Monday, April 30, 2018

Gifts for Gardeners - Gardening Gift Ideas - Cool Gardening Gifts

Do you have a gardener on your gift list for Mother's Day or Father's Day? Maybe a spring birthday or bridal shower is coming up and you are looking for that perfect gardening gift?

I thought I'd again share the garden products I use almost every day. These are the tried-and-true work tools that make my garden grow, save my back from breaking, and generally make life a little easier.

(BTW, they are linked to Amazon, so if you click on them and order any, I get a couple pennies added to my account.) 

1. Dramm 12446 2-Liter Injection Molded Plastic Watering Can, Berry 

2. 4-Port Deluxe Rain Barrel


3. Foxgloves - Medium, Moss

4. Sloggers Garden Clog

5. Scala Wide Brim Garden Hat

6. Garden Kneeling Pad

7. Corona AG4930SS Long Straight Snip, Stainless Steel

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, if you like this list, you may enjoy these by some of my fellow garden bloggers:

~ Gift Ideas for Garden Cats

~ May Day Celebration Gifts

~ Gifts for Gardeners Spring and Summer

~ Gifts for Gardeners (and Budding Foragers) -

~ Gifts for Mom

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fenton Friday: Salad Days!

Today at the community garden plot, we harvested lots of Spinach and Arugula. Then we made a big salad for lunch. This serves 2 people if it is a main dish or 4-6 people as a side dish. Here is the recipe we used:

Salad ingredients:
  • 5-10 ounces arugula (homegrown or organic, when possible)
  • 5-10 ounces young spinach leaves (homegrown or organic, when possible)
  • 2 small apples - cored and cut into small cubes
  • bleu cheese (or goat cheese) crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans or walnuts - chopped

Dressing ingredients:
  • 1 large lemon, juiced ( about 3 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp local honey
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Clean and dry the salad greens. Prep the other salad ingredients. Then mix the dressing in a mason jar. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour on dressing and mix well. Enjoy!

We also harvested Cilantro and my little kitty, Versace, snarfed up the piece I gave him. He loves the stuff.

This was a very wet week for us, so we weeded a bit and I also grabbed a handful of Asparagus. In the rest of the plot, the Garlic and Strawberries actually seem a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. The Lettuce mix and Carrot seedlings are finally popping up. Radishes, Peas, and Cauliflower are coming along nicely.

I hope to be able to plant my annual cutting flowers in the next week or so.

How is your vegetable garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday: 
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)\

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Plant Profile: Tulips

Tulip Growing Tips:

Tulips and other spring-blooming bulbs are the ultimate “set it and forget it” plants. Just dig a hole in the fall and plop the bulbs in, cover, and forget about them until they bloom in the spring. Tulips like a sunny spot in well-draining soil. They do not like sitting in wet spots or in full (evergreen) shade.

Most public gardens and many veteran gardeners treat tulips as annuals and just pull and compost them after they bloom. They will return for you for a few years, but eventually will peter out. So just budget and plan to replace them every couple of years and experiment with new varieties while you are at it.

By the way, there is no need to cut the foliage back or tie it up. Just let it die back naturally. If the sight of the dying foliage bothers you, just plant new spring annuals and perennials around them to fill in and disguise the decaying leaves.

Deer and squirrels can pester your tulips so apply an organic deterrent like blood meal, hot pepper spray, or deer repellent, if that is an issue for you.

If you get too busy to plant tulips in the fall (or live in the deep South), don’t despair, you can purchase them in pots already forced into bloom at local garden centers and florist shops. This spring, take note of what kinds you like best and mark your calendars to order them in May and plant them in November.

Top Tulip Varieties:
Here are a few that I consider must-haves for my garden.
1. AngeliqueGorgeous peony-like blooms that are white with a touch of blush at the edges.
2. Princess Irene (aka Prinses Irene)The unusual color combination of melon and plum mark this striking tulip and make it a favorite for cut flower bouquets.
3. Black ParrotA dark maroon so rich and velvety you will swear it is black. This tulip also has wonderfully frilly edges and looks dramatic paired with most other bulbs.
4. Bleu AmiableA soft, silvery lilac on a single, tall stem, Just one of these in a bud vase on my bedside table is all I need.
5. Spring GreenThe palest yellow tinged with green highlights make this tulip a fresh addition to any yard and ideal to combine with brighter yellow and whites.

Tulip Viewing Spots in the Washington, DC region:

~ The Floral Library (also known as the Tulip Library) was established in 1969 as part of Lady Bird Johnson's Capital Beautification Project. The 'library' has 93 flower beds maintained by the National Park Service. These beds feature either tulips or annuals depending on the planting season. The flowers require up to 10,000 bulbs to be planted by hand each year.

~ The Franciscan Monastery has an abundance of formal tulip beds – all timed to bloom for Easter.

~ The Sherwood Gardens neighborhood park in Baltimore is a wonderful daytrip for immersing yourself in displays of hundreds of tulip bulbs.

~ Many other public gardens in our area – such as Hillwood, Brookside, and Meadowlark – have beautiful tulip displays.

Top Tulip Sources:

~ Your local independent garden center or nursery.
~ Brent and Becky’s Bulbs >
~ Harvesting History >
~ ColorBlends >
~ Old House Gardens >

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly. 

Thank you to Eva K. Graham for sharing her excellent tulip photos from public gardens in the DC-area.

 If you enjoy this video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

 FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Win passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit in our April 2018 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest

For our April 2018 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away five sets of passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit in Wheaton, MD (each set has two passes and is a $16 value).
   It runs April 18–June 30 from 9am–5pm, then daily July 1–August 31 from 9am–5pm on weekdays and 9am–5pm on weekends, and finally from September 1–16 from 9am–5pm daily,
   Brookside Gardens South Conservatory features live butterflies. Come witness the butterfly life cycle as tiny eggs hatch into crawling, chewing caterpillars, which then encase themselves in jewel-like chrysalides and emerge as sipping, flying adult butterflies. Learn about the best annual and tropical plants, and hardy shrubs, to use as nectar sources to attract butterflies to your own garden.
   Note: The exhibit is in a greenhouse, which is usually 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature and more humid.
   See more details at
   To enter to win passes, send an email to by 5pm on Monday, April 30, with “Wings” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us which was your favorite article in the April 2018 issue and why. Please include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on May 1.

We have our winners! They are:
~ Anamaria Anderson, Arlington, VA
~ Caity Valley, Washington, DC
~ Stephanie Richard, Rockville, MD
~ Susie Gellert, Laytonsville, MD 

~ Caroline C. Timbers
Each gets a pair of passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit in Wheaton, MD. Congratulations to them all. Have fun and don't forget your cameras!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Authors in Bloom Contest

UPDATE: The winner chosen at random from among the submitted entries is Diana Tidlund.
Thank you to all who entered!

I'm participating in the 7th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop from now until April 27th.

I share a Garden Tip of the Day on Twitter. Follow me @WDCGardener then retweet any of the daily garden tips this week for a chance to win a "Get Out There and Start Gardening" Gift Set including a trowel from Corona Tools, a fertilizer pack from The Espoma Company, and seed packs from Renee's Garden. (If Twitter is not your thing, you can simply enter by leaving a comment below this blog post.)

Visit these other blogs (listed below) in the Bloom Blog Hop for many more contests and a chance at the Grand Prize: a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice - value $200) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. 

“Giveaway ends April 27th at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Legal Residents (18 years of age or older) of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be selected by and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that Dianne Venetta, host of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop, is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. I will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you in obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.” VOID where prohibited by law. Now get hopping, you have a bunch more chances to win!

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 2018 Washington Gardener: Reblooming Azaleas , Year of the Beet, and much more...

The April 2018 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.

Inside this issue:
·         Reblooming Azaleas
·         5 Tips for Surviving Allergy Season
·         A Visit to Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
·         Your Garden Task List
·         Being Green with Adele Kuo
·         Garden Hats Reviewed
·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
·         & 12+ Springtime Garden Tours
·         2018 is the Year of the Beet
and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the May 2018 issue are due by May 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:

Follow us on:

Strawberry Fields...

My little strawberry patch is springing to life and is loaded with flowers. That means lots of sweet berries soon. It is amazing how fast things go from zero to 100 in the garden. For weeks we've been in a holding pattern and now it is all happening at once -- as those with pollen allergies can attest.

I re-seeded the lettuce again and also started a batch of seeds in a container. I am holding up a bit of hope there.

We'll be able to host a salad of spinach and arugula any day now. (Well, maybe not in the same bowl).

The peas are jumping up and I am guiding their little tendrils over to the trellis wires.

How is your vegetable garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday: 
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Plant Profile: Eastern Redbud Tree

Native, deer-resistant, shade-tolerant, and the perfect-size for even the smallest garden, Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) are in bloom right now all over the Mid-Atlantic region. The flowers cover the tree’s bare branches and, on older specimens, even along its trunk.

Not only are the tiny flowers pretty, but did you know they are edible? They taste like peas because this tree is, in fact, a member of the large legume and pea plant family! Sprinkle a few on your salad or on the edge of a dessert plate for added color.

When they will leaf out this tree is just as pretty. The heart-shaped foliage also is spectacular in autumn turning a bright, clear yellow.

The seed pods are an attractive display also – they rustle lightly in the wind and look like a brown fringe hanging off the branches.

These trees do fine in our heavy clay soils and do well in light shade. They appreciate some protection from the hot afternoon summer sun.

In my own garden, the only problem I’ve ever had with this tree is that the leaf cutter bee likes to come and snip out very precise little circles from the foliage. It is not a big issue and is actually quite decorative.

Note that the popular Redbud 'Don Egolf' introduced by the U.S. National Arbroretum is a Chinese redbud. It is popular due to its floriferous habit and that it stays small and shrub-like.

The newer introductions of Eastern Redbud cultivars include trees with burgundy, chartreuse, or variegated leaves. They also are bred for shorter stature and a more umbrella-like tree canopy. These include: ‘Forest Pansy’, ‘Covey’, ‘Appalachia’, and ‘Hearts of Gold’.

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly.

 If you enjoy this video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

 FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE

Monday, April 16, 2018

Planting the Pansy Project in DC

By Kelly Zheng

Growing up in a low-income family in Upstate New York, seven-year-old Justin Kondrat enjoyed visiting his Grandma Pearl every weekend. They did not have much, yet he loved her small garden. Filled with tulips, pansies and sunflowers, it provided not just pretty flowers, but served as a place for inclusion and healing. Kondrat spent hours tilling soil, tending the plants and measuring flowers. When it was lunchtime, his grandmother would look for him only to find him deep in his own world.

“I knew I was different, but I masked it with gardening,” the 26-year-old DC-based horticulturist said. “Fortunately, I had a grandmother who taught me... and told me that being different didn’t make me any less human.” Of all the flowers Kondrat planted with his grandmother, the pansy was special to him -- a flower of beauty, resilience and sentiment.

However, he  knew there were other associations with his favorite flower. Fag. Sissy. Wimp.

A desire to combat these labels led Kondrat to be an activist for LGBTQ equality during his studies in horticulture production, environmental science and plant sciences at three distinct institutions. “From almost getting hit by a car to being told by the college administration that I won’t make a difference, it infuriated me into action,” he said. “I refused to let them win...”

Kondrat publicly identified as gay at age 21. His grandmother, mother and sister supported him -- even though his father did not. Seeking support online, Kondrat found The Pansy Project by British artist Paul Harfleet. Harfleet plants pansies at sites of homophobic abuse, whether it is emotional, verbal or physical.

Harfleet started the project 13 years ago because of his own encounters with aggressive homophobia. He said the pansy plantings are a conceptual art piece to create awareness of these incidents world-wide. He located victims’ stories around Europe and then branched out to North America. The flowers are photographed, posted on his website and tied to a searchable online map. Each pansy listed is named after the abusive incident and includes the victim’s story. Harfleet also wrote and illustrated the “Pansy Boy” children’s book. It is a semi-autobiographical allegory about challenging homophobia in a non-confrontational way.

After talking online and by phone for a year, Kondrat and Harfleet met last fall in London and planned for Harfleet’s trip to the U.S. this month. “Horticulture naturally invites everyone to feel welcomed,” Kondrat said. “These are heinous acts, but it brought Paul and I together to bring homophobia to light.”

During his April 3 book reading at Busboys and Poets in DC, he talked about his self-planted pansies in England. He also discussed planting 23 pansies with Kondrat during his week-long stay in DC, including one each at the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court.

A DC resident who identifies as queer, came to the event excited to meet Harfleet and get her book signed. “I really appreciate the positive aspects of the book, as it’s already difficult facing homophobia in real life,” she said. “Pansy Boy addresses it more simply, but there’s still a rich meaning.” She added that Harfleet’s work made her feel like there is hope and she is in a safe environment. She struggled with homophobia when her mother nearly disowned her for coming out.
Though there is still work to be done in relation to homophobia, Kondrat said if someone is thrown negativity, it is just that. It does not define their destiny. “You’re never truly alone,” he said. “Believe in yourself and things will come. You’ll get through it and when you do, you’ll have quite the story to tell.”

About the Author:
Kelly Zheng is a junior multiplatform journalism major, with a minor in technology entrepreneurship, at the University of Maryland, College Park. This spring semester, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bloom Day Bounty

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells
It is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day again! On the 15th of each month, we gardeners with blogs share a few bloom photos from our gardens. 

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, we had a continuation of winter until two days ago when spring sprung out and the birds sang and pollen rained down - now it is back to March weather today.

In my garden, I have a multitude of blooms. The Saucer Magnolia has dropped all its petals and the early Lilacs are just budding up. Here is my list of what is in flower today:

- Viola
- Violets
- Alyssum
- Scilla
- Veronica
- Hellebores
- Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)
- Daffodils
- Tulips
- Forsythia
- Virginia Bluebells
Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum)
- Weeping 'Higan' Cherry tree
- Redbud tree
- Peach 'White Column' tree
- Flowering Almond shrub
- PJM Rhododendrons

Looking at last year's Bloom Day list though, I believe we are about two weeks behind schedule.

So what is blooming today in YOUR garden?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fenton Friday: Seedlings UP


This week's weather started with snow flurries and freezing winds and ends with summertime temps and searing sun. At my community garden plot, we have several things coming up from seed and we threw a cover cloth over them last week - first to insulate them from the cold and now from the heat!

The seedlings that are up already seem okay. The lettuce and carrots have not germinated yet, I am wondering if I should wait or put out a new batch of each.

How is your vegetable garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday: 
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Plant Profile: Cherry Trees

Every garden needs at least one stunning specimen tree and nothing fills that qualification as well as an ornamental cherry tree.

Flowering cherry trees are hardy to zone 8. They want 3 hours of full sun between the hours of 11 and 5. In other words, afternoon, not morning, sun. They do fine in our clay soil, as long as it is amended with compost annually to lighten its structure. The flowering cherries are heavy feeders, so fertilize them regularly during the growing season with a product high in nitrogen.

Do not over-water them. Once established, the ornamental cherry is a fairly drought-tolerant plant.

They are a member of the Rose family, so they can be impacted by the Japanese beetle. Also, watch out for bagworms and tent caterpillars then remove them promptly.

Prune your trees to remove crossing or diseased branches and to allow free circulation of air. The best time to prune an ornamental cherry is between January and early March.

‘Kwanzan’ and ‘Yoshino’ cherry trees account for the majority of the flowering cherries in our region.

The ‘Kwanzan’ cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’) has double-pink flowers in such abundance that it gives the tree a cloud-like appearance. At maturity, it will be wider than it is tall.

The ‘Yoshino’ cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) is an upright tree with delicate single white or pale pink blossoms.

The ‘Okame’ Cherry (a hybrid of P. campanulata and P. incise) is another popular variety. It is one of the first cherry trees to bloom and does so in carmine-pink hues.

In my own garden is the ‘Weeping Higan’ cherry (P. subhirtella var. pendula). It is one of the last cherry trees to bloom and the wait is worth it. The soft-pink flowers hang down like multiple little parasols. I love the way they flutter in the wind.

Finally, you don’t want to miss the seasonal display of cherry trees in mass plantings. See our list of 17 top viewing spots in the Washington, DC region on our blog at (

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly.

 If you enjoy this video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

 FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE

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Top 10 Garden Books of 2018

Here is a list of the best gardening books that came out in 2018 as reviewed in  Washington Gardener  Magazine. These 10 selections are in ...