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APRIL 2017 VOL. 12 NO. 2




the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region

A Visit to Baltimore’s Sherwood Gardens Your Garden Task List

2017 is the Year of the Rose

Frilly, Fragrant Fothergilla

Local Gardening Events Calendar & 12+ Springtime Garden Tours 15 Terrific Tomatoes for a Long, Hot Summer Top 8 Less-known Summer Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers

Erigenia, the Harbinger of Spring

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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 for available dates, rates, and topics.


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Barry Glick Sunshine Farm and Gardens 696 Glicks Road Renick, WV 24966, USA Email:

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Green Spring Gardens

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A “must visit” for everyone in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area. It’s a year-round goldmine 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.


During the 1800s, the property on which Sherwood Gardens is located was part of the Guilford estate of A. S. Abell, founder of The Baltimore Sun. The site of the gardens included a pond and lake, which were filled in when the area was developed beginning in 1912 by the Roland Park Company following a plan of the Olmsted Brothers.




‘A Grappoli d’Inverno’ is a heat-loving and prolific grape tomato cultivar. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, www.

o In North America, the main trends in new rose varieties are for more uses and lower maintenance. There is also a renewed interest in traditional Hybrid Tea roses providing they are fragrant and more disease resistant than existing cultivars. Landscape roses don’t require tricky pruning, but regular pruning keeps plants compact. Pruning is vital for roses planted in tight areas such as entries or along sidewalks and improves flowering in hedges. The photo at right is of Rose ‘Music Box’ from Easy Elegance Roses.


FEATURES and COLUMNS BOOKreviews 12-13 English Roses; Container Gardens; Stone; Foodscapes DAYtrip 6 Sherwood Gardens EDIBLEharvest 18-20 Heat-loving Tomatoes GARDENtours 5 2017 Springtime Listing GOINGnative 22 Erigenia bulbosa HORThappenings 17 Community Forklife Party; KCDC Talks; Flower Shows; Dutch Ambassador’s Tulips NEWPLANTspotlight 11 Iris ‘Eyecatcher’ NEIGHBORnetwork 21 Ronnie Webb PLANTprofile 14-15 Fothergilla TIPStricks 10 Compost Awareness Week; Year of the Roses; 8 Less-known Summer Bulbs, Corms, Tubers


ADVERTISINGindex BLOGlinks EDITORletter GARDENcontest LOCALevents MONTHLYtasklist NEXTissue RESOURCESsources

23 11 4 5 8-9 11 3 2


Fothergilla in bloom at the Montgomery College Takoma-Silver Spring Campus.

In our May 2017 issue:

DC’s Chef Gardens Insect Pests Art in the Garden and much more...

If your business would like to reach area gardeners, be sure to contact us by May 10 so you can be part of the next issue of our growing publication!

Be sure you are subscribed! Click on the “subscribe” link at http://washingtongardener. APRIL 2017





Credits Kathy Jentz Editor/Publisher & Advertising Sales Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: 301-588-6894 Call today to place your ad with us!

Tales of Community Gardening When I tell people about my little plot of edibles in the Fenton Community Garden,

they picture a tiny spot of bucolic bliss in the industrial, urbanized part of downtown Silver Spring, MD. Their minds seem to immediately jump to tales their forebears shared of experiences in agriculture. I hear them use phrases like “quaint” and “enchanting.” This nostalgic view confounds me, since I am usually looking for sympathy for my aching shoulders or bruised ego. Then I remember that many of them have never lifted up a hoe and had the experience of rushing to get a crop harvested before a hail storm descends nor the back-breaking work of sod-busting. They have probably never spent a blistering hot afternoon ripping out failed cucumber vines. Most of all, though, I know that they have never gardened within mere inches of another gardener. The biggest challenge for a community plot gardeners is the other community plot gardeners. Don’t get me wrong, I love gardening along-side others and have learned a lot from them and made several fast friends. Still, there are reasons to sometimes wish I was the lone farmer at the garden. Before you get a plot, you don’t envision the many ways that grudges can start and feelings can get hurt. For instance, corn can make enemies at a community garden. You plant one kind and someone else down-wind puts in another, they cross-pollinate, and both of you end up with an ugly mutt. Corn also is tall. Tall plants make shadows. Shadows block out that golden sunlight that drew most of us to take out a plot space in the first place. You can see where folks in 10x10-foot spaces would not welcome it, nor the 12-feet-tall sunflowers my former plot neighbor liked to let self-sow on our border. That former neighbor was a perennial rule-questioner and liked to push the boundaries of what he could get away with. He made long, haranguing speeches about the state of others’ plots, while his weedy “natural” garden designed to “feed the birds” made other plot owners glare at him for attracting vermin and other pests. Whenever he was at the garden, I would beat a fast exit. He was removed last autumn for pushing back against the rules set by our garden coordinators one too many times. I have slept much more peacefully in his absence. I know my case is far from unique and that many of you have gardened cheek-byjowl in a community garden plot with the accompanying complications that brings. I’d love to hear your stories, both positive and not so sunny. Happy gardening (and reading)!

Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher, Washington Gardener, 4


Ruth E. Thaler-Carter Proofreader India Hamilton Intern Cover price: $4.99 Back issues: $6.00 Subscription: $20.00 Address corrections should be sent to the address above. • Washington Gardener Blog: • Washington Gardener Archives: • Washington Gardener Discussion Group: WashingtonGardener/ • Washington Gardener Twitter Feed: • 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 To order reprints, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877.652.5295, ext. 138. Volume 12, Number 2 ISSN 1555-8959 © 2017 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.


Spring 2017 Garden Tours Listing • Saturday, April 22–Saturday, April 29 Historic Garden Week (VA) Various Virginia locations. See dates and details at • Saturday, April 29; Saturday, May 6; and Saturday, May 13 Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage Maryland counties: Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Baltimore. Get more information at or 410-821-6933. • Sunday, April 30, 1–5pm Falls Church Home and Garden Tour Falls Church, VA. See • Sunday, May 7, 1–5pm 2017 Takoma Park House and Garden Tour, “Spring Park” Takoma Park, MD. Tickets can be purchased online at •Saturday, May 13, 10am–5pm 89th Annual Georgetown Garden Tour Georgetown in Washington, DC. Details at • Saturday May 13, 4–7pm, and Sunday, May 14, 12n–5pm Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s 60th Annual House & Garden Tour Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. See details at • Saturday, May 20–Sunday, May 21, 1–5pm Beyond the Garden Gates Garden Tour Historic Frederick, MD. See • Sunday, May 21, 2–5pm 13th Annual SPCA Garden Tour Shepherd Park, Colonial Village, and North Portal Estates in Washington, DC. Visit for details. • Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4, 12n–5pm 18th Annual Secret Garden Tour of Annapolis Historic District of Annapolis, MD. See • Sunday, June 4, 12noon-5pm 17th Annual Greater Brookland House and Garden Tour Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. See www.greaterbrooklandgardenclub. • Sunday, June 4, 10am-4pm 26th Annual Garden Tour - Horticultural Society of Maryland Annapolis, MD. See • Sunday, June 11, 1:00–5:00pm 12th Annual Eastport Home and Garden Tour Eastport, Annapolis, MD. See • Saturday, June 24, 3–6pm UPWC’s Annual Garden Tour University Park, MD. Questions can be directed to or go to o

Reader Contest

For our April 2017 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away four (4) pairs of passes to DC Green Festival (www. Prize value: $15 per pass. Celebrate the 13th annual DC Green Festival Expo, taking place May 13–14 at the DC Convention Center, Join the Green Festival Marketplace by exploring more than 250 exhibitors, learning from more than 50 inspirational speakers, indulging in some delicious vegan or vegetarian food, and learning all you need to know to live a more-sustainable lifestyle. Green Festival offers something for everyone, with the widest selection of products and services to work green, play green, and live green from food, fashion, and health to energy, construction, and design. People enjoy vegan, vegetarian, and organic foods; hands-on demos; educational activities; and inspirational speakers. Green Festival is America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. It brings together the world’s most-trusted companies, innovative brands, national and local businesses, pioneering thinkers, and conscious consumers in one place to promote the best in sustainability and green living. To enter to win the DC Green Fest Passes, send an email to by 5:00pm on Thursday, April 27, with “DCGreen” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Please also include your name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced the next day. o APRIL 2017




Baltimore’s Sherwood Gardens

by Kathy Jentz

For years, I heard about Baltimore’s stunning Sherwood Gardens tulip display, yet spring came and went in its busy flurry and I never made it over to see the blooms. That changed last year, when I made several visits to the gardens in different seasons and I cannot imagine another spring passing by without a return visit. Sherwood Gardens was created in the 1920s by John W. Sherwood, a local petroleum pioneer and conservationist. It began as a hobby, with thousands of tulips that he imported from the Netherlands. His own house adjoined the gardens at 204 East Highfield Road. When Sherwood died in 1965, he bequeathed sufficient funds to continue the gardens for one year. After that period, the Guilford Association purchased lots from the Sherwood estate and took responsibility for the care of Sherwood Gardens. This private, six-acre park is not fenced and is free and open to visitors 6


during daylight hours. Because of limited street parking, come on a weekday to avoid the large weekend crowds. Don’t forget your camera! Mid-April to early May is the ideal time to visit, but even when the bulb displays are out of flower, the garden is beautiful. There are a number of interesting rare tree and colorful shrub selections. The display beds contain not only tulips, but large swaths of late-season daffodils and hyacinths, too. You can view a Tulip Guide and Map at to identify the 80,000 blooms and see which ones you’d like to order for your own garden to plant this fall. And speaking of planting, the tulip bulbs are removed from Sherwood Gardens beds at the end of each blooming

season to be replaced by new bulbs in October for the next spring’s bloom. At the end of May each year, always the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, starting at 7:00am, the tulip bulbs are available to be dug and purchased for a nominal cost of 30 cents per bulb. Participants should bring a shovel or spade and a bag for their bulbs. This year, the tulip dig will be on May 28. In summer, the beds are converted to sun-loving annuals by local landscape companies and remain on display into October. Sherwood Gardens is located one block east of the 4100 block of St. Paul Street in the Guilford Historic District of Baltimore, MD. o Kathy Jentz is the editor of Washington Gardener magazine.



Rain or Shine Pets Discouraged Satellite Parking at Ida Lee Park’s Festival Field FREE Shuttle Service

APRIL 2017



TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16–May 15, 2017 • Friday, April 21, & Saturday, April 22 Spring Garden Market at River Farm Celebrate Earth Day with the American Horticultural Society at River Farm in Alexandria, VA. Vendors from across the Mid-Atlantic region will offer a large selection of plants such as vegetable seedlings, natives, unusual trees, and pollinator favorites. Garden art, tools, and other accessories also will be available. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. For details, visit • Saturday, April 22, 8am–12pm Beltsville Garden Club Plant Sale The Beltsville Garden Club will hold its annual plant sale in the parking lot of High Point High School, 3601 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD. The sale will be held rain or shine. Come early for the best selection of quality plants at reasonable prices from members. A variety of annuals, vegetables, herbs, houseplants, shrubs, perennials, and trees will be available. To learn more about the Beltsville Garden Club visit: • Saturday, April 22, 8am–4pm Friends of Carlyle House Garden Day Herb & Craft Sale Tour Carlyle House, the actual site of the Mansion House Hospital featured in the PBS drama “Mercy Street.” Purchase culinary and decorative herbs, plants, and flowers raised in Mount Vernon’s greenhouses. Bring your gardening questions to the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Enjoy live musical entertainment throughout the day, a bake sale, book sale, white elephant table, and more. This event is free, but admission to the Carlyle House museum is $5 for adults; $3 for children. This event will take place rain or shine. See • Saturday, April 22, 9am–1pm Black Swamp Creek Trust Plant Sale & Swap Bring labeled plants to swap for other annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, trees, bulbs, and seeds, plus farm and garden stuff. Plants for sale, too. Music by the Swampy Bottom Boys. 8


Free refreshments. Location: Restored Tobacco Barn 19070 Poplar Ridge Rd, Brandywine, MD. For more information, call Joanne at 301.502.3261. • Sunday, April 23, 12n–4pm Earth Day Festival Join others in the morning for a volunteer project in the gardens. The afternoon offers something for everyone: a green craft fair, a plant sale featuring natives, nonprofit educational vendors, family activities, interactive drum circles, tours of the gardens, and more. Activities at both Brookside Gardens and Brookside Nature Center, Wheaton, MD. Details and schedule at http:// • Friday, April 28, 10am–1pm, Friends of the National Arboretum members only; Friday, April 28, 1–4pm, open to the public; Saturday; April 29, 9am– 4pm, open to the public FONA Garden Fair & Plant Sale The annual sale features new, rare, and hard-to-find plants, garden supply vendors; books; children’s activities; refreshments; entertainment; and more. Bring your garden questions to National Arboretum staff members for expert advice. Free admission. Note that the sale has moved to a new location on the U.S. National Arboretum grounds. See, including lists of the plants available. • Saturday, April 29, 12n–4pm Grow It Eat It Event Held at the Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood, MD. The event is free (other than children’s programs and workshops). Learn something new in one of the classes or workshops, visit the early spring demonstration garden, consult the plant clinic, buy plants and garden products from our vendors, register for the scout/children’s programs, and much more. Details at • Saturday, April 29, 10am–2pm Family Day: From a Moment to Infinity Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the world of orchids up close

and hands-on at the free family day in the Hirshhorn museum lobby. The Hirshhorn and Smithsonian Gardens will team up for a day of family-friendly activities inspired by “orchids: A MOMENT” and the Hirshhorn exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.” Visit the Smithsonian Gardens website, www., for a complete list of programs. • Saturday, April 29, 10am–2pm 21st Annual Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea and the Arts Stroll among vendors of fragrant herbs; fine arts; handmade items like pottery, garden accessories, jewelry, and much more. You can hear live music, take in gardening talk or craft workshop, and have tea in Montpelier’s elegant east wing. Kids can play in the hands-on history playground, do art projects, and see a live animal exhibit. The festival is free, but there is a charge for tea. For more information and to register, visit •Saturday, April 29, 12–3pm Earth Day Plant Sale and Picnic Join Tudor Place for the annual Plant Sale and celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day by supporting conservation and education. The grounds will be open for picnicking, only allowed at this event! Enjoy the historic Tudor Place gardens and browse a range of heirloom and native sun-to-shade perennials to add to your own garden. Tropical and house plants also for sale. Details at http:// • Friday, May 5, 1:30–2:30pm Garden Talks with Master Gardeners: Gardening for Birds Watching cardinals, bluebirds, wrens, sparrows, and other beautiful birds is a great way to enjoy your garden. Master Gardeners teach you what plants you can grow to create habitat and food sources that will encourage winged beauties to visit your garden. $10/ person. Register online at using code 2902814101 or call 703-642-5173. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.

TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ April 16–May 15, 2017 • Friday, May 5, 12n–1pm Epic Tomatoes from YOUR Gardens: Stories, History, and Tips for Success Craig LeHoullier, gardening author and lecturer, will take you on a journey through his 30-year and counting passion in the world of tomatoes. Starting with some stories behind his favorite varieties, he will provide all that is needed to assist you in achieving success in your own gardens. Held at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Conservatory Classroom. Free: pre-registration required, visit • Friday, May 5 & Saturday, May 6 78th Annual Flower Mart Buy plants, ride the carousel, peruse the used book tent, and tour the grounds. All proceeds from this event benefit the gardens and grounds of the National Cathedral. Presented by the All Hallows Guild. See details at • Saturday, May 6th, 9am–1pm Chevy Chase Circle “Pruning Party” Come to the Chevy Chase Circle, at Connecticut Avenue and Western, and help prune the out-sized azalea bushes. The Friends of Chevy Chase Circle, National Park Service, and girls’ Venture Crew 255 will all be on hand to help even those new to pruning, but experienced trimmers are especially needed and welcome. Bring your sun hat and a hand trimmer! Look for crossing guards who will help you into the Circle. Come for an hour or for four. Details: • Sunday, May 7, 4–5pm Labyrinth Journeys Join filmmaker Cintia Cabib for a screening and discussion of her new documentary, “Labyrinth Journeys.” The film presents the stories of adults, teenagers, and children who use seven Washington, DC, area labyrinths as tools for healing, meditation, rehabilitation, and playful exploration. Walk the labyrinth at Brookside Gardens after a Q & A with Cabib. Free. Registration required at www.activemontgomery. org: Course #30487; Brookside Gardens Visitors Center Auditorium, 1800

Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD; 301-9621400; • Thursday, May 11, 7am–1pm Bethesda Community Garden Club Plant Sale Large selection of perennials, native plants, herbs, annuals, and shrubs grown in members’ gardens. Gardeners and anyone who loves plants won’t want to miss the Bethesda Community Garden Club’s annual plant sale. Find wonderful buys on a large selection of locally grown plants. Plentiful metered parking is available in the lot behind the market. Held rain or shine at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, 7155 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD. For more information, go to www. The Bethesda Community Garden Club is celebrating more than 90 years of community service. • Saturday, May 13th, 9am–1pm Silver Spring Garden Club’s GardenMart 76th Annual Plant Sale From native groundcovers to heirloom tomatoes to hanging flower baskets, the club sale has a great selection. On the West Terrace of the Visitor Center at Brookside Gardens 1800 Glenallan Avenue Wheaton, MD. Held rain or shine. Cash or check only. Garden Raffle: $1 tickets (6 for $5 or 12 for $10) you do NOT have to be present to win; many great prizes from local store gift certificates to dish gardens to signed garden books. The National Capital Dahlia Society will sell dahlia tubers and give dahliagrowing advice. Come early for best selection. • Friday, May 12, 9am–7pm, and Saturday, May 13, 9am–4pm Baltimore African Violet & Gesneriad Club’s 62nd Annual Show and Sale The Shops at Kenilworth, 800 Kenilworth Drive, Towson, MD, free admission. Handicap accessible. Club members will be available to answer questions about growing and caring for African violets and their cousins gesneriads. For more information, contact Shirley at

Save These Future Dates • Registration is open for the Heritage Rose Foundation’s 2017 Annual Conference in Fredericksburg, VA, May 18–20, 2017. Explore some of the rich history of central Virginia in the context of historic gardens and their roses. Register at • Saturday, May 20, 9am–3pm Spring Garden Day at Green Spring THE BIG PLANT SALE More than 40 local garden vendors descend on Green Spring Gardens with beautiful and unusual plants to fill your spring gardening needs. Growers and Master Gardeners are on hand to help with plant selections and advice. FROGS members receive 10% off plants in the Garden Gate Plant Shop. Free admission. For more information, call Green Spring Gardens at 703-6425173. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312 ( greenspring).

• Friday, June 2, 6:30–9:30pm

Garden Fiesta City Blossoms’ annual fundraising celebration at DC Bilingual Public Charter School, 33 Riggs Road, NE, WDC. Purchase tickets at • Sunday June 11, 2–3:30pm Garden Photo Show Reception Come view the 17 winners of the DC Garden Photo Contest Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA.

Still More Event Listings

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

How to Submit Local Garden Events

To submit an event for this listing, contact — put “Event” in the subject line. Our next deadline is May 10 for the May 2017 issue, for events taking place from May 16—June 15. o APRIL 2017




Top 8 Less-known Summer Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers

In general, most people are familiar with summer bulbs like Dahlias, Crocosmia, and Asiatic Lilies. There are also several summer bulbs, corms, and tubers that are not as well known, but are still deserving of a spot in your garden. The eight listed here are rewarding flowering plants that should be used more often. • Giant Chincherinchee or Ivory Coast Lily (Ornithogalum saundersiae) is one of these lesser-known gems. This Ornithogalum species bears white umbelshaped inflorescences on stems 1 meter tall from the end of July to early September, depending on weather conditions. • Tiger Flower or Mexican Shell Flower (Tigridia) has colorful fluttering flowers and wide, grass-like leaves. This summer bulb used to be available only in color mixtures, but is now sold in single colors as well. • Abyssinian Gladiolus or Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus ‘Murielae’) is a highly ornamental summer bulb with a delightful fragrance and sword-shaped leaves. Its white, star-shaped flowers with maroon centers are produced late in the season. • Leucocoryne (related to Allium) is an elegant, strong, slender bulbous plant bearing fragrant flowers on stems 25 to 50 cm tall. • Ixia produces star-shaped flowers on long stems between 30 and 45 centimeters tall and is available in a range of colors. • Cosmos atrosanguinea is a summerflowering tuberous plant with slender stems that bear deep-red, velvety flowers similar to single-flowering dahlias. Because the flowers smell like chocolate, this tuberous plant is also known as Chocolate Cosmos. • Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) produces decorative leaves and elegant, dramatic flowers on long stems. Calla lilies are available in a wide range of colors. • Summer Hyacinth or Spire Lily (Galtonia) has white to greenish-white bellshaped flowers that make it a lovely addition to any planting. It is also a favorite of honeybees. More information on bulb growing and care can be found at o 10


2017 is Year of the Rose

Roses have been associated with the human population since the earliest recorded history. The oldest record is from China and dates back more than 7,000 years; their popularity has never faded. Modern rose hybridization started in Western Europe in the 18th century, and today, there are more than 11,000 existing varieties of hybrid roses, with more being bred every year. There are many classes of roses, which sometimes can lead to some confusion. The most commonly sold in the US are: • Hybrid Tea Roses, which are the classic, long-stemmed varieties • Grandiflora Roses, which are similar to Hybrid Tea, but usually have several blooms per stem • Floribunda Roses, which are more compact and multi-flowered • Miniature roses, which are smaller specimens, often grown in containers as gifts • Climbing Roses, which are selfexplanatory • Landscape or Shrub Roses Landscape roses are the main component of today’s North American rose industry. Once considered just a hodgepodge of varieties that did not fit any of the other categories, they have led a revolution in the landscape. The work of Dr. Griffith Buck in the 1950s at Iowa State University has led to great commercial success since. The Meidiland® in the 1980s, Flower Carpet® in the

1990s and 2000s, and now the Knock Out® and Drift® series who are mainstays of the industry. Today, the rose market in the U.S. is estimated at about 35 million units sold each year and growing again after years of decline. About half of the total is Landscape roses, and among the other classes, Hybrid Teas are about 60%, Floribundas 30%, Climbers 15%, and Miniatures 5%. There is also a small production of heirloom/heritage roses still produced by boutique nurseries The National Garden Bureau presents the Year of the Rose in partnership with the American Rose Society. Use the hashtags #YearoftheRose and #Roses to post pictures of your favorite garden roses and search on that tag to view others’ shared photos. o

Compost Awareness Week is May 7–13, 2017

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. It is celebrated nationwide and in other countries each year during the first full week of May. Started in Canada in 1995, ICAW has continued to grow as more people, businesses, municipalities, schools, and organizations are recognizing the importance of composting and the long-term benefits from organics recycling. The goal of the program is to raise the awareness of the public regarding the benefits of using compost to improve or maintain high-quality soil, to grow healthy plants, reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticides, improve water quality, and protect the environment. The program includes a poster contest, programs at schools, and activities and events promoted through governments, public municipalities, and local businesses. The theme for this year is “Compost! Healthy Soil, Healthy Food.” The week includes the nationwide launch of the new video “The Compost Story,” from the creators of “The Soil Story.” ICAW is a program of the Composting Council Research & Education Foundation. Throughout the ICAW week, community and business events are held to encourage and celebrate composting. All types of composting—from backyard to large-scale—are promoted. Events include tours of compost facilities, school gardening programs, compost workshops, lectures by a well-known gardening expert, and compost giveaway days, to name just a few. Go to to learn more about planning an event or to share information on your upcoming event. Locally, the Prince William County Solid Waste Division will host its annual Compost Awareness Day Event on Saturday, April 29, at the Balls Ford Road Compost Facility, 13000 Balls Ford Road, Manassas, VA. The event will include free compost samples and coupons, compost exhibits, and a plant sale. See details at trashandrecycling. o


Quick Links to Washington Gardener Blog Posts • Asparagus: You Can Grow That! • Video: Pea Planting Tips • First Community Garden Plot Report of 2017 • DIY: Kokedama Balls • Bloom Day, Without Showers? See more Washington Gardener blog posts at: o

April-May Garden To-Do List

New Plant Spotlight Iris ‘Eyecatcher’

Iris reticulata hybrid This is a lovely little new bulbous iris hybrid with multiple colors from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. It is considered the best variety launch since ‘Katherine Hodgkin.’ It is great for forcing and has a grapelike fragrance. It is wonderful for the front of borders, rock garden, or partshade garden. Hardy to: Zone 8 Water: Dry to Normal Light: Full/Part Sun Plant Characteristics: Compact Habit Plant Height: Under 12” Foliage Color: Green Bloom Color: Blue/Purple Bloom Pattern: Tricolor Bloom Time: Late Winter/Early Spring In Containers/Pots: Yes In Beds: Yes Pollinator Friendly: Yes Cold Tolerant: Yes Drought Tolerant: Yes Frost Tolerant: Yes Rain Tolerant: Yes Wind Tolerant: Yes Garden Spacing: 3” Growing Tips: Plant in well-drained soil with good humus content; Do not over-fertilize. These are well-suited to be planted in dwarf ground covers, the lawn, in rock gardens, and in raised planters where they will be more easily seen and their fragrance can be better appreciated. 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. • Transplant 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 collars 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 covers 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. o APRIL 2017




The English Roses: Classic Favorites and New Selections (Third Edition) By David Austin Publisher: Firefly Books List Price: $49.95 Reviewer: Jim Dronenburg This book is about English Roses (note the uppercase R). Not English roses. English Roses is the trademark/classification of roses in David Austin’s breeding program, which harks back to the shrub roses with antique form, flower, and fragrance, while combining those traits with the available modern colors and repeat bloom. They are bred to be less temperamental and disease-prone than the actual antique roses in the UK, and for the most part, they far outperform the British “norm” when in the warmer east and south of the U.S. Mr. Austin is, of course, blowing his own horn in this book. Your reviewer can’t think of many (if any) more qualified and justified in doing so. The book describes the aims of the breeding program and then goes into the types of roses that have led to the present and are the “ancestors” of the English Roses. Then we return to the aims of the program in a little more detail, including a section on shrub roses and one on climbers, which are totally different animals from the “hybrid teas” sold for the last half-century to the exclusion of almost everything else. There is a small section on “the rose garden” devoted to roses primarily, or roses, period. Small because the English roses are perfect for the current mixed anything-goes borders of annuals/perennials/bulbs/shrubs. 12


There is a small section on roses in the house. Your reviewer is not of the let’s-arrange-flowers school, but the photography is excellent. In fact, the photography of the whole book is excellent, luminous, and wonderfully suited to the text. This would be a “coffee table book,” were there not so much information in it. If your reviewer has any axe to grind with this book, it is the section of earlier English Roses, which have proven to be less than Mr. Austin has striven for— that is, good at the time, and released, but now “superseded” by other roses. True, they are listed. True, they are described. But there are no pictures. One of these is your reviewer’s late and much-lamented favorite, ‘Glamis Castle,’ small, white, and with an intense fragrance of cloves. If I cannot get the bush to flourish (three tries), could I at least have a picture? The bulk of the book is a description of each English Rose (accepting those referred to above), arranged in their groupings—the Old Rose Hybrids, the Leander Group, the English Musk Roses—with a blurb on the group itself, followed by two pages on each rose in the group. There is a description of each rose on the left-hand page, and a breathtaking photo of it on the right. There is a certain advantage to having all the roses together like this, as a reference, if you are prepared to catch your breath every time you turn a page. At the end, there is a brief section of the future of the English Roses breeding program, and an index. Run, run, run to the stores (or hit the Internet) and buy this book. Jim Dronenburg is an accountant by day, and an Irish harper/singer by night, to support his expanding garden in Knoxville, MD.

The Spirit of Stone: 101 Practical & Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden By Jan Johnsen Publisher: St. Lynn’s Press List Price: $21.95 Reviewer: India Hamilton The Spirit of Stone by Jan Johnsen is a great gardening book as a gift that offers tips and project ideas for including stone elements in your gardening landscapes. The book features stone-

scaping ideas, complete with photos and descriptions. Inside is information about the sustainability of working stone into your garden, the types of plant-stone pairings that work well, and practical methods of installing stone features. Award-winning designer Jan Johnsen is also the author of Heaven is a Garden. She has again written a great resource. This one is especially for designers, stonemasons, builders, homeowners, and DIYers. Written in an easily understood, beginner-gardener style, The Spirit of Stone includes a list of select gardens, museums, and trails for readers to visit to admire more rock garden features. Also included near the index is a list of other books of interest for readers who haven’t yet satisfied their stone gardening curiosities. India Hamilton is a junior multi-platform journalism major and black women’s studies minor at the University of Maryland. This winter/spring, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine.

Container Gardens: Over 200 Fresh Ideas for Indoor and Outdoor Inspired Plantings By the editors of Southern Living Publisher: Oxmoor House List Price: $21.95 Reviewer: Teresa Speight The editors of Southern Living have done it again. Container Gardens takes the reader from basic steps in creating stunning containers to the more intricate details of vertical and even edible containers. Selecting the perfect type of pot and editing the plant materials are all a part of creating the perfect container planting. Understanding tex-

BOOKreviews quite helpful when choosing containers for vegetables that might be clustered and kept within reach of the kitchen. One can even create a whole vegetable garden using containers. It all depends on the space and style of your pots. Now that we are in the throes of seasonal container plantings, both indoor or outdoors, this is a great book to instruct gardeners of all skill levels. With color wheels, tool suggestions, and plant combinations, Container Gardens will help you create inspired containers.

ture, form, foliage, and lighting requirements, as well as location, can make even the inexperienced gardener into a container magician. In discussing how to make container statements in areas such as entryways or large spaces outdoors, one must remember to think about scale. This is important because you do not want to have a small container in a large room. Consider a collection or grouping of different plantings that complement the space. The book also instructs the reader on how to use different ideas on what statement you want the container to make. Do you want a contemporary feel? A conservative and safe statement? A casual or sophisticated feel? All of these things can be created by using the proper container, as well as appropriate plantings. My favorite chapter focused on seasonal arrangements. Seasonal plantings can include houseplants, annuals, or even perennials. One can also use small shrubs or even trees, depending on the size of the container as well as it’s intended use. Large leaves, small leaves, vines, edibles, art, and items curated from nature can all be considered elements of the unique container planting. The chapter on edible containers shares ideas for how to incorporate herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Depending on the season, a blending of edible elements can be just as beautiful as it is useful. Containers of herbs can provide scent, sporadic blooms, and a nearby addition to the grill or a simple salad. Having a creative flair is

Teresa Speight is a native Washingtonian, who resides in District Heights, MD. She owns Cottage in the Court Landscape Consulting. She can be reached at

The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden By Brie Arthur Publisher: St. Lynn’s Press List Price: $21.95 Reviewer: Cheval Force Opp “Foodscaping is the logical integration of edibles in a traditional ornamental landscape.” Brie Arthur has been carrying her message to gardeners and would-be gardeners all over the country. Passionate and inspiring, she urges her audience to convert some of the beds surrounding lawns into favoritefood growing patches. “The average suburban foundation landscape—the landscape around the house—offers open space the equivalent of 1,250 sq. ft., or 48 averagesized raised beds.” The book, just over 175 pages, is not a “how to do everything,” but it is an ambitious “this is how you get started.” The pages are full of instructive photos and motivational titles, such as “I’ll Never Buy Lettuce Again,” where Arthur takes the reader through her first baby steps of wanting fresh food at lower cost to realizing how foodscaping can enrich our community and environment. Beginning with a practical plan using growing zones, Arthur leads the reader through critical decisions: choosing edible plants, soil preparation, planting, plant care, and maintenance. A chapter on a foodie fire pit adds a creative twist

to an entertainment area. Using edible plants as a property screen is a novel, but an intriguing, section. For readers without yards, Arthur reviews pots, aeroponics, aquaponics, and hydroponics. The chapter on harvesting, processing, and preserving suggestions rewards all the hard work with tasty recipes and food-porn photos. It is a fun book to read, loaded with practical tips, and gives the aspiring foodscaper a framework for success. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to begin the adventure of growing their own food. o Cheval Force Opp lives in Dunn Loring, VA, with her husband Dana and corgi Marzipan. Visiting gardens all over the world is her favorite activity. Her own gardens are in constant change to meet the challenges of too many deer and not enough time.

Next Book Club Meeting

For our next Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club selection, we will be discussing The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson. “A fascinating scientific adventure, it is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.” Please join us on Tuesday, May 23, from 6:30-8:00pm at Soupergirl, located right next to the Takoma metro stop. Plan to come a bit early to purchase and eat your dinner with the garden book club. RSVP to washingtongardener@rcn. com or at the book club event page at by May 20. The Garden Book Club is free and open to all. We meet quarterly on a weekday evening near a metro-accessible location in the DC-area. APRIL 2017




Frilly Fragrant Fothergilla

By Judith Mensh

Springtime brings us fragrant white Fothergilla puffs, that are so different from other garden shrub flowers, they stop us in our busy, multi-tasking tracks. No common daisy-ray or trumpet shape, this flower is unusual. It has no petals! Instead, it sends out plumes of stamen (white filament, ending in yellow anthers) at the end of its branches, forming what is often called, descriptively, bottlebrush-type flowers. The fuzzy undersides of its foliage’s and cool, subtle blue-ish colors are a departure from the conventional range of green or burgundy leaves we see in the garden. This shrub practically glows in October and November, a time when our gardens and landscapes may seem bare and deficient, the days shortening, the nights getting colder; in reverse, the Fothergilla become a focal point of color, with drama and intensity, in a bold display of hot red, yellow, and orange leaves that hang on past Thanksgiving. Witch Alder is another common name for this interesting shrub, although it is not an alder. It is actually related to the Witch Hazel. They are both members of the same family, Hamamelidaceae. Witch Alder and Witch Hazel have similar leaves, and can be confused with each other while in full leaf. 14


The white and sweet, honey-scented, flowers indicate it is a nectar and a pollen source for Lepidoptera; specifically, moths, and, reportedly, of native bees. As stewards of our environment, it is imperative to choose native alternatives over exotic plants, adding to biodiversity in the landscape, pollinator provisions, and wildlife habitat.

History and Lore

The plants Linnaeus named after two of his esteemed British contemporaries, evolved here on the eastern seaboard. Fothergilla comes to us with only two species and just a few proven cultivars. We’ve got coastal, mountain, and in between. The first to be introduced into cultivation is the coastal Fothergilla gardenii, the smaller shrub, often called Dwarf Fothergilla or Coastal Witch Alder. Fothergilla gardenii can grow in moist soil, but not standing water. It is found only in isolated communities along the Atlantic coast; a member of a group of plants that are sustained by periodic fires. Roots that remain hydrated due to being well-established below ground send out new shoots with vigor to enjoy the suddenly sunny, open areas. It is on the endangered list in Florida and the threatened list in Georgia. It was a Scottish ex-pat based in

Charleston, SC, a Dr. Alexander Garden, who brought this plant out of the coastal plains and shared its existence, its mystique, with European gardeners. Dr. Garden, a plant explorer by avocation, found Witch Alder along our southern coastal areas, from the Carolinas down to the Florida panhandle. Recognizing its potential as a cultivated shrub, he transplanted it from the wild to the garden, bringing it to the attention of the enthusiastic plantsmen of the day, including Linnaeus, who named it Fothergilla (after Dr. John Fothergill, patron of John Bartram) gardenii (after Dr. Garden). English plantsmen of the time embraced it in their British gardens, including Dr. Fothergill, whose Essex garden was known for its extensive collection of American flora. It appears on John Bartram’s list of woody plants (March 1792), in between Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) and Franklinia tree (Franklinia alatamaha). Later, the mountain version, Fothergilla major, arrived on the market and provided similar attributes, but in a larger version. F. major is reportedly the less-aggressive spreader of the two. Somewhere along the history of cultivation, these two species met for the first time, having been separated and isolated from each other all through history due to geography. A magical middle version appeared: Fothergilla x intermedia. DNA testing has confirmed this (Ranney, et al. 2007). This hybrid has proven to be an excellent parent and an all-around good plant. It is the source of several cultivar variations. Despite this early recognition, the use of Fothergilla spp. in the everyday landscape languished, sometimes going unmentioned in numerous garden books well into the last century. The change in the understanding of our impact on our environment led us to innovate and do things differently today. The modern gardener is conscientiously turning away from the aptly called industrial standards of the 20thcentury landscape. We turn away from the ubiquitous, non-native species such as Nandina, Berberis, Euonymus; say no to flats of Ivy, Vinca, or Pachysandra, and embrace, instead, our indigenous treasures. We garden ecologists can

PLANTprofile participate in the essential task of healing our ecological America.

Optimal Conditions

Adjust the full sun requirement often recommended for Fothergilla spp. with partial shade as acceptable. In our region’s sometimes dry and always hot summers, some shelter from the afternoon sun is beneficial. It is recommended to take time for consistent watering during the first year, while its roots establish themselves. The dividend here is future drought tolerance. Acidic, moist, but not wet, soil works best, but adaptability is also characteristic of this shrub. Yellow leaves may indicate possible alkaline conditions, not favored by Fothergilla spp. Soil amendments appropriate for Azalea and Rhododendron, work for Fothergilla as well. Apply them yearly in early spring. No pruning! Let it grow and assume its natural form. If you must meddle, please wait until blooming has ended and remove only broken, dead, or crossing branches. Although considered slow-growing, both genera will sucker and colonize over time. Its great if you can use this to your advantage and let it fill in a suitable area.

Cultivars Suitable for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Today, the British Royal Horticulture Society lists 35 names in use for Fothergilla spp. Many of these names are attempts to reproduce sports or clones of plants with novel or valued, but sometimes transient, characteristics. It turns a simple equation into a mess of names and distinguishing characteristics for no compelling reason, except perhaps to excite the market perhaps. Yes, some cultivars have been developed over the years, for bluer leaves, ideal size, seasonal color, but seriously, it’s great that our choices here are limited, because it makes it easy to plant the right thing. In our area, we find Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’, F. gardenii, and Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ to be the most available species. Fothergilla ‘Blue Mist’ can also be found locally. It doesn’t seem to get

the high marks of ‘Blue Shadow,’ but it is sold because it is half its size, 3'x3' vs 6'x6'. Fothergilla gardenii ‘Eastern Form’ is also found locally some years. You may notice some inconsistency in labeling. Rather than adopt the use of F. x intermedia before the new specific epithet, many new cultivars are identified as gardenii or major, leading to confusion over proper identification.

Companion Plants

This is a wonderful shrub that, grouped together in threes, fits seamlessly into a native shrub border, hedge, mixed perennial bed, or “naturalized” landscape. It works well with Hydrangea quercifolia, Itea, Ceanothus americanus, Clethra alnifolia, Ilex verticillata, Red twig dogwood, and Vaccinium spp. Please do not place this plant anywhere near yellow evergreens like the Cypress ‘Golden Mop.’ Site it against a group of dark evergreens, either broadleaf or coniferous. Forsythia be gone! Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), our native yellow-blooming and fragrant vine of earl spring, also happens to be a good companion plant in the garden. Add Witch Hazel, if room allows, for more yellow blooms in winter. Edge of the woods works well if facing northeast. With its various color changes over the year, from the bluish tint of new leaves, to the green shades of summer, followed by the spectacular October/ November color display, and finally the rounded upright zig-zag branches of winter, strikingly beautiful in the ice and snow, Fothergilla doesn’t quit.

Further Sources

The March 2008 article, “Fothergilla in Cultivation,” in The Plantsman, by

noted horticulturist Rick Darke, tells the story of Fothergilla from its roots in our southeastern coastal and piedmont areas, to our current available choices. It is readily available online and is in the must-read category, if you are interested in the details. In Virginia, we are graced with new opportunities to buy native plants such as Fothergilla spp. We now have Watermark Woods, a Loudoun County native plants nursery (, where Fothergilla gardenii, major, and ‘Mt. Airy’ are regularly available. Hill House Native Plants (, in Castleton, VA, carries F. gardenii this season as well. Also, look for them at local native plant society sales. Locally, our rich horticultural resources, provide us with a chance to view Fothergilla spp. in situ. Start with the National Garden, part of the U.S. Botanic Garden, in DC. Check out their useful set of lists at NGfavorites. Also, look for it growing at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA (www.; and Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD ( To view Witch Alder in a larger landscape context, consider a visit to Mt. Cuba in Delaware. Fothergilla spp. is a treasure to explore, with unanswered questions including, “Do these fragrant white flowers signify a place it in the night garden? What is the science behind the blue tinged leaves? Specifically, what Lepidoptera and what bees visit its flowers?” An absolute must, now, in landscape and garden design includes this shrub, Fragrant Witch Alder. Locate it, view it, find a point of purchase, and learn about it by growing it. Sweet-scented, white spring flowers, blue tones on new leaves, notable fall color, native; a nectar plant with sticky pollen: Who needs Forsythia, when we already have Fothergilla? o Judith Mensh is a local horticultural consultant. She is available to walk your yard with you and identify plants and possibilities. She can be reached via email at APRIL 2017




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HORThaenings lisher Kathy Jentz gave a talk at KCDC on planting a vegetable garden for the first time. Registration was more than 50. Students met at Juanita E. Thornton Library in the Shepherd Park neighborhood in DC on March 26 to learn stressfree methods of growing the best crops in the Mid-Atlantic region from seed or seedling, including how to plan for crop succession.

Community Forklift’s 2017 Garden Party Fundraiser

Community Forklift in Edmonston, MD, marked the beginning of spring with their annual Garden Party on April 1 and . Local gardeners, homeowners, and farmers alike lined up outside the home improvement center warehouse, early Saturday morning to find deals of up to 70% below retail prices on “preloved” garden and landscaping equipment. Both days featured costume contests, workshops, and the sale of baked goods from local bakeries. On Saturday, County Manners food truck made an appearance and PERMIE KIDS, an organization that educates children on maintaining a healthy relationship with the Earth, came on Sunday to offer a workshop as parents perused the bountiful supply of materials. The Garden Party also functions as Community Forklift’s biggest fundraiser of the year, with proceeds going toward creating green jobs, reducing waste, educating about reuse, and providing free home improvement for those in need.

Free Beginner Garden Talk for KnowledgeCommonsDC

Self-identified as a “floating school,” the KnowledgeCommonsDC (KCDC) series is completely volunteer-run and free to the public. KCDC uses public spaces to connect anyone with a set of skills or expertise in an area with curious students to foster unique learning environments. Registration for classes is usually posted a week before the class and anyone interested may sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Class sizes range from 15 students to over 40 per class, depending on venues space available. Washington Gardener editor and pub-

Tulip Makeover of Dutch Ambassador’s Residence

act with and feed domestic and exotic species of butterflies and the Railway Garden, in which a train took guests on a scenic route through the nation’s park system. A Garden-to-Table demonstration and Make-and-Take workshops were also offered. All around, there were sights gardeners and non-gardeners alike could appreciate. Participants departed from downtown Silver Spring on Wednesday and Behnke Nursery on Thursday and enjoyed a comfortable trip to the show with lunch and snacks provided for the ride. To pass the driving time, a new documentary on local labyrinth gardens was shown and gardening questions were answered.

On April 4, the Royal Netherlands Embassy celebrated Dutch Tulip Days by decorating Ambassador Henne Schuwer’s Washington, DC, residence with 10,000 red, white, blue, and orange tulips. Highlighting the relationship between the U.S. and the Netherlands in horticulture and international relations, the event was open to members of the media to attend and tour the grounds. The embassy donated the flower arrangements to local institutions at the end of Dutch Tulip Days.

Philadelphia Flower Show

Washington Gardener staff escaped the snowstorm that swept through the greater DMV area when it took two sold-out bus trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show on March 15 and 16. The Philadelphia Flower Show is the oldest and largest in the world of its kind. This year’s theme, “Holland: Flowering the World,” featured exhibits of flowers essential to Holland’s culture. Additionally, the show presented the Butterfly Experience for guests to inter-

Potomac Floral Show

The annual Potomac Flower Show and Design Competition was hosted by Potomac Floral Wholesale in Silver Spring, MD, on March 19. The event is open to the floral trade only and featured a talk on “Events and Trends in Living Color” by Jodi Duncan, as well as vendor displays and live music. o Compiled by India Hamilton, an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine. APRIL 2017




Tomatoes for a Long, Hot Summer

by Elizabeth Olson

‘Mandarin Cross’ tomato. Photo courtesy of John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds,

The warm winter of 2017 has been followed by a very warm and early spring. Summer, too, may come early and it promises to be a long, hot one. In other words, this summer will have tomato weather. The full potential of many tomato cultivars is realized in such a summer. Gardeners will find seeds and starter plants of favorite tomato cultivars available as usual this year in garden centers, with many also available by online order. However, this may be the summer to try some different ones. Here are recommendations for a few recent tomato introductions, as well as established cultivars that may not readily come to mind. They are productive cultivars that are known for flavor, color, and overall quality in hot weather. All will grow well in the greater Washington, DC, region. Some of the recommended cultivars may be offered as starter plants at selected local garden centers and farmers markets. Seeds for all of these tomatoes are available by online order; 18


sources are included. Most of the cultivars are indeterminate (I). The harvest period will take place over an extended period of time. One is determinate (D). The harvest will be concentrated in a short period of time. This is very useful if the tomatoes are to be dehydrated or processed in quantity.

Large-fruited Tomatoes

Clusters of large tomatoes can become very heavy and are prone to ripping. They can be thinned while the tomatoes are still young. Some tomatoes become extra-large. Those that stay on the vine until maturity need to be supported in a stretchy sling to prevent ripping. Large tomatoes can be easily bruised or damaged as they approach optimum ripeness—if not by the elements, often by pests and vermin. Prevention is key here: The fruits can be carefully harvested with sharp shears a few days beforehand and allowed to finish ripening indoors at room temperature. They should never be torn from the vine and

they should never be refrigerated. • ‘Great White’ (I) Open-pollinated. Vigorous plants produce thick foliage that protects the rounded fruits. ‘Great White’ tomatoes have firm, ivory-white flesh and skin. The color may deepen as well as begin to blush pink at maturity and after harvesting. The flavor is mildly fruity and blends nicely with a light marinade. The beautiful slices make a wonderful presentation when garnished with purple basil. Fruit size: 12+ oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 80 to 85. Seeds are available from and www. • ‘Park’s Whopper CR Improved’ (I) F1 hybrid. Gardeners concerned about soilborne diseases affecting tomato plants ought to consider this reliable cultivar. It is resistant to several soil-borne diseases and starts to bear tasty fruits relatively early, with the first harvest in 65 to 70 days after being transplanted. Mature Whopper tomatoes are juicy, red, and have a round shape. Each fruit can weigh 14 oz. or more and reach 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Sliced Whoppers are great for sandwiches and large hamburgers. Seeds are available from • ‘Persimmon’ (I) Heirloom. This cultivar produces very meaty fruits with a rich flavor that rivals those of ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘Cherokee Purple.’ The color and shape of ‘Persimmon’ tomatoes are reminiscent of the fruits of a Japanese persimmon tree—somewhat flattened globes with a beautiful deep-golden-orange color in both the skin and the flesh. ‘Persimmon’ tomatoes are most often consumed fresh, but are meaty enough to make into a quick-cook sauce. Fruit size: 12 to 32 oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 75 to 85. Seeds are available from, www., and • ‘Ricciolo’ (I) New for 2017 in the U.S. This Italian import is an F1 hybrid cultivar. It produces very meaty, ribbed, pear-shaped beefsteak tomatoes (up to 12 oz.) that are red with some green on the shoulders. Large quantities of tomatoes are produced all season, with the first harvest as early as 75 days after the plants are installed in the garden. The heirloom version of ‘Ricciolo’

EDIBLEharvt is called ‘Red Pear.’ (This is the Italian kind of red pear—it is very meaty and large, up to 18 oz.) The seeds for both cultivars are available from Seeds from Italy at

Medium-size Tomatoes

Clusters of medium-size tomatoes may need to be thinned when young. It is unusual for a medium-size tomato to need extra support, but heavy clusters can rip. Individual fruits that ripen before others in a cluster can be carefully harvested with sharp shears—never by tearing. Tomatoes harvested a few days before optimum ripeness can be allowed to finish ripening indoors at room temperature. They should not be refrigerated. • ‘Mandarin Cross’ (I) open-pollinated. The plants are prolific producers of rounded, meaty fruits that have tangy flavor and golden-orange skin and flesh. The tomatoes can be cut into wedges and added to salads or sliced and added to sandwiches. ‘Mandarin Cross’ tomatoes take a long time to mature for their 10-oz. size, about 80 to 85 days from transplanting. Seeds are available from and • ‘Momotaro’ (I) F1 hybrid. This Japanese tomato is extremely popular in its native country and is becoming more widely available to gardeners in America. The cultivar is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt race 1, tobacco mosaic 2, nematodes, and stemphylium. ‘Momotaro’ produces lots of high-quality 6-oz. slicing tomatoes throughout the heat of summer. The flavor is a complex mix of richness, sweetness, and tanginess. Additionally, the lovely fruits are noted for their beautiful deep-pink skin and flesh. Seeds are available from,, and www. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 65 to 70. • ‘Thessaloniki’ (I) open-pollinated. This is a Greek cultivar. The plants are medium-tall and grow best in a long, hot summer. ‘Thessaloniki’ produces lots of richly flavored, firm, rounded red fruits that are evenly shaped. They are wellsuited as an ingredient for salads. Fruit size: up to 6 oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 65 to 75. Seeds are available from and • ‘Yellow Stuffer’ (I) open-pollinated. Very mildly flavored tomato. The lightyellow fruits have crisp walls, no meat, and a central seed cluster that is easy to remove. The harvested fruits are sometimes confused with yellow bell peppers. However, they are generally smaller in size and hold a moderate quantity of stuffing. Gardeners who want to enter these tomatoes in a county fair need to make sure that the intake staff knows that they are really tomatoes. Seeds are available from Days from transplanting to first harvest: 70 to 80.

Small-fruited Tomatoes

Clusters of small-fruited tomatoes often have many tomatoes and may become quite heavy. Whole sections of a cluster may be carefully pruned out with sharp shears to reduce the weight if there is danger of ripping. Small-fruited tomatoes usually ripen at different times within a cluster and can be harvested individually. They sometimes release from their stems with just a light grip. Any tomato that holds to its stem can be harvested by cutting the stem a short distance up from the fruit. Kitchen shears are recommended; tomatoes should not be torn from their stems. Some ripe tomatoes may pop off when their cluster is touched, and it is useful to have a basket underneath to catch them.

‘Great White’ tomato. Photo courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds,

Tomatoes in this size category often have very good eating quality for quite a while after being harvested, sometimes up to three weeks or more. The fruits should be checked daily. Best quality is retained by fresh fruits that are wellgrown, well-harvested, and stored with good air circulation at room temperature. • ‘A Grappoli d’Inverno’ (D) open-pollinated. The name means winter grapes in Italian. These small, grape-shaped tomatoes can easily be dehydrated for year-round use. They have a sweet taste and are also good consumed fresh. ‘A Grappoli d’Inverno’ is a red, determinate cultivar and the main harvest starts about 70 to 75 days after the plants are installed in the garden. Gardeners who wish to extend the harvest period can

7 Essential Tomato Growing Tips

Here are a few reminders and tips for growing great tomatoes in the Mid-Atlantic region: • Spice fennel herb plants growing in the garden near the tomato patch provide integrated pest management for tomato plants. Blossoms from the fennel plants attract braconid wasps, which will parasitize tomato and tobacco hornworms. • Tomato plants need to be planted in fertile soil that drains well, and they benefit from being fertilized with an organic, well-balanced vegetable fertilizer. • The ideal spring planting time for tomatoes is when the soil is thoroughly warm. In the local growing region, this is usually no earlier than mid-May, even when the winter has been mild. • Tomatoes need lots of sun—six hours or more per day of full sun—starting in the early morning. • Good air circulation around tomato plants is vital. Spacing plants four feet or more apart on a staggered grid in rows five feet apart is recommended. • Provide structural support (tall stakes, trellises/tomato ladders, etc.). • A soaker hose is a necessary piece of equipment in the tomato patch. It is used to supplement rainfall. Mulch should be applied on top of the soaker hose and open ground throughout the kitchen garden. Mulch prevents the soil from crusting and minimizes splashback that results from heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. APRIL 2017



EDIBLEharvt Pictured from left to right are three cherry tomato cultivars—‘Pink Bumblebee,’ ‘Purple Bumblebee,’ and ‘Sunrise Bumblebee.’ Photo from Johnny’s Selected Seeds,

employ relay planting. This cultivar has a rather compact growth habit. It can be grown in the garden or in large containers that have drainage holes. Fruit size: less than 1 oz. Seeds are available from • ‘Beam’s Yellow Pear’ (I) open-pollinated. This cultivar is distinctly different from the regular yellow pear tomato: The flavor is richer and the glorious deep-golden-yellow color is a show-stopper. The fruits have many uses and are perfect for tomato jam. A pint-sized slotted cardboard produce basket full of home-grown ‘Beam’s Yellow Pear’ tomatoes is a wonderful host/hostess gift. The bushy plants grow very tall and can be topped to control their height. They bear fruit well into autumn, frequently long after other tomato cultivars have

stopped producing. Fruit size: up to 1 oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 70 to 75. Seeds are available from • ‘Garden Peach’ (I) open-pollinated. This prolific tomato cultivar is perhaps the most underappreciated one on this list and it is deserving of a much wider audience. Each fruit looks like a miniature version of a fruit from a peach tree, with light-yellow skin that has a smooth, velvety surface that blushes pink as the tomato matures. The light-yellow flesh is unusually firm for such a small fruit and it has a small core. ‘Garden Peach’ holds well on the vine and is great for garden candy, albeit a two-bite morsel. The flavor is wonderfully rich and sweet. The rounded fruits can also be grilled or dehydrated. Fruit size: 2 to 3 oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 70

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 for more information. 20


to 75. Seeds are available from https:// and • ‘Pink Bumblebee,’ ‘Purple Bumblebee,’ and ‘Sunrise Bumblebee’ (I). These three cultivars are recent introductions that are becoming more widely available. All are open-pollinated cherry tomatoes by Artisan Seeds. The fruits are noted for their lovely coloring that adds contrast to salads and tomato assortments. Fruit size for all three cultivars: up to 1 oz. Days to harvest after transplanting: 70 to 75. Seeds are available from, www., www.RareSeeds. com, and directly from the breeder at ‘Pink Bumblebee’ tomatoes ripen to a deep pink streaked with golden yellow. The flavor is sweet. ‘Purple Bumblebee’ tomatoes ripen to purple streaked with dark green. The flavor is tangy. ‘Sunrise Bumblebee’ tomatoes ripen to yellow streaked with deep pink and red. The flavor is fruity and tangy. • ‘Riesentraube’ (I) heirloom. This is an extremely prolific cultivar. It is originally from Germany and the name is usually translated as giant bunch of grapes. ‘Riesentraube’ plants produce many grape-like clusters of plump red tomatoes that have sharply pointed tips. The flavor is surprisingly rich and sweet. They are great as garden candy or added to vegetable platters or salads. Fruit size: up to 1 oz. Days from transplanting to first harvest: 70 to 75. Seeds are available from,, and o Elizabeth Olson is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist. She is also an avid home gardener who is fascinated by the plants that she grows. She can be contacted through Washington Gardener Magazine.


Meet the Green Scheme’s Ronnie Webb

By India Hamilton Ronnie Webb is president of the Green Scheme, an organization that educates and engages communities in poor health or environmental conditions to promote sustainable living in relatable ways. Webb founded The Green Scheme with Joelle Robinson when the two were motivated to change the way people in their communities think about their health and environment. Washington Gardener met with Webb at the 2017 Rooting DC and learned a little more about his connection to the organization. Tell me a little about your background and your interests in the environment and horticulture. Growing up in Washington, DC, I was the definition of an inner-city kid. While I was in school, there were very few opportunities to engage in gardening and agriculture, so I took advantage of competing in various sports, from boxing to swimming. It was until I went to college at North Carolina A&T State University that I was exposed to agriculture and the environment. My major was agricultural economics. While I was there, I established a reputation for throwing great parties and cultural events like open mikes and Go-Go events that I would put a twist of empowerment on. During my transition to post-college, I was offered a fellowship with the Hip-Hop Caucus to design and implement programs and events that would use hip-hop culture as an influencer in engagement and aware-

ness on environmental justice issues. After this fellowship, I realized the potential I had to have an impact on my community through my background in agriculture. Around that time, the Urban Agriculture Movement really began to trend in Washington, D.C. From there, The Green Scheme was birthed in 2011! What’s a typical day like working with The Green Scheme? There is never a typical day at The Green Scheme. There is usually early morning corresponding with new potential partners. Around 10am, we start our programming at our various sites. Right now, we are providing urban agriculture and food health programming at our 12 urban garden sites. Depending on our schedule of sites and workshops, some days we may come in at 8am and not finish until 8pm. It’s all part of the grind. We have a great team that supports each other. Shout out to my Green Scheme Team! What has been the most rewarding part of the program? The most rewarding part of the program is when participants and community members come back and tell us how they’ve changed their lives, or how we helped change their lives whether that’s

through teaching, employing, training, or providing them with a space to complete community service. What are some of the things you advise members of your program to do to live more sustainably? Grow their food, learn where their food comes from, look into the current food system they reside in, become more creative in healthy-eating strategies, and build gardens. How can people become involved with The Green Scheme? We have a few ways get involved: Pitch a new and creative workshop idea, host a workshop, volunteer with us at sites, or join the team or board of advisors. A list of volunteer sites can be found on The Green Scheme’s website: www. Follow our Instagram @thegreenscheme and Facebook account at The Green Scheme for the Green Facts of the Day. What’s the best piece of gardening advice you’ve ever received? Dig in. Literally. You learn through trial and error! What’s your favorite thing to watch as it grows? Squash. I like how the flower turns into the actual squash. What do you do when you’re not working with plants or on environmental issues? When I’m not working with plants and on environmental issues, I’m sleeping! Any last thoughts? I’d like to mention how great, creative, and dedicated The Green Scheme team has been since they came aboard. The Green Scheme is now on WPFW 89.3 every day with their Green Fact of the Day. These facts provide listeners with relatable, healthy food information that can be applied to everyday life. o India Hamilton is a junior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland. This winter/spring, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine. APRIL 2017




Harbinger of Spring

by Barry Glick

Whenever I see Erigenia bulbosa, it astounds me that this delicate, delightful, darling, diminutive plant is cousin to carrots and celery. The common name “Harbinger of Spring” is so very appropriate, since it is one of the first woodland natives to bloom, often poking its head through a dusting of frozen precipitation. Another aspect of Erigenia bulbosa that amazes me is its ephemeral nature: here today, gone tomorrow. But all things considered, I believe this is a very important little fellow to know and grow. Arising from a roundish tuber, about the size of your little fingernail up to the size of your thumbnail, the average height of the plant in flower is only about 2–6", but I’ve seen some very 22


happy specimens reaching up to almost 10" long. I sometimes feel silly calling it a shade perennial, because it visits us so early that there really is no shade. It prefers moist to average soil that is slightly acidic. In my garden, bloom coincides with the swelling of maple buds. In the wild, you’ll find that the companions it has chosen to room with are plants like Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), Cutleaf Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), and Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadense). It seems deer-proof—at least my deer don’t seem interested in it. Cultivation by division is a no-brainer. The only mistake I’ve seen people make in growing it is planting it too deep. You

only need to cover it with a thickness of soil equal to the size of the tuber. If you’re lucky, they’ll self-sow around gently, but you may want to get out there with your paint brush and help the process along. It is common throughout the Eastern half of the United States from Wisconsin to Georgia. Native populations of this plant are protected in New York and Wisconsin as state endangered plants, and in Pennsylvania as threatened. Pollinators including Little Carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.) and flower flies (Syrphidae) love it as one of the earliest sources of nectar in the growing season. According to Moermann’s ethnobotanica database, the bulb is edible both cooked and raw. The Cherokee were known to chew this plant as medicine for toothaches; it is unknown what parts of plant they chewed. Another common name is “Salt & Pepper,” owing to the vivid contrast of the dark anthers against the pure-white petals of the flowers. The genus name Erigenia comes from the Greek word erigeniea, which means early born—a reference to how early in the season it flowers—and the species bulbosa refers to the fact that it grows from a bulb-like rootstock. Erigenia bulbosa is a great plant to use where you have plants like hostas or some of the later-emerging ferns planted. They occupy those bare spots that we have early in the spring, as we impatiently wait for some of the later emergents to unfold their foliage and fill in those voids. This is not a plant that you’ll find at your local garden center, because they’re usually not open when Erigenia bulbosa is in bloom, but several specialty native plant nurseries (like mine) grow and sell it. 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,, or 304.497.2208.


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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

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 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

MARCH/APRIL 2008 • Patio, Balcony, Rooftop Container Gardens • Our Favorite Garden Tools • Coral Bells (Heucheras) MAY/JUNE 2008 — ALMOST SOLD OUT! • Growing Great Tomatoes • Glamorous Gladiolus • Seed-Starting Basics • Flavorful Fruiting Natives 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 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 ! OUT Tips D • 40+ Free and Low-cost Local Garden SOL ! T • Spring Edibles Planting Guide OU LDfor a Fresh Start • Testing YourSO Soil ! Selection and Care UTTree • Redbud O LD Viewing Spots for Virginia Bluebells • SOBest

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

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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Washington Gardener April 2017  

The April 2017 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine Inside this issue: Frilly, Fragrant Fothergilla A Visit to Baltimore’s Sherwood Garden...

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