horticulturists and designers along with award-winning landscape and floral designers from the Netherlands.

A must-see event for gardeners of all levels, the 2017 Flower Show offers endless inspiration to use in spaces of all sizes, from landscapes to containers to windowsills.

In addition to past favorites, new attractions in 2017 include Holland's own Ecodome on it's first and only stop in North American, a relaxing retreat in the Garden Spa, and the World Flower Market.

Washington Gardener Magazine will be announcing our trip details in the next few days -- stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Video Wednesday: Shelby's Internship Experience

 By Shelby Smith

During my fall internship at Washington Gardener Magazine, we picked our own plants to grow throughout the duration of the internship in the Fenton Community Garden in Silver Spring, MD. I chose to grow Kale, Organic Gourmet Lettuce mix, and Arugula.
I was a little nervous about growing something, because I don’t really have the green thumb in my family. My dad was the lucky one to get that. I chose to do the greens because I was curious how fast they would grow and how they would grow from late summer into the early winter.
My arugula was the star of the show. It started showing up within three weeks. By the end of October, I was able to cut off enough to make an Arugula salad for a weekly blog recipe for my "Savory Sunday" series. I also used it a lot for lunch sandwiches, because it adds a peppery flavor.
One thing I did learn is that some plants will wait till the cooler weather before growing. My Kale was the last to show up and I only was able to start cutting samples to cook with about the beginning of December. Kathy Jentz told me that kale likes the cool weather and it makes sense that it only started showing up now, when we had a relatively warm fall season.
Even with the recent frost my Arugula is still growing. My Lettuce has slowed down, but it’s still crisp and colorful. I would recommend trying to grow something, even if you don’t have a green thumb. If it be flowers, greens, or tomatoes trying to growing something is fun and exciting when you see the first leaves poking out of the grown.
Here is a photo-video compilation of my experiences this past semester:
About the Author:
Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was a sports copy-editor for a campus publication called Unwind Magazine and a writer at The Campus Currentnewspaper at Anne Arundel Community College. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fennel, Hepaticas, Bergenia, and much more in the December 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The December 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.

Inside this issue:
Four Seasons at Federal Twist: A New Jersey Prairie Garden
Growing Tips for Flavorful Fennel
Your Monthly Garden Tasks To-do List
Seasonal Tool Care Guide
Local Gardening Events Calendar
Happy Native Hepaticas
Welcoming Winter Birds
Seed Exchange Registration
Garden Photo Contest Entry
New Bergenia Series: Not Your Grandma’s Pig Squeak
And much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the January 2017 issue are due by January 10.

  Subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine today to have the monthly publication sent to your inbox as a PDF several days before it is available online. You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Video Wednesday: USBG Holiday Train and Model Building Display 2016

Season’s Greenings: National Parks and Historic Sites at the US Botanic Garden
Immerse yourself in the sights, scents, and sounds of the season at the annual holiday show Season’s Greenings of the U.S. Botanic Garden. See thousands of blooms throughout the conservatory, from exotic orchids to a showcase of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties. Throughout the conservatory, the displays celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, including displaying one of the largest indoor trees, decked out with ornaments from national parks. The best times to visit Season’s Greenings are weekdays early in December or on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December when the conservatory is open until 8pm with live seasonal music. Aside from these extended holiday hours, the conservatory is open every day of the year, from 10am to 5pm, free of charge.

This video is by Washington Gardener Magazine intern Stephen Barber. He is from Keedysville, MD. He moved to Washington, DC, to become an urban farmer. He is a senior at the University of Maryland, majoring in broadcast journalist.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Savory: Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic Butter

Guest post by Shelby Smith

Want a buttery side dish that’s both crispy and not the same-old baked potato? Hasselback potatoes are an interesting spin on both. This dish is the best parts of both and is smothered in flavor. Any kinds of potatoes, dug fresh from the garden or store bought, can be used to make this recipe.
  • Russet potatoes. One per person depending on the size.
  • 4 tbsp. of butter or margarine.
  • 3 gloves of garlic.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash all the potatoes and dry with a paper towel.
  3. On medium heat melt the butter and crushed garlic in a small pot to make your own garlic butter. Don’t let the garlic brown.
  4. With a sharp knife cut ¼ inch slices side-by-side, but only cut ¾ the way through the potato. Don’t cut all the way through. (Cut the slices thinner for crispy chips).
  5. In a 2 inch deep baking pan line all the potatoes side-by-side and season the inside and outside with salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle the garlic butter on the inside and outside of the potato generously.
  7. Bake in the oven for 55 minutes, until the slices are crispy and top and the potato is cooked through.
  8. In the last 5 minutes of cooking you can sprinkle the cheese on the top and melt it.
  9. Keep warm until ready to serve.
This side dish can be served with anything and you can season it any way you like. You can sprinkle the top with any type of cheese as well as bacon to add a little bit more flavor. You can even try this recipe with sweet potatoes and top with marshmallows.
"Savory Sunday" is a new weekly blog series with seasonal recipes from the garden.
About the Author:
Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was a sports copy-editor for a campus publication called Unwind Magazine and a writer at The Campus Current newspaper at Anne Arundel Community College. 

Win Garden of Lights Passes in December 2016 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For the December 2016 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away several passes to the Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. Make a new holiday tradition at the Garden of Lights! This walk-through holiday light display features 1 million dazzling, colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Enjoy nightly musical performances and visit the conservatory to watch G-scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape. The event will be open nightly through January 1, 2017 (open every night except December 24 & 25).
   Stroll from garden to garden, enjoying twinkling tree forms, fountains, sparkling snowflakes overhead, and more. The Garden of Lights celebrates its 19th season as a Baltimore/Washington, DC-area family holiday tradition.
   Warm up in the Visitors Center while you sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. Find out more at
   To enter to win a pass that admits one car-load of guests to the Garden of Lights, send an email to by 5pm on Wednesday, December 21, with “Lights Show” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us which was your favorite post from 2016 on Washington Gardener's blog ( and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on December 22.

The Light Show pass winners are:
~ Jeff Malakoff, Arlington. VA
Dorothy Cichra, Silver Spring, MD
~ Katie Rapp, Gaithersburg MD 
~ Alison Mrohs, Rockville MD 
~ Madeline Caliendo, Washington, DC

Thursday, December 08, 2016

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Advanced Landscape Plant IPM PHC Short Course

Advanced Landscape Plant IPM PHC
Short Course

January 3–6, 2017

For more information please visit:
For registration information contact:
Kiley Gilbert
University of Maryland
Department of Entomology
4291 Fieldhouse Dr.
College Park, MD  20742
Tel: 301-405-3911

Every Thursday on the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page and Yahoo list we feature a current advertiser from our monthly digitall magazine. To advertise with us, contact today. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Video Wednesday: Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens

Washington Gardener Magazine intern Stephen Barber put together this video interview with Stephanie Oberle, head of Brookside Gardens, giving in overview of the seasonal light display.
   The Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. is a holiday tradition! This walk-through holiday light display features 1 million dazzling, colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Enjoy nightly musical performances and visit the conservatory to watch G-scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape.
   Stroll from garden to garden, enjoying twinkling tree forms, fountains, sparkling snowflakes overhead, and more.
   Warm up in the Visitors Center while you sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. Find out more at

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday Savory: Arugula Pesto

Guest post by Shelby Smith
   Arugula is fresh green that can continue to grow into the month of December here in the Mid-Atlantic. It will continue growing in your garden until a really bad frost. Try making pesto with Arugula rather than Basil. It is fresh, creamy, and has a subtle peppery flavor. 

  • A hand full of fresh Arugula, rinsed.
  • 4-6 tbsp. of olive oil.
  • 3 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. In a food processor or blender blend the arugula, garlic, and cheese.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the oil as the blend is running until pesto is smooth and garlic is minced.
  3. Add salt and pepper for taste.
Traditional pesto has toasted pine nuts added to it and you can add that to this pesto with you would like a nutty and toasted flavor. You can serve this over any type of pasta, drizzle it over a tomato and mozzarella salad, or spread it on a pizza. If any leftover, you can store this in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
"Savory Sunday" is a new weekly blog series with seasonal recipes from the garden.
About the Author:
Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was a sports copy-editor for a campus publication called Unwind Magazine and a writer at The Campus Current newspaper at Anne Arundel Community College. 

Calendula: You Can Grow That!

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) also known as Pot Marigold or Poet's Marigold is a half-hardy perennial plant that readily re-seeds if ever a bad winter kills it fully back.

Plant it in full sun and in well-draining, loamy soil. I only water it if we have not had a decent rain in weeks. Deadhead them frequently to encourage continual blooming. (I find them to be a long-lasting cut-flower.) You should also occasionally weed around them and pull out new seedlings to pot them up and pass them on to other gardeners.

It was named Herb of the Year in 2008 as it is edible and beneficial. Snip off the colorful ends of the flower petals to add a pretty accent to any salad or as a decoration on baked goods. It has a very light taste -- like a spicy pale honey. The dried petals can be used to color broths, cheeses, and butter. They are a thrifty substitute for the very expensive saffron.

Calendula tends to sulk in the summer heat of the Mid-Atlantic, but that is just a pause in its robust routine. In my garden plot, I cannot recall any month of the year that it doesn't have a few blooms opening up. This is a tremendous workhorse that belongs in every edible and cutting garden.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top 10 New Books for Gardeners

Here is a selection of new books (published in 2016) that were reviewed in Washington Gardener Magazine. I have a given a snippet of the review below each book. To read the full reviews, go peruse our back issues at I think these books would make great gifts for the gardeners in your life as well as to gift yourself for reading during winter's bleakest days.

1. The Cocktail Hour Garden: Creating Evening Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertaining

Our reviewer said: "I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to adopting its basic principles in my garden."

2. All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison's Cabbages to Kennedy's Roses_How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America

"I found the book a fun read and good reference," commented our reviewer "It would make a great gift for a local gardener or one who loves the history of the White House."

3. Bonsai and Penjing: Ambassadors of Peace & Beauty

"This book would be a good coffee-table piece, a great addition for anyone interested in bonsai trees or plant history, or a souvenir from the National Arboretum," said our reviewer.

4.  Grow For Flavor: Tips and Tricks to Supercharge the Flavor of Homegrown Harvests

Our reviewer raved, "'Grow for Flavor' makes the latest horticultural research accessible to the home gardener. Bursting with ideas, it invites frequent returns and sparks further adventures in gardening."

5. Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture: 20 Step-by-Step Projects Anyone Can Build

"Overall, the book is a very satisfying do-it-yourself guide with tasteful and varied projects," said our reviewer, "but could intimidate those who may find the prospect of simply screwing in all the slats to a bench perfectly straight a little daunting. It should be highly considered as a project book for anyone looking to add some character to his or her yard or garden."

6. Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe

Our reviewer said, "The book is hardcover, colorful, and contains several photos of dyed fabrics, flowers in the natural form, and plants at various stages of extracting their dye.
It is a nice flip book or conversation starter. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially fashion designers wanting to dye their own fabric and anyone who is interested in doing some natural tie dying."

7. Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner (2016-05-18)

"I strongly feel this book has a place beside every beginning or seasoned gardener’s favorite chair, so it is readily accessible. The ideal of how we can create our own revolutionary experience in our gardens has been achieved by the collaboration of Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher," said our reviewer.

8. RHS Miniature Garden Grower: Terrariums & Other Tiny Gardens to Grow Indoors & Out by Holly Farrell (2016-06-02)

Our reviewer said, "'Miniature Garden Grower' is the perfect guide to planting creative small gardens in ways that one may have never thought about. The book provides a large amount of variety and is well organized, providing inspiration to the reader."

9. 101 Chilies to Try Before You Die

"This book is of interest to anybody growing chilies and in having colorful and visually interesting vegetables in his or her garden—no matter how big or small. The book itself makes a handy reference work and certainly a good gift for anybody interested in gardening," said our reviewer.

10. Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life

Our reviewer said, "I recommend this book if you have just begun your garden journey upon entering the next phase of life. It’s a great read with useful hints and tips, no matter what age you are!"

Monday, November 28, 2016

Top 10 Gifts for Gardeners

As the holiday season is upon  us, I find my email inbox filling up with requests from product companies and PR companies urging me to share their wares with you all. Yet, I cannot in good conscience, promote anything that I have not used and tested myself. 
   This year, I was honored to be asked to be a judge of the Direct Gardening Association's Green Thumb Awards for the best new garden products and plants. The first seven gifts on this list that I am recommending come from these product evaluations that I did and I can highly endorse these as I tested them in my own home garden. The winning Green Thumb products were selected based on their uniqueness, technological innovation, ability to solve a gardening problem or provide a gardening opportunity, and potential appeal to gardeners.
   The last few gift recommendations are for tried-and-true products that I have used over many years and that I have come to trust and cherish. These are the ones I buy for fellow gardeners and that I am loathe to let anyone borrow lest they not be speedily returned.
   What garden tools do you love? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

1.  Kitchen Garden Kit - Grow Microgreens & Baby Greens - Botanical Interests

2. Plant A Bar, 28217; x 48217;

3. Happy Leaf LED V2 Grow Light

4. Purple Pillar Hibiscus - 4" pot - Rose of Sharon

5. Proven Winners Invincibelle Ruby Smooth Hydrangea (Arborescens) Live Shrub, Pink and Red Flowers, 1 gallon

6.  Hazzard's Seeds Calendula Snow Princess 250 seeds

7.  Fingerling Potato Molly Black - 10 certified ORGANIC Purple Heirloom Potato Seeds

<a target="_blank"  href="{{linkCode}}&tag=wdc0f1-20&linkId={{link_id}}"><img border="0" src="//" ></a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

8. CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator

9. O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream, 3.4 oz., Jar

10. Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 Concentrate 1 Quart

and one bonus stocking-stuffer pick:

Corona AG4930SS Long Straight Snip, Stainless Steel

Featured Post

Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

Today is Amazon Prime Day, so I thought I'd again share the garden products I use almost every day. These are the tried-and-true w...