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g gardener

The magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Bountiful Black-Eyed Susans September Garden Tasks

Local Events List

Ground Cherry Growing Basics Battling Yellow Jackets Northern Virginia Bonsai Society

Hosting Honey Bees in Your Garden

Battling Basil Downy Mildew

Native Tasselrue

Mowing Around Maples

GoGardeners Garden Coaching

Elise Stigliano Garden Coach • 301-518-8333

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Need a Garden Club Speaker?

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

Burtonsville, MD (301) 821-7777


• Ponds - Waterfalls • Disappearing Fountains • “Pondless” Waterfalls

Barry Glick Sunshine Farm and Gardens HC 67 Box 539 B Renick, WV 24966, USA E-mail:

Specializing in Garden

Renewals & Renovations Yard By Yard Makeovers, LLC 7304 Carroll Avenue, #229 Takoma Park, MD 20912 301-270-4642

We can reshape and beautify neglected yards.

Green Spring Gardens



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.


University of Maryland Extension Website Blog Facebook Twitter Grow It Eat It GrowEat

Ask HGIC your food gardening questions!



FEATURES Hosting Honey Bees



Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Colors’


BOOKreviews 8–11 Attracting Beneficial Bugs, Kiss My Aster, Eco-legacy, Drink Your Own Garden, Landscaping, Exotic Plants Encyclopedia, Inspired Gardener, Vegetables CLUBmeeting 21 Northern Virginia Bonsai Club EDIBLEharvest 12–13 Ground Cherry GOINGnative 20 Tasselrue INSECTindex 19 Eastern Yellow Jackets KNOWitall 18 Yellow Cucumbers, Mowing Around Maples, Leyland Cypress PLANTprofile 6–7 Rudbeckia spp. GARDENnews 14-15 September Task List, Blog Links, New Plant Spotlight, Basil Downy Mildew, UDC Sustainable UrbanAg Certificate Program


Ripe ground cherries make great desserts. This one has been dipped in dark chocolate. Photo by Elizabeth Olson.


ADVERTISINGindex EDITORletter GARDENcontest LOCALeventlist NEXTissue RESOURCESsources

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The Northern Virginia Bonsai Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art and science of bonsai.

Fnu Veeresh’s close-up of dewdrops along the edge of a leaf is the Grand Prize Winner of the 8th annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest. Fnu took the photo at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in DC. All 17 stunning winning photos were taken in DC-area gardens. Both inspirational and educational, these winners represent the best of garden photography in the greater DC metropolitan region. The photos are on display at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. You may view the photo exhibit at any time during the normal Visitor Center hours (10am-7pm daily). The photo show opened in August and runs through October 1. SEPTEMBER 2014




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! Drena J. Galarza Staff Photographer Ruth E. Thaler-Carter Proofreader Cover price: $4.99 Back issues: $6.00 Subscription: $20.00 Foreign subscription: $24.00

Emerging and Evolving With this issue, I had to make the tough decision of whether to end Washington Gardener or continue on in a changed/evolved format. It had become increasingly apparent over the last few years that the print version of the magazine is just not sustainable. As much as I fought that and tried to make it work, the spiraling costs of printing and postage have made it necessary to face the reality, that if the publication is to survive in any format, that it will have to be online only. While online is not as glamorous or permanent (in one sense) as print, it does have many benefits, the first of which is that the magazine will now be monthly rather than quarterly or bimonthly. Those of you who read the former online newsletter may notice that many of the popular features of that publication are now rolled into this one — including the monthly garden task list, local garden events calendar, new-plant spotlight, and reader contest. Another benefit of going fully online is that it allows me to expand the content and overall number of pages. That means more of what you love about the old magazine! Further, I can introduce a few new features that I have been wanting to add for several years now, but was constrained from using them by the old print page count. It also means that, as soon as an issue goes through the final proofing stage, I can instantly send it out to you loyal subscribers, so you have it in your hands much faster than the print one could arrive (especially given the abysmal delivery service of the post office of late). I hope you will enjoy the magazine in its new incarnation and will give me your feedback on what you would like to see more of in coming issues. Happy gardening!

Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher, Washington Gardener Email: 4



Address corrections should be sent to the address above. • Washington Gardener Blog: • Washington Gardener Enewsletter: • 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 Retail stores wishing to sell our publication should contact Kathy Jentz at the contact information above. To order reprints, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877.652.5295, ext. 138. Volume 9, Number 4 ISSN 1555-8959 © 2014 Washington Gardener All rights reserved. Published quarterly. No material may be reproduced without 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.


Signs of Autumn

Last issue, Washington Gardener Magazine asked our readers to tell us when they know it is autumn in their gardens. Here is what a few of them said: “I knew it is autumn in my garden when the air is getting cooler, leaves are falling, tomato and pepper plants are winding down, brassicas and peas are beginning their journey into winter, and the garlic cloves are beckoning to be planted!” ~ Roshani Kothari, WDC “I knew it is autumn in my garden when I see the leaves slowly turn to red on my crimson maple.” ~ Joyce Crider, Landisville, PA “I know it’s autumn in my garden when the goldfinches are constantly hanging out enjoying the remains of the purple coneflower.” ~ Patty Hankins, Bethesda, MD “I knew it was autumn in my garden when the crape myrtle stopped blooming.” ~ Mavis Burdett, Silver Spring, MD “Flowering plants seem to put on a last burst of growth as they feel winter coming on.” ~ Sherry Marshall, Silver Spring, MD “I know it is autumn in the garden when I see the denuded leaves of bolting parsley plants. Looking a little further, I will find the caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies munching away in preparation to overwinter in the pupa form.” ~ Marjorie Smith, Fairfax, VA “I know it is autumn in my garden when my hostas yellow and wilt.” ~ Madeline Caliendo, Takoma, WDC “I know it is autumn in my garden when the colors of the flowers become more vibrant.” ~ Mary Finelli, Silver Spring, MD “I knew it is autumn in my garden when ...the Sedum starts showing color, my roses start forming vivid orange hips, leaves start crunching underfoot, and the sweet autumn clematis fragrance fills the air in the crispness of the early morning...” ~ Teri Speight, District Heights, MD “I know it is autumn when I hear the squirrels munching on the berries of the dogwood tree outside my back door.” ~ Kathy May, Kensington, MD “I know it is autumn in my garden when neighbor’s oak tree drops acorns...” ~ Annie Shaw, Greenbelt MD How do YOU know it is autumn? o

New Reader Contest

For our September 2014 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a basic barrel and diverter installation to a reader in Washington, DC, MD, or VA from District Garden. District Garden ( prides itself on offering a range of services to homeowners, commercial customers, nonprofits, schools, and government. This list provides many, but not all, of the services we offer in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland: • Rain Barrel Sales, Repairs, and Installations • Rainwater Management • Rain Garden Installation • Downspout Extensions, Disconnections • Pergola Construction and Installation • Expert Garden Planning/Design • Raised Garden Bed Installation and Fabrication (Cedar, Stone, PT, Fir) • Expert Garden Maintenance (Pruning, Trimming, etc.) • Mulch, Landscape Fabric, and Stone Installation and Weed Prevention • Tree Installation To enter to win the Rain Barrel, send an email to by 5:00pm on September 30 with “District Garden” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Tell us: “My favorite article in the September 2014 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine was ...” The rain barrel winner will be announced and notified on October 1.

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. SEPTEMBER 2014



PLANTprofile Rudbeckia hirta ‘Denver Daisy’

Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia spp.

by Judith Mensh It is long-blooming from mid-summer, sometimes earlier, into the cold weather of fall, often until first frost. The tag at the garden center reads: “Rudbeckia, sun perennial, 36in.h by 24in.w, deer and rabbit resistant.” No species is mentioned. So familiar are we with it that, when it comes to Rudbeckia, the generic version is part of our gardening vernacular. Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Gloriosa daisy, or simply yellow daisy, it’s all in the family Compositae. The golden ray florets and dark disk florets, the enticers, and the rewards are well known, but Rudbeckia spp. encompasses both a black-coned and a greenconed flower. Recognized and rewarded for its good points, our native beauty was named the 1999 Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. The National Garden Bureau Inc. (NGB) also declared 2008 as the Year of the Rudbeckia. The NGB web site has terrific pictures of an assortment of Rudbeckia. Long-lasting cut flowers and dried seed heads are both part of the Rudbeckia experience. There is a Rudbeckia for containers, small gardens, fence lines, fields, perennial beds, mixed borders, the native garden, the rain garden, and the butterfly garden. A wonderful nectar source, the species is recommended as best for this. However, R. fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ is generally as accepted as the species and readily available locally. 6



reproduce itself vegetatively. There are enough Rudbeckia cultivars to fill a flower garden, giving collecting Rudbeckia versions the status of a hobby. Even the names are collectible: Cabbage-leaf (R. ‘Golda Emanis’), Clasping (R. amplexicaulis), and Cutleaf (R. laciniata), and don’t forget ‘Irish Eyes,’ ‘Green Eyes,’ and ‘Green Wizard.’ I am imagining a National Rudbeckia Club: first order of business, renaming. Neither Rudbeckia nor Black-Eyed Susan really seem appropriate. I suggest considering the Chippewa Nation word. According to Jack Sanders, author of The Secrets of Wildflowers, the Chippewa Native Americans called these flowers “gizuswebigwais,” meaning “the scattering,” referring to the wide distribution of its seeds giving it the ability to generously spread itself around. From small (R. hirta ‘Toto’) to tall (R. maxima), it’s available. From prosaic to unconventional (check out the chartreuse cabbage-like leaves of ‘Golda Emanis’), Rudbeckia is a plant worth knowing, and growing.

Large groupings are recommended, to benefit a large population of pollinators and for the benefit of the butterflies that see color best when it is presented en masse. Rudbeckia serves as a nectar source for bees and butterflies, and works well when planted with neighboring native plants that host its caterpillars. Common Weed or Classic To welcome goldfinches into your Garden Treasure? garden, allow the seed cones to remain A North American forb (vascular heruntil spring cleaning in March. By then, baceous plant), here long before the the seeds will be long European arrival, the eaten or strewn about, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Maya’ genus Rudbeckia is and the empty but sculpfound indigenously, a tural cones can be cut true native, growing down and composted; elsewhere only as a be sure to save some for transplant. The golden dry flower arrangements. coneflower was known Is there a name for and used medicinally the phenomenon where for generations by indigyou look at something enous peoples, including simple, something you the Cheyenne, Iroquois, have seen thousands and Seminole. of times, and suddenly Now ubiquitous, this upon closer inspeciconic American flower tion you discover that followed a typical trajecthere’s a complicated tory into the designed story going on there? The simple yellow landscape and the garden. Early setdaisy has morphed into a plant of huge tlers and gardeners found it common, variability. If you like a certain cultivar, but early explorers recognized its value. get all you can — next year it may be By 1740 Linnaeus had a sample of replaced with the new Rudbeckia du it to categorize and name, which he jour. chose to honor his professor at Uppsala If it does self-seed, expect to get a University, in Sweden. The Europeans wide variation and not a copycat of embraced and cultivated our Rudbeckia the parent plant; for that, you will have as a cherished garden flower, and, to divide and replant portions of it to by the mid-18th century, it began to

PLANTprofile become a staple in the American garden as well. A pass-along plant classic, once you have it established, placed in a sunny spot, and watered consistently its first year in the garden, it will be your reliable friend, returning through reseeding if the crown does not make it through the winter, triumphantly announcing itself with abandon.

Species and Cultivars

It’s a big family with 23 species and counting, but only a handful of genetic variations are cultivated in the garden. It has been surmised that Rudbeckia seed came east in hay bales, moving in as land was cleared and disturbed soil was available to colonize. Rudbeckia hirta is widely variable, has given rise to numerous cultivars, and been a partner in hybridizing. Easy to identify by its coarse, hairy leaves, in some cases, you could translate hirta to mean “hurts ya,” so bristly and unpleasant to the touch are they! Use gloves for handling. There are some astounding Rudbeckia out there, with eye catching color combinations, such as ‘Becky Yellow,’ ‘Cherry Brandy,’ and ‘Denver Daisy.’ Some of the new cultivars are patented plants and cannot be propagated by the retail buyer, example: R. fulgida ‘Pot of Gold.’ Research on Rudbeckia genetics is growing with interest in the development of a day-length-neutral variety, R. fulgida ‘Early Bird Gold.’ ‘Goldsturm,’ long the industry standard, developed in Germany in 1937, has given way to ‘Little Goldstar,’ for its knee-high compact build and abundant blooms. Rudbeckia hirta is the parent of the endless variations of annual Rudbeckia, including the many Gloriosa daisy variations, keeping plant breeders busy, and gardeners blessed with new and varied choices every year. R. hirta favorites include ‘Autumn Colors,’ ‘Cherokee Sunset,’ ‘Indian Summer,’ ‘Prairie Sun,’ ‘Sonora,’ and ‘Tiger Eyes.’ What fun!

Growing Conditions

Lover of full sun but adaptable, Rudbeckia will grow and flower in part shade, especially if it is afternoon shade, in our area. Hirta handles heat and drought; fulgida prefers moisture if

it can get it. In general, the genus Rudbeckia is suitable for a wide range of conditions, is low-maintenance, relatively pest- and disease-resistant, readily available, and offers multiple seasons of interest. It’s a great starter plant for the new gardener of any age. It is also a great addition for the gardener who has not yet considered it.

Meadowlark, and is very dramatic.” A garden of R. hirta cultivars was recently planted and worth seeing. At Green Spring Gardens Park, R. ‘Indian Summer’ is on the right as you enter and blooms into November. The U.S. Botanic Garden is a recommended viewing site. Just look around you; once you become Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ aware of it, you will Cultivars for notice its comfortOur Region ing presence in entrance landscapes, It’s the “everywhere you turn” flower. median strips, and native landscapNo, I’m not talking about the ‘Knockout’ ing. A great example of which is in Rose or the ‘May Night’ Sage. It’s the newly developed Merrifield, VA, near other one: the happy, sunny, cheers up the metro station, where swaths of the most sullen, the yellow daisy, the Rudbeckia on both sides of the street Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, Brownare part of a sidewalk landscape with Eyed Susan, Gloriosa Daisy. In many moving water and large rocks. cases it will be the Rudbeckia fulgida At local garden centers, a short var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm.’ There are list of Rudbeckia to look for includes 132 variations of Rudbeckia listed by Rudbeckia hirta ‘Becky’ mix, R. hirta the Royal Horticultural Society plant ‘Sonora,’ R. hirta ‘Indian Summer,’ and finder. For the 2014-15 season, look R. hirta ‘Autumn Colors.’ for the basic, the popular, and a few Looking for the basic native plant, new fun cultivars and hybrids, such not a cultivar or a hybrid? The species as ‘Cinnamon Bear’ Rudbeckia, which Rudbeckia hirta, Rudbeckia fulgida, can be grown from seed with R. ‘Becky Rudbeckia laciniata, and Rudbeckia triCinnamon Bicolor.’ Also, seek out the bolda are available locally at Nature by short ‘Little Henry’ and ‘Tiger Eye’ variDesign in Alexandria, VA. eties. Ask at your local garden center for the next arrival of Rudbeckia and America’s Flower? check out what they are offering; it If the rose is the National Floral often changes year-to-year and seasonEmblem, as proclaimed by President to-season. Reagan in 1985, for its heart and soul and poetry and centuries of meanCompanion Plants ing and breeding, then the Rudbeckia Rudbeckia in all of its various forms, deserves to be the American National from giant and rangy to short and Flower, for its centuries of nectar procompact, fits well among its comduction, visual beauty, medicinal uses, posite cousins, Asters, Echinacea, and ubiquitous presence, from sea to and Helenium, as well as Agastache, shining sea. A case needs to be made Monarda, Vernonia, and Panicum grass. for this. Bees, butterflies, bats, and If you have a sunny stretch of garden, birds — all love it, people love it too! o giving it over to Rudbeckia spp., which is an excellent garden solution for a Judith Mensh is a local horticultural consullow-maintenance, high-impact plant. tant. She is available to walk your yard with

Local Sights and Sources

Meadowlark Garden’s staff say that the “Rudbeckia maxima is blooming right now at the top of the spiral mound at

you and identify the plants and the possibilities. Reach her at: JudithMenshNurtureN Photos are courtesy of Ernst Benary of Amercia Inc., SEPTEMBER 2014



BOOKreviews Landscaping for Your Home By Catriona Tudor Erler List Price: $21.95 Published by Creative Homeowner Reviewer: Liz McGuinness Landscaping for Your Home is a large-format book full of photographs, drawings, and lists as well as step-by-step advice to help you landscape your own property. As the title suggests, the book is targeted to the homeowner. It is organized into three parts: planning, preparing, and planting the landscape. Part 1, Where to Begin, covers landscape design and planning. Part 2, Preparation, is the heart of the book and is about setting the stage for your plants. Part 3, Accenting with Plants, provides separate chapters for each of the major plant groups, woody plants, grasses, annuals, perennials and bulbs, and edibles. The book closes after chapters on pests and diseases, and renewing old landscapes. Where to Begin takes the reader through several steps to envision their dream landscape and put it on paper. The section helps the reader determine their style, understand the elements of design, establish a budget for landscaping, develop the concept, and then commit these ideas to paper. This part of the book covers much material in a concise and practical way. The book gives common-sense advice about working with both landscape professionals and with neighbors when landscaping one’s property. In preparation, the next part, the first chapter explains the importance of fertile soil and drainage. It covers irrigation and lighting systems, ponds, vertical elements, outdoor flair, footpaths, and horizontal elements. These chapters provide a wealth of information about the purpose of each of the landscape elements, the style options, planning considerations, and construction basics. The construction information is reinforced with graphics as well as photos of similar projects underway. Ponds, bog gardens, brick walls, terraces, stonewalls, fences, gates, and brick, stone and pavement walkways, decks and patios are all presented in this way. The book even explains what equipment the homeowner will need for specific projects. In addition to the straightforward guidance, Part 2 provides a range of photos for each element informing the reader of the 8



wide array of styles possible for ponds, waterfalls, lighting, walls, fences, gates, and gazebos. (Did you know that the word “gazebo” came from England and was short for “gaze about”?) Reading part 2, demystified several landscaping tasks for me. I can now imagine attempting these at home, given sufficient time and the correct equipment. The final part, Accenting with Plants, is where most plant lovers want to start. It begins on page 201, which is intentional. The plants go last in a landscape after the permanent elements have been put in place. Part 3 covers each separate plant group, starting with the ones that need to be considered and placed in the landscape first: trees and shrubs. Along with the yearround features of the garden, these also form the bones of the garden. The chapters in Part 3 cover the purpose of the plants, design considerations, purchasing, planting, maintenance, and care tips. Lists of recommended plants are provided for each group as well as photo galleries for perennials and annuals. The two chapters at the end of the book seem out of place but are very useful. Pests and Diseases provides guidance on how to keep your plants healthy using organic pest management techniques. Landscape Renewal provides practical advice for those wishing to change an existing landscape. It also advises on how to prune trees and shrubs, and how to propagate plants for renewal. This chapter is very valuable for people moving to a new property who do not have the time or budget for undertaking a completely new landscape design. Landscaping for Your Home is a practical and solid guide for homeowners who want to do their own landscape design and implementation. The guidance, the examples shown, and the plant lists in the book are all suitable to the conditions in the Washington, DC, area, which makes the book highly relevant to the magazine’s readers. [The author is a Virginia resident.] My one quibble with the book was that the planning section did not provide a wide enough range of garden styles or photographs of garden designs to inspire me. The book included descriptions and photos of Japanese gardens, cottage gardens,

wild and woodland gardens and regional landscapes, but it would have been nice to see more than this, as well as styles suited to small gardens. I know that I will look to this book for advice on any of the permanent landscape elements that I might want to install on my property. I would also consult this book for advice on pest management and for the basic steps necessary to get to a written landscape plan. It’s a valuable addition to our gardening library. Liz McGuinness is training to be a master gardener in Washington, DC.

Drink Your Own Garden By Judith Glover Published by Sterling Publishing Co. List Price: $19.95 Reviewer: Tom Torrance At first I thought this book was either Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist, or a knockoff of Stewart’s best seller. But it’s neither, despite the similar cover design. Drink Your Own Garden was first published in 1979 and revised and reissued in 2013. Glover opened her front door one morning and found a gift from a neighbor — a generous box of parsnips. She knew she could never eat them all before they shriveled, so she decided to turn them into wine. She checked out a book on wine-making from the library, bought the necessary wine-making equipment, and began turning, first the parsnips, then other items from her own garden, into wine. She found that fruits, berries, flowers, vegetables, leaves, and weeds could all be transformed into wines of delightful color and interesting taste. But Glover did not stop with ingredients from the home garden. Considering the farm a sort of extended garden, she also includes recipes for beverages, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, made from field crops such as barley, wheat, and hops. Glover asserts that home winemaking is one of the least expensive hobbies. But then she lists 24 different hardware items one would need. Granted, some of those items, such as wooden spoons and colanders, are already in most kitchens. Other items could be repurposed (empty wine bottles and various buckets and jars), but several items would likely have to be bought (siphon hose, siphon stick,

BOOKreviews fermentation traps). In addition, the amateur winemaker would need up to 11 different ingredients and additives, from yeast and sugar to pectin and citric acid, depending on what type of wine is made. (And you thought wine was primarily just crushed grapes.) Don’t even think about using an urban galley-sized kitchen for such an effort. By the time you collect and lay out all the equipment, as well as set aside appropriately chilled space for the newly filled wine bottles to settle and age, you could be talking about a considerable space and time commitment. Now that you’ve decided to make wine from your artichokes (a recipe given in the book), and have collected all the ingredients and equipment, and have dedicated the space, you’re ready to start. Glover lists 13 discrete steps that must be taken on the way to sipping your homemade wine, and a process that could take months. She also discusses the many things that could go wrong, and remedies for those that could be remedied. At this point, I was left with the feeling that, instead of committing so much time, effort, and money into collecting/buying the ingredients and equipment, making the wine, and then having things go wrong, I could just pop over to Trader Joe’s and buy a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck (well, $3.29 in the DC-area), and be guaranteed a product likely superior in quality to any wine I could make out of the beans, tomatoes, marigolds, or oak leaves in my own yard, and I would have saved considerable time, effort, clean up (especially that!), and money. That said, after 80 percent of the book is devoted to the various wines she has made, Glover does include a section of beverages that could be made simply, quickly, and inexpensively. Ginger beer, anyone? Six ingredients, about 30 minutes of active preparation, 24 hours of fermentation, and a beverage that could be consumed almost immediately. Glover also includes recipes for more pedestrian beverages that most of us are probably making anyway — sangria, punch, cordials, lemonade, orangeade, appleade, etc. I can appreciate the time it took for Glover to test all the recipes she included in the book. But overall, the book struck me as more of a nice research project than as a practical guide that a

Mid-Atlantic gardener would find beneficial. Kiss My Aster By Amanda Thomsen Published by Storey Publishing List Price: $16.95 Reviewer: Tom Torrance If you need a break from the serious garden book, this is the one for you. Amanda Thomsen, whose cheeky witticisms about gardening can be read regularly on her blog and Facebook page, set out to write a “more engaging” and interactive gardening book for the new gardener who is looking to create an authentic, personal garden. She urges the gardener to “do what you want, not what everyone else does.” The book is very funny, but it is also full of practical advice. For example, Thomsen guides the reader toward decisions on matters such as “should I plant that tree, or hire someone to do it for me?” “Do I have what it takes to grow my own vegetables, or should I just stick with the farmers’ market?” And this: “sometimes a bland house just begs for a bland landscape.” In the landscape design section, Thomsen advises the reader to have a cocktail before beginning to draw the dream landscape. She jests, “If you’ve chosen to design your own landscape, you’re either cheap or have control issues,” and cautions that there’s a good chance you really can’t do a good job yourself. As for hired help, Thomsen asserts that you may not want “two guys in a truck” or the man who mows your lawn pruning your roses or pinching your asters. For that you may need a “real-life gardener.” Or a garden coach, “just like a professional gardener... but he won’t want to lift a finger.” And if it involves big trees (e.g., storm damage), call up a reputable tree guy. Thomsen provides a little quiz of five questions, with four possible answers for each question, to help you decide what kind of gardener you are. Depending on your answers, one of the four gardener types is “get a few chuckles out of this book, but hire someone to do all the physical labor. That’s okay.” Kiss My Aster is well organized, so you really don’t have to read the entire book, just the portions that interest you. At the end of each short section,

she provides a set of options so you can decide where to go, rather than just flip the page, whether to an amplification on the subject you just read, or a shift to something different. That was the only quibble I had with the book. Jumping back and forth around the book was somewhat distracting and confusing. As a reviewer, I wanted to be sure that I read the entire book, and I found the frequent flipping around disconcerting. A word about the art work. Ninetynine percent of the garden books you read have photographs. Kiss My Aster has no photographs, except for a small one of the author on the back cover. But it is loaded with art. Cape Town-based Am I Collective has done an amazing job with the art work. The graphics alone are worth the price of the book. There’s a good chance they will keep your child entertained — and perhaps even inspired. I highly recommend this book. It’s a fun read and a nice break from the more serious gardening book. Both have their places, but once in a while, it’s great to find something on the edge. Tom Torrance gardens in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the James River town of Scottsville, VA. He is one of the most prolific reviewers for Washington Gardener Magazine. He is the owner of Arbor Rise Landscapes, a garden consulting company.

Eco-legacy, a millennium woman’s heritage By Sylvia Hoehns Wright Published by Press List Price: $17.95 Reviewer: Camilla Clocker Memoir-style writing becomes a format for showing kinship between family/ community caretaking and environmental caretaking: The Quaker perspective of “caretaker, not owner, of property” is the foundation for this small book. The local author is a founder of the Plants of CARE plant recognition program, which recommends those that are ecologically sustainable and can create a legacy of healthy communities. The community of Laurel, a historical district in Henrico County, VA, is explored with photographs and verbal descriptions. Love for a rural commuSEPTEMBER 2014



BOOKreviews nity and celebration of its legacy is maintained here through visionary planning and historical designation. Caretaking continues into the family: The author chronicles the histories of three local estates from their arrivals originally from England and Germany, passing through the Civil War, and ending with herself in the present day. By dedications to the memories of several family members and other individuals, a commitment called, “Eco Caretaker for Generational Project” is defined. Mentoring groups or individuals opens doors of opportunity for others to be exposed to professional communities that have Eco Legacy as their consciousness and vitality. Family heirlooms should always be sorted through to identify which can become generational heirlooms. Finally, being a caretaker for an elderly parent requires strategies for identifying community services and for support within the family and oneself, and engaging in stress-reduction activities for oneself. Browsing through family history will let nostalgia for places creep into the experience. Reminiscing about Grandmother’s garden will bring memories of favorite blooming flowers. Family/ community heirlooms segue into plants as generational heirlooms. A legacy of plant renewal—Eco legacy—will create a legacy of healthy communities. Landscape gardening with CARE — conservation, accountability, recovery, eco-efficiency — takes the next step beyond the xeriscape of several decades ago. Conservation means go native (the CARE landscape pertains in this book to Virginia), using Virginia-native canopy trees, under-story trees, and shrubs. Accountability means planting lawn substitutes, limiting the size of turf areas. Recovery emphasizes placement of areas requiring higher use of water near the house and drought-tolerant plants further away. Eco-efficiency involves watering at the optimal time of day and insulating with mulch and compost. Finally, after carefully arranging the yard according to CARE principles, maintain it properly to withstand drought, freezing, and pests. Camilla Clocker is on the board of directors of Friends of Green Spring Gardens and of Del Ray Artisans, teaches using imagination in creative writing at a senior center in Fairfax County, and writes indexes for books and periodicals. 10



The Inspired Gardener: What Makes Us Tick? By the Editors of St. Lynn’s Press Published by St. Lynn’s Press List Price: $15.95 Reviewer: Kathy Parrent This gift book for gardeners measures just 6" x 7", but it is a small treasure of lovely graphic design, beautiful photography, and short inspirational reflections. Colorful photos sit side-by-side with quotes from diverse sources, all reminding us why we garden and why we love nature. While clearly intended as a gift book, it is definitely more stylish and thoughtful than a Hallmark card, mostly avoiding a smiley-face sensibility. Here are a few samples of the quotes: • From art critic John Ruskin, a comment on art and nature: “If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world.” • From poet e.e. cummings: “The thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid.” (This is placed beside a close-up of edible red and yellow Nasturtiums.) • And as those of us who love the land witness habitat loss, the collapse of bee colonies, and the effects of climate change, there’s this sage warning: “If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.” (Masanobu Fuoko) Whimsical, inspiring, and lovely, this is a book to flip through on a rainy day! Kathy Parrent is a freelance writer and editor in Silver Spring, MD. She also runs “Green Thumb to the Rescue” on Facebook.

Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates By Will Giles Published by Timber Press List Price: $49.95 Review: Jim Dronenburg Here is another book riding the tropical wave, or at least appearing to on first glance. However, the plant selections in the book range from tropical to hardy, perennial to annual. The key for selection is visual impact — plants that look exotic, regardless of hardiness. Although even then, things creep in — like Ajuga reptans — that you would not normally think of as belonging in a book of “stars.”

With that in mind, one should read the plant descriptions with a grain of salt. A large grain, since the author is British. The hardiness descriptions — “Tender,” “Semi-tender,” “Half-hardy,” and “Frost hardy,” — are probably useful in a maritime climate, but don’t really help us here, and not all plants listed even have those descriptions. Our summers are hotter and our winters generally colder than British ones, and our temperatures seesaw up and down viciously, even — or especially — in inner urban areas like DC. I repeat: The author is British. If you see a plant you like, ask your fellow Washington-area gardeners for a description of its local needs. There are quite a few pictures, and the book works quite well as a coffee table book. The photographs are stunning, and the plants are given close-ups. Remarkable close-ups. The picture of the veining and variegation on one blown-up section of an Abutilon leaf (p.357), for example, is superb. The book is spotty in its treatment of species and cultivars. Take Dahlia, for example. I don’t mean that not every one of the thousand-plus cultivars of Dahlia is mentioned — no book can list everything — but rather that he lists only bronze-black-foliaged cultivars, and of those, some are both pictured and described with great detail, and some are not only not pictured, but described with a terse paragraph (one is one sentence) that looks like it got lifted from a botanical description, not from the experience of seeing, much less growing, the plant. One thing that is very good about the book is that, in many cases a genus is described as a tribe, and then he goes on to the ones he has selected, and talks about individually. This gives you a glimmering, ball-park sense of “this is what I can expect” out of other members of the genus that are not mentioned. The book is divided into 15 categories, not the usual “trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals” but Aroids, Bamboos, Bananas & their relatives — you get the idea. If you are looking for a certain plant, then, and don’t know what it is related to, use the index at the back of the book. If you aren’t searching for a specific plant but have an idea that a certain type of plant could be useful with, then this organization is helpful in the extreme.

BOOKreviews From the this review, you would not think I’d recommend the book. But if you want the “exotic look” for part or all of your garden, I actually do recommend it. (As a starting point, then do your homework.) But the book lists some wonderful things and you can’t look for them until you first know they are out there. This book tells you to look at/for some spectacular plants. Jim Dronenburg is an accountant by day, an Irish harper/singer by night, and a Behnkes Nursery weekend warrior to support his expanding gardens in Knoxville, MD.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden By Jessica Walliser Published by Timber Press List Price: $24.95 Reviewer: Martha Sykora “Don’t be fooled by the title of this book. Yes, it is about bugs — about understanding their value to the garden and to the world. It is about encouraging the beneficial ones in hopes of mitigating the pesty ones. It is about learning to recognize how beneficial insects work, what some of them look like, and how they influence the delicate balance of the garden. But this book is also about plants. You cannot have one without the other, after all. The intent of these pages is to partner the two, to make your garden a place where bugs are welcome and a home for plants that provide for all the insects living there. It is a guide to selecting, placing, and caring for plants that encourage beneficial insects to do damage control on your behalf.” So begins Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, the newest book by the co-host of Pittsburgh’s KDKA radio program “The Organic Gardeners,” Jessica Walliser. Walliser achieves these goals and more in this readable and beautifully photographed book. Beginner and experienced home gardeners alike will change the way they think and garden after reading this important book. First a confession: When I was given this title to review, I approached it as a work I “should” read, but didn’t necessarily “want” to read. Bugs scare me! But Walliser starts off by reassuringly explaining her own journey from traditional pesticide-user and bug-hater to thinking gardening organically meant using natural-ingredient pesticides, to learning about insects both beneficial and pest. She ultimately came to an appreciation of the necessity of bugs

of all kinds in a healthy and resilient garden that can manage itself without pesticides. Walliser offers this heartfelt observation: “It’s a shame, really, that we focus so much on the so-called bad bugs, spending hours and dollars battling them. If we could all manage to switch our focus to encouraging the good bugs, we would allow our gardens to return to a natural balance, giving the control of the garden back to the insect world.” The content of this book builds on the research Walliser did for her 2008 book, Good Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to your Garden is still partly a field guide to insects, but goes further to include sections on the best plants to attract the beneficials, companion planting, and putting it all together in my favorite parts: sample planting designs for a simple annual insectary bed, a vegetable insectary garden, a woody ornamental insectary bed, and a modular insectary plan that can be used as a guide to renovate or adapt an existing planting area. In the final chapter, Walliser touches on “the commercial stuff”: purchased beneficials, good bug lures, supplemental foods and seed blends. She also includes a helpful resource list and bibliography. Spoiler alert: Sprinkled throughout the book, there are intermittent and, yes, fascinating references to a certain salacious habit of slugs, the study of which Walliser credits with sparking her interest in learning more about what is happening out of sight in her garden. I’m not ready to focus on slugs myself just yet, but she did inspire me to be more curious about and yes, tolerant of, bugs. In fact, more than tolerant; I plan to follow Walliser’s advice and add several new planting beds to encourage them to share my (outdoor!) home. Made At Home: Vegetables By Dick and James Strawbridge Published by Mitchell Beazley List Price: $19.99 Reviewer: Martha Sykora Food gardening is fun! Even better is the satisfaction that comes from eating delicious meals created from the fruits of one’s own labors (in this case: vegetables), claim co-authors Dick and James Strawbridge. Enthusiastic gardeners and chefs, they are well-known in Britain for their television series “It’s Not Easy Being Green” set on their small

farm in Cornwall, England. The father-son team may be better known in the U.S. for their previous book Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century. Vegetables is the third book in their “Made at Home” series. It begins with an overview of the basics: soil preparation, deciding what to plant, starting seeds, watering, weeding, and composting. Next are four chapters, each devoted to a single season. The introduction to each season includes general considerations for gardening in that season along with a helpful task list, then tips are presented for growing suitable crops. Each of the 31 crop descriptions is followed by a recipe and mouthwatering photograph of the finished dish. The photographs are also helpful in clarifying some Britishisms. For example, the section titled “how to clamp beetroot” is made less mysterious by the photos depicting how to store beets over the winter. This is an enjoyable and useful book, with some caveats. The gardening tips and planting suggestions are specific to the climate of Cornwall. The font size throughout the book is relatively small, which makes it difficult to use propped up next to the stove. A kitchen scale is needed since recipe ingredient quantities are given in both metric and imperial form (only). The reader is advised to stick with one or the other; I did so, but had to tweak some of the recipes I tried. “Tempura Asparagus with Lemon Sole and Mayonnaise” was ultimately absolutely delicious, but the batter required the addition of a lot more flour than specified. The “Butternut Squash Gnocchi” also required additional flour and still disintegrated in the boiling water. (They were delicious as pudding, however!) This book will be enjoyed by fans of the authors’ previous works, those who enjoy reading about and seeing beautiful clear photographs of gardening and cooking in England, and by somewhat adventurous cooks. A similar but more comprehensive book, would be Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman’s The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook. Martha Sykora has been lucky to try gardening in climates as diverse as Maryland, Colorado, and England. She currently lives in a LEED-certified homestead-wannabe in Annapolis. The bees haven’t survived a full year yet but the vermiculture composting operation is doing well. Next addition: insectary gardens! o SEPTEMBER 2014




by Elizabeth Olson The ground cherry is among the easiest crops to grow and has been cultivated in American kitchen gardens for generations. Each plant produces large numbers of sweet and tangy marble-sized fruits that keep very well. The fruits are berries. Ripe ones range in color from yellow to orange and each one is fully encased in a tan-colored, papery husk. Ground cherries harvested near the end of the growing season and kept in their husks will be fresh long after the season ends. Although growing the crop is easy to do, what to call the crop can be challenging. Part of the problem is that it has many common names and shares some with its relative, the tomatillo. For this article, the term ground cherry is only used for cultivars of species that are not tomatillo. All ground cherries belong to the Physalis genus of the Solanaceae plant family. They will grow well where tomatoes grow. Ground cherry plants are started from seeds and are generally grown as annuals. The delicious berries have a waxy skin and a firm, yet juicy, flesh. The fruits are a source of potassium, phosphorous, iron, and pectin and are low in calories.

Culinary Uses

Fully mature ground cherries can be eaten as “garden candy,” fresh in the 12



garden. They can also be placed in a basket in the kitchen and enjoyed as a fresh and fruity snack. Fresh berries can be added to fruit salads, sauces, and desserts. They can be preserved by freezing or drying or processing into fruit leather, jams, and preserves. Dried ground cherries store well in plastic food storage bags and can be eaten as a snack, added to trail mixes, or substituted for raisins in many recipes when a sweet-tangy flavor is preferred.

Starting from Seed

Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date in the spring. Plant the seeds in a seedstarting potting mix in containers such as plastic starter packs or plantable peat pots. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of potting mix, barely covering the seeds. Water the containers from the bottom only; the seeds are tiny and may become dislodged when watered overhead. Place the containers on a waterproof horticultural heat mat. Germination can take two weeks or longer; keep the potting soil warm, moist, and under grow lights. Well-regarded cultivars are ‘Pineapple,’ ‘Cossack Pineapple,’ ‘Goldie,’ ‘Aunt Molly’s,’ and ‘Giant.’ Except for ‘Giant,’ seedlings can be moved outdoors when danger of frost

‘Pineapple’ ground cherry. Photo courtesy of Territorial Seed Co.

Ground Cherry

has passed and the plants are at least three inches tall. ‘Giant’ needs warmer soil and should not be moved outdoors before the soil has thoroughly warmed in mid- to late June. Carefully harden off all seedlings before planting them in the garden.

How to Grow

Ground cherries are related to potato, tomato, eggplant, pepper, and tomatillo and should be included in the same crop rotation schedule. The plants grow best in full sun, but will tolerate afternoon filtered light. They need good drainage and prefer slightly acidic, loose, sandy loam soil into which compost has been incorporated. Space plants 3 ft. to 4 ft. apart on center. Protect seedlings with a floating row cover until they start to bloom. Plants with an upright growth habit will benefit from being staked or grown in a perennial hoop. Plants that have a sprawling growth habit should have thin bamboo stakes placed around the trunk to protect them from snapping at the base in a thunderstorm. Install a soaker hose to supplement rainfall and cover the area with a oneinch-thick layer of fine pine mulch. For highest yield, do not fertilize. Mature fruits fall off the plants soon after their husks turn from green to a light tan color. Landscape fabric may be placed on top of the mulch to make it easier to harvest. Check daily for dropped fruits. Ground cherries self-sow if any fruits are left on the ground. Ground cherries also make excellent container plants. Grow each plant in a tall container with a diameter of 16" or more.

How to Store

Harvested ground cherries should be placed in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels so the husks can air dry. Fruits that are slightly underripe will continue to mature at room temperature. Leave them in their husks for several days or longer and then check the berries to make sure that they no longer have any green coloring. The berries store well in their husks at room temperature for several weeks or more. Large quantities can be kept

EDIBLEharvt in a food-grade mesh bag. Remove the husks just before eating or preserving the fruits.


In addition to ground cherry, common names include husk tomato, husk cherry, strawberry tomato, poha berry, golden berry, and Cape gooseberry. • ‘Pineapple’ berries have a welldefined pineapple flavor. The plants start to bear small fruits — about ½” in diameter — approximately 65 to 70 days after transplanting. • ‘Cossack Pineapple’ berries have a pineapple flavor. This cultivar produces fruits that are similar, if not identical, to those of ‘Pineapple.’ The plants start to bear small ripe fruits about 65 to 70 days after transplanting. Seed companies list the two cultivars as belonging to different Physalis species. • ‘Goldie’ berries are medium-sized — up to ¾” in diameter — and have a strawberry-pineapple flavor. The plants start to bear ripe fruits about 75 to 80 days after transplanting. • ‘Aunt Molly’s’ berries are small to medium-sized and have a citrusy flavor. The name is not trademarked and appears on several selections. Ripe fruits start to drop about 70 to 75 days after transplanting. • ‘Giant’ berries have a strawberrypineapple flavor. The plants produce ripe fruits up to 1” in diameter very late in the growing season, sometimes as late as 75 days after flowering. ‘Giant’ should be started early and grown to a larger size before being moved outdoors in late spring. Plants that are containergrown throughout the season can be overwintered in a heated greenhouse and set out again in the warmer weather of the following spring; this works well in short-season areas. Overwintered plants will bear fruit during their second year.

panies group the seeds with vegetables. • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( The company carries both ‘Giant’ Cape gooseberry and what it calls the traditional — no cultivar name — ground cherry in the Garden Berries section) • Johnny’s Selected Seeds ( ‘Goldie’ is in the Husk Cherry section) • Kitazawa Seed Co. (KitazawaSeed. com. ‘Giant’ is in the Poha Berry section) • Nichols Garden Nursery ( ‘Aunt Molly’s’ is called a husk tomato and is located in the Tomatillo & Ground Cherry section) • Sandhill Preservation Center ( Mail order only; the order form is downloadable. ‘Aunt Molly’s’ and ‘Pineapple’ are in the Ground Cherry section in the online Seed & Roots catalog) • Seed Savers Exchange (SeedSavers. org. The company offers ‘Aunt Molly’s’ in both starter plants and seeds. Starter plants are listed in the Plants / Transplants division and are available for spring planting — order early. The seeds are listed in the Ground Cherry section under Vegetables)

• Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( ‘Cossack Pineapple’ and ‘Goldie’ are in the Ground Cherry section) • Territorial Seed Co. (TerritorialSeed. com. ‘Aunt Molly’s’ and ‘Pineapple’ are in the Tomatillos & Ground Cherries section. See the photograph of this ‘Pineapple’ cultivar under the main title) • Thompson & Morgan ( ‘Pineapple’ is in the Golden Berry section. Author’s note: The fresh berries of Thompson & Morgan’s cultivar have a marvelous pineapple fragrance)

Fun Fact

Ground cherry husks can be used as handles for the berries. Carefully peel back the husks, but leave them attached. Use the husk handles to dip the berries one at a time in melted chocolate, almost all of the way to the top of each berry. Place each berry in a small paper party cup or on wax paper and allow the chocolate to cool. The husk handles also make it easy to eat the treats. 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.


Seeds are sometimes available at garden centers, but the best availability is by mail or Internet order from a number of sources, including those listed below. One company, Seed Savers Exchange, also offers starter plants. All of the com-

The ground cherry at right is maturing. The husk is becoming papery as the color turns to a light-tan color. Photo by Elizabeth Olson. SEPTEMBER 2014




Quick Links to Recent Washington Gardener Blog Posts

• Harvest Time in the Edible Garden • New York Ironweed, Native Spotlight • Japanese Anemone, You Can Grow That! • Brookside School of Botanical Art • A Cool End to Summer See more Washington Gardener blog posts at

September Garden To-Do List

New Plant Spotlight Award-winning Elderberry

Lemony Lace™ (Sambucus racemosa) ‘SMNSRD4’ USPPAF, Can PBRAF Check out this showy new cutleaf elderberry with bright-golden foliage! It’s a colorful, shaggy mound of gold threads with colorful reddish new growth. The foliage is more deeply cut than ‘Sutherland Gold’ or Black Lace™, resulting in a compact irregular mound with extremely fine texture. White spring flowers produce red fruit in fall. Will tolerate full sun in northern climates, but prefers light shade in more southern areas. This distinctive golden, thread-like foliage looks wonderful in mixed borders or as a high-impact specimen plant. Plant it with Black Lace sambucus for a really bold statement! The red fall fruit makes it a good addition to wildlife gardens. It benefits from hard pruning as a young plant to develop a nice, full habit. Older plants can be trimmed after flowering. This plant blooms on old wood, so spring pruning will reduce flower production. Adaptable to most well-drained soils. Lemony Lace will be available from local garden centers in spring 2015. It is part of the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs program (

Plant Facts

Resists: Deer Shrub Type: Deciduous Garden Height: 36-60 Inches Spacing: 36-72 Inches Flower Colors: White Foliage Shades: Golden with red new growth Habit: Mounded Container Role: Thriller Light Requirement: Part Sun to Sun Maintenance Category: Easy Blooms On: Old Wood Hardiness Zones: 3a-7b Heat Zones: 7 Water Category: Average Uses: Specimen/Focal Point, Edible 14



Here is our comprehensive garden task list for gardens in the greater DC metro region from September 15 through October 16: • Keep an eye out for the first frost date. In Zone 6, it is expected between Sept. 30 and Oct. 30 and in Zone 7 it is predicted between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15. • Divide and transplant perennials — in particular, peonies and iris. • Pick apples at a local pick-your-own farm or visit a local farmer’s market. • Pot up rosemary and chives for over-wintering indoors. • Take cuttings from your coleus and begonia to propagate and over-winter indoors. • Look out for any poison ivy vines which will turn crimson in the fall and be easy to distinguish from other vines. • Check your local garden center for end-of-summer bargains. • Put netting over your pond to prevent the accumulation of leaves and debris. • Start feeding birds to get them in the habit for this winter. • Attend a local garden club meeting or plant exchange. • Pick mature tomatoes and peppers to ripen on your window sills. • Turn your compost pile weekly and don’t let it dry out. Work compost into your planting beds. • Remove rotting fruits from fruit trees and compost them. • Plant evergreens for winter interest. • Weed. • Plant garlic bulbs. • Collect plant seeds for next year’s planting and for trading at the next annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange on January 31, 2015. • Plant hardy mums and fall season annuals. • Fertilize your lawn and re-seed if needed. • Dig up bulbs from your gladiolus, canna, caladiums, and other tender bulbs, cut off foliage, dry for a week, and then store for the winter. • Transplant trees and shrubs. • Harvest your herbs often and keep them trimmed back to encourage leafy growth. • Bring in house plants if you took them out for the summer. • If your conifers start shedding their needles or your spring bulb foliage starts peeking out of the ground, don’t worry. This is normal for our autumn cycle. • Leave hummingbird feeders out until October 15. • Start bulb plantings of early spring bloomers at the end of the month. • Watch your pumpkins/squash. Harvest them when their rinds are dull and hard. • Divide ornamental grasses. • Cut herbs and flowers for drying indoors. • Plant strawberries in a site with good drainage for harvest next spring. • Look out for slug eggs grouped under sticks and stones – they are the size of BBs and pale in color. • Plant cover crops in vegetable gardens and annual beds (for example, rye, clover, hairy vetch, and winter peas). • Begin conditioning the Christmas Poinsettias and Christmas cacti to get them ready for the upcoming holiday season. • Bring Amaryllis indoors before a hard freeze. Repot every other year at this time. Store in a cool, dark place and do not water until the flower buds or leaves emerge. • Your summer annuals will be reviving now with cooler temps and some rain. Cut back any ragged growth and give them some fertilizer. They should put on a good show until the first hard frost.


UDC Offers Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program

Basil Downy Mildew

According to Jon Traunfeld, director of UMD-HGIC, reports of downy mildew on basil are cropping up around the region. This is a relatively new disease for East Coast states. Above is a photo showing the early symptoms of this fungal disease on the top and bottom sides of basil leaves. Leaf yellowing is the most noticeable symptom. Infected leaves will then blacken and die. The disease can enter your garden on seeds or transplants. It spreads quickly and widely via fungal spores carried by air currents. Monitor your plants closely for symptoms and be prepared to pull out, bag up, and throw out infected plants. It is safe to eat leaves from infected plants — the disease does not harm people. If you lose plants to downy mildew, you can sow fresh seed in containers or in another part of your garden. Warm, wet, humid weather encourages the spread of downy mildew. Plant basil in full sun locations and don’t crowd your plants. Good air circulation around plants can help reduce the risk of infection. One recent piece of good news is that the disease does not seem to affect Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). Cornell University ( has extensive information on this problem and Adrian Higgins has reported on it for the Washington Post. See more at: o

In 2008, for the first time in recorded history, the world’s population became primarily urban. Some urban areas are growing at twice the rate of rural areas. While DC is not growing as rapidly, its population continues to increase. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. CAUSES is uniquely positioned as a world leader in the Urban Ag movement through its Research, Academic, and Outreach programs. In response, it will launch a non-credit-bearing certificate program in Sustainable Agriculture in fall 2014. Each Certificate Program consists of three to five weeks of classes. Classes usually meet two times per week in the evenings for a total of 15 contact hours per class (unless otherwise listed). Some classes may also be offered on a weekend schedule. A certificate of completion will be issued at the successful completion of each class. Each class consists of class and/or lab hours. “Class” hours typically comprise lectures, discussions, presentations from experts, and case studies. “Lab” hours are experiential learning opportunities (hands-on application). Participants should consider the risks and exposures associated with lab activities, including, but not limited to, weather, rough terrain, or conditions separate and distinct from a classroom environment. The Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate consists of three classes and will be issued at the successful completion of all three classes. The program offers three options: • Option 1: General Certificate in Urban Agriculture • Option 2: Urban Food Production Professional & Urban Agribusiness • Option 3: Sustainable Design in Urban Agriculture If not otherwise noted, classes will meet at the UDC Van Ness Campus, located at the Van Ness-UDC Metrorail stop on the Red Line (4200 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008). To register or for more details, call (202) 274-7193 or email arielle. o

Advanced Landscape Plant IPM PHC Short Course January 5-8, 2015 For registration information contact: Avis Koeiman Department of Entomology 4112 Plant Sciences Building University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742 Tel: 301-405-3913 Email:  Your Ad Here

Contact or call 301.588-6894 for ad rates.

In Our Next Issue OCTOBER 2014... Daytrip to Winterthur

Garden Event Wrap-Up Profile of Mike McConkey of Edible Landscaping

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

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Send a check or money order for $20.00 payable to Washington Gardener magazine to: Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 SEPTEMBER 2014



TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ September 16-October 15, 2014 • Friday, September 19, 5-8pm Behnke’s Annual Gardeners’ Night Out An evening just for gardeners! Enjoy demonstrations and gather information while enjoying fine music by Susan Jones of Violin Dreams and great food. Old Line, Fine Wine & Bistro will also be back hosting a FREE wine tasting. While here get a sneak peek at our 2014 Christmas Shop. Location: Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. • Saturday, September 20, 12pm-7pm DC State Fair Taking place at the Old City Farm and Guild (925 Rhode Island Ave NW). If you haven’t heard of it before, the DC State Fair is a way for Washingtonians to display their artistic, culinary, and agricultural talents. Join us for pie, ice cream, photography, jam & jelly contests ,and more! There will activities, food, drinks, and DC State Fair merchandise for sale at the fair as well. For the beer-drinkers out there, we will have a biergarten from 4-7pm. And it’s not too late to enter our various contests! For more info on contest entries, visit http:// • Saturday, September 20, 3-7pm Homegrown DC a one-day, hyper local farmers’ market and celebration of food grown in Washington, DC. Over 25 school gardens, non-profit organizations, home gardens, and local organizations will show off their hand-grown produce grown right here on DC soil. Please join us by showing off your bountiful harvest. Each table and garden will be able to sell or donate their own produce and are encouraged to think of creative activities for participants and/or provide “taste tests” of your fresh food or of recipes made from your produce. Participation is free for DC garden growers! For information on how to include your garden, please visit The event will take place at Old City Farm & Guild located at the corner of Rhode Island Ave NW & 9th st NW: • Saturday, September 27, 9am-3pm The Living Garden Spaces Symposium 16



Want a thriving garden space that is wildlife-friendly, sustainable, and beautiful? Come discover lovely native plants that support native ecosystems, and learn how to use them in beautiful combinations. Learn about attracting native, beneficial insects and get tips to better manage your wildlife visitors. Fee: $75/ person. (Call ahead for vegetarian lunch option.) Speakers: Rick Darke, Betsy Washington, Kathy Jentz, Alan Ford, and Laura Beaty. Books sale and signing of the Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Landscape. Register on-line at www.fairfaxcounty. gov/parks/greenspring or call 703-6425173. • Saturday, September 27, 3-6:30pm Rose Garden Celebration Garden Celebration among 1,700 roses with music and tours at Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden, 850 N Lexington, Arlington, VA (light rain or shine). Photographers, growers, neighbors, and families welcomed. Hosted by Arlington Rose Foundation/ Department of Parks & Recreation for Arlington County. Free. Held light rain or shine. 703-371-9351 or • Saturday, September 27, 8am-12n Historic London Town and Gardens Fall Plant Sale Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater 410-222-1919. • Saturday, September 27, 1-5pm National Capital Area Dahlia Society Annual Show The show will be in Arlington this year, hosted by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, located at 4000 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, VA 22207. (The show is normally hosted annually at Brookside Gardens is Wheaton, Maryland, but the venue at Brookside is being remodeled so the Society is taking advantage of a Virginia location.) This is a great opportunity for Northern Virginia residents, whether master gardeners or novices or just those interested in experiencing the grandeur and magnificence of Dahlias.

The show attracts exhibitors from all over the region often from as far away as Philadelphia and New York. The show is free. • Sunday, September 28, 10am-2pm Earth Sangha Fall Plant Sale At the Nursery, end of Cloud Drive, Springfield, VA 22150. Earth Sangha’s Wild Plant Nursery provides the most comprehensive selection of local native plants for ecological restoration in the Washington, DC, region. Details: www. • Wednesday, October 1, 1:15 p.m. - 2:15pm Invasive Species: Can We Eat Our Way Out of a Crisis? From nutria to lionfish, interest has grown in ways to encourage the harvest and use of invasive species as a means of controlling or eradicating their populations. Jason Goldberg, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Susan Pasko, E.R.T. Contractor, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will highlight several case studies that offer “food for thought” on how and when incentivizes harvest can be used as an effective tool for ecosystem management. Held at the Rachel Carson Room next to the basement cafeteria of the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240. For more information, 202208-4743 or, or go to • Saturday, October 4, 10am-12n Gardening With Spring Bulbs VCE Master Gardeners of Arlington and Alexandria will present a program on Gardening with Spring Bulbs at the Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen St., Alexandria. Topics covered will include what to plant, which bulbs are less attractive to squirrels and other wildlife, how to select among the many options, and how to store the bulbs until planting time. The program is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested. To register, call 703-2286414 or email

TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ Upcoming Events ~ September 16-October 15, 2014 • Saturday, October 4, 9-11:30 am. Tree Identification Join Arborist, Julie Flanagan, for a class on Tree identification. Taught by VCE - Prince William Master Gardener Volunteers in the Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136. All programs are free. Registration is requested, call 703-792-7747 or email master_ • Saturday, October 4 - Sunday, Oct 5 Gesneriads Go To The Movies Plant Show and Sale Sponsored by the National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society at Behnkes Nursery, Beltsville, MD, 11300 Baltimore Ave. (Rte 1), Beltsville, MD 20705. Explore the gesneriad family, from African violets (Saintpaulia) and flame violets (Episcia) to goldfish plants (Nematanthus) and cape primrose (Streptocarpus). The show will display the diversity of this plant family, including terrariums, dish gardens, and artistic displays inspired by your favorite movies. Lectures and show open to the public. See schedule and details at • Saturday, Oct 11 - Monday, Oct 13 The 67th National Capital Orchid Society Fall Show FREE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC! Last year due to the Federal Government’s Shut Down the NCOS came to Behnke’s to hold their Fall Show. It was such a success they wish to come back this year! If you love orchids this is an event you do not want to miss. Plan to visit, bring friends and..... • See thousands of unique orchid plants in bloom. • Partake in our educational lectures. • Visit our sales area with top-quality vendors for plant and supply sales and unique orchid-themed gifts. and MUCH MORE! Fall is one of the best blooming seasons for orchids in DC, so come prepared for a wonderful selection of orchids to see and buy! Throughout the show, one-hour educational lectures will be presented, covering topics of interest to orchid hobbyists. There will be guided

tours of the exhibit area by senior members of the NCOS immediately following the classroom lectures. Start times will be posted outside the exhibit entrance. • Saturday, October 11, 1:00-4:00pm Celebrate Chile Peppers Explore over 60 varieties of chiles in the garden, including some of the world’s hottest peppers. Taste-test a variety of peppers, sample chile-based foods, and watch demonstrations at this annual event celebrating the cultivation and use of chile peppers. Presented by members of the Herb Society of America. National Herb Garden. Free. Held at U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20002; 202-245-2726; • Sunday, October 12, 10am-6pm Agricultural Education Day Free admission at Y Worry Farm, Davidsonville. Pick your favorite pumpkin at Y Worry’s pumpkin patch and enjoy local food, live music and pony rides for the kids. Details; or call 410-222-7410. •Monday, October 13, 1-2:30pm Fairy Tea and Treats For ages 4+. Bring your favorite Tinkerbell! Children don magical fairy costumes complete with tutus, wands, and wings before costumed interpreters present the favored drink and tea-taking. Register at Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, 1644 31st Street, NW, Washington, DC.

SAVE THE DATE: • Thursday, October 16, 6:30-8:00pm Garden Book Club Fall Meeting For our final 2014 selection of the Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club, we will be reading: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. We will meet at the La Madeleine at 8435 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. (Please plan to purchase some food and drinks while there, since we will not be paying them for this meeting space.) The book club meetings are FREE and open to anyone who would like to attend. RSVP to “WG Book

Club” at I will be limiting attendance to 20. If you need to cancel, let me know ASAP so we can give your spot to someone else, should we have a waitlist. • Saturday, October 18, 1-4pm and Sunday, October 19, 9am-4pm Science Into Nature Equals Art: A Standard Flower Show Presented by National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc.. . . in partnership with the United States National Arboretum. Open to the Public – Free at the United States National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002. The flower show is free, open to the public, and educational with an emphasis on growing, showing, and designing. Judged entries include floral designs, flowering annuals and perennials, evergreens, container-grown plants, grasses, fruits, vegetables, photography, and educational exhibits. U.S. National Arboretum staff members present different lectures daily at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. See the flower show’s schedule at: National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc., is a member of the Central Atlantic Region of National Garden Clubs, Inc. National Garden Clubs provides education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility.

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, please contact: Wgardenermag@aol. com and put “Event” in the email subject head. Our next deadline is October 12 for the October 15 edition of this enewsletter featuring events taking place from October 16-November 15.




KNOWitall damage is not reversible. If they are not putting out new growth and the dieback is continuing, the trees probably cannot be saved. If the Leylands are used as a screen and need to be replaced, replant with a diverse group of trees and shrubs. This prevents the entire screen from becoming susceptible to weather conditions, a disease, or an insect infestation.

Mowing Around Maples

Ask the Expert by Debra Ricigliano

Cucumbers Turn Yellow

The cucumber plants I planted in my “square-foot” garden are producing well, but many of the cucumbers are yellow and very quickly grow so large. What should I be doing so I can salvage some of my crop? Unless you unknowingly planted some variety of cucumber with yellow skin, there is a simple solution for your problem. It sounds like you are leaving the cucumbers on the vine too long. Pickling cucumbers should be harvested when they are two to three inches long and slicing cucumbers should be five to eight inches long when picked, depending on the variety. Waiting too long to harvest results in overgrown, seedy, and flavorless cucumbers. Check your vines daily so your cukes do not get ahead of you because it can happen quickly.

Learning About Bees

My daughter who is in the 5th grade is learning about honeybees and native pollinators. What can we do in our own yard to attract them to our garden? The plight of the honeybees has been in the media spotlight lately, but we should also be concerned about the decline of our native pollinators. Your daughter should be congratulated for her interest in attracting both to your garden. The more property homeowners and landowners devote to planting pollinator plants, the more foraging habitat will be created to support pollinator 18



populations. Groups of native flowers such as asters, beebalm, goldenrod, Joe-pye weed, milkweed, and hyssop will create an area with a season-long succession of flowers up until frost. Herbs like basil, catmint, lavender, and rosemary also attract pollinators. All of these plants are fairly low-maintenance and, in addition to creating a vibrant backyard full of pollinator activity, your yard will also be beautiful. For additional information on helping bees and other pollinators, go to the following website,

Leland Cypress Dying

Can you please tell me why most of the Leyland cypress trees in our area appear to be dying? Is there some kind of disease going around or were they injured by the cold winter? They seemed to have made it through the winter okay, so I do not think that is the reason. Is there something that can be done to save these trees? We are receiving many reports from all around the region about Leyland cypress trees dying or turning brown. They can get diseases, but the dieback we are seeing on a wide-spread basis this spring/summer is because of the past winter weather. Although Leylands are supposed to be hardy to Zone 6, some cultivars are not that hardy and are not labeled as such. Also, trees that might have been stressed or not growing vigorously, but didn’t show any obvious symptoms in the fall, may have been extra-vulnerable to the low temperatures. Unfortunately, winter

There is a large maple tree in the center of my front yard. Every year, the grass gets harder to mow under the tree because of all of the roots that are coming up to the surface. Can I cut the roots off or maybe bury them under some topsoil? Maple trees are notorious for having surface roots but actually that is where the roots prefer to be, especially when they are growing in compacted soil. Roots need oxygen so adding topsoil on top of them is not a good solution. Cutting the roots is not recommended either. Both of these practices can actually cause the tree to decline. The best solution is to either mulch under the dripline of the tree or plant a groundcover between the surface roots. If you mulch, do not use more than two to three inches and never let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree. o Debra Ricigliano is a Certified Professional Horticulturalist. She has worked as a horticulture consultant for the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center since 1997. Debra enjoys gardening at her home in Highland, MD. She is a graduate of the Institute of Applied Agriculture at UMCP and a talented, all-round horticulturist. To ask a home garden or pest question, go to hgic or call 800.342.2507. Got a gardening question you need answered? Send your questions to and use the subject line “Q&A.” Please also include your first name, last initial, and what city and state you are writing from. Then look for your answered questions in upcoming issues.

INSECTindex Eastern Yellow Jacket photo by Johnny N. Dell,

Eastern Yellow Jackets

by Carol Allen My love/hate relationship with wasps came to a head several years ago. My property was still over-run with honeysuckle and brambles, so I was doing a lot of basic clearing. I had just invested in a heavy-duty hammer mill that would take the brush and limbs that I fed it and make them into the beginnings of a lovely compost. I even bought a beautifully made, heavy canvas cover that fitted it like a glove and I parked it conveniently next to the compost pile out behind the vegetable garden. One thing led to another that spring and I did not run it for several weeks. I was out admiring the early summer veggies when I noticed a steady stream of yellow jackets going through the garden and up under the cover on my hammer mill. Horrors! They had built a nest in the large central chamber of the machine. There was no way to access it and nothing that I could do about it! I resigned myself with having to live with some very uncomfortable neighbors that summer and their presence brought my clearing efforts to a halt as well. As the summer moved toward fall, the cooler weather made me anxious to renew my cleanup efforts. I looked forward to the first hard frost, thinking that I would have to wait that long before I would be rid of the yellow jacket nest. Then one morning, my problem was solved! Raccoons got into the nest during the night and tore it apart, eating the insects. However, the beautiful can-

vas cover was damaged beyond repair. The surprising outcome to my summer with the yellow jackets? My garden was virtually pest-free. I had no caterpillars on the cabbage, no squash bugs on the zucchini, and no aphids anywhere! Yellow jackets are tireless predators and very few garden pests get by them.

Seasonal Encounters

My experience is pretty typical of the Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula malculifrons) life cycle. Inseminated females over-winter in plant debris on the ground and in spring seek a site to build their paper nests. They seem to prefer meadows or at the edge of a wooded area. Most suburban yards suit them nicely. Nests can be found mostly underground, but tree stumps or the space between the walls of a building can be used. Yellow jackets are social insects and the queen raises the first brood of female workers herself. Once they mature, the queen limits her activity to egg-laying and the workers build and tend to the hive and feed the larvae. Toward the end of the season, males and new queens are produced as the old queen and workers will die with the frost.

Identifying Them

Yellow jackets are about a half-inch long and have alternating stripes of yellow and black on their abdomens. Their bodies are thinner than that of a honey bee and they lack the fuzziness of a bee. In attitude, they are much

more aggressive and can sting multiple times. They will vigorously defend their nests, so out-of-the-way nesting sites should be well-marked so people can stay clear of them.

Dealing with Wasps

Nests in areas close to the house or a sidewalk can be eliminated by spraying an appropriate insecticide* into the nest cavity. This is best done at night to avoid stings, and protective gear should be worn. Remember that they will fly toward a light so do not hold a flashlight in your hand while you spray. Most nests are killed with the hard frost in autumn and wasps rarely nest in a previously occupied site. If you are lucky, skunks, raccoons, or other critters will remove them for you. As the summer starts to wane, the nests can contain thousands of hungry wasp larvae and the workers are hard at work producing next year’s queen. This is the time that yellow jackets will join your picnic looking for sweet, sugary (sodas) or protein-rich (hamburgers and hot dogs) foods to feed their young. Yellow jacket lures and traps can entice them away from your deck or patio. Yellow jackets are credited with about 50% of all sting injuries. Allergic reactions are more common in adults, as adults develop more and more anti-bodies with each successive exposure. If stung, remove the stinger immediately if it is still present. An ice pack applied to the area can reduce the discomfort and swelling. Watch for hives appearing on other portions of the body, swelling of the lips or other mucus membranes, abdominal pain, or difficult breathing as these symptoms may indicate a generalized reaction and may need immediate medical attention. With awareness and respect, you should be able to enjoy these predators in your garden! 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 and Virginia. Carol can be contacted at carolallen@erols. com. *Please use pesticides safely! Read and heed all label directions! SEPTEMBER 2014




Tasselrue by Barry Glick

I don’t know — call it good Karma, dumb luck or just plain old being in the right place at the right time, but just when my super-inflated ego takes control and I get over-arrogant, thinking that I know it all, feel bored with everything in the woods, etc., etc., something wonderful happens. This time, it was a new discovery. Well, new to me anyway. And so it seems new to about 99% of the people I talk to. Once again I am inspired to seek, my soul is renewed, and all is right with the world. At least, until the next time that boredom reaches out and grabs hold of me. What is my discovery?, you are asking about now — Trautvetteria caroliniensis. I’ll be the first to admit that the Genera name is pretty choppy and really doesn’t roll off the tongue, like let’s say uh, Tiarella, Viola, or some of the other duo-syllabic Genera of plants native to these mountains, but with all due respect to E.R. von Trautvetter (1809-1889), this plant is pretty cool. I took my kids to the “ol’ swimmin’ hole” about five miles east of my farm on Spring Creek. This is a really idyllic spot where the “crick” makes a sharp bend and, over the centuries, has created a deep chasm etched out of the hard shale cliffs on the south bank. After depositing the young ones in the water, I waded across the creek to the cliffs in faint hope of seeing something unusual. I was slowly emerging from the ice-cold water, reaching out to grab hold of the slippery rocks as I smelled a sweet fragrance. It was a new scent to this large proboscis — something slightly familiar but yet somewhat mysterious. Glancing up, I spotted the origin straight ahead. At first glance, I thought I’d discovered a new species of Thalictrum. We 20



have six species in West Virginia and I thought I knew them all. Immediately my mind raced ahead to the future, Thalictrum glickii. Wow, what a nice ring it has. At last, my 15 minutes of fame! But that was until I got beyond the icy-white, fragrant, feathery flowers. Looking at the foliage, I was still positive that I was in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, but the glossy, darkgreen ,deeply lobed leaves sure as hell looked like a Trollius. Now, in WV, we have no Trollius species, so the mystery deepened. In fact, the only Trollius species that I know of that is native to the US is Trollius laxus and I think that the closest station for that is in Pennsylvania. Anyway, that is a muchshorter plant with soft, muted-yellow flowers, and it blooms very early in the spring. So with thousands of seedlings growing in every moist crack of the cliff, I had no qualms about borrowing a few to bring them back to the nursery for identification, evaluation, and growing on in the garden. As soon as I got home, I ran to my library, grabbed the copy of Flora of West Virginia and began to confirm my knowledge of the genus Thalictrum. There, on same page as Thalictrum, I discovered my new find. I realized that I wasn’t that far off base in thinking that it was a Thalictrum, as the common name for Thalictrum is “Meadow Rue” and Trautvetteria’s common name is “Tasselrue.” The description cites 20 of our 55 counties as its home. With this initial phase of my investigation coming to a close, it was time to start thinking about this new plant in the sense of garden worthiness. To be sure, there are many wild plants that are better left in the wild and, for what I initially suspected would be the same reason that I would be unable to find a suitable spot in my own garden for Trautvetteria: no real wet area. It would have been the same lament as for not being able to successfully grow Veratrum viride, a sexy bog plant in the lily family, or what you may know in the common realm as “False Green Hellebore.” Why it has that common name, I don’t know, but that’s the problem with common names. We’ll leave that topic untouched for a future rant.

Anyway, I posted an email to the Alpine Group discussion list on the Internet. (Don’t let the name fool you, these folks cover the gamut of the plant world and I’ve never seen any question about any plant go unanswered.) Sure enough, I got about a dozen email replies to my question regarding experience with growing Trautvetteria in the garden. I received overwhelming confirmation that it does not require a particularly wet area, just good garden soil, rich in organic matter, and a good mulch to conserve moisture in dry periods. One person on Long Island said that it “gently self-sows” in her garden. I also called Dr. Dick Lighty, director of the Mount Cuba Center in Greenville, DE. Dick said that they’ve been growing Trautvetteria successfully for many years in the garden and wondered, as did I at this point, why it was unavailable in the nursery trade. In fact, while looking in the most comprehensive plant availability directory in the US, Andersons Source Guide, I noticed that only one source was listed for the plant. In the Plantfinder, the source book for the UK, there was no entry. Trautvetteria forms a 6-10" plant with a much taller flower stem. Some seemed to reach up to about 18-36". It prefers light to medium shade but could probably take some direct sun. It flowers over a long period and seems to peak in late June to mid-July. I went back to its home this weekend and placed several muslin drawstring bags over the flower heads to collect seeds. After seeing all of the seedlings under the plants, I’m confident that it’s easily grown from seed. This plant deserves some publicity and a home in every native and wild garden. o Barry Glick, the self-proclaimed “King of Helleborus,” grew up in Philadelphia in the ’60s, a mecca of horticulture. Barry cut high school classes to hitchhike to Longwood Gardens before he was old enough to drive. In 1972, he realized there was just not enough room for him and his plants in the big-city environment, so he bought 60 acres on a mountaintop in Greenbrier County, WV, where he gave birth to Sunshine Farm & Gardens (, a mail-order plant nursery. Contact him at 304.497.2208 or


Northern Virginia

Bonsai Society by Peter C. Jones

Bonsai, (pronounced bone-sai) means “tray gardening” in Japanese. It is the art of keeping trees and plants small and using skilled pruning to create an aesthetic shape and give the illusion of age, although many bonsai trees are quite old and simply show their age in miniature form. The Northern Virginia Bonsai Society (NVBS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art and science of bonsai. Our club meetings and hands-on workshops feature bonsai experts from across the country as well as our own local treasures. We are a community of bonsai enthusiasts who interact to share information and advice with one another and provide feedback on one another’s trees.

Club History

The club was first formed nearly a halfcentury ago. In 1968, Jim Newton and Ruth Lamina founded the Potomac Bonsai Association (PBA) to serve as an umbrella organization for several local bonsai clubs emerging in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Under the leadership of Jules Koetsch and Bill Merritt, the NVBS became one of the most active of the 9 PBA clubs. In the 1970s, retired military officers, Bill and Jules, were heavily involved in creating a bonsai collection at the National Arboretum. Along with the other PBA clubs, they helped to arrange the PBA spring festivals and fall symposiums to promote the art of bonsai. These events gave members a chance to show what they had accomplished with their trees throughout the year, plus recruit new members. In the ‘80s, the NVBS expanded into new venues where members could demonstrate for others how to grow and shape bonsai trees. Over the years, the NVBS has participated in plant sales at Green Spring Horticulture Center. This gave us the opportunity to demonstrate how to start a bonsai from a San Jose juniper. Each spring,

the club would host bonsai shows to encourage people to become involved with horticulture-type activities offered at Green Spring Gardens. Bonsai Master Roy Nagatoshi, who was flown in by the club from LA, explains how to control new growth, and how to remove secondary growth. In the ‘90s, we worked with the Virginia Cooperative ticipate in club activities, such as Extension service to make our monthly our workshops, one must join our club. lectures and demonstrations available Club dues are $25.00 per individual to residents of Northern Virginia. We and $30.00 per family per year, which also continued to host shows at Green permits participation in all special Spring Horticulture Center to show how programs, workshops, and discounted easy it is to learn to grow bonsai. group purchases of special items such In 1976, 1986, 1996, and 2005, the as soil, wire, and grow boxes. Dues Bonsai World Conventions were held help us offset expenses, especially in Washington, DC. This event required travel expenses when we bring in bona great deal of assistance from the sai experts from around the country local clubs to ensure that all schedA popular bonsai style of tree is “root uled events were successful. Members over rock.” When done well, it can tell of the NVBS played a major role in a story or create a dramatic effect. In scheduling speakers and obtaining July, Martha Meehan, who runs a fullplants for demonstration and hands-on time bonsai nursery with her husband, workshops. These conventions drew Hugh, visited the NVBS and demonattendees from around the world, and strated how to start and develop a tree gave the NVBS the opportunity to proin this form. The morning lecture was mote bonsai and horticulture activities followed by a workshop where both in the Metropolitan area. tropical material and trident maples Since 2005, the Walter Reed were available to purchase. Community Center in Arlington VA, has In October, the NVBS will host Larry been the home of NVBS. We have been Jackel from Denver, CO, to speak conducting propagation workshops and conduct a bonsai workshop on open to all gardening and horticulture Ponderosa pines. Larry always brings groups that are interested in learnsome choice trees collected from the ing how to propagate rare and choice wild to sell and often brings slides of plants. We are looking for contacts in spectacular and unusual tree forms in gardening and horticulture groups that nature to inspire our bonsai designs. may have members interested in startFor more information about the NVBS, ing Satsuki Azaleas, Japanese Maples, visit our web site at http://www.nvbs. and unique conifers and evergreens us. o from cuttings and by grafting.

Club Meetings

We usually meet every second Saturday of each month, from 9:00AM to 12:00NOON at the Walter Reed Community Center on South 16th Street in Arlington, VA. All are welcome to attend our programs; however, to par-

Peter C. Jones first joined the club in 1972. He has been an active propagator of choice plants by grafting. He has twice served as president of the NVBS and is presently the outreach coordinator. He has developed a dwarf conifer/evergreen garden on the Walter Reed Community Center grounds for teaching purposes. SEPTEMBER 2014




Hosting Honey Bees in Your Garden by Alison Gillespie

Veteran gardeners know that a yard full of bees will bear more fruit than one without buzzing visitors. Honey bees are especially prized, since they can increase a garden’s bounty and provide a sweet, sugary treat of honey at the end of the summer. But gardening can be a demanding hobby, and not every grower has the additional time or money needed to set up and maintain a healthy hive as well as a healthy garden.

Your Garden, Their Bees

“I constantly meet people who want bees,” said George Meyer, former president of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association, who keeps hives in many locations all over Maryland. He says that an entire neighborhood can benefit from having a colony, since the 30,000 workers that live in an average

hive will travel as far as two or three miles to find nectar and pollen and, in the process, pollinate many plants and trees. Even so, not every yard is going to work as a beeyard. “Location, location, location,” Meyer said. “It sounds contradictory, but a hive needs to be in a place that is easy for the beekeeper to get to but out of the way of other people who might be around.” Some spots might prove to be too tempting to curious neighborhood kids, for example. Others might set the bees on a flight path that could be a nuisance to neighbors or their animals. But when a location has all the right elements, Meyer thinks the idea of gardeners hosting beekeepers can be great. “You just need to think about how you use your backyard,” he cautioned. Toni Burnham of the DC Beekeepers

Larry Marling and John Seibert inspect the balcony bee hive. Photo by Diane Seibert.




Alliance advises anyone who is interested in hosting a hive or two to get in touch with their local beekeeping organization. Her own group maintains a helpful set of links to all of the Metroarea bee groups at Each group maintains active message boards and/or discussion lists and can help gardeners locate a beekeeping partner. “I would also counsel both parties to such a relationship to set out ahead of time expectations about the relationship.” Beekeepers, she pointed out in a recent email, sometimes need to work after sunset or before dawn and might need to come any day of the week if weather demands it. Both people should share contact information that can be used 24/7 in case there is an

SPECIALfeature emergency, like a sudden wind storm. The two parties might also want to discuss how and when the relationship would or should be terminated. Burnham writes, “This sounds like a bigger hassle than it is – it just helps if both parties have mentally walked through the situation BEFORE potential problems arise.” Rob McKinney of the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia (BANV) thinks that partnerships between beekeepers and gardeners are going to become more common in the near future. A lot of the students now taking the BANV beginner beekeeping classes want to have bees but lack the land needed, and many who already have bees would love to have more than one place to keep them. “If one hive in one location suffers from something, you don’t have all your eggs in one basket,” he said. The best time of year to get in touch with the beekeepers, McKinney added, is in the winter, when the beekeepers are planning their coming season. “It can be a win-win, where the gardener gets the pollination and the beekeeper gets a place to keep their bees,” said Sean McKenzie, who keeps hives in several gardens in Northeast DC. There are many people who like to keep bees but lack the space, and finding a good location in the city can be especially tough. A gardener who plays hosts to bees should also avoid using pesticides that could harm the bees. “It would be ideal if the garden was organic,” said McKenzie.

Rent-to-Own Bees?

Larry and Karen Marling think they might be the only beekeepers in the region who will set up and maintain bee hives on someone else’s property for a fee. Through their company, Eco HoneyBees, the Marlings will place either a Langstroth or top -bar hive at a client’s home and then make subsequent visits to ensure the hive is doing well through the season. Initial placement fees are between $500-$550, and the post-placement consultations cost $75. “We’re putting hives in places where there wouldn’t have been bees because

Diane Seibert peeks through plexiglass into her balcony beehive. Photo by Alison Gillespie.

people just don’t have the time, especially in the DC area, where people are so busy,” Marling said. “Our clients have the ability to put out a lawn chair and just enjoy the bees.” Diane and John Seibert became Eco HoneyBee clients in 2013. Their topbar hive, which sits on a second floor balcony over the alley behind their house, has become the conversation piece of their Crestwood neighborhood in Northwest DC. Many of their closest neighbors have been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive. One neighbor across the street was so excited about the arrival of the bees that she even planted an apple tree in her own yard. Sometimes when the Seiberts are out checking their hive, neighbors stop to ask how the bees are doing. Although their gardening space is small, the Seiberts have noticed a tremendous increase in the production of their yard. The number of berries on their Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) has increased exponentially and, although the couple can only squeeze a few plants into their small veggie garden, they also notice they are able to get a lot more from each plant since the bees arrived. The Seiberts think that eventually they may be self-sustaining and no lon-

ger need the EcoBee service. They’ve already bought a beekeeping suit to wear so they can safely shadow Marling while he works, and they’ve been reading up on the subject, too. They haven’t taken any classes, but they might one of these years. “For now, we get a lot of on-the-job training when Larry comes by,” John said. “We get to see what’s happening and how he does it. Every time he visits, we learn a little more.” o Alison Gillespie is a freelance writer from Silver Spring and author of the book Hives in the City: Keeping Honey Bees Alive in an Urban World. Information is available at

For more information on bees and beekeeping, these local groups welcome your inquiries: • Virginia State Beekeepers Association: http://www.virginiabeekeepers. org/ • Virginia Beekeepers Directory: http:// • Association of Southern Maryland Beekeepers: http://gworrell.freeyellow. com/asmb.html • Beekeepers Directory of Maryland: • Maryland State Beekeepers Association: home.html SEPTEMBER 2014



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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

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

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

JULY/AUGUST 2008 • Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses • Edible Grasses to Graze On • Slug and Snail Control • Sage Advice: Sun-loving Salvias SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008 • Autumn Edibles — What to Plant Now • Beguiling Barrenworts (Epimediums) • Best Time to Plant Spring-blooming Bulbs • 14 Dry Shade Plants Too Good to Overlook

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2006 • Shade Gardening • Hosta Care Guide • Fig-growing Tips and Recipes

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

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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 OSoil T! S Selection and Care OUTree • Redbud OLD Viewing Spots for Virginia Bluebells • SBest

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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

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Washington Gardener Magazine September 2014 issueWashingtongardenersept14  

The Washington Gardener Magazine September 2014 issue is now out. It was emailed as a printable PDF attachment to all Washington Gardener Ma...

Washington Gardener Magazine September 2014 issueWashingtongardenersept14  

The Washington Gardener Magazine September 2014 issue is now out. It was emailed as a printable PDF attachment to all Washington Gardener Ma...