U.S. Botanic Garden’s New Exhibit: You Can Grow It!

img_4450Check out the U.S. Botanic Garden’s new exhibit — You Can Grow It! From February 18 through October 15, you can see tips and answers to some of the questions people ask most frequently about caring for plants in their own homes and gardens, including how to choose the best plant for their space and care abilities. The exhibit will provide answers to common issues about lighting, watering, fertilizing, and pests, as well as how to rescue a plant that experiences problems. If you are unsure of what kind of plant you can grow, you can find tips based on which direction your window(s) face in a four-panel “house” diorama.img_4446

The Conservatory gallery will feature separate sections with tips on topics such as foolproof plants (for those with a less-than-bright-green thumb); today’s popular succulents; tropical house plants; seasonal plants like amaryllis, Christmas cactus, poinsettia, and more; expert care tips on orchids, carnivorous plants, and others; how to propagate plants from seeds and cuttings; and even hydroponics. Outdoors, You Can Grow It! will showcase plants for growing outside including items for kitchen use like herbs and vegetables, container gardening, and more. 

img_4414Throughout the exhibit run, the U.S. Botanic Garden will offer programs, workshops, lectures, tours, and cooking demonstrations to showcase and provide training on gardening at home.

The U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC is open every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free. To learn more about the exhibit, visit www.USBG.gov/YouCanGrowIt. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Book Review: The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray

februarygardenkids2017-042The day that Wendy launched her new book at Politics and Prose in DC, I was at home reading about her life. Normally I skip the preface of any book but this time I enjoyed reading Wendy’s journey into gardening, which began when she became a mother, and her parents’ journey from China to Maryland, resulting in a successful business and a large vegetable garden. The Chinese Kitchen Garden is Wendy’s first book, a sublime integration of gardening and Chinese cooking. Divided into the four seasons, her book melds her own gardening advice on growing Asian vegetables with her parent’s ability to incorporate such vegetables into classic Chinese cuisine.

Wendy features 38 vegetables that are either native to China, commonly thought of as Chinese, or play a role in China’s culinary world. Each plant is labeled with its common and botanical names, Chinese transliterations, and pronunciations in Cantonese and Mandarin. Wendy describes the plant’s general use in the kitchen such as side dishes, entrees, soups, and salads and gardening methods for this area. Throughout the book are 20 family recipes incorporating the vegetables grown in her and her parent’s garden. Published by Timber Press, this book has excellent graphic elements such as Chinese characters, plenty of colored photographs, and easy-to-read sidebars plus resources for recommended reading, websites for more information, and companies that sell plants and seeds.

The first chapter, Spring, provides instruction on improving the soil, Chinese intensive beds, raised garden beds, container gardening, composting, and seed sowing. Wendy provides information on growing and cooking bamboo shoots, garland chrysanthemum, garlic chives, a variety of peas, and watercress. Recipes include “Bamboo Shoots and Pork Belly Braised in Sweet Soy Sauce” and “Stir-fried Flowering Chive with Roasted Duck.”

Summer addresses the typical problems of pests, diseases, weeds, and the need to water.  Wendy covers a variety of beans and greens, amaranth, bitter melon, bottle gourd, bunching onions, Chinese cucumbers, Chinese eggplants, Chinese peppers, daylily buds, fuzzy melon, and luffa gourd.  Recipes include “Bottle Gourd and Chicken Stir-fry” and “Long Beans with Garlic and Preserved Olives.”

Fall involves succession planting, seed saving, food preservation, and cleanup chores.  This chapter describes how to grow and cook with a choy, bok choy, choy sum, cilantro, gailan, ginger, kabocha, mustard greens, napa cabbage, radishes, stem lettuce, taro root, tatsoi, water chestnut, and winter melon. Recipes include “Kabocha with Ground Pork in Black Bean Sauce” and “Steamed Sea Bass with Cilantro, Ginger, and Scallions.” Several pages are devoted to her father’s signature dumplings with a recipe for “Crab, Pork and Napa Cabbage Dumplings.”

The story ends with Winter: techniques to extend the season, including cold frames, row covers, hoop houses, and cloches; growing cold-hardy vegetables; planning for the next year; and growing sprouts and microgreens indoors.

Throughout The Chinese Kitchen Garden, Wendy tells stories about her family: her husband and daughters, her father and mother, and her sister and her family. She has a very relaxed, easy-to-read style, as if she were chatting at the kitchen table, surrounded by her family. Those who are new to gardening will find this book to be a great introduction to growing Chinese vegetables in the Washington DC metropolitan area while those who are interested in cooking will be inspired to try the delicious recipes. Wendy provides more information on her website, wendykiangspray.com, her blog, greenishthumb.net, and on her Facebook page, The Chinese Kitchen Garden. This coming Saturday, February 18, Wendy will speak about her book at Rooting DC, an annual event in Washington DC.

Come and Celebrate Rooting DC’s 10th Anniversary — What a Blast!

rdc-tagline-logoLast year I attended Rooting DC for the first time and had a blast. Rooting DC is a free, all-day gardening forum that aims to provide education about urban food production and consumption to cultivate health and preserve the environment. There are many one-hour programs and an information fair with over 60 green businesses and non-profit organizations related to gardening and healthy eating.  Hosted by DC Greens, Rooting DC runs on a team of volunteers to make this a smooth and fun event. When I attended last year I collected a lot of information on local businesses, met well-known people in the gardening world, learned new gardening practices, and took lots of notes during the workshops.

Rooting DC opens at 9:00 am on Saturday, February 18. You can register in advance at the website or at the door. Although the event is free, a $10 donation is suggested. From 9:00 to 10:00 am you can visit the businesses at the tables in the atrium and get coffee and muffins/pastries.  Workshops begin at 10:00 am with the last one ending at 4:00 pm. There are four 1-hour sessions but within each session are about 15 to 16 topics in various classrooms. There is time to go from one session to the next and a break for lunch. I learned that it is best to download the schedule from the Rooting DC website to determine which session you want to attend before you get to the school. Map out where the classrooms are and where you want to go to take advantage of as many sessions as possible. Get to the room as early as possible to get a seat. Some are so popular that it is standing room only.

This year, Rooting DC is celebrating its 10th anniversary – it has grown from a small gathering of like-minded urban gardeners in 2007 to an annual event with more than 1,200 attendees. Fortunately, it is held in a high school with plenty of room, facilities, and even lunch options from local food trucks outside. Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street NW, is within walking distance of Tenleytown metro station in Washington DC. Don’t forget to bring a bag for handouts, a notebook, and your phone so you can take photos and tweet about the event at #rootingdc. See you there!

Philadelphia Flower Show Celebrates Holland’s Contribution to Gardening and Landscape Design

artist rendition, courtesy of GMR Design LLC

artists rendition, courtesy of GMR Designs

Now is the time to think about planning your trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest and longest running flower show in North America. This year the show will run from Saturday, March 11, through Sunday, March 19. The theme is “Holland: Flowering the World.”  Celebrate the beauty and ingenuity of Dutch culture, from vivid flower fields to innovative eco-design. The Philadelphia Flower Show will transport guests to the rainbow landscapes of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils and the cut-flower and bulb markets that have shaped Dutch history. The Flower Show will explore the innovation that has defined Holland’s approach to its unique landscape from windmills–one of the earliest uses of natural energy–to 21st century ecodomes and the Dutch Wave movement, which takes a natural and sustainable approach to landscape design. Leading designers from Holland, including Nico Wissing, Bart Hoes, Bart Bresser, and New Jersey born Carrie Preston will share their extraordinary floral and garden styles in major exhibits at the Flower Show.

artist rendition, courtesy of GMR Design LLC

artist rendition, courtesy of GMR Design LLC

The Flower Show is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Street, but you don’t have to drive by yourself. In the Washington DC metropolitan area, there are several nurseries, garden clubs, Master Gardener groups, public gardens, and park systems that offer day trips to the Convention Center. Green Spring Gardens, Brookside Gardens, and Greenstreet Gardens offer bus trips, contact them directly for more information. The Washington Gardener magazine offers two trips on different days: one from Behnkes Nursery and one from Silver Spring. Check out the various venues for date/time of departure, meeting locations, and prices which could include admission ticket, food, or entertainment. This is a walk-till-you-drop event: wear tennis shoes and bring your camera!

Philadelphia Flower Show http://www.theflowershow.com

Green Spring Gardens http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Brookside Gardens http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside

Greenstreet Gardens http://www.greenstreetgardens.com

Behnkes Nurseries http://www.behnkes.com

Washington Gardener magazine, Kathy Jentz, http://www.washingtongardener.blogspot.com

Peg’s Picks: February 2017 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

February brings so many gardening classes, workshops, and lectures —  time to get ready for the 2017 Gardening Season!

1, Wednesday, Lecture: Challenging Gardening Sites, 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Annapolis Horticultural Society. St. Anne’s Parish Hall, 199 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis, MD. http://www.anapolishorticulture.org

2, Thursday, Lecture: Finding Balance: “It’s not easy being green,” 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public. Rust Library, Old Waterford Road, Leesburg. VA. Sponsored by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

3, Friday, Lecture: Magnolias for the Home Landscape, noon to 1:00 pm Conservatory Classroom. Free, but must register, U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

3, Friday, Lecture: Plants that Bully, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

4, Saturday, Merrifield Garden Center’s free 10:00 am workshops: Creating Focal Points for your landscape (at Merrifield location); Gardening Q&A (Fair Oaks): Success with seeds (Gainesville) http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

4, Saturday, Pruning 101, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Free but must register. Sponsored by Casey Trees; held at American Elm Nursery, 50 Marina Drive, Alexandria, VA. Indoor lesson followed by hands on lesson outside, dress for weather. http://www.caseytrees.org

4, Saturday, Garden Design Basics, 11:00 am. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

4, Saturday, Flower and Vegetable Gardening: Starting from Seed, 2:00 pm. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

4, Saturday, Lecture: Bananas: Botany, History, Agriculture and Future, 10:30 to noon. Free but registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

4, Saturday, Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange, 12:30 to 4:00 pm, Green Spring Gardens, register at WGSeedExchange-GreenSpring.brownpapertickets.com. Admission fee is $20 but $15 if a Washington Gardener Magazine subscriber, or a “Friends of Green Spring” member. http://www.washingtongardener.blogspot.com

5, Sunday, Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series: Rescuing Eden, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

11, Saturday, Sustainable Landscape 1: the DIY Sustainable yard, 9:00 am to noon. Free but must register in advance. Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington. E-mail: mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

11, Saturday, Merrifield Garden Center’s free 10:00 am workshops: Houseplants with Fantastic Flowers and Foliage (Merrifield); Growing Amazing Orchids (Fair Oaks); Backyard Birds (Gainesville) http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

11, 18, and 25 Saturdays with a snow date of March 11, Basics of Gardening, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Free but register in advance, space is limited. Taught by Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff of Prince William County, Potomac Community Library, 2201 Opitz Boulevard, Woodbridge, VA. http://www.pwcgov.org/grow

12, Sunday Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series: The Presidents’ Gardens, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

13, Monday, Vegetable Gardening Part 2: Planning and Preparation 7-8:30 pm, Free but must register in advance. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. Also offered on 2/18 at Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington, in morning. E-mail: mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

13-16, Monday through Thursday, National Native Seed Conference. All day event. Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC. Fee and must register; hosted by Native Seed Network. http://www.nativeseed.info

15, Wednesday, Dealing with Deer and other Mammal Pests in Your Garden, 3:00-4:30 pm. Fee and must register, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. (301) 962-1451. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

16, Thursday, Workshop: Plant Propagation for Beginners, 6:30 to 8:30 pm Conservatory Classroom, Free, but must register, U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

18, Saturday, Vegetable Gardening Part 2: Planning and Preparation, 10:30 am to noon, Free but must register in advance. Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington.  Also offered on 2/13 at Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, in evening. E-mail: mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

18, Saturday, Merrifield Garden Center’s free 10:00 am workshops: The Magic of Night Gardens (Merrifield); Creating a Low Maintenance Garden (Fair Oaks); Outdoor Living Design (Gainesville) http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

18, Saturday, Eco-Savvy Symposium: Cultivating Biodiversity, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

18, Saturday, Lecture: Citrus: Botany, Chemistry, History and Future, 10:30 to noon. Free, but must register, U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

18, Saturday, Rootingdc, an all-day gardening event with many talks and lectures, 9:00 to 4:00 pm. Free but a $10 donation suggested. Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street NW, Washington DC. http://www.rootingdc.org

18, Saturday, Planting a Native Wildflower Garden, 11:00 am. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

18, Saturday, Attracting Birds to Your Backyard: Feeders, Plants and More 2:00 pm Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

18 &19 and 25 & 26, Saturday and Sunday, Tool Sharpening offered for fee, proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church. 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

19, Sunday, Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series: Top Ten Plants for Local Gardens, 1:30 to 2:30. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, VA http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

21, Tuesday, Winter Gardening: Not Too Early to Start, 7:00- 8:30 pm. Free but must register in advance. Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria. E-mail: mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

22, Wednesday, Carolyn Mullet presents 5 Designer Secrets to Take Your Garden to the Next Level, 7:30 pm. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Beltsville Garden Club. James E. Duckworth School, 11201 Evans Trail, Beltsville, MD. http://www.beltsvillegardenclub.org

23-24, Thursday and Friday, Chesapeake Green 2017 Annual Horticultural Symposium, Fee and must register. BWI Hilton Hotel, Linthicum Heights, MD. Sponsored by Maryland Nursery Landscape and Greenhouse Association. http://www.mnlga.org

24, Friday, Green Matters Symposium, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, fee and must register in advance. Sponsored by Brookside Gardens; held at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. http://www.montgomeryparks.org

25, Saturday, Wintertime Pruning and why it is the best to prune (some plants) 10:00 am to noon and also offered 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Free and must register in advance. Meet outside in front of 965 N. Longfellow Street, Arlington. E-mail: mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

25 & 26 and 18 & 19, Saturday and Sunday, Tool Sharpening offered for fee, proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church. 1:00 to 3:00. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

25, Saturday, Discouraging Deer from Grazing in the Garden, 11:00 am. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

25, Saturday, How and When to Prune Your Shrubs and Trees, 2:00. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

25, Saturday, Merrifield Garden Center’s free 10:00 am workshops: Bulbs with striking summer interest (Merrifield): Planning a Four Season Garden (Fair Oaks); Landscaping with Native plants (Gainesville). http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

25, Saturday, Starting from Scratch with Seeds, 10:00-11:30 am. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

25, Saturday, Crystalized Flower Workshop, 10:00-11:30. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

25, Saturday, Winter Seminar “Perennially Inspired.” 9:00 am – 3:30 pm. Fee and must register. Sponsored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Horticultural Society of Maryland; held at the Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt, 6501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD. http://www.mdhorticulture.org

25, Saturday, Middleburg Horticultural Symposium, “The Glorious Garden.” 9:00 am – 2:30 pm.  Fee and must register. Sponsored by the Fauquier and Loudon Garden Club. The Hill School, Middleburg, VA.  http://www.flgardenclub.org

25, Saturday, Montgomery County Master Gardeners Spring Conference. 9:00 am – 2:30 pm. Fee and must register. University of Maryland Extension Montgomery County Office, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. http://www.extension.umd.edu/mg/locations/spring-miniconference

26, Sunday, Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series: Coping with Deer, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Fee and must register in advance at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Hillwood Museum and Garden has “Gardener’s Focus: Preparing for Spring,” a 20-minute lecture/greenhouse tour by the staff horticulturist on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 1:00 -1:30 pm. There is a limited number of tickets distributed when Hillwood opens each of these days: February 14, 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, and 28. http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org

To celebrate all things George Washington (whose birth month is February), Tudor Place has reduced the admission fee to only one dollar in February! Tudor Place is Washington DC’s only historic house museum with family ties to Martha and George Washington. Highlights of the Washington Collection will be on display as part of all regular house tours and calendar programs. Learn about the relationship between the Peters of Tudor Place and Mrs. Peter’s grandparents at Mount Vernon. http://www.tudorplace.org

Margaret Roach of awaytogarden.com has published gardening books, produces a great podcast and blog, and is now delving into webinars. The “365-day Garden” is an hour-long slide talk followed by a question/answer session on Wednesday, February 8, 2:00 to 3:30 pm; and Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 to 8:30 EST. The “Seed Secrets or Everything You Wanted to Know About Seeds” is offered on February 21, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, and February 23, 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Fee and must register. http://awaytogarden.com/new-webinar-365-day-garden-margaret-roach/

New Videos on Plant Propagation From Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program has produced a series of 10 short videos on YouTube about plant propagation. Filmed in the Virginia Tech greenhouses, each video is about 4 minutes or less. Topics include seeding, transplanting, grafting, air layering, tomato grafting, and the many different types of plant division. These will be helpful as you begin to start seeds indoors now or if you are interested in dividing and multiplying your houseplants.

 

Starting Cool Season Veggies in Northern Virginia

Here is a handy chart courtesy of Seed Savers Exchange. Seeds or transplants of cool season veggies can be planted when the temperatures are at least 40 degrees, which is March and April in Virginia.  There are two types of cool season veggies. Hardy types can withstand a heavy frost and  temperatures as  low as 40 degrees so they can be planted two to three weeks before the average last frost. In Northern Virginia, the average last frost date is between April 10 and 21 so I arbitrarily pick April 15 to be able to remember. That means that I can either directly sow seed into the ground the weekend of March 25 (because I work during the week) or (having started the seeds indoors) I can plant the small plants into the ground. Semi-hardy plants can withstand a light frost and prefer slightly warmer temperatures toward 50 degrees so they have to be planted later, two weeks before average last frost date which would be the weekend of April 1. If a severe temperature drop would to occur, I would protect the plants by covering them with empty 2-liter plastic soda bottles that had bottoms cut off.

cool-season-crops-infographic