Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Video Plant Profile: Coneflowers



Plant Profile: Echinacea

The Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a perennial flower native to the open wooded areas in eastern and central North America. It is a favorite plant for pollinators from bees to butterflies. They are wonderful as cut flowers for arrangements and are a great low-maintenance choice for the landscape.

Due to new breeding programs, coneflowers have exploded in popularity with a diversity of flower colors, shapes, and sizes. The straight species is a rosey-purple, but new cultivars now come in a wide choice of colors ranging from bright shades of orange and yellow, soft whites and greens, and brilliant hues of pinks and purples.

The new selections also have unique flower forms such as double-petaled flowers and more dwarf, compact plants suitable for container gardens.

A few selections I especially like include ‘Green Envy’, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’, ‘and ‘Pixie Meadowbrite’.

Echinacea prefer full sun and well-draining soil, but can tolerate part-sun and clay soils. They will bloom from early summer through frost. Frequent deadheading (removing the spent flowers) will promote re-blooming for your coneflowers.


At the end of the growing season, leave some coneflowers up to go to seed. They provide food for the migrating birds and for native beneficial insects, who spend the winter inside the hollow stems, they provide a cozy home.

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.
It was shot and edited by intern Alexandra Marquez.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Sunshine Yellow for Bloom Day

Cupflower
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 have had a HOT June-July and lots of flooding rains -- a pattern that seems to be set in place for the rest of the summer.

In my garden, I have many mid-summer blooms, so I thought I'd narrow the focus to just the yellow ones this month. I am not a big fan of the color except as an occasional accent. I don't seek it out in plants I acquire, but it makes its way into my garden nevertheless.

Aside from the yellow perennial flowers picture here, I also have yellow annuals in the garden including marigolds, sunflowers, and lantana.


So what is blooming today in YOUR garden?


Goldenrod

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia laciniata aka Green-headed Coneflower orCutleaf Coneflower

Daylily

Washington Gardener Donation Supports Brookside Garden's Horticultural Reference Collection

Corinne Stephens and Albert Arevalo
with new garden book donations at the Brookside Gardens Library.
By Alexandra Marquez


Washington Gardener staff stopped by Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, last Friday to drop off a donation of books that will be added to the Horticultural Reference Library. 

Editor and publisher Kathy Jentz has featured reviews of several of the books in previous editions of the magazine. The books cover a wide range of horticultural topics, such as growing succulents, creating fairy gardens, and urban garden design. 

The value of this batch of 15 donated books is about $415, which, added to previous donations, adds to a total of about $6,971 worth of books donated to the Horticultural Reference Library in the past six years. The magazine’s largest yearly donation was its first one in 2013, with $3,070.94 worth of books donated.

The mission of the Horticultural Reference Library at Brookside Gardens is to be a resource for Brookside Gardens and Montgomery County Parks staff, the citizens of Montgomery County, MD, and any other individual interested in learning about the science and art of Horticulture. Volunteer librarians are there and ready to help you find answers to your plant questions; they are available Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or by appointment.

About the Author:
Alexandra Marquez is a rising junior journalism and anthropology major at the University of Maryland. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this summer.


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 work tools that make my garden grow, save my back from breaking, and generally make life a little easier. Treat yourself!

BTW, they are linked to Amazon, so if you click on them and order any, Washington Gardener Magazine gets a few pennies added to the account. The full Amazon storefront is at:


  



 

















And, if you like this list, you may enjoy these gift lists as well:

~ Gift Ideas for Garden Cats

~ Top 10 Garden Books of 2018

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fenton Friday: Pinching the Basil

This week in the community garden plot, the big news was two huge rainstorms on Monday and Thursday that dumped an inch (or more) in a half-hour. Both storms meant I didn't have to water this week, but the added water and high heat, the weeds are growing at an alarming rate. I did a bit of weeding, but really need to set aside a day to do a lot more.

The basils are all looking great and I pinched out any flowers and the top growth in order to make the plants grow bushier rather than taller.

The rest of my herbs are all doing well in a big pot and tucked in various containers around my home garden. I need to cut some this week for hanging and drying them. The lavender flowers are already cut where they were fresh and I hope they keep their color well this year.

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, July 10, 2019

Video Plant Profile: Daylily


Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are versatile and easy-care perennial plants that tolerate a wide range of soil types from clay to sand, moist to dry, and bloom in full-sun to part-shade. I plant them in my sidewalk “hell strips” along the street, where they can take both the wintertime salt spray and summertime baking heat.

There are more than 80,000 daylily cultivars and collecting different ones can become an obsession. 'Stella D'Oro' is one that is widely available and planted everywhere from gas stations to suburban cul-de-sacs.  ‘Happy Returns’, ‘Ruby Spider’, and ‘Strawberry Candy’ are three of my personal favorites for vigor and superior performance in home gardens.
 
Most daylilies are clump-forming and are easy to dig and divide every few years to increase your garden or to share them with others. A note of caution, however, about the common “ditch lily” (Hemerocallis fulva), which is an invasive species in our area. It is sterile, but spreads by underground stolon and has been a popular pass-along plant. Please try to resist the urge to share it and keep it away from our natural areas.

Daylily blooms last just one day then self-shed. If a few hang on and this bothers you, you can easily groom them off.

Fun fact: the daylily flower is edible and you can prepare it as you would a squash blossom. They are delicious lightly battered and fried.

Daylilies are “deer candy.” If that is an issue in your area, you can spray with a repellent or spread Milorganite in the flower beds early on in the growing season, which can also act as a fertilizer.

They only care I give mine is to cut the plants back hard in the fall. You can give them a bit of additional fertilizer in the late spring, but I never bother and they still bloom prolifically.

Daylilies: You can grow that!


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.
It was shot and edited by intern Alexandra Marquez.

➤ If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

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

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Friday, July 05, 2019

Fenton Friday: Sweet Potato Planted

Sweet Potato plant
I had been keeping a Sweet Potato in a small-ish pot in part-shade by my driveway for the last two months. Today, I finally planted it in the space where the Garlic had been pulled out of last week. It should be happier there.

The Bush Bean plants have tripled in size in the last week. There are a few holes chewed in the leaves and one one stem appears to have been chewed down by a rabbit, but otherwise, so far so good.

I lifted up the cover cloth from the Broccoli and I saw a good-sized head growing on one of the three plants. Is it good-tasting after all this heat? Will it grow bigger? Should I pick it now or let it go a bit longer? Decisions. Decisions.

Broccoli
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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, July 03, 2019

Video Plant Profile: Common Milkweed


Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is an important plant for pollinators in our Mid-Atlantic region. The “weed” in its name can scare some people off, but it is important for local gardeners to add it to our landscapes.

   Recent studies show that the wide-spread use of pesticides and herbicides has impacted the Asclepias and Monarch populations.

   It is a perennial native to most of the eastern Unites States. The flower is also a popular nectar source for both honey bees and native bees as well as hummingbird moth and many other kinds of butterflies.

  Asclepias syriaca bloom from June and continue through August. In the fall, their seed pods ripen and dry out, splitting to reveal each seed attached to a long, silky fluff that floats away in the breeze.

Milkweed needs sun and adequate moisture to get established. Once in place, it is quite hardy and drought-tolerant. Its rhizome goes straight down, forming a tap root stabilizing the single-stalked plant above ground, and providing the plant with resources hidden deep, when needed.

   It can be hard to start from seed and it is difficult to transplant due to the taproot, but give it a few tries and you’ll eventually have success.

   It tends to run a bit and pops up here and there, growing to about five feet tall. So, plant it in a mixed bed with other sun-loving, native perennials such as Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Solidago, Asters, and Coreopsis. This is especially important because pollinators need groups and clumps of flowers to thrive,

   If some of the leaves on your plant start to look ragged and chewed on, great! The plant is doing its job providing food for the next Monarch generation.

   The toxic milky latex Asclepias exudes when a stem is broken makes them inedible for deer and rabbits, while Monarch butterflies can eat the leaves at their caterpillar stage and that makes the insects in turn unpalatable to birds and other predators.

   Common Milkweed: You can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Alexandra Marquez.

➤ If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

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

➤ FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE
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~ facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine

Monday, July 01, 2019

DIY: Insect Hotel


Insect hotels are all the rage now. We all hear about the declines in beneficial insect populations, and native bee numbers in particular are dropping quickly. It is nice to think about providing a specific place in your gardens for insects to safely occupy.

However, one should be careful not to create an insect home that actually causes harm to the insects you want to help. Read this post by an entomologist thoroughly to understand the particulars of what type of hotel is best and how to avoid the pretty-but-useless ones sold in decorator stores.

This insect hotel (pictured above) was given to me and fits all the criteria for a hospitable insect home. Here below is how to recreate it.

This is a suitable project for doing supervised with children or your garden club.


Materials:

- a block of untreated building timber
- piece of flat wood for the roof
- drill set
- saw
- hardware cloth
- staple gun and staples
- hanger and nail

Instructions:


Step 1- Select a piece of untreated building timber and cut it down to a block about 6-12-inches in length or have it cut to length for you at the hardware store.


Step 2 - Drill a selection of holes into the block of about .33 inches in diameter. Do not drill all the way through the back, but go as deep as your drill bit allows. 


Step 3 - Make sure the holes are smooth inside and free of splinters. Sand and clear away any sawdust.


Step 4 - Tack a roof piece on to overhang the holes.


Step 5 - Cut and shape a piece of hardware cloth to protect the area over the holes. Use the staple gun to affix it on both sides.


Step 6 - Hang your insect hotel at least 3 feet off the ground facing in full sun and facing south/southeast.


TIPS:
  • At the end of each summer, clean it out.
  • Provide nearby pollinator plantings.
  • If you want to get creative and paint or decorate the roof or sides, you can, but do not put anything on the front.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a few pennies from Amazon.

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 washingtongardener.blogspot.com

Friday, June 28, 2019

Fenton Friday: Garlic Harvest


I dug up the Garlic bulbs today. They are the biggest I have ever grown. Waiting two weeks past my usual time helped! I believe they are all 'German White' (aka 'Music' or 'Porcelain' ) except for one with a bit of purple in it that I may have been given at an autumn harvest event and snuck in the ground later next to the others. The heads are on my laundry drying rack in the sunroom and Santino (pictured) couldn't resist inspect the robust harvest. He declared it "respectable."

Elsewhere in the plot, the 'Dragon's Tongue' bean seeds are growing fast and the 'Red Swan' beans have germinated and made a slow appearance. The 'Red Burgundy' okra seeds are still tiny, but the 'Rainbow' Swiss Chard is growing by leaps and bounds. More 'Sun Gold' tomatoes were ripe as well as some 'Sun Sugar' ones. The Basil varieties are holding steady -- not much new growth. I have let the lettuces bolt (go to flower and seed), in hopes of collecting some for next year's Seed Exchanges.

I think I will cut the heads on my cauliflower soon as we are experiencing several days of 90+ degree heat and even with a cover cloth I don't see them hanging on too much longer.

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, June 26, 2019

Win Passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly Exhibit in our June 2019 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest

For our June 2019 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).
   The exhibit runs Monday, July 1—Saturday, August 31, from 10am–1pm Monday–Friday; 10am—5 pm Saturday and Sunday, and then, Sunday, September 1—Sunday, September 22, from 10am—5pm daily.
   The 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. If there is a thunderstorm in the forecast or a code-red day, the exhibit may close.
   See more details at https://www.montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/brookside-gardens/wings-fancy-live-butterfly-caterpillar-exhibit/.
   To enter to win passes, send an email to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com by 5pm on Sunday, June 30, with “Wings” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us which was your favorite article in the June 2019 issue and why. Please include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on July 1.

UPDATE:
Our winners picked at random from among the submissions are -

  • Howard Clark, Montgomery Village, MD 
  • Maria Ibanez, Washington, DC 
  • Eileen Schramm, Silver Spring, MD
  • Barbara Delaney, Bethesda, MD
  • Katie Rapp, Gaithersburg, MD 


Monday, June 24, 2019

The Gardens of Bunny Mellon, Mosquitoes, Beautyberry, Pumpkins, etc. in the June 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine




The June 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is posted online at:
https://issuu.com/washingtongardener/docs/washingtongardenerjune2019-ebook

Inside this issue:
  • The Gardens of Bunny Mellon: A Private Space Now Public
  • 9 Ways to Mosquito-proof Your Yard
  • Public Gardens Spruce Up for APGA Visit
  • Beautyberry Plant Profile
  • 10 New Rain Gardens in Downtown DC
  • How Do We Get Seedless Fruit?
  • DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
  • 8 Tips for Growing Great Pumpkins
  • and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the July 2019 issue are due by July 5.

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: http://www.washingtongardener.com/index_files/subscribe.htm


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Friday, June 21, 2019

Fenton Friday: Beans Up, First Ripe Tomato

first ripe 'Sun Sugar' tomato
I was away for five days in Denver for the Garden Bloggers Fling, but I flew out of Washington in a thunderstorm and returned during another one. Suffice it to say, I didn't have to worry about watering the garden plot this week.

The  'Dragon's Tongue' bean seeds are all up. No sign of the 'Red Swan' ones though.

One of the 'Sun Gold' tomatoes was ripe already, but that would be "cheating" to count it as under our care -- as the fruits had already formed on the seedling plants before we planted them.

Elsewhere in the plot, the 'Red Burgundy' okra seeds are up.  The heads on my cauliflower continue to grow larger. The 'Rainbow' Swiss Chard seedlings are growing fast. However, the 'Savor' melon seedling is not looking so hot. 

The garlic is past the point that I should have pulled it, but that will have to wait a few more days as I play catch-up from the time I was away touring in other's gardens.


What is growing in your edible garden this week?

bean seedlings - 'Dragon's Tongue'
okra seedlings - 'Red Burgundy'

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the FentonStreet Community Garden just across the street from my house in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

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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 ...