Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Plant Profile: Fragrant Witch Alder (Fothergilla spp.)


In early spring, the flower puffs on Fothergilla appear at the end of the branches. They look like soft, little bottlebrushes. The flowers have a honey-like fragrance and attract native bees and moths.

Following the flowers, the shrubs leaf out and the rest of the appeal of this plant soon becomes clear. The foliage is fuzzy and often has a blue-ish cast in spring. In the autumn, the foliage practically glows with seasonal colors.

The tag may say “full sun,” but partial shade will do. Also, in our region’s hot summers, some shelter from the afternoon sun is best.

During the first year, it will need consistent watering, while its roots establish themselves. After that, it should be fairly drought-tolerant.

Fothergilla prefers acidic, moist, but not wet, soils. If yellow leaves appear, that may possibly indicate alkaline conditions, which are not favored by Fothergilla species. Soil amendments appropriate for Azalea and Rhododendron, work for Fothergilla as well. Apply them in early spring.

There is no need for pruning! Let it grow and assume its natural form. Remove only broken, dead, or crossing branches. It is fairly slow-growing, but will sucker and colonize over time. If you have the space, let it.

This small shrub looks best in groupings of three or five and paired with other woodland native plants like Dogwood, Itea, and Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia).

You will find that the Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’, Dwarf/Coastal Fothergilla (Fothegilla gardenia), and Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ do the best in our region and are fairly commonly available at your local, independent garden center.

See the Washington Gardener Magazine April2017 cover story for much more about this fascinating plant.

Try planting a Fothergilla in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.
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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~ Podcast: GardenDC on Spotify, Apple, etc.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Gardens Victorious: What to Grow in Your Victory Garden

by Cindy Brown 

In 1939, the New York Times published an article addressing the chaos facing the world: “We will need the mental and physical tonic work with nature and close touch with the soil never fail to bring.” Gardening promotes sanity in an insane world. Create your own garden and became victorious over your adversaries, both mental and physical.
   During WWII, commercial produce growers were instructed to produce only high-protein foods: corn, potatoes, beans, and wheat. This encouraged home gardeners to grow the “luxuries” like lettuce, celery, cucumbers, peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, and watermelon. When growing your own Victory Garden consider growing vegetables that are at the best when harvested fresh, are hard to find in the market, family heirlooms, or would encourage non-gardening family members to pick up the trowel. When space is non-existent, or at a premium, grow vegetables in containers. Anything, yes anything, can be grown in a container — as long as it is big enough, watered frequently, and fertilized regularly.
   To maximize your production, harvest often and be ready to replant when vegetables are harvested. Vegetable gardens aren’t planted once a year and forgotten; efficient gardeners plant five times a year — early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer, and fall. This ambitious schedule is for type “A” personalities, your garden should be a reflection of your personality, lifestyle, and available time. Every home garden should include tomatoes, herbs of choice, and a fruit that draws teenagers off the computer.
   Top choices for DC-area gardens: fava beans, snap peas, kale, lettuce, radishes, spring onions, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, okra, cucumbers, summer squash, basil, oregano, sage, mint, lavender, parsley, spinach, garlic, blueberries, scuppernong grapes, and strawberries. All are relatively easy to grow, best when fresh, and 99.44% and guaranteed to make the pickiest eater smile.

[Excerpted from the July/August 2006 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. Cindy Brown was our EdibleHarvest columnist at that time, while she was the Assistant Director at Green Spring Gardens. She is now with Smithsonian Gardens.]

Saturday, April 04, 2020

GardenDC Podcast Episode 5: Horticultural Storyteller


Listen to the most recent episode of our podcast posted on April 4, 2020.


This episode we talk with Abra Lee of Conquer the Soil, a horticultural storyteller and Longwood Fellow. The plant profile focuses on the Pussy Willow and we add a new segment about what is growing in our community garden plot and home garden this week.

BTW, YOU can become  a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month!See how at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/support. 

It is also available on -
  • Google Podcasts at this link, either now or soon (note that currently, this link will only work on Android devices)

We welcome your questions and comments!

You can leave a voice mail message for us at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/message Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Fenton Friday: All Hail Kale


This week at the garden plot things are humming right along.

The carrots, radish, turnips, spinach, peas, and garlic all doubled in size since last week.

The kale is bursting out from under the cover cloth and the broccoli is also pushing to get out of it, so I harvested from both and plan to combine them both with pasta tonight.

The strawberry plants even have a few early blooms on them!

The only disappointment is the asparagus. I really thought I would arrive to final several spears up today that I could try out in an omelette recipe. Alas, I found only a few measly spears and I fear that the plant is petered out and I need to start over again. Which means another 3-year wait for a decent harvest again, sigh. Well, better to do so now, then waiting and losing another year of future harvest.

What are you planting this month in your edible garden? 

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, April 01, 2020

Plant Profile: Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)


Spring Beauty is a spring ephemeral that is only a few inches tall. The lovely flowers are white or light-pink with a dark-pink stripe inside their petals. There is also a yellow flower form that is less common.

Spring Beauty prefers moist soil and part-shade. The tiny flowers last for a week or so and then the grass-like leaves are not very noticeable. A few weeks later the foliage also disappears for the rest of the season.

It is native to the Eastern U.S. and from Canada down to Texas. Several kinds of bees and flies visit the flowers.

To add them to your lawn or garden, you can purchase the corms (tiny bulbs) from native plant nurseries. If you are lucky, the plants will seed themselves about and you will have a nice colony of plants.

You can sometimes miss this wildflower if you go on a walk on an overcast day as the blooms close up at night and in dim light to conserve energy.

Try planting Spring Beauty in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.

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
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
https://www.instagram.com/wdcgardener/
~ facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine

DIY: Bird Nesting Material Ball or Cage

This early spring craft can be a fun rainy day activity with kids and then once hung in your garden outside a window, you can watch as bird's gather from your offerings. (You can make several and put them in various spots to see which ones the birds prefer.) Later on, after the fledglings have hatched, you can see what nests used your materials.
Level: easy   Cost: minimal   Use: garden decor/wildlife/gift
Materials:
- dried grasses
- small twigs
pet hair
- dry leaves
- cattail or milkweed fluff
- cotton (I grew my own)

Step 1: Collect materials from your garden and/or purchase them.

Step 2: Tie a 10-inch piece of twine to the top of the cage or sphere and knot it securely. You will use this later for hanging it.

Step 3: Stuff coconut fiber or Spanish moss into the center of the wire cage or wire form.

Step 4: Add your other bird nesting materials loosely into the cage/frame so the birds can pull them out, but secure enough that the wind won't blow it away. Here is where you can get creative -- form patterns or layers with them materials as you wish.

Step 5: Hang in garden.
Note: it is not recommend to use yarn and ribbon as bird's feet can get tangled in them and also avoid dryer lint as it can contain harmful chemicals from laundry products.




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



Monday, March 30, 2020

SUMMER PUBLICATION INTERNS SOUGHT


Washington Gardener Magazine, a 15-year-old local gardening magazine, is looking for talented SUMMER interns. Candidates must display an eagerness to learn about the publishing industry.
The successful candidate will either be a junior or senior in college, who is interested in examining a career in magazine journalism. The unpaid program requires a 10-20-hour weekly commitment, with hours being flexible, including some weekend local garden events. The internship will begin in late May/early June and run through the summer session. The student will be responsible for determining whether college credit will also be available for the internship program.

Duties would include: • Communicating with authors • Conducting interviews • Proofing & editing articles • Researching • Taking photographs/videos  • Press Releases, both writing and editing • Blogging, both writing and posting • Social Media Campaign • Assisting with mass mailers, and providing general support to our editorial staff. Ideal candidates will have a journalism background, but all students passionate about gaining experience with a local, vibrant digital magazine are encouraged to apply.

Students should send a cover letter, names of references, and copies of their best writing samples BY Monday, April 20 to Kathy Jentz.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Seed Giveaway

We have a surplus of seed packets left over from the annual Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges that we host each winter. We gave away two big boxes already at local gardening events like Rooting DC and to Master Gardener groups. We had intended to do more giveaways at several upcoming local garden festivals, but as they are all now canceled through April, we have launched a mail giveaway.

Here is the list of currently available seeds:

- Viroplay Spinach
- Early White Patty Pan Summer Squash
- Cocozelle Green Stripe Summer Squash 
- Early Prolific Straightneck Summer Squash 
- Boston Marrow Winter Squash
- Waltham Butternut Winter Squash
- Moon and Stars Red Flesh Watermelon
- San Marzano Tomato
- Red Pear Tomato
- Yellow Pear Tomato
- Brandywine Pink Tomato
- Principe Borghese Tomato
- Livingston's Paragon Tomato

All the seed packs are from heirloom seed company Landreth Seed and have a sell-by date of 2019.

For individuals, put 1 stamp on your SASE for 1-3 seed packs and 2 stamps for 4-6 seed packs. Include a note listing which seeds you want and a few alternatives, in case we run out of certain kinds. We will fill the orders on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you are a community garden, school garden, garden club, etc. and want 20 or more seed packs, send a pre-paid Priority Mail flat-rate envelope. Include a note listing which seeds you want and a few alternatives, in case we run out of certain kinds. We will fill the orders on a first-come, first-served basis.

Send your self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) by April 15 to:

Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Giveaway
826 Philadelphia Ave.
Silver Spring MD 20910

A donation* of $5 to Seed Swap Day for any seeds received is a wonderful way to support our annual Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges, but is not required. Here is how to donate via Paypal: go to https://seedswapday.blogspot.com/ and click on the "Donate" icon on the upper right corner of the page.

*Note that the donation is not tax-deductible, but is much appreciated to keep our seed-sharing mission alive!

UPDATE: All remaining seeds will be donated to Prince George's County school lunch programs to be given out to families picking up lunches during the COVID closures, so they can start home gardens and learn about growing their own food.

A HUGE THANK YOU to American Meadows/Landreth Seeds for donating these seeds to our annual Seed Exchanges!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

GardenDC Podcast Episode 4: All About Tomatoes

Listen to the most recent episode of our podcast posted on March 28, 2020.


This episode includes a talk with Doug Oster all about tomatoes — from the earliest varieties to ripen to combating blight issues. Doug shares his best tips and tricks. 

Our Plant Profile in this episode is on Heuchera.

BTW, YOU can become  a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month!
See how at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/support. 


The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/March-28--2020-ebvisr

It is also available on -

  • Google Podcasts at this link, either now or soon (note that currently, this link will only work on Android devices)

We welcome your questions and comments!


You can leave a voice mail message for us at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/message Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fenton Friday: Cool Thinnings


This week is all about thinning and weeding. The Radish and Beet seedlings that the interns planted are starting to really crowd each other, so I went in and culled about 90% of them to make way for the remaining few to grow big and healthy. 

Normally, I would have the interns do this themselves to learn about thinning, but with the virus shutdown, one is home in Westminster, MD, and the other is "stuck" in Amsterdam with her family, where they had traveled on spring break.

I use kitchen scissors to thin the seedlings and cut the unwanted ones off at the soil line. I place a paper towel on each side of the seedlings to catch as many as they can when they fall, because they are edible! Save them in a baggie and sprinkle them on a salad, soup, or sandwich.

Elsewhere in the plot, I cleaned up the Strawberry bed and was pleased to find several Asparagus spears coming up on there too. I also cleaned out some Garlic Chives that kept running into the pathways and gave those away. (I have lots to spare, should anyone want more!)

The Peas are putting on good growth and I hope that my newly planted Lettuces appear soon as the weather has been pretty mild. I also added a few more seed to the row of Cilantro to fill it out.

BTW, if you to see a tour of the actual plot and community garden, I hosted a short Facebook live video yesterday that gave a tour of them. You can watch it here:https://www.facebook.com/145383542145752/videos/154881385757301/

What are you planting this month in your edible garden? 

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, March 25, 2020

Plant Profile: Carex


This plant is one of those often overlooked and underused plants in our landscapes.

Carex looks like a mop of low-growing grass, but it is actually a member of the sedge family. There are native and non-native varieties, as well as a number of new cultivars.

It is perennial and looks good in all seasons. Depending on the variety you choose, it can thrive in either wet or dry conditions and from full sun to part shade.

Carex is a low-care plant. In late winter, you may need to rake out fall leaves that get caught in its interior and cut back any foliage that looks tattered and worn.

Best of all, carex is deer-resistant and has few critter issues, though my cat, Santino, likes to take nibble on the blades occasionally.

Carex blooms in early spring, but the flowers are of minor interest. The real attraction is the foliage, which come in every shade of green and also variegated.

Use this versatile plant as a groundcover, an accent plant, and in containers.

Popular varieties of carex available at local garden centers include ‘Everillo,’ ‘Ever Gold’, and ‘Ice Dance.’

Try planting a few carex in your garden today – you can grow that!


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.
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
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
https://www.instagram.com/wdcgardener/
facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Keep Calm and Garden On merchandise.



It has been a few years since I updated our online store of "Keep Calm and Garden On" merchandise.

In these times, it seems the message is more relevant than ever!

I have recently added some new item choices to it like phone cases, buttons, and magnets.

See: https://www.cafepress.com/washgardener

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Win a Garden Gnome in the March 2020 Washington Gardener Reader Contest


For our March 2020 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a Garden Gnome from Twig & Flower (prize value: $25).
   The gnome collection includes a variety of whimsical and life-like characters. Twig & Flower’s gnomes are individually hand-painted and packaged with care. They are made from durable poly resin to withstand the elements.
   Twig & Flower has a store on Amazon.com where you can order gnomes and faeries for your garden at:jhttps://amzn.to/2QEtDIj.
    To enter to win a Garden Gnome from Twig & Flower, send an email to
WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com by 5:00pm on Tuesday, March 31, with “Garden Gnome” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the March 2020 issue and why. Include your full name and address. Winners will be announced on April 1.


UPDATE: Congratulations! The winner of our Garden Gnome contest winner was Beth Naff of Arlington, VA.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

GardenDC Podcast Episode 3: Cool-Season Edible Gardening

Listen to the most recent episode of our podcast posted on March 21, 2020.

This episode includes a chat with Kim Roman of Square Foot Gardening 4 U (SFG4U) about Square Foot Gardening techniques, microgreens, and what cool-season edibles you can start right now.

Our Plant Profile in this episode is on Forsythia.

The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/Match-21--2020-ebhqku

We are also available on -

  • Google Podcasts at this link, either now or soon (note that currently, this link will only work on Android devices)

We welcome your questions and comments!


You can leave a voice mail message for us at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/message Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

And YOU can become  a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! See how at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/support. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region

(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2020.)


It is Cherry Blossom Festival time again in Washington, DC. Obviously, if you go down to the Tidal Basin, you should keep a safe distance from anyone else also there -- which may be near to impossible. Here are a several local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:


#BlossomCam


 The Trust for the National Mall and The National Cherry Blossom Festival announced a new #BloomCam. Go to the live feed here: https://nationalmall.org/bloomcam to view the trees along the Tidal Basin in real time as they bloom.

There is now also a virtual tour video posted: https://nationalcherryblossomfestivallive.org/

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 a Ikebana flower arrangement workshops and has flowering cherry trees in its collection. There is a class fee and they fill fast so register today.

*These public gardens are closed now during the to coronavirus shutdown, see updates at this post.


Neighborhoodsand 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: http://www.dccherrypicker.com/


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.

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