Thursday, March 31, 2016

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Plant a Row for the Hungry

Plant a Row for the Hungry is People Helping People Since 1995, over 20 million pounds of produce providing over 80 million meals have been donated by American gardeners. All of this has been achieved without government subsidy or bureaucratic red tape -- just people helping people.

Plant A Row is a public service program of the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Garden writers are asked to encourage their readers/listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America’s hungry.

There are over 84 million households with a yard or garden in the U.S. If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food agencies and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger.

Support Plant A Row and help make a difference in your community.

PAR Hotline 1-877-492-2727 or go to

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Video Wednesday: Pea Planting Tips

After this long, harsh winter, we are all eager to get out and see anything green. Now is the perfect time to get acquainted with and grow the numerous early season crops we can cultivate in the Mid-Atlantic’s cool, wet spring months of March and April.

Many delectable edibles prefer the early spring mild weather days and practically melt when our hot, humid summers arrive. Tradition says to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day and this week is a perfect time to set up a vegetable patch or planting boxes full of cool-season edibles. Watch this video for some easy pea planting tips to get you started.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Win 3 Rosy-twisted stalk Plants in March 2016 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our March 2016 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away three Streptopus roseus plants to one lucky winner, courtesy of Sunshine Farm & Gardens, based in Renick, WV, and online at (Total prize value of $25).
   Rosy-twisted stalk (Streptopus roseus) is hardy to Zones 3 to 10. It has supple, medium-green, arching, Solomon’s Seal-like foliage. Its pendulous pink flowers turn to deep-red berries and persist until autumn.
    It is a perennial that is native to the eastern half of the United States. The arching stems are 8–12" long and a mature plant is about 12" around. It prefers full shade to dappled sunlight with average to moist soil. There are no insect, pest, or disease problems; amazingly, it is 100 percent deer-proof. It is also known as Rosybells, Rose Mandarin, Scootberry, Liverberry, and Rose-bellwort.
   To enter to win the Streptopus roseus plants, send an email to by 5:00pm on March 31 with “Rosy-twisted stalk” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the March 2016 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced and notified on April 1.

UPDATE: The winning entry chosen at random was Alison Mrohs of Rockville MD. Congratulations, Alison!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Local First Friday: From The Farmer

From The Farmer delivers fresh produce to customer doorsteps in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. Customers can customize the size and contents – including various vegetables and fruits, bread, and eggs – of their baskets and determine their own delivery schedules, with no weekly commitment required.

After beginning a student organization that fed hundreds of local community members during their time at the University of Denver, co-founders Nick Phelps and Jason Lundberg started From The Farmer in 2010, according to Stacey Price, the company’s director of sales and marketing. The company now delivers to more than 2,000 houses per week, most of which are regular customers, said Price.

“Our office is filled with expertise ranging from farming, cooking, nutrition, and food policy,” Price wrote in an email. “We get to work with the most interesting partners and producers and customers. The common thread in our story is a love of food.

From The Farmer buys produce from more than 100 different local farms and producers, according to Price. The business chooses partners that have a transparent cultivating process, practice sustainability, and have quality products and healthy practices. 

Tyler Baer, the head of sourcing and storytelling, said the most challenging part of From The Farmer was the quick pace and constant changes.

“Food moves fast and it never sleeps,” said Baer. “Each year (growing season) is different and the best you can do is prepare accordingly and hold on for the ride.”

Price said the business was always built with the intention to be able to recreate the model in other cities, but the team still has more work to do in the Washington, DC-area. 

In late April, From The Farmer will launch technology to provide more options to customers, including sustainable meat and dairy and pantry items, according to Price.

About the Author 
Seema Vithlani is a junior multi-platform journalism major and French minor at the University of Maryland. This spring she is also an editorial intern for Washington Gardener Magazine.
"Local First Friday" is a weekly blog series profiling independent garden businesses in the greater Washington, DC, and Mid-Atlantic region. Washington Gardener Magazine believes strongly in supporting and sourcing from local businesses first!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival

 The Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival has become an annual rite of spring for Loudoun County and it’s not hard to see why. The festival boasts 150 vendors which include landscapers, gardening suppliers, plant sellers, outdoor living furniture, and more. There is also live music entertainment, activities for the kids, and delicious food. Find out more about these and other activities at

The Flower and Garden Festival is always the 3rd weekend in April. The festival hours are Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm and takes place rain or shine. This year it is April 16-17.

The festival is produced by the Town of Leesburg, with efforts from many different departments, including Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Leesburg Police, and Leesburg Utilities.

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

Saturday, March 19, 2016

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region

(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2016.)

It is Cherry Blossom Festival madness again in Washington, DC. If you have been there/done that, hate the crowds, or just can’t get enough of those dainty pink and white blossoms and want more, here are a several local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:

Public Gardens

~ The National Arboretum has a splendid and more varied display and LOTS or parking. Stroll around Fern Valley and the other gardens as well while you are there. Take the Self-Guided Tour: Beyond the Tidal Basin: Introducing Other Great Flowering Cherries  to explore the arboretum’s collection of over 2,000 cherry trees representing 600 different cultivars, hybrids, and species of various shapes, sizes, flower colors, and bloom times, including trees that have been created by arboretum scientists. Note: The free tour covers several miles of arboretum roads, and can be driven, biked, or walked. Pick up a brochure in the Administration Building.

~ Tudor Place hosts three Cherry Blossom Tea and also a Blossoms and Bubbly night. Or take a stroll on your own through the spectacular Yoshino Cherry Blossoms during the full bloom. Inside the Historic Mansion, enjoy an up-close look at Tudor Place’s collection of early 20th century Japanese fans. Event and entry fees apply.

~ Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, WDC, has a marvelous orchard of cherries. There is an $8 admission fee that goes to support the gardens. Parking is also a bear in that neighborhood -- I recommend you walk or take the bus.

~ Hillwood Estate in NW DC is pleased to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with short guided tours of Mrs. Post’s Japanese-style garden. Docents will be available to answer questions between the tours. The suggested entry donation to Hillwood is $12 per adult.

~ Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, also has beautiful cherry blossom trees and many other flowering trees like plum, apricot, magnolias, and quince in bloom right now, and you don’t have to fight the crowds to see them. The gardens are also full of flowering bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, and hillsides of daffodils.

~ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA, has over 100 cherry trees surrounding a lovely lake that you can stroll around. Admission to the gardens is a mere $5

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, has a ring of Yoshino cherry trees around their lake and Okame cherry blooms throughout the gardens. There is an entry fee of $10 to visit the gardens.

~  River Farm in Alexandria, VA, is a historic 25-acre site on the banks of the Potomac River. River Farm was once part of George Washington’s original five farms, and currently the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. The grounds offer spectacular river views, a wildlife garden, and delightful children’s areas. 

~ Green Spring Gardens near Annandale, VA, hosts  a Children's Cherry Blossom Celebration. On April 2, 2016, come to Green Spring Gardens to celebrate spring and the Japanese gift of the cherry trees. Test your chop stick abilities, try Japanese black ink painting, decorate paper fans, fold origami and more. Enjoy free activities or have even more fun by purchasing a craft ticket that gives you access to a variety of Japanese-inspired crafts. This program is intended for ages 5 to adult. No reservations required, but advance registration for craft tickets are recommended. Craft tickets are $10 and can be ordered at using code 290 289 9201. Call 703-642-5173 with questions. Event runs from 1pm – 3pm.
  On April 10, 2016, adults can enjoy a  Madame Butterfly Tea at Green Spring Gardens . Japan meets America in the tale of Cho-Cho-San and her lover Pinkerton. Hear excerpts from the short story that inspired Puccini’s beloved opera. Discover the prevailing attitudes that brought them together, and the “temporary wives” who became real-life “Butterflies.” Afterwards, enjoy a special Japanese-themed afternoon tea and favor bag. This is an official program of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Reservations required. $42 for the program and tea or $12 for the program only. Event runs from 1pm – 3pm, for adults only. To make reservations, call Historic Green Spring at 703-941-7987

Neighborhoods & Other Less-visited Spots

~ The Bethesda, MD, neighborhood of Kenwood for their stunning display. Park and walk in for an immersion in cherry tree lined streets.

~ Sarah Lawler suggests The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II is a beautiful spot to see cherry blossoms. It is located near Union Station at the intersection of Louisiana Ave., New Jersey Ave. and D Street, NW, WDC. And across the street is a grove on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

~ Foxhall and Reservoir Rds, NW. Washington, DC. The Foxhall Village neighborhood near Georgetown has cherry blossom-lined streets that are known as the best-kept secret among locals.

~ Brenda Lynn shared she always bikes from Arlingto, VA, in order to avoid having to park to take metro. It's a beautiful ride, and one could also bike along the GW parkway in VA to view all the blooms along the Potomac River

~ Anacostia Park at 900 Anacostia Drive, SE. Washington, DC. Cherry trees bloom along the Anacostia River at the 1,200-acre park that is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas.

~ An anonymous post to my blog, tipped me off that there are several blocks of cherry blossom trees creating an arch above the streets of Garrett Park Estates in Kensington, MD. "Take Strathmore Road near Holy Cross Church, turn onto Flanders and then I think it’s Waycross. The trees span several streets, are lovely, and totally free of crowds!"

~ Adam Bailey let me know that “Stanton Park and Lincoln Park on the Hill — and the Capitol Hill neighborhoods in general — have a good display of blossoms, too.”

~ "Scott Circle, at Massachusetts & 16th, also has some great cherry blossoms," reports John Boggan.

~ Katie said, "There's a neighborhood off Query Mill in North Potomac, MD, that has streets lined with cherry trees. Not as fantastic as Kenwood, but if you're in the upper Montgomery County, it may be more accessible. Streets include Moran and Bonnie Dale. It blooms a few days later than Kenwood."

~ There is a new website that lets you enter your zip code to find blooming street trees near your location. To try it out, go here:

Grow Your Own!

~ In the very first issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, we did a PlantProfile column on the selection and cultivation of cherry trees for our area. Ever since getting my weeping ‘Higan’ cherry, I feel no need to rush downtown. I keep a daily watch on my baby tree and celebrate loudly when the buds finally burst open. I highly recommend it.

Got other DC-area Cherry Tree viewing locations? Please share them in the comments below.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

7 Stress-free Perennials that Work Hard for You in the March 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The March 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out and posted online at:

In this issue:
~ 7 Stress-free Perennials that Work Hard for You
~ Growing Colossal Cabbages
~ Your Monthly Garden Tasks To-Do List
~ Behind-the-Scenes at the Smithsonian Garden Greenhouses
~ Key Ways to Prevent Catching the Zika Virus
~ The One Handsaw You Need
~ Local Gardening Events Calendar
~ Raising Arugula
~ Meet Plant Mapper Bill Blevins
and much more!

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the April 2016 issue are due by April 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:

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