Category Archives: plants

Gaura, Whirling Butterflies, or Wand Flowers

Close up of gaura in my garden, note there are four petals, not five

Recently, we have had little rain here in Northern Virginia. I am forced to water with my hose or watering can, which I don’t particularly enjoy. This weather certainly separates the men from the boys. Some plants have just sizzled away.

One manly plant not fazed by dryness and heat is gaura. Technically its name is not gaura anymore as Gaura lindheimeri was reclassified as Oenothera lindheimeri. They also are called whirling butterflies or wand flowers. Continue reading

A DC Gem: Lotus Flowers and Water Lilies at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Before the pandemic, I visited the annual water lily and lotus festival at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. The free, family event was all day long in July.  I arrived early to park nearby but there was a shuttle that ferried people from the metro station and other parking lots. The music had already started. There was a stage with a band, plenty of picnic tables, and paper lotus-shaped lanterns strung from trees. People from several local organizations were setting up tables to either inform the public of their organization, offer crafts for kids, sell or make the paper lanterns, try lotus tea, and other activities. Many families brought coolers to eat lunch. Later I spied several food trucks parked on the street. There was a small gift shop, plenty of bathrooms, and very informative rangers. There also were volunteer from the Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens distributing brochures. Continue reading

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy Your Shamrock Plants

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although the shamrock plant looks like a three-leaf clover it is actually a species of Oxalis. These are commonly sold as St. Patrick’s Day gift plants but they make great houseplants and garden plants. Continue reading

Moved to a New Home? Consider This Before You Start Gardening

English ivy

Invasive English Ivy

Recently, a friend of mine and his wife purchased their first home in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Although he is not a gardener, his wife enjoys cooking and could not wait to have a home so she could have the space for a culinary garden. Because it is winter, my housewarming gift was a promise to deliver a dozen herbs and vegetables next year when the weather warms up. I like to grow them from seed and always have enough to share. The other part of my housewarming gift was this: a dozen items to consider before digging up the lawn and installing garden beds. Continue reading

A Gardener’s Christmas Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the yard
The branches were bare
And the ground frozen hard;

The roses were dormant
And mulched all around
To protect them from damage
If frost heaves the ground;

The perennials were nestled
All snug in their beds,
While visions of fertilizer
Danced in their heads;

The newly planted shrubs
Had been soaked by a hose
To settle their roots
For a long winter’s doze;

And out on the lawn
The new fallen snow
Protected the roots
Of the grasses below;

When, what to my wondering
Eyes should appear,
But a Prius full of gifts
Of gardening gear;

St. Nick was the driver
A jolly old elf,
And he winked as he said,
“I’m a gardener myself.

I’ve brought new seeds
And light systems, too,
Give them a try
And see how they do.

To eliminate weeding,
I brought bags of mulch
To attract the pollinators,
I have flowers for best results.

To add to your joy,
I’ve plenty of herbs
And ornamental grasses
For your hell strip curb.

For seed planting days,
I’ve a trowel and dibble.
And a roll of wire mesh,
If the rabbits should nibble.

I have the latest books
Plus some gadgets you’ll love;
Plant stakes and frames,
And waterproof gloves.

Here are sharp shears
And a new compost pit
And, for pH detecting,
A soil testing kit.

With these colorful flagstones,
Lay a new garden path.
For the view from your window,
A bird feeder and bath.

And last but not least,
Some well-rotted manure.
A green garden year-round,
These gifts will ensure.

Then, jolly St. Nick
Having emptied his load,
Started his Prius
And took on the road.

And I heard him exclaim
Through the motor’s quiet hum,
“Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a green thumb!”

Written by Peggy Riccio, pegplant.com.

Lemon Eucalyptus: Like a Bowl of Fresh Lemons

lemon eucalyptus plant right after I purchased in beginning of May, before I planted outside

A few months ago, I was at a farmer’s market in Alexandria, Virginia, when a particular plant caught my eye. It was a lemon eucalyptus plant (Corymbia citriodora). It was about 10 inches high in a plastic container. I love lemon scented herbs – I think I am subconsciously collecting them. The seller told me it was from Australia and was not hardy here in Zone 7 so it would have to be brought indoors in the fall. Continue reading

Before You Buy That Plant, Answer Five Basic Questions

azaleaThe weather has been beautiful lately and the nurseries have been crowded. Plant sales are scheduled (in person!) and gardening events are filling up the weekends. So many plants to get, so much to do. But no matter how tempting those plants are, consider five basic criteria before you purchase them so you can have better success once they are in your garden. Continue reading

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy Your Shamrock Plants

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although the shamrock plant looks like a three-leaf clover it is actually a species of Oxalis. These are commonly sold as St. Patrick’s Day gift plants but they make great houseplants and garden plants. Continue reading

A Gardener’s Christmas Poem

I read an old version of A Gardener’s Christmas in a Garden Club of Virginia journal. The author is unknown so I took a few liberties to bring it up to date. Merry Christmas! Continue reading

Poinsettia Pointers to Prolong Healthy Plants

Odds are you have a poinsettia in your home for the holidays. In the United States, poinsettias are grown in greenhouses and programmed to bloom in time for Christmas. To keep your plant healthy for as long as possible, try to emulate the greenhouse conditions in your own home: bright light and balmy 70 degrees. Keep the soil moist but don’t let the roots sit in water. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. If it is in that decorative foil, either remove the foil or cut the bottom out of the foil so excess water drains out.

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