Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dutch Tulip Days in DC

the entrance staircase
By Charlotte Germane

While we waited for the cherry blossoms to bloom, a flood of intense spring color arrived in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood when 15,000 tulips filled the residence of the Dutch Ambassador for #DutchTulipDays.

Ambassador Henne Schuwer has an enviably direct pipeline to tulips; his home country is the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world, and that includes the 450 million tulip bulbs sent to the U.S. each year.

This week his official residence was a floral showcase for Tulip Days, to celebrate the horticultural ties between the Netherlands and the U.S. After an early morning press preview, the Ambassador hosted a series of diplomatic lunches and receptions.

Ambassador Schuwer said that Tulip Days “is an old tradition that we picked up three years ago to fill the house again with flowers.” He mentioned Keukenhof, the 500-acre Dutch park where seven million bulbs bloom each spring, and his wish that the D.C. display could “bring a little bit of Keukenhof here.”

The 17th-century-style tulipiere
Van Gogh reproduction

Fifteen thousand tulips certainly made a start in recreating that floral experience. The design expertise behind the modern and traditional arrangements came from florist Susanne Schrijvers, based in France and the DC-area. Schrijvers banked the imposing staircase in orange blooms, the Dutch national color, packed closely in rectangular containers.

Simple modern displays around the edges of rooms included groups of metal buckets with bunches of multi-colored cut tulips, or windowsills lined with glass cylinders of water holding blooming tulips — stems, bulbs, roots, and all.

Console tables beneath Old Master paintings featured airy arrangements of tulips especially grown in France for their long stems, combined with branches of cherry blossoms. Each round table in the dining room was centered with a silver bowl containing just one variety of tulip, with no repeated colors from table to table. The dining room and library fireplaces had “flaming” mixtures of tall red and yellow tulips.

An unusual container was the 17th-century-style tulipiere, a tower from the days of Tulipomania, created to spotlight the wildly expensive tulips of that era.

The living room stars were two Van Gogh reproductions, loaned by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, with harmonizing tulip tributes at their feet.

Schrijvers wanted a knockout display, to honor the culmination of the Ambassador’s service in Washington. She not only increased the number of tulips over past years, but added living walls of tropical plants in the library, and out-sized Boston ferns in the stairwell.

The floral tribute echoed the Ambassador’s reflection that “a bouquet of flowers was never given in anger, a bouquet of flowers is a gift of love and a gift of respect.”

You can see many more photos from the Tulip Days event at the Washington Gardener Facebook page.

About the author:
Charlotte Germane recently jumped the Potomac from the American Horticultural Society to Georgetown's Tudor Place, an historic house museum and garden. She spent four years as the first Digital Communications Manager at the AHS, following three crunchy years in communications and public relations for the largest organic gardening supply company in the U.S.

Friday, March 29, 2019

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region

(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2019.)

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 is a lovely place to take a stroll on your own through the spectacular Yoshino Cherry Blossoms during the full bloom. 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 Ikebana flower arrangement workshops and has flowering cherry trees in its collection. There is a class fee and they fill fast so register today.

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 Arlington, 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 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!

~ 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. 
   Here is a video we created about growing ornamental cherry trees locally: 
   In addition, 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. 

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Win one of the new Gardenia introductions from the Gardener’s Confidence® Collection in the March 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our March 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away three new Gardenia introductions from the Gardener’s Confidence® Collection (
  The Swan Gardenia series was developed for the Gardener’s Confidence Collection to meet the need for better-performing Gardenias with improved cold hardiness and disease resistance, as well as exquisite bloom form, reliable rebloom, and compact habit.
   Swan Queen™ is a commanding yet lovely presence in the garden, with abundant reblooming double flowers from summer through fall, covering a dense mound of glossy foliage. Her royal breeding shows, with superior pest, disease, and cold tolerance.
   Swan Maiden’s compact size makes it perfect for containers or small gardens. The handsome, glossy foliage makes a wonderful year-round accent to a shrub border or flowerbed, and the intoxicating fragrance and reliable good looks will create a warm welcome flanking an entryway.
   Swan Princess™ is a true delight in a petite package, with fragrant double blooms starting early in the season and an excellent amount of reblooming. Dark-green leaves perfectly offset the snowy white blooms, and her diminutive size will never outgrow her place, even in containers.
   To enter to win one of the three new Gardenia introductions from the Gardener’s Confidence Collection, send an email to by 5:00pm on March 31 with “Gardener’s Confidence Collection” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in this issue and why. Include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced on April 1.


Congratulations to our three winners!
  • Dorothy Cichra
  • Janet Benini
  • Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine includes Thornless Blackberries, Snapdragons, Phenology, a Lavender Farm, and much more...

The March 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.

Inside this issue:
  • Grow Your Own Blackberry Patch
  • Timing is Everything: the Science of Phenology
  • A Visit to Blooming Hill Lavender Farm
  • DIY Natural Bug Spray
  • DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
  • Meet a Veteran Composter
  • Creative Design Approaches to Diverse Landscapes
  • Year of the Snapdragon
  • And much more….

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the April 2019 issue are due by April 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:

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring has Sprung for Bloom Day

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 an especially nasty winter until two days ago, when spring sprung out and the birds sang and bulbs burst into bloom!

In my garden, I have a multitude of blooms. Here is my list of what is in flower today:

- Winter Jasmine
- Pieris Japonica
- Mahonia
- Hellebores - various
- Daffodils 'February Gold' and 'Tete a Tete'
- Snowdrops - various
- Crocus - various

I cut a bunch of sweet-smelling daffs to enjoy at my desk while I lay out the next issue of the magazine.

So what is blooming today in YOUR garden?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Community Gardens of the DMV: Glebe Community Garden

By Johnny Moseman

Since 1974, at the corner of S. Glebe and S. Lang St. in Arlington, VA, there has been a community garden standing where houses, stores, and a church used to stand before they were torn down by constant flooding in from Four Mile Run.

After all of the flooding, the county realized this was not a safe place for buildings, so they tore down the houses, converted some of the land into park space, reserved some for future water treatment facilities, and the rest was given to county residents for a community garden.

The members of the neighborhood immediately called for a meeting, elected officials, drew up bylaws, and split the land up into 25 garden plots.

By 1980, the flooding had stopped due to the Army Corps of Engineers widening Four Mile Run. By 2000, there were 30 plots in the garden and the county purchased land adjacent to the garden for more space.

With this growth of land and subsequent reduction in size of other individual plots, the number of plots rose to 60.

In 2008, the garden purchased two large sheds, two large picnic tables, and a charcoal grill on a concrete foundation. The garden has everything they need at the moment, but they are always looking for funding and people to help keep their garden clean.

“We have all the resources we need from gathering them over the years,” Assistant Chief Gardener Joy Bickelhaupt said.

Last year, the garden expanded even more when they purchased a neighboring property. This expansion added about 30 new plots, but with all the property around the garden being claimed now, it looks as if they have expanded enough.

Right now, residents of the neighborhood occupy 103 plots in the garden and they can grow whatever vegetable or plant they want, as long as they follow all the bylaws provided by the officers of the garden.

The only restriction of this garden is no fruit trees, but members are growing every kind of vegetable you can imagine along with blueberries, strawberries, and grape vines.
Bickelhaupt has been a member since 2015 and what she loves most about the garden is its therapeutic value.

“It is very relaxing to sit under the sun,” Bickelhaupt said. “It’s a community. We all share ideas, seeds and produce. We talk and have group beautifying sessions and potlucks. Everyone is so friendly and we all support each other.”

For more details about the garden, see:

About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

Photo Source: Glebe Community Garden

The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.

Friday, March 01, 2019

DIY: Rose Beads

By Alexa Silverberg

Want to make beautiful beads made from roses?

The Rose Bead Group with the Potomac Unit of the HerbSociety of America leads workshops to show how to create beautiful jewelry from roses. These hands-on demonstrations are led by Mary Lou Winder, the Chairperson of the Rose Bead Group.

Here are Winder’s 10 steps to help you make beautiful rose beads at home

1. First, you will need a lot of rose petals! A cup of dried petals will yield 3-6 beads, so keep that in mind when considering how big you will want your piece of jewelry.  Another important thing to remember, all plant parts other than petals must be carefully removed to ensure a smooth bead.

2. Step two, dry the petals. It is important to dry the petals completely, otherwise you risk mold growing.

3. Next, freeze the petals for at least three days to kill any insects.

4. Then, put the petals in a pot, add water to cover, and simmer slowly for several hours until the petals are very, very soft.

5. Next, put the cooked petals, little by little, in a blender. Puree them thoroughly with enough liquid (cooking liquid or water) to make a finely ground, smooth concoction.

6. Put this mix into an iron pot and set it over very low heat.  Use a “flame tamer” to keep it from scorching. Cook it slowly, stirring periodically and scraping down the sides, until the moisture evaporates and you have a thick mash that is now black from the chemical reaction with the iron in the pot.

7. Repeat, adding water to the thickened mash and grinding it again in the blender, then cooking it slowly until you again have a thick mash. Blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

8. Add a small quantity of rose oil to the mash. Winder uses rose fragrance oil.

9. When the mash is ready, measure it out in rounded half teaspoons. Roll in the palms of your hands, dabbing slightly with water if need be to remove all cracks. Gently roll the round, smooth bead between 2-ridged wooden butter paddles to give a bit of texture.

10. Lastly, spear the bead on a wire and set aside to dry over the next several days. Beads must be turned on the wire daily while they dry to keep them from cementing themselves to the wire. They will shrink substantially! Once they are dry and hard, remove the beads from the wires and let them dry a few days more. Now, you can string them as you would any other bead, in combination with other purchased beads, to make necklaces.

The rose bead group offers workshops every month. In addition, they sell their rose jewelry locally and online. For more information, contact Mary Lou Winder at

About the Author: Alexa Silverberg is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland and is from Short Hills, NJ. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine this spring semester.

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...