Category Archives: Events

Upcoming Events from Gardens ‘n Plants Podcast: Episode 10

If you listened to the latest episode of the Gardens ‘n Plants, we mentioned several upcoming events. These are not all events but just new items for the upcoming weeks. I also share events on my Facebook pegplant page. Tune into the next episode of Gardens ‘n Plants on June 8 to hear about more gardening events or check out my Facebook page. Continue reading

Upcoming Events from Gardens ‘n Plants Podcast: Episode 9

Before COVID-19, every month I would list local gardening events in the Washington DC metro area on my website. These were in-person lectures, workshops, and garden tours. Now of course, I am not able to list in-person events but there is still plenty happening virtually. During the Gardens ‘n Plants podcast show, I highlight several events in the upcoming 2 weeks (the podcast is biweekly). Continue reading

Making Composting Easy

keeping eggshells for the compost bin

container for produce scraps and eggshells, lined with plastic bag

This week is International Composting Awareness Week. Each day I will post composting information on my website or my social media accounts. For me, the trick to composting is to figure out how to make it work for you so it becomes easy. If it is easy, you will compost. In my suburban garden, I have two Geobins in the backyard. Continue reading

International Compost Awareness Week

Magnus Kallas from London designed the poster for this year’s theme, Soil Loves Compost

Today through Saturday, May 9, is International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW). Traditionally, ICAW is promoted by group activities and events throughout the world but this year there are plans to celebrate with social media, Zoom, videos, etc. In the United States, the ICAW is managed by the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation. Their website has information on composting for home gardeners. The theme for 2020 is “Soil Loves Compost.” Continue reading

Learning About Gardening Online

Since we have started this teleworking life, many of us are able to watch more shows online. Although we may be working from home during the day, the absence of a commute, errands, and basically a social life, grants us more time than before. Plant lovers and gardeners can take advantage of this to learn about gardening online in the Washington DC metro area.  Below is a sample of resources for webinars, videos, and online courses. No doubt, there are more; e-mail me if you know of virtual methods for learning about gardening at pegplant at gmail dot com. I may even post an addendum if we find ourselves social distancing for an extended period. This list is in no order; some are free videos while others require registration and payment. My intent is to provide resources of reliable and accurate information instead of having people randomly search on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, Good Gardening Videos has more than 1,000 gardening videos curated for accuracy and quality. This is a non-profit, ad-free educational campaign to find and promote evidence-based gardening videos and to help more accurate ones be made.

And if you are on YouTube and Facebook, no doubt you have seen Laura LeBoutillier aka “Garden Answer.” Laura has produced many videos on gardening as well as do-it-yourself projects, which are free to watch. She and her husband started filming gardening videos as a hobby and have become so successful they manage Garden Answer as a full time business. She has partnered with companies such as Proven Winners, Espoma, Gardener’s Supply Company, and Bonide so you will often see her promote products on her shows.  Although she lives to the west in zone 5 most of her videos are applicable to this area.

Another familiar face on Facebook is Philadelphian Doug Oster who has created the Everybody Gardens website and has produced the “In the Garden” video series on YouTube. He is a prolific writer, filmmaker, and author and he also has a radio show. Doug frequently appears on Pittsburgh Today Live Television show as their local garden expert.

And who could forget P. Allen Smith in Arkansas? He has produced so many videos that if you enter his name on YouTube you will see short vlogs, longer videos, and even full-length television shows. Plus, he produces a digital magazine called Naturally Magazine (I view mine on Issuu). When this is over I would love to visit Moss Mountain Farm.

Kerry Ann Mendez of Perennially Yours in Maine is a well-known garden speaker, author, and garden designer. She has a beautiful website, listing many webinars. On YouTube there is a video of her giving a presentation to an audience called “Growing Honkin’ Hydrangeas in the Northeast.”

Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of the The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, VA, manages a very successful cut flower farm. She has written several books, gives presentations (including in the Northern Virginia area), and has produced online courses for seed starting, cut flowers, cool flowers, and flower farming. She is queen of cool flowers and for her books she has produced videos where she discusses each chapter and answers questions. You will often see her on Facebook Live.

Charlie Nardozzi is a well-known garden expert, he has published books, gives presentations, provides garden tours, and produces a library of on demand webinars at his website Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Topics include small space edible gardening, cottage gardening, native and invasive plants, organic pest control, and pollinator gardening. Charlie also publishes a free, informative newsletter. He lives in Vermont and I would love to hear him speak if he ever travels to this area.

The Ecological Landscape Alliance is a New Hampshire membership-based organization with a mission of promoting sustainable approaches to landscape design, construction, and management. They host events, some of which are near this area, and distribute a newsletter. Many of their webinars are suitable for home gardeners. For example, there will be a one-hour webinar on protecting pollinators for $10 for non-members or free for members, but some webinars are free.

Bluprint which used to be Craftsy, has popular garden figures such as Ellen Ecker Ogden, Karen Chapman, David Culp, Debra Lee Baldwin, and Jodi Torpey. They provide online courses for which you  must register and pay for on the Bluprint website but if you like their topic or their style you should check out their own websites.

Pith and Vigor Rochelle Greayer is a designer in Boston who has an online course called Garden Design Bootcamp and one called Planting Design Bootcamp. From her website, it looks like she may be producing additional ones. She has published a book and publishes a digital newspaper type of publication.

Karen Chapman is a garden speaker, author, and designer in the State of Washington. I have heard her speak in this area and she is an excellent speaker. She is a container guru with many online courses on creating beautiful containers. Karen has just published a book on deer resistant designs and has a webinar on this topic on her website Le Jardinet.

Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

free seed swap

At the end of the month, I list the gardening events for the next month in the Washington DC metro area. Last year, in 2019, there were more than 1,000 events and exhibits, which is an average of 90 per month or 3 per day. We have a lot of botanical activity in the Capital Region! I have just posted the March 2020 events and there are more than 100 events. The number increases as the gardening season warms up. To be in the know, you can either check my “Monthly Events” tab or you can subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, my free newsletter, to have the link to the Monthly Events sent to your e-mail box at the end of the month. This is a great resource for planning your social calendar.  It also enables you to reserve your spot in advance — some events are so popular they sell out fast. Plus my list is cumulative, thus serving as a resource if you are a garden club member looking for a speaker or a speaker looking for a venue. To give you an example, below are the activities for the upcoming 2 weeks. For the rest of March, click here.

Local Gardening Events from March 1-15, 2020

1, Sunday, Timeless Fragrance Gardening, Gainesville location, 1:00 pm and free. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

1, Sunday, Sunday Funday House Plant Care Clinic, 11:00 am, free, sponsored by Rock Paper Plant and held at Femme Fatale popup shop, 401 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington DC. http://www.rockpaperplant.com/

1, Sunday, Garden Bed Planning Workshop, Fair Oaks location, 10:00 am, fee and must register. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

2, Monday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, fee and must register. Also offered on Wednesday, March 4. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

3, Tuesday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, fee and must register, Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, MD. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

3, Tuesday, Stop! Smell and Touch Our Plants, 1 to 2:30 pm, free and registration required. Also offered on Saturday, March 7, at 10:30 am. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

3, Tuesday, Gardener’s Focus: An Orchid-Filled Greenhouse, 11:00 am or 1:00 pm, included in suggested donation to enter Hillwood. Also on many other days in March, check website for specific times. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW Washington DC. https://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/

3, Tuesday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, 8 am to 8 pm, fee and must register. Also offered on Thursday March 5, 9:00 am. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

3, Tuesday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. https://homesteadgardens.com/

3, Tuesday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, via Alexandria or the Lothian store, fee and must register, Greenstreet Gardens, see website for times. https://greenstreetgardens.com/events/

3, Tuesday, Eat, Sleep, Garden: Top Annuals for Your Cut Flower Garden, 11:30 to 12:30 pm. Fee and must register. Greenhouse classroom, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Green Spring Avenue, Baltimore, MD http://cylburn.org/

3, Tuesday, Microgreens: What Are They, Why They Are So Fabulous, and How to Grow Them, 7 to 8:30 pm. Free and registration requested. Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria. Sponsored by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

4, Wednesday, Lecture: Horticulture and Women in History with Martha Keen. 7:00 pm, free, open to the public. Annapolis Horticulture Society, St. Anne’s Parish Hall, 199 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis, MD. http://annapolishorticulture.org/lectures/

5, Thursday, Roots and Reflections: Orchids, 2 to 3:30 pm, free and registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

5, Thursday, Political Appetites: Culinary Activities in the Early Republic with Nancy Siegel, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, fee and must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

5, Thursday, Tour: Medicinal Plants Yesterday and Today, 1:30 to 2:30 pm, free and will be offered again on March 12, same time. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

5, Thursday, Spring House Plant Swap, 6:30 pm, fee and must register. Sponsored by Rock Paper Plant and held at Femme Fatale popup shop, 401 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC. http://www.rockpaperplant.com/

5, Thursday, Bus Trip to Philadelphia Flower Show, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, fee and must register. Also offered on March 3, Tuesday, 8:00 am. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

5, Thursday, Lecture: The Gardens of Spain, 7:00 pm, free. Rust Library, 380 Old Waterford Road, NW Leesburg, VA. Sponsored by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://loudouncountymastergardeners.org/

5, Thursday, Grow What You Eat! 7 to 8:30 pm, free and registration requested. Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 S. Dinwiddie Street, Arlington. Also offered on Sunday, March 8. Sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.  http://www.mgnv.org

6, Friday, HOAs and Condo Association: Sustainable Solutions to Landscaping Headaches, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, free but must register. The Forum Meeting Room, Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center Building, Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale. Sponsored by Plant NOVA Natives, register at https://www.plantnovanatives.org/symposiums-for-hoa-and-condo-assoc-

6, Friday, Invasive Plant Workshop, 1 to 5:00 pm, fee and must register. Sponsored by the Blue Ridge Prism and held at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, VA.  https://www.facebook.com/events/202662360920681/?active_tab=about
http://blandy.virginia.edu/home

7, Saturday, Plot Against Hunger 7th Annual Spring Garden Kick Off, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, free but should rsvp. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA. https://afac.org/afac-events/plot-against-hunger-spring-garden-kick-off-2020/

7, Saturday, First Saturday Guided Walk, 10:00 am, free for members, free with admission for non-members. Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, MD. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

7, Saturday, The Science of Spring Blooms, Merrifield location; Common Plant Problems and Solutions, Gainesville location; From Seed and Stem to Nursery, Fair Oaks location. All 10:00 am and free.  Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

7, Saturday, Gardening in the Valley Symposium, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, fee and should register. Shenandoah University, Hester Auditorium, Henkel, 1460 University Drive, Winchester, VA. Sponsored by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association. http://nsvmga.org/events/symposium/

7, Saturday, Stop! Smell and Touch Our Plants, 10:30 am to noon, free and registration required. Also offered on Tuesday, March 3, at 1:00 pm. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

7, Saturday, U.S. Botanic Garden Production Facility Open House, fee and must register, will be at various times and will be at the facility. See website for details. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

7, Saturday, Vegetable garden series (topic is managing pests, vegetable profiles, food safety). Part three of three topics, free but seating is limited so register at master_gardener@pwcgov.org. Other dates were February 1 and 15. Sponsored by Prince William Master Gardeners. Held at Bull Run Library, 8051 Ashton Avenue, Manassas, VA.  https://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/vce/Pages/Horticulture-Classes.aspx

7, Saturday, The Basics of Gardening, Session Three: Rain Gardens, Insects, and Diseases and IMP. This is part three of a three session series, other sessions were on February 29 and March7. Free but space is limited, register at pwcgov.org/grow or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org  Sponsored by Prince William Master Gardeners. Held at Haymarket Gainesville Community Library, 4870 Lightner Road, Haymarket, VA.  https://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/vce/Pages/Horticulture-Classes.aspx

7, Saturday, Great Shrubs for Home Gardens, 10 to 11:30 am, fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

7, Saturday, Nine Ways You Can Help Bee and Other Pollinators at Home, 9:00 am to 10:00 am, free but make reservations. Loudoun Wildlife Conservatory. Held at Wild Birds Unlimited, 44110 Ashburn Shopping Plaza, Ashburn, VA. http://www.loudounwildlife.org

7, Saturday, Grow Your Own Microgreens, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Cultivate the City, 910 Bladensburg Road Northeast, Washington DC. http://www.cultivatethecity.com

8, Sunday, Bon-Chi! Learn and Practice the Art of Bonsai Using Edible Plants, 1 to 2:00 pm, fee and must register. Cultivate the City, 910 Bladensburg Road, NE Washington DC. At the H Street Farms at W.S. Jenks and Sons. http://www.cultivatethecity.com

8, Sunday, The Art of Pruning Workshop at Fair Oaks location, 1:00 pm, fee and must register. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

8, Sunday, Grow What You Eat! 3 to 4:30 pm, free and registration requested. Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria. Also on Thursday, March 5, sponsored by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

8, Sunday, Create and Sip: Succulent Potting Party at Gainesville location, 1:00 pm, fee and must register. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

8, Sunday, through 10, Tuesday. Full Moon Hikes, 7:30 pm, fee and must register. Sponsored by the Friends of the National Arboretum, at the U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, Washington DC. https://www.fona.org/fullmoonhikes/

8, Sunday, through 10, Tuesday, Full Moon Forest Bathing, 7:30 pm, fee and must register. Sponsored by the Friends of the National Arboretum, at the U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, Washington DC. https://www.fona.org/fullmoonhikes/

9, Monday, Selecting Native Plants for your Home Garden, 7 to 8:30 pm, free, registration requested. Westover Branch Library, 1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington. Sponsored by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

10, Tuesday, Lecture: Botanical Bullies with Carole Bergmann, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, free for members, fee for nonmembers, and open to the public. Vollmer Center Auditorium, Cylburn Arboretum. Sponsored by the Maryland Horticultural Society. https://mdhorticulture.org/

11, Wednesday, Seed Starting and Plant Propagation. 7:00 pm, free. Bluemont Room, Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington. Sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org
https://afac.org/plot-against-hunger/pah-events/

11, Wednesday, Not in Our Backyard: How to Fight Spotted Lanternfly, 7 to 8:30 pm, fee and must register at Sustainability Matters Facebook page. Sponsored by Sustainability Matters and will be at the Blandy Experimental Farm, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce, VA.
https://www.facebook.com/events/808773166253213/
http://blandy.virginia.edu/home

12, Thursday, Turf Talk: How to Have a Healthy Lawn, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, free and registration requested. Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington. Sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

12, Thursday, Workshop: Hypertufa Containers and Desert Plantings, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, fee and must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

12, Thursday, Mounted Orchids, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, fee and must register. Sponsored by Rock Paper Plant and held at Steadfast Supply (Navy Yard), 301 Tingey Street, #120 SE, entrance on water street, Washington DC. http://www.rockpaperplant.com/

12, Thursday, Piecing Together Nature’s Puzzle with Alonso Abugattas, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, free. Hosted by Potowmack Chapter of Virginia Native Plant Society. Held at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. https://vnps.org/potowmack/events/natures-puzzle-the-interconnectedness-of-our-world-depending-on-plants-with-alonso-abugattas/

13, Friday, Houseplant Haven Grand Opening, 6:00 to 9:00 pm, free. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. https://homesteadgardens.com/

14 and 15, Saturday and Sunday, Homestead Gardens Spring Kick Off, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, free. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. https://homesteadgardens.com/

14, Saturday, Propagation and Cloning Workshop, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Cultivate the City, 910 Bladensburg Road NE Washington DC, at H Street Farms at W.S. Jenks and Sons http://www.cultivatethecity.com

14, Saturday, Winter Pruning for Woody Plants, 1 to 2:30 pm, free and advance registration requested. 4029 N. Tazewell Street, Arlington. Rain date March 21. Also offered on March 29. Hands on training and outside. Bring your own tools. Sponsored by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Saturday, Lecture: Exploring Orchid Evolution, Ecology, and Biogeography with Todd Brethauer, 2 to 3:30 pm, free and registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

14, Saturday, Lawn Care Q&A, Merrifield location; and Planting Herbs and Vegetables in Ground and in Containers, Fair Oaks location, both at 10:0 am and free. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

14, Saturday, Workshop: Growing Vegetables in Containers, 2 to 3:00 pm. Fee and must register, space limited. The Greenhouse Classroom, Cylburn Arboretum, sponsored by the Maryland Horticultural Society. https://mdhorticulture.org/

14, Saturday, Orchid 101: How to Get Your Orchid to Rebloom, 10:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Also offered on 15, 20, 28, and 29. Check website for specific times. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW Washington DC. https://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/

14, Saturday, Orchid Workshop: To Repot or Not? 2:00 to 4:00 pm, fee and must register. Also offered on 15, 27, and 29. Check website for specific times. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW Washington DC. https://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/

14, Saturday, How to Get Your Orchid to Rebloom, 1 to 2:30 pm, fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

14, Saturday and 15, Sunday, Friends of Brookside Gardens Orchid Festival at Brookside Gardens, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

14, Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day Floral Arrangement, 11:00 am, fee and must register. Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm, 8109 Telegraph Road, Severn, MD. http://www.willowoakherbs.com

15, Sunday, Orchid Family Day, 1 to 4:00 pm, free and no registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

15, Sunday, Hydroponics and Vertical Gardening, 1 to 2:00 pm, fee and must register. H Street Farms and 910 Bladensburg Road NE Washington DC. Cultivate the City. http://www.cultivatethecity.com

15, Sunday, Native Plant Picks for Spring, Gainesville location, and Lawn Care Q&A at Fair Oaks location, both at 1:00 pm and free. Merrifield Garden Center. http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

Seed Swaps: Fun Way to Get New Seeds!

It is that time of year again — seed swaps! National Seed Swap Day is Saturday, January 25, 2020, the last Saturday in January. Seed swaps are a great way to obtain new seeds, share your favorite seeds, and attend a fun event. A seed swap can be as simple as friends getting together to share seeds they saved from the previous gardening season to an all-day planned event with speakers, door prizes, and refreshments. Seed swaps can be a vehicle to teach others how to save seed, the importance of seed diversity, heirloom seeds, and other aspects of gardening. Some exchange more than seeds; tables may be set up to collect used gardening books, magazines, tools, pots, and nursery catalogs. Some may expand their definition of seeds and allow bulbs, rhizomes, and cuttings. Others include related activities such as learning to make handmade seed envelopes.

Each seed swap is different but usually organizers have established guidelines for the seed such as the type of container to use, the number of seed in each bag, and the information required on the label. Organizers should clarify if commercial seed packages or hybrid seeds are accepted. Although swaps do not want seeds from invasive plants, the organizers should clarify the definition of an invasive plant in their area.

If you are interested in attending a seed swap, ask your local county extension agent or Master Gardeners if they know of seed swaps in your area. Check out my monthly list of local gardening events at pegplant.com for seed swaps in the Washington DC metro area.

If you are interested in starting a seed swap, visit a few first to see the range of activities that could take place and the number of volunteers required. Read Seedswap: The Gardener’s Guide to Saving and Swapping Seeds by Josie Jeffery and download the Seed Savers Exchange’s 8-page handout on how to organize a seed swap. To learn how to save seeds, read my article entitled “How to Save Seeds from the Home Garden.” Happy #seedswapday!

American Heritage: Native Paw Paw Trees

Paw paw flowers in the spring

It’s paw paw season! Paw paws (Asimina triloba) are native trees that bear fruit in August, September, and October. Fruit of cultivated trees look very similar to mangos—green, kidney-shaped, and about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. They have a variety of common names such as Indiana banana, poor man’s banana, and bandango. When cut in half, the interior reveals a yellow, custard-like pulp with two rows of large seeds. Paw paws can weigh from ½ to 1 pound. Technically a berry, they are the largest North American edible fruit. Paw paws taste like a cross between a banana and a mango with a splash of pineapple. They can be eaten raw or used in ice cream, pudding, smoothies, butter (such as apple butter), baked goods like cookies and pies, and even beer, brandy, and wine!

From Florida to Texas, north to New York, and west to Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, paw paws are native to 26 states and grow as understory trees in hardwood forests near streams and rivers. In the wild, the trees grow to 15 to 30 feet and sucker, creating colonies. Reminiscent of cucumber magnolias, they have foot-long, dark green leaves. Unlike other fruit trees, paw paw trees are not subject to a high level of pests and diseases.

Paw Paws in American History and Folklore

Paw paw trees are part of American history and folklore. Jamestown colonists wrote about them in the 1600s. John Lawson, an Englishman, described them in his travels in the Carolinas in the 1700s. Danielle Boone enjoyed eating them. Members of the Lewis and Clark expedition ate paw paws for pleasure as well as sustenance. George Washington grew paw paw trees at Mount Vernon and ate the fruit as dessert. Thomas Jefferson grew them and sent seeds to his colleagues in Europe.  William Bartram, a naturalist, described the trees in Bartram’s Travels. His father, John Bartram, a botanist, sent seeds to Europe. During the Civil War, soldiers as well as African American slaves collected the fruit in the wild to supplement their meager diets. There is even a popular folk song called “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch” about collecting ripe paws paws from the ground and putting them in a basket.

Paw paw fruit develop in clusters

Finding Paw Paw Trees and Fruit

Currently, Washington DC residents can see paw paw trees in the wild along the C&O Canal and Potomac River and as native plant representatives in public gardens. There are paw paw trees at the Smithsonian Pollinator Garden, next to the National Museum of Natural History, and at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s newly renovated Bartholdi Park and their National Garden’s Regional Garden of Mid-Atlantic Native Plants. 

Although paw paws are part of American heritage, you may not find them in grocery stores. When the fruit is ripe enough to eat, it drops to the ground and is highly perishable. The thin skin bruises easily, discoloring to black. Paw paws are best eaten immediately or preserved by removing and freezing the pulp. You may find them at local farmers markets in peak season and you will definitely find them at paw paw events across the country in the fall.

Growing Paw Paws in the Home Landscape

Paw paw fruits can be eaten raw

“There is a paw paw renaissance now,” said Michael Judd, owner of Ecologia, an edible and ecological landscaping service in Frederick, MD. Author of Edible Landscape with a Permaculture Twist and For the Love of Paw Paws, Michael hosts an annual paw paw festival which will be on September 21 this year at LongCreek Homestead. “I call the paw paw an edible landscape all-stars because the tree is very attractive, low maintenance, and very fruitful.”

As native, hardy trees, paw paws can be grown in typical suburban plots. “Paw paws grow easily here,” said Michael. “This is paw paw country.” Although they are not self-fertile, that is, there must be two trees to cross pollinate to produce fruit, one can trim the trees to fit in residential properties. Michael recommends growing the trees in full sun, 10 to 12 feet apart, and cutting the central leader back to keep the trees at 8 feet. This shorten stature also makes them easier to harvest the fruit. Therefore, homeowners could have two 8-foot trees in the yard producing 50 pounds of fruit each year. If full sun is not possible, they can grow in part shade but will produce less fruit.

Paw paw trees have a pyramidal shape

Michael recommends purchasing either a grafted tree, a select seedling, or a specific cultivar. Starting from seed takes years to produce fruit. Also starting from a wild paw paw seed will result in less than desirable fruit. The taste of wild paw paws varies plus the fruit is small with a poor pulp to seed ratio.  Breeders spend years selecting desirable characteristics such as large fruit, a high pulp to seed ratio (more pulp, less seed), and good flavor.

You can’t go wrong planting paw paws. They are native, deer resistant trees that provide fruit and pretty yellow fall color. “Paw paw trees are very ornamental, they have a beautiful pyramidal shape,” explained Michael. “The leaves turn to a beautiful yellow golden color in the fall and when the leaves drop they reveal a tree with nice architecture in the winter.”

All photos taken by Michael Judd.

Smithsonian Gardens’ Campus-Wide Habitat Exhibition

Sign of the Dragonfly exhibit

The Smithsonian Gardens staff have installed a campus-wide exhibition with a single theme: habitat. From now until December 2020, fourteen exhibits across the Smithsonian campus in Washington DC, both inside and outside, will be available for the public to view.

This Habitat exhibition illustrates diverse stories about habitats and the plants, animals, and humans that exist within those habitats. The message is simple: Protecting habits protects life. This theme was selected for its relevance to the Smithsonian Grand Challenge of “understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet” and to the Smithsonian Gardens’ mission to “inform on the roles people and plants play in our cultural and natural worlds.”

Dead Wood Is Life exhibit

Three key messages are woven into all the exhibits: habitats are homes, habitats are interconnected and fragile, and habitats need to be protected. Informative signage at each exhibit explains concepts such as indicator, keystone, and foundation species; symbiotic relationships; and ecosystems.

During the exhibition’s run, Smithsonian Gardens staff will host a variety of habitat-related events and educational programs. A map showing the location of the exhibits is on the Smithsonian Gardens website.

  • Sheltering Branches, west side of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Dead Wood Is Life, east side of the National Museum of American History
  • Life Underground, west side of the National Museum of American History
  • We Need You, Victory Garden, east side of the National Museum of American History
  • Nests, northwest side of the National Museum of Natural History
  • Bug B&B, Pollinator Garden, east side of the National Museum of Natural History
  • Biomes, S. Dillon Ripley Center
  • Foundation of the Sea, Enid A. Haupt Garden
  • Key to the Forest, Enid A. Haupt Garden
  • Sign of the Dragonfly, Moongate Garden, Enid A. Haupt Garden
  • Homes, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden
  • Habitat of Flight, Northeast side of the National Air and Space Museum
  • Native Landscape, National Museum of the American Indian
  • Monarchs on the Move, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Bugs B&B exhibit

U.S. Botanic Garden’s New “Gardens Across America” Exhibit

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Flamingo Display

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) has a new exhibit called Gardens Across America. The exhibit showcases 21 public gardens through vignettes created by each garden displaying plants and items illustrating the gardens’ stories. The displays were chosen from a call for entries to all gardens across the country. The vignettes are located throughout the outdoor area of the USBG in Washington DC and range in size and scope. For example, Fort Worth Botanic Gardens is showcasing its begonia mascot; Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is demonstrating cleaning mine water and creating new gardens; Tucson Botanical Gardens has cacti and agaves in its barrio garden; Atlanta Botanical Gardens has carnivorous pitcher plants; and the State Botanic Garden of Georgia has native pollinator plants. The exhibit demonstrates the diversity and beauty of the more than 600 public gardens in the United States. Throughout the exhibit run, which ends on October 1, the USBG will offer programs, workshops, lectures, and tours related to the exhibit.

Tucson Botanical Gardens’ Barrio Garden

The USBG is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with outdoor gardens having extended hours until 7:00 pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The USBG is at 200 Maryland Avenue SW on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. Photos are courtesy of the USBG and gardens include:

  • Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia
  • Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Colorado
  • Bookworm Gardens, Wisconsin
  • Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado
  • Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Florida
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Ohio
  • Lockerly Arboretum, Georgia
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, South Carolina
  • Mt. Cuba Center, Delaware
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia
  • North Carolina Botanical Garden, North Carolina
  • Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, North Carolina
  • Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Pennsylvania
  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, California
  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens, North Carolina
  • Smithsonian Gardens, Washington DC
  • State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Georgia
  • The Botanical Research institute of Texas and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Texas
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona
  • U.S. National Arboretum, Washington DC

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s Water Filtering System