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OCTOBER 2016 VOL. 11 NO. 8




the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region

A Native Alternative to Liriope Your Monthly Garden Tasks To-do List Transforming a Formal Garden in the Woods

10 Tips for Growing Great Perennials Four Seasons at Hillwood Estate 6 Tips for Fruit Tree Success

Boo! Watch Out for Stinging Caterpillars Local Gardening Events Calendar

Meet the DC Scroger Growing Rhubarb in the Mid-Atlantic

Beautiful Abutilon


o oo ooo 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.

RARE AND EXCEPTIONAL PLANTS FOR THE DISCRIMINATING GARDENER AND COLLECTOR Barry Glick Sunshine Farm and Gardens 696 Glicks Road Renick, WV 24966, USA Email:

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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.


Your Ad Here

Are you trying to reach thousands of gardeners in the greater DC region/Mid-Atlantic area? Washington Gardener Magazine goes out on the 15th of every month. Contact or call 301.588-6894 for ad rates (starting from $200). The ad deadline is the 10th of each month. Please submit your ad directly to:






Abutilon x hybridum ‘Cascade Dawn’ is a frost-tolerant selection from renowned plantsman Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff garden. Reddish-orange, lantern-like flowers appear continuously for months. Photo credit: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia.

Most of the caterpillars that are called stinging caterpillars don’t sting like wasps or hornets do. They have hairs or spines that sometimes have poison glands at the base. When touched, the hairs break off and the poison is injected, causing an inflammation of the skin and a burning sensation that may feel like a bee sting. Source: stinging-caterpillars.




The 9th Annual DC Design House is a fivestory, 11,242-squarefoot home that includes seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, two half baths, three kitchens, five fireplaces, sauna, exercise and party rooms, wine cellar, and elevator, plus gardens and an infinity pool.

BEFOREafter 6-7 Formal Garden in the Woods BOOKreviews 18-19 Natural Plant Dyes; Bonsai Garden Revolution DAYtrip 8 Four Seasons at Hillwood EDIBLEharvest 14-15 Rhubarb GOINGNative 21 Carex laxiculmis INSECTindex 20 Stinging Caterpillars NEIGHBORnetwork 22 DC Scroger NEWPLANTspotlight 11 Short N’ Sweet™ Sweetspire PLANTprofile 16-17 Abutilon TIPStricks 10 Growing Great Perennials; Fruit Tree Successs; Cleaning Outdoor Cushions


24 11 4 5 12–13 11 3 2


Abutilon x hybridum ‘Cascade Dawn.’ Photo credit: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia.

Next month in our November ’16 issue: Edible Lamb’s Quarter Growing Butterfly Weed Ask the Expert and much more...

If your business would like to reach area gardeners, be sure to contact us by November 10 so you can be part of the next issue of our growing publication. OCTOBER 2016





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! Ruth E. Thaler-Carter Proofreader Stephen Barber Shelby Smith Interns Cover price: $4.99 Back issues: $6.00 Subscription: $20.00 Address corrections should be sent to the address above. Your editor with Joseph Tychonievich, author of Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener, before his June talk at Brookside Gardens. Photo by Jacqueline Hyman.

Haute Horti-couture I recently had the pleasure of introducing Joseph Tychonievich for a talk to the Silver Spring Garden Club. Joseph was named by Organic Gardening Magazine as one of “...six young horticulturists who are helping to shape how America gardens.” He is a plant breeder, teacher, and author. Not only that, he is a really nice guy. His talk was enchanting because he has such enthusiasm for plants and gardeners. One point of his presentation really stuck with me and that is his passion for Gladiolus. To many of us, these tall flowers are the stuff of formal church events and funeral arrangements, but Joseph has fallen head-over-heels for them and the different color combinations you can quickly breed with them in your home garden. He wants to bring this flower back into fashion. Yet, he dismisses Daylily and Hosta breeding as all too easy and so ubiquitous as to be almost obnoxious. I agree with Joseph—we don’t really need one more of either of these plants, but neither do we really need any more Heuchera, Echinacea, or Hydrangea— that doesn’t stop the plant companies from introducing hundreds more of each every year! So what, when did needs ever beat out wants in the garden? Gardening does have its trends and fashions. We don’t jump at new plants and styles with the quickness of the latest clothing and hair styles. Yet, slowly over the last decade, I have seen our gardens evolve from fewer perennials to more shrubs. More people are planting edibles along with their ornamentals, and the native movement has grown—along with it, the number of plants available in the trade. I bet your own garden has taken on a few of these “fads.” That is all part of our healthy cycle of growth and adaption. Happy gardening! Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher, Washington Gardener 4


• 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 11, Number 8 ISSN 1555-8959 © 2016 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.



Caption Contest

We asked our Facebook page followers to caption this photo of this little garden figure (and his friends) seen at Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD.. Look for more monthly caption contests at the WashingtonGardenerMagazine page.

Reader Contest

Winning Captions: “Happy Hour! Gourd for it! :)” ~ Kimberly J. Scott “Pumpkin lattes - you’re doing it wrong.” ~ Julie Blackwell “Steam punk trolling....not your Mother’s Halloween!” ~ Teresa Speight “Isn’t he just gourd-geous!” ~ Kevin J. Smith “Spice up your life with a little pumkin.” ~ Scott Abels “Keep Calm and Hail the Pumpkin King!” ~ Jennifer Smalls “I get my daily fiber naturally.” ~ Lewis Jones “This is the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” ~ Jason Ransom

For our October 2016 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a one-year national membership to the American Horticultural Society (http:// The American Horticultural Society (AHS) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) membership organization that recognizes and promotes excellence in American horticulture. AHS is known for its educational programs and the dissemination of horticultural information. Members enjoy a seed exchange, free access to over 300 public gardens, The American Gardener magazine, and more. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious gardening organizations in the United States. Its mission is to educate and inspire people of all ages to become successful and environmentally responsible gardeners by advancing the art and science of horticulture. The AHS headquarters is at River Farm, one of George Washington’s original five farms, in Alexandria, VA. River Farm is 25 acres on the Potomac River, containing beautiful gardens as well as a wide variety of wildlife. However, River Farm is much more than a beautiful landscape—it serves as the Society’s showcase for its national programs and policies. To enter to win the AHS membership, send an email to by 5pm on Monday, October 30, with “AHS” in the subject line. In the body of the email tell us which was your favorite article in this issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced on November 1. OCTOBER 2016





Formal Garden in the Woods The Washington, DC, Design House, a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity, began in 2008 as a unique design show house event for the DC metro area in which top area designers showcased their talents in a “flowing design home” to raise funds for a local charity. Each area of the house and garden is transformed by a different local designer. This year’s 11,000-square-foot-plus house is located on a three-quarter acre lot. It was most recently used as a temporary residence for the French Ambassador while his home was undergoing renovations. The lower garden to the left of the flagstone terrace had potential, but lacked character equal to the architecture of the home. The designers concluded that a formal design would best complement this space. The garden is planned so guests can view it from the rooms above, then enter the backyard space from the lower level terrace to experience its design and tranquility. The design of this garden room uses formal, clipped hedges bordering a lawn panel to contrast the natural wooded area behind it. Granite cobblestones edge the lawn and define the space. A fountain serves as the central focal point, creating intrigue and reflection. A unique, curved teak bench, reinforcing the lawn panel outline, offers a place to pause and enjoy the view. Four large planters, currently filled with fall seasonal color, anchor the corners of the hedge. 6



Joshua Dean, Wheat’s Lawn and Custom Landscape, 8620 Park Street, Vienna, VA,, designed the landscape. Stephen Wlodarczyk is a professional landscape architect with more than 18 years of experience in the Washington, DC, area. He holds a BS in landscape architecture from West Virginia University. Stephen’s love for the outdoors and keen eye for design have resulted in a successful residential landscape, design-build career. Stephen specializes in creating beautiful outdoor living environments for his clients. His achievements include grand awards from the Landscape Contractors Association and a national award from the Association of Landscape Professionals. Joshua Dean is an award-wining landscape designer who focuses on large-scale, residential design/build projects. He is known for finding the bestquality specimen plantings to accent his elegant stonework. A graduate of The George Washington University’s landscape design program, he also holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from George Mason University. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Curb Appeal, Indoors Out, and Ask This Old House have featured his installations.

AFTER Shade garden plantings, such as fall-flowering Japanese Anemone and Chelone, add color to the garden. Accent shrubs, Viburnum x Pragense and Oakleaf Holly, soften the formal lines of the lawn panel. The 2016 DC Design House is at 2509 Foxhall Road NW, Washington, DC, right next door to the 2013 DC Design House location. The 2016 DC Design House runs through October 30. All proceeds, including portions of the Boutique and Designer Sales, benefit Children’s National Health System. For details, see o About the Designers: Stephen Wlodarczyk and







Four Seasons at the Hillwood Estate

The Four Seasons, as built by artist Philip Haas, are showcased all at once at the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens from October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017. The opening of the exhibit was held on the evening of September 28. Each season is portrayed by a huge sculpture placed on the ellipse lawn behind the Hillwood house. Flowers, fruits, vegetables, and grains form a 15-foot-tall face that represents each season of




the year. Haas, a contemporary artist and filmmaker, created the sculptures based on portraits by Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Haas said they look different from every angle and have special lighting to bring the sculptures to life at night. According to the Hillwood staff, “The installation will weather the changing seasons, as the surrounding gardens transition from late summer, through fall, winter, and into early spring.” The little details, like Summer’s corn ears and Spring’s flower-petal eyelids, make you want to take your time to find every aspect of each of the pieces. Even the clothing in the bust is made from natural elements. The original portraits also “represent the ages that are often linked with each season of the year. Spring is a youthful face crafted from flower blossoms. A wizened old man’s face, constructed out of twisted tree branches, is the subject of Winter. The strange series was greatly appreciated for its humor as much as for the artist’s technical skill.” Haas said Winter was shown at the National Gallery of Art six years ago, but he is glad all four seasons can be showcased together. Hillwood is the eighth venue to feature the four seasons. Next they will be sent to France. Each of the sculptures is made from a single, solid piece of colored fiber glass and steel inserts for stability. Even closeup, the color and texture of the sculptures look more natural then what they are made from. Winter, which mainly features tree bark and bare branches, actually lookings as if it is made of real wood. Not only are the sculptures beautiful, but the surrounding gardens are breathtaking. You could easily spend hours in the several different gardens, looking at and smelling the colorful flowers and herbs. On exhibit through January 1, 2017, is the art and fashion featured in Deco

Text and Photos by Shelby Smith

Japan: 1920-1945. Coming soon in June 2017 is an exhibit of gemstones and jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection. o Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was sports copy editor for Unwind Magazine and has two years of writing experience with The Campus Current newspaper at Anne Arundel Community College.







“Trees and the Built Environment” Wednesday, October 19, 7:30am-4pm

1. DR. EDWARD GILMAN Professor of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida and author of the Illustrated Guide

to Pruning

Silver Spring Civic Center, Great Hall 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Part 1: “Tree Crown Reduction Strategies” Part 2: “Recent Advances in Nursery Production: Improving Roots and Tops.”

The fifth annual Trees Matter Symposium focuses on the health and welfare of trees in our increasingly developed landscapes. Learn from some of the country’s leading experts about innovative efforts to plant, protect and preserve trees in urban and suburban settings.


Trees provide many benefits: they cleanse and cool our air, stabilize our soils, provide wildlife habitat and beautify our urban and suburban areas. We encourage all arborists, landscape industry and environmental/green industry professionals, engineers, designers, housing developers and interested citizens to take advantage of this opportunity to learn new techniques and concepts on what can be done to ensure the survival of trees in our built environment. Early bird pricing ($75) available until September 17th. Regular price for admission is $90. PRESENTING SPONSORS

Professor of Community Forestry at the University of Georgia

Part 1: “Trees Surviving Ice Storms: Prioritize Damage Forms and Mitigation” Part 2: “Trees, Heat, and Drought: Changing Water Understandings”

3. JAMES URBAN, FASLA Owner of Urban Trees + Soils and the author of ‘Up By Roots: Healthy Trees and Soils in the Built Environment’

“6 Critical Elements in Street Tree Design” Jim Urban will review the six concepts that need to be included in the design of any tree and provide direction to how each can be incorporated into the design and construction of tree planting spaces.

4. DR. ERIKA SVENDSEN Research Social Scientist with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Resarch Station.

“Cultivating Civic Stewardship in the Urban Forest” Dr. Svendsen will discuss the social and spatial interactions among people and groups that conserve, manage, monitor, advocate for, and educate the public about their local environments.

Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, encourages and supports the participation of individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Program Access Office at 301-495-2477 or ProgramAccess@ to request a disability modification. Visit for more information. For more information, visit Register at for course #24294, or call the registrar at 301-495-2580. OCTOBER 2016



TIPStricks Compiled by Shelby Smith

10 Tips for Growing Great Perennials

Perennials are easy to grow and dependable. Because they offer different colors, shapes, textures, and sizes, they have become the backbone of many gardens. Perennials arrive each year with a zest of new growth and beauty. Here are 10 growing tips courtesy of the National Garden Bureau: 1. Herbaceous perennials lack a persistent stem; they die back to the ground during winter and regrow from the roots the next year. 2. Most perennials should be divided when they are dormant (spring bloomers in the fall: fall bloomers in the spring). 3. Perennials from temperate regions, like asters, irises, lupines, wallflowers, peonies, and primroses, need a cold winter to encourage new buds to grow in spring. 4. Many perennials spread by sending out shoots from their roots which develop into new stems, great for filling in a bed or sharing with friends. 5. Some perennials, such as columbines and delphiniums, last only three or four years. 6. They do require some pruning and maintenance, but their longevity makes this well worth the effort. 7. Perennial plants start off small in the first year and then, with each growing season, produces bigger and more abundant blooms. Once they get to be about three years old, you might have to divide them to keep them healthy and looking their best. 8. A key to designing with perennials is making sure there are continuing blooms and interest, which means more careful garden planning than when using annuals. 9. Books on perennials provide photographs for identification, cultural information, a description of growth habits, bloom time, color, and characteristics of special cultivars. 10. Even though most retailers are diligent and aware, still beware of invasive perennial plants. Check with your local Department of Natural Resources to learn which ones are deemed invasive and avoid planting them. o 10



6 Tips for Fruit Tree Success in Your Garden

There may be few things quite as satisfying as plucking a fresh, ripe piece of fruit from your own backyard tree. Fruiting trees such as apple, pear, peach, citrus, and others are among the most versatile and productive plants in the garden, capable of producing fruit for decades. Fruit trees benefit from proper planting, routine care and optimum growing conditions. For maximum yield year after year, follow these five tips for fruit tree success: 1. Do your research first: Fruit trees are extremely diverse, and you can find several types in your area. Take your garden’s climate, space, soil, and sun exposure into account, and select a fruit tree that suits your needs. “Don’t forget to consider self-pollinating versus cross-pollinating varieties,” said tree expert Jeff Dinslage, president of “If you buy a single fruit tree that needs cross-pollination, all you’ll ever get are flowers.” If you only have room for one fruit tree, consider a self-pollinating variety such as the ‘Fuji’ Apple or ‘Flavortop’ Nectarine. 2. Give young fruit trees plenty of TLC: The day you bring your tree home, plant it immediately. “Proper care from the start is really important,” said Dinslage. “The care you give your tree during its first few years will affect its shape, strength, yield, and even lifespan.” To give your tree the best possible start, keep it well-watered, and offer extra protection from pests and inclement weather. 3. Prune correctly. Pruning your trees can give their leaves better access to light, keep messy growth to a minimum, and help them set bigger, juicier fruit. Remove dead wood, and thin out branches that cross each other. Every species of tree is pruned differently. 4. Mulch and fertilize. Like pruning, mulching and feeding your fruit trees will keep them healthy and productive. Mulch your trees after planting and every spring and fall, taking care to leave room right around the base of the trunk. Mulch piled high around the base of the tree can lead to rot. Feed your trees with a high-quality fertilizer throughout the growing season to

encourage strong roots, a lush canopy, and an abundant harvest. 5. Watch for problems and act quickly. Fruit trees can be susceptible to blight, insects, and other common problems. Keep one step ahead of disease and pests by researching your fruit tree type and variety, and contact your local extension office for information on the most common pests and diseases to watch out for. 6. Growing fruit trees for that first homegrown harvest does take a little patience, but expert gardeners insist that it is worth the initial effort. “A great harvest doesn’t happen overnight,” said Dinslage, “but fruit trees are one of the most rewarding plants a gardener can grow.” For more information about fruit tree care and the wide variety of fruit trees available for growing in the U.S., visit o

3 Tips for Cleaning Outdoor Cushions

• For light cleaning: Rinse the fabric. Brush off any loose dirt and then spray the fabric with your garden hose. If you aren’t able to do this in your outdoor space (like on a balcony), vacuum the fabric with an upholstery attachment to remove dirt and dust. Easy. • For spot cleaning: Use soap and water. Use Folex spot cleaner or a mix of ¼ cup mild soap with a gallon of water to help remove stains. Use a soft bristle brush or sponge to lift the stain, then rinse away the soap. • For serious cleaning: Have a tough stain, mildew, or the need to disinfect? Use a bleach mixture. Mix 1 gallon of water, ¼ cup mild soap and 1 cup bleach in a large bucket. Wet the entire surface, let sit for 15 minutes, and then scrub. Rinse the fabric clean, but be careful about getting the cleaning solution with bleach on your plants or grass. A driveway or patio is the best place to clean and rinse. Bonus tip: Sunbrella fabrics can go in the washing machine, too. (Just don’t put them in a dryer.) Zip off the cushion covers. Use the delicate cycle with a normal amount of mild laundry detergent and a cup of bleach. Line dry. For more information on outdoor fabric care, see o


Quick Links to Recent Washington Gardener Blog Posts • Farewell to Tomato Season • Roasted Root Vegetables • Toad Lily: You Can Grow That! • Blue (and White) Lobelia See more Washington Gardener blog posts at: o

October-November Garden To-Do List New Plant Spotlight Short N’ Sweet™ Sweetspire Itea virginica ‘Merlot’ Sweetspire have been a staple of the landscape for quite some time, starting with the introduction of ‘Henry’s Garnet.‘ This selection offered a fullsized specimen with reliable, heavyflowering, and consistent red/orange fall color. It was a huge improvement for the industry. However, its large size, somewhat gangly nature, and propensity to sucker kept it from fitting into all possible landscape settings, including smaller home designs. This is where smaller selections step in. Short N’ Sweet™ maintains the same great attributes of Sweetspire as a species: good disease resistance; relatively pest-free; ability to handle both drought and excess moisture; and adaptability to a wide range of soil types, including compacted construction soil...and all of this on a stature only-reaching one-half to two-thirds the height of a typical Itea. Sounds like a winner, right? But wait, there’s more! 1. Short N’ Sweet™ maintains a more uniform, rounded growth habit, which does not have the suckering tendencies of others. 2. Short N’ Sweet™ yields a darkermaroon fall color, uniformly spread across the foliage. 3. Short N’ Sweet™ presents a more attractive flowering habit with tighter and stiffer flower spikes, giving a better display. With its flower power, clean foliage throughout the growing season, and strong fall color showing, Short N’ Sweet™ Sweetspire is an excellent selection. It is a Garden Debut® Plant Pick from Greenleaf Nursery. o

• Cover pond with netting to keep out fallen leaves and debris. • Harvest sweet potatoes. • Plant garlic. • Force the buds on Christmas Cactus by placing in a cool (55–60 degree) room for 13 hours of darkness. • Apply deer deterrent spray. • Prevent the spread of disease by cleaning up all infected plants and disposing of them in your trash — not your compost pile. • Plant cover crops in your vegetable gardens and annual beds (i.e., rye, clover, hairy vetch, winter peas). • Set up a cold frame, then plant lettuces, radishes, and carrots from seed. • If you have a water garden, clean out the annual plants and compost them. Cut back the hardy plants and group them into the deepest pond section. • Leave seedheads on Black-eyed Susans, Echinacea, Goldenrod, Sunflowers, and Thistles for the birds to enjoy over the winter. • Check for bagworms; pick off, bag, and dispose of them. • Dig up and store potatoes in a cool, dark spot. • Continue to divide and transplant perennials. • Rake leaves and gather in compost piles. • Pick pumpkins at a local pick-your-own farm or visit a local farmer’s market. • Cut garden herbs and hang to dry in a cool, dry place indoors. • Start feeding birds to get them in the habit for this winter. • Attend a local garden club meeting. • Mulch strawberry beds for winter. • Turn your compost pile weekly and don’t let it dry out. Work compost into your planting beds. • Plant evergreens for winter interest. • Weed. • Plant spring-flowering bulbs. • Sow wildflower seeds, such as California Poppies, for next spring. • Collect dried flowers and grasses for an indoor vase. • Clean, sharpen, and store your garden tools. • Lightly fertilize indoor plants. • Pot up Paper Whites and Amaryllis for holiday blooming. • Check that all vines are securely tied against winter’s cold winds. • Collect plant seeds for next year’s planting and for trading. • Pull out spent summer annuals. • Plant hardy mums and fall season annuals. • Water evergreens and new plantings to keep them hydrated this winter. • Fertilize your lawn and re-seed if needed. • Dig up bulbs from your Gladioli, cut off foliage, dry for a week, and then store for the winter. • Transplant trees and shrubs. • Gather seeds and label them carefully. Store in dry location. • Keep an eye out for the first frost date and insulate plants as needed. In Zone 6, it is expected between September 30-October 30; in Zone 7, it is predicted between October 15-November 15. o OCTOBER 2016



TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ October 16–November 15, 2016 • Saturday, October 22, 9am–12pm and Saturday, November 12, 10am– 12pm Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Clean-up Help plant native plants along pond banks, remove cut lotus from the ponds, dig up and pot plants and return them to the greenhouse for the winter, and clear invasive plants from the forest. Individuals, groups, families, friends welcome—there is something for everyone! SSL credit can be earned. Contact Tina with questions at or 202494-0456. • Saturday, October 22, 10am–12pm Fall Lawn Care Workshop For a beautiful spring lawn, start now by learning and implementing the five fall “best practices” for a healthy, environmentally friendly lawn. Come to the U.S. National Arboretum to learn about selecting the best turfgrass varieties, maintenance practices to have a healthy lawn, reduce pests, and how to properly calibrate a fertilizer spreader. A guided tour of the Grass Roots exhibit will follow the classroom part of the workshop. Take home lawn care information to help you through the process. Refreshments and door prizes will be provided! Registration is free, but space is limited and pre-registration is encouraged. Call 202-245-5965 or email to register. • Saturday, October 22, 1–4pm Taste of Tudor Place: An Edible History Experience Celebrate 200 years of heritage with fresh and local food and drink! As the last event of the 2016 Bicentennial, Tudor Place will offer draughts and plates from vendors including bakers, cheesemongers, makers of BBQ and farm-fresh tacos, and chocolatiers, as well as distillers, brewers, and wine sellers. Every mouthful comes with a tie-in to notable eras in the history of this estate, our city, and our nation. One $60 ticket covers all. Full run of the gardens, outdoor games, mini-house tours, crafts, and a complimentary tasting glass. From soup to nuts, savories, 12



sweets, and drinks are all included with admission. Register at http://www. • Wednesday, October 26, 2–3:30pm Batten Down the Hatches! Winter Garden Prep Beginner and intermediate gardeners are often overwhelmed by the long spring to-do lists of garden tasks. Learn what chores are essential and which you can safely skip as you prepare your garden for winter. Discover cost-saving tips and tricks, and how to “batten down the hatches” in case we have a really bad winter. Held at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. Fee: $22. Register at montgomerycounty/Activity_Search/ batten-down-the-hatches-winter-gardenprep/18440. • Wednesday, October 26, 7:30pm Delightful Surprises in the Garden: Whimsy, Recycling, and Going Vertical Presented by Carole Galati and Rani Parker, two local gardeners. Both speakers are avid, long-time gardeners who love to use recycled (free?) materials in creative and utilitarian ways. Besides slides, they will bring examples of space-saving, vertical garden set-ups and some other surprises. You are encouraged to bring examples of recycled objects/art and whimsy from your own garden. The Beltsville Garden Club meets in the multi-purpose room of the Duckworth School, 11201 Evans Trail, Beltsville, MD. The public is welcome and admission is free. To learn more about the Beltsville Garden Club, visit • Saturday, October 29, 10:30am–1pm Adams Morgan Apple Festival The Second Annual Adams Morgan Apple Festival at 1800 Columbia Road NW, Washington, DC, will feature heirloom apple tasting from Licking Creek Bend Farms, as well as an Apple Pie Baking Contest judged by a distinguished panel of media personalities and culinary experts. See details at: events/146036975848235/.

• Saturday, Oct. 29, 10:30am–1:30pm Making Herbal Holiday and Hostess Gifts This workshop offers easy and fun ideas for making gifts using your dried herbs, including how to make herbal soaps in a crockpot. Held at Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen St., Alexandria, VA. Advance registration requested at Questions,: 703-228-6414 or email • Saturday, October 29, 10am–12pm Rain Garden Workshop for Homeowners Learn how to properly locate, design, construct, and maintain a small-scale rain garden—a landscaped area that is designed to capture rain water and allow it to soak into the ground. Rain gardens allow polluted runoff from roads and buildings to infiltrate into the ground, slowing its flow and preventing pollutants from reaching local streams and the Potomac River, a drinking water supply for the region. Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S Stafford Street, Arlington, VA. For more information, see aspx?NID=977. • Tuesday, November 1, 7pm Larry Weaner’s Revolutionary Landscapes By understanding the ecological process of change in our native landscapes and incorporating it into our designs, we can create beautiful, dynamic landscapes that require less labor and are more esthetically rewarding and environmentally sound. Larry Weaner’s ideas apply in any climate and will change the way you think about what a garden should do and be. Forget about nonstop weeding, fertilizing, and watering. It’s time for a garden revolution! Registration is $20, Garden Conservancy members and Friends of American University Arboretum and Gardens; $25 general admission. This event is presented in partnership with American University Arboretum and Gardens and held at the university. For information, go to events/all-events/larry-weanerwashingtondc.

TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ October 16–November 15, 2016 • Tuesday, November 1, 7pm University of Delaware Botanic Gardens Presents “A Passion for Gardening” and Garden Book Sale Changes in the gardening world are exciting and positive, reflecting our enhanced knowledge and awareness. Holly Shimizu, a nationally recognized horticulturist, will focus on many of the changes she has seen over her lifetime as a horticulturist and gardener, in gardening processes, choices, favorite plants, and inspiring garden designs. UDBG Friends members, $10; nonmembers, $15. To register, email or phone 302-831-2517. • Wednesday, November 2, 2–3:30pm Conquering Cool Season Edibles There are many edible plants that grow best in cooler weather. Try your hand at growing them and enjoy the “fruits”—or veggies—of your labor during the winter months. We’ll cover techniques for lengthening the growing season and what edible plants do best in our MidAtlantic climate. Held at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. Fee: $22. Register at montgomerycounty/Activity_Search/ conquering-cool-season-edibles/18463. • Thursday, November 3, 6:30–8pm Discuss “Paradise Under Glass” with Washington Gardener Book Club For the Garden Book Club Fall 2016 Meeting, we will be discussing Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden by Ruth Kassinger. Join us at Soupergirl, right next to the Takoma metro stop. RSVP to or at the book club event page at WashingtonGardenerMagazine by October 25, so we know how many chairs to reserve for our group. At this meeting, we will also be deciding the 2017 Washington Gardener Magazine’s Garden Book Club selections, so bring your suggestions. Soupergirl offers soups for sale that are incredibly healthy. They are 100% plant-based, low-salt, lowfat, and—most importantly—absolutely delicious, so plan to come a bit early to purchase and eat your dinner with the

garden book club. The Washington Gardener Magazine’s Garden Book Club is free and open to all. • Saturday, November 5, 1:15–2:15pm Texture & Contrasts in Garden Design Learn how to pair plants like a landscape designer using contrasting leaf textures and color intensity. University of Delaware professor emeritus Bob Lyons gives you pragmatic examples of plant combinations that any gardener can use to create bold and beautiful plant vignettes. Fee: $15/person. Held at Green Spring Gardens. Register online at greenspring using code 290 488 5401 or call 703-642-5173. • Tuesday, November 8, 2:45pm Gardener’s Focus: Specialty Mums at Hillwood Get an intimate look at Hillwood’s gardens with the experts. Drew Asbury, head grower, highlights the specialty mums. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Hillwood’s Greenhouse, where visitors will learn how gardeners continue the 55-year tradition of propagating chrysanthemums for fresh-cut flowers used in the weekly floral arrangements. Hillwood grows over 50 different types of chrysanthemums, from spoon and spider to football and anemone, in an array of gorgeous fall colors. Tickets are distributed at the Visitor Center upon opening each day. This 20-minute tour is limited to 10, and meets just inside the entrance to the greenhouse. See • Wednesday, November 9, 10:30– 11:30am Marvelous Morphology: Flowers Ever wonder what the spots on flower petals are for or what part of the flower forms a fruit? Join Dr. Susan Pell, U.S. Botanic Garden’s Science and Public Programs manager, on a tour of the garden and discover flower structures and their various functions. Learn the parts of an orchid flower and why bananas only make fruit on one end of their flowering stalks. Topics such as flower structure, pollination methods, and floral diversity will be explored and

explained. Tour meets in the Conservatory Garden Court of the U.S. Botanic Garden. FREE: Pre-registration required at

Save These Future Dates: • November 18, 2016–January 8, 2017 Bring the family to enjoy the magical Winter Walk of lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. Every year, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, animated walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the Lakeside Lights, Fountain of Lights, and Holiday Nature Walk—and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows, and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. •The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) is currently celebrating its 47th year of success. MANTS will hold its 2017 show from January 11-13 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. MANTS is where the industry comes to buy, shop, meet, see, and be seen every January. See to register. • Washington Gardener Magazine’s 2017 Seed Exchanges are January 28 at Brookside Gardens and February 4 at Green Spring Gardens. Start saving and labeling your seeds now!

Still More Event Listings

See even more event listings on the Washington Gardener Yahoo discussion list. Join the list at com/group/WashingtonGardener/. Events are also posted on the Twitter feed (@wdcgardener) and Facebook page at WashingtonGardenerMagazine.

How to Submit Local Garden Events

To submit an event for this listing, contact:—put “Event” in the subject line. Our next deadline is November 10 for the November issue, for events taking place from November 16–December 15. o OCTOBER 2016




by Elizabeth Olson

Rhubarb is an herbaceous perennial that is grown for its edible, tangy stalks. It is dormant in winter in regions with cool to cold winters, including the MidAtlantic. During the growing season, rhubarb grows quickly, and it is highly ornamental. It is a member of the Polygonaceae plant family, the diverse members of which include garden sorrel, buckwheat, and Florida sea grape. The scientific name for rhubarb is Rheum rhabarbarum. Stem colors of rhubarb cultivars include bright-red, red fading to green, and green that is speckled or brushed with red. Red-stemmed cultivars are lovely and highly popular, but they do not perform at their best in the greater Washington, DC, growing region. The time-honored cultivar for this area is ‘Victoria,’ which most often has stems that are green brushed with varying 14



amounts of red. Rhubarb leaves are a deep-green in color and are not edible; they contain toxic amounts of oxalic acid. Trim and discard the leaves soon after harvesting the stems. Rhubarb can be used in sauces, chutneys, toppings, or desserts such as compotes, or pies (see recipes on next page), and it can be preserved by freezing. The tart flavor has some sweetness, and is generally the same from one plant or cultivar to another, although cultural differences may affect the sweetness. Rhubarb is nutritious and is a source of calcium, manganese, potassium, and vitamins C, E, and K.

Local Availability

The plants are commonly started from divisions of its crowns, but rhubarb can also be started from seed. A plant started from a division or a crown will have

Rhubarb ‘Crimson Red’ photo courtesy of W. Atlee Burpee Company,

How to Grow Rhubarb

the same color of stems as the mother plant. Variation in stem color will occur in plants started from seed; gardeners can elect to keep or eliminate plants based on the preferred stem color. If the color of the stems is important, gardeners should consider shopping at garden centers that carry potted rhubarb plants that are mature enough to have several fully extended stems. Crowns can be purchased at a number of local garden centers in late winter to early spring. Orders for crowns by mail-order or online ought to be placed in early to mid winter, since seed companies frequently sell out before the gardening season begins. Rhubarb seeds are available at many local garden centers starting in mid- to late winter. Seeds are widely available online or by mail-order throughout the year. ‘Victoria’ is the most commonly available named cultivar offered in seed form. Starting rhubarb from seed is an economical option for gardeners, especially for those who want a large rhubarb patch or who can wait an extra gardening season for a full harvest. Rhubarb seeds can be started indoors (in biodegradable pots on horticultural heat mats) about six to eight weeks before the last frost date in spring. The seedlings have to be carefully hardened off before being transplanted to the garden. ‘Victoria’ can be purchased in season at selected local garden centers or directly from these companies: • (crowns) • (seeds and crowns) • (seeds) • (seeds) Other cultivars include ‘Crimson Red’ (crowns offered by Burpee), ‘Glaskins Perpetual’ (seeds offered at, and ‘Valentine’ (crowns offered at

How to Grow Rhubarb

Unlike many edibles that mature in hot weather, rhubarb needs afternoon shade. All plants should be sited in very fertile, well-worked soil that is heavily amended with compost and that has excellent drainage. Healthy plants become very full as they mature and should be spaced about six feet apart

EDIBLEharvt on center in the garden. Rhubarb can also be grown in large containers with drainage holes, but the harvest will be limited. Container-grown rhubarb will need extra care in maintaining an even moisture level and fertility in its growing medium. Rhubarb needs to be kept lightly moist; a soaker hose or drip system should be installed to supplement rainfall soon after planting. Young plants are especially susceptible to drought. An organic vegetable fertilizer should be used to feed the plants and the garden patch should be kept mulched and free of weeds. Crowns for rhubarb can produce plants that become well-established during their first growing season. They may be lightly harvested—about three to four stalks per plant—after the heat of summer and well before the first frost. (Each stem can be snapped off at its base.) All of the other, regular stems should be left on the plants for the remainder of the growing season so the crowns can build up reserves for the next year. During the second year in the ground, a normal harvest should be possible in the spring or fall. Flower stems should be removed promptly if they form during any growing season. All of the stems should be harvested shortly before the first frost and each plant’s location should be marked with something such as a thin bamboo stake. Any stems and leaves that are still on the plants after a light frost must to be removed quickly. A light frost will damage the stems and leaves, and a hard frost will kill the plants to the ground. Established plants will break dormancy early in the following spring. Rhubarb plants that are mature and well-grown will beautify the garden during each growing season. The large harvests will provide for delicious condiments and desserts for many years.

Fun Fact

Rhubarb is unusual in that it is a vegetable most often used as a fruit. o Elizabeth Olson is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist. She is also an avid home gardener who is fascinated by the stories behind the plants that she grows. She can be contacted through Washington Gardener magazine.

Rhubarb can be combined with different fruits in a topping for pancakes or waffles. Photo by Tomislav Medak,

Rhubarb Compote

Recipe adapted from the Food Network. Ingredients 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups) 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup honey 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting 3/4 cup of spoon-size shredded wheat or similar cereal such as gluten-free Rice Chex® Confectioners sugar, for dusting 1 pint vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt Directions Combine the rhubarb, sugar, honey, butter, and cinnamon in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and pierce once or twice to allow steam to escape. Microwave until the rhubarb is tender, about 6 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and stir. Meanwhile, break the cereal into smaller pieces in a bowl. Dust with confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Spoon the rhubarb compote into bowls, top with ice cream or frozen yogurt, and sprinkle with the cereal.

Rhubarb Crunch

Recipe adapted from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Ingredients 1 cup flour 3/4 cup oatmeal, quick-cooking 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup margarine, melted 1 teaspoon cinnamon 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch slices 3/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 cup water 1 teaspoon vanilla Directions Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, margarine, and cinnamon until crumbly. Press half of mixture in the bottom of a 9" x 9" pan. Layer the rhubarb on top. In a separate pan, combine sugar and cornstarch until smooth, then add the water and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick and clear. Pour the sauce over rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs and bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm plain or accompanied by ice cream or frozen yogurt. If desire, add a spoonful of whipped cream. This recipe makes nine servings. OCTOBER 2016




Beautiful Abutilon

Abutilon is a delicious, sweet, edible flower, nectar-rich, and pretty, too. When dresses were called frocks, these downward-facing, bell-shaped flowers readily became skirts for clothespin dolls. Native to the subtropics and the tropics around the globe, Abutilon spp. may be seeing more often in our future if a warming trend moves our zone 7 status toward zone 8 temperature averages. A member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae), Abutilon is cousin to Hollyhock, Okra, and Cotton. When you look at their showy flowers the relationship is apparent. Perennial in frost-free zones, where it can become a small shrub or tree; it is agreeable to espalier, as well as severe, yearly pruning. A. x ‘Cascade Dawn,’ is a frost-tolerant Abutilon developed by plant explorer Dan Hinkley, in collaboration with Monrovia Nursery. Trailing Abutilon, aka 16



Brazilian Bellflower (Abutilon megapotamicum), is a hanging basket favorite. It is distinctive for its large bright red calyx, under which the yellow flower emerges. A. vitifolium, from coastal Chile, sports the cooler colors—blues, purples, and mauves. The mostly pendent, but sometimes outward-facing, flowers come in a wide range of colors, typically yellows, reds, and oranges, some with unique markings: the ‘Redvein Indian’ Mallow and the ‘Tiger Eye,’ for example. As a zone 7 summer annual, it joins the beauty parade of the patio tropicals: Hibiscus (in the same family), Mandevilla, Lantana, and Bougainvillea. In early summer, they arrive at the local garden centers blooming and beautiful, with the Abutilon, sometimes called Indian Mallow or Flowering Maple, among them. With its showy, prolific flowers and

Super Red® Flowering Maple (Abutilon x ‘Moned’). Photo by Doreen Wynja for Monrovia.

By Judith Mensh

loose habit, the ornamental Abutilon spp. includes A. megapotamicum, A. vitifolium, A. ochsenii, A. pictum, and A. darwinii, from which a growing number of hybrids and hybrids of hybrids have been emerging. It is these Abutilon x hybridum that are consistently available in the local retail market. In our area, Abutilon is sold as an annual, available for a short time in late spring/early summer, and as a patio plant, usually trained as a standard. A few attempt, with mixed results, to treat them as tender perennials, and plant them against a sheltered southor west-facing brick wall, keeping them well-watered and mulched for the cold. Some prefer to bring them in and overwinter them in their containers in a sunny room or greenhouse. If you do this, beware of the whiteflies and other annoying insect issues you may have to confront. Abutilon are sun-loving plants, and yet in our area, they need some shade to function well and not dry up to a crisp during a hot spell. Do not place them in dark shade, but in edge-of-the-woods shade; lots of light without the intensity of direct sun. In Hawaii, they are used for the making of leis. Abutilon provides a colorful centerpiece for a summer container garden, especially if the variegated variety is available. It’s on deer-resistant lists, perhaps because the leaves are fuzzy. Wear gloves when handling Abutilon since some people report skin reactions to the leaves.

Origin and History

Abutilon spp. has a long, ancient history in traditional medicine, including Chinese and Ayurvedic. The list of its medicinal uses includes anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial and analgesic attributes, and help with digestive issues, sore throat, and diabetes, among many phytotherapeutic qualities. A. indicum, A. theophrasti., A. grandiflorum, A. muticum, and A. megapotamicum are all included in the list of medicinal plants. Modern research has scientifically validated these long-known benefits. The genus Abutilon first entered American horticulture by way of Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti), a giant, alien-looking plant, now found

in disturbed and neglected places taken back in before first frost, spendthroughout the U.S. Its fuzzy, hearting the winter in a sunny window and shaped leaves have an unpleasant the summer on the porch. Reportedly, odor and a mucilaginous texture it was also used as a border plant, but when rubbed. Its flowers are yellow. probably not often—perhaps too highHistorically a fiber crop, it is still used in maintenance? its native southern Asia as it has been Cultivars for the DC-area for centuries, as a major source of raw With good soil, rich and loose, and material for cordage and fabrics. enough water, bright Brought to America light, and our long in the 18th century summer days, all to be grown for use of the ornamental as a natural material Abutilons grow well in for rope and cloth, our area. it arrived with good The Bella series, intentions. However, is a dwarf, compact it went rogue. The version, with flat, attempt to establish instead of nodding, it as a viable comflowers; the Maximas mercial crop fizzled as group of mid-sized its cousin Cotton took plants includes the over. Today, Velvetleaf variegated leaved is a designated noxvarieties; and the ious weed. It can proGiant type, which can duce 15,000 seeds per plant, and those Abutilon ‘Tangerine’ photo courtesy of PlantHaven. reach 4 feet tall, has huge single blooms. seeds can remain Recent hybrids viable in the soil for developed for a dwarf compact habit 50 years. They don’t need light to gerare named Goblin (red), Golden Bell minate. They are also allelopathic. (yellow), and Halo (yellow). The good news is that the unripe seeds are edible. Velvetleaf is also a Optimal Conditions host plant for the Checkered Skipper Well-drained soil and bright light are butterfly. The mature seedpod is decokey to the successful stewardship of rative and was used as an imprint on Abutilon. All plants in containers need butter during the 18th and 19th centuconscientious watering routines to ries. thrive, but Abutilon wilts when dry and In recent times, Kenaf, another needs steady moisture, but not soggy, Mallow family fiber plant, has begun in its soil. Prune as needed to encourto replace unsustainable tree pulp for age branching and balance; flowering is papermaking. on new growth. Large pots and a waterPlant explorers of the 19th century ing system are important, for this plant introduced the European and American is greedy for water and nutrients. gardener to new and exotic flowering A good way to begin with Abutilon is plants from South and Central America as a patio plant, kept right under your and Mexico. One of these was Abutilon, eye so you remember to water it and then considered an indoor plant. With feed it. The small ones sold as annuals its plethora of long-blooming and colorcan be frustratingly fragile. One website ful white, yellow, orange, or red flowdescribed gardeners who try Abutilon ers, some with variegated leaves, it’s as intrepid. popularity raged. The Flowering Maple became known as the Parlor Maple. Companion Plants However, the only thing “Maple” about From cotton to cacao, kola nut to durian them is the shape of the leaves. fruit, the Mallow family’s abundance Traditionally, the Flowering Maple of riches includes these hummingbird was grown in large pots like Oleander, magnets. The high nectar content of the Banana, Pomegranate, and Citrus, flowers provides nectar the natural way and taken outside after last frost, then for appreciative hummingbirds. Group

it with other pollinator plants for a glorious bee, butterfly, and hummingbird festival. No need to refill messy sugar water holders! For drama and contrast, plant Black Mondo Grass at the base of a standard tree-form Abutilon. Good neighbors also include Viola, Penstemon, and Mirabilis (Four-o-clocks).

Sources for Purchasing

Plants and seeds are available from online and mail-order nurseries. Seeds can be bought locally, often called “Chinese Lantern.” Plants can be started from seed indoors anytime, as long as the heat and light requirements are provided. As long-flowering indoor plants, they are also useful for making cuttings from and will produce seed for future sowing. Seeds can be ordered from JL Hudson ( and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( For a sample of the abundance of named cultivars, check out the Monterey Bay Nursery website (, and its list, with descriptions of 50 cultivars, many developed there. Particularly eye-catching are ‘Victorian Lady’ (a double), ’Savitzii’ (variegated leaves orange flowers), and ‘Orange Hot Lava’ (striking colors: orange and burgundy, red-veined). Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, NC, is a big fan of Abutilon, and always has a half-dozen varieties available. He has carried out hardiness trials with Abutilon, pushing it to become a zone 7 plant. Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, a California mail-order nursery (www., offers a selection of Abutilon as well.

Bring on the Abutilon

There’s no fan club as such, no Abutilon Society, yet. To those who know it, those who grow it, it is described as undiscovered and underused. It is valued for its use as an annual in a container. Don’t feel guilty about tossing it at the end of the season. Plant Abutilon! 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 OCTOBER 2016



BOOKreviews clothes. The book has projects for napkins, tote bags, and wall wash color. The book is hardcover, colorful, and contains several photos of dyed fabrics, flowers in the natural form, and plants at various stages of extracting their dye. It is a nice flip book or conversation starter. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially fashion designers wanting to dye their own fabric and anyone who is interested in doing some natural tie dying.

Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe By Sasha Duerr Published by Penguin Random House List Price: $30.00 Reviewer: Shelby Smith Natural color dying has been around since the early years of humanity. People used whatever they could get their hands on to produce fabric with bright colors. Natural Color is a beautiful informative guide and recipe book for exacting different color dyes from vegetation, flowers, berries, fruit, and vegetables. The book contains several detailed recipes for extracting different colors from vegetation, like onion skins, hibiscus flowers, and mint leaves. Each recipe has step-by-step directions for how to extract the dye and the ingredients and equipment you will need. Some of the ingredients, like aluminum sulfate and iron powder, might be hard to find, so I would study the recipe before attempting them. The bulk of the book is separated into four chapters; one for each season. Each chapter describes the colors that are available to extract and the projects you can do in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. It’s surprising how many colors can be extracted from everyday flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Some of the final colors are surprising—did you know that avocado pits produce light to deep pink and red shades? The projects aren’t all about dying 18



Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was sports copy editor for Unwind Magazine and has two years of writing experience with The Campus Current newspaper at Anne Arundel Community College.

In Training, a Book of Bonsai Photos By Stephen Voss Published by Stephen Voss Photography List Price: $65.00 Reviewer:Stephen Barber The U.S. National Arboretum has one of the best collections of bonsai trees in the western hemisphere. Stephen Vox immortalizes this collection of bonsai trees in his book, In Training. This book would make a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys bonsai trees. Vox explores the Zen of bonsai in his photography. The book itself is bound in a high-quality hard cover that depicts the bends in a bonsai tree. He uses abstract space around the trees to depict the flow of the exhibit in the National Arboretum. Expert shots of usually unnoticed parts of the tree and exhibit show a new side of the National Arboretum’s bonsai tree collection. He strays from typical full shots of bonsai trees in favor of the elbows of the trees, dense root structures, and texture of the bark. He also includes interesting shots of the surrounding exhibit areas. A good example of this would be a thoughtprovoking shot of the rope partition and it’s metal post. This photograph creates a sense of separation of time between the viewer of the tree and the tree itself without even needing to show a single bonsai. Vox is a visionary photographer who has reimagined the esthetics of bonsai trees. In Training has all of the hall-

marks of a quality coffee table book. It has a textured cloth cover, large-resolution prints, and absorbing content. This book is one not to miss for any enthusiasts of tiny Japanese trees. Stephen Barber is from Keedysville, MD. He moved to Washington, DC, to become an urban farmer. He is a senior at the University of Maryland, where he is majoring in broadcast journalist.

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change By Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher Published by Timber Press List Price: $39.95 Reviewer: Teresa Speight Depending on how you perceive the art of gardening, it can either be a daunting task or an enjoyable experience. If you consider it just plain work, you need this book! Garden Revolution encourages the reader to rethink how we garden. In the last few decades, the practice of gardening in concert with nature has certainly changed according to the authors, Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher. In rethinking the counterproductive methods of gardening, we open up our landscapes to an acceptable, enjoyable, and environmentally conscious thought process, all while changing how we garden. Weaner is a voyeur of the landscape, seeing clearly some of the most random acts as they occur in nature. Like the violence of a tree falling and releasing some dormant seeds that are under the soil, which can be mimicked by mechanical soil manipulation or simply shovel to soil. Soil disturbance or stimulation allows seeds that are dormant to rise and grow. This action, whether nat-

BOOKreviews Your Ad Here Contact or call 301.588.6894 for ad rates. The ad deadline is the 10th of each month. Please submit your ad directly to:

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ural or man-made, allows us to understand what plants work well together, what is the dominant species, and how plants move about….naturally. The authors take the reader on a detailed journey from Design, Fieldwork Exploration, and Expectations to the end product. Easy to comprehend and definitely a clear road map of what is entailed in rethinking how we garden, this book holds a wealth of knowledge by practice. My favorite chapter was “A Do Nothing Attitude.” It shares the experience of working with nature and not against it—the tale of a successful meadow installation without tilling or amending the soil—just adding the correct seed mixture that allows nature to create an original masterpiece. With the proper seed mix, the flowers truly work in concert with each other year after year. A great takeaway from this chapter was how, if we plant using the techniques shared with us by nature, we can mimic the natural growing process, no matter where we live. I strongly feel this book has a place beside every beginning or seasoned gardener’s favorite chair, so it is readily accessible. The ideal of how we can create our own revolutionary experience in our gardens has been achieved by the collaboration of Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher. o 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

These books were reviewed by volunteer members of the Washington Gardener Reader Panel. We are looking for a few additional volunteers who live in the greater Washington, DC, region to serve on our Reader Panel. This will consist of about two email exchanges per month. Reader Panelists may also be asked to review new gardening books and test out new garden plants, tools, and seeds. To join the Washington Gardener Volunteer Reader Panel, send an email with your name and address to: We look forward to having you be a vital part of our local publication and its gardening mission. o

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.





The Scariest Frights of Autumn looking creature. It is a little over ¾" long and blocky in shape. The body is bright green with a white-ringed brown spot in the middle of its back looking very much like a saddle. The head and tail ends have the same brown-ringed with white coloration. How do you tell the front from the back, since both ends sport two protruding horn-like structures bristling with stinging spines? Additional spines adorn the lower sides from front to back. ….or is it back to front? Eggs hatch in the spring and the tiny larvae need four to five months to grow and mature. Even when only about ¼" long and a pale-yellow in color, they are capable of an irritating sting. The caterpillars stay together and feed gregariously when young and can be found on a wide range of host plants. This insect overwinters as a pupa and emerges in the spring to mate and lay eggs. There is one brood per year. The Puss Moth caterpillar or Southern

head to “foot” with a fur-like coating in various shades of brown. Hidden within that appealing fur coat are the urticating spines. The fur forms a cute little tail at the rear end, but don’t be tempted to pet it! The young can be found feeding on a wide variety of trees and shrubs. The fall brood overwinters as larvae and pupates in the spring. Cozy, fur-filled cocoons can be found on twigs or in the crevices of tree bark. If a Puss Moth caterpillar seems strange, the Hag Moth caterpillar is totally outrageous. This inch-long caterpillar has nine pairs of tentacle-like appendages that protrude from its sides. The body is covered by short, brown hairs and the tentacles wave as it moves. It is reported not to sting or at least produce a mild reaction in susceptible individuals. It feeds on a wide variety of tree host plants. It is solitary and not considered a pest. There is one brood per year. From furry to flat, the Crowned Slug Moth caterpillar is about 5/8-inch long when mature and a pretty, camouflaging light green. Its body is covered in an attractive pattern of stinging spines

Flannel Moth caterpillar is one of the most venomous found in our area. They have two broods per year and could be encountered in spring or late fall. This caterpillar is a master of camouflage. It is about 1" long and covered from

down its back and lobes of spine clusters radiate from its lower edge. Not much is known about its life cycle because it is not common. It is a generalist feeder and can be found on cherry, maple, oak, and a wide variety of other

Autumn is a time for cooler temperatures, startlingly blue skies, and crisp air. If you went dormant in the excessive heat of summer, you are now invigorated and ready to tackle those neglected tasks in the garden. Insects are winding up their year as well, and sightings of monarch butterflies on the late summer flowers are a delight, but this is the time for a bit of caution in those cuttingdown and weed-pulling tasks. This is the time of stinging caterpillars! Stinging caterpillars? It seems an oxymoron, but if you consider it from the caterpillars’ point of view; you are soft and defenseless. Large creatures might be tempted to eat you! What better way to discourage predation than to deliver a nasty sting with a long-lasting effect? In our region, we host quite a few different species of these menacing creatures: Saddleback Moth caterpillar (Acharia stimulae), Hag Moth caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium), Crowned Slug (Isa textula), Io Moth caterpillar (Automeris io), White Marked Tussock Moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma), and Southern Flannel Moth caterpillar, which is sometimes called Puss Moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis). And there are even more! Who knew? What all of the above have in common is urticating hairs somewhere on their bodies. These modified hairs are hollow bristles that attach to a venom sac in the insect. When the bristles are touched, they break off in the skin, and the venom floods the area, causing reactions from mild to extreme. First aid starts with repeatedly sticking a piece of tape on the area and pulling it off in an attempt to remove the broken bristles. Wash the area well to remove any venom, then apply an ice pack or baking soda poultice to relieve the discomfort. If the reaction is severe, do seek medical help. One of the most common stinging caterpillars is the Saddleback Moth caterpillar. The larvae are fully grown and ready to pupate in the late summer/ early fall. This is when you are most likely to encounter this otherworldly 20



Saddleback Moth caterpillar (Acharia stimulae) photo by thatredhead4 (Flickr: Saddleback moth caterpillar) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

by Carol Allen

GOINGnative tree species. As larvae, the beautiful Io Moth fairly bristles with stinging spines. When fully grown, this caterpillar is over 2 inches long and bright green. A white, red-edged stripe runs down its sides. The larvae are gregarious and have the unusual behavior of marching in lines as they follow silk trails to their feeding sites. They can be found on a wide range of host plants. There is one brood per year and, though irritating, their stinging spines are not as venomous as some of the aforementioned caterpillars. Reactions to the venomous spines of the White Marked Tussock Moth caterpillar are of medical significance. There are cases of children in day care centers and elementary schools coming in contact with the insects. Adults cleaning the cocoons off of their houses can also experience the dermatitis. This attractive caterpillar is fairly common and about an inch-and-a-half long when mature. It is marked with a brightred head, two red dots toward the tail end, and a black stripe running down the back bound by yellow stripes on the sides. Long white and black hairs radiate out from the body. Its most notable characteristic is the four thick clumps of light-colored upright bristles starting right behind the head and ending mid-body. It is in these clumps that the stinging barbs are found. This insect is a generalist feeder and can be found on many different host trees. It overwinters in the egg stage. The caterpillars and the still-irritating cocoons can be encountered in the spring and summer. Although caterpillars seem harmless, many do have built-in defenses. A “look, but don’t touch” attitude is the best way to protect yourself and children. Wear gloves when cleaning cocoons off outdoor furniture, house walls, and soffit. But aren’t they cute? 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. She can be contacted at Please use pesticides safely! Read and heed all label directions!

A Native Alternative to Liriope by Barry Glick I’m sooooo very tired of seeing acres of that ubiquitous Liriope specified by landscape architects and garden designers who are short in the imagination department. While I’ll admit that there are a few attractive, variegated and golden forms of this Asian native that have come to be known commonly as “Lily Turf,” their hardiness is questionable and they don’t do very well in the shade. Like an answer to a prayer, in comes our native sedge, Carex laxiculmis! Now don’t let the common name, “Spreading Sedge,” deceive you, since this is not an aggressive plant. I’m really not sure how it was cursed with that uncomplimentary moniker. The Cyperaceae family, of which this plant is a member, is a family of flowering plants known as sedges. Plants in this family superficially resemble grasses and rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 known species described in about 90 genera, the largest being the genus Carex with more than 2,000 species. Here in West Virginia, we have 128 different native species and many are useful garden plants. I’ll share some of my other favorites in future columns. Carex laxiculmis is native to almost every state east of the Mississippi and most of eastern Canada. You’ve probably walked over, on, or around it on a woodland hike and didn’t even notice it there amongst the rocks and tree roots. Talk about “low maintenance,” this plant is “no maintenance.” I discovered my first clump of Carex laxiculmis in thin soil in deep shade on a south-facing hillside above a pond here on my farm. The nearly barren, dry woods on this particular hillside had no significant

rainfall or watering for more than eight weeks and the plants still looked lush and vital. As an added bonus, the deer, and any other varmints for that matter, have never touched it. Carex laxiculmis stays evergreen all year and never looks disheveled from a rough winter when spring finally rolls around. It does flower, but the flowers are somewhat inconsequential. Given a lawn or garden setting, the glossy, dark-green, supple foliage of Carex laxiculmis is quick to fill in a bare area and can take bright sun with a bit of occasional watering and a good mulch, or light to deep shade with no attention at all. It’s very easy to divide and make new plants. So many folks come to me looking for grass-like plants to grow in the shade. It seems that we haven’t gotten over the love of lawns that we’ve grown up with, even though we can all admit to their being ecologically detrimental to the environment. Since this evergreen plant is so lowgrowing, it never needs mowing and never takes on an unsightly appearance at any time of the year. I’m confident that you’ll find multiple uses for this great sedge in your home gardens and landscape. 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. OCTOBER 2016




Meet the DC Scroger by Stephen Barber

The man known as the “DC Scroger” is a gardener who has taken his passion for the cultivation of cannabis and made it a movement. He feels that for the people of Washington, DC, to truly take advantage of the new-found freedoms afforded by initiative 71, they need to learn how to cultivate cannabis in their homes. He says that consumers of cannabis are at risk of being taken advantage of when recreational cannabis stores finally open. In his words, “If you ain’t growing, then you are gonna be a cotton picker.” He got his start growing cannabis in the late ‘90s, after being influenced by family members who grew and by a back injury that has caused him chronic pain for most of his life. That condition has driven his need for medicinal cannabis. Due to the legal issues surrounding cannabis, he was reserved about sharing details of his early influences, because he fears for his family’s safety due to their continued participation in growing cannabis in regions where it is still criminalized. The name DC Scroger is derived from his trademark technique: the screen of green or “scrog” for short. Scrogging involves training the branches of the cannabis plant through a screen to create an even distribution of the plant growth across the screen. He likes this method because it maximizes the use of grow lights and indoor growing space. This method is of particular importance for the typical conditions faced by those growing in the District. Initiative 71 only allows for the growth of six to 12 plants. Most growers in the city will also be limited by the space they have to grow, if they live in an apartment or small house. According to DC Scroger, using his namesake method is the best 22



way to get maximum yields with limited plant counts and space. To help spread his message of the importance of home cannabis cultivation, he has become a media personality in the cannabis world. He hosts the “Listen Vision Studios show Scrogging with the Scroger” every Friday evening. On this show, he explores the world of cannabis cultivation by documenting local growers and providing instruction on important growing techniques. He hopes that the spread of knowledge will democratize the cannabis cultivation industry in the nation’s capital. He is a gardener of single vision and a master of growing in the indoor environment. To help cannabis cultivators in Washington, DC, he has collected dozens of cannabis strains from the nation’s most reputable cannabis seed banks. He turns the seeds into mother plants, which is the practice of keeping cannabis plants in a constant vegetative state with a 24-hour-on light cycle. While the plants are in the vegetative state, DC Scroger can take cuttings, which he then distributes to growers in the city. He feels that this is important

to promoting the growth of quality cannabis genetics and creating a good base of genetics for the city’s gardeners and breeders to build off. If you are interested in learning more about the DC Scroger or get your own cannabis cuttings, you can go to the live-taping of his show every Friday from 9:00-10:00PM at 2622 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC, or go to his grower class at Fogden DC By Myster store every Tuesday night at 7:00PM. o Stephen Barber is a country boy from Keedysville, MD, who moved to Washington DC, to become a farmer. A lifelong gardener, he found his love of the craft from growing cannabis in the woods and fields around his rural Maryland childhood home. He has taken his gardening indoors, and works as a video journalist in the legal cannabis industry, sprouting up in the nation’s capital. Check him out every Wednesday on the Washington Gardener’s blog where he will be providing tips on indoor gardening. He is a senior at the University of Maryland, where he is majoring in broadcast journalist.


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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 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

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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Jentz Prints

Antique Botanical Prints for the decorator, collector, connoisseur, and art lover. Jentz Prints can be purchased on most Saturdays at the Eastern Market, and most Sundays at the Georgetown Flea Market.

Antique prints are affordable — most in the $10-$30 range — and they are the perfect gift idea for that plant lover in your life. And don’t forget to buy a few for yourself! For more information, to make a private appointment, or to get a detailed show schedule, please contact Jentz Prints by email at You can also find Jentz Prints on under the seller ID: printyman. 24



Washington Gardener October 2016  

Washington Gardener Magazine - October 2016 Inside this issue: Beautiful Abutilon A Native Alternative to Liriope Your Monthl...

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