Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Plant Profile: Hyacinth

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) are a spring-flowering bulb that have been in cultivation for more than 400 years. They originated in the eastern Mediterranean and are sometimes referred to as Dutch Hyacinths to differentiate them from the small Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) or the aquatic plant Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Hyacinths have a strong, sweet fragrance and are a long-lasting cut flower in a vase. They are also easy to force into early indoor bloom in the winter time.

The National Garden Bureau has declared 2021 as the #YearoftheHyacinth. At one time there were more than 2,000 named cultivars. Today, there are less than 50 cultivars available. They come in shades of blue, pink, yellow, peach, and white. Popular cultivars include ‘Delft Blue’, ‘Gypsy Queen’, and ‘City of Haarlem’.

For best selection, order your bulbs in spring. Plant the bulbs in mid-autumn, the same as you do with Tulips and Daffodils. They need a sunny location with well-draining soils, to prevent the bulbs from rotting.

Cut off the flower spikes as soon as the flowers fade to encourage the hyacinths to store more energy in their bulbs and return next year. For this same reason, do not cut back the foliage until it also starts to fade.

After several years, the bulbs can revert to the original single-flowering species, so you may wish to replenish your plantings with fresh bulbs annually.

And on bonus aspect to Hyacinths is that they are deer-resistant. The bulbs themselves are poisonous, so squirrels don't snack on them either.

Hyacinth - You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Visuals by Khloe Quill
Audio by Kathy Jentz


 If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday Motivation

"If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden."  - Robert Brault

Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 2021 Details

Our Seed Exchange 2021 registration period has ended.Email confirmations are now going out to all registrants.

We are holding our postponed Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 2021 on Saturday, 4/3 at Brookside Gardens. (Sorry, the event at Green Spring Gardens is canceled.)

As we are following all COVID protocols and maintaining social distancing, the event will be very different in format from previous years and requires advance registration for all attendees. PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS CAREFULLY SO YOU ARE PROPERLY PREPARED.
As one of last year's attendees, YOU get first dibs on registering for a time slot*. Then, in a few days, I will open up time slots to current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers. Finally, a week or so after that, we will open up any remaining slots to the general public. Only 1 time slot per person, if you sign up for multiple slots they will be deleted. COVID regulations require that time slots are NONtransferable. If you cannot make it that morning or wake-up not feeling well, the slot will just be left empty.
The big changes are: no speaker programs, no goody bags, and no door prizes. This will just be purely several rows of tables with seed packs on them plus a few tables for free garden books/catalog/information - and seedlings! Since we are later in the season, the other big change is you can bring seedlings to share (as well as houseplant cuttings, summer bulbs, etc.)! It will help a great deal if the seedlings are already placed in individual little cups/pots and labeled well. We require everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks. I hope many of our attendees will also have had their vaccine by then. You will enter through a side door of the auditorium and should NOT go into the Visitor Center lobby area and exit through a separate side door. There is no measuring of what you brought versus what you take. We ask that folks limit themselves to what they will personally grow this year. Some tables and items will be marked with "1 each" or similar signs, so that we can have enough of certain items to go around. There will be NO onsite registration or fee charged. We will set out a tip jar for donations at the event and also have a small sales table with Washington Gardener Magazine back issues and subscription sign-ups. Another way you can support the event is to donate using the online tip jar at (see the "donate button"on the top, right-hand column).
BRING a tote bag(s) and/or a tray to collect and carry your selected items home in.
Here is the SCHEDULE:

10am-12n Drop off seeds**/seedlings/garden books etc. at the front door of Brookside Gardens' Visitor Center - do NOT enter the building - there will be volunteers with a rolling cart/empty boxes there to accept and bring in items
12n-4pm We will let in groups of 10 attendees every 20 minutes* to select seeds according to your time slots. We ask you to not bunch around the front of the building. Please wait in your vehicles, take a walk around the gardens, go run errands, etc. until your time slot is about to start.

*Don't worry if your time slot is later on in the day, we plan to hold some seeds back so not all the "good stuff" is set out at the 12noon start to make it more fair for those with later times.

**You can also mail your seeds for the swap (labeled seed packs only - no other items will be accepted in advance!) to arrive before April 1 to:
   Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910

HERE IS the registration link for a time slot:  

Registration is now closed.

We hope this event gets seeds into the hands of more home gardeners and wish you all a happy growing season!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Garden Film Review: Taming the Garden

By Khloe Quill

[This film is part of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF) 2021. Read reviews of several other garden-related films from this year's festival in the March 2021 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.]

Taming the Garden is an engrossing experience from start to finish, though those looking for a traditionally informative documentary may find it off-putting when they’re met with zero voice-overs or talking-head interviews. All of that being said, if you’re willing to do a little mental leg-work, the story being told is unique, heart-wrenching, and worth a watch.
Former prime minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has taken up a strange and expensive hobby: digging up ancient and rare trees from around the country to add to his personal collection. There’s something mind-boggling about moving gigantic and centuries-old trees that can’t just be told, which is why Taming the Garden can get away with showing instead of telling a story. The film’s iconic scene used as its screener preview is a tree, on a boat, in the ocean. It seems comical until you actually see it in context and then it feels… lonely. But you have to see it to understand what I mean.
Most scenes focus on the lives of those directly related to the trees as opposed to the collector himself. It’s an intimate portrayal of how one man’s incomprehensible access to a community’s environment can impact them at an emotional level. In the first 20 minutes of the film, a group of workers laugh and joke as they chip away at the earth surrounding a few of the trees slated for relocation. These shots continue throughout the 90-minute film, interspersed with interviews from said members of the town inside their own homes. It feels casual, even for a documentary, but the casualness of the interviews creates a sense of intimacy and closeness that wouldn’t be achievable in a more formal set up.
“If they force me, they’ll get it. Because I won’t compromise,” says one man about whether or not he’ll cut down his own trees. Often, smaller trees need to be cut down to make a clear path for transporting the desired trees. In this instance, the man refuses to bend to Ivanishvili’s will. As the man continues the interview, a family member pleads with him to stop talking.
In another scene, there’s a crowd gathered to witness one tree’s removal andthere seems to be a mix of emotions. Some seem detached: they take pictures and laugh in a mixture of wariness and amazement. Others are visibly upset. An elderly woman bemoans the tree's removal as it is taken away in the dark of night, saying it won’t survive in Ivanishvili’s garden. She races towards the tree as her family urges her to stay away. 
Though most of the film is dedicated to the taking of the trees themselves, we are eventually introduced to the massive arboretum for which they were taken. The reveal is astonishing and sort of wonderful, but it’s hard to forget that just a few scenes before, a whole town marched behind their tree as it was taken away forever. Taming the Garden accomplishes something rare in the silence where narration should be: the space left behind leaves room for the viewer’s own thoughts, and urges the film’s impact to exist beyond its end credits.

About the Author: Khloe Quill is a journalism major at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an intern this semester with Washington Gardener. She is a native of Frederick, MD.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 52: Rock Gardening with Joseph Tychonievich

This episode we talk with Joseph Tychonievich, author of "Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style," and "The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food," on rock gardening, hypertufa, NARGS, and food growing basics. The plant profile is on Flowering Quince and we share our upcoming events and local gardening news!

You can register for his April 14, 2021, webinar on Plant Shopping here.

You can order his books at:

BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! See how at:

The episode is posted at:

The GardenDC podcast is also available on -

We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Fenton Friday: Starting Fresh

Is there a better feeling each spring than starting out fresh in the vegetable garden? Well, almost fresh. We still had a few crops over-wintering -- lettuce, broccoli, garlic, and arugula. Also, we have three perennial crops in -- strawberries, blackberry, and asparagus. This doesn't count the perennialized herbs like the rosemary, yarrow, and chives. 

Last week, we planted fava beans and peas. Today, we planted three seedlings 'Burgundy' broccoli plants I bought at Homestead Gardens to add to the other broccoli. I am curious to see how these purplish ones will look and taste.

We also added in 'French fingerling' potatoes. This time, I decided to try the trenching method, rather than the mounding one. I am hoping this will be a little less work. (See the January 2021 issue of Washington Gardener for more pointers about potato planting.)

I still have a lot of plot clean-up to do from my winter neglect and then I can start direct-sowing seeds of carrots, radish, parsnip, turnips, and more lettuces.

How is your edible garden growing? Have you started planted yet?

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.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region

(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2021.)

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. The National Park Service has also announced they will shut down Tidal Basin access when crowds of any size start to form.

Here are a several local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:


The Trust for the National Mall and The National Cherry Blossom Festival hosts the #BloomCam. Go to the live feed here: to view the trees along the Tidal Basin in real time as they bloom.

Petal Porch Parade

New this year is the Petal Porch Parade. These are homes decorated to bring the cherry blossom parade feel to your neighborhood. Seen more about them here and search the map of locations here.

Video Tours

There is now also a virtual tour videos posted:

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.

*The Dumbarton Oaks museum and grounds are still closed due to COVID. Keep checking back in with them to see if they will open soon. Next to it is Dumbarton Oaks Park and that is open to the public and is a lovely landscape to visit as well with spring ephemerals and a tremendous forsythia display.

Neighborhoods and 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."

~ Casey Trees has an interactive map 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.

>>> Visit our Amazon Store for all your Spring Gardening needs! <<<

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Plant Profile: Flowering Quince

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is one of the earliest blooming shrubs in spring. The blossom colors can be peachy-orange, red, pink, or white. Note that Flowering Quince is not the same plant as the larger, fruit-bearing quince tree (Cydonia oblonga).

Flowering Quince is an Asian native and was once a very popular garden shrub, but had fallen into disfavor. In recent years, new cultivars, such as the ‘Double Take’ series, are bringing the plant back into fashion again.

This shrub is not picky about soil type and is generally drought-tolerant once established. It is hardy to zones 4 to 9 and prefers a full sun location. It is a rose relative and has shiny, dark-green foliage that emerges once the blooms shed.

This is a fairly tough plant. The only maintenance it needs is regular pruning to keep the size in check and to keep the interior from turning into a messy thicket. It can reach 10 feet high and wide, though there are new dwarf forms now available from local garden centers.

A bit of a warning, Flowering Quince has sharp thorns, so be careful when working around it. This trait does make it a useful shrub for creating a security hedge or as a safe nesting spot for birds.

If you get impatient waiting for spring, the branches are easily forced into bloom in late winter by cutting a few and placing them in a vase filled with room temperature water indoors. It is also a great plant to experiment with for bonsai or training into different forms.

Flowering Quince - You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Visuals by Khloe Quill
Audio by Kathy Jentz


 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


~Podcast: GardenDC


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Win a Noot Sampler Kit in the March 2021 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest

For our March 2021 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away one Noot Sampler Kit, which has all three Noot products (Noot Plant Food + Measuring Syringe, Husky Mix, Rescue Mix), for a total of one winner, and four Welcome Kits (two tubes of Noot Plant Food + Measuring Syringe), one per winner for a total of four winners. 

Noot is the secret sauce that keeps plants alive and thriving. With Noot, every watering offers no-fuss organic fertilizing that fuels long-lasting, natural growth. Noot nourishes plants with 18 powerful organic ingredients combined with beneficial bacteria. Offered in three varieties, Noot makes caring for plants easy with monthly delivery. To use, just pour it on the soil and Noot converts ordinary water into a complex nutritional and microbial solution that every plant craves. Available at  

To enter to win one of the Noot kits, send an email to by 5:00pm on Wednesday, March 31, with “Noot” in the subject line. In the body of the email, tell us what your favorite article was in the March 2021 issue and why. Include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced by April 2.

We have drawn our 5 winners. They are -
- Susan Loewy

- Anne Hardmann

- Skye Sivone Ellis 

- Patty Bastianelli

- Madeline Caliendo

Congratulations, all! Look in your email for a note from me to confirm your prizes.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday Thoughts


“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

    - Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, March 20, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 51: Companion Planting Strategies with Jessica Walliser

This episode we talk with Jessica Walliser, author of "Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden," on the coming Brood X cicadas, allelopathy, and scientifically tested plant partnerships. The plant profile is on Snapdragons and we share our upcoming events and local gardening news!

You can order her book at:

The GardenDC podcast is also available on -

We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.


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