Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for March 2015

Adkins Arboretum celebrates publication of local author’s book

Local Author

Local Author


Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 11:41 am

Updated: 11:54 am, Tue Mar 31, 2015.

Adkins Arboretum celebrates publication of local author’s book

RIDGELY — What if, one step at a time, we could make our gardens and landscapes more eco-friendly? “Chesapeake Gardening Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide,” the first book written specifically for Chesapeake Bay-region gardeners, shows homeowners, garden designers, gardeners and landscapers how to do just that. Meet the author and celebrate the release of this landmark book April 8 at Adkins Arboretum.

Written by Barbara W. Ellis with principal photographer Neil Soderstrom, and published by University of North Carolina Press in association with Adkins Arboretum, “Chesapeake Gardening Landscaping” is an important resource for aspiring earth-friendly gardeners. Mid-Atlantic gardeners — from beginners to advanced — will find the essential tools for taking steps to make their gardens part of the solution through long-term planning and planting.

Featuring more than 300 color photographs in addition to helpful planting plans, diagrams and lists of recommended plants for all sites and soils, “Chesapeake Gardening Landscaping” is a wonderful resource for all gardeners who wish to hone their craft and take part in making our world a healthier and more beautiful habitat for all creatures.

The book is “an important, valuable and timely resource for Chesapeake gardeners, and the only book of its kind in the region,” said Mollie Ridout, director of horticulture for the Historic Annapolis Foundation. “The volume’s structure and practical how-to nature will make it useful both to readers just starting their gardening endeavors and to experienced gardeners inspired to bring their landscapes into more conformity with their natural contexts.”

Ellis is the former managing editor of gardening books at Rodale Press and publications director at the American Horticultural Society. She is the author of “Covering Ground: Unexpected Ideas for Landscaping with Colorful, Low-Maintenance Ground Covers,” among other books. She lives and gardens in Kent County.

The public is invited to join Ellis at Adkins Arboretum from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 to learn about creating welcoming gardens and landscapes that are earth- and Bay-friendly, and to pick up a signed copy of the book. Admission is free.

Copies of “Chesapeake Gardening Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide” may be purchased in advance at

More about Kent County News

  • ARTICLE: Taste of the Town celebrates eight years of delicious food
  • ARTICLE: Pro Wind Farming
  • ARTICLE: D. Bruce Burgess
  • ARTICLE: Shore leads state in pro bono legal service
  • ARTICLE: Poetry festival April 3

More about Barbara Ellis

  • May brings flower mart May brings flower mart


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 11:41 am.

Updated: 11:54 am.

| Tags:

Kent County News,

Barbara Ellis,

“chesapeake Gardening Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide,


Adkins Arboretum

Article source:

UO sustainability program partners with Redmond


The Sustainable City Year Program is moving to Central Oregon, selecting Redmond for the 2015-16 academic year. University of Oregon students will work on over 20 projects with the City of Redmond during the year, the school said Tuesday.

The partnership will kick off in April, when students from a bicycle transportation planning course tour the city to research existing infrastructure.

“The UO’s Sustainable Cities program has become an international example for a comprehensive outreach-research-learning model,” said Frances Bronet, UO acting senior vice president and provost. “In addition to helping cities become more sustainable and livable, our students, critically engaged citizen-scholars, are solving real-life problems and working alongside experts in their fields.

The Sustainable Cities Initiative is a cross-disciplinary organization at the University of Oregon that promotes education, service, public outreach and research on the design and development of sustainable cities. The Sustainable City Year program has been adapted by almost 20 American universities and in several other countries.

“Redmond will be our first SCYP city east of the Cascades, and we are thrilled about the partnership,” said Marc Schlossberg, SCI co-director. “Redmond’s application made it clear that they are interested in sustainability from a wide variety of perspectives and city functions and that they have put together a broad team of community partners for us to engage with.

“It is clear that Redmond is serious about moving the dial on sustainability and we are developing an impressive list of projects with them.  It is going to be a great year.”

Now in its sixth year, the Sustainable City Year program links UO students with an Oregon city, county, special district or partnership of governments for an entire academic year.

Each year, the SCYP partner receives assistance with projects centered on sustainability through the work of student classes across the university.

In a typical year, more than 400 students from 12 disciplines across 30 classes work on 20 partner-directed projects. At the end of the year, more than 40,000 student hours of work will be devoted to helping a local entity transition to a more sustainable future.

“Based on the past partnerships with Medford, Springfield, Salem and Gresham, we are confident that this year of partnership will provide meaningful opportunities for students while helping Redmond move its own sustainability interests forward successfully,” said Nico Larco, SCI co-director.

Some of the projects students will work on include: downtown revitalization, improvement of South US 97 Corridor, creating street tree programs, developing design and landscaping plans for the Redmond Airport, and establishing a Cascadia Emergency Preparedness plan.

“We are excited by the tools and resources the SCYP partnership brings to the community of Redmond,” said Keith Witcosky, Redmond city manager. “It creates an important east-west geographic bridge across Oregon and does so in a way that saves the city hundreds of thousands dollars if we were going to secure similar services through private consultants.”

The Sustainable City Year program will get a head start in Redmond when students from Schlossberg’s bicycle transportation planning course visit the city to research existing bicycle infrastructure. The students will visit on April 8 and be led on a tour of Redmond by city staff.

“This SCYP partnership helps us kick-start initiatives that are critical to our growing community. More importantly, it allows us to harness the intellectual capital inherent in a campus of more than 20,000 students and teachers. Redmond’s projects will reflect new ideas, fresh perspectives and gain renewed energy,” Witcosky said.   

Redmond Community Development Director Heather Richards said the city partnership agreement, before city councilors Tuesday night, involves an initial $50,000 feet and up to $375,000 spent on the future projects, approved as they come online.

“Most are planned projects we would have been spending money on anyway,” she said — but the reduced cost of using the university students for the work as part of their curriculum “allowed us to add some projects” the city would not have been able to tackle.

Redmond – often referred to as “the hub” – is a small town with big ideas. Follow along with the Sustainable City Year with #SmallTownBigIdeas on social media.

The master agreement on the partnership is on the Tuesday night special Redmond City Council agenda. You can find the packet with the memo detailing the projects and agreement here:

Article source:

HUFFPOST HILL – Does Anyone Else Think Mike Pence Looks Like Anderson …

Mike Pence pulled a reverse-hipster, claiming other states enacted “religious liberty” laws before it was cool. Hillary Clinton is staffing up in Iowa, strongly hedging against a last-minute surge from John Edwards. And Breitbart tried to disprove Harry Reid’s eye injury by scrutinizing the design of his shower. We figured the account was false from the get-go: like most older men in the west, Harry Reid undoubtedly scrubs himself in an old brass tub with his knees jutting out. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 31st, 2015:

ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE PASSES ITS OWN ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ BILL – Times: “Despite intensifying criticism from business leaders both within and outside of Arkansas, the state legislature on Tuesday passed its version of a measure billed as a religious freedom law, joining Indiana in a swirl of controversy that shows little sign of calming. The Arkansas bill, passed when the General Assembly concurred on three amendments from the State Senate, now goes to the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who expressed reservations about an earlier bill but more recently said he would sign the measure if it ‘reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states.’ The Arkansas Senate passed the measure last week…The attention turns to Governor Hutchinson, a moderate Republican who ran on a jobs platform and managed to extend a tailored form of Medicaid expansion in this Republican-controlled state.” [NYT]

From the leather swivel chair of his McGuireWoods LLP office, Evan Bayh takes a crap on Mike Pence. Bet that office has all kinds of Hoosier mementos Senate junk.

SUPREME COURT SURPRISINGLY UNPATRIOTIC – Doesn’t the High Court appreciate all the white gangs who bopped and died for that flag? Lydia Wheeler: “The Supreme Court has denied an appeal from California high school students who argue that school officials violated their right to free speech when they made them turn American flag T-shirts inside out. On Cinco de Mayo in 2010, three white students came to Live Oak High School in American flag T-shirts. Because the school has a history of gang violence between whites and Hispanics, school officials were afraid the shirts would anger Hispanic students celebrating the Mexican holiday and told the white students to either turn their shirts inside out or take them off.” Whites and their gang culture. [The Hill]

Email hed from DCCC: “ALL HOPE IS LOST”

MIKE LEE CARRYING GOOGLE’S WATER, TAKING GOOGLE’S MONEY – “Did you mean Mike Lee is a dedicated public servant who is committed to ensuring a bright technological future?” Brody Mullins: “On Monday, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) announced he is looking into meetings involving Google Inc. and the White House around the time federal antitrust regulators closed a high-profile probe into the company two years ago. On Tuesday, Mr. Lee will be accepting campaign contributions from Google employees and others at a fundraising event in Silicon Valley hosted by the technology industry. Sponsors of the event, including Google’s political action committee, are asking for a $500 donation to Mr. Lee’s re-election campaign from individuals, or up to $5,400 to be a ‘host’ for the event, according to an invitation seen by The Wall Street Journal. The fundraiser is being organized by TechNet, a high-tech lobbying association, along with the political action committees of several other tech organizations, including Google and Cisco. The event is being held at the Palo Alto, Calif., offices of one of Google’s law firms, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati. Mr. Lee’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” [WSJ]

OBAMA SETS SOME PEOPLE FREE – Sam Stein and Ryan Reilly: “President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 22 individuals on Tuesday, more than doubling the number of commutations he has issued in the six-plus years he’s been in office. The men and women granted the reprieves had been imprisoned under an ‘outdated sentencing regime,’ the administration concluded. Eight of the 22 inmates had been sentenced to life imprisonment and would have died behind bars… Those granted clemency on Tuesday were all sentenced to jail for intent to distribute an illegal drug, with 14 of those cases involving possession or distribution of cocaine.” [HuffPost]

Harry Reid’s bruises were trumped up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “A Breitbart News investigation of the home exercise accident story told by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and ‘sources familiar with the incident’ has uncovered facts which appear to discredit his version of events surrounding a New Year’s Day incident that left him with gruesome injuries to his eye, face and ribs.” [Breitbart]

@BarakRavid: Tomorrow at noon: Netanyahu and Boehner give statements to the press at the top of their meeting in Jerusalem. It will be interesting

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – For roughly 20 years, Mark Thompson lived alone in the woods, drifting between Maryland and Washington, D.C. He scraped by through odd jobs painting or landscaping, and also stealing. He drank and did drugs, and cycled in and out of jail. “I hated the fact that I woke up every morning,” he said. “Another day of hell.” He recalled once waking under a tree, covered in bird poop. As he rose, his bottle of Seagram’s gin tumbled to the ground. “As I bent over to pick it up, I saw my face in the liquor and I said, ‘Wow, who is that?’ I had hair coming out of my nose, I had a beard and a mustache. I looked a mess.” This is actually an upside-downer but you have to click to find out why.

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It’s free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Follow us on Twitter – @HuffPostHill

PENCE: ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ BILL IS PERFECT, THAT’S WHY I’M CHANGING IT – Amanda Terkel: “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Tuesday he will back an amendment to the state’s new ‘religious freedom’ law clarifying that it does not allow businesses to deny service to anyone, and insisted that he never intended to discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community…’That is so offensive to me as a Hoosier,’ Pence said during a press conference in Indianapolis, casting himself, the GOP-controlled General Assembly and the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act as victims of ‘mischaracterizations’ perpetrated by the media and the law’s opponents….Pence said he wants the General Assembly to move legislation this week that would make it clear that businesses are not allowed to deny services to anyone. He continued to insist, however, that he does not support adding protections explicitly barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” [HuffPost]

Dude, you lost NASCAR (from a statement by its awesomely-named spokesman Brett Jewkes) : “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.” [NBC Sports]

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski dug up some old op-eds Pence posted on his campaign website in the early 2000s: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” … “Republicans, from George Washington to George W. Bush just have better ideas.” [BuzzFeed]

MENENDEZ INDICTMENT TO BE HANDED DOWN SOON – Any Menendez statement drinking game that doesn’t include “time and again,” “vindicated” and “[spouse looks on solemnly]” isn’t doing it right. AP: “Federal prosecutors are moving toward charging a Florida eye doctor over his dealings with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, according to a person familiar with a Justice Department investigation into their relationship. The person said prosecutors are expected to bring charges against Dr. Salomon Melgen, whose medical offices were raided two years ago by federal authorities and who has been a political donor and longtime Menendez friend. Melgen has not been cooperating with prosecutors against Menendez, according to the person, who was not authorized to comment on the record about an ongoing federal investigation. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, could also be charged as early as this week. He has repeatedly said that he has done nothing wrong and that he has always served honorably in Congress.” [AP]

HARRY REID HARRY REIDS SO HARD – Pity Harry Reid’s grandchildren who probably open up his presents Christmas morning only to find a note that says “you’re alive.” CNN: “He also said he had no regrets about what he said about Romney. When asked if his methods were reminiscent of McCarthyism, he responded, ‘They can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win did he?‘ … On Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina: ‘I like him very, very much. We’ve worked on stuff together. Whenever I — this will really hurt him, but I’ll do it anyway. Whenever I need to know what’s going on with Republicans — call Lindsey.'” [CNN]

CLINTON STAFFING UP IN IOWA – Jonathan Martin: “Mrs. Clinton has dispatched Michael Halle, formerly a top adviser to Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, to the state that starts the 2016 presidential nominating contest to develop and help execute her strategy there Mr. Halle, who is expected to ultimately serve in a senior role in Mrs. Clinton’s political department, will be based in Iowa through the caucuses…Mr. Halle will work closely with Matt Paul, a native Iowan and former aide to Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack. Additionally, Mrs. Clinton has tapped two other operatives to work on her Iowa campaign: Molly Schermann, who has worked for a number of Democratic campaigns in the state, and Lenora Hanks, another veteran of Mr. McAuliffe’s bid.” [NYT]

INGRAHAM STARTING CONSERVATIVE NEWS OUTLET – “A thinking man’s World Net Daily.” Dylan Byers: “Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host and Fox News contributor, is planning to launch a new conservative news and opinion website, sources with knowledge of her plans told the On Media blog on Tuesday. One source said that Neil Munro, the political reporter who resigned from the Daily Caller this week, will serve as the site’s editor, though that could not immediately be confirmed. Neither Ingraham nor Munro responded to a request for comment on Tuesday…She will have a friend in Munro on this front. In 2012, Munro gained notoriety when he shouted a question at Obama in the middle of a Rose Garden announcement about changes to immigration policy. ‘Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?’ Munro yelled. Earlier this year, while questioning Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about immigration policy, he even spelled the word “amnesty” out for him: ‘Amnesty. A-M-N-E-S-T-Y.'” [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a dog playing soccer.

Sounds about right: “U.S. cable T.V. operator Cablevision Systems Corp is planning to make an offer for the New York Daily News as early as this week, valuing the troubled tabloid at just $1, according to a person familiar with the matter.” [Reuters]


– Man performs syncronized eating with Homer Simpson.

– Leo Tolstoy’s rules of life, including the exhortation to only have “two brothel visits per month.”

– Forget Madden, the Bill Belichick Offseason Simulator is our favorite football game.


@fshakir: After the mob hit, I told @AJentleson and @KristenOrthman that we should say it was slippery tiles. They wanted to do “exercise bands.”

@LOLGOP: Offensive tweets can get you fired, unless they’re good. Then they’ll get you hired.

@evale72: Rand Paul been advising Reid on eye treatment. So he’s in on it too! Mind. Blown.

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson ( or Arthur Delaney ( Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill ( Sign up here:

Article source:

Today’s backyard gardens becoming climate change warriors

From the biggest botanical gardens to the smallest backyard plots and terraces, there’s a movement underway to make gardens work harder for the environment.

“It’s no longer enough for a garden to just look pretty. Every garden needs to do more and every garden matters,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor in the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware.

Because of global warming and habitat destruction, he said, “today, gardens need to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water. It’s a lot to ask, but it doesn’t have to look messy and it may be the key to our survival.”

For many people who aren’t sure what they can do about climate change, home gardens provide an opportunity to make a palpable difference.

That sense of purpose is creating a change in garden esthetics, with a more natural look and more emphasis on drought-tolerant and wildlife-friendly plants.

“It’s one of the few things an individual can do to mitigate climate change. The cumulative impact on the environment is huge, plus it’s easy, affordable and fun,” said Ann Savageau, who ripped out most of her lawn in drought-parched Davis, California, a year ago and replanted with desert grasses and other native plants.

“The increase we’ve seen in pollinators, butterflies and birds at our house is really exciting, and we reduced our water usage by two thirds,” she said.

Whereas there used to be enough land for wildlife and humans to exist separately, it’s become essential that we share habitats, Tallamy and Rick Darke argue in their book, “The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden” (Timber Press, 2014).

“Unless we share our space with nature, the plants on which bees, caterpillars, butterflies, birds and other wildlife depend will not survive,” Tallamy said.

Earth-friendly gardens consist mostly of native species, on which local wildlife depends, experts say.

“Gardening for wildlife, especially birds, is really the hot thing now in horticulture and gardening. The trend is toward naturalistic garden design, with native plants. It’s a High Line kind of a look,” said Kristin Schleiter, associate vice-president for outdoor gardens and senior curator at the New York Botanical Garden.

The High Line, the New York City park and garden which runs along a strip of old elevated track, “does symbolize a newer esthetic in purposeful, naturalized gardening,” said Tom Smarr, its director of horticulture.

About half the plants are natives and the other half are self-seeded species, which require relatively little maintenance and water. “There’s way more forgiveness and durability about it,” he said.

“A lot of people have totally been inspired by the wild look and have tried it on their own at home,” Smarr said.

A few specific ways that home gardeners can go easy on the planet:



Oaks sequester lots of carbon, have enormous root systems that help manage water and, according to Tallamy and Darke, are fantastic at supporting wildlife. “There are 557 species of caterpillars in the Mid-Atlantic states, and they’re all bird food. The birds eat all the caterpillars to support their young, so you don’t need to worry about defoliation.”



Tallamy warns that without pollinators, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of all plants would be lost, and that gardeners should focus on plants that feed the estimated 4,000 species of native bees. Pollinator-friendly gardens feature a sequence of native flowering plants, so that from April through September something’s always blooming. Mountain mint, sunflowers, native holly, sweet pepper bush and goldenrod are all great for pollinators, Tallamy said. Further west, blazing star and milkweed are good choices. Schleiter said that early spring can be especially tough for bees. For early bloomers, she recommends Lyndera, a native bush with great fall colour, and also dogwood.



“Around 92 per cent of our suburban lots are lawn, and that’s the worst you can do,” Tallamy said, adding that concrete seems to be our “default landscaping” and ornamental Asian plant varieties have little to offer native wildlife.

“In the typical American yard, 80 per cent of the plants are from China. That’s not a functioning eco-system,” he said.

Even apartment dwellers can help, by planting native species on roofs and terraces.

Schleiter said: “Really think about the amount of chemical that’s put on our lawns. If you’re not using all of your lawn, just let the grass grow out and maybe put in some native perennials. It all adds up.”

Article source:

Is your front yard contributing to street flooding? New program aims to swap …

In New Orleans, it doesn’t take a serious storm to drown a road in rising water. Just a quick downpour can cause street flooding. In the summertime, when cloud bursts are common, some residents have to move their cars to high ground as often as once a week.

In a city that sees an average annual rainfall of 62 inches, storm water management is a citywide battle. But there are ways individual homeowners can add some firepower to the fight against street flooding, right in their own front yards.

What can you do?

Rain gardens, bioswales and landscaping with porous, permeable materials can reduce the amount of stormwater that funnels into the city’s drains. Click here for a story that explores rain garden landscaping.

A new program by the Urban Conservancy — part of the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative — aims to help homeowners remove excessive concrete or asphalt in front of their homes. Removing impermeable surfaces and replacing it with landscaping that absorbs storm water and helps diminish runoff can ease flash flooding. Plus, paving more than 40 percent of a front yard is illegal in New Orleans.

The Urban Conservancy’s Front Yard Initiative connects homeowners with landscapers, concrete removal firms and other resources to help them replace paving with plants. The program is based on a similar effort that’s been successful in San Francisco, which targeted the issue on a block by block basis, said Dana Eness, Urban Conservancy director.

The goal for the New Orleans program is to help pool resources to make it easier and more affordable for homeowners — and neighborhoods — to have the work done. The program offers access to garden plants at wholesale prices and reduced-cost maintenance landscaping services. Eventually it hopes to have some financial assistance available to help residents cover the expense.

This week, the Front Yard Initiative is removing 300 square feet of concrete in two front yards in a pilot project in the 2200 block of Valmont Street.

“That street has intense flooding issues,” Eness said. “We’ve identified 1,400 square feet on that block that could be removed, and if it was, we estimate it would keep 20,000 gallons of runoff in a rain event out of the storm drains.”

Landscaping that soaks up rainwater is good for local soils, which need moisture. The soil shrinks and swells with groundwater fluctuations, so drying out the soil can contribute to subsidence, a serious problem in south Louisiana.

Gardens allow storm water “to percolate back into the ground, recharging the water table,” according to “The Joy of Water,” a soft-copy illustrated book that explains in easy steps how homeowners can better manage their properties’ drainage. “By allowing water to flow through layers of porous, permeable material — such as sand, gravel and soil — pollutants, heavy metals, oil and grease are filtered out.” (The “Joy of Water” was produced by Global Green USA, Water Works, Dana Brown Associates and Longvue House Gardens. To request a copy, call Global Green at 504.525.2121).

Several non-profit groups and local firms are teaming up to do the Valmont Street project, including Evans + Lighter Landscape Architects, Bayou Land RCD, Hike for KaTREEna, Grounds to Ground and Groundwork New Orleans.

“We’re calling this program FYI (Front Yard Initiative) for a reason,” Eness said. “This is baby, baby steps, but we’ve got to get the information to people, explain what’s happening so they can start having these conversations.”

To learn more about the initiative, visit Urban Conservancy’s website.

Other local nonprofits also are joining the fight against street flooding. Parkway Partners has a Green Keepers educational series, funded by a grant from the New Orleans Sewerage Water Board. The series covers topics such as vertical and rooftop gardens; small- and large-scale water catchments; bioswales and rain gardens; plants for green infrastructure; concrete and permeability. (To find out more about the classes, visit

Global Green’s NOLA Water Wise program also works with homeowners on water conservation and management. For information, visit

Article source:

Free Garden Lecture: Landscaping with Heirloom Flowers and Herbs …

Posted: Monday, March 30, 2015 12:42 pm

Free Garden Lecture: Landscaping with Heirloom Flowers and Herbs – Smithsonian Style

Leesburg Today

Leesburg Today Online


What is in your heirloom plant palette? Dramatic black flowers resembling pincushions? Fanciful reseeding blooms with surprise “bunnies” in the center? Plants whose lime-green flowers open with a burst of fragrance in the evening? Smithsonian Gardens horticulturist Erin Clark will share secrets on creating fragrant and colorful cutting and herb gardens using plants that are tried and true over generations of gardeners.

Join the Loudoun County Master Gardeners on Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Virginia Cooperative Extension, 30 Catoctin Circle SE, Wells Fargo Bank Building in Leesburg to learn about old favorites and more obscure treasures almost lost to cultivation.

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County VCE Master Gardener program visit the website: or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.


Monday, March 30, 2015 12:42 pm.

Article source:

Castro Gardening: Expert Tips For Drought And Spring Planting

With the temperatures rising and longer, sunnier days upon us, spring is here. We visited our local gardening store Hortica and chatted with owner David Gray  to get some tips on spring gardening and overall plant care during another season of the region’s ongoing drought.

You may remember our spotlight piece on Gray’s store from last November, where we explored the history of Hortica and its current offerings. Since then, Gray has seen improvement with post-construction business, and is experiencing a steady flow of customers and interest in what to plant for spring and summer gardens during the drought.

“People are being very consciousness about the drought this year while also expressing usual interest in planting crops,” he says. “Food plants tend to require more water than others, so gardeners are also focusing on ways to save water elsewhere to compensate.”

“Cool-weather tomatoes and leafy greens are always popular. While each neighborhood has micro climates, a lot of the success of planting anything depends on placement, proper watering, and keeping a steady regimen of adding compost to the soil to feed the plants,” Gray says. Specific tomato varieties that do particularly well in the area include the Stupice and the “Dirty Girl,” which is a variation of the Early Girl species.

Herbs are also very popular locally, and Gray has advice for types that do the best. “Herbs that do particularly well in this climate are sage and rosemary. Basil and cilantro are more temperamental, as warmth, water, and weather all impact their development much more.”

Flowering succulents are steadily sought after as well due to their beauty and hardiness in dry soil. “The Chilean Rock Purslane produces a beautiful flower, and many people are seeing them along Cesar Chavez where they were planted as part of the street improvement project,” Gray notes.

Given the drought conditions, watering needs to be more deliberate and targeted. “Many people either over-water things like succulents, or under-water things like vegetables,” says Gray. “Making sure each type of plant gets the correct moisture is vital. Make sure to ask about the watering needs of each plant you grow, or check online.”

Some good websites for garden water use include Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco and

For general landscaping plants, flax and geraniums are both good drought-tolerant options, says Gray. “Geraniums are easy, beautiful, and can flower year-round.” Other grasses and non-flowering succulents are also well-suited to little to no watering once established with the correct soil and sun requirements.

Visit Gray’s store for more information on plants, gardening tips, and supplies. Hortica stocks an ample variety of indoor and outdoor items and can also order specific plants based on your needs.

What would Gray recommend for a newcomer to gardening and to a seasoned grower? “If you’ve never grown anything or had bad luck with plants, I’d definitely say to start with something like a geranium or succulent. If you’re looking for a challenge, gardenias can be very difficult and require a good deal of care.”

Happy gardening, Castro residents!

Article source:

Top 3 Tips for Gardening Beginners

Truth time: I’ve become a gardening nerd.

Article source:

5 Tips For a More Productive Garden

To maximize the production in your garden space, there are few things you can do to make the most of your time, energy, garden space and money.  Even if you have oodles of space, maximizing your production per square foot saves time and money.  Less to weed, less to fertilize, less to mulch.

5 Tips for a Productive Garden

1. Healthy soil.  It all starts with the soil.  You need nutrient and microbe rich soil.  Chemical herbicide, pesticides and fertilizers all kill microbes and worms scatter when chemicals are applied.  For alive soil, use organic, natural fertilizers and compost.  Apply both in early spring so the nutrition can seep into the soil, ready to nourish the seeds and plants you put in the ground.  For more details on creating healthy soil, see this blog: next step in garden production

2. Smart garden plan.  You can maximize the production of the plants you put in your garden with a well thought out plan.  Divide out what you like to eat into the seasons they thrive in.  Plant your veggies in the right season and you will be rewarded with healthy plants and bountiful harvests.  Before you plant, check the heights and sun requirements.  Plant the tallest plants in the back so they don’t shade out the shorter sun loving plants.  Using trellis for vertical gardening of cucumbers, beans, and peas is a great use of space at the back of the garden bed.  For those that appreciate some shade, interplant between taller varieties.  Look for those that help each other out.  This is called companion planting.  For more information on companion planting, see this blog: companion planting

3. Choose wisely.  Choose the most productive varieties to maximize the production per square foot of space.  Dwarfs are a great choice for small spaces and containers.  You can get the same production from many dwarfs as you can the full size varieties.  Look for those that have “abundant”, “prolific”, and “heavy yields” in the descriptions.  Some great choices are cucumbers, pole beans and peas, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and many varieties of greens.

4. Think 4 season gardening.  Use as much of all four seasons as possible.  Start seeds indoors in late winter to get an early start on spring and summer.  You can plant out as soon as the weather is willing.  Help heat up the soil so your plants or seeds get a jump start when planted.  You can put down plastic or cloches where you want to plant to help get the soil warm.  Your seedlings will appreciate it!  You can also cover your seedlings with a row cover or cloche after planting to keep the warmth of the sun past sundown.  Be careful with cloche’s as they can get really hot and fry your plants.  A good choice is one with vents.  Also look for varieties that are adapted to the season.  There are tomatoes adapted to cooler temperatures to get a jump on summer and lettuces that are heat tolerant so you can continue to have salads into summer.  For more on four-season gardening, see this blog: garden year round

5. Eliminate competition.  Weeds and pests take away from the vigor of your veggies.  Use mulch to keep weeds suppressed.  Mulch does triple duty as a fresh coat of mulch in the spring can help warm the soil, helps keep moisture from evaporating during the summer, adds organic matter while suppressing weeds.  There are good bugs and bad bugs.  Attract the good bugs by interplanting your veggies with flowers like marigolds and calendula.  Good bugs help pollinate your veggies, increasing yields.  They also eat bad bugs.  Be careful using sprays as a spray doesn’t know a good bug from a bad bug.  If you are just starting your organic garden, it may take a couple of seasons for the garden to come in balance.  For more on pests, see this blog: controlling bugs naturally

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

Article source:

Old garden tips found to be wrong

Much of the common wisdom handed down to gardeners is good and sound, but it pays to question it. In 1948, a British plantsman named William J. C. Lawrence, in his book “Science and the Glasshouse,” put a lot of those old saws to the test and found that some were quite dull.

One that still persists, despite his work, is the advice to wait until a newly germinated seedling has its first pair of true leaves (after the cotyledons, or “seed leaves”) before moving it into a bigger container. Bad idea, Lawrence found, after doing careful trials. The bigger the seedling, the more its roots suffer when lifted and transplanted. Those that he moved on right away, when the first hint of green appeared, grew to be stronger plants.

There are several ways to germinate seeds. You can start them between sheets of moist paper towels, checking them daily for green. You can sow them in a small tray, then use the tip of a palette knife to move the tiny sprouted seeds. For our garden, we like to sow in three-quarter-inch cubes of soilless seed-starting mix, which we make with a small plunger device. We drop a seed into the little hollow on top of each block. That block can later be moved into a bigger block, a cell pack or a pot with no transplanting shock. Especially useful is the two-inch block, made with a larger device fitted with cube-shaped inserts, which creates holes exactly the size of the mini-blocks they receive. The system saves time, space and potting mix. Kids love working with these clever gadgets. It’s like making mud pies.

Seeds of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, lettuce, celery and most other crops are best set uncovered on the mini-block, as long as they are kept moist. With seeds that germinate best when covered lightly, such as onions and broccoli, we sometimes sow directly into a larger block, though I have also had good luck sprinkling a bit of soilless mix over a whole flat of minis. With scallions we sow 12 seeds into each two-inch block, transplant them into the garden as a group, grow them as a group, and then harvest them as a tidy bunch. This cuts down on weeding, since it’s easier to cultivate between well-spaced bunches.

Another issue is seed size. Big seeds such as beans, peas, squash, corn, cucumbers, sunflowers and calendulas don’t fit into a mini and are either sown in one-and-a-half or two-inch blocks or direct-sown in the ground. (All but the peas need the warmer weather of May onward for direct sowing in the garden.)

Zinnias, which have narrow, elongated seeds, can be laid flat on a block’s surface, but they’re too long for a mini. Refusing to give up, I once tried poking them vertically into minis, with the broader, feathered end down. Wrong choice. Poke them in with the pointed end down instead, and they will grow.

I’d like to try this with fennel seeds, too, which have a similar shape. Do I know which end is up? No. Maybe I’ll do a little scientific trial of my own, planting them both ways, writing down the result, and filing it where I can find it at seed-starting time next year. Lawrence would approve.

Article source: