Deer-Proof Bulbs for Spring Flowers

snowdrop blossoms in the woodsFall is the time to purchase spring-blooming bulbs in the Washington DC metro area. There is a wide variety of choices but if you have a severe deer problem, you may want to plant deer-proof bulbs. I know, you say, there is no such thing as “deer-proof” but with bulbs there are a few that are actually poisonous. I spoke with Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, VA, who explained the difference between deer-proof and deer-resistant. Continue reading

Plan for the Fall and Winter Garden



August is the time for harvesting the summer’s bounty in the vegetable garden while thinking ahead to a winter’s garden. Even though it is hot and humid, you have to plan now to have even more edibles in the fall and winter. These edibles prefer cool temperatures. Often these plants are not bothered by as much disease and pests as in the summer plus you as a gardener are not bothered by heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. Continue reading

As mentioned in Episode 17 of Gardens ‘n Plants Podcast

As mentioned in this week’s episode of Gardens ‘n Plants podcast, here is the recipe for the lemon verbena cookies.

Lemon Verbena Cookies

1 cup butter softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh, young lemon verbena leaves, minced
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream butter, sugar, lemon verbena, vanilla, and eggs together. Then add dry ingredients. Chill for at least one hour. Roll into balls, flatten a little, and place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. Use young, small lemon verbena leaves that have not developed the hairs so leaves are smooth.

lemon verbena cookies


Here are the photos from River Farm, home of the American Horticultural Society, in Alexandria, VA. It is open to the public Monday through Friday now. I saw beautiful tall sunflowers and very lush, toothache plants (Spilanthes acmella), which I have been trying to grow from seed myself but mine are not this large. I also saw a very spiny plant that is a member of the tomato family called purple devil or five-minute plant (Solanum atropurpureum).


sunflowers in front of the American Horticultural Society office


Solanum atropurpureum

Purple devil plant (Solanum purpureum)


toothache plant

toothache plant (Spilanthes acmella)

Here is a photo of the new miniature Knock Out rose called Petite. You will find it in nurseries in a light green plastic container with the words “Meet Petite” on it. This is part of the Star Roses and Plants Knock Out rose series so has the same disease resistance but is about 18 inches tall with red flowers and dark foliage.

miniature rose

Don’t forget to read the Monthly Events tab on my website to obtain the details on the upcoming gardening events I mentioned in this episode of Gardens ‘n Plants podcast. Tune in next week to learn about plants, gardens, and gardening in the Washington DC metro area.

Heirloom Flowers: Four O’Clocks

yellow four o’clocks in my garden, 8:30 pm

A few years ago my family visited Monticello in the summer. I was struck by how large Thomas Jefferson’s four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) were compared to mine. I also liked the fact that it was a plant he grew and could still be grown today as an heirloom. Continue reading

Black Magic in the Garden: Ornamental Rice


Close Up of Black Madras

A few years ago, I visited friends who had a garden open house or rather an open garden. Tracy and Bill Blevins, owners of Plantsmap, invited friends to visit the garden which was comprised of a variety of types of plants. They set up tables in the driveway to share seeds and cuttings and offer refreshment. It was a great idea, I met new people and plants. Tracy generously shared seed she had collected from her plants and I was able to bring one unusual type of seed to try in my garden. Continue reading

Culinary Herb Recipes To Try This Summer

parsleyThis summer, as you cut and harvest your culinary herbs from your garden, try using them in a variety of basic recipes. Here are a few simple recipes — the herb you use depends on the flavor you want so try experimenting. For easy reference, print this article and tape it on the inside of your kitchen cabinet along with the list of herbs you are growing. Continue reading

Got Deer? Try These Tactics in the Garden

deerNewcomers to this area will eventually see deer standing on the roadside or venturing out of the woods at dusk. At first, they admire the lovely bucolic sight, gentle deer, twitching their tails, flicking their ears back and forth. But as the newcomers settle down and try their hand at gardening, they learn that the deer are not as cute as they once thought. Continue reading

Gardens ‘n Plants Podcast: Episode 13

Lavender from Blooming Hill Lavender Farm

Today on the Gardens ‘n Plants podcast, Teri and I talked about our personal gardens and how gardeners may be seeing pests in their gardens. We discussed the importance of knowing the good bugs from the bad bugs and their various stages (egg, larvae, adult stage). Here is a link to books on identifying pest and diseases in the garden. My favorite book is Jessica Walliser’s Good Bug/Bad Bug. You can always contact extension agents and master gardeners to help with pests and disease issues. Maryland has a good website called Home and Garden Information Center and Virginia has several places to contact, here is a link to more information. Continue reading

Update on Stem Cuttings to Multiply Your Plants


Weigela roots coming out of container

In May I posted an article on propagating plants with stem cuttings. At the end of June, I checked on my cuttings which had been sitting in plastic bags on the deck, in the shade. I opened the bags and discovered that rosemary and weigela cuttings had roots coming out of the bottoms of the containers but the spirea had minimal roots.

I took them out of the bags and placed them in a very shady place and watered them well. I continued to watch and water because even though they had rooted, it was not a lot of roots to bring up the water they would need to compensate for the high rate of transpiration in the summer’s heat. After a few weeks, I moved them to a sunny place on the deck.


rosemary roots coming out of container

For the rest of the summer, I will keep them on the deck in containers. As they grow, I will pot them up in larger pots. In the fall, when the temperatures cool down and the plants have grown large enough to survive a transplant, I will put these in the back of the garden. This place is in full sun and usually I do not water with a hose so they will learn to survive on their own with rainwater. This is much like raising children and sending them off to college, but they will survive and next summer, after their freshmen year, they will thrive.



Edible Flowers from the Summer Garden

roseSummer is here and the garden flourishes. As you pick flowers for arrangements and harvest vegetables for dinner, you may want to experiment with another crop: edible flowers. Chances are you edible flowers in your garden already. Edible flowers can add flavor, color, and interest to just about anything – drinks, desserts, and main dishes. Edible flowers are flowers from plants that can be eaten safely. While many are tasty and used for flavor, others add color and interest to a meal, decorate a dessert, or garnish a cocktail. Continue reading