Friday, November 27, 2020

Fenton Friday: Closing out the Season

This will be the last update from our plot at the community garden for this year. This week we had some warm weather and I went over a few times to pull out the remaining warm-season plants that got zapped by a freeze last week. That included okra, marigolds, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and Holy Basil. I also cut back all the asparagus foliage, moved some of the strawberry runners, and trimmed up some of the overwintering herbs. The recently planted garlic has not sent up any foliage yet, but I expect it to do so soon.

Left in for now are broccoli, lettuce, arugula, peas, and radishes. I expect to dig some of the radishes in a week or two, but the rest should stay in and I will check on them occasionally to see if I can harvest a few salads over the early winter.

I also finally got a chance to plant the two 'Navaho' Thornless Blackberry plants at the back of my plot. The poor things have been sitting in pots in part shade on my driveway all year. I think they should be much happier now!

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, November 25, 2020

Plant Profile: Redtwig Dogwood

If you are looking for a way to add drama and color to your winter landscape, think about the Redtwig Dogwood family also known as redosier dogwood. This shrub blends in with the rest of your garden during the growing season, but it puts on a real show when the leaves drop off and the cold temperatures settle in. At that point, the bark color starts to brighten and becomes quite striking amongst the grays and browns of winter.

Redtwig Dogwood, (Cornus sericea, formerly known as Cornus stolonifera) is native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada. While the “redtwig” name makes it sound like a one-hit-wonder, this shrub has varieties in a range of high notes from bright yellow to orange to burgundy. Popular cultivars include ‘‘Cardinal’ and ‘Arctic Fire’.

This is one tough plant. It grows from Zones 2–7 and tolerates clay soils well. Put it in full or part-sun.

Redtwig Dogwood benefits from an annual renewal pruning. The best coloration is on the youngest growth. That means you can cut back up to a third of the older stems all the way down to the ground each winter. All those cut stems you collect can be used for flower arranging and for holiday decorations. They look especially good stuck in outdoor containers and contrasted with evergreens.

The Asian relatives of Redtwig Dogwood are the Tatarian dogwoods (Cornus alba). They are native to Siberia, northern China, and Korea, but grow well in our Mid-Atlantic gardens. There is also a European relative, the blood twig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) that is very lovely and you will find stunning cultivars like ‘Arctic Sun’ and ‘Winter Flame’ widely available at local garden centers.

Read more about Redtwig Dogwoods in the Winter 2009-10 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Redtwig Dogwoods - You Can Grow That!

Filmed at the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, DC.
Additional photos courtesy of Proven Winners

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Visuals by Nicole Noechel
Audio by Kathy Jentz


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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Win Passes to the Urban Tree Summit

For our November 2020 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away passes to the upcoming Urban Tree Summit (pass value $25). 

   Montgomery Parks; Montgomery County, MD; and Casey Trees, Washington, DC, present the 9th annual Urban Tree Summit (formerly known as the Trees Matter Symposium) online on Wednesday, December 2. Presentations will focus on the health and welfare of trees in our increasingly developed landscapes. Learn from some of the country’s leading experts about innovative efforts to plant, protect, and preserve trees in urban and suburban settings. Trees provide many benefits: They clean and cool our air, stabilize our soils, provide wildlife habitat, and beautify our urban and suburban areas. Learn new techniques and concepts about what can be done to ensure the survival of trees in our built environment. Details at

   To enter to win passes to the Urban Tree Summit, send an email to: by 5:00pm on Wednesday, November 25, with “Urban Tree Summit” in the subject line and in the body of the email, tell us what your favorite article was in the November 2020 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine and why. Include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced by November 27.  

Congratulations to our pass winners, Eva Monheim and Louise Clarke!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

GardenDC Podcast Episode 38: Art in the Garden

This episode we talk with Jan Kirsh, a landscape designer and sculptor, about art in the garden. The plant profile is on Rosemary and I share some indoor blooming plants.

BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month!
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The episode is posted at:

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Fenton Friday: Garden Fresh Salads Galore

By Nicole Noechel 

I’ve lived in small dorms and apartments for the past four years, so I haven’t had much space to grow my own plants. I tried growing a cherry tomato plant my freshman year, but it began to die in my dorm, and I had to give it to my dad to grow in his garden. 

This semester, having space to grow my own lettuce in the Fenton Street Community Garden has been really fulfilling. Eating a salad with fresh ingredients, including my lettuce and tomatoes and peppers that Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener, kindly let me take home, makes it taste so much better. 

I planted the Lettuce Leaf 'Salad Bowl Blend' seeds from Botanical Interests in early September. I divided some between two pots that we left in Kathy’s backyard and sprinkled the rest in the community garden plot. I planted way too many seeds in the garden, not knowing how many were left in the packet, and I had to take some out so the crop wouldn’t become too crowded. 

As soon as the potted seeds sprouted, squirrels (or maybe rabbits?) began to dig up and eat them. Not wanting all of my lettuce to suffer the same fate, we covered my garden crop with a cover cloth to keep pests out. It worked well—my lettuce was still able to get the sunlight it needed, but it was safe from rabbits, squirrels, and bugs. 

I visited the garden in early October, and my lettuce was looking great. It still wasn’t ready to be harvested, but it was much taller than the pictures of seedlings that Kathy had sent me a couple weeks earlier. I pulled out any weeds, watered it, and covered it up again, excited to take some home with me the next time I visited the garden. 

By October 20, the lettuce was ready to be harvested. I carefully cut the leaves from the stems, making sure not to uproot any plants so they could continue to grow. I took my lettuce home with me and made some tasty Caesar salads, my favorite kind. I harvested another batch of lettuce a few days ago, on November 17th, and have been making salads with that as well. 

I didn’t think that growing lettuce would be so straightforward and easy, but with Kathy’s help and expertise, it has been a blast! I would definitely like to grow my own food when I move out of my apartment—especially fresh tomatoes, which I’ve enjoyed picking and eating from Kathy’s garden plot throughout the semester. I’ve learned a lot about gardening this semester, like the best ways to water fragile plants and how to cover crops to keep them from being eaten, so I will take those lessons and apply them to my gardening efforts in the future. 

About the Author: Nicole Noechel is a senior multiplatform journalism major and history minor at the University of Maryland. She is interning this fall semester with Washington Gardener.

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, November 18, 2020

November 2020 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine –Smokebush, Crane Fly Orchid, Invasive Jumping Worms, and much more


The November 2020 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out.

Inside this issue:

·         Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)

·         Look Out for Invasive Jumping Worms

·         Creating Habitat for Northern Mockingbirds

·         Woodland Native Crane Fly Orchid

·         Meet the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Executive Director

·         Screen Out Bulb-Stealing Squirrels

·         What to Do in the Garden this Month

·         Leave the Leaves

·         A New Vision for the Tidal Basin
and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the December 2020 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. You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here:

Monday, November 16, 2020

21 Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

The holidays are coming, so I thought I'd share again 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, 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:


Need even more ideas? Here are some gift guides from my garden blogging friends -

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

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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...