Spring-Blooming Crocus: Small but Loud

crocus

crocus at Brookside Gardens

February brings the spring crocus. These ephemeral beauties are actually perennials. After blooming in February and March, they go dormant in the summer and reappear next spring. Crocus are grown from corms, which are relatively small and cheap compared to other spring blooming bulbs. The plants do best in full sun and well-drained soil. They are great for naturalizing in a lawn, planted in drifts, or in alpine or rock gardens, or in containers. You can force them to bloom indoors in low growing containers, much like a flower arrangement.

The most commonly planted are hybrids of the large flowered Dutch crocus (Crocus vernus), the golden or snow crocus (C. chrysanthus), and tommies (C. tommasinianus). These work well for large drifts outside. For more singular plantings, such as an alpine or rock garden or containers, look into the more unusual species.  There are many species and nurseries that specialize in bulbs such as Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Old House Gardens should have them.

Purchase corms in the fall. All types of animals will either eat the corms or move them around so plant deeper than you would for other bulbs. I have read from 3 to 6 inches but it depends on the actual size of the corm. Plant many to ensure that a good number will survive and bloom. The tommies are the most squirrel-resistant because they contain alkaloids that the other crocus plants do not. Also, if you are trying to establish drifts in the lawn, it helps to cut the lawn as late as possible to ensure the crocus leaves can produce food for the next season.

crocus

crocus in my lawn

The former owner of my house planted these purple crocus plants more than 15 years ago. Every March, they bloom in the front lawn and I have never fertilized or divided them. The little blossoms don’t have much of a stem so I put them in tiny vases on my desk. The flowers last only a day or two but their declaration that spring is coming is loud and clear.

Peg’s Picks: February 2018 New Gardening Books

It is amazing to me how many gardening books are published in our country. These are new gardening books that have been or will be published in the month of February. As with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events, this is my Peg’s Picks of books — a collection of what I have heard from colleagues as well as what I have read on publishers’ sites. Click on the publisher’s name for a description. Previous Peg’s Picks are at the “New Books: 2018“tab.

Practical Houseplant Book by Zia Allaway and Fran Bailey, DK Publishing

Grow Something Different to Eat: Weird and Wonderful Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables for Your Garden by Matthew Biggs, DK Publishing

How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit (founders of The Horticult, a blog), Penguin Random House

Our Native Bees: America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry, Timber Press

Designing with Palms by Jason Dewees and Photographs by Caitlin Atkinson, Timber Press

The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard by Susan Morrison, Timber Press

The Flower-Powered Garden: Supercharge Your Borders and Containers with Bold Colorful Plant Combinations by Andy Vernon, Timber Press

Gardening Complete: How to Best Grow Vegetables, Flowers, and Outdoor Plants by the authors of Cool Springs Press (eight authors)

Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake up Your Garden and Add Variety of Flavor and Fun by Niki Jabbour, Storey Publishing

The Budget-Wise Gardener with Hundreds of Money-Saving Buying and Design Tips for Planting the Best for Less, by Kerry Ann Mendez, St. Lynn’s Press

Garden Builder: Complete Plans for Outdoor Projects You Can Build by JoAnne Moser, Cool Springs Press

Tips for Starting Seeds in Your Garden: Planting in the Spring

lettuce in container

Recently, I posted an article called Tips for Starting Seeds for Your Garden. The post was about starting seeds and the importance of distinguishing between warm versus cool season plants or seed. It further explained how and when to sow seeds for warm season plants. This is the second part of the post: a focus on cool season plants.

Starting Seeds in Ground or Containers

In my zone 7 Northern Virginia garden, there are many vegetable and herbs that I can start growing outside in early spring. This means I don’t have to start them indoors under lights. Not only do these particular plants prefer cool temperatures, a light frost should not harm them. I tend to start most of my cool season plants by seed in containers on my deck. Container soil is warmer than ground soil. Also, it is easier to check on them by walking on a wooden deck than to have to trample through wet, soggy soil in cold weather. By summer, most of these types of plants have bolted (i.e., flowered and gone to seed so leaves are bitter). After pulling and discarding into the compost pile, I re-stock my containers with warm season annuals such as different types of basils and bush beans.

When to Sow Seeds in Early Spring

Using davesgarden.com and my zip code, I calculated my average last frost date to be April 30. March and April are still cool and there is a possibility of a frost or even snow. From the list of cool season plants or seeds I want to grow, I calculate which I can start at what number of weeks before April 30 and which would benefit from containers on the deck or directly into the soil. If a seed packet does not provide this information, try asking your local extension agent, online seed catalogs, or read a printed seed catalog or a gardening book. A few online seed catalogs that provide quality descriptions for this are Burpee, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Botanical Interest, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Renee’s Garden.

chervil

chervil is a spring herb

Sowing Often for Continuous Harvest

For some cool season crops, sowing every couple of weeks ensures a continuous harvest until summer. For example, our family likes to eat lettuce and spinach so if I start sowing in early spring and again every other week, I will be able to continue to pick leaves for a family of four up until summer. By summer, the weather will be too hot to germinate spinach and lettuce easily.

spinach seedlings

direct sow spinach seedlings in container

Check if the seed package recommends growing in soil or if they can be grown in a container. If you only need a little arugula, grow in a shallow container. If you only need one borage plant, grow in a larger container (it is a larger plant). Chervil is so ephemeral it is best to grow in a medium container so you can access and harvest as much as possible. For plants that tend to flower and drop seed, I find it helpful to have a patch set aside. I have parsley, cilantro, and calendula patches in the backyard so I sow the seeds directly in those patches. Of the plants below, peas are the only ones that need vertical structure. They should be planted next to a trellis and “trained” to wrap around it. I grow sugar snap peas in the ground next to a wire trellis but there are some variety of peas that can be grown in containers with stakes. Here are common cool season plants that can be grown by seed:

  • Alyssum
  • Arugula
  • Asian greens
  • Beets
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Carrots
  • Chervil
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Greens
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mache
  • Mustards
  • Nigella
  • Pak choi
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Sweet peas
  • Turnips

My Cool Season Seed Plan

Just before March 15

Burpee and Botanical Interests Sugar Snap Peas: Soak overnight in water and then plant seed in small plastic pots with soil. When 2 inches tall, transplant outside in ground against trellis. No need for indoor lights.

March 15

April 1

  • American Meadows Scarlet Nantes carrot, sow in large deep container on deck and in ground
  • Renee’s Garden Slo-Bolt Cilantro, sow directly into cilantro patch in ground

April 15

  • Repeat lettuce, seed, radishes, and kale
  • Start borage in large decorative container
  • Start arugula in medium container
pak choi

direct sow pak choi seeds in ground

 

Tips for Starting Seeds for Your Garden

melons

Tuscan melons get a head start when start seed indoors

Starting seeds now for the garden is tempting. Racks of seed packets with their pretty images of fresh vegetables and cut flowers are like heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Each packet is a morsel, a promise of something good to come. Starting seeds is like eating chocolate, who can resist?

As with chocolate, however, some restraint is needed. February feels like it is time to sow seeds. Surely a garden center full of seed packets is sending us a message. But before you start, here are a few tips on when to start which particular plant. This is a two-part article: this article will explain the difference between cool and warm season plants and when to start warm season plants. The subsequent article will cover cool season plants.

Learn which plants prefer warm versus cool weather

The first step is to make a list of what you want to grow and/or your seed packets. From that list, identify which plants prefer cool or warm temperatures.

For example, if you wish to start seeds of tomatoes and cilantro, mark tomatoes as a warm season plant. Plant tomatoes outside when there is no danger of frost. Cilantro prefers cool weather and can tolerate a light frost.

If you don’t know, ask your local extension agent, look online at seed catalogs, or read a printed seed catalog or a gardening book. A few online seed catalogs that provide quality descriptions for this are Burpee, Johnny’s Selected Seed, Botanical Interests, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Renee’s Garden. Just type in the plant name in their search bar and don’t worry so much about the cultivar for now.

tomato

Tomato transplants in an Earthbox in May

Learn your average last frost date

Focusing on the warm season plants for now, identify your average last frost date. Using davesgarden.com and my zip code, my risk of frost in my Northern Virginia zone 7 garden, is from October 13 through April 23. I am almost guaranteed not to get frost from May 9 through September 29. I arbitrarily picked April 30 as the day when I can move my transplants from inside to outside to harden off. Picking the end of a month makes it easy to remember and to calculate weeks.

Using April 30 as the marker, count back the number of weeks it takes for that seed to germinate and reach transplanting size. This information should be on the seed packet but if not go back to the original resources I listed above. My tomato seed packages say “start seeds 6 to 8 weeks before average last frost” or “before transplanting.” Keep in mind that this is only to get a jump on the season. You can always start seed outdoors after the danger of frost has past but quite a few weeks of growing season would be lost. Six weeks from April 30 is mid-March, which is when I would sow my tomato seeds in small containers under lights.

Purchase lights to starting warm weather seeds indoors

Starting seed by a window does not provide enough light. The seed container has to be just a few inches under the florescent tubes or special grow lights. Therefore if you are interested in growing from seed, invest in lights but you can use cheap fluorescent tubes from hardware stores. Once you turn on the lights, you keep them on for 14 to 16 hours every day until you move the plants outside.

Decide which seeds to start under lights

Your indoor light system becomes prime real estate. Within the category of warm season plants, identify which seeds should be started indoors in this prime real estate section, i.e., need a head start before the end of April. Separate that list from those that could be started outdoors in the beginning of May. For example, because beans germinate and grow quickly to produce a harvest, start them outdoors in May and save the prime real estate for tomatoes that need a month and a half head start. Identify the number of weeks recommended for starting seeds indoors for each plant. Usually one starts tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, onions, celery, and Brussels sprouts indoors to get a jump on the season. Start beans, corn, watermelons, zinnias, sunflowers, summer squash, cucumbers, pumpkin, and basil outdoors in May.

roselle

Roselle is a tropical plant that needs a head start

This is an example of what my list looks like for starting seeds of warm season plants under lights. I will try several varieties of pepper, tomatoes, and melons, which takes up even more space under the lights.

March 1: Eight weeks prior to average last frost date of April 30

March 15: Six weeks prior to average last frost day of April 30

April 15: Two weeks prior to average last frost date of April 30

Peg’s Picks: February 2018 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

It is only February and there are 100 gardening events, many of which are free and designed to help you get started with this year’s gardening season!

1, Thursday, Webinar: Landscape Maintenance Practices for Native Bees, 4:00 to 5:00 pm, Eastern time, free to $10, must register. Hosted by the Eco Landscape Alliance. http://www.ecolandscaping.org

1, Thursday, Webinar: Foodscaping Gardening, 7-8:30 pm EST. Fee and must register. Presented by Charlie Nardozzi. http://www.gardeningwithcharlie.com

1, Thursday, Presentation: A Visit to Monet’s Garden, 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Free and open to public. Rust Library, 380 Old Waterford Road, NW, Leesburg, VA. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

1, Thursday, online ordering begins for the Fairfax County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual native seedling sale. This year deer resistant native shrubs and trees are available. Orders are placed online in February and seedlings are picked up in April for a nominal fee. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/native-seedling-sale

1, Thursday, Workshop: Woodland Critter Fairy Garden, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. Also offered on February 2 at Severna Park location. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

2, Friday, Workshop: Woodland Critter Fairy Garden, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 522 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. Also offered at Davidsonville location on February 1. http://www.homesteadgardens.com.

2, Friday, Lecture: Gardening in the South by Mark Weathington, director, JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University and author of same book. Noon to 1:00 pm. Free but registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

3, Saturday, Seed Sale, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, free and open to the public. Hyattsville Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville, MD. Hosted by the Hyattsville Horticultural Club. http://www.hyattsvillehorticulture.org

3, Saturday, Planning for Planting Vegetables: A Year’s Worth of Gardening Ideas, 11:00 am, free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

3, Saturday, Workshop: Beginner Hands-On Bonsai Class, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, fee and registration required. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

3, Saturday, Basic Pruning Techniques for Shrubs, 9:15 am to 12:15 pm, Fee and must register, bring gloves and pruners, is outside. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

3, Saturday, First Saturday Guided Walk, 10:00 to 11:00 am, free with admission fee. No registration necessary. Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, MD. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

3, Saturday, Lecture: A Botanical Walk Through Black History by Kobina Abdul-Salim, PhD, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. 2:00 to 3:30 pm. Free and registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

3, Saturday, Urban Gardening, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Merrifield location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

3, Saturday, Orchids for Everyone, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Fair Oaks location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

3, Saturday, Houseplants: Bring the Outdoors In, 10:00 to 11:30, free and need to register, Burke Nursery and Garden Center, 9401 Burke Road, Burke, VA. http://www.burkenursery.com

3, Saturday, Wildlife Habitats: Gardening for the Birds, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Gainesville location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

3, Saturday, Community Gardening: Using Native Plant Communities to Create Ecologically Valuable Gardens by Matt Bright, Conservation Manager at Earth Sangha, 1:00 pm, free but must register. Manassas Park Community Center, 99 Adams Street, Manassas Park, VA. Hosted by Prince William County Master Gardeners. http://www.mgpw.org

4, Sunday, Tool sharpening Workshop (to learn how to sharpen tools), 2:00 to 3:30, fee and must register, must bring certain items, see website, Cylburn Arboretum, Greenhouse Classroom, 4915 Green Spring Avenue, Baltimore, MD. http://www.cylburn.org

4, Sunday, Orchid Clinic, Diagnostic and Repotting Clinic, 9:30 to 4:00 pm. Free but if you need your orchid repotted, it will be done for a fee. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

4, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: Gardening in the South, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Mark Weathington, director, JC Raulston Arboretum, author of same book, fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

5, Monday, Microgreens: What are they, why they are so fabulous, and how to grow them, 7:00 to 8:00 pm, Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria,VA. Free but advance registration requested. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

5, Monday, through March 26, Washington DC Division of Parks and Recreation Urban Growing certification course 101 series. Free. Classes meet every Monday and Wednesday, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, and two Saturday classes in March, must attend all for certificate, Turkey Thicket Rec Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington DC.  See website for class schedule, is 8 weeks long comprised of 16 sessions, each 2 hours. https://dpr.dc.gov/page/urban-garden-education-program

6, Tuesday, Bus trip to Longwood Gardens to see Orchid show. 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

6, Tuesday, Gardeners Focus: Preparing for Spring in the Greenhouse. Also offered on February 7, 8, 22, 25, 27, and 28. Fee is included in suggested donation to enter Hillwood. Hillwood Museum and Garden, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington DC. http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org

7, Wednesday, Create a living succulent wreath, 7:00 to 9:00 pm, fee and must register. Greenstreet Gardens, 391 West Bay Front Road, Lothian, MD. http://www.greenstreetgardens.com

7, Wednesday, Lecture: The best herbs for flavor and fragrance by Holly Shimizu, 7:00 pm, free and open to the public. Hosted by Annapolis Horticultural Society. St. Anne’s Parish Hall, 199 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis, MD. http://www.annapolishorticulture.org

8, Thursday, Workshop: Kokedama Moss Ball, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. Also offered on February 9 at Severna Park location. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

9, Friday, Workshop: Kokedama Moss Ball, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 522 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. Also offered on February 8 at Davidsonville location. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

9, Friday, Garden Talk: Success with Seeds, 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Fee and must register, Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

10, Saturday and Saturday, February 17, Beginner Beekeeping, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm., fee and must register, a 2-day course on Saturdays. Maryland Agriculture Resource Council, 1114 Shawan Road, Cockeysville, MD. http://www.marylandagriculture.org

10, Saturday, Lecture: Restoring Nature’s Relationship at Home by Doug Tallamy, 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Free. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

10, Saturday, Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, 12:30 to 4:30 pm, fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

10, Saturday, Night Gardens, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Merrifield location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

10, Saturday, Low Maintenance Gardens: Soil and Foundations, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Gainesville location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

10, Saturday, Plot Against Hunger Spring Garden Kick-Off: Growing Food for Our Neighbors in Need, 9:00 am to noon, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Lane, Arlington VA. Free presentations and demonstrations on seed starting, composting, seedling transplanting, common garden pests, tree pruning, grafting and DIY light stands for indoor use. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Register at https://afac.org/afac-spring-garden-kick-off/ by February 7. http://www.mgnv.org

10, Saturday, Workshop: Terrariums, 1:00 to 2:00 pm, fee and must register, American Plant Garden Center, 7405 River Road, Bethesda, MD. http://www.americanplant.net

10, Saturday, Basics of Landscape Design, Yes You Can, 10:00 to 11:30 am, free and must register, Burke Nursery and Garden Center, 9401 Burke Road, Burke, VA. http://www.burkenursery.com

10, Saturday, Lecture: Reordering the Landscape: Science, Nature, and Spirituality at Wye House, by Dr. Elizabeth Pruitt (enslaved people at Wye house and their use of plants). 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Free and registration requested. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC. http://www.usna.usda.gov

10, Saturday, Sustainable Vegetable Gardening Series, 10:15 to 12:30 pm., and on February 10, 17, and March 10. Free and should register. Potomac Community Library, 2201 Opitz Blvd., Woodbridge, VA. Hosted by Prince William County Master Gardeners. http://www.mgpw.org

10, Saturday, Vegetable Garden Season Is Upon Us, 1:30 to 4:30 pm. Gum Spring Library, 24600 Millstream Drive, Stone Ridge, Virginia. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

11, Sunday, Lecture: Garden Revolution: How our Landscapes can be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner, landscape architect and author of same book. 2:00 pm., free and must register. Manassas Park Community Center, 99 Adams Street, Manassas Park, VA. Sponsored by Prince William Wildflower Society, Prince William Conservation Alliance, and Prince William County Master Gardeners. http://www.mgpw.org

11, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: Seeing Flowers, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Author Teri Chace will share insight into the unique photo process of Robert Llewellyn’s Seeing Flowers and the details that few have seen in flowers. Bring your magnifier and macro lens to the glasshouse afterwards to explore flowers in the Green Spring collection. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

11, Sunday, National Capital Orchid Society presents the NCOS Orchid Auction. Free admission, open to the public, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, at Behnkes but see http://www.ncos.us for more information. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

11, Sunday, Orchid Clinic, Diagnostic and Repotting Clinic, 9:30 to 4:00 pm. Free but if you need your orchid repotted, it will be done for a fee. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

11, Sunday, All About Water Gardens, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, free and open to the public. Hosted by the Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club. Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Road, Ashton-Sandy Spring, MD. http://www.sandyspringmuseum.org

14, Wednesday, Native Plants to Attract Butterflies, Bees and Other Pollinators by Ruth Clausen, 11:15 am to noon, free but must register via Adkins Arboretum website. Offered in partnership with the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore, this program will be held at the Talbot County Free Library, Easton Branch. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

14, Wednesday, Water Conservation, DIY Sustainable Yard Series, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, free, advance registration requested. Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, or on February 28 at Westover Branch Library. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

14-16, Wednesday through Friday, Winter Symposium and 49th CVNLA Short Course: Gardening with Purpose and Passion, 8:30 to 4:00 pm. fee and must register. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Massey Conference Center, 1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond, VA. http://www.lewisginter.org

15, Thursday, Good Gardening Practices, Late Winter Cleanup, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register, Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. Also offered at Severna Park location on February 16. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

16, Friday, Good Gardening Practices, Late Winter Cleanup, 11:00 am to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 522 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. Also offered at Davidsonville location on February 15. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

16, Friday, Everything You Wanted to Know About Pruning, 1:00 to 2:30 pm, fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

17, Saturday, Vegetable Seed and Gardening Introduction, 1:00 to 2:00 pm, free and must register. American Plant Garden Center, 7405 River Road, Bethesda, MD. http://www.americanplant.net

17, Saturday, Edibles: Successfully Starting Plants from Seed, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Merrifield location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

17, Saturday, Garden Hand Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 and again on Sunday 1:00 to 3:00. Fee for having tools sharpened, proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank.  Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

17, Saturday, Piet Oudolf’s New Perennial Movement, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Fair Oaks location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

17, Saturday, Winter Greens and Distinctive Bark Soup ‘n Walk, 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. fee and must register, Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, MD. http://www.adkinsarboretum.org

17, Saturday, Getting Hands-on with Bonsai, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Gainesville location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

17, Saturday, Eco-Savvy Symposium: Skyward Gardening, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

17, Saturday, Create and Sip Succulent Container Workshop, 3:00 pm, fee and must register. Gainesville location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

17, Saturday, Learn how to build your own cold frame, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Walter Reed Community and Senior Center, 2909 S. 16th Street, Arlington. Fee of $65 and will be able to bring cold frame home. Must register by sending check to VCE at Fairlington Community Center in advance. Call (703) 228 6414 or e-mail mgarlalex@gmail.com for more information, deadline for registration is February 9. http://www.mgnv.org

17, Saturday, Lawn Care: Improve Curb Appeal, 10:00 to 11:30, free and must register, Burke Nursery and Garden Center, 9401 Burke Road, Burke, VA. http://www.burkenursery.com

18, Sunday, Springtime Refresh: Welcome Spring Into Your Kitchen and On to Your Table 11:00 to noon. Free and should register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

18, Sunday and February 25, Beekeeping 101: A two-part series on two Sundays for people ready to begin beekeeping. 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Fee and must register. Community Forklift, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Hyattsville, MD. http://www.communityforklift.org

18, Sunday, Garden Hand Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 pm and again day before on Saturday, February 17, 1:00 to 3:00. Fee for having tools sharpened; proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

18, Sunday, Orchid Clinic, Diagnostic and Repotting Clinic, 9:30 to 4:30 pm. Free but if you need your orchid repotted, it will be done for a fee. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

18, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: Design Inspirations, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Plantsman and author Cole Burrell explores the diverse landscapes, magnificent gardens, iconography and experiences that shape the gardens he creates for clients with diverse needs and expectations. Fee and must register, Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

21, Wednesday, Lecture: Edible Architecture: Espalier and Trellis Design by Michael Judd, 7:30 pm. Free and open the public, Historic Takoma, 7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD. Sponsored by Takoma Horticultural Society. http://www.takomahort.org

22, Thursday, Vegetable Gardening Part 2: Planning and Preparation. 7-8:30 pm. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria. Or on February 24 at Westover Branch library at 10:30 to noon. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free, advance registration requested at http://www.mgnv.org

22, Thursday, Workshop: How to Repot an Orchid, 11:00 to noon, fee and must register. Homestead Gardens, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. Also offered at Severna Park location on February 23. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

22, Thursday, Hometown Habitat Screening (90-minute film), 7:00 to 9:00 pm, fee and must register. Hosted by the Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club. Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Road, Ashton-Sandy Spring, MD. http://www.sandyspringmuseum.org

23, Friday, Workshop: How to Repot an Orchid. 11:00 am to noon. Fee and must register. Also on February 22 at Davidsonville location. Homestead Gardens, 522 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. http://www.homesteadgardens.com

23, Friday, opening of new Orchid Spectrum exhibit, through April 8. U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory. Annual Orchid Show presented in collaboration with Smithsonian Gardens. Free. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

23, Friday, Green Matters 2018: Restoring and Renewing Our Urban Landscapes: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

24, Saturday, The Basics of Gardening, series of three individual classes taught by Prince William County Master Gardeners. Saturdays, 1:00 to 4:00, free and should register. This particular lecture is on basics such as botany, soils, seed starting containers, and rain gardens. Next classes are on March 3 and 10, Haymarket Gainesville Community Library, 14870 Lightner Road, Haymarket, VA. http://www.mgpw.org

24, Saturday, Winter Seminar, 8:45 am to 4:00 pm., fee and must register via Horticultural Society of Maryland website. Sponsored by Horticultural Society of Maryland and Perennial Plant Association; held at the Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt, 6501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD. http://www.mdhorticulture.org

24, Saturday, How and Why of Pruning, 1:00 to 2:00 pm, fee and must register, American Plant Garden Center, 7405 River Road, Bethesda, MD. http://www.americanplant.net

24, Saturday, Vegetable Gardening Part 2: Planning and Preparation. 10:30 to noon. Westover Branch Library, 1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington, or at Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, on February 22, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free, advance registration requested at http://www.mgnv.org

24, Saturday, Lecture: Orchids: Evolution, Physiology, and Biogeography of the Floral Rainbow by Todd Brethauer, 10:30 am to noon, free and registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. http://www.usbg.gov

24, Saturday, Common Plant Problems and Solutions, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Merrifield location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

24, Saturday, Talk: Attracting Hummingbirds and Goldfinches, 11:00 am, free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

24, Saturday, Wildlife Habitats: Plants for the Birds, Bees and Butterflies, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Fair Oaks location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

24, Saturday, Lecture: The Assassin’s Plot and the Physician’s Garden, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Jeffrey Day, MD, will discuss common biochemical mechanisms of plants that can harm humans or heal. Fee and must register. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington DC. http://www.usna.usda.gov

24, Saturday, The Art of Pruning Trees, 10:00 am, free and do not need to register. Gainesville location of the Merrifield Garden Center, http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com

24, Saturday, Plants and Design: Evergreens to Know and Grow, 10:30 to noon. Fee and must register, lecture will be inside and outside. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

24, Saturday, Spring Garden Maintenance: Time to Prepare, 10:00 to 11:30 am, free and must register, Burke Nursery and Garden Center, 9401 Burke Road, Burke, VA. http://www.burkenursery.com

24, Saturday, 18th Annual Montgomery County Master Gardeners Spring Conference, 8:30 to 2:30 pm. Sponsored by University of Maryland Extension. Held at Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Fee and must register. https://extension.umd.edu/news/2018-spring-gardening-conference

24, Saturday, Garden Hand Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 and again on Sunday, February 25 1:00 to 3:00. Fee for having tools sharpened; proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

24, Saturday, Webinar: Native Plants for Urban Design, 10:00 am to 11:00 am, Eastern time, fee and must register. Hosted by the Eco Landscape Alliance. http://www.ecolandscaping.org

25, Sunday, Garden Hand Tool Sharpening, 1:00 to 3:00 and again on Saturday, February 24 1:00 to 3:00. Fee for having tools sharpened; proceeds go to Emmanuel United Methodist Church Foodbank. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

25, Sunday, Winter Lecture Series: Harvesting Garden Water, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Designer Michael Judd will show you how to manage and enhance the water resources on your land. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

25, Sunday, Starting Flowers and Vegetables from Seed, 1:00 pm, free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Road, Beltsville, MD. http://www.behnkes.com/

27, Tuesday, Lecture: Dogbanes and Milkweed, 7:30 pm., free and open to the public. Hosted by Maryland Native Plant Society, Kensington Library, 4201 Knowles Avenue, Kensington, MD. http://www.mdflora.org

27, Tuesday, Webinar: Beauty and the Beast: Bold and Fine Foliaged Plants Make Wonderful Dance Partners, 2:00 pm Eastern time, fee and must register. Presented by Kerry Ann Mendez, http://www.pyours.com

28, Wednesday, Workshop: Tree Planting, 6:00 to 9:00 pm., free but must register. Casey Trees, 3030 12th Street, NE, Washington, DC http://www.caseytrees.org

28, Wednesday, Water Conservation, DIY Sustainable Yard Series, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Free. Westover Branch library, 1644 N. McKinley Blvd., Arlington, or at Beatley Central Library on February 14. Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Advance registration requested at http://www.mgnv.org

28, Wednesday, Start Your Own Vegetable Seeds This Season, 6:30 to 8:00 pm. free. Sterling Library, 22330 South Sterling Boulevard, A117, Sterling, VA. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

For the month of February, Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, NW, Washington DC, has a reduced admission fee of only one dollar.

The Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI) has a kitchen garden education program that is a comprehensive, hands-on growing program at Fort Totten, one block from the Fort Totten Metro Station, Washington DC, NE. The program is intended for new and aspiring urban gardeners, whether one is an absolute beginner, or someone who is ready to take to it to the next level with cool weather crops. One will receive a garden plot, along with a year of instruction & guidance, and enough help & support. The NFI will provide the necessary supplies and materials, and access to the community tool shed. Program cost is $600. The NFI offers tuition assistance, on a sliding scale, for qualified applicants. http://www.neighborhoodfarminitiative.org

Ongoing exhibits are the Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps until July 2019, at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington DC. http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu

And Cultivating America’s Gardens until August 2018 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 1 West, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington DC. https://library.si.edu/exhibition/cultivating-americas-gardens

Many of you who attended the Garden Bloggers Fling last June remember Willowsford, that beautiful development with a farm in Loudoun County. Willowsford is home to a Landscape for Life session starting in February. This is a 6-session course and field trip in sustainable landscaping to teach homeowners and gardeners how to transform your home landscape into a healthy refuge that benefits birds, pollinators and other wildlife. Developed by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden, Landscape for Life is designed to teach you sustainable practices such as how your landscape affects the Chesapeake Bay Watershed; soil, water, habitat, and plants in a sustainable landscape; and successful plant practices. Students will meet on Tuesdays starting February 13 to April 4, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, with an April 4 snow date and a field trip on April 7. Fee and must register, classes will be at the Sycamore House, 23506 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA. Willowsford is a great setting for this class.

Time to Start Sowing Cool Season Flowers and Brassicas

mustard

This week on Facebook, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a Virginia-based seed company, reminded us to start cabbage, celery, celeriac, cauliflower, and bulb onions indoors (from seed, under lights). However, if you are worried about the dreaded cabbage worm and other pests, Margaret Roach in New York just interviewed Don Tipping from Siskiyou Seeds on her website, awaytogarden.com, for tips on growing brassicas and preventing the cabbage worm. Brassicas are members of the cabbage or mustard family (Brassicaceae) that include cauliflower, collards, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, and the mustards, among others. Popular vegetables to grow here but they are susceptible to cabbage worm and flea beetle.

love in a mist seed pod

Claire Jones, Maryland garden/floral designer, tells us on her blog, The Garden Diaries, that now is the time to sow cool season flowers. She has sown seeds of calendula, love in a mist, poppies, and bells of Ireland outside, directly into the soil, when it was workable.

If you are new to the concept of cool season flowers, check out Lisa Ziegler’s website, The Gardener’s Workshop. She wrote the book (quite literally) because she has a cut flower farm in Newport News, Virginia. Her website has two virtual workshops (a series of short videos): one to learn how to start seeds indoors and one on growing cool season flowers. Last year, I was inspired and grew snapdragons, calendula, and love in a mist.

love in a mist flowers

snapdragons

Seed Swaps: Share Your Seeds and Try New Varieties

It’s that time of year again — seed swaps! National Seed Swap Day is this Saturday, January 27, 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 organizations 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 to allow bulbs, rhizomes, and cuttings. Others include related activities such as learning to make handmade seed envelopes.

seeds of blackberry lilies are easy to pick and save

Each swap is different but usually organizers have established guidelines. They may prescribe the preferred container, 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 no one want seeds from invasive plants, the organizers should clarify the definition of an invasive plant in that geographic 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 for seed swaps in the Washington DC metro area (three are listed below for this Saturday). Kathy Jentz, owner of the Washington Gardener Magazine, which hosts two events annually, keeps a running list of seed swaps across the country.

tiger beans are not only easy to save but beautiful

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 it would require. 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. Talk with other organizers to learn how to determine guidelines for accepting seed, the process to avoid a mad stampede to the seed table, and possible fun activities or speakers. Determine if you want a simple seed swap or a community event with speakers and an agenda. Now is the time to attend the seed swaps this year in order to plan your swap for next year.

The Washington Gardener Seed Exchange occurs every January-February with speakers and door prizes at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD, and Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, VA. This year, the Brookside Garden event will be on Saturday, January 27 and the Green Spring Garden event will be on Saturday, February 10. These are from 12:30 to 4:00 pm. There is a fee and registration is done via brownpapertickets.com. 

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners will host a seed exchange with vendors and book/magazine swap at the Blandy Experimental Farm Library, Blandy Farm, Boyce, VA;  January 27, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, free.

The Central Rappahannock Extension Master Gardeners will host a seed swap, with speakers, door prizes, and refreshments at Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline Street (theater), Fredericksburg, VA, on Saturday January 27, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, free.

Discovering New Gardening Products at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

As mentioned in my January 14th article, last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. Almost all the companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or to press such as myself. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world.

There were a few products that caught my eye and although the companies attended MANTS for wholesale orders, these companies below said they sell directly to gardeners through their websites.

Through a fellow Garden Writers Association member Ruth Rogers Clausen, I met Dorian Winslow, president of Womanswork, a women-owned, family business in New York.  Womanswork specializes in gloves that fit well for women (although they also sell gloves for men), gardening aprons, raffia and cotton hats, gardening tools, and related items such as hand cream and poison ivy soap. This company sells to garden centers and online directly to gardeners. For over 30 years, they have been specializing in gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Ruth attested to that, she has been using the products for so many years, she is even featured in their catalog. Not only was Dorian a delightful person to talk with but I also found out that she was interviewed recently by one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Jewell of Cultivating Place.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mark Highland again, owner of Organic Mechanics Soil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of premier organic and peat-free potting soils and soil amendments in Pennsylvania. Gardeners can buy products from the site or search the retailer locator for stores. Mark gave a presentation at the Garden Bloggers Fling in June and generously gave us samples of Fuhgeddaboudit! Root Zone Feeder Packs. These small packages of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar, azomite, and micronized oyster shell are placed under or next to a plant’s root ball when planting to help the plant get established. At MANTS, he gave a presentation on Biochar Blend, a bag of biochar, compost, worm castings, bone char, azomite, zeolite, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. Biochar is highly porous carbon that improves nutrition absorption and provides a permanent home for beneficial soil biology. Biochar can help boost yields and increase the effectiveness of plants’ growth — the best part is that it only has be applied once and will last a lifetime. Mark also published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017).

One company that was new to me was City Farmer USA, based in Nevada. Bruce Lebish, president, explained that his company sells raised, plastic planters that gardeners could order directly from their website. They have to be assembled (the instructions on their website look simple) and the models they had at MANTS were black with a strong oriental/bamboo texture because of their woven sides. 

Apparently this woven side is a patented ventilation design that promotes healthy root systems and the patented base retain water. The basket (where you put the soil and plants) is either 16 inches high from the ground or 30 inches, eliminating the need to bend down (may also be wheelchair friendly). There are different sizes and if you buy a few configurations and line them up they would create a very beautiful container appearance on a deck or patio.

More new products and plants in future articles!

Peg’s Picks: January 2018 New Gardening Books

Many of you are familiar with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events which I post on my site at the end of each month and on the tab “Classes, Events.” With the new year, I am starting Peg’s Picks of gardening books. This will be posted each month on my site and in the new tab “New Books: 2018.”

I deliberately use “Peg’s Picks” to imply that these are not all gardening books but rather a subset: for adults (i.e., not children’s books), about gardening, and likely about gardening in this area of the world. These books are a collection of what I have heard about from colleagues and read about on publishers’ sites with a link to the publisher’s description of the book. If you have a book that will be published soon, please contact me and I would be happy to list it.

The following books have been or will be published in January 2018. Stay tuned for February’s list which is quite a bit longer!

The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible: The Definitive Guide to Choosing and Growing Bonsai by Peter Chan, publisher is Mitchell Beazley

The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and Jean Nick, revised, publisher is Rodale Books

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: the Indispensable Green Source for Every Gardener edited by Fern Marshall Brady, Barbara W. Ellis, and Ellen Phillips with Deborah L. Martin, publisher is Rodale Books

An Abundance of Flowers: More Great Flower Breeders of the Past by Judith M. Taylor, publisher is Swallow Press

The Colorful Dry Garden: Over 100 Flowers and Vibrant Plants for Drought, Desert and Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer, publisher is Sasquatch Books

New Cultivars of Wintergreen for Bright Red Berries

This week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. The companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or the press like me. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world. This year, I discovered several new plants and gardening products which I will describe in future articles.

One plant in particular stood out for me.  I was struck by how many times I saw Gaultheria procumbens in containers either as a decoration or as a new cultivar. I have seen the species for sale in local nurseries before but they were always so small and scrawny I never bought them. The plants at MANTS were large with exceptionally large berries.

Briggs Nursery had a display of Berry Cascade and Cherry Berries. Cherry Berries has very large red berries, almost like cranberries, while Berry Cascade had berries appearing the entire length of the stem, forming a cascading effect. Because Briggs is a wholesale nursery, you would have to ask your garden center to order these if they don’t already have them in stock.

Cherry Berries

Berry Cascade

Monrovia, a plant company that sells directly to consumers via their website and through garden centers, had beautiful, healthy plants in their signature containers. Their website features two types: Very Berry and Red Baron. Red Baron has more and larger bright red berries.

Monrovia’s Gaultheria plants

I was lucky to find Peppermint Pearl at MANTS. Peppermint Pearl is unusual in that the berries first appear white in the fall and change to pink by early spring.

Peppermint Pearl, already turning from white to pink

Botanical Collections, a wholesaler of Kew pottery from London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, used the red berries of Gaultheria to show off their products.

Red berries add color to Botanical Collections’ pottery

And here is another photo of Gaultheria modeling this container.

Gaultheria procumbens, also known as teaberry or wintergreen, is a groundcover that prefers shade and moist, acidic soil (think “woodsy environment”). Hardy to zone 3, Gaultheria is an eastern North American native plant. It blooms small, white flowers in the summer followed by the berries in the fall. The berries can last until spring and are edible but it is the leaves that produce that aromatic wintergreen scent. Native Americans used the leaves to make a medicinal tea, hence teaberry, to alleviate pain (much like aspirin).  The name wintergreen comes from the fact that the plant is an evergreen. Its green leaves turn bronzy red or purple with the cold weather and remain above ground throughout the winter. Although the plant should be grown outdoors, its red berries make it a great holiday gift plant. Now that there are new cultivars with even larger berries, I will have to add Gaultheria to my Virginia garden as a native herb evergreen groundcover with winter interest!