Friday, September 28, 2018

Fenton Friday: Cucamelons - Finally

This year's Cucamelons aka Mexican Sour Gherkins (Melothria scabra) took forever to form. The vines grew and grew, flowered and flowered, but not a "mouse melon" in sight, until this past week. I blame the constant rains and cloudy days.

Elsewhere in the plot, the end of the summer season is evident and the tomatoes are petering out. I'll be pulling those vines out soon and clearing out space for Garlic and cool season edibles like Spinach and Cilantro.

What is growing in your edible garden 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Win a Copy of The English Country House Garden in the September 2018 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our September 2018 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away three copies of The English Country House Garden by George Plumptre from Quarto Publishing ( The prize value is $25.00 each.
   There is something special about the English country house garden: from its quiet verdant lawns to its high yew hedges, this is a style much-desired and copied around the world. The English country house is most often conceived of as a private, intimate place; a getaway from working life. A pergola, a sundial, a croquet lawn, a herbaceous border of soft planting—here is a space to wander and relax, to share secrets, and above all to enjoy afternoon tea. But even the most peaceful of gardens also take passion and hard work to create. This new book takes a fresh look at the English country house garden, starting with the owners and the stories behind the making of the gardens. Glorious photographs capture the gardens at their finest moments through the seasons, and a sparkling and erudite text presents 25 gardens—some grand, some personal, some celebrated, some never-before-photographed—to explore why this garden style has been so very enduring and influential. From the Victorian grandeur of Tyntesfield and Cragside, to the Arts & Crafts simplicity of Rodmarton Manor and Charleston; from Scampston, in the same family since the 17th century, to new gardens by Dan Pearson and Tom Stuart-Smith; and with favorites such as Hidcote and Great Dixter alongside new discoveries, this book will be a delicious treat for garden-lovers.
    Email by 5:00pm on September 30 with “English County Garden” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Include your full name and mailing address. Tell us which was your favorite article in the September 2018 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine issue and why. The book winners will be announced and notified on October 1.

Congratulations to our 3 winners chosen at random from among the submitted entries:
  • Barbara Delaney, Bethesda, MD
  • Cindy Haney, Falls Church, VA  
  • Madeline Caliendo,  Washington, DC

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fenton Friday: Weekend Fun

Not too much action at the community garden plot this week due to the continued soggy soils-- another 3+ inches this week. We did add some beet seeds to fill in where some had washed away and weeded a bit.

This weekend, see me at two great local events. (These are both rain-or-shine with some tent/cover protection, so don't let the forecast scare you away!)

Saturday, September 22, 9am–3pm
Fall Garden Day: Plant Sale and More       
Fall is a great time to plant, and Green Spring Gardens is hosting numerous local plant and garden craft vendors to satisfy your gardening needs. A silent auction, bake sale, live music, food, and kids’ activity tent add to the festivities. Come and support one of Virginia’s most-innovative public gardens. Free admission.
Washington Gardener magazine will have a tent set us up  near the main building and we will be giving out FREE PawPaw tastes, while supplies last! See

Sunday, September 23, 1–1:30pm
DC State Fair: Flower Arranging Demo
I will be doing a flower arranging talk. Come play with flowers with me! The ones above are growing in my plot now and will be part of the demo bouquets.  Location: DC State Fair—Education Tent, 425 M St. SW, WDC. On the Southwest Waterfront near the Waterfront Metro. The Education Tent is on the west side of the fairgrounds. See more at

What is growing in your edible garden 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fall-blooming Japanese Anemone, Growing Garlic, Gardening for Wildlife, and much more in the September 2018 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The September 2018 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.
You can view it online at:

Inside this issue:
~ Fall-blooming Japanese Anemone
~ 11 Tips to Help Birds in Your Backyard
~ Turtles in the Garden: Native Chelone Species
~ Quick Pointers for Growing Great Garlic
~ Rooftop to Glass at Firefly
~ Autumn Spider Webs
~ Heirloom Herb Horehound
~ How to Hold More Carbon in Your Soil
~ Local Gardening 101
And much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the October 2018 issue are due by October 1.
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:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dealing with Deer and Other Creatures in Your Garden

By Ashley O'Connor

“Managing deer and other wildlife in your garden;” that was the topic of Kathy Jentz’s recent class at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. The publisher and editor of Washington Gardener told an attentive audience of 16 how to humanely handle pesky animals destroying their home gardens. Some of her tried and true tips are below.

For Managing Deer:
  • Cage small saplings during the fall to protect them from antler rubbings
  • The first line of defense is your dog, just make sure he/she is leashed and no closer than 15 feet from a deer
  • Use mesh fencing around property perimeters, but be sure to bring the mesh to the ground (This will prevent the deer from slipping under)
  • Sprinkle the border of your garden with used cat-litter; they hate it!
Moles and Voles:
  • Clean up rotting fruit on the beds of your gardens
  • Plant chicken-wire in an L-shape facing out around your vegetable beds
  • soak bird seed in a "flaming squirrel seed sauce” like Cole's brand
  • Incorporate sharp gravel or Chicken grit into your garden, it won’t hurt them, but the texture will irritate their paws

Dealing with multiple creatures at once? Try an activated motion sprinkler. It’s a great way to scare off any creature, just remember to move its location every few weeks during the season.

About the Author:
Ashley O’Connor, a senior multi-platform journalist at the University of Maryland. This autumn, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Bloom Day: Container Fun

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, the past month has been wet (understatement of the century) and hot. The garden is an overgrown jungle and the weeds are rampant.

I take my solace in my containers. They are looking full and lush at this time of year and I hardly have to do a thing to them apart from the occasional deadheading. 

It is the 15th of the month, which means Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day again. To view links to other garden bloggers' blooms around the world to see what it blooming in their gardens today and to read their collective comments, go to:

So what is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fenton Friday: Hurricane Rains

Hurricane Florence is raging just south of us and all week it has been one gray, rainy day after another. Surprisingly, I was able to harvest another handful of green beans and some tomatoes as well!

The Swiss Chard seeds we planted last week are up and one type of Beet seedling ('Avalanche') is going strong, while the other Beet variety ('Detroit Dark Red ') is hardly evident. We may need to re-seed those this coming week.

Due to all the rains, I haven't been able to weed much or pull out the summer crops to put in my salad green or other root crops. We'll see how the next week goes.

What is growing in your edible garden 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

11th Annual DC Plant Swap

11th Annual DC Plant Swap Details:

hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine

What: A Plant Swap -- bring and receive free plants to expand your garden

Why: Free Plants! Last chance to do so before the season heats up.

Date: Sunday, September 30

Time: starting at 2pm bring your plants for sorting by category (shade perennial, groundcover, herb, etc.) -- swap starts promptly at 2:30pm -- do not be late (the swap goes fast and can be over in a matter of minutes!) - after swapping, we can socialize, snack, and trade more info on the plants we brought - we plan to conclude and be cleaned up by 3pm.

AFTER THE SWAP, Bradley Evans, Horticulturist, will show us around the landscape around visitor center that he maintains. This collection is called the National Arboretum's Introduction Gardens and they have been described as a fascinating "mosaic of bold tropicals, curious succulents,the occasional rarity, and uncommon or new annuals and perennials."

Place: US National Arboretum's R Street parking lot -- if it storms, we will move inside to the headhouse.

Who: anyone is welcome as are any of your friends, relatives, or neighbors -- it is FREE -- feel free to forward on this invitation

How: be prepared to BRIEFLY introduce yourself and describe your plant swap offerings

~ a name tag - home-made or from work or school -- whatever works
~ pen and paper - you will want to take lots of notes as folks describe the plants and their growing conditions
~ plants to swap - pot them up NOW -- the longer they can get settled in their pots, the better their chance of success and survival - (no plants to share? see note below)
~ labels - fully label all your swap plants with as much info as you have - optimally that will include: common and scientific name, amount of sun needed, amount of water needed, any other special care notes, and color of the blooms (if it is not currently in flower)

What NOT to bring: common orange daylilies* and any invasive species - use this list ( to screen your plant offerings
*Hybrid daylilies are fine and totally welcome, but the common orange ones (aka "Ditch Lilies") usually end up with no takers and we are stuck having to throw them out as yard waste.

What if you do not have plants to swap? Come anyway! Bring refreshments like cold drinks and yummy finger foods to share with the other swappers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Living Tribute to 9-11 Victims

(I originally published this blog post on 9-12-2009, and thought it'd be appropriate to share it again today.)

Today is 9-11. I'm sure that many of you paused to reflect on the events of 2001. One of the things it has re-affirmed for me is to celebrate life and to focus on the living.

Remember-Me Rose Garden project does that by creating living tributes to those who lost their lives that day. Pictured here is the 'Patriot Dream' rose, one of a collection of 11 new rose varieties commemorating the heroes of that day. It was planted at LaSalle-Backus Education Campus in NE Washington DC (near Ft Totten) at a ceremony attended by educators, city officials, and the press as well as friends and family of loved ones on Flight 77. 

I have posted a series of photos from the rose planting ceremony in 2009 at LaSalle at the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page here.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Fenton Friday: Beet Babies

It has been another scorcher of a week with scant rain, so I have been over almost daily to water the community garden plot. The tomatoes and cucumbers are still producing well and I even harvested a handful of green beans!

The mystery is the Mexican Gherkin aka Mouse Melon aka Cucamelon. The vines are growing rapidly and it sets many flowers, but I have yet to find any fruits on it. Very strange.

The beets we planted last week are up. The tiny seedlings have a red stem and that helps to differentiate them from other seedlings that are popping up, such as the arugula that I had previously planted in that same spot and let go to seed. We also added a row of Swiss Chard to compare those with the beet greens.

I hope that this weekend's promised rains and lower temps allow me to get over to the plot to rip out the orange cosmos that is running rampant throughout the rest of the plot. It is not even the pretty cosmos, it seems to have reverted to some weedy distant cousin with tiny yellow flowers and needle-like seeds that snag on your clothing. Once gone, I'll replace them with winter root crops and salad greens.

What is growing in your edible garden 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Meet the New Intern: Ashley O’Connor

Hello! I’m Ashley O’Connor and I’m a senior multi-platform journalist at the University of Maryland. I’ve reported for the Diamondback and edited for the Writer’s Bloc. I also work for Capital News Service as a website designer in the data division. I’m super excited to work for the Washington Gardener and learn more about the publishing industry.

I’m an artist and lover of photography, so visual media is my favorite type of journalism. When I’m not covering events or in class, you can probably find me drawing or painting. I’m also a nature-lover; I would be outdoors all day every day if I could.

I hope my writing experience can help the magazine produce more amazing content.  And more importantly, I hope I can share a new perspective with the Washington Gardener’s passionate readers. So thank you in advance for welcoming me to the gardening community!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Discuss America's Romance with the English Garden with our Garden Book Club

 For our next 2018 Garden Book Club selection, we will be reading: "America's Romance with the English Garden" by Thomas J. Mickey.

Also at this meeting we will discuss 2019 garden book club choices, so please bring your suggestions.
Our fall meeting will be on Thursday, November 1 from 6:30-8pm at Soupergirl, located right next to the Takoma metro stop. Soupergirl offers soups for sale that are incredibly healthy. They are 100% plant-based, low salt, low fat, and most importantly, absolutely delicious, so plan to come a bit early to purchase and eat your dinner with the garden book club.
Please RSVP to washingtongardener (at) or on this event page at, so we know how many chairs to reserve for our group.

The Washington Gardener Magazine's Garden Book Club is free and open to all. We meet quarterly on a weekday evening near a metro-accessible location in the DC-area. We will announce the details of each upcoming meeting about two months in advance.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

DIY: Mosquito Trap Water Garden

Mosquitos can make gardening in summer miserable. To cut down on their population, make a few of these "traps" for them to lay their eggs in. This won't kill existing mosquitos, but it will eliminate some of the next generations by diverting their egg-laying activities.
1. Select a water-holding container and fill it with rain water. 
2. Add Mosquito Bits or a Mosquito Dunk. (Bits will need to be replaced weekly, while the Dunk should last about a month.)  Note that Mosquito Bits/Dunks conatin BTI BTI, a bacteria toxic only to mosquito larvae, which is not harmful to people, wildlife, plants, fish, or pets. 
3. Add chopped up grass or a few weeds to the water and stir. Studies show the mosquitos are more attracted to breed in water with a bit of plant decay in it, rather than totally clear water or very dirty water. (Who knew they were so picky!?!)
4. Add a decorative element to the water garden. You can put in floating water plants like Water Lettuce or Water Hyacinth. You could add stones or pebbles, if it is a clear or shallow container. You can float cut flowers in it like this gorgeous example from Chanticleer Garden.
Thanks to Peg Bier of Merrifield Garden Center for the original idea. I have been experimenting and perfecting on it all this summer.

This is a monthly blog series on DIY projects for the beginning home gardener. Look for the other installments in this DIY blog series by putting "DIY" in the search box here at

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...