Tag Archives: Green Spring Gardens

Philadelphia Flower Show in Five Weeks!!

2015FSposterNow is the time to book your trip and buy your tickets to the Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest and longest running flower show in North America. This year, the theme is “Celebrate the Movies.” From Saturday, February 28, through Sunday, March 8, the Flower Show will “Celebrate the Movies” with the world’s great floral and garden designers taking inspiration from the world’s great cinema. All proceeds from the Flower Show will support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its acclaimed urban greening programs including City Harvest.

The Flower Show is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Street, but you don’t have to drive there by yourself. In the Washington DC metropolitan area, there are several coach bus trips that make it easy to access the show. Coach bus companies offer trips, and many nurseries, garden clubs, Master Gardener groups, public gardens, and park systems offer day trips to the Convention Center. Green Spring Gardens, Brookside Gardens, and Greenstreet Gardens offer bus trips, contact them directly for more information. The Washington Gardener magazine offers two trips on different days: one from Behnkes Nursery in Maryland and one from Silver Spring. Check out the various venues for date/time of departure, meeting locations, and prices which could include admission ticket, food, or entertainment. This is a walk-till-you-drop event: wear tennis shoes and bring your camera!

Philadelphia Flower Show http://www.theflowershow.com

Green Spring Gardens http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Brookside Gardens http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside

Greenstreet Gardens http://www.greenstreetgardens.com

Washington Gardener magazine

http://www.washingtongardener.blogspot.com

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: Camellia ‘Winter’s Beauty’

GreenSpringsDecember2014 054For Garden Bloggers Bloom Day I took photos of Camellia ‘Winter’s Beauty’, flowering now in mid December, in Northern Virginia. Traditionally, camellias are thought of as a southern shrub, not at all tolerant of our USDA Zone 7, Virginia winters. However, the late Dr. William L. Ackerman developed a variety of cultivars that are hardy to USDA Zone 6 while he worked at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. This particular camellia is ‘Winter’s Beauty’, part of the winter blooming Winter series of cold hardy camellias.  Although these photos were taken in mid December at Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, VA, these camellias can bloom earlier in November or later in January.  Camellias are broadleaf evergreen shrubs preferring moist, well-drained, acidic soil, and partial shade. This one can grow to about 7 to 12 feet high and 4 to 7 feet wide.GreenSpringsDecember2014 055GreenSpringsDecember2014 051

Peg’s Picks December Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

Many public gardens and historic homes are decorated for Christmas and have wreath making classes, open houses, and gift shops full of goodies. Here is just an example of “green” holiday happenings in the Washington DC metropolitan area for December.November2014 082

American Horticultural Society at River Farm

December 13 Saturday Holiday Open House from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm (mansion will be decorated for Christmas); There is a holiday tree display from December 1 through December 24, both free; 7931 E. Boulevard Drive, Alexandria, VA 22308; (703) 768-5700; http://www.ahs.org

Brookside Gardens

The Garden of Lights is cancelled for 2014 due to construction but the Conservatory Winter Display is open from 12/6 to 1/11 and the Garden Railway Exhibit is open from 11/28 to 1/11, free; 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902; (301) 962-1400; http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside/

Green Spring Gardens

Sunday, December 7, noon to 4:00 pm, Gardeners’ Holiday Open House, free but must register and pay for puppet show and trackless train ride, have a gingerbread house contest; 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312; (703) 642-5173; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/November2014 085

Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Decorated for Christmas and in December, every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, staff horticulturist Bill Johnson gives a 20-minute tour focusing on the “bones” of the winter garden; Fee and register in advance; 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008; (202) 686-5807; http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org

Mt. Vernon Estate and Gardens

Decorated for Christmas with special activities all month long.The “Garden and Groves: George Washington’s Landscape at Mt. Vernon” exhibit is inside and the admission is included with the purchase of the general admission ticket;3200 Mt. Vernon Memorial highway, Mt. Vernon, VA 22121; (703) 780-2000; http://www.mountvernon.orgNovember2014 078

Oatlands Historic House and Gardens

Decorated for Christmas in 1940s style, many activities in December; Admission fee and closed on 12/24 and 12/25; 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg, VA 20175; (703) 777-3174; http://www.oatlands.org

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

The mansion is decorated for Christmas and there are many activities in December (fee). The Holidays Through History Open House is on Saturday, December 6; includes Dumbarton House, Anderson House, Woodrow Wilson House, and Tudor Place. These homes are decorated for Christmas; walk among the homes or ride a shuttle bus, free with ticket. Must register in advance, fee; 1644 31st Street, Washington, DC 20007; (202) 965-0400; http://www.tudorplace.orgNovember2014 076

U.S. Botanic Garden

Season’s Greetings Exhibit: garden railway model trains, seasonal plant displays, replicas of the capital’s landmark buildings, and one of the largest indoor decorated trees in the area. Free; 245 First Street SW, Washington DC 20024; (202) 225-8333; http://www.usbg.gov

 

(December is also the time for craft fairs. These photos are from the Vienna Art and Craft show sponsored by the Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild, this Thanksgiving weekend. These orchids and the basket of fruit are clay, about two inches tall and handmade by Wanpen Yongvanichjit, Nid’s Crafts, http://nidscrafts.blogspot.com. When I was young and lived in Thailand, my mother used to buy orchids in similar crates and hang them outside on the rubber tree.)

 

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: Lantana

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Lantana trifolia at Green Spring Gardens in summer

We have had a few light frosts here in Northern Virginia, the temperatures have dipped down into the thirties and the leaves are falling off the trees. At our local Alexandria library, the lantana plants in the containers are still blooming. Lantana is a tender perennial that reminds me of my childhood in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There it grew wild, all year long, in the tropical climate. Here in zone 7, it is grown as an annual and the commonly used species Lantana camara is used as a full sun, drought resistant, butterfly magnet. This is the species the library has and although these particular flowers are dark red, the Lantana camara flower colors range from yellow to orange to red.  A few years ago, Adrian Higgins wrote about another Lantana species he saw at Green Spring Gardens in his weekly Washington Post column. I had not heard of it before so naturally I drove to Green Spring Gardens to check it out. Lantana trifolia aka popcorn lantana has purple flowers that produce a string of small purple fruits, resembling a small ear of corn. The purple fruit is much more noticeable than Lantana camara, which tends to be small green balls. It too is a tender perennial but not commonly grown in this area. Seeing the library’s lantana plant still blooming on November 15 (Garden Bloggers Bloom Day) reminds me to put both Lantana camara and Lantana trifolia on my 2015 Garden Wish List.

Lantana camara at library on November 15

Lantana camara at library on November 15

Peg’s Picks November Gardening Events Washington DC Area

As the gardening season ends, look to botanical or public gardens for classes and workshops. These organizations have other events as well; I just picked a few “edibles.”

Saturday, November 1, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Inviting Native Pollinators, Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA; (703) 642-5173; Fee required; must register; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Saturday, November 8, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Homeowner Rain Garden Workshop, Green Spring Gardens; Fee required; must register; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Saturday, November 8, 1:30 – 2:30 pm, Fun with Winter Containers, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, VA 22182; (703) 255-3631, Free with paid admission to garden, http://www.nvrpa.org/park/meadowlark_botanical_gardens

Saturday, November 8, 10:30 to noon, Putting the Garden to Bed for Winter, Fairlington Community Center and Park, 3308 South Stafford Street, Arlington, VA; (703) 228-6414; presented by Northern Virginia Master Gardeners, Free but must register, http://www.mgnv.org

Wednesday, November 12, noon to 1:30, Cooking demonstration: Winter Greens (Brookside has a series of cooking demonstrations; I thought this would be helpful because gardeners often don’t know what to do with their winter greens once they have grown them), Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902; (301) 962-1400; Fee required and must register, http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside

persimmon tree in neighbor's yard  Virginia

persimmon tree in neighbor’s yard

 

Seed: To Save or Not To Save, That Is the Question

In my garden, I save seeds from certain plants every year and for others, I leave the seed for the birds. Seed saving is a great idea but whether or not you should save the seed depends on the plant.

dried seed pods on Hibiscus 'Lil' Kim'

dried seed pods on Hibiscus ‘Lil’ Kim’

If you are interested in saving the seed, ask yourself this: will you get the same plant as before? The first thing you need to find out is whether or not your plant is a hybrid or an open-pollinated plant. A hybrid is a plant that comes from the controlled cross breeding of two distinct species or cultivars. This is done intentionally to capture a desired trait such as flower color or disease resistance. If you saved the seed from this hybrid, the next generation will not look like your original plant. It will exhibit some of its parents’ (or even previous generations’) characteristics so you won’t retain the desired traits. For example, in September my Hibiscus syriacus ‘Lil’ Kim’ has interesting seed pods that look really easy to cut off, dry, and save. But this plant was deliberately created as a dwarf form of the species Hibiscus syriacus, commonly known as Rose of Sharon, a shrubby plant about 5 feet tall. If I planted the seeds next year, I would get a Hibiscus plant, that is one with hibiscus-like characteristics, but it may be small, medium, or large, with white, pink or lavender flowers.

If you have an open pollinated plant, the seed will produce the same plant as before with most flowers and herbs. There are exceptions in the vegetable world. There are some vegetables that self-pollinate such as tomatoes and beans so the seed retains the original characteristics. However, there are some vegetables that are pollinated by insects willing to travel to your neighbor’s garden to cross pollinate your neighbor’s vegetables with your vegetables. Peas, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, and squash are examples of vegetables that are cross-pollinated so the resulting seed may produce plants that do not have the same or desired traits as before. After you have decided whether saving the seed will result in the plant you want, consider these criteria:

1. Do you have enough of the plant or want more?

This spring I planted love-in-a-mist seeds (Nigella damascena), which I bought from the Green Spring Gardens gift shop in Alexandria, VA. Green Spring Gardens has stands of these small lavender-blue flowers that produce very interesting seed pods, perfect for dried flower arrangements. My seed only produced a few plants but fortunately, they flowered and produced seed. I want the seeds to disperse and germinate in the garden next year in the same place to get more plants (hopefully a stand of them just like at Green Spring Gardens). I could do this manually by saving seeds and planting next year or I could just let nature do it for me. I left the seed pods in the garden.

love-in-a-mist at Green Spring Gardens

love-in-a-mist at Green Spring Gardens

On the other hand, I have a few columbine plants, Aquilegia columbine, growing in one place.  I would like for them to grow in other places on the property so I cut the seed pods and put them in a paper bag. Later, when they were bone dry, I pulled the pods apart and put the tiny, glossy black seeds in a glass jar.

dried seed pods and seed from columbine

dried seed pods and seed from columbine

2. Is the seed useful in the kitchen?

I always grow plenty of dill and cilantro, some of which I harvest the leaves for cooking, some of which I leave alone and let the plants flower and “go to seed.” When the seed heads are brown, I cut them and let them drop into a paper bag and let dry some more. The dill seed is great for breads and rolls, the cilantro seed, which is known as coriander, is great for cookies and fruit salads. Sometimes, I use the seed for the garden the next year, just depends on how much baking is done in the winter.

dried dill seed head, in vase on napkin

dried dill seed head, in vase on napkin

3. Do you find it easier to save seed or just buy again next year?

The corollary being, how much time do you have? There are two basic methods for saving seed: dry and wet. With most of my herbs and flowers, I use the dry method because the seed themselves are in a dried pod so it is simple to cut the pods and put it in a paper bag. After a few weeks, when very dry, I put them on a plate, separate seed from the pod, and put the seed in a glass jar with a label. With pulpy, fleshy vegetables, I use the wet method. Parts of the fruit, such as tomatoes, are cut up or mashed and put in a jar with water. After days, depending on the plant, you eventually extract the seeds from the pulp and lay on a paper towel to dry.  The exact process depends on the vegetable. For detailed information on how to save seed (and for buying open pollinated seed), check out the Seed Savers Exchange (under the “Education” tab) and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (under the “Growing Guides” tab).

4. Do you want to attract birds or create winter interest?

If you want to feed the birds or try to achieve some architectural interest in the garden in the winter, you have to leave the seeds on the plants. I grow a lot of lemon basil because I use some plants for cooking while leaving others in the garden to flower and set seed. In late summer through fall, the yellow finches land on the swaying seed stalks and peck at the seeds. I also leave the coneflower (Echinacea) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) plants alone. After they flower, they have stiff seed stalks and prominent seed heads that add interest in the winter and provide food for birds.

lemon basil plants gone to seed

lemon basil plants gone to seed

This September, my rue plant (Ruta graveolens) produced interesting seed heads far above the foliage. Rue is a well known herb but I use it as a landscape plant. Its gray, green foliage provides a lot of color and texture, it is drought resistant and seems to repel deer and critters, and it provides yellow flowers in the summer for me to cut and place in vases for the office. I was torn between harvesting the seed for more rue plants next year or leaving the seed heads for winter interest when I read that rue is a great companion plant for alpine strawberries (which I just grew this year) and for raspberries (which I also planted in my garden). Off with her head!

rue seed heads

rue seed heads