Tag Archives: Virginia

General’s Choice of Trees and Shrubs is a Wise Choice for the Mid-Atlantic Gardener

 

Spring is the season for plant sales in the Washington DC area. Every weekend there are plant and garden sales, garden parties, workshops, tours, and lectures. I look forward to these annual events just as much as I look forward to seeing the cherry blossoms. One of the more interesting plant sales is Mount Vernon’s Historic Plant and Garden Sale in Virginia. This year, the month-long sale runs from Saturday April 21 to May 20, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (members can attend the preview night on April 20). The plants are located outdoors, just outside the Mt. Vernon main gift shop, and admission tickets are not necessary. Gardening accoutrements such as tools, books, mugs, note cards, and gift items also are available. Staff horticulturists, easy to spot by their bright green shirts, are available to answer gardening questions on Wednesdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 2:00 pm.

“At length my dear Marquis I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig-tree.”

What sets this plant sale apart from other local sales is provenance. The Mt. Vernon horticulturists propagated most of the plants that are for sale from the plants that are grown on the George Washington’s estate. There is a wide assortment of vegetables, flowers, herbs, trees, and shrubs. Of note is the General’s Choice Collection. Staff grew ten trees and shrubs representative of those that were grown by George Washington: three types of boxwood (American, English, and tree), two edibles (pawpaw and fig), tulip poplar, southern magnolia, redbud, dogwood, and red maple. The General’s Choice Collection has distinctive tags and can be grown easily by gardeners and homeowners in the mid-Atlantic area.

In addition, the Mt. Vernon horticulturists collected, cleaned, and packaged heirloom seed from plants grown on the estate. The beautifully designed seed packets make great souvenir gifts, easy to mail. The proceeds from the plant sale support the historical museum and gardens. Every time someone purchases a plant or a seed packet, George Washington’s legacy as a gentleman farmer lives on.

“Planted all my Cedars, all my Pawpaw, and two Honey locust Trees in my Shrubberies and two of the latter in my groves – one at each ‘side’ of the House and a large Holly tree on the Point going to the Sein landing.”

Photos courtesy of George Washington’s Mt. Vernon

Spring Is Near: Is It Wise to Buy the Plants at the Garden Centers?

Pansy

Pansy

I was at a local Virginia garden center this weekend and saw four plants that are popular to buy now in the early spring. They had such small tags, you would not know the full scoop if you had bought them.

Pansies: They are beautiful and out of these four plants, pansies would have the most colorful impact now. They come in a range of colors and can be used in hanging baskets, containers, and in the ground. But, they prefer cool weather and will not last through our hot and humid summers. By the beginning of summer, you will pull them out if the deer and rabbits do not get to them first. These are annuals meaning they only survive for one growing season. In our area, they really are only useful in the spring when they bloom. They do not make good cut flowers.

 

Alyssum

Alyssum

Alyssum: Usually one only finds white flowered alyssum which is not my favorite color in the garden. They are not cut flowers but their form lends themselves to hanging baskets, containers, and in the ground, along the walkway. Alyssum likes cool weather but will do well in the summer. Their tiny flowers attract the pollinators including bees and beneficial insects but not deer. These annuals will die with frost in the fall but you will have gotten your money’s worth.

 

 

Dianthus

Dianthus

Dianthus: Related to carnations, this type of dianthus likes full sun and can be drought tolerant once established. The flowers are small, but could be cut for a small vase. The plant adds color, usually the flowers are pink to red, but the plant lies low to the ground. Its form does not lend itself for hanging baskets; they are best used on terraces, rock gardens, garden beds. The plant might come back the next year but they do not have a long life and are treated as annuals here.

 

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Snapdragons: The flowers are beautiful, come in a range of colors, and can be cut for vases. They bloom in the cool spring months, the plant simply grows and persists during the summer, and they may bloom again in the cool autumn. Mine have come back the following year but not years after that.  Usually they are grown in the ground,  or containers, not hanging baskets. Snapdragons are deer resistant.

Peg’s Picks: July 2016 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

These are Peg’s Picks of local gardening events in July. July may be hot but it is a busy time in the garden as well as in the Washington DC metro gardening world. If it gets too hot for you, cool down inside with Lisa Mason Ziegler’s free, virtual Cool Flowers book study (see last entry).

2, Saturday, The Summer’s Best Hydrangeas, lecture, 11:00 am, Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

5, Tuesday, Simpson Gardens Stroll, 11:00 am to noon, 426 E. Monroe Avenue by the YMCA in Alexandria, VA. Free and hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

6, Wednesday, Pollination, Pollinator, and Flowers, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

7, Thursday, Growing Flowers Using Organic Methods: Walking Tour of a Local Cut Flower Farm with Barbara Lambone at Greenstone Fields, 38223 John Wolford Road, Purcellville, VA, (will be cancelled if rains). Free, 7:00 pm., Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

7, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and also presented on July 28. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

7, Thursday, Getting Your Orchid to Re-Bloom, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

9, Saturday, Bring the Shade Garden to Life with Perennials, lecture, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

9, Saturday, Saturday in the Garden “Compost Happens”, 10:00 am to noon. Free talk at Loudoun County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden in Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

9, Saturday, Jam Preserve Workshop, 9:30 to 2:30. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC, Fee and must register. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.comhttp://www.fmgg.org.

10, Sunday, The Birth of a Rain Garden: From Start to Finish, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

12, Tuesday, Bearded Iris Care, lecture by staff horticulturists, 9:30 am. Free for Ladew members; fee for non-members; registration required. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD. (410) 557-9570 ext. 261, e-mail rhebert@ladewgardens.com. http://www.ladewgardens.com

13, Wednesday, Marvelous ‘matoes, a tomato cooking demonstration by the Cook Sisters. Fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. (301) 962-1470. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

13, Wednesday, Lasagna Gardens: The Layered Approach, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Thursday, Rejuvenate the Midsummer Herb Garden, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA; Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Thursday, Home Irrigation, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

16, Saturday, Lotus and Water Lily Festival, 10:00 to 4:00 pm, Free, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE Washington DC. http://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.html

16, Saturday, Lavender Wand Making Workshop, 10:00 am to noon. Free. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

16, Saturday, Tips for a Happy Garden: Mulching, Watering and Protecting Your Plants from the Heat, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

16, Saturdays in the Garden, Getting your Lawn, Landscape, and Vegetable Garden Ready for the Fall, 9:00 am to noon. The Teaching Garden at the Benedictine Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Presented by Prince William County Master Gardeners. Outside, dress appropriate. Free but must register. http://www.mgpw.org

16, Saturday, Native Trees and Shrubs for Home Gardens, 10:00 to 11:30 am. Fee and must register. Presentation by Green Spring staff horticulturist. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

17, Sunday, The Benefits, Beauty and Diversity of Perennial Groundcovers, 1:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

17, Sunday, Sunday in the Organic Vegetable Garden, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Free and hosted by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

20, Wednesday, Grow Your Own Cutting Garden and Old Fashioned Flower Show, 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Free and open to the public. Takoma Horticulture Club, 7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma, MD. http://www.takomahort.org.

20, Wednesday, Seed Saving, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

21, Thursday, Composting Basics, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

23 and 24, Saturday and Sunday, 27th Annual Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale, times vary, depend on the farm, 21 farms involved, check out web site for farms, times, and map. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/agservices/agfarmgtour.html

23, Saturday, A Survey of Shade Trees, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

27, Wednesday, Soil Building, Composting, Compost Tea, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

28, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and again on July 7. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

28, Thursday, All Things Lavender, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

30, Saturday, Lecture: Mints: Their Botany, Chemistry, and Uses, 10:30 to noon. Free but must register in advance. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

30, Saturday, Spicing Up Your Gardens and Containers from Now through Fall, 11:00. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

30, Saturday, Honey Extraction Workshop, 9:30 to noon and noon to 2:30 (two sessions, register for one and there is a fee). Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center).  E-mail: gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

Summer Garden Workshop Series in DC

DC Parks and Recreation has a Summer Garden Workshop Series. More than 50 free workshops every Monday, Wednesday and various Saturdays from April 18th to September 28th. Focused on practical urban gardening and taught by the leaders of DC urban garden movement. Monday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Deanwood Rec – 1350 49th St. NE; Wednesday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Raymond Rec – 3725 10th St. NE; Saturday Classes: 10-12pm – Times and locations vary.  Check registration for more details:
http://bit.ly/UrbanGardeningPrograms

A full schedule flyer is at this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/node/1124742

For more info about all DPR Urban Garden Programs click on this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-programs

 Cool Flowers Virtual Book Study

Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, VA, is hosting a virtual book study for her book Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques. Starting Friday July 15, she will teach how to grow hardy annuals (flowers) such as bells of Ireland, snapdragons, and sweet peas. Each Friday for 10 weeks (1 week for each chapter), she will show a short video and answer questions. There is no fee and it is not required to have the book although it will certainly be beneficial to read along. If you are like me and work on Fridays, you can sign up at her web site to have the weekly links sent to your e-mail or you can visit the web site any time. Lisa has been a cut flower farmer since 1998 and has built a very successful business. She produces 10,000 stems each week during the growing season on 1 ½ acres. She has written several books, sells seeds and supplies, hosts workshops, and gives presentations across the county.

Local Resource for Growing Tomatoes Successfully This Summer

year-of-the-tomato-logoThe University of Maryland Extension (UME) has a fantastic “Grow It Eat It” program. This year, they have declared 2016 as the Year of the Tomato. To celebrate this popular veggie, they created a site devoted to learning more about growing, harvesting, and preserving/canning tomatoes, http://extension.umd.edu/growit/2016-year-tomato. The site has a variety of resources: a list of local UME offices, contact information for Maryland’s gardening experts, and the list of the Master Gardener plant clinics for getting answers to tomato problems. It also has a link to their Youtube playlist of tomato information; recommended cultivars; winners of the 2015 tomato tasting events; and tomato-related articles on the Grow It Eat It blog. Although this is a UME resource, the information is applicable to those of us who live in the Mid-Atlantic area so Virginia and DC residents can enjoy the bounty. If you ever wanted to grow tomatoes successfully, now is the time!

Books About Gardens and Gardening in Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC

I just updated my website’s Books page about gardens and gardening in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC, from the year 2000 to the present.  There are 35 books. Below is the updated text in the Books page.

The public library is a great resource–not only are the books free but if the branch does not have a particular title, they can get it for you from another branch or through interlibrary loan. Most libraries have gardening magazines; you can borrow past issues. The reference section has non-circulating gardening books that are great resources. Local bookstores have plant and gardening books and many have web sites for searching or ordering books. Don’t forget Amazon.com and check your phone book for the used bookstores. Many of the public gardens have non-lending libraries; some are open when the gardens are open, others are by appointment only.  Public gardens also have books for sale in their gift shops. Brookside Gardens and Green Spring Gardens have reading libraries. For extensive research, try the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library, Abraham Lincoln Building, 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD  20705; (301) 504-5755; http://www.nal.usda.gov.

Below are local books with the most recently published listed first through the year 2000:

All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses: How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America by Marta McDowell, Timber Press, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Gardeners Handbook: Your Complete Guide: Select, Plan, Plant, Maintain, Problem Solve by Katie Elzer-Peters, Cool Springs Press, 2016

Gardens of Georgetown: Exploring Urban Treasures, text by Edith Nalle Schafer and photos by Jenny Gorman, Georgetown Garden Club, 2015

Maryland’s Public Gardens and Parks by Barbara Glickman, Schiffer Publishers, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year by George Weigel, Cool Springs Press, 2015

Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide by Barbara W. Ellis; photographs by Neil Soderstrom, University of North Carolina Press in association with the Adkins Arboretum, 2015

Maymont: An American Estate (Richmond, VA) by Dale Cyrus Wheary, Scala Arts Publishers in association with the Maymont Foundation, 2015

Mid-Atlantic: Getting Started Garden Guide: Grow the Best Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Vines and Groundcovers by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau, Cool Springs Press, 2015

The General in the Garden: George Washington’s Landscape at Mt. Vernon by Susan P. Schoelwer, editor, Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association, 2015

Native Plants for Northern Virginia by the Virginia Native Plant Society, available via the Society, http://www.vnps.org, 2015

Great Perennial Plants, Vines, and Bulbs Guide for the Mid-Atlantic Garden by Donna Williamson, self-published, electronic and available via Amazon, 2014

The Mid-Atlantic Garden: An Insider’s Guide to a Successful Lower Maintenance Garden by Donna Williamson, self-published, electronic and available via Amazon, 2014

Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello by Peter J. Hatch, Yale University Press, 2014

Take Our Advice: A Handbook for Gardening in Northern Virginia by Margaret Fisher, Student Peace Awards of Fairfax, 2014

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace, Timber Press, 2013

Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles: DE, MD, PA, VA, DC, and WV by Katie Elzer-Peters, Cool Springs Press, 2013

Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners by Wesley Greene, Rodale Press, 2012

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama, Crown Publishing Group, 2012

Capital Splendor: Parks and Gardens of Washington DC by Valerie Brown, Barbara Glickman Countryman Press, 2012

A Guide to Smithsonian Gardens by Carole Otteson, Smithsonian Books, 2011

Historic Virginia Gardens: Preservation Work of the Garden Club of Virginia by Margaret Page Bemiss, University of Virginia Press, 2009

Virginia’s Historic Homes and Gardens by Pat Blackley and Chuck Blackley, Voyageur Press, 2009

The Virginia’s Garden Companion: An Insider Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia by Donna Williamson, Morris Book Publishing, 2008

Garden Walks in the Southeast: Beautiful Gardens from Washington to the Gulf Coast by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006

Garden Walks in the Mid-Atlantic States: Beautiful Gardens from New York to Washington DC by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005

The American Horticultural Society Guide to American Public Gardens and Arboreta:  Gardens Across America, Volume 1, East of the Mississippi by Thomas S. Spencer and John J. Russell, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005

A City of Gardens: Glorious Public Gardens In and Around the Nation’s Capital by Barbara Seeber, Capital Books, 2004

Month by Month Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic by André and Mark Viette and Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2004

Selecting, Growing and Combining Outstanding Perennials: Mid-Atlantic and New England Edition by Teri Dunn, André Viette, Mark Viette, Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2003

Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Guide by André and Mark Viette and Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2003

Barnes & Noble Complete Illustrated Guidebook to Washington, D.C.’s Public Parks and Gardens, published by Silver Lining Books, 2003

Complete Illustrated Guide to Washington DC’s Public Parks and Gardens by Richard Berenson, Silver Lining, 2003

The Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Book by Felder Rushing and Walter Reeves, Cool Springs Press, 2002

Virginia Gardeners Guide by Jacqueline Heriteau, Cool Springs Press, 2001

The New York/Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists by Bonnie Lee Appleton, Cooper Square Press, 2001

 

You Can Grow That: Chervil

chervilChervil is ephemeral grace. Its finely cut, green leaves emerge during cool spring months, dissipating quickly with summer’s heat. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a very old European herb, one of the components of fines herbs of French cuisine. It is not as well known here in America but it is easy to grow for culinary use. A cousin of parsley, chervil’s leaves are similar but more finely cut and the overall height is smaller, about one foot tall and wide. If left to flower in the summer, the compound umbels display small white flowers, again, similar to parsley or carrot. Because chervil is a hardy annual, seeds should be sown every few weeks in early spring here in Virginia and then again in late summer for a fall crop. Chervil prefers moist soil and partial or afternoon shade.

Leaves can be harvested fresh and taste like a combination of parsley and anise (licorice). Wash and finely cut the leaves to add to egg dishes, fish, fruit salad, cream cheese, cream sauces, cheese dishes, and butter. Add to vegetables such as carrots, beans, corn, and peas during the last few minutes of cooking. It is best to add chervil at the end of hot dishes such as soups and stews because the lengthy heat will make it taste bitter.  The leaves can be dried as well, simply wash and lay flat on paper towels for a few weeks or hang upside down.

You can grow that is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo below to read more posts.

Youcangrowthat

 

 

Plant NoVA Natives Campaign’s Free Guide

nativeplantsfornovaMy family and I had a great time at Green Spring Garden’s Plant Sale this past weekend. It seemed there were many more vendors than in the past. There were so many plants to choose from, as well as a baked goods sale and representatives from several local garden clubs. One interesting gem of information that I wanted to pass on is a new guide called Native Plants for Northern Virginia. Volunteers of the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign were selling the guide for $5.00 but the four-color guide can be downloaded from the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign website free (http://www.plantnovanatives.org).

Published in March 2015, this 48-page guide lists plants native to Northern Virginia (residents of the greater Washington DC area also can benefit from this guide). The guide was not meant to be comprehensive but rather a showcase of natives that are attractive, easy for home gardeners to acquire and grow, and beneficial to wildlife and the environment. The guide is organized by the type of plant: perennials (forbs); grasses, sedges, and rushes; ferns; vines; shrubs; and trees. For each plant there is a photo, cultural requirements, size and shape, and the insects, birds, or wildlife that benefit from the plant. The guide also lists native plants that would do well in particular situations such as wet or dry places, additional resources on native plants, native plant demonstration gardens, and invasive plants.

The Plant NoVA Natives Campaign is a partnership of the organizations listed below. Its goal is to promote the use of these plants in the urban and suburban landscapes in Northern Virginia for their social, cultural, and economic benefits, and to increase the availability of Northern Virginia native plants in retail nurseries throughout the region. For homeowners and gardeners interested in native plants or new to Virginia, this guide is a great introduction and a useful compendium of local resources.

  • Audubon Society of Northern Virginia
  • Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
  • Mason Sustainability Institute
  • Nature by Design
  • Northern Virginia Regional Commission (lead organization)
  • Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Potowmack Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
  • Prince William Wildflower Society Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
  • Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Virginia Master Gardeners
  • Virginia Master Naturalists

Tour Homes and Gardens During the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

Oatlands in Leesburg, photo courtesy of GCV

Oatlands in Leesburg, photo courtesy of GCV

Sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV), Historic Garden Week (HGW) is an opportunity for the public to tour almost 250 private homes and gardens and historical sites in Virginia. “Historic Garden Week has raised millions of dollars for the restoration of public gardens across Virginia,” noted HGW Chairman Alice Martin. “Tour proceeds are used to enhance Virginia’s landscape.” For 82 years, the grounds of Virginia’s most cherished historic landmarks including Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the Executive Mansion in Richmond have been restored or preserved using proceeds from this statewide house and garden tour. The beginning of HGW dates to 1927 when a flower show organized by the GCV raise $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello. A non-profit organization, the GCV is comprised of 47 member clubs and 3,400 volunteers. Proceeds from the annual HGW fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historical gardens and provide graduate level research fellowships for building comprehensive and ongoing records of historic gardens and landscapes in the Commonwealth.

Old Town Alexandria, photo courtesy of GCV

Old Town Alexandria, photo courtesy of GCV

This year there will be 31 tours hosted by volunteers at local GCV member clubs. The GCV has member clubs in 6 regions: Northern Virginia, Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Virginia, Capitol Region, Shenandoah Valley/Central Virginia, and Southern Virginia.  For example, in the Northern Virginia Region, there will be tours in Old Town Alexandria, Leesburg, Clifton-Fairfax Station, Warrenton, Front Royal-Warren County, and Winchester on various days between April 18 and 25.  “It’s the largest ongoing volunteer effort in the state,” said Karen Miller, HGW Director and Editor of the Guidebook. “In addition to the amazing interiors and gardens on display, the GCV volunteers will create over 2,000 spectacular floral arrangements to decorate rooms open to the public. Most of the flowers will come from their very own gardens.”

Front Royal--Warren County, photo courtesy of GCV

Front Royal–Warren County, photo courtesy of GCV

The schedule is available online at http://www.vagardenweek.org and tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour at numerous locations or in advance. Tours are held rain or shine. Properties can be visited in any order. Also available is the Guidebook, a 240-page, beautifully illustrated publication produced to support the event. The Guidebook can be downloaded, purchased online, or picked up free at designated public places. The Guidebook has descriptions of the tour sites, directions, refreshments, special activities in the area, and other places of interest which usually include historical sites that can be toured at other times of the year (for future reference). The Guidebook is a snapshot of the touring area; it lists names of the sponsoring Garden Club member organizations; area information such as Chamber of Commerce & historical societies; and advertisements from local businesses such as garden centers, antique stores, and restaurants.

For more information, e-mail at historicgardenweek@gmail.com or call (804) 644-7776. The website is http://www.vagardenweek.org. GCV has done an excellent job of providing information and photos on their web site plus they are present on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Peg’s Picks: Books on Edible Gardening in the Washington DC Metro Area

booksA colleague asked if I could recommend books related to edible gardening. I quickly replied that I have a Books Page on my site but afterwards realized that those books are about gardening in general but specific to the Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC area. Over the past few years, I have become much more interested in growing edibles rather than ornamentals and have read many books, most are specific to this area. I typed up a short, 2-page list to give to her and thought I would post my recommended list here in case any one is interested in growing their own veggies, herbs, and fruits in the Washington DC metropolitan area. These are in alphabetical order.

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden & Gardens Across America, Michelle Obama

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, Jessica Walliser, and her other books

Backyard Berry Book, Stella Otto

Cool Season Gardener, Bill Thorness (and his other book, lives in WA)

Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager, Jennifer Bartley

Eat Your Yard, Nan Chase

Edible Front Yard, Ivette Soler

Edible Heirlooms, Bill Thorness (and his other book, lives in WA)

Edible Landscaping, Rosalind Creasy (new edition and any of her other books)

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, Michael Judd (lives in Frederick MD)

Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman and his other books

Good Bug/Bad Bug, Jessica Walliser and her other books

Groundbreaking Food Gardens, Niki Jabbour and her other books

Grow a Sustainable Diet, Cindy Connor

Grow Great Grub, Gayla Trail (You Grow Girl)

Guide to Year Round Vegetable Garden in the Southeast, Ira Wallace

Homegrown Herb Garden, Ann McCormick and Lisa Morgan

How to Grow More Vegetables, John Jeavons

How to Grow Perennial Herbs, Martin Crawford

Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers, Edward Smith (and any of his other books)

Landscaping Fruit, Lee Reich and any of his other books

Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles: DE, MD, PA, VA, DC, and WV, Katie Elzer-Peters

Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One Tenth of an Acre, Eric Toensmeier (and any of his other books)

Perennial Vegetables, Martin Crawford

Perennial Vegetables from Artichoke to “Zuiki’ Taro, Eric Toensmeier (and any of his other books)

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Claire Kowalchik, William Hylton, and other Rodale books

Square Foot Gardening, second edition, Mel Bartholomew, and his other books

Starter Vegetable Gardens, 24 No Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens, Barbara Pleasant (and any of her other books, lives in VA)

Take Our Advice: A Handbook for Gardening in Northern Virginia, Margaret Fisher

The Bountiful Container, Rosemarie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (good for minimum depth of container to grow veggies)

The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch (and any of their other books)

The Sustainable Vegetable Gardener, John Jeavons

The Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book, Barbara Ellis

The Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Book, Felder Rushing and Walter Reeves

The Winter Harvest Handbook, Eliot Coleman, and his other books

The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, Niki Jabbour (and her other book)

Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello, Peter J. Hatch

Fruits for Every Garden, Lee Reich (and any of his other books, lives in NY)

Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible, Edward Smith (and his other books)

Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners by Wesley Greene

Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits, Matthew Biggs and Jekka McGiver

Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook, Ron Kujawski and Jennifer Kujawski

What’s Wrong with my Vegetable Garden, David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, they have a series of “What’s Wrong” books

75 Exciting Vegetables, Jack Staub, has an “exciting” series – herbs, vegetables, and fruits, lives in PA

This list could go on plus there are books focused on particular types of plant/vegetables. Other sources are public or botanical gardens such as Greensprings in Virginia and Brookside Gardens in Maryland; both have non-lending libraries. One can look at publishers’ web sites such as Chelsea Green Publishing, St. Lynn’s Press, Timber Press, Story, Rodale Press, and Cool Springs Press.

Native Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale for Virginia Residents

Winterberry

Winterberry

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) has an annual native tree and shrub seedling sale, making low-cost native shrub and tree seedlings available to Northern Virginia residents. Seedling packages go on sale each year in January and are available for pickup in early May. Trees and shrubs help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air. This year’s seedling sale features shrubs and trees from the Plant NOVA Natives guide and campaign, a regional effort to promote native plants. For more information and to download a copy of the guide, see www.plantnovanatives.org. For more information on the NVSWCD shrub and tree seedling sale, including photos and descriptions of the plants, see www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/seedlingsale.htm

The 2015 Shrub and Small Tree Package features 10 seedlings for $16.95. The Tree Package includes 6 seedlings sold for $11.95. A full, nonrefundable payment must accompany your order by Monday, April 22, or until supplies run out. You will receive a confirmation receipt and a map to the pickup site (in central Fairfax County). Orders may be picked up on Friday, May 1, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, May 2, 9:00 a.m.-noon.  NVSWCD will start to accept orders for the seedling sale starting mid-January 2015.

Shrub and small tree package includes two seedlings from each of the following plants (photos are my own):

River Birch

River Birch

  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
  • Eastern red bud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Red chokeberry (Photinia pyrifolia)
  • Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Tree package includes two seedlings from each of the following plants:

  • River birch (Betula nigra)
  • Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
  • Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)