Petite Jenny’s Lavender-Rose Flowers Sway Like a Calder Mobile

Last year I received a small green plant that just sat in my garden all year long. It really did not grow much, it did not bloom, it just took up 6 inches of space. I assumed it was on its way to the pearly gates. This year, it has bloomed so well I would not mind having a few more! Lychnis ‘Petite Jenny’ has leaves at the base (a basal rosette) with inch-wide lavender-rose, tufted blossoms atop 12-inch wiry stems. Petite Jenny started blooming in April in my Virginia garden and should bloom all summer long. Because the flowers sit atop the thin stems, the blossoms sway in the breeze, much like a Calder mobile.

Now that it is flowering (its alive!), I realized I was fortunate to plant mine next to a ninebark called ‘Summer Wine’ (Physocarpus opulifolius). Summer Wine is a small bush with dark, red/purple foliage that complements Petite Jenny’s lavender-rose flowers and also provides a dark backdrop to make it easier to see the flowers.

Hardy to zone 5, Petite Jenny prefers full sun to part shade and more moist than dry soil. It is deer resistant and the flowers can be cut for arrangements. There is a “Jenny” that is a larger plant; Petite Jenny is a dwarf form with sterile blossoms (sterile blossoms have a longer blooming period). Petite Jenny is a Blooms of Bressingham introduction. If this great perennial is not available at your local independent garden center, contact http://www.musthaveperennials.com

Over a Dozen Gardening Events This Weekend in the Washington DC Metro Area

When I was writing my Peg’s Picks of Gardening Events for April 2017, I noticed at least 17 gardening events for this weekend April 21-23 alone. Check out the rest of the April gardening events at pegplant.com on the Classes/Events page.

Friday, April 21

21, Friday, Celebrate Earth Day! 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, free no registration required. National Garden U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

21, Friday, Garden Talks with Master Gardeners: Cover the Ground, 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

21, Friday, 10:00 am to noon for AHS members and noon to 4:00 pm for public and 22 Saturday 10 – 4 open to the public. American Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Market. Nominal fee for parking for non AHS members. 7931 East Boulevard Drive, Alexandria, VA. http://www.ahsgardening.org

Saturday, April 22

22, Saturday, Friends of Carlyle House Garden Day Herb & Craft Sale, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, free but there is an admission fee to enter the Carlyle House (actual site of the Mansion House Hospital featured in the PBS drama Mercy Street). 121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria 22314; (703) 549-2997. https://www.novaparks.com/parks/carlyle-house-historic-park

22, Saturday, London Town’s Plant Sale 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Members and volunteers receive a 10% discount on plants all weekend. Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD. http://www.historiclondontown.org.

22, Saturday through 29, Saturday, Historic Garden Week sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia, see website for schedule, tickets required. http://www.vagardenweek.org

22, Saturday, Garden Program: New Versus Classic Plants, by David Culp, 10:00 to 11:00 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

22, Saturday, Garden Program: Spring Blooming Natives, 10:30 to noon, 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

22, Saturday, Perennials for Every Garden at the Gainesville location, 1:30 pm, free. Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

22, Saturday, Planting Gardens with Native Plants, 2:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com

22, Saturday, Teaching Garden: Three topics: What’s That Weed? Beloved Plants of Master Gardener Volunteers and Vegetable of the Month. 9:00 am to noon, free but must register. Outside, dress for weather. St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Sponsored by the Prince William County Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners, http://www.pwcgov.org/grow

22, Saturday, 10 to 6; 23, Sunday, 10 to 5. Annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival. Free and dress for weather and walking. Downtown Leesburg, VA. http://www.flowerandgarden.org

22, Saturday, 10:00 am to noon. Lecture: Great Looking Lawns Using Bay Friendly Practices. Free but space limited so registration is encouraged. Visitors Auditorium, National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue NE, Washington DC.  http://www.usna.usda.org

Sunday, April 23

23, Sunday, Earth Day Festival at Brookside, free, no registration required. From 9:00 am to noon, volunteers help with planting projects and from noon to 4:00 pm is the festival. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

23, Sunday, Earth Day Miniature Garden workshop, 10:30 am to noon or 1:30 to 3:00 Fee. Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD. http://www.historiclondontown.org.

23, Sunday, Creating a Rain Garden, 2:00 pm, free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com

23, Sunday, Container Gardens with Pizzazz at the Gainesville location, 1:00 pm, free. Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

Time to Register for the Arlington/Alexandria Master Gardener Program

The 2017 Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training for Arlington County/City of Alexandria residents is now open for registration. There will be an orientation on May 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington, VA. If you would like to come and learn more about the Master Gardener program, contact the VCE Horticulture Help Desk at (703) 228-6414 or e-mail at mgarlalex@gmail.com. Note that there are other Master Gardener programs in the DC/MD/VA area which operate on different schedules. For more information on the Master Gardener program in general, see the Master Gardener page/tab at http://www.pegplant.com

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: Bleeding Heart

Last fall, a friend gave me the root of her bleeding heart plant she called Fred. Unfortunately it was some time before I could get the root from her that by the time I did, it was very dry and hard. I soaked it in a tub of water for a day before I planted it. It was so desiccated, I did not think it would make it through the winter. But this spring I was pleasantly surprised by a tuft of foliage peeking through the soil. Fred is alive! Since March, Fred has produced beautiful fern-like leaves and nodding racemes of pendulous blossoms. Each blossom looks like an earring or a puffy locket on a chain and is actually comprised of two outer rose-colored petals and the two inner white petals. If you turn the flower upside down and pull the rose petals apart you will see the lady in a bath. Lady-in-a-bath is another moniker for bleeding heart.

Bleeding heart is an herbaceous perennial that prefers a woodsy environment with moist soil that is high in organic matter. Some shade is best, can be morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled light. With such delicate foliage, you would think that rabbits would decimate bleeding hearts but both rabbits and deer do not seem interested in this perennial. However, by June the leaves do get yellow and ratty and eventually the plant goes dormant as summer’s heat arrives. In order to prevent a gap in the garden, other herbaceous perennials such as hardy geraniums or hostas can grow to fill in the gap during the summer or annuals can be planted in its place.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is the 15th of each month.

DC Water’s Bloom: Recycling Biosolids Into Soil Conditioner

DC and Maryland residents are in luck. Using state-of-the-art equipment, DC Water is now producing and selling Bloom, a soil conditioner made from Class A biosolids. According to DC Water, Bloom can increase organic content in the soil, increase drought resistance in plants, and provide essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Bloom can be used by gardeners for establishing flower and vegetable gardens, remediating poor soil, planting trees and shrubs, and improving and establishing lawns.

Biosolids are organic matter recycled from sewage, which have been treated and processed in order to be used as a soil conditioner. “Drinking and waste water — everything that goes down the drain – comes to DC Water to be cleaned up,” explained Bill Brower, program manager for Biosolids at DC Water. “Our equipment pulls out the solids, the organic matter, before the water goes to the Chesapeake Bay. The solids are heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to kill pathogens.” Class B has a reduced number of pathogens and is not used for gardening while Class A has essentially no pathogens; thus safe for homeowners and gardeners. By purchasing new equipment, DC Water has been able to create a Class A product with the intent to further their recycling efforts.

Using biosolids as a soil conditioner is not new in our country. Other cities such as Seattle, Tacoma, Austin, Houston, and Boston also use and sell their high quality biosolid soil amendment products. One of the more well-known brands among gardeners is Milwaukee’s Milorganite, which can be purchased in bags at garden centers.

“Adding Bloom to your garden is like adding compost,” said Bill. “Bloom breaks up clay, helps to build tilth, and helps to increase the community of microbes. Over time, Bloom increases drought-resistant properties in plants.”

Some people are concerned that using a biosolid product will have an offensive odor but Bill reassured me that Bloom does not. “Bloom has an earthy odor,” said Bill. “I was showing it to school children the other day and they said it smelled like burnt wood or like dirt.” Part of Bill’s job is to serve as community ambassador, introducing Bloom to gardening clubs and people who manage school and community gardens.  About 30 school and community gardens in the Washington DC area use Bloom in their soil.

Currently, DC Water produces two “varieties”: Fresh and Cured. Fresh is cheaper than cured at $2.50 per cubic yard but more alkaline than cured (8.47 pH) and contains more moisture. Because it contains more moisture, it is heavier and more difficult for a person to lift with a shovel. Thus the Fresh is ideal for landscapers who can use spreading equipment. Cured is $5.00 per cubic yard with a more neutral pH (6.79 pH) and less moisture. Because it is dryer, it does not stick as much to a shovel and is lighter to lift.

DC and Maryland residents can order by calling or completing the online order form. They can have Bloom delivered for a delivery fee or drive to Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, 5000 Overlook Avenue, SW, Washington DC, to have staff load their truck.

The Bloom website is very informative and lists the lab analysis of samples of both varieties with specific amounts of nutrients, metals, pathogens, etc.  Both have nutrients that plants need such as nitrogen and phosphorus, essentially no pathogens, and low concentrations of heavy metals. The presence of heavy metals is similar to the amount found in typical soils and is far below the level found to pose a risk to human health. Bloom meets all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for use in homes and gardens.

For more information contact Bill Brower, (202) 787-4296, bloom@dcwater.com or visit http://www.bloomsoil.com. To order, visit the website or call (202) 765-3292 Ext. 102.

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

Peg’s Picks: April 2017 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area is now posted on the Classes/Events tab at http://www.pegplant.com. There are over 70 events in April and that is not even including Historic Garden Week’s 30 tours the week of April 22-29. Let the games begin!

An Entertaining Lecture on Herbs at Merrifield Garden Center

Yesterday I attended Merrifield Garden Center’s free lecture on herbs and was pleasantly surprised by the great speaker and the event itself: part entertainment and part educational. Merrifield is known for its free seminars in the spring, which I have promoted on my website for years. The herb lecture was at the Fair Oaks location, which has a spacious room on the second level of the garden center. I arrived early and was surprised to find pastries, brownies, fruit, cheese, crackers, and coffee! Sarah, a Merrifield employee, created this lovely feast and topped it off with an eye-catching display of herbs. Apparently she is known for making such creative displays and generous offerings of refreshments. Sarah was a hoot!  She talked to everyone and encouraged people to submit their drawing on time!

I discovered that at each seat there was a handout on herbs, a 15% discount coupon to use that day or the following day, and a form to complete for the drawing. I did not know there would be a coupon and a drawing but I could tell there were plenty of “regulars” who knew the drill. They seemed to know each other and had been there many times. The mood was so friendly and jolly I almost thought they were part of a gardening club. Filling up on pastries, we completed our forms and dropped them in a large glass container.

At 10:00 am, right before the lecture, Peg Bier, also a long time Merrifield employee, drew slips of paper several times. I did not keep count but was surprised that there were several drawings, not just one. Winners could have their choice of circus tickets or a Merrifield gift card. I did not win but I did use my coupon to buy something after the event.

Peg then introduced our speaker, Nicole Schermerhorn, co-owner of A Thyme to Plant at Lavender Fields Herb Farm (wearing dark brown in the photo). A Thyme to Plant is a wholesale operation near Richmond, growing and selling USDA-certified herbs and vegetables. Her nephew manages Lavender Fields Herb Farm, the retail garden center that focuses on herb classes and demonstrations. Nicole was very entertaining and down to earth – I could have listened to her for more than an hour. She sprinkled her slide presentation with funny learning experiences and witty conversations with her husband. Nicole provided a lot of detail on cultural requirements, including growing herbs in raised beds, while her handout had information on specific herbs. She was very nice about answering everyone’s questions and offered to stay afterward. A few of the interesting tips I learned were: there are 200 varieties of rosemary but only a few are hardy in Virginia (Arp, Salem, and Hill Hardy); Vietnamese coriander is a heat-loving substitute for the cool-loving cilantro; and parsley is the most nutrient-packed herb one can grow (does not matter if curly or flat leaf). I liked the fact that there was a handout to take home about specific herbs and recommended varieties plus cultural requirements on the backside. If you are new to gardening or new to Virginia, I recommend attending Merrifield Garden Center’s free seminars, especially Nicole’s talk on herbs.