Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Garden PHOTO CONTEST Kicks Off!

The 14th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest kicks off now! The entry period is January 1-22, 2020. 

Note that eligible entries must have been taken during the 2019 calendar year in a garden setting within 150-mile radius of Washington, DC.


~ 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!


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 DCGardenPhotos@aol.com.

*A PDF of the rules is available on request, if the JPG is not legible for you.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Top 10 Garden Books of 2019

Here is a list of the best gardening books that came out in 2019 as reviewed in Washington Gardener Magazine. (Note that these 10 selections are in no particular order.)

Buy a few of these for yourself and for the plant geeks, garden lovers, and horticultural nerds in your life! (Note that if you click on the links, it takes you to the book's Amazon page and we get a few pennies if you order it from there.)

By Matt Mattus

Our reviewer by Erica H. Smith said, "This book is a trove of advice from a gardener who’s sharing the results of many successes and failures. It’s a deeply useful book for gardeners—and the gorgeous full-color photos remind us that vegetables are pretty, too!"

By Nancy Striniste

Our reviewer Andrea F. Siegel said, "Maybe creating a respite from the electronic gizmo culture isn’t your focus, but reading this book just might send you out to the natural spaces that nourish us, reinvigorate us, soothe us, and open worlds within worlds to us." 

By Jane Hurwitz

Our reviewer Andrea F. Siegel said, "The book is a straightforward, important how-to resource about the type of gardening that supports the entire life cycle of butterflies. It invites readers to grow attuned to the eco-relationships between plants and butterflies, especially those that certain butterflies have with specific plants—like Monarchs and the milkweeds that support the Monarch’s life cycle. Hurwitz’s friendly writing style makes a wealth of information accessible to aspiring and longtime butterfly gardeners, advising all on how to implement the ideas presented and showing them in existing landscapes

By Toni Gattone

Our reviewer Taylor Markey said, "This book would be a perfect gift for anyone you know who is looking for an easy way to get started in gardening and would like some tips on how best to adjust their garden to their lifestyle and preferences. The author provides easy-to-follow steps and tips on how to create a garden that is the best for you, while emphasizing the importance of gardening and the positive results that come from it."

By Clare Nolan

Our reviewer Jamie Moore said, "Nolan’s easygoing prose gives me hope that even I can aspire to grow such charming and beautiful blossoms... This book inspired a successful trip to a local thrift store to beef up my vase collection in anticipation of my new, improved cutting garden... There are several gardening books that I reread annually, to lift my spirits when the winter days are at their coldest and darkest. This book will become one of them."

By Linda Jane Holden

Our reviewer Jim Dronenburg said, "This is a coffee table book, large and heavy. The text makes for interesting reading, but the pictures are incredible. Of course, there is first-class material to work with, but almost all the pictures are gems. The book will probably not be of use to anyone trying to grow things (such as Mellon’s beloved topiaries), but it certainly is an eye-opener for what can be done when you have as much judgment as you have money. The lessons of proportion and scale can be adapted to our lesser gardens."

By Rachael Cohen

Our reviewer Johnny Moseman said, "This book is also filled with stunning images depicting every step along the way of preparing your succulents in the best way possible. There are few pages that do not have a breath-taking picture of succulents. Photographer Marie Monforte knows exactly how to capture the essence of the beautiful little succulents.
   Overall, Infinite Succulent, provides a great, in-depth look at how to care for succulents throughout the year. It is a must-read if you have any interest in making your array of succulents the best it can be."

By Joel Karsten 

Our reviewer Alexa Silverberg said, "This book is great because it is so detailed. Karsten uses real pictures, drawings, and charts to thoroughly explain how to use straw bales to garden. This is the perfect book for those looking to branch out in their gardening adventures, or those who are struggling to make the most of their gardening space."

9. Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees

By William Bryant Logan

Our reviewer Alexandra Marquez said, "This isn’t a typical, must-read book for gardeners, but it’s a valuable journey into the history of trees and their importance to humans. It will leave you with an appreciation for those giant plants that we may not tend to every season like our hydrangeas or squashes, but that are just as integral to our lives as the plants we do tend to dearly."

By Michael Judd

Our reviewer Jessica Kranz said, "If you are looking to start growing pawpaws, Michael Judd’s new book is what you should read next. In this book, Judd takes you step-by-step through the best practices for growing and caring for the pawpaw fruit... This book is a terrific guide for growing and harvesting pawpaw trees. It has tons of beautiful photos and I recommend this book if you are looking to grow your own pawpaw tree."

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Washington Gardener Magazine presents the 
15th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges
on Saturday, January 25, 2020, 12:30–4:00pm 
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
 Registration is now open at 
on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 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
Indoor Plant Cuttings Table

UPDATE: We are adding a new table this year for houseplant cuttings and starts. We have always had a tropicals/indoor plants table category, but this will be an expanded offering. We encourage everyone to bring your cuttings labeled and packed in individual baggies to share.

Washington Gardener magazine, the publication for DC-area gardening enthusiasts, is hosting the 15th 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.

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, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD. The other will be at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.

How to Register
   Register online at WGSeedExchange-BR.brownpapertickets.com for the 1/25/20 event and WGSeedExchange-GR.brownpapertickets.com for the 2/1/20 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!!!
We also have a Garden Book and Seed Catalog Exchange table. 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.

Charitable Donations:
Extra seeds from the swap are donated to local, nonprofit gardening groups.
A donation from the event proceeds has been made to the Seed Savers Exchange.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Win a Local DC-MD-VA Garden Task Calendar from Washington Gardener Magazine

For our December 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away a copy of our local DC-MD-VA Garden Task Calendar. (Prize value is $20.)
   Each month includes a list of what to do in the garden for local DC-MD-VA and Mid-Atlantic gardeners, along with a gorgeous photo of a seasonal flower from a local public garden collection in our area.
  Go to: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kathy-jentz/washington-gardener-calendar/calendar/product-24317409.html to order this calendar for gifts and to treat yourself! This calendar is a keeper that you can use for years.
   To enter to win the DC-MD-VA Garden Task Calendar, send an email to washingtongardenermagazine@gmail.com by 5pm on Tuesday, December 31, with “Garden Task Calendar” in the subject line. In the body of the email, tell us your favorite article in the December 2019 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The calendar winner will be announced and notified on January 1.

UPDATE: Our contest winner is Carol Yemola, Drums, PA!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Pansy and Viola, Upcycling, Urban Planning, and much more in the December 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The December 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out now.
Inside this issue:
·         Plant Profile:  Pansy and Viola
·         Alternatives to Invasive Nandina
·         Community Forklift’s Mission Uplifts Through Upcycling
·         Leaving Crops Up Over Winter Can Improve Soil
·         What To Do in the Garden This Month
·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
·         Seed Exchange 2020: Registration and Details Inside
·         Urban Planning and Street Trees
·         and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the January 2020 issue are due by January 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.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

The holiday season is upon us and many of us are struggling to pick out that perfect present, so I thought I'd  share again the garden products I use almost every day. I added a few more on this year that I have personally trialed. 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, the gift ideas are linked to Amazon, so if you click on them and order any, Washington Gardener Magazine gets a few pennies added to the account for the referral. Our full Amazon storefront is at:




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

~ Gift Ideas for Garden Cats

Disclosure: Clicking on these links and then ordering anything from Amazon may put a few pennies in the Washington Gardener Magazine bank account. Thank you for anything you can direct our way. We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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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...