Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program Features Three Private Gardens in Washington DC, October 16

gc_web_logoOn Sunday, October 16th, visit three private gardens in Washington, DC, open to the public through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $7; children 12 and under are free. Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org  or call 888-842-2442 for more information. Gardens featured include:

Sessums + Biles Garden, 5081 Lowell Street, NW (near American University)

The Sessums + Biles Garden is a horticultural treasure where sustainability and design embrace. The client, a passionate gardener bored with traditional “green on green” landscapes, commissioned a garden with careful consideration to all seasons and where plant form, texture, and color are of equal importance. The result is a dynamic, ever-changing tapestry of predominantly native trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers. Sweeping paths, walls, terraces, and a water feature form the backbone of this unique garden. No herbicides or fertilizers are used, and pesticide use is strictly limited to the aging stand of hemlocks. The site is not irrigated, site water is reclaimed, and all garden material is composted on site. The garden is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation and the client is physically involved in all aspects of the garden’s maintenance.

Sessum + Biles garden, photo courtesy of H. Paul Davis

Sessum + Biles garden, photo by H. Paul Davis

 

The Barbara Downs Garden, 3321 P Street, NW

Located in Georgetown, this town garden exudes the spirit of Japan, a favorite travel spot of its owner. A dry streambed of randomly placed stones descends from the elevated rear of the garden and meanders to the house, terminating in a circular arrangement of stones that mimic a pool. The centerpiece of the garden, a sculptured millstone-shaped pink granite fountain surrounded by lavender plantain lily (Hosta x ‘Honeybells’) bubbles with life. Framed by crepe myrtle ‘Natchez’ (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’), the terrace of Stoneyhurst flagstone provides a reflective escape in this hidden urban garden.

The Nancy Gray Pyne Garden (street address will be given at other locations)

A journey through this secret garden in the heart of Georgetown takes the visitor up a series of formal terraced gardens and past a number of outbuildings that include a library, two greenhouses, and a freestanding theater. It culminates in a decorative walled vegetable garden designed and planted by Washington Post garden writer, Adrian Higgins. The garden had been assembled over the course of a century or more, but it was given its character in the 1930s as one of the major Washington projects of a pioneering landscape architect named Rose Greely. The main terrace is a walled garden perched above the house. Its most animated feature, a geometric fountain, is aligned with both the rear entrance of the house and, at right angles to it, a rectangular lawn framed by a path and boxwood plantings. The upper garden functions as its own formal garden of shrubs and small trees, as well as an entrance for the theater, known as the playhouse, and the larger greenhouse (and potting shed). The upper garden is also a place of paths. One leads to a parking lot at the end of an alley. Another passes a long boxwood walk that leads past a fenced swimming pool, which was once an ornamental garden and, later, a tennis court. The vegetable garden is bounded by more brick walls and by the back of the garage and a cedar fence. The space, sixty feet by thirty feet, also contains the second greenhouse built by Nancy Gray’s husband, Gordon Gray, who was a passionate orchid grower.

Nancy Gray Pyne garden, photo courtesy of The Garden Conservancy

Nancy Gray Pyne garden, photo courtesy of The Garden Conservancy

In addition, at the garden of Nancy Gray Pyne, bring your questions throughout the day for Andrea Filippone and Eric T. Fleisher of the New York-based firm, F2 Environmental Design. Andrea Filippone is a boxwood expert who has advised Mrs. Pyne on boxwood selections in her garden, and Eric T. Fleisher is the organic guru in the firm, who believes that the basis of all successful gardening is an understanding and nurturing of the soil biosphere.

The Garden Conservancy created the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. Its mission to share American gardens with the public is achieved each season, through the work of hundreds of private garden hosts and volunteers nationwide. Digging Deeper, a new series of Open Days programming, is designed to offer a deeper look into the gardening world through immersive experiences with artists, designers, gardeners, authors and other creative professionals. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program. For information and a complete schedule of Open Days visit the Garden Conservancy online at www.opendaysprogram.org.

Register Soon for 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling in Washington DC Metro Area

Fling-2017-Logo-300dpiI have never attended a Garden Bloggers Fling before but have heard great things. Each summer, garden bloggers gather and tour private and public gardens in a chosen city. It sounds like a great way to meet fellow gardeners, see new plants, be exposed to different design ideas, and learn about garden-related companies. Hosted by volunteer garden bloggers in that particular city, the Garden Bloggers Fling is a 3 ½-day event that must take a tremendous amount of work for the volunteers to not only scope out great gardens but work with sponsors to help defray the cost as well as hammer out the logistics of transportation, food, and lodging.

Next summer, the Garden Bloggers Fling will be here in my very own backyard and I am so excited, I can’t wait to attend. Tammy Schmitt has volunteered to host the event; she lives about 40 minutes away from me in Virginia. I met Tammy a few years ago at a nursery trade show. She is a very organized, detail-oriented person with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, energy, and creativity. Just reading her blog, Casa Mariposa, is exciting and creative. I have been fortunate enough to visit her organic, pollinator-friendly garden, a testament to her plant knowledge.

Tammy has attended a few flings herself plus she has lived in this area for a long time. Her vision for the 2017 Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling is to showcase the Nation’s capital as well as suburbs and country in Maryland and Northern Virginia. To others, it may seem like these states are far apart but in terms of driving distance, they are so close together we natives think nothing of driving over the lines every day. I myself live in Northern Virginia, work in Maryland, and often visit the Smithsonian gardens in DC on the weekends. Tammy’s vision will give garden bloggers a taste of city, suburban, and country; small versus large garden; plus private gardens versus public botanical gardens. Tammy has recently written a post on her site about the fling with an interactive story map to illustrate the type of gardens and locations. To learn more about what a fling is like, visit the official Garden Bloggers Fling website and Facebook page. Currently, there is a lot of information about the most recent fling in Minneapolis.

The 2017 Capital Region Gardener Bloggers Fling will take place on Thursday, June 22, through Sunday, June 25, 2017. Bloggers will visit several gardens in the Smithsonian area of Washington DC as well as the U.S. Botanic Garden. They will visit the Franciscan Monastery gardens and Dumbarton Oaks in DC as well as Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (public) in Virginia and Brookside Gardens (public) in Maryland. There are several private gardens in Maryland and Virginia and a winery in Virginia.

Registration to attend the fling opens online at noon EST on Saturday, October 15, 2016. In order to register you must be a garden blogger who has a blog at least 6 months old by registration date and have a minimum of one post written on or after April 2016. Registration is done online through Eventbrite. The registration fee is $300 and Eventbrite charges $17.09 processing fee. You will see an optional $15 for participating in the wine tasting. Everyone will visit Stone Tower Winery in Virginia but this optional fee is to sample their wares. The registration fee will pay for the Reston Limousine buses that will take people to the gardens; the food at the Thursday night welcome party; lunches on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; dinner on Sunday; and admission fees to gardens. Out of town guests will stay at the Hyatt Hotel in the Reston Town Center (Reston, VA) which has quite a lot of good restaurants, shops, and movie theaters. Tammy has worked with the Hyatt Hotel to obtain a discounted price on the rooms. Bloggers pay for the hotel and transportation to the hotel on their own; everyone pays the $300 to attend the event. Locals like me would just drive to the Hyatt and park in the garage every morning of the event to get on the coach bus. Many garden-related companies are very aware of the fling and are happy to send materials, gifts, and information to Tammy to distribute to the attendees (so think “swag”).  You won’t go home empty-handed and you certainly will go home with hundreds of photos, new friendships, and great memories. For more information, contact Tammy at her website or at tammy@capregiongardenbfling.com

Look forward to seeing you there!

Fall is the Time to Plant Yellow Potato Onions

yellowpotatoonionFall is the time to plant yellow potato onions. Also known as perennial onions, yellow potato onions are edible, like onions, but perennial as in once you have them, you will always have them. I first heard of potato onions (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) from Pam Dawling, manager of the Twin Oaks Community farm in Louisa, VA. She, along with folks who live there, grow a variety of vegetables on 3 ½ acres to feed the 100 people who live in the community. Just reading her blog gives me a lot of great ideas and information on growing vegetables here in Virginia, although on a much smaller scale. I looked to her neighbor Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) in Mineral for a source of potato onions. SESE sells vegetables, flowers, and herbs that do well in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (i.e., our hot and humid summers) which makes them a good source of seeds and plants for my area. They too have a blog, a website, and a print catalog full of information for growing veggies in Virginia.

Although I ordered the potato onions in the spring when I ordered seeds, I knew they would not be shipped until the fall. My shipment arrived right before Labor Day and the bulbs were wrapped in a white plastic netting, along with a 4-page pamphlet on cultural requirements.

According to SESE’s pamphlet, potato onions should be planted in early to mid-November for my Northern Virginia area.  Because they are bulbs, it is best to plant them in a well-drained, sandy loam soil with a neutral pH. They are heavy feeders; nitrogen should be applied when leaves are 4-6 inches tall but not during bulb formation.  The bulbs should be planted with ½ to 1 inch of soil above the bulbs and a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to control weeds and protect against temperature extremes. Rows should be 6 inches apart. I have not decided where to plant them yet but I know I will have to find a full sun, weed free area that I can water often.

By summer 2017, the bulbs should have grown and divided to produce many more bulbs. Each individual bulb should form a cluster of bulbs at the base, which visible in the shipment I received. After I dig up the bulbs, I have to cure them, and then select the large ones to use in the kitchen, like an onion, and re-plant the smaller ones in the fall (hence perennial). I am looking forward to trying these in the garden and cooking with them next year.

Local Demonstration Gardens: Learn Which Plants Grow Well In Your Area

African Blue Basil

African Blue Basil

As the summer ends, I like to visit the local demonstration gardens to see how the flowering plants and vegetables fared (especially during this hot, dry summer). Demonstration gardens are a great way to learn what works in the Washington DC metro area and how to manage our local issues, such as deer. The gardens are open to the public, every day, from dawn to dusk, free. Each county that has a Master Gardener program usually has at least one demonstration garden, managed by the volunteer Master Gardeners. To find such a garden, call your local county Master Gardener program representative (your local extension agent) and ask if they manage a demonstration garden. Some have several to showcase various environmental conditions and some use the garden as a place to teach or host workshops.

The Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (Arlington and Alexandria) have five demonstration gardens:

  • Glencarlyn Library Community Gardens, corner of S. Third and S. Kensington Streets, off Carlin Springs Road, Arlington
  • Simpson Park Gardens (E. Monroe Avenue at the end of Leslie Avenue, next to the YMCA in Alexandria
  • Organic Vegetable Garden, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Marcy Road, Arlington
  • Rock Quarry Shade Garden, Bon Air Park on Wilson Boulevard and N. Lexington Street, Arlington
  • Sunny Garden, Bon Air Park, Arlington

The Prince William County Master Gardeners manage a very large “Teaching Garden” at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Within this large garden are mini gardens to illustrate certain conditions or issues, such as a deer resistant garden, shade garden, vegetable garden, and pollinator garden.

The Loudoun County Master Gardeners have Ida Lee Park on Ida Lee Park Drive, Leesburg, VA; which they also use as a teaching garden.

The Montgomery County Master Gardeners have a demonstration garden at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD.

The Prince Georges County Master Gardeners are fortunate to use the Kitchen Garden at the Riversdale Gardens and House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, MD.

To learn of more public gardens in the area, read the tab “Public Gardens” on my site, http://www.pegplant.com.

'Lady in Black' Aster

‘Lady in Black’ Aster

Peg’s Picks: September 2016 Gardening Events in Washington DC Metro Area

September might look like summer is coming to an end but the gardening world is exploding full of activities and events!

1, Thursday, Fall gardening in Containers, 1:00 pm. Free and must register. Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th Street, South Arlington, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

1, Thursday, Turf Renovation, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

3, Saturday, Under the Arbor Series: 2016 Herb of the Year is the Chile Pepper, 1:00 to 4:00 pm in the National Herb Garden, free. Presented by the Herb Society of America and Arboretum staff. U.S. National Arboretum. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington, DC. http://www.usna.usda.gov

6, Tuesday, Simpson Demonstration Gardens Stroll, 11:00 am to noon, 426 E. Monroe Avenue by the YMCA, Alexandria, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free. http://www.mgnv.org

6, Tuesday, In the Garden Series: Meadow Gardening, 9:30 am, fee unless a member and must register. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD. (410) 557-9570 ext. 261 or rhebert@ladewgardens.com. http://www.ladewgardens.com

6, Tuesday, Putting Your Herb Garden to Bed, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA. Also offered on September 8, at Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

7, Wednesday, Putting Your Herb Garden to Bed for Winter, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

8, Thursday, Beneficial Insects in the Garden, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

8, Thursday, Putting Your Herb Garden to Bed, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. Also offered on September 6, Tuesday, at Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

8, Thursday, Lecture: Paw Paw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit by author Andrew Moore. 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Fee, must make reservations and book signing to follow. Sponsored by the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia at Blandy, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce, VA. (540) 837-1758. http://www.blandy.virginia.edu

9, Friday, Lecture: All the Presidents’ Gardens by Marta McDowell, author of same book, noon to 1:00 pm. Free but must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

9, Friday, Lecture: Planting in a Post Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. Free but must register. Doors will open at 6:00, lecture from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

10, Saturday, Under the Arbor Series: Lemon Herbs, 1:00 to 4:00 free. In the National Herb Garden. Presented by Herb Society of America and Arboretum staff. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington, DC. http://www.usna.usda.gov

10, Saturday, Class: Trees 201: Learn to Identify Trees (classroom instruction and field session) 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, Casey Trees, 3030 12th street NE, Washington DC. Free but must register in advance, light breakfast and lunch provided. Casey Trees, 3030 12th Street NE Washington DC. (202) 833-4010. http://www.caseytrees.org

10, Saturday, Paw Paw Festival, noon to 4:00 pm. Meadowside Nature Center, 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville, MD. Admission fee. http://www.montgomeryparks.org/events/pawpaw-festival-2/

10, Saturday, Ten Unusual Garden Beauties Tour, 7:30 to 8:30 am. Follow horticulturist Carol Miranda for a tour of the gardens to discover unique plants that can add pizza to any garden. Free with paid admission the gardens, wear walking shoes. Pre-registration required. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, VA. http://www.novaparks.com/parks/meadowlark-botanical-gardens

10, Saturday, Lecture: Pome Fruit: Apples, Pears, and Quince: Botany, History and Production by Todd Brethauer, 10:30 am to noon. Free but registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

10, Saturday, Fall Garden Day, Plant Sale and More at Green Springs. 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. Free. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

10, Saturday, Friends of Brookside Gardens (FOBG) plant sale, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Brookside Gardens, Visitors Center South Terrace (8:00 to 10:00 am for FOBG members only). Second day, 11, Sunday, 9:00 am to noon and 10 percent discount for FOBG members. http://www.friendsofbrooksidegardens.org for details and listing of plants, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

10, Saturday, It’s Basic Gardening – Down and Dirty with Carol Allen, 1:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

10, Saturday, Fall Herb Faire, 9:00 to 5:00 pm. Lavender Fields Herb Farm, 11300 Winfrey Road, Glenn Allen, VA. Free (also offers classes during month). http://www.lavenderfieldsfarm.com

11, Sunday, Organic Vegetable Garden Taste and Tour, hosted by VCE Master Gardeners. 1-4 pm. Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free. http://www.mgnv.org

11, Sunday, Composting Program in Conjunction with Organic Vegetable Garden Taste and Tour, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. No need to register, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

13, Tuesday, Lecture: Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener by Joseph Tychonievich, horticulturist and author. Sponsored by the Maryland Horticultural Society. Vollmer Center Auditorium, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Green Spring Avenue, Baltimore, MD. Call (410) 821 5561 or e-mail programs@mdhorticulture.org for more information; free for members; fee for non-members. http://www.mdhorticulture.

14, Wednesday, Eat Fresh in December: Cold Frames and Hot Beds. 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Wednesday, Lecture: Pollinators, Their Importance and Status by Sam Droege, biologist with U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh, Virginia Native Plant Society Potowmack Chapter; Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists; VCE and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, free. 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Sherwood Regional Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA. http://vnps.org/events

14, Wednesday, Non Native Invasive Plant Removal, two parts, first part is class at Casey Trees at 3030, 12th Street, NE, Washington DC from 6 to 9 pm. Second part is a field session on Saturday 9/17 from 9:00 am to 11:30 am. Free and must register. (202) 833-4010. http://www.caseytrees.org

15, Thursday, Special Event: National Garden 10th Anniversary Gala, 6:00 pm. Must register in advance and fee.  U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

15, Thursday, Fall Soil Preparation for a Fertile Spring, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

16, Friday, Lecture: Old Roses for a Modern World, noon to 1:00. Presented by the curator of Brooklyn Botanic Gardens’ Cranford Rose Garden. Free but must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

16, Friday, Garden talks with Master Gardeners; Grow Beautiful Bulbs, 1:30 to 2:30 pm, Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

17, Saturday, Seed Saving in the Garden, from Vegetables to Flowers to More, with Carol Allen 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

17, Saturday, Saving Tender Plants and Tropicals for Next Spring — Propagation and Recovery with Carol Allen, 1:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

17, Saturday, How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden, 7:30 to 8:30 am. Join horticulturist Tammy Burke on a tour through the Pollinators Garden, free with paid admission to the gardens, pre-registration required. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, VA. http://www.novaparks.com/parks/meadowlark-botanical-gardens

17, Saturday, Lush Autumn Container Workshop, 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Create a beautiful autumn garden container. Class includes plants, container, soil and design help. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

17, Saturday, National Garden 10th Anniversary Celebration 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Free and no registration required; an all day festival for all ages, family event. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

17, Saturday, Hyattsville Environmental Expo, featuring keynote speaker Thomas Rainer, author of Planting in a Post Wild World at 1:00 pm. Also opportunity to buy rain barrels. Festival is 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at City Building, 4310 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville, MD. http://www.hyattsville.org/grassroots.

17, Saturday, First Annual Paw Paw Festival, noon to 5:00 pm, admission fee. Hosted by Michael Judd’s Ecologiadesign.com. Event at Long Creek Homestead, parking at Brook Hill Church, 8946 Indian Spring Road, Frederick, MD. http://www.ecologiadesign.com

17, Saturday in the Garden, Plant Propagation, Taught by VCE Prince William County staff and Master Gardener volunteers in the Teaching Garden of the St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. 9:00 am to noon; free but registration requested. Call (703) 792-7747 or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org.

18, Sunday, Divide and Conquer Your Perennials with Carol Allen, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

18, Sunday AutumnFest Celebration at Glencarlyn Library Community Garden (and plant sale), sponsored by VCE master gardeners of NoVA. 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Glencarlyn Library, 300 S. Kensington Street, Arlington, VA. http://www.mgnv.org

19, Monday, Tree Selection for Urban Street and Small Yard Plantings, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Sponsored by the Alexandria Beautification Commission.  Mt. Vernon Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

20, Tuesday, Landscape for Life, a 6-session class on sustainable landscaping developed by Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden. Classes meet every Tuesday morning from 10:00 am to 12:30 from 9/20 to 10/25. Fee and must register. Classes held at Crossroads United Methodist Church, 43454 Crossroads Drive, Ashburn, VA. http://www.lflclass.wordpress.com

21, Wednesday, topic to be announced. 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

21, Wednesday, A Day with Floral Designer Holly Heider Chapple. 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Sponsored by the Leesburg Garden Club. Fee and must register. Held at the Riverside on the Potomac, 44337 Spinks Ferry Road, Leesburg, VA. http://www.leesburggardenclub.org.

22, Thursday, Rain Gardens, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington, DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

24, Saturday, Under the Arbor: Natural Dyes, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Free. In the National Herb Garden. Presented by the Herb Society of America and Arboretum staff. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington, DC. http://www.usna.usda.gov

24, Saturday, Garden Program: All About Figs, 10:0 to 11:00 am. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

24, Saturday, Workshop: Autumn Seed Collecting 10:30 to noon. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

24, Saturday, Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. A collection of vendors from various states. St. Clements Church, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA. Corner of Quaker and Oakcrest. www.parkfairfaxnativeplantsale.org

25, Sunday, Simpson Park Gardens Fall Open House, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, 426 E. Monroe Avenue by the YMCA, Alexandria, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free. http://www.mgnv.org

25, Sunday, Hometown Habitat Film Screening. 90 minute film, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Seating limited; advance registration requested. Sign up at http://bit.ly/2av1P2g. Sponsored by the VCE Master Gardeners of Arlington/Alexandria and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment. Arlington Central Library Auditorium, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA http://www.mgnv.org

28, Wednesday, Inside Arlington Kitchens: Fermented? Home cooking? 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

28, Wednesday, Tour Backstage Pass of the USBG Production Facility, 10:30 to noon. Must pre- register but free and meet at greenhouses. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

28, Wednesday, Lecture: Dr. Richard Olson, Director of the U.S. National Arboretum, 7:30 to 9:00 pm at the Beltsville Garden Club, James E. Duckworth School, 11201 Evans Trail, Beltsville, MD. Free and open to the public. http://www.beltsvillegardenclub.org

29, Thursday, Fall Tree Care Tips, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

29, Thursday, Fall Pruning and Care of Trees and Shrubs by Scott Johnston of Johnston Tree Care, 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Workshop begins in library and then outside for demonstration and hands on practice, dress for weather. Free but reservations required. Sponsored by the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia at Blandy, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce, VA. (540) 837-1758. http://www.blandy.virginia.edu

29, Thursday, Lecture: Soil Evaluation and Composting, sponsored by VCE. 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA.  Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

29, Thursday, Ladew’s Fall Lecture Series: Living with Southern Style with James Farmer (author of many books). Fee and must register in advance, optional lunch and by reservation. Coffee and Danish served at 10:00 am, lecture begins at 10:30, book sale afterwards. Contact Rachel Hebert (410) 557-9570, ext. 261; rhebert@ladewgardens.org. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD.  http://www.ladewgardens.com

30, Friday, Garden Talks with Master Gardeners: Plant More Natives. 1:30 to 2:30. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

Start Hardy Annuals now for Spring Flowers

love-in-a-mist

love-in-a-mist

I forgot to grow zinnias. Every year I grow zinnias so I can put a vase of flowers on my desk at work but for some odd reason, I didn’t this year. Now in the heat of summer I don’t have many options to choose from but next year I will grow zinnias for summer blooms and on top of that, will start even earlier with spring flowers.

dianthus

dianthus

To learn more about increasing the diversity of flowers in my Northern Virginia garden, I have been following Lisa Mason Ziegler’s virtual book study for the past month. Each Friday for 10 Fridays, she posts a 10-minute video that corresponds to a chapter in her book, Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques. The videos can be viewed on her website any time and she is more than happy to answer questions.  Lisa manages a commercial cut flower business in Newport News, Virginia. She is well known in the horticulture field, has written books and given lectures, and has an online garden shop called The Gardener’s Workshop. Lisa is an expert on hardy annuals, which prefer to bloom during spring’s cool temperatures. Hardy annuals differ from the summer annuals in that the seeds are sown in August/September or February/March, depending on the plant. In contrast, summer annuals, like zinnias, prefer the heat so they are sown after the danger of frost has passed in late April/early May.

Of the 30 plants mentioned in her book, I have seeds of six plants on hand. I can start snapdragon, dianthus, and feverfew indoors now and transplant at the end of August. I can direct sow love-in-a-mist, larkspur, and calendula seeds at the end of August to the beginning of September. All of these will bloom in the spring and peter out when summer arrives which will increase my number of cut flowers from spring to early summer. From then on the summer annuals can take over and I will look for a few more in addition to zinnias. In her videos and in her book, Lisa discusses her preference for direct sown versus transplants and starting in the fall versus early spring. If the plant is hardy to a zone colder than one’s own zone, plant in the fall. If the plant is not has hardy as one’s own zone, plant in early spring.  However, early spring can mean cold, wet soil so she suggests preparing the bed in the fall and covering with mulch or landscape fabric to prevent weeds and to enable the ground to be worked easily in February and March.

So far I have viewed 5 of the 10 videos and I have read the book. If hardy annuals are something you would like to try, you can catch up by visiting her web site and listening to her videos or buy her book on her site or at a bookstore but it is not necessary to have the book in order to follow along with her videos.

Success with Eggplant This Year!

eggplant (2)On June 13, I posted an article about my frustrations with growing eggplant here in Northern Virginia. I had tried several times only to be defeated by flea beetles or improper pollination. This year I tried growing them in EarthBoxes and I am pleased to say it worked. Not only do I have plenty of eggplant but my family loved my  eggplant parmesan! I really like eggplant as a summer annual in the garden: structurally, the plant provides large striking leaves and dark purple fruit. Now I am inspired to grow different varieties and to try different eggplant recipes. Maybe even get a few more EarthBoxes!