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

The following are Peg’s Picks of local gardening events for August 2016. If you are new to the Washington DC metro area, check out the classes/events tab on my site for gardening events that have occurred in the past 12 months to get a feel for regularly occurring events.

3, Wednesday, Food Preservation: Can, Freeze, Dehydrate, Ferment. 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

4, Thursday, Orchid Repotting, 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

6, Saturday, Fall Gardens Can Be Great, Planning for a Fall Vegetable Garden. 10:00 to 11:00 am at the Loudoun Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden at Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA. Free. Call (703) 777-0373 or visit http://www.loudouncountymastergardners.org

6, Saturday, Grow It Eat It Summer Open House, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Hosted by the Montgomery County Master Gardeners at the Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Most events free. https://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/grow_it_eat_it/8.6%20program%20schedule.web_.shade_.pdf

10, Wednesday, Hydroponic and PVC Pipe Gardening, 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

10, Wednesday, Food in the Garden series “Gardens and Community,” 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Fee and must register in advance. Will take place at the Smithsonian’s Victory Gardens, Washington DC (Constitution Avenue entrance of the National Museum of American History) http://americanhistory.si.edu/topics/food/pages/food-garden

11, Thursday, Houseplants 101, 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

13, Saturday, Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening: Extending Your Harvest, 10:30 am to noon. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Sunday in the Organic Vegetable Garden, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Potomac Overlook Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

17, Wednesday, Vegetables for Fall, 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

18, Thursday, Floral Design: Building a Winning Arrangement, 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

20, Saturday, “Class: Trees 101,” 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Casey Trees, 3030 12th Street NE Washington DC. Free but must register in advance. (202) 833-4010. http://www.caseytrees.org

20, Saturday, National Honeybee Day, 10:00 am to noon, Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. Free but there is a charge for a craft ticket. Designed for children and adults. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

20, Saturday, Cover Crops, Succession Planting, and Rotation in the Vegetable Garden. 9:00 am to noon. Saturday in the garden series, hosted by the Prince William County Master Gardeners and Virginia Cooperative Extension Prince William County staff. Free but registration requested. Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. E-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org (703) 792-7747

24, Wednesday, Preparing the Garden for Winter, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 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

25, Thursday, Rose Care, 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

27, Saturday, Best All Round Landscape Shrubs, 11:00 am. Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

28, Sunday, Keep ‘em Fed: Tips to Extend the Vegetable Garden Through the Fall. 1:00 pm., Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

27 and 28, Saturday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday noon to 3:30 pm. Annual Begonia Show and Sale, hosted by the Potomac Branch of the American Begonia Society at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. Free and begonias for sale. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Remember the DC Parks and Recreation has a Summer Garden Workshop Series. More than 50 free workshops every Monday, Wednesday and various Saturdays from April 18th to September 28th. Focused on practical urban gardening and taught by the leaders of DC urban garden movement. Monday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Deanwood Rec – 1350 49th St. NE; Wednesday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Raymond Rec – 3725 10th St. NE; Saturday Classes: 10-12pm – Times and locations vary.  Check registration for more details:
http://bit.ly/UrbanGardeningPrograms

A full schedule flyer is at this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/node/1124742

For more info about all DPR Urban Garden Programs click on this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-programs

 

Corpse Flower to Bloom This Week at U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington DC

Peak Bloom in 2013

Peak Bloom in 2013

Take your kids to see the corpse flower! The plant went on display at the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) Conservatory on July 22 and should be at peak bloom between this Thursday and Sunday, July 28-31. Once fully open, it usually remains in bloom for 24 to 48 hours and then quickly collapses. The plant is famous for its large size and pungent odor — it emits a putrid scent while in bloom to attract pollinators such as carrion beetles and flies. Native to the tropical rain forests of Indonesia, Amorphophallus titanum can take several years to several decades to store enough energy to bloom so there are very limited times that the public can see the bloom in the United States. The USBG last displayed a blooming corpse flower in 2013. The USBG is open to public free of charge every day of the year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, the Conservatory will stay open until 8:00 pm while the corpse flower is on display and will remain open until 11:00 during peak bloom (forget the kids, think of this as an unusual “date”). The USBG Conservatory is at 100 Maryland Avenue SW; (202) 225-8333.

Track the bloom’s progress via live video at http://www.USBG.gov/CorpseFlower

Successes in my Virginia Garden: July 2016

Cardinal climber among oregano and sage

Cardinal climber among oregano and sage

July is a good time to take stock of the garden and determine what worked and what didn’t. This year I tried growing cardinal climber because I have banisters and rails in several locations on my property. Cardinal climber (Ipomoea x multifida) is a flowering vine, grown as an annual in Virginia. It is easy to grow indoors in the spring from seed which I obtained from Renee’s Garden. In May, I transplanted them outside and trained them up to the banisters with yarn. They learned quickly and began to wrap themselves around the banisters. Now that it is hot, they bloom every day in full sun. The flowers are bright red and simple but I discovered that they add a pop of color against the other plants. The leaves are very lacy and the vines are light enough to weave into neighboring plants (I like it when two or more plants tumble into each other’s space).  Cardinal climber is a winner in my book.

Vanilla Cream marigold with Cossack Pineapple ground cherry

Vanilla Cream marigold with Cossack Pineapple ground cherry

The other winner flower this year is ‘Vanilla Cream’, part of the Alumia series of French marigolds from Park’s Seed. I started the seed indoors in the spring although it was not necessary, I could have started them outside later. In May I plant them outside in a row in front of a vegetable bed so the lawn service crew wouldn’t get too close to the veggies with the weed wacker. The marigold plants have filled out nicely. Each bushy plant has several blooms at a time. The flowers are unusual for a marigold, they are anemone-shaped and bright yellow. I like the fact that they are a clear solid yellow — they glow like beacons in the garden.

ground cherry

husks pulled back from ground cherry fruit on spoon

Speaking of yellow, this year I grew Cossack Pineapple ground cherries. I bought seed from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and started them indoors under lights in very early spring. I was surprised at how well they germinated. In May, I transplanted several in my tomato patch and although I thought I gave them enough space I did not realize how fast they grew. Mine are a few feet wide and tall and completely cover the ground. Members of the tomato family, the fruit is small like a pea covered in a papery husk. The husks are green on the plant and gradually turn yellow and drop to the ground. I have learned that some of the ones on the ground are empty, maybe something got to them before I did, so I gather the ones on the ground and gently touch the yellow ones on the plant to see if they will drop into my hand. The fruit really does taste like pineapple but without the zing so more like a cross between a pineapple and an apple. They can be eaten raw, used in desserts, or used in savory dishes like salsa.

These are just a few success stories in my garden, more to come!

Gardening in Virginia Despite Mosquitoes

EnglishIvy

English Ivy can harbor adult mosquitoes

If you are like me, you are plagued by mosquitoes in the garden. It is one thing to stay out of their way at dusk but it is quite another when the Asian Tiger attacks you all day long. Last year the mosquito population was so bad I could not go outside and I started to wonder if there was a better way. This spring, I contacted several companies to see if my property could be sprayed to prevent mosquitoes while not harming pollinators or my edibles.  I don’t have a pond or pets but I have quite a lot of edible plants intermixed with other plants on the property.  A lawn service mows the grass but I never know when the crew is coming. Plus, I knew I would not always be at home to let the pesticide applicator know where the edibles were in the garden nor would I be able to inform the lawn service crew when and if the place was just sprayed with a pesticide. All of these factors made it complex for me to figure out how to control mosquitoes but fortunately I was able to attend a free presentation at a local library.  Kirsten Conrad Buhls, Extension Agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Arlington County, gave an excellent Powerpoint presentation entitled “Gardening in the Time of Zika: Nuisance Mosquito Management.”

I learned that there are 40 mosquito species in Virginia in a variety of habitats but most are aquatic. Up until the mid-1980s, the most problematic species was Culex, which came out at dusk and fed at night. This species lives in the woods and prefers the type of stagnant water that usually does not occur near residential homes but they can also breed in “container water.” Container water is the fresh water that collects from rain and sits in pockets or depressions in objects or in containers.

After the mid-1980s, a Southeast Asian native arrived called the Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. The Asian Tiger is active during the day and prefers to breed in container water. The Asian Tiger has a cousin, Aedes aegypti, who also prefers to breed in container water. Both are vectors for transmitting diseases and both can transmit the Zika virus but A. aegypti is more effective and considered a primary transmitter.  Both could prosper here in Virginia, as in we have the appropriate environmental conditions, but currently Virginia does not have a substantial A. aegypti population. At this time, Zika is not established in a population of mosquitoes in America.

Only females bite humans to get a “blood meal” before laying eggs. They are cold blooded so they don’t bite if the temperature is below 50 degrees but they can live as long as 2 to 3 months and adults that hibernate can live up to 8 months. This means that the problem is temporary; it exists only in the hot summer months.

Because they breed in container water which is common in residential areas, anything that collects water should be dumped after it rains. Mosquitoes require as little as one tablespoon of water to lay eggs and it can take as short a time as 3 days for a new generation. After it rains, either dump the water or eliminate the object (e.g., put watering cans back inside the tool shed or throw away old tires). Be aware of what can collect water such as open trash bins, pets’ water bowls, potted plant saucers, toys, buckets and barrels, and the corrugated gutters. If the water cannot be dumped, such as a pond, make sure the pond has plenty of mosquito larvae eating fish, dragonfly larva, frogs, toads, and other such organisms. For rain barrels, use the mosquito dunks that are made of a safe bacteria. Or transform the water feature so that the water is moving instead of still by installing a bubbler or waterfall. Mosquitoes do not like moving water or moving air.

Kirsten dispelled common myths: Bug Zappers are not effective killers of mosquitoes, bats do not prefer to eat mosquitos, and purple martins are not big mosquito eaters. Plants that are reputed to repel mosquitoes do not work if they are just sitting in the landscape; however, a dense groundcover such as English ivy can harbor adult mosquitoes. It does not matter what you eat but mosquitos are more attracted to big people and prefer men over women.

If you are going to garden, wear long sleeves, long pants, socks, and shoes, or spray yourself with repellants such as DEET (25-30 percent), Picaridin (20 percent), oil of eucalyptus, or IR-3535 (Merck 3535), which is found in Avon’s Skin So Soft. Spraying Listerine and using dryer sheets, VapoRub, or vanilla are not effective protection.

The most environmentally friendly effective control is to control the larva stage. Spraying the adult mosquitoes in the landscape should be the last resort and should be based on surveillance data. The most popular mosquito adulticide for home landscapes is permethrin but it is toxic to fish, aquatic arthropods, and the non-target insects (pollinators).  Don’t be fooled when the pesticide applicators try to sell you on the fact that it is “natural” based on a chrysanthemum plant. What they are spraying is not natural, it is a chemical. There are substances called pyrethrins that are the active ingredients in pyrethrum, an extract of a flower, and these are are natural insecticides that act by blocking chemical signals at nerve junctions. However, commercial sprayers are not spraying pyrethrins. They are spraying permethrin, which is based on pyrethroids, synthetic pesticides. Permethrin is a pyrethroid insecticide that is light-stable and has a longer duration of activity against insects than pyrethrins. So what the company is selling and spraying on your garden is permethrin, a chemical that will kill aquatic life and pollinators and render vegetables, herbs, and fruits non-edible.

Mosquitoes have a flying range of 600 feet, about 1 to 2 miles. If your property is sprayed, it will kill the existing ones but the next day more can fly in. If you spray your garden and your neighbors don’t, you can always inherit your neighbors’ mosquitoes. Commercial companies may tell you that the spray last for a month but that does not prevent new mosquitoes from entering nor does the spray continue to kill for up to a month. In my mixed edible garden, only the grass could be sprayed which gets cut every few weeks. Since my grass gets cut by a service, I am concerned that the pesticide company will spray with a chemical one day and the lawn service crew will come and cut the grass the next day. I don’t know what harm that chemical would cause if the crew were to breath it in as they were cutting.

The presentation cleared up a lot of confusion and I decided not to have my garden sprayed. I will be more vigilant about dumping water on my property and educate the neighbors to do the same. I will try the oil of eucalyptus and I will cut back my English ivy as best I can. I will still garden in the cool morning with long sleeves and pants and then I will spend the hot afternoon writing about mosquito control in my air conditioned home.

To learn more about mosquito management, call the Arlington County Extension Office at (703) 228-6414 or visit the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia website at http://www.mgnv.org. The website has a tab devoted to the subject that has several links to resources including the Powerpoint presentation. https://mgnv.org/zika-and-mosquito-control/

You Can Grow That: Hyssop for the Fourth of July

hyssopToday’s “You Can Grow That” falls on July 4. “You Can Grow That” is a collaborative effort by gardeners across the nation to encourage others to grow something by posting about a plant on the fourth day of the month. Because today is Independence Day, I chose to write about hyssop, a popular colonial herb. Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis, was introduced to the Americas by John Winthrop, Jr., in 1631. It is documented that he brought hyssop seeds, along with other herb seeds, from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is also documented that Quaker farmer and America’s first botanist, John Bartram, grew hyssop in Philadelphia. George Washington grew this herb at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s records mention hyssop at Monticello. Bernard McMahon, a Philadelphia nurseryman, included hyssop in his list of kitchen herbs in his book, The American Gardener’s Calendar, published in 1806.

Traditionally, hyssop has been grown for medicinal and culinary qualities. Hyssop tea helps with chest congestion. As an antiseptic, hyssop has been used to heal wounds. The leaves have a menthol taste and can be used to flavor green or fruit salads, make tea, or used in preparing meat or game dishes. Flowers are used as a garnish or in salads. The leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dry (they dry well). Hyssop also is used in perfumes, liqueurs, and wines and as a strewing herb.hyssop

Today, hyssop is popular as a landscape edible and beneficial plant for pollinators. Hardy to zone 3, it is a perennial in my Virginia garden which is partly why it was so popular with the colonists. It comes back year after year and seems to be deer and pest resistant. I certainly have had no problems with mine. Hyssop has dark green, lanceolate leaves that are opposite to each other on the stem and each pair is at right angles to the one above, giving a whorled appearance. The plant is bushy if left to grow to its height of 2 to 3 feet but can be clipped to be a border plant. Mine rewards me with purple flowers from June through August but there are white flowered and pink flowered types as well. The flowers are small but many on a stem, which can be cut for flower arrangements.

Hyssop can be grown in full sun or morning sun to afternoon shade, in well-drained soil, with little or no fertilizer. It is easy to grow from seeds, cuttings, or division and usually the large nurseries will carry it in the herb section in the spring to early summer.

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

These are Peg’s Picks of local gardening events in July. July may be hot but it is a busy time in the garden as well as in the Washington DC metro gardening world. If it gets too hot for you, cool down inside with Lisa Mason Ziegler’s free, virtual Cool Flowers book study (see last entry).

2, Saturday, The Summer’s Best Hydrangeas, lecture, 11:00 am, Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

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

6, Wednesday, Pollination, Pollinator, and Flowers, 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

7, Thursday, Growing Flowers Using Organic Methods: Walking Tour of a Local Cut Flower Farm with Barbara Lambone at Greenstone Fields, 38223 John Wolford Road, Purcellville, VA, (will be cancelled if rains). Free, 7:00 pm., Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

7, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and also presented on July 28. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

7, Thursday, Getting Your Orchid to Re-Bloom, 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

9, Saturday, Bring the Shade Garden to Life with Perennials, lecture, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

9, Saturday, Saturday in the Garden “Compost Happens”, 10:00 am to noon. Free talk at Loudoun County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden in Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

9, Saturday, Jam Preserve Workshop, 9:30 to 2:30. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC, Fee and must register. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.comhttp://www.fmgg.org.

10, Sunday, The Birth of a Rain Garden: From Start to Finish, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

12, Tuesday, Bearded Iris Care, lecture by staff horticulturists, 9:30 am. Free for Ladew members; fee for non-members; registration required. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD. (410) 557-9570 ext. 261, e-mail rhebert@ladewgardens.com. http://www.ladewgardens.com

13, Wednesday, Marvelous ‘matoes, a tomato cooking demonstration by the Cook Sisters. Fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. (301) 962-1470. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

13, Wednesday, Lasagna Gardens: The Layered Approach, 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, Thursday, Rejuvenate the Midsummer Herb Garden, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. 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

14, Thursday, Home Irrigation, 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, Saturday, Lotus and Water Lily Festival, 10:00 to 4:00 pm, Free, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE Washington DC. http://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.html

16, Saturday, Lavender Wand Making Workshop, 10:00 am to noon. Free. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

16, Saturday, Tips for a Happy Garden: Mulching, Watering and Protecting Your Plants from the Heat, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

16, Saturdays in the Garden, Getting your Lawn, Landscape, and Vegetable Garden Ready for the Fall, 9:00 am to noon. The Teaching Garden at the Benedictine Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Presented by Prince William County Master Gardeners. Outside, dress appropriate. Free but must register. http://www.mgpw.org

16, Saturday, Native Trees and Shrubs for Home Gardens, 10:00 to 11:30 am. Fee and must register. Presentation by Green Spring staff horticulturist. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

17, Sunday, The Benefits, Beauty and Diversity of Perennial Groundcovers, 1:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

17, Sunday, Sunday in the Organic Vegetable Garden, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Free and hosted by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

20, Wednesday, Grow Your Own Cutting Garden and Old Fashioned Flower Show, 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Free and open to the public. Takoma Horticulture Club, 7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma, MD. http://www.takomahort.org.

20, Wednesday, Seed Saving, 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, Thursday, Composting Basics, 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

23 and 24, Saturday and Sunday, 27th Annual Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale, times vary, depend on the farm, 21 farms involved, check out web site for farms, times, and map. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/agservices/agfarmgtour.html

23, Saturday, A Survey of Shade Trees, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

27, Wednesday, Soil Building, Composting, Compost Tea, 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, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and again on July 7. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

28, Thursday, All Things Lavender, 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

30, Saturday, Lecture: Mints: Their Botany, Chemistry, and Uses, 10:30 to noon. Free but must register in advance. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

30, Saturday, Spicing Up Your Gardens and Containers from Now through Fall, 11:00. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

30, Saturday, Honey Extraction Workshop, 9:30 to noon and noon to 2:30 (two sessions, register for one and there is a fee). Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center).  E-mail: gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

Summer Garden Workshop Series in DC

DC Parks and Recreation has a Summer Garden Workshop Series. More than 50 free workshops every Monday, Wednesday and various Saturdays from April 18th to September 28th. Focused on practical urban gardening and taught by the leaders of DC urban garden movement. Monday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Deanwood Rec – 1350 49th St. NE; Wednesday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Raymond Rec – 3725 10th St. NE; Saturday Classes: 10-12pm – Times and locations vary.  Check registration for more details:
http://bit.ly/UrbanGardeningPrograms

A full schedule flyer is at this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/node/1124742

For more info about all DPR Urban Garden Programs click on this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-programs

 Cool Flowers Virtual Book Study

Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, VA, is hosting a virtual book study for her book Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques. Starting Friday July 15, she will teach how to grow hardy annuals (flowers) such as bells of Ireland, snapdragons, and sweet peas. Each Friday for 10 weeks (1 week for each chapter), she will show a short video and answer questions. There is no fee and it is not required to have the book although it will certainly be beneficial to read along. If you are like me and work on Fridays, you can sign up at her web site to have the weekly links sent to your e-mail or you can visit the web site any time. Lisa has been a cut flower farmer since 1998 and has built a very successful business. She produces 10,000 stems each week during the growing season on 1 ½ acres. She has written several books, sells seeds and supplies, hosts workshops, and gives presentations across the county.

Saturdays In the Garden with Prince William County Master Gardeners

tweety statue

Tweety in the Woodland Garden

This month I attended “Saturday in the Garden” at the Teaching Garden. Hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Prince William County staff and Master Gardener volunteers, this month’s event was “Lessons from the Deer Resistant Garden, Woodland Garden, and the Four Seasons of Interest Garden.” For me it was a 45-minute ride from my house in Fairfax County to Prince William County but easy to find. The program was free and outside in the garden, from 9:00 am to noon. Set on the grounds of the St. Benedict Monastery, the Teaching Garden is quite large, in full sun with the exception of the woodland garden and home to deer, critters, and ticks.

Solomon's seal

Solomon’s Seal in Woodland Garden

About twenty of us sat in chairs under tents while Nancy Berlin, coordinator of the Prince William County Master Gardeners, presented the speakers, all Master Gardener volunteers, and agenda. We received a handout listing each garden’s inventory of plants and characteristics. There were three presenters for three garden beds who first talked for a few minutes under the tent and then guided us to the beds. We also visited the Cook’s Garden and had the opportunity to buy plants culled from the gardens. The Master Gardeners gave everyone water bottles, milkweed plants, and a variety of seeds.

Harriet Carter started us off in the Woodland Garden, which was heavily shaded and vulnerable to deer. This garden demonstrates alternatives to growing grass in tree-shaded areas of one’s yard and is low maintenance with drifts of mostly native plants. Although it is basically dry shade, the volunteers have rain barrels and soaker hoses to use during extended times of drought. At this time of year, June, there were no flowers but Harriet showed us large photos of the spring blossoms for each plant. Harriet pointed out hellebores, witch hazels, bluebells, woodland phlox, toad lilies (“which deer do not eat”), Solomon’s seal (“the foliage make a good groundcover”), wood poppies, and epimediums. Harriet has the lead on this particular garden and you could tell it is a labor of love. She is trying to develop a glen of ferns, is learning that the yellow twig dogwood needs more sun, and just planted a summer blooming rose campion for a little bit of color. She also pointed out the garden’s “mascot,” a statue of a girl with small birds on her arms, named Tweety.

bears breeches

Bear’s Breeches in the Four Seasons of Interest Garden

Jean Bennett gave us a tour of the Four Seasons of Interest Garden, which was one of the original gardens started by Sister Pat, a nun who also was a Master Gardener. This bed was created to show year round beauty and blooms from late March through mid-November. She said that in the winter they have colored bark from the yellow and red twig dogwood and flowers from witch hazels and hellebores. In early spring they have daffodils (they sell the daffodil bulbs in the fall), followed by iris and then dianthus, gaillardia, spiderwort, and red hot poker plants in the summer. One of the more unusual plants is the bear’s breeches. With its large coarse leaves, it is easy to see why deer don’t like them.  Jean recommended the sweet pepper bush as a nice native shrub to have at home. The threadleaf coreopsis and daylilies were just starting to bloom. The only ornamental grass in the garden was a red switch grass (“a great grass to grow in Virginia”). Currently its green blades are tipped with red but by fall the leaves will turn burgundy color.

Leslie Paulson showed us the Deer Resistant Garden although she cautioned that the only truly deer-resistant plant is the one the deer do not eat today. Leslie suggested using textured, thorny, fragrant, waxy, and/or poisonous plants. The younger the plant the more likely the deer will eat it and the younger the deer the more extensive their palate so they will try a wider variety of plants.

sumac

Sumac in the Deer Resistant Garden

Leslie showed us a beautiful sumac bush, only a few feet high. Sumac is a large shrub or small tree, very common on Virginian roadsides. It is more noticeable in the fall when the leaves change color but trained as a shrub in the garden, sumac adds elegance with its lacy leaves. Leslie recommended growing lion’s tail next to it because its tall orange flowering structures make a great combination. There was blue flowering nepeta which is in the mint family so deer do not like it (“the white flowering one behaves itself a lot better than the purple one”) and alliums (“all alliums are poisonous to deer”). There was a large area covered with fuzzy lamb’s ears, a low growing native type and a taller type with large flowers that bees love. Yarrow was blooming and two ornamental grasses, pink muhly grass and red switch grass, will provide color in the fall.

squashwithcontainer

Squash and Nasturtiums in the Cook’s Garden

Harriet gave us the tour of the Cook’s Garden which was fenced to keep out the groundhogs, rabbits, and deer. They use their own compost but are starting to experiment with cover crops such as alfalfa, buckwheat, and crimson clover to add nutrients back to the soil. To control small bugs they hand pick and put them in a jar with soapy water which they call the “bad bug swimming pool.” We saw potatoes blooming and tomatoes with basil planted nearby as a companion plant. There were Brussel sprouts under a row cover to keep bugs out, onions protruding out of the ground, and squash plants with nasturtiums nearby as a companion plants. Next to each squash plant was a plastic container with drainage holes submerged in the soil. Harriet explained that the squash leaves will cover the ground so filling the bucket with water will ensure that the water reaches the roots.  A large bushy cilantro plant was flowering in the corner, attracting pollinators. We then walked to another area that was netted on all four sides, much like a rectangular box, which contained sweet potatoes.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and highly recommend this monthly event. I plan to go back at different times of the year to see how the plants change and to view the rest including the Zen, white, children’s, fairy, fragrance, mailbox, lavender, bee/butterfly/hummingbird, rock, shrub, and native plant sections. The gardens are open to the public every day but volunteers recommend that the public check in with the Monastery office before entering.

Saturday in the Garden is held once a month from April through October, 9:00 a.m. to noon, in the Teaching Garden, St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136. The program is free but registration is requested to ensure adequate handouts and weather cancellation notifications. Call (703) 792-7747 or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org to register; visit the link below for more information http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/vce/Pages/Saturday-in-the-Garden.aspx