Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Plant Profile Rosemary

Plant Profile: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis or Salvia rosmarinus)
Rosemary is a woody perennial or “sub shrub.”  Rosemary’s Latin name has been recently changed to reflect the fact that it is actually part of the sage (or salvia) family.

It comes in many forms from prostrate to vertical and in foliage shades that range from blue-green to golden yellow.

Rosemary ‘Arp’ is a reliably hardy variety for the Mid-Atlantic region. It can withstand our freeze-thaw-freeze winter cycles, which can often be the demise of other rosemary varieties.

The key is good drainage and full sun. Don’t overwater it as it is susceptible to root rot. An ideal situation is to plant it overhanging a rock wall. Be sure to give it room as it can spread to four feet wide and high.  

Rosemary is drought-tolerant and deer-proof. Pollinators love it. Honeybees are especially attracted to the tiny blue or white flowers.

There is usually no need to fertilize it, though a little fish fertilizer occasionally will not hurt.
To start new plants, it is best to take cuttings as it is difficult to grow rosemary from seed.
When using it in cooking, snip off young stems and leaves for the freshest taste. You can take up to a third of the plant at any one time, then let it recover before harvesting from it again.
At holiday time, you will see potted-up rosemary plants sold in grocery stores. These are often quite root-bound and will not live long in indoor conditions. Take cuttings liberally and use them for cooking and decoration, then discard the plant when it starts to decline.
Try growing Rosemary in your garden today – you can grow that!
The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Washington Gardener Donates 10 New Gardening Books to Brookside Gardens' Horticultural Reference Library

Stephanie OberleDirector, Brookside Gardens, peruses the latest batch of  donated books.

Washington Gardener Magazine donated 10 new gardening books to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, on Friday, November 22. These books will be added to their Horticultural Reference Library collection. 

Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener's editor and publisher, said, "We are committed to sharing gardening knowledge with the greater community along with promoting visitation and use of our local public gardens."

Three of the books in this donation batch were reviewed in the November 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. Here are a excerpts from those reviews:

• Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere around Your Yard: “I would highly recommend this book to both experienced and first-time gardeners who want easy tips and tricks on how to plant your own small meadow!” – Taylor Markey, Washington Gardener fall editorial intern

• Growing Herbs for Food and Medicine “is the all-in-one guide you need to help you start planting and tending for herbs.” – Jessica Kranz, Washington Gardener fall editorial intern

• Dragonflies and Damselflies: A Natural History: “If you have a home library with a natural history section and children, say, over 12 years old, you should consider getting this book.” – Jim Dronenburg, local gardener and Washington Gardener freelance writer

The value of the 10 donated books is approximately $220, which brings the total to about $7,200 worth of books donated to Brookside’s Horticultural Reference Library over the past seven years by Washington Gardener Magazine.

According to the Montgomery Parks website, “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, and any other individual interested in learning about the science and art of Horticulture (Adopted 1997). The library is staffed Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (or by appointment) by volunteer librarians ready to help you find answers to your plant questions. After library hours, visitors can submit plant and gardening questions to the Information Desk and will receive an answer by phone or email.”

About the author:
Taylor Markey is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in multi-platform journalism. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this autumn.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Win Passes to the Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in our November 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our November 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away several passes to the Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. Each pass admits a car-load-full of visitors and then you walk around the garden light displays. (Prize value is $30.)
    Brookside Gardens has transformed into a magical winter wonderland for the 22nd year of Garden of Lights. Twinkling lights and glimmering displays dot the paths and flowerbeds throughout the 50 acres in Wheaton. More than 1 million dazzling and colorful LED lights are handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers, and other natural elements. New this year is the exhibit’s first computerized display matching lights with music, fog bubbles, and selfie stations to get that perfect family holiday photo.
   The Visitors Center will feature live nightly musical performances. For warming up, refreshments, cider, and hot cocoa are available to purchase.
   A visit is not complete without experiencing the G-scale model trains in the Gardens’ Conservatory. The Washington, Virginia, and Maryland Garden Railway Society hosts the exhibit that kids of all ages love. Trains wind their way through seasonal greenery and miniature reproductions of local landmarks.
   Montgomery Parks’ holiday-season tradition, Garden of Lights, will open on November 22, 2019. The exhibit is open every night through December 31, except November 25–28 and December 24–25. Find out more at
   To enter to win a pass that admits one car-load of guests to the Garden of Lights, send an email to by 5pm on Saturday, November 30, with “Lights Show” in the subject line. In the body of the email, tell us your favorite article in the November 2019 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified by December 1.

Thank you to all those who entered! Our winning entrants drawn at random are:
 - John Rebstock, Cheverly, MD
 - Stephanie Richard, Rockville, MD 20850
 - Lilian Cerdeira, Rockville, MD
 - Mavis Burdett, Silver Spring, MD
 - Katie Rapp, Gaithersburg MD 
Congratulations and enjoy the Garden of Lights!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Stickworks Sculptor, Calamintha, Mixing Flower Bulbs, and much more in the November 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The November 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out now. It is posted online at:

Inside this issue:
·         Meet Patrick Dougherty: Renowned Stickworks Sculptor
·         Plant Profile:  Calamintha
·         How to Mix Flower Bulbs for Stunning Spring Color
·         Winterizing Your Power Equipment
·         Alarming Oak Tree Declines
·         What To Do in the Garden This Month
·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
·         The New Delaware Botanic Garden
·         and much more…

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

Plant Profile: Sweet Alyssum

Plant Profile:  Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima  syn. Alyssum maritimum)
Sweet Alyssum is named for its light, honey-like fragrance, though you may never notice, because it is only a few inches high. Its short stature makes it a good choice for the very front of borders.
Equally at home in hanging baskets as it is in rock gardens, Sweet Alyssum is a wonderful addition to your cool-season annual palette along with pansies, violas, ornamental cabbages and kales, and snapdragons.

It is a great shoulder-season plant for those times of the year (mid-to-late autumn and early spring) when you want a touch of color in the garden, while you go about your outdoor tasks.
It comes in white, pink, and purple blooms. The dainty flowers are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.

Sweet Alyssum grows easily from seed or purchased plants.

You can plant it in March and shear it back when summer’s heat sets in and then see it come back full-force in October.

Alternatively, you can plant it in fall and leave it to set seed and self-sow about the garden the following spring. (If it plants itself where you do not want it, it is easily pulled up.)

It is very low-care. There is no need to fertilize it. Occasionally, I will pinch back any spent stems to encourage continual blooming.

Sweet Alyssum: You can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

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, November 15, 2019

Frigid Bloom Day

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, we are experiencing an unusually cold November, much like the rest of the US. Freezing night temps have zapped all my summer annuals and tender  perennials.

My cool season annuals are hanging in. The snapdragons are actually looking decent after being in the garden since March and I have a white aster that has weeded itself about the place.

Elsewhere in my garden, I have blooming:
- Mums

- Calendula
- Bacopa

- Pansies/Viola
- Sweet Alyssum
and more...

What is blooming in your garden today?

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:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Plant Profile: Pansy and Viola

Plant Profile:  Pansy and Viola (Viola sp.)
Pansies and Violas are easy-care flowers that thrive in cool weather and add a bright spot to garden beds and container plantings.  

These aren’t your grandmother’s old-fashioned flowers. Pansies and violas now come in dozens of colors, color combinations, bloom sizes, and growth habits (from mounding types to trailing). Recent introductions have also improved their cold tolerance and blooming vigor as well.

There are more than 500 known species of violas and they are indigenous to every continent except Antarctica, according to Barbara Melera of

By the way, did you know the differences between a pansy and a viola? Though pansies, are generally larger than violas. It is actually the petal count and position that differentiates them. Pansies have 4 petals pointing upward and only 1 pointing down. Violas have 3 petals pointing upward and 2 pointing down.

Pansies and violas (also known as Johnny Jump Ups) can be started from seed in the fall for spring blooms or in the spring for summer and fall blooms.

Pansies and violas are perennials that are hardy from Zone 3 to 9. Though they are short-lived plants and are usually treated as cool-season annuals.

They prefer a highly composted, evenly moist soil and they bloom best in full-to-part sun.

They go dormant in the heat of the summer and coldest parts of winter, but will begin to bloom again when the weather is more temperate in spring and fall. 

Give them a slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil when planting them or added as a top dressing after planting. The best time to fertilize pansies and violas is in the early spring and again in late summer as they come out of their dormancy for fall blooming.

To keep them looking their best, deadhead them regularly (that is, removing the spent flowers and stems). When they become leggy and overgrown, you can cut back the whole plant to a couple of inches high to rejuvenate it.

In the winter, lightly mulch around the plants and keep them watered. If they are in container, it is especially important to not let them dry out in the harsh winter winds.

Great companions to pansies and violas are snapdragons and sweet alyssum.

Pansies and Violas: You can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Plant Profile: Russian Sage (Perovskia)

This woody perennial or “sub shrub” is neither Russian nor a true sage. It is a terrific filler plant for the garden border with its silvery green foliage and bright violet-blue flower spikes that bloom from mid-summer into fall.

This so-called “sage” is a member of the mint family and when you brush by it, you’ll notice its strong menthol odor.

Russian sage requires at least six hours of sun. It prefers a lean, rocky soil, but regular garden soil is fine. It doesn’t like heavy clay soil, however. It does best in garden situations with great drainage such as along a retaining wall or curb.

Russian sage is drought-tolerant, deer-proof, and seldom troubled by disease or pests.

Pollinators love it. Bees and hummingbirds are especially attracted to the small, tubular flowers that blossom in rows along its stems.

Don’t fertilize it — doing so will encourage leggy growth and this sage has a tendency to spread wide and flop a bit. So, plant it among other tall perennials for support and for an attractive contrast. Try it with ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and mums.

It is best planted in the spring, rather than in the fall. Leave it up in winter as the silhouettes of the white-ish stems are quite attractive, then cut the whole plant down to the ground in March.

Some commonly available cultivars to try include ‘Blue Spire’, ‘Filigran’, ‘Longin’, and a dwarf cultivar ‘Little Spire’.

For more about Russian Sage, see the Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

   Try growing Russian Sage in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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

Friday, November 01, 2019

DIY: Decorated Pumpkins 3 Ways

Decorating just the surface of your pumpkins, rather than carving them, allows them to be left intact for eating later. 

These three methods also use more delicate designs in various botanical themes than most home crafters could accomplish with carving kits.

Here are three quick and easy ways to decorate your pumpkins this season.



Cover your work surface with newspapers and gather your materials.

Method 1: Lay the stencil on your pumpkin and dab gently inside the stencil with black paint using a foam brush. Go slowly and carefully. Pick up the stencil and wipe off any excess paint outside your design with a damp paper towel.

Method 2: Cut out the designs you like from the stencil sheets and lay them on the pumpkin. Use a popsicle stick to rub the design on to the surface. It can take a while to get all the edges and fine details adhered. Carefully lift off. Continue all around the pumpkin as desired.

Method 3: Use painter's tape to mask off a square or rectangle area on your pumpkin. Paint inside the area with chalkboard paint and let dry. Then do a second coat. Wait until that coat is full dry, then write a message in chalk.

Tip: Don't carry your pumpkin by the stem as it can snap off. Carry it from the bottom.

Optional: Paint on a coat of sealer before your designs and then after they are dry so another coat of sealer. This will help your designs last, especially the chalkboard paint, which is a very fragile layer on the pumpkin's surface.

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

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