Category Archives: Events

Seed Swaps: Fun Way to Get New Seeds!

It is that time of year again — seed swaps! National Seed Swap Day is Saturday, January 29, 2022, 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. Continue reading

A Summer Philadelphia Flower Show at FDR Park

rosesThe annual Philadelphia Flower Show, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), will be at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park from June 5-13, 2021, to allow for a safer experience given the pandemic.

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Update on River Farm, Home of the American Horticultural Society

homeHere is an update to the fate of the American Horticultural Society (AHS). As you know I mentioned in my September 7 article that the AHS board was thinking of selling River Farm and merging with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) in PA. This week, the board chair, Terry Hayes, sent an e-mail to AHS members (of which I am one). Apparently, there has been such an uproar with the local community, gardening clubs, and members that the board has decided to venture down a different path. They have decided to remain as is, an independent national non-profit organization with its own board, staff, and headquarters. They will not merge with APGA but may have a collaborative relationship with them and other like-minded horticulture/gardening organizations.

According to Terry, the AHS board will “develop a model that would allow the varied programming and resources that our members across the United States know and enjoy to continue while adding new programming to keep AHS relevant and help it make a connection between people and plants. As part of this new model, we are focused on building collaborative relationships with APGA and other like-minded organizations who have a shared interest in building and expanding horticultural programming and other initiatives across the country.”

However, to generate revenue to continue its existence, AHS will still have to sell the River Farm property. This is a loss to the community because the historic property is a beautiful place to visit. The size, scenic beauty, and historic home makes River Farm an ideal location for plant sales, garden club meetings, events, and even weddings. Currently they are having in person workshops and virtual events (see their website). Visit the grounds while you can to get a refreshing mental health boost. We will miss you River Farm.

Goodbye River Farm

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) dropped a bomb on Friday, right before the Labor Day weekend. In an e-mail that was sent to AHS members (of which I am one), they stated that they are experiencing financial challenges and are considering merging with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) in Pennsylvania. To accomplish this, they plan to sell River Farm. River Farm is a historic 25-acre property along the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. Once the merger is complete, APGA will make the final determination about the continuation of various AHS programs.

Many moons ago, I worked for the AHS on River Farm as an editorial assistant.  It was a lovely place to work, not only because of the gardens but also because of the historic home. We had staff meetings in the parlor and lunch in a real kitchen. When I first started, the magazine’s office was the master bedroom but we later moved upstairs in the carriage house. I had my own office, which was great for growing plants indoors. This was before the Internet so in addition to writing and copyediting for the magazine and (then) newsletter, I also answered members’ gardening questions via phone and mail. At the time, River Farm was vibrant with parties, guests, and events. Weddings were not possible when I was there but eventually the property became available for weddings for additional revenue. Local garden clubs, including the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America, of which I am chair, had meetings in the ballroom. Eventually I left but visited often and have taken many photos of the gardens. When my children were little, I brought them to the gardens to play. As a local horticulturist, I attended networking events under the wedding tents. I attended the spring plant sales and the Christmas receptions where the staff went to great lengths to make beautiful Christmas trees. In fact, I was just there a few months ago, taking photos of their beautiful sunflowers. I had noticed that the wildflower meadow was not in good shape but I assumed it was because of the pandemic; the house was still closed.

I will be sorry to see River Farm sold, it was a lovely garden to visit and a great place to take the family. I am hoping The American Gardener magazine will continue, as well as the reciprocal admissions program (RAP). RAP allows AHS members free admission to participating public and botanical gardens across the country. I for one was looking forward to visiting as many public gardens as I could with my AHS membership card in hand after this pandemic. I hope the APGA keeps this benefit as well as the magazine.  

The message in the e-mail is also a statement on the AHS website. On Sunday, Beth Lawton, publisher of the Alexandria Living Magazine wrote an article about this including the reaction of the neighborhood residents. I am sure many people are talking about this, it is such a game changer. According to her article, the property will be up for sale soon at an estimated $15 to 30 million. Maybe our new neighbor, Jeff Bezos, would be interested in buying River Farm. After all, it is a straight shot from the new Amazon headquarters in Crystal City.

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. Continue reading

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.