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APRIL 2015 VOL. 10 NO. 2




the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region

Arrest the 10 Most Unwanted Weeds April-May Garden Tasks Small Space Solutions for Growing Edibles Groovy Ground Beetles Spring Tonics from the Garden How Hormones Help Plants Respond to Stress

Bluebell Growing Guide

Best Local Spots for Viewing Virginia Bluebells

EXPANDED! Local Garden Events Listing

Reader Contest

GoGardeners Garden Coaching

Elise Stigliano Garden Coach elise@gogardeners.com • 301-518-8333


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Need a Garden Club Speaker?

Washington Gardener Magazine’s staff and writers are available to speak to groups and garden clubs in the greater DC region. Call 301.588.6894 or email wgardenermag@aol.com for available dates, rates, and topics.

Burtonsville, MD (301) 821-7777


• Ponds - Waterfalls • Disappearing Fountains • “Pondless” Waterfalls www.premierpond.com

Barry Glick Sunshine Farm and Gardens HC 67 Box 539 B Renick, WV 24966, USA Email: barry@sunfarm.com


Specializing in Garden

Renewals & Renovations Yard By Yard Makeovers, LLC 7304 Carroll Avenue, #229 Takoma Park, MD 20912 301-270-4642 yardmakeovers@yahoo.com www.yardmakeovers.com

We can reshape and beautify neglected yards.

Green Spring Gardens




APRIL 2015

A “must visit” for everyone in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area. It’s a year-round gold mine of information and inspiration for the home gardener. It’s an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It’s also a museum, a national historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. Located at 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria, VA. Information: 703-642-5173.





Think you have NO space for edible gardening? Think again! There are many creative solutions for finding growing spaces.

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Bombardier Beetle (Brachininae sp.) in Orange County, NC. Ground Beetles are beneficial garden bugs that eat other insects and pollinate plants. Photo by Patrick Coin via Wikimedia Commons.

BOOKreviews 6-7 Improving Your Soil, SmallSpace Gardening, Herb Bible GARDENbasics 17 Edible Garden Space Solutions GOINGnative 21 Spring Tonics from the Garden INSECTindex 16 Ground Beetles NEWPLANTspotlight 11 Broccoli ‘Artwork’ PLANTprofile 18-19 Virginia Bluebells TIPStricks 20 How Hormones Help Plants Respond to Stress, U.S. National Arboretum Re-Opens Seven Days A Week WEEDwatch 8-9 10 Most Unwanted Weeds


ADVERTISINGindex BLOGlinks EDITORletter GARDENcontest LOCALevents MONTHLYtasklist NEXTissue RESOURCESsources

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Win a family pack of passes to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! See page 5 for entry details. Entry deadline is 5:00pm April 30.

Virginia Bluebells in a Germantown, MD, garden. Photo by Carol Allen.

In Our Next Issue: MAY 2015 The Many Flavors of Basil

Virginia Bluebells sometimes bloom in pink as seen at the Mt. Cuba Center in northern Delaware last spring.

Meet Dr. Ari Novy, U.S. Botanic Garden’s Executive Director

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) and much more... Be sure you are subscribed to:


Click on the “subscribe” link at http://washingtongardener. blogspot.com/ APRIL 2015





Credits Kathy Jentz Editor/Publisher & Advertising Sales Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: 301.588.6894 wgardenermag@aol.com www.washingtongardener.com Call today to place your ad with us! Ruth E. Thaler-Carter Proofreader Cover price: $4.99 Back issues: $6.00 Subscription: $20.00 Foreign subscription: $24.00 Address corrections should be sent to the address above.

10 Years Old and Growing! Here I am (pictured above) with my two nieces on a recent blustery spring day. How did they get so big so fast? Some of you, dear readers, will remember my nieces being featured as mere toddlers in early issues of this publication and now they are entering their teens and are closing in on me in height. Time truly does fly! I want to thank everyone who has joined me on this journey, including family, friends, contributors, and, of course, all of you loyal readers. I plan to have some sort of in-person celebration later this year when the gardening event season slows down a bit. Speaking of which, this spring seems to be more busy and crowded with great offerings than ever! In this issue, I have doubled the Events Listings section from two pages to four to include as many of these as I can. Extra and late event listings will get posted to the Washington Gardener Discussion Group. Sign up for that, if you are not already on it, at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ WashingtonGardener/. Back to the subject of turning 10! Washington Gardener has changed and grown a great deal over the past decade — aside from publishing the monthly online magazine, there are the two Seed Exchanges each winter, a Plant Swap in late spring, Tomato Taste in summer, trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show, our annual Garden Photo Contest, our Garden Book Club, and the garden talk series we host. There are many more things I hope to accomplish in the coming years. For starters, I have a book on local gardening in the works, which I hope to complete by next spring. As we take a look back and look forward at this 10-year anniversary mark, I am always open for more ideas and welcome your feedback! Happy gardening!

Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher, Washington Gardener wgardenermag@aol.com 4


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• Washington Gardener Blog: www.washingtongardener.blogspot.com • Washington Gardener Archives: http://issuu.com/washingtongardener • Washington Gardener Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ WashingtonGardener/ • Washington Gardener Twitter Feed: www.twitter.com/WDCGardener • Washington Gardener is a womanowned business. We are proud to be members of: · Garden Writers Association · Think Local First DC · DC Web Women · Green America Magazine Leaders Network · Green America Business Network Retail stores wishing to sell our publication should contact Kathy Jentz at the contact information above. To order reprints, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877.652.5295, ext. 138. Volume 10, Number 2 ISSN 1555-8959 © 2015 Washington Gardener All rights reserved. Published quarterly. No material may be reproduced without prior written permission. This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that the information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by the publisher as to legality, completeness, or technical accuracy. All uncredited photos in this issue are © Kathy Jentz.


Reader Contest

For our April 2015 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a family 4-pack of passes to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to see “A Million Blooms” (prize value: $40). See literally millions of blooms, plus view the gardens as art, at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. As part of “A Million Blooms,” a dozen picture frames will be set up throughout the central garden and inside the conservatory to feature what’s in bloom. Peer through the empty frames to view “living bouquets,” ensuring you see the garden’s highlights. The vignettes were inspired by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ “Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower” exhibit (March 21–June 21) depicting flowers in masterpieces. “A Million Blooms” runs now through Monday, June 1, 2015; daily 9am-5pm. Read more about it at http://www.lewisginter.org. To enter to win the Million Blooms Passes, send an email to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com by 5:00pm on Sunday, April 30, with “Million Blooms” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on May 1.

Caption Contest

We asked our Facebook page followers to caption this photo (shown above): What would these freshly mulched trees have to say if they could talk? Look for more monthly caption contests at the Facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine page.

Winning Captions: “Damn it, Jim, I’m a tree, not a volcano.” ~ Kim Howes Roman They would say, “Get that damn mulch off our trunks...you are killing us!!” ~ Susan Hamilton “I don’t know which is worse, the dyed mulch or the volcano technique.” ~ Ellen Zachos “Please stop, you are smothering me! AND red is not my color!” ~ Judy Furlow “Be careful when you discard that cigarette, sir. My mulch is highly flammable.” ~ Mike Love “My corset is too tight!” ~ Eddie Chang “A giant ant hill is swallowing my tree!” ~ Lauren Milone “Help! I’m suffocating and my feet have fungus and my skin is soaked! The mulch man is trying to kill me! And then he chopped off my roots! HELP ME!!!!” ~ Jim DeRamus “Tree agent 86’ed: Cone of Silenced trees.” ~ Kim Kaplan “You hate me. You really, really hate me.” ~ Mia Knight Nichols “DONUT — NOT VOLCANO!” ~ Monica Bocaner “Cough, cough... choke...” ~ Eva Stern “When did Mother Nature start putting red volcanoes at the foot of trees?” ~ Safe Grow Montgomery “It’s touching me, mom!” ~ Rose Russell “I can’t brea..... ” ~ Diane Blust “I only mentioned my roots needed touching up..... ” ~ Sara Haywood “Who is the idiot who mulched these trees?!?” ~ Wendy Lou “Volcanos are for Hawaii, not trees.” ~ Karen Wood Tragic tree mulch photo by Kathy Jentz. APRIL 2015



BOOKreviews land. Maintaining all of the great things we incorporate to enhance our soil, is crucial to the health of not just the soil, but what we grow in it. This was a terrific book and I would highly recommend it to the homeowner who wants to build a strong, healthy foundation of soil to grow in. Teresa Speight is a native Washingtonian, who resides in District Heights, MD. She owns Cottage In The Court Landscape Consulting. She owes her interest in gardening to her father and the Central Rappahannock Master Gardeners, who taught her how to be a true “steward of the land.” She can be reached at cottageinthecourt@gmail.com.

Improving Your Soil: A Practical Guide to Soil Management for the Serious Home Gardener By Keith Reid Publisher: Firefly Books List Price: $29.95 Reviewer: Teresa Speight In this year of celebration of the soil, this book is great source of information that is easily understood and applied in the home garden. Scientist Keith Reid breaks down the subject of soil, chapter by chapter, starting with the seasons. The seasons have a role to play in the health of the soil, whether we realize it or not. Identifying your specific type of soil, the importance of the content of the soil, and how it functions are all crucial to any home gardener or landscaper. Not understanding the soil that you are working with could become a growing challenge. Understanding the nitrogen cycle can empower and enable the homeowner to do what is required through amendments, to build a better soil. Reid also reveals how to identify certain nutrient deficiencies simply by looking at the leaves. Soil health translates into healthier plants and a happier homeowner. The most informative part of the book to me was Chapter 13 – Sustaining the Land. Did you know that homeowners add more to a square foot of land than most farmers do? This forms an intimate connection with the earth, requiring us to be better stewards of our 6


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Small Space Garden Ideas By Philippa Pearson Publisher: DK Publishing List Price: $22.95 Reviewer: Kathy Parrent For those with only a small space for gardening, this “how to” book is full of clever design ideas to enliven and make optimal use of your windowsill, wall, step, balcony, porch, or patio. It is jammed with over 40 creative crafting projects, each one with a recipe of the tools and plants needed and a step-by-step explanation of how to create each garden project. Some of the ideas are simple and whimsical, like planting red and green lettuce in a colander or growing cacti in tin cans. There are chapters on terrariums, vertical growing, air plants, and Bonsai. Projects also include growing moss in pots, creating a tabletop water garden, making a mobile of potted plants, and using colorful fabrics for over-the-balcony ledge planters. Beautiful photos and the clear, attractive graphic design make it fun to peruse the book and easy to understand the steps to follow. Three of the ideas really captured my imagination. I realized how simple it would be to jazz up my patio and make it more appealing while maximizing space. First was a vertical planting of herbs, fruits, and vegetables inside pocket planters hanging from a bam-

boo pole against an outdoor wall. The plants shown were a tasty mix of colors and shapes — Alpine strawberry, Campanula ‘Blue Planet,’ garlic chives, golden French oregano, lemon thyme, rosemary, sage ‘Tricolor,’ sweet pepper ‘Mohawk Orange,’ and two varieties of violas. The author advised adding a water-retaining gel because the plants are likely to dry out quickly. Another project I might just tackle is to spruce up terra cotta pots and make their color and design coordinated, letting the plants provide the variety. Pictured were sedum, Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), Echinacea, and thyme in pots that had been painted or decoupaged with fabric, wrapping paper, paper napkins, or newspaper and then varnished. My favorite project — and I’m going to do this one! — is a “wildlife hamper.” Using a simple white wicker hamper, the author created a pollinator-friendly wildflower presentation that can fit on a patio. The example used a mix of colors, shapes, and heights of sun-loving perennials, all nectar-rich, along with grasses. The project should be started in early spring and include bulbs for summer and next spring. The wicker just needs a light coat of paint and then varnish. The hamper is to be filled with plastic, then add drainage holes, gravel, potting mix, and plants. You’ll have a meadow right outside your window and you’ll be providing a tiny habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies! The author, Philippa Pearson, is a garden designer and gardening journalist and the recipient of a medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK. Kathy Parrent is a freelance writer and gardener in Silver Spring, MD. She runs the gardening and environmentalist page, “Green Thumb to the Rescue” on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/ GreenThumbToTheRescue.

BOOKreviews The Herb Bible By Stefan Buczacki Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group List Price: $14.99 Reviewer: Martha Sykora Written by well-regarded horticultural expert Stefan Buczacki, The Herb Bible lives up to its cover claim to be the, “definitive guide to choosing and growing herbs.” Early chapters cover “What is a Herb,” site and soil, herb garden design and styles, planting, care and propagation, containers, pickling/preserving, and pests. Profiles of over 130 herbs and herbal trees and shrubs follow. Arranged alphabetically by Latin name (with common name following), each listing includes an overview, then cultivation and care, problems, recommended varieties, ornamental appeal, site and soil, hardiness, size, and uses (culinary and non-culinary). The familiar herbs are there, of course, but it is the inclusion of less-common varieties that sets this book apart from others. The descriptions are clear, accessible, and interesting to read on their own merits. Lady’s Smock, or Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), ends with the folklore caveat it “is sacred to fairies and should not, therefore, be taken indoors.” Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) begins with the admonition “This plant is a real challenge, but then it’s not every day that you are advised to grow a parasite in your garden.” Another, Galega officinalis, is also known as both Goat’s Rue and Professor-Weed! Even those varieties with which we may already have some familiarity are made more interesting. The initial description for Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) says, “Not so long ago, anyone who deliberately grew stinging nettles would have been thought slightly peculiar. Then came the vogue for helping wildlife and the realization that the nettle is the food plant for some most attractive butterflies; and everyone wanted to grow a patch. The nettle was also much sought after in wartime, when ordinary beer was in short supply. In addition to most parts having been eaten at some time, the stems yield

a strong fibre woven since the Bronze Age.” Think on that the next time you are experiencing the plant’s less-desirable attribute and maybe the stinging won’t be as annoying! A further strong point is the attractive photographs throughout the book Published in Great Britain, the book includes temperatures in Fahrenheit as well as Celsius, and mature size guidelines in feet and inches as well as metric measurements. A minor detraction is that the plant hardiness guidelines indicate the lowest temperature tolerances, but not the USDA planting zone. Although brief mention is made of medicinal and culinary uses, the focus is on actually growing herbs. While herbalists and chefs would enjoy it, this attractive and useful book would be of most use to experienced as well as new gardeners. Non-gardeners (or more precisely, not-yet gardeners) would enjoy browsing the photos and reading the history of common and less-common herbs. A fun book! The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden By Karen Newcomb Publisher: Ten Speed Press List Price: $18.99 Reviewer: Martha Sykora This book is a revised edition of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden first published in 1975. A lifelong vegetable gardener and widely published garden writer, author Karen Newcomb continues to promote “intensive methods with small-space innovations like vertical gardening and other crop-stretching techniques” that she indicates result in high yields from small spaces, using less water and requiring less work than conventional long-row gardens. This new edition offers the addition of extensive information on heirloom vegetables. The cover photograph shows a small but intensively planted raised bed overflowing with a variety of beautiful and heavily-laden food crops. Initial pages cover the history and development of this gardening style, followed by practical suggestions for making your own productive gardens in small spaces. Newcomb includes considerations such

as location, plant selections and placement, and attracting beneficial bugs. Particularly helpful for gardeners new to these techniques is the selection of sample garden layouts complete with succession planting suggestions. This style garden is not limited to raised beds; Newcomb also offers practical advice on container gardening. She goes on to provide detailed information on the intensive soil preparation so integral to this style of gardening (Newcomb likens it to “putting a Porsche engine in a Volkswagen body”), when and how to plant, making compost, watering, beneficial companion plantings, and pest and disease management. The new section on heirloom vegetables is extensive and includes recommendations for their individual, relative suitability for postage-stamp gardens. In sum, this is a practical and comprehensive tutorial on all aspects of intensive vegetable gardening in a small place. It would be of interest to new and experienced gardeners alike, and a useful addition to one’s library even if that already includes books on square foot gardening and other related techniques. On the other hand, for those who are strong proponents of principles of less-intensive gardening such as are described in Steve Solomon’s Gardening When it Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden will offer “food for thought” if not for the table. On balance it is good to be familiar with a wide variety of gardening theories and styles so the gardener can pick and choose those best suited for their individual situation. There is a lot of good information in this book that is applicable to other gardening styles too. There are no photographs besides the cover, but almost everyone will appreciate Newcomb’s clear diagrams, charts, and encouraging prose. Martha Sykora has been lucky to try gardening in climates as diverse as Maryland, Colorado, and England. She currently lives in a LEED-certified homestead-wannabe in Annapolis. The bees haven’t survived a full year yet, but the vermiculture composting operation is doing well. o APRIL 2015




Arrest the 10 Most Unwanted Weeds Before They Take Over Your Garden

Weeds, by definition, are unwanted in the garden. But gardeners know that some weeds are more unwanted than others. And still others are serial offenders that can only be described as most unwanted. These last are pernicious weeds that excel at seed production, churning out massive quantities yearly. Many of those seeds stay viable in the soil for years, even decades, lying in wait for a flash of sunlight to spark them to life. This underground stockpile is called a “seed bank” (new weeds put away for a sunny day). In a typical home garden, the numbers can be staggering, with millions of seedy characters lying in wait to burst into weed. For those who police home gardens, these weed seed statistics can be alarming. But statistics don’t tell the whole story. The well-armed gardener can take down these dormant bad boys, as seeds, before they grow into tough weeds. No weeds. No weeding. To help gardeners get a grip on 10 of the most frustrating, seed-producing garden weeds, you can use pre-emergent products to stop garden weeds from growing for up to three to six months per application by interrupting the seeds’ rooting. The makers of the preemergent Preen Vegetable Garden Organic Weed Preventer have created a series of “Most Unwanted Posters.” Modeled after the FBI’s classic “Most Wanted” campaigns, each poster features mug shots, descriptions, identifying marks, and control notes. Everything needed and more to make a citizen’s arrest on these seedy characters. The posters are copyright-free 8


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and are available for download at www. mostunwantedweeds.com. The following are excerpts from the “Most Unwanted Weed” posters, with notes that indicate seed bank strengths for 10 terrible garden thugs: • Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) – Gets its street name for its habit of twining itself around other plants or anything else nearby. Its taproot can grow to a whopping 10 feet deep, with lateral roots that can spread out 30

feet. Produces 30 to 300 seeds per plant per season. Seeds are viable for up to 50 years; • Chickweed, common (Stellaria media) – A petite but vigorous weed that grows densely, low to the ground, often creating a thick, springy green

mat. Produces up to 15,000 seeds, viable for decades; • Crabgrass, hairy (Digitaria sanguinalis) – Aggressive and difficult to eradicate, crabgrass spreads by seeds and also by stem nodes that can root and produce new stems wherever a stem touches soil. It thrives in hot, moist conditions. Drought hardly fazes it. It produces up to 150,000 seeds, viable for three years. • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – Its taproot is difficult to pull and its plumed seeds ride the wind. Classic dandelion puffballs each deliver 50 to 170 seeds, which can stay aloft on a 4-mph breeze. One plant yields up to 15,000 seeds per season. Just one acre infested with dandelions can launch more than 240 million airborne seeds per year. Viable up to five years; • Lamb’s Quarters, common (Chenopodium album) – Incredibly adaptable, it’s a nuisance in gardens as far north as Greenland. Produces up to 72,000 seeds, viable for 20 years or more; • Pigweed, redroot (Amaranthus retroflexus) – Grows so quickly and uses water so efficiently that it muscles out bedmates. Typically produces up to 150,000 seeds. Hyperachievers allegedly pump out nearly one million seeds per plant per year. Viable for 10 years or more; • Plantain (Plantago major) – Its dense clumps compete with existing plants. Produces up to 20,000 seeds, and can re-grow from root crowns. Viable up to 60 years; • Purslane, common (Portulaca oleracea) – Difficult to eradicate once established, it can quickly overwhelm a garden or landscape bed. It spreads rapidly by seed and re-roots from loose

bits when pulled or dug out. Produces up to 240,000 seeds, viable 30 to 40 years; • Spotted Spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) – Its central taproot can grow to two feet deep. A thick milky sap oozes from broken stems and leaves. Beware: The sap is caustic and can cause severe, painful inflammation and blistering to skin, mouth, nose, and eyes. It can be toxic to animals and harbor stinging ants. One plant produces up to 3,000 seeds. Viable for years, exact duration unknown; • Woodsorrel, creeping (Oxalis corniculata) – Competitive and aggressive, it engages in “seed warfare,” as mature pods rupture to spew seeds up to 10 feet away. Produces up to 5,000 seeds; scientists don’t yet know the seed lifespan. o Sally Ferguson is a garden communicator and owner of Ferguson Caras LLC. She can be reached at sally@fcpr.com.

Y ou Can Make a Difference. . . by

Sharing Your Harvest

Plant an extra row in your garden and deliver the harvest to a local food bank or shelter. The need is great! With your help, PAR can continue to make a difference for America’s most vulnerable. Call our toll-free number (877.GWAA.PAR) or visit our website at www.gardenwriters.org/par for more information.

APRIL 2015



MARK YOUR CALENDAR Saturday, April 18th (10am-6pm) & Sunday, April 19th (10am-5pm) • Historic Downtown Leesburg, Virginia

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GARDENnews Photo courtesy of All-America Selections.

Quick Links to Recent Washington Gardener Blog Posts

• Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives • Spring Native Plant Sale Listing • Radishes: You Can Grow That! • Forsythia Gates Reopen at Dumbarton Oaks Park See more Washington Gardener blog posts at: WashingtonGardener.Blogspot.com You might also enjoy the Cats in Gardens blog: http://catsingardens.blogspot.com/

April-May Garden To-Do List

New Plant Spotlight Broccoli ‘Artwork’ F1 2015 Vegetable Award Winner

Artwork is a unique and beautiful dark-green stem broccoli that has only recently become available to home gardeners. Previously, stem or baby broccoli was exclusively available in gourmet markets and upscale restaurants. Now home gardeners can make the art of gardening come alive with this delicious, long-yielding variety. It is available from the new Seminis® Home Garden seed varieties. Artwork starts out similar to a regular crown broccoli, but after harvesting that first crown, easy-to-harvest tender and tasty side shoots continue to appear long into the season, resisting warm temperature and bolting better than other stem broccolis currently on the market. Harvest will be maximized if you remove (pinch) the head. It is optimal to remove the main head at the 2-4 cm (.78-1.57") stage by snapping the stem below the head. First harvest usually occurs 10 days after the head removal. Harvest the stems when they are 6-8 inches in length and 2-4 cm (.78 -1.47) inch diameter. Stems may be harvested multiple times, depending on growing conditions. All-America Selections (AAS) is an independent, non-profit organization that tests new varieties, then designates only the best garden performers as AAS Winners. o

• If you started seeds last month, thin them and start the hardening-off process. • Start some more seeds — especially try flowering annuals like impatiens, marigolds, nasturtium, and petunias. •Do not set out seedlings or tender annuals until after Mother’s Day (traditional last frost-free date for our entire area). • Water shrubs and trees deeply during any dry spells. • Prune winter damage on evergreens. • Make compost tea and use on seedlings. • Turn your compost pile. • Sharpen tools. • Prune flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, lilacs, and azaleas, when they finish blooming. • Repot and fertilize houseplants. • Set aside a few hours each weekend for attending garden shows and tours. • Weed by hand to avoid disturbing newly forming roots. • Soil preparation — add lime, compost, etc., as needed. • Walk your garden — look for early signs of fungal disease. • Divide perennials and herbs. Pot up extras to give away at plant swaps. • Fertilize new growth. • Plant and prune roses. • Transplants small trees and shrubs. • Buy or check on your stored summer bulbs (such as dahlias and caladiums). Pot them and start to water, if you want to give them an early start on the season. • Build a raised bed for vegetables. Add lots of manure and compost. • Buy an indoor plant to liven up your office space. Try an orchid or African violet. • Start/Keep fertilizing your indoor plants. • Cut back and clear out the last of your perennial beds and ornamental grasses. • Mulch beds with a light hand. • Feed birds and provide nesting materials (try dryer lint) as well as houses for the start of their family season. • Sow beans and corn directly outdoors. • Start carrots, turnips, and parsnips in well-draining beds or in deep containers. • Keep cutworms off newly planted edible seedlings by surrounding the seedlings with a collar cut from a plastic bottle or cardboard tube. • Pick peas often to encourage the plants to produce more. • Ensure new seedlings do not dry out by installing a drip-irrigation system. • Start herbs from seed or cuttings. • Edge garden beds. • Remove Ivy, Pachysandra, and other vine-like groundcover from under shrubs. • Work in dry, not wet, soil to avoid compacting the earth. • Hand-pick cabbage worms from broccoli and other cabbage family plants. • Put row covers over vulnerable crops — remove cover to allow for pollinating once they set flowers. • Thin lettuce seedlings and plant more seeds in new rows. (You can eat the seedling greens you pull.) • Plant a tree for Arbor Day or Earth Day. APRIL 2015



TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16 - May 15, 2015 • Now through May 10 8th Annual DC Design House This year at the new country estate at 956 Mackall Farm Lane in McLean, VA, the DC Design House benefiting Children’s National Health System. See details at www.dcdesignhouse.com. • Saturday, April 18, 10am-6pm and Sunday, April 19 10am-5pm 25th Annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Show This free festival takes over Downtown Leesburg. You’ll find great plant vendors with everything from heirloom veggies to exotic orchids, entertainment on the Main Stage, hands-on crafts for the kids, and much more. See details at http://www.flowerandgarden.org. • Saturday, April 18, 10am-4pm Howard County GreenFest 2015 Native Plant Sale all day on the Quad, Howard County Community College, Columbia, MD. A free family event celebrating Earth Month at Howard Community College in the Burrill Galleria. Vendors and nonprofit displays will provide practical information about steps to take both at home and work to promote environmental responsibility. Be sure to collect your favorite great green giveaways throughout the festival! Lunch will be available for purchase. For further information: http://www. howardcountymd.gov. • Saturday-Sunday, April 18-19 The Northern Virginia Bonsai Society’s Spring Show Held at the Merrifield Garden Center Fair Oaks, 12101 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA. Members will display their bonsai for the public and compete for Best of Show and Best of Class awards. Admission is for free. The competing bonsai will be judged by Bonsai Master Roy Nagatoshi, a world class bonsai artist from California. Members of the society will be present to answer any questions. A workshop will be co-located featuring Master Roy Nagatoshi helping members of the Northern Virginia Bonsai Society (NVBS) develop and style their trees. The web site for NVBS is http:// www.nvbs.us and its facebook page is 12


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https://www.facebook.com/NorthernVirginiaBonsai. • Saturday, April 18, 9:00am-1:30pm Grow It Eat It Spring Event Held at the Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Most parts of the event are free, but some classes do have required registration. Come learn how to get things growing this season and about some of the new things you have always wanted to try. Visit the demonstration garden, meet with Master Gardener consultants (bring your garden plans to discuss), attend classes and demonstrations, see tables of information (bring your tools for the tool table), and visit the plant sale. • Saturday, April 18, 2-3:30pm The Right-Size Flower Garden: Exceptional Plants and Design Solutions for Aging and Time-Pressed Gardeners A talk by Kerry Ann Mendez, owner, Perennially Yours. Change happens. Job demands, kids, money, hectic schedules, aging bodies, and changing interests have led to nightmare gardens. Time for some “editing.” This inspiring lecture provides easy-to-follow downsizing strategies, recommended no-fuss plant material, and design tips for stunning year-round gardens that will be as close to “autopilot” as you can get. Implementing these recommendations is not only good for you, they’re good for the planet. US Botanic Garden’s Conservatory Classroom. FREE: Pre-registration required at www.usbg.gov. • April 18-25, 2015 Historic Garden Week Virginia Each spring ,visitors are welcomed to over 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes, and historic landmarks during “America’s Largest Open House.” This eight-day statewide event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic

gardens, and provide graduate-level research fellowships for building comprehensive and ongoing records of historic gardens and landscapes in the Commonwealth, and support the mission of the Garden Club of Virginia. See schedule and details at http:// www.vagardenweek.org. • Monday, April 20, 7-8:30pm Ornamental Edibles in Landscapes and Containers Held at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, VA. Learn how to grow ornamental edible plants in containers on your deck, balcony, or patio. This workshop will cover soil, containers, maintenance, and selection of suitable plants. Registration is requested; sign up online at mgnv.org. Questions? Telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com. • Tuesday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 28, 1:00-3:00pm Visit to a Woodland Garden Early spring is boom time for many wildflowers. Register for one visit or for both dates to observe the progression of beauties in this private woodland garden with Diane Lewis, Brookside Gardens staff, in Potomac, MD. Fee: $6 FOBG: $5; registration required. Meet at private garden in Potomac; address sent upon registration. Details online at: www. montgomeryparks.org/brookside. • Tuesday, April 21, 10:00am-4:00pm Garden Day in Lynchburg Celebrate Virginia’s garden day by learning about Thomas Jefferson’s ornamental landscape design at Poplar Forest. Tours include special highlights about the discoveries that archaeologists have made and how they are working to restore the grounds to Jefferson’s original vision—an official project of the Garden Club of Virginia. Admission is free for members and those with a Lynchburg Garden Day ticket. Regular admission rates apply for all others. Poplar Forest is open daily from March 15 through December 30 (closed on Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day) from 10:00am until 5:00pm. Last tour leaving at 4:00pm. Admission includes a guided house tour

TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16 - May 15, 2015 and perennials, shrubs and fruit trees, camellias, and azaleas and Monasterygrown plants. Local food and craft vendors will be there too.

and self-guided grounds exhibits: $15 for adults. For more information, visit: poplarforest.org or call 434.525.1806.

• Wednesday, April 22, 6:30-8pm Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club ~ Spring 2015 Selection We will be discussing: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The book club meeting will be held at the Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library in the Medium-sized Conference Room. The library room allows food and drink, and you may bring your dinner. The book club meetings are FREE and open to anyone who would like to attend. Please RSVP to “WG Book Club” at WashingtonGardener@rcn.com. I will be limiting attendance to 20. If you need to cancel, let me know ASAP so we can give your spot to someone else, should we have a wait-list. • Wednesday, April 22, 7:30pm Seed Starting Talk The Beltsville Garden Club will meet on in the multi-purpose room of the James E. Duckworth School at 11201 Evans Trail in Beltsville. Speaker Christopher Lewis will offer a talk about year-round seed starting, planting, and using cold frames. Refreshments will be served after the meeting. Please bring a plant or plant-related item for the door prize table. There is no fee and the public is welcome. • Friday, April 24, 6:00-9:00pm Historic London Town and Gardens: Annual Privateer Party Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD. Admission: $100 per person (includes food, drink, music, and live and silent auctions). See online details at: www.historiclondontown.org. Help the London Town Foundation celebrate 20+ years of service to the community at its Privateer Party. It will be more fun than pirates should be allowed to have! • Friday, April 24; 10am-1:00pm, Friends of the National Arboretum members only, then 1-4pm open to the public; Saturday, April 25, 9am-4pm.

• Saturday, April 25, 1:00 –4:00pm Bug Bonanza Celebrate the spring emergence of bugs and see the new insect “hotel” for nesting insects. Attendees will help prepare the hotel with nesting materials, visit a honeybee hive, watch mason bees build their nests, and use bug nets to catch a critter and see it up close. Free. Program will be cancelled in the event of rain. Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. See: www.BrooksideNature.org.

Photo courtesy of Historic Garden Week Virginia.

FONA Garden Fair & Plant Sale This annual spring gardening event features an extensive selection of unusual plants, garden supplies, books, art, family activities, and more. Get expert answers to your gardening questions from Arboretum staff. Sponsored by the Friends of the National Arboretum. Free admission. See www.fona.org for more information. • Saturday, April 25, 9am-2pm Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale The big Native Plant Sale formerly held on 3601 Valley Drive has been renamed! This is the 24th occurrence of this twice-a-year, nonprofit, community plant sale. Fifteen vendors from four states will be hosted. Please note that the event has been moved to the Church of St. Clement at 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302. (This new location is still near Shirlington and is about a half-mile from Parkfairfax.) See details at: www.Northern AlexandriaNativePlantSale.org. • Saturday, April 25, 9am-6pm and Sunday, April 26, 8am-3pm Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild Held on the Monastery grounds at 1400 Quincy St, NE, Washington, DC. Come early for the best selection of herbs and vegetables, roses, annuals

•Sunday, April 26, 12noon-3pm Earth Day and Soils Celebration at OLD CITY Farm & Guild Activities include environmentally friendly vendor booths (including Washington Gardener Magazine), wreath-making with Butterkup Flowers, composting demonstration, beehive displays, local food vendors, and tasty beverages in the garden. Tour OCFG on your own; purchase soil, flowers, and other supplies for your gardening and farming projects. This is a family-friendly event and all are encouraged to attend. Registration is strongly encouraged (no ticket required for entry). They are asking guests to make a “pay what you want” contribution at this event. Details at http://oldcityfarmandguild.com. • Friday, May 1, 10am-6pm and Saturday, May 2, 10am-5pm All Hallows Guild’s Flower Mart 2015 An irresistible array of festival foods, children’s rides, artisanal & boutique gifts and, of course, herbs & flowers, will once again fill the nave and grounds of Washington National Cathedral at this year’s Flower Mart. Drawing locals and tourists alike since 1939, the festival of flowers and fun will feature traditional dance and musical performances and elaborate floral displays from the countries of Asia. The Flower Mart is the work of hundreds of All Hallows Guild volunteers whose efforts support EVENT LISTINGS continued on next page APRIL 2015



TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16 - May 15, 2015 the maintenance of the majestic 59acres surrounding the Cathedral. See: www.allhallowsguild.org. • Saturday, May 2, 10am-4pm 7th Annual Garden Festival at Ladew The Garden Festival at Ladew Topiary Gardens, now in its seventh year, has become the most anticipated rare plant, garden ornaments, and antiques sale in the region, featuring an exclusive collection of vendors from across the eastern seaboard. In addition to enjoying the unique shopping opportunities and inspiring lectures and workshops, guests at Garden Festival can tour Ladew’s spectacular gardens, visit the historic home of Harvey S. Ladew, and stroll through the Nature Walk. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.LadewGardens.com or call 410.557.9570. Tickets may be purchased at the door on May 2. (All prices include admission to Garden Festival, as well as the Gardens, Manor House, and Nature Walk.) • May 2 and 9 (two-session program), 10:00am–12:00noon each day Herbarium Workshop Learn the art and science of pressing, mounting, and labeling plants that have been used by botanists for centuries. This hands-on workshop includes a tour of the National Arboretum’s Herbarium, plus all materials to create five pressed specimens to take home. Fee: $39. Registration required. Held at the U.S. National Arboretum. See www.usna. usda.gov for more information. • Saturday, May 2, 10:30am-12noon Composting Workshop VCE Master Gardeners of Arlington/ Alexandria will lead a workshop on composting and vermicomposting at Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. Participants will learn how to turn yard and kitchen waste into “black gold” that will enrich their plants and gardens. Various composting

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techniques, including how to use worms for composting, will be discussed, as well as commercial and home vermicomposting systems. Interested participants can build their own worm bins. The program is free and open to the public, but registration is required; sign up online at mgnv.org. Questions? Telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com. • Sunday May 3, 1-5pm The 42nd Annual Takoma Park House and Garden Tour The tour celebrates the incorporation of Takoma Park, part of a wide-spread city celebration. Houses on Eastern, Cedar, Maple, and Holly avenues from the 1880s to the early 1890s are presented, most of which have never before been viewed. The story of our very early days and the design influence of the 1880s Aesthetic Movement on art and architecture is told. On the day of the tour, tickets will be sold for $20 at the Cady Lee Mansion at 7064 Eastern Avenue NW, DC, which is featured as the first house on the tour. Tickets may be purchased online in advance for $18 at http://www.historictakoma.org. Tour runs rain or shine.

state with fresh eyes. The 2015 tour includes 44 private homes, gardens, farms, wineries, churches, and historic sites in five counties. They are St. Mary’s County (Sunday, May 3); Dorchester County (Saturday, May 9); Anne Arundel County (Saturday, May 16); Baltimore City/Roland Park (Sunday, May 17), and Washington County (Saturday, May 30). Advance tickets for each tour are $30 per person ($35 if purchasing day-of). Catered lunches will be available on all tours. Purchase tickets and get more information at mhgp. org or 410-821-6933.

• Sunday, May 3, 10am-3pm Plant Sale at Glencarlyn Library Community Garden Featuring plants cultivated at the garden, as well as local plants cultivated by Country Gardens in Toms Brooks, VA, including natives, tropicals, trees, herbs, ferns, perennials, shrubs, and annuals. Master Gardeners will be available to help with plant selection and garden-related questions. Glencarlyn Branch Library, 300 S. Kensington St., Arlington. Free. 703-228-6427 or www. mgnv.org.

• Tuesday, May 5, 11am-12noon Tuesday Strolls through Simpson Park Gardens VCE Master Gardeners who maintain Simpson Park Demonstration Gardens invite Alexandria residents and others to stroll by the gardens to enjoy the gardens, pick up free seed packets, and have their questions answered about garden-related issues. Similar events are scheduled on the first Tuesday of every month through October. The Simpson Park Gardens are located at 420 E. Monroe St., Alexandria, by the YMCA. They comprise a series of gardens that demonstrate what plants do well in a variety of situations: the Waterwise Garden, the Flagstone Garden, the Tufa Garden, and a new Shade Garden. Its Butterfly Garden contains plants attractive to butterflies, and it also has a Scented Garden. Subsequent Tuesday events are scheduled for June 2, featuring herbs; July 7, flowers with a purpose; August 4, waterwise gardening; September 1, native plants; and October 6, fall interest in the garden. For additional information, contact Carol Kilroy at carol_kilroy@comcast.net.

•Sunday, May 3 to Saturday, May 30. Annual Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage The MHGP returns for five weekends this spring. A long-standing Maryland tradition, the pilgrimage provides access to some of Maryland’s most noteworthy private properties and enables residents to see their home

• Friday, May 8, 10am-4pm National Public Gardens Day Visit Tudor Place for Free - One Day Only! Enjoy the historic, 5½-acre garden in Georgetown, WDC, at no charge in honor of sharing nature and the cultivating public green space. Stroll at leisure or choose a free guided tour, and don’t miss the special Garden Sale.

TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16 - May 15, 2015 Pair your visit with a house tour (offered at the regular admission price), running hourly until 3 pm. See full details at tudorplace.org. • Friday, May 8, 9am-7pm (show opens at 1pm) and Saturday, May 9, 9am-5pm Baltimore African Violet and Gesneriad Club’s 60th Annual Show and Sale The club will hold a plant clinic on Saturday from 1-3pm. Club members will discuss care of your plants, repot your troubled violets, and answer questions about any growing problems you may have. The Shops at Kenilworth, 800 Kenilworth Drive, Towson, MD. Free admission. Handicap-accessible. For details, go to: www.facebook.com/ BaltimoreAfricanVioletClub. • Saturday, May 9, 9am-1pm Silver Spring Garden Club’s GardenMart 74th Annual Plant Sale Held at the Historic Silver Spring Train Station parking lot in the heart of downtown Silver Spring at 8100 Georgia Ave. Find Mother’s Day gifts. Great garden Raffle. Unique varieties of organic and heirloom tomatoes and peppers. Large selection of perennials, native plants, herbs, annuals, and shrubs — many grown in members’ gardens. Rain or shine. Cash or check only. • Saturday May 9, 10am-5pm 87th Georgetown Garden Tour This tour feature some of Georgetown’s most intriguing gardens. The Garden Tour has featured a wide variety of gardens from spacious sweeping lawns and majestic trees to intimate outside rooms. Christ Church, 31st and O streets NW, will serve as headquarters for the tour. In addition to purchasing tickets at the church, you may also peruse the unique Garden Boutique. Included in your ticket price is a delectable afternoon tea. All proceeds from the tour go to Georgetown’s parks, recreation facilities and green spaces, and beautiful trees. See details at: http:// www.georgetowngardentour.com. • Mother’s Day weekend (May 9 and 10), Saturday’s Twilight Tour is 4-7pm and Sunday is 12noon-5pm

Capitol Hill Restoration Society 58th annual House & Garden Tour The tour heads over to the New Northeast this year. Long the quiet side of Capitol Hill, Northeast has been the focus of intense commercial development over the last few years. This year’s tour takes us from long-established homes along East Capitol Street over to some refurbished old homes clustered around 6th and E, and a few more closer to the new H Street. Tickets are available through the CHRS web site: http://chrs.org/house-and-garden-tour. • May 13, 6:30-9:00 pm Annual Garden Party Join the President Woodrow Wilson House Property Council and the Benefit Host Committee in welcoming spring to Washington. This annual benefit to support the historic preservation of President Wilson’s historic DC residence will feature live music, spring hats, and specialty cocktails in the president’s two-tiered back garden. Tickets available online. Please reserve tickets in advance at www.woodrowwilsonhouse. org. • Thursday, May 14, 7:00am-1:00pm Bethesda Community Garden Club Plant Sale Held at the Bethesda Women’s Farm Market, 7155 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Large selection of perennials, native plants, herbs, annuals, and shrubs grown in members’ gardens. Rain or shine. Plentiful metered parking is available in the lot behind the market. For nformation, go to www. bethesdacommunitygardenclub.org.

Visit some of the most inspiring private gardens in our area at the height of gardening season. This year’s Brookside Gardens benefit tour features gardens that have been artfully created by their owners over a number of years: a painter’s palette of blossoms arranged by room, a veritable botanical library of specimens, and more. Fee: $20 All-garden Pass ($5/garden at the door). Map to gardens will be sent to registrants. • Saturday, May 16, 9am-3pm Spring Garden Day BIG Plant Sale Don’t miss this exciting annual tradition at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. More than 40 vendors of rare and unusual plants descend on Green Spring Gardens to fill your spring gardening needs! FROGS members receive 10% off plants in the Garden Gate Plant Shop. See http://www.fairfaxcounty. gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm. • The Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club invites you to immerse yourself in local flora, food, and fine art by touring five fabulous gardens during the 2015 Garden Tour of Sandy Spring, MD. Tickets for the May 16, 2015, Garden Tour can be purchased by going to www. sandyspringmuseum.org and selecting Garden Tour. • Saturday, June 14, 11:00am 7th Annual DC Plant Swap hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine. Meet at the U.S. National Arboretum’s R Street parking lot. Anyone is welcome and it is FREE to participate. Bring your well-labeled plants and seedlings to share.

Save These Future Dates:

Still More Event Listings

• Saturday, May 16, 8am-2pm Hyattsville Elementary School PTA’s 6th Annual Native Plant Sale This year’s sale (like last year’s and the year before) includes nearly 50 plant varieties. Information at 301-312-9170 or visit http://hyattsvillees-pta.org/ native-plant-sale/. Sale location: 5311 43rd Avenue, Hyattsville, MD.

How to Submit Local Garden Events

• Saturday, May 16, 10:00am-4:00pm Private Gardens of Mink Hollow

See even more event listings on the Washington Gardener Yahoo discussion list. Join the list at http://groups.yahoo. com/group/WashingtonGardener/.

To submit an event for this listing, please contact: Wgardenermag@aol. com — put “Event” in the subject line. Our next deadline is May 10 for the May 15 issue, featuring events taking place from May 16 to June 15, 2015. o APRIL 2015



Biological technician Dave Beck and biological aide Sarita DeBoer examine species of ground beetles. Photo by Scott Bauer, ARS-USDA.


Groovy Ground Beetles by Carol Allen

The Egyptians revered them, there are more species of these than any other group of organisms, and they pollinate 88% of all flowers. Who are these guys? Beetles, of course! …but besides pollination services, which are considerable, there is a family of beetles that keep our gardens clean of pests — namely, the ground beetles. Ground beetles number about 40,000 species with over 2,000 residing in North America. The term “ground beetle” includes many different subfamilies, each with its own niche. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the group of Tiger Beetles. The Tiger Beetles are generalist feeders and there are 109 species found in North America. With their bulging eyes and slender legs, they can sprint after their 16


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prey faster than their brain can interpret what they see. They have to slow down or stop so their vision can catch up. It is an Australian Tiger Beetle that is considered one of the fastest animals on Earth, traveling 5.6 mph or 53.87 body lengths per second. A cheetah by comparison runs at 60 mph, but that is only 16 body lengths per second. Moving so fast, what is it they eat? Just about any spider, cricket, aphid, ant, sawfly, or other insect that catches their eye! Tiger Beetles around here prefer sandy sites and choose to live along streams, road sides, and dunes. The female chooses a sandy, moist spot; digs a hole about 4" deep; and deposits one egg. When the larva hatches, it digs its burrow at that same site and, as it

grows, it will expand the burrow. Tiger Beetle burrows have been found that were 18" deep. Tiger Beetle larvae are opportunist feeders. They will lie in wait until an unsuspecting insect happens by. They throw their head backward, grab the insect with their sickle-shaped jaws, and pull dinner into the burrow. They secrete digestive enzymes into their prey before ingestion. What allows them these feeding calisthenics are two hooks on the end of the abdomen that keep the larvae secure in the burrow. Still, it takes two to three years to reach maturity, depending on food availability. Mature larvae pupate in their burrow and emerge in either the spring or summer (depending on the species) to mate and begin the cycle again. Tiger Beetles come in a range of colors from brown to black or green. They are often brightly patterned and are sometimes iridescent. Bombardier Beetles are another type of ground beetle. These insects have evolved the ultimate weapon! When alarmed, they can spray a hot, caustic liquid from their abdomens. Within the beetle’s’ abdomens are reservoirs that contain hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. When combined, the chemical reaction raises the liquid to near 212˚F and this boiling liquid is sprayed at the beetle’s attacker with remarkable precision. It is hot and caustic enough to kill small creatures and is painful to human skin. In this area, there are about 40 species of Bombardier Beetles and they are found in moist woods. They hunt for small insects at night and will sometimes congregate when not feeding. Their life cycle is not fully understood, but many researchers believe that the larvae are parasites on other beetle pupae. They are handsome beetled with head, thorax, and legs being a reddishbrown and the wing covers jet-black or black-green. Another group of ground beetles working on our side are the Caterpillar Hunters or Searchers, as they are sometimes known (genus Calosoma). These ground beetles feed at night and are very active in their pursuit of prey. They can even be found climbing trees

GARDENbasics to find caterpillars and grubs. During the day, they hide under rocks and logs. When disturbed, they give off an offensive odor as a defense mechanism. One species, Calosoma sycophanta, was imported from Sardinia in 1905 to aid in the control of Gypsy Moth. Between 1905 and 1910, over 4,000 of these insects were released in the New England area. They can be found today naturalized in southern Maine, Maryland, western Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. These Forest Caterpillar Hunters were so successful in Gypsy Moth control that they were imported into California between 1913 and 1918 where they were used to control Browntailed Moth, Tent Caterpillars, and California Oak Moths. C. sycophanta is reported to eat night and day as larvae. During the two-week period of development, they can consume 50 caterpillars. The adults eat several hundred pests during their twoto four-year lifespans. This ground beetle is strikingly, iridescent blackish-green and is almost 1¼" in length. Ground beetles are numerous and, though not commercially available, they can be encouraged by providing refuges in hedgerows and leaf litter. Many species live for longer than one year and the overwintering adults need hibernation sites, typically found in more natural areas. In our yards, ground beetles will be more at home among a wide diversity of plants with the addition of shelters such as stepping stones, logs, potted plants, etc. In England, ground beetles, rove beetles, and other predacious insects are provided with wide, raised plantings of bunching grasses and perennials called “Beetle Bumps.” These densely planted areas provide dry, temperature-moderated overwintering sites. As with any scheme to encourage beneficial insects in our gardens, the use of pesticides is counterproductive! o Carol Allen describes herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years’ experience in the horticulture industry, with a special interest in plant pests and diseases, and is a Licensed Pesticide Applicator in the states of Maryland. Carol can be contacted at carolallen@erols.com. Please use pesticides safely! Read and heed all label directions!

Small Space Solutions for Growing Edibles by Kathy Jentz You love the taste of homegrown tomatoes and sun-ripened strawberries, but don’t grow your own because you live on a small urban lot, in a home surrounded by trees, or in an apartment with no outdoor access. Think you have no space to grow? Think again! The city is full of inspiration and ideas for those of us who are short on space, yet long on desire to grow our own edibles. Many urban gardeners do not own their own homes, so they need to think outside the raised-bed box. They invent their own.

Keep It Mobile

Often, the little good growing space we have is in the shade or not easily accessible. Consider building your own wood boxes on wheels to pull into their driveway and back alley area where the only sunlight access you may have is located. At night, simply pull the planters back in and then you can park your cars in that space. Other ways to be mobile include containers that are made of lighter-weight plastics so they can be placed on balconies and deck rails, as well as planters that can be raised and lowered by a pulley system similar to that used for laundry lines.

Go Vertical

If you only have a small footprint of soil, maximize your growing space by growing up. Use trellises, hanging planters, and raised containers for access to more sunlight and to give your plants more space.

Going vertical can mean going down as well as up. Look at any walls, gates, fences, or steps that you can grow over and hang plants from. As long as you are not blocking pedestrian or vehicle traffic, the air space around your home is fair game.

Borrow Space

If you have no outdoor access of your own, look around for public space that you can borrow or share. Apply for a plot at a local community garden or partner with a local friend or family member who has more land than time to garden and barter your extra produce for their growing space. Also look at commercial and business spaces. Does your place of work have a rooftop deck that they would allow you to put a few planting pots out on? How about your favorite restaurant? Maybe they would trade you for taking care of their planting boxes for fresh herbs for their kitchen in exchange. For example, the folks at Love & Carrots, a garden design team, maintain the plantings for Big Bear Café in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC. With just a bit of planning, you can think outside the backyard raised bed for your growing space and plant the seeds of urban edibles for harvesting and enjoying at your table this fall. o Kathy is editor of Washington Gardener Magazine and a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Portions of this article originally appeared in the DC Examiner and the DC Ladies blog. APRIL 2015




How to Grow Virginia Bluebells

by Carol Allen

When I first moved into my then-rural neighborhood in Germantown, MD, deer sightings were a chance occurrence and I loved to ramble the maintained horse paths through the adjacent Seneca State Park. I had known of Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginiana) through pictures and maybe seeing one or two plants. Nothing quite prepared me for that first spring! I had noticed the huge numbers of the emerging cluster of leaves where the horse path forded a stream and the banks were wide and gently sloped. I wondered what could possibly be so numerous. Some sort of alien invasive? Back then, the biggest concern was Japanese Honeysuckle and abandoned home sites with their masses of Vinca minor. 18


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By the last part of March and the first week of April, the plants were uncurling and showing color. There were hundreds and hundreds of Virginia Bluebells covering areas bigger than city lots! Yes, I succumbed to the temptation and dug up a couple of the younger plants. I found that mature plants had deep, heavy, parsnip-like roots that resisted transplanting. That was 40 years ago. The spot down by the ford is long gone, a victim of deer overpopulation and an upstream housing development causing massive erosion of the stream bank. My “little” patch? It is now a couple of hundred feet square! Virginia Bluebells are true spring ephemerals and complete their life

cycle before the tree’s leaves are fully mature. The clustered buds are pink and the flowers open and mature to a beautiful lavender-blue. The leaves are oval and grey-green, with the plants reaching a height of one to two feet. They are summer-dormant and are gone by late June in our area. Bluebells can be found in floodplains and areas of moist soil. Mine have flourished in good garden soil with the occasional summer-drought-relieving watering. Seed can be collected in early June as the stems collapse. They can be sown in the fall for spring germination or stored, cold-stratified, and sown out in the early spring. Crowns can be divided as well. Virginia Bluebells are easy to propagate and can be found in most good nurseries. Native Americans used the roots of Virginia Bluebells to treat tuberculosis, whooping cough, and other ailments. Today, it is listed as either vulnerable or threatened in both New York and Michigan. Virginia Bluebells are reported to be rabbit-resistant, but sadly they are not totally deer-resistant. o Carol Allen describes herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years’ experience in the horticulture industry with special interest in plant pests and diseases and is a Licensed Pesticide Applicator in the states of Maryland. Carol can be contacted at carolallen@erols.com. Carol is also the “InsectIndex” columnist for Washington Gardener Magazine. An earlier version of this story and the accompanying list of Bluebell viewing locations appeared on the Washington Gardener Magazine blog at: http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com.


Best Spots for Viewing Virginia Bluebells Native Virginia Bluebells are unfurling all over the Mid-Atlantic this week. (Yes, it is not just all about the Cherry Blossom here in the DC area!) Get out to view masses of these special local wildflowers while they are at their peak over these next few weeks. We asked the folks on the Native Plants East discussion list for their Bluebell peeping suggestions, as well as surveying other local gardeners. Here are their combined responses:

~ “On Sunday, the Virginia Bluebells were blooming at McCrillis Gardens in Bethesda, MD. Not sure about when they peak.” - Eric Raun, Silver Spring, MD ~ “I was just out at Carderock and in some areas, the Bluebells are almost fully out. In others, they are still in bud... I also go to places on the Virginia side such as Riverbend, Scott’s Run, and Turkey Run. These will all be better this weekend, especially since the orientation of the Virginia side of the Potomac is more northerly, so gets a bit less warming than the Maryland side. But many native wildflowers are out now and ‘peeping’ is great just about any time.” - Marney Bruce, Montgomery County Master Gardener ~ “There are two local Bluebell festivals (Merrimac Farm and Bull Run) that take place the next few weekends and both parks welcome visitors.” - KJ ~ “Lovely stands of Bluebells occur at BlockHouse Point Park, which is also along the Potomac, but further out River Road. If possible, park at the second (small) parking area and take the BlockHouse Trail into the woods.” - Cheryl Beagle, Conservatory Gardener, Brookside Gardens ~ “I’ve seen them on the C-and-O Canal (years ago) near the locks above Swains (like Pennyfield Lock). Not sure how many are still there, and it wasn’t a huge field or anything, just patches alongside the towpath. If you can get a bike out there to ride the canal, you can cover more miles to discover more patches.” - Cindy Walzcak, Takoma Hort Club member ~ “Turkey Run Park (the trail down to the Potomac River from the first parking lot) has wonderful Bluebell displays in mid-April. This site mentions Balls Bluff east of Leesburg and also here is a link to Bluebells at River Bend.” - Mary Ann Lawler, Virginia Native Plant Society ~ “Last weekend, I saw a lot of Bluebells in bud at Great Falls, on the Maryland side, near the Billy Goat trail. I imagine this weekend they would be in full and glorious bloom!” - Paula Jean Harvey ~ I” saw Bluebells blooming along the steam in the hosta garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens last week. I know they also have them in their Potomac Wildflower collections, but I didn’t get to walk through that part of the garden.” - Mona Miller, Volunteer, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA ~ “Turkey Run has Bluebells along the Potomac: from parking lot C-1, take zig-zag trail down to the Potomac Heritage Trail ; wander either up or down river from there. Also some nice smaller patches along Woods Trail heading east (north? In the same direction as the river flows) from the Parkway Headquarters Building.” - Margaret Chatham, Falls Church, VA, Potomac Gorge Weed Warrior at Turkey Run o APRIL 2015




U.S. National Arboretum To Re-Open to the Public Seven Days A Week

by Sharon Durham On April 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) is once again open to the public seven days a week, its original operating schedule. USNA continued a full research schedule but reduced the public schedule by three days a week in 2013 due to reduced funding, closing to the public Tuesday through Thursday. The Arboretum is operated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency. “We are very pleased that the U.S. National Arboretum will return to its normal operating schedule on April 14,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, ARS Administrator. “In addition to the vital plant research conducted there, the Arboretum is also a source of relaxation and enjoyment for the public and visitors to Washington, DC. We are thankful for the support of the Friends of the National Arboretum in helping us to restore the Arboretum’s normal operating schedule. It is a great example of a well-functioning private/government partnership benefiting the public.” Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) is the principal private, nonprofit partner of USNA. FONA began raising funds following the 2013 schedule reduction to facilitate resuming USNA’s seven-day schedule. The funds raised by FONA will help pay for custodial, security, and public information services for the three days of operations over the next three years. The 446-acre Arboretum is USDA’s research and education facility and a living museum. The Arboretum enhances the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multidisciplinary research; conservation of genetic resources; and interpretative gardens and exhibits. It is dedicated to serving the public and improving our environment by developing and promoting improved floral and landscape plants and new technologies through scientific research, education programs, display gardens, and germplasm conservation. 20


APRIL 2015

How Hormones Help Plants Respond to Stress

This year, the Arboretum is also home to a nesting pair of bald eagles, the first since 1947. Staff first noticed the nesting pair in early January on the south side of Mount Hamilton, in the Arboretum’s Azalea Collection, watching the pair make trips back and forth to the nest site. The eagles’ behavior changed toward the end of January, when one started sitting on the nest at all times, while the other searched for food to feed its mate. This was an indication that the pair was now caring for eaglets. It is unknown at this time how many eaglets are in the nest. The USNA is taking steps to protect the nesting pair of eagles and minimize disturbances. People, noise, and related distractions in the vicinity of a bald eagle nest can cause the nesting pair to abandon their nest and eaglets. USNA has restricted access to an area within approximately 660 feet around the nesting site during the critical nesting period, ending around mid-June. Each season provides new experiences for visitors. Spring arrives with the appearance of woodland wildflowers. From magnolia blossoms to miniature daffodils to cherry blossoms, fragrance graces the grounds. Summer brings daylilies and crape myrtles, welcoming the heat of summer with showy, resilient blooms. In the fall, tree leaves transition from summer green to a range of rich yellows of tulip poplar and hickory to the bright red of black gum and the purplish red of sweet gum and dogwood. While many think of winter as cold and remote, it also brings calm and quiet. Snow and ice transform the gardens into a jeweled landscape. The ‘Sparkleberry’ hollies (developed by scientists at the USNA) are festooned with brilliant red berries. Learn more about hours of operation, visitor services, collections, and upcoming USNA events and activities at www. ars.usda.gov. o

by Tiffany Trent An international team of researchers led by scientists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have uncovered how important chemical pathways involving plant hormones help plants respond to stress. The discovery of the unique signaling mechanism was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and involves jasmonates, which are hormones that plants use to defend themselves from wounding, insects, disease, damage from ultraviolet rays, and a variety of other threats. Jasmonates also help fruits ripen, stimulate and inhibit root growth, and cause seeds to germinate. But scientists don’t know how all the pieces fit, because many jasmonate precursors and derivatives are at work. The research highlights the important role of a protein called CYP20-3 found in chloroplasts, which are structures in plant cells that contain chlorophyll and carry out photosynthesis. CYP20-3 is a well-known target for immunosuppressive drugs and has been associated with various forms of cancer in humans. Researchers discovered that CYP203 acts as a sensor for increased levels of a fatty acid called oxylipin OPDA, which is induced during stress. Working with the well-known laboratory plant, Arabidopsis, researchers studied how the physical interaction of the compounds restores cellular balance. “This discovery sheds further light on how plants perceive and respond to stress,” said Christopher Lawrence, an associate professor of biological sciences with the College of Science at the institute and senior author of the study. “Moreover, it shows a new mechanism of how a plant hormone-like molecule called an oxylipin transmits a signal by facilitating several proteins to join together and form a biosynthetic complex that affects cellular redox. This has broad implications beyond plants because changes in redox states have long been associated with stressful conditions leading to inflammation and various disease states in many organisms, including humans, that also have oxylipin-like molecules.” o


Spring Tonics In the October 2014 issue, I discussed how easy it is to grow and eat Ramps (Allium tricoccum). Little do most people realize the health benefits they are bestowing upon themselves when consuming this culinary delight. Ramps are very high in the alkaloids Allinin, Allicin, and Allinaise and do a great job as a “blood purifier.” The concept of “blood purification” or blutreininigungsmittel, as it was called in the Pennsylvania German community, dates back many centuries. After a long, cold winter of starchy foods and dried meats, a “spring cleaning” was in order. This practice is still called for in these modern times, what with all of the garbage that most people eat. Another herb that was a popular “tonic” is Sassafras albidum. I’ve enjoyed many a tasty cup of tea made from the bark of the roots of this prevalent understory tree, in spite of the fact that the FDA has banned the sale of it as a tea due to the fact that lab rats fed high doses (like the equivalent of 200 cups of tea a day) developed liver cancer. Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) is a plant related to Ginseng and was also a very popular spring tonic. I’ve never tried it, but I remember seeing old-timey posters touting a health beverage made from the plant. It’s an attractive plant and should be welcome in any wild garden. Dandelion (Taraxicum officianale) is

by Barry Glick still a traditional spring tonic in many countries. The German government has recently approved its use as a diuretic, a drug that promotes urination, and as a digestive tonic to treat bloating, indigestion, and poor appetite. Fresh Dandelion greens contain fourtimes the Vitamin C, seven-times the Vitamin A, and twice the potassium of romaine lettuce. Leaves should be soaked overnight to remove the bitterness and then cooked like spinach. I’ve also read that the unopened flower buds can be dipped in batter and fried. Burdock species (Arctium minus and A. lappa) are common and pernicious weeds introduced from Europe that can be easily identified by their Rhubarblike leaves and bristly Velcro-like seed heads. They supposedly have edible roots that can be seasoned and boiled, or pared and sliced for stir fry. Let me know if you are daring enough to try it. By the way, bring a strong shovel, as these roots can penetrate the earth to a depth of two feet. One of the most delicious wild greens that I’ve ever tasted has to be “Rock Lettuce” or what I’ve come to know as Saxifraga micranthidifolia. Rock Lettuce grows in running water and has very toothed, soft leaves. I’ve tasted it at virtually every time of the year and it’s never been bitter. Watercress (Nasturtium officianale) is another European introduction that’s found it’s home here in the US and has

become a very trendy, tangy green for salads. It can be found in running water and can be cultivated if you have a little stream or brook close by as it roots at the nodes and can be a very prolific grower. The unfolding fronds of most ferns are known as “fiddleheads” and, if you’ve ever looked closely, you’ll understand why. They can be eaten raw (I’ve done this and I can report that they are tasty) or sautéed in a stir fry. Chenopodium album or “Lambs Quarters” (in Greek, chen means goose and podium foot, so called for the shape of the leaves) are delicious raw in salads or cooked like spinach. It is another one of those naturalized weeds from Europe and can be found in poor soil and on barren grounds almost everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. Remember that all of the greens and vegetables that you buy at the supermarket have their wild origins and counterparts and, over the years, have been bred for looks more than health benefits. I sample almost anything in the woods, but you must be careful and have a copy of Flora of West Virginia or another good field identification manual with you, as there are several poisonous plants that can give you a belly ache or worse. Better yet, why not join the National Wild Foods Association (NWFA)? The NWFA is a group of more than 100 folks who enjoy foraging for wild foods. It was started by Edelene Wood from Parkersburg, WV, over 40 years ago. Every year on the third weekend in September, they have a Wild Food Gathering Weekend in North Bend State Park near Parkersburg. Dues are a real bargain — only $2.00 per year! For details, contact Edelene Wood at http://www.wildfoodadventures.com/ naturewonderweekend.html. o Barry Glick, a transplanted Philadelphian, has been residing in Greenbrier County, WV, since 1972. His mountaintop garden and nursery is a mecca for gardeners from virtually every country in the world. Barry writes and lectures extensively about native plants and Hellebores, his two main specialties, and welcomes visitors with advance notice. He can be reached at barry@sunfarm.com, www.sunfarm.com, or 304.497.2208. APRIL 2015



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MARCH/APRIL 2005 • Landscape DIY vs. Pro • Prevent Gardener’s Back • Ladew Topiary Gardens • Cherry Trees

MAY/JUNE 2007 • Roses: Easy Care Tips • Native Roses & Heirloom Roses • Edible Flowers • How to Plant a Bare-root Rose

MAY/JUNE 2005 • Stunning Plant Combinations • Turning Clay into Rich Soil • Wild Garlic • Strawberries

JULY/AUGUST 2007 • Groundcovers: Alternatives to Turfgrass • How to Pinch, Prune, & Dead-head • William Paca House & Gardens • Hardy Geraniums

JULY/AUGUST 2005 • Water Gardens • Poison Ivy • Disguising a Sloping Yard • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2007 • Succulents: Hardy to our Region • Drought-Tolerant Natives • Southern Vegetables • Seed Saving Savvy Tips

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2005 • Container Gardens • Clematis Vines • Sponge Gardening/Rain Gardens • 5 Insect Enemies of Gardeners

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007 • Gardening with Children • Indoor Bulb-Forcing Basics • National Museum of the American Indian • Versatile Viburnums

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2005 • Backyard Bird Habitats • Hellebores • Building a Coldframe • Bulb Planting Basics

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008 • Dealing with Deer • Our Favorite Garden Tools • Delightful Daffodils MARCH/APRIL 2008 • Patio, Balcony, Rooftop Container Gardens • Our Favorite Garden Tools • Coral Bells (Heucheras)

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2006 • Garden Decor Principles • Primroses • Tasty Heirloom Veggies • U.S. Botanic Garden MARCH/APRIL 2006 • Top 10 Small Trees and Large Shrubs • Azaleas • Figs, Berries, & Persimmons • Basic Pruning Principles MAY/JUNE 2006 • Using Native Plants in Your Landscape • Crabgrass • Peppers • Secret Sources for Free Plants JULY/AUGUST 2006 • Hydrangeas • Theme Gardens • Agave • Find Garden Space by Growing Up

JULY/AUGUST 2008 • Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses • Edible Grasses to Graze On • Slug and Snail Control • Sage Advice: Sun-Loving Salvias SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008 • Autumn Edibles — What to Plant Now • Beguiling Barrenworts (Epimediums) • Best Time to Plant Spring-blooming Bulbs • 14 Dry Shade Plants Too Good to Overlook NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2008 • Outdoor Lighting Essentials • How to Prune Fruiting Trees, Shrubs, Vines • 5 Top Tips for Overwintering Tender Bulbs • Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2006 • Shade Gardening • Hosta Care Guide • Fig-growing Tips and Recipes NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006 • Horticultural Careers • Juniper Care Guide • Winter Squash Growing Tips and Recipes • Layer/Lasagna Gardening


MAY/JUNE 2008 — ALMOST SOLD OUT! • Growing Great Tomatoes • Glamorous Gladiolus • Seed-Starting Basics • Flavorful Fruiting Natives

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • Compost Happens: Nature’s Free Fertilizer • Managing Stormwater with a Rain Garden • Visiting Virginia’s State Arboretum • Grow Winter Hazel for Winter Color

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • Indoor Gardening • Daphne Care Guide • Asparagus Growing Tips and Recipes • Houseplant Propagation

MARCH/APRIL 2009 UT! • 40+ Free and Low-cost Local D O Garden Tips SOL • Spring Edibles Planting UT! Guide O LD for a Fresh Start • Testing Your SOSoil UT! • Redbud LD O Tree Selection and Care O S • Best Viewing Spots for Virginia Bluebells

MARCH/APRIL 2007 • Stormwater Management • Dogwood Selection & Care Guide • Early Spring Vegetable Growing Tips • Franciscan Monastery Bulb Gardens

MAY/JUNE 2009 • Top Easy Summer Annuals for DC Heat • Salad Table Project • Grow and Enjoy Eggplant • How to Chuck a Woodchuck


APRIL 2015

SUMMER 2009 • Grow Grapes in the Mid-Atlantic • Passionflowers • Mulching Basics • Growing Hops FALL 2009 • Apples • How to Save Tomato Seeds • Persimmons WINTER 2009 • Battling Garden Thugs • How to Start Seeds Indoors • Red Twig Dogwoods • Unusual Edibles to Grow in Our Region SPRING 2010 • Community Gardens • Building a Raised Bed • Dwarf Iris • Broccoli SUMMER 2010 • Fragrance Gardens • Watering Without Waste • Lavender • Potatoes FALL 2010 • Vines and Climbers • Battling Stink Bugs • Russian Sage • Garlic WINTER 2010 • Paths and Walkways • Edgeworthia • Kohlrabi SPRING 2011 • Cutting-Edge Gardens • Final Frost Dates and When to Plant • Bleeding Hearts • Onions SUMMER 2011 • Ornamental Edibles • Urban Foraging • Amsonia/Arkansas Blue Star • Growing Corn in the Mid-Atlantic FALL 2011 • Herb Gardens • Toad Lilies • Sweet Potatoes • Cool Weather Cover Crops WINTER 2011/EARLY SPRING 2012 • Green Roofs and Walls • Heaths and Heathers • Radishes SPRING 2012 • Pollinator Gardens • Brunnera: Perennial of the Year • Growing Yacon SUMMER 2012 • Tropical Gardens • Captivating Canna • Icebox Watermelons SPRING 2013 • Great Garden Soil • All About Asters • Squash Vine Borer SUMMER/FALL 2013 • Miniature/Faerie Gardens • Beguiling Abelias • Growing Great Carrots WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2014 • Ferns for the Mid-Atlantic • Chanticleer Gardens • Beet Growing Basics

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APRIL 2015



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APRIL 2015

Profile for Kathy J

Washington Gardener Magazne April 2015  

This issue includes: ~ Bluebell Growing Guide and Best Local Spots for Viewing Virginia Bluebells ~ Arrest the 10 Most Unwanted Weeds ~ Ap...

Washington Gardener Magazne April 2015  

This issue includes: ~ Bluebell Growing Guide and Best Local Spots for Viewing Virginia Bluebells ~ Arrest the 10 Most Unwanted Weeds ~ Ap...

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