Friday, April 22, 2011

Brighton Dam Azalea Garden Open

A sure sign of spring, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC) Brighton Dam Azalea Garden is open and soon 20,000 gorgeous azaleas will be in full bloom.

The Brighton Dam Azaleas are renowned for their beauty. Visitors can enjoy five acres of flowers expected to be in full bloom in time for the traditional Mother’s Day visit, Sunday, May 8th.

Admission to the Azalea Garden is FREE and open to the public daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Elderly or disabled visitors can drive through the garden Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

After touring the garden, visitors can relax along the Triadelphia Reservoir picnic grounds. There’s even a play area for children! For more information, please call Brighton Dam at 301-774-9124.

WHAT: WSSC’s Brighton Dam Azalea Garden

WHERE: 2 Brighton Dam Road, Brookeville, MD

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily, including Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8th

More congratulations are in order for our man of the year, Barry Louis Polisar

Just received this news from Barry Louis Polisar, Metro DC Lawn and Garden's Man of the Year for 2010, so I wanted to shout out my congrats.

One of his songs, "All I Want is You", is being featured in a series of Honda Civic Commercials.

To find out why Barry was chosen as our 2010 Man of the Year, read this post about his efforts to clean the watershed property near his home.

To read more about Barry's children's books and music, check out his website.

It's Earth Day - Pick a Cause, Any Cause

As a baby-boomer, ex-hippie, I've been celebrating Earth Day longer than some of my readers have probably been around. Like many, I am still over-whelmed by the questions that "being green" presents on a daily basis.

Is it better to rinse plastic bags and re-use them, or does it really make sense to waste that water? Are cfl's good now, or have we decided they are bad? Is it okay to turn my A/C down a few degrees in the heat of the summer if my middle-age hot flashes are making me downright miserable?

This year, I was inundated with emails about "new" green products and techniques that PR reps were clammering to draw a little attention to. For someone trying to make the right environmentally friendly decisions, the options can be overwhelming.

A study conducted in 2008 indicated that having too many choices can actually result in people not making any decision at all:

Having choices is typically thought of as a good thing. Maybe not, say researchers who found we are more fatigued and less productive when faced with a plethora of choices. 

Researchers from several universities have determined that even though humans’ ability to weigh choices is remarkably advantageous, it can also come with some serious liabilities. 

People faced with numerous choices, whether good or bad, find it difficult to stay focused enough to complete projects, handle daily tasks or even take their medicine.

So in order to help ease the burden of those who think that "being green" is too stressful, here are a few tips from a boomer who's been there:
  1. Protecting the Planet is not a competition. Don't make it one: It's a little frustrating to me that there are so MANY organizations out there (each with their own website) that are trying to be the SINGLE number one source of info for protecting the planet. Wow! What power we would have if we all worked together instead of trying to compete! Let's try to look at it that way.
  2. It's the Ecology, stupid. Not the economy: Keep a wary eye on the websites that claim to be trying to protect the planet when they are obviously just trying to sell a product.
  3. Good green deeds deserve recognition: There are many people and organizations that devote countless hours of their lives trying to help others make the right decisions for the planet. If you can afford to make a donation to their cause or volunteer time for any of their projects, do it. Many of these organizations, including some great eco-friendly bloggers, allow you to make donations through their websites. Keep in mind that some of the smaller groups (and individuals) can really use your support more than the larger ones. Personally, I don't make a donation to groups that spend more money each year TRYING to get me to donate (by sending free wrapping paper, calendars and greeting cards) than I can afford to even give. If you can't afford to donate time or money, a few kind words sent in an email message in support of what they are doing can go a long way in keeping eco-activists energized. Even something as simple as liking their Facebook page and commenting every now and then or subscribing to their blog helps to show that you care.
  4. We are all still in the learning stages when it comes to protecting the planet. Teach each other: I'm certainly not an expert on anything. Are you? If you are, then great. Share that knowledge with others. Instead of condemning an incorrect opinion or action, offer to share your knowledge or expertise. Environmental groups AND green bloggers are always looking for contributions from experts.
  5. You can't do everything, but you can do something: The Earth Day network is running a campaign called A Billion Acts of Green in which they ask readers to post what action they Pledge to commit to for a greener planet. Pick one or add your own. You DON'T have to try to do all One Billion of them. Here's mine: 
By creating an eco-friendly landscape, I pledge to: eliminate chemicalsconserve watercreate compost,   

    Create an Eco-Friendly Garden

    Favorite Native Plants - Alex Dencker picks Behnke Baysafes

    It's a little like "preaching to the choir" to tout the praises of Behnke's Nurseries to DC area gardeners. After all, Behnkes has a long history in the area, with their first store having opened over 80 years ago in Beltsville, Maryland.

    Behnkes also has a strong commitment to the environment, helping to educate their customers about plants and activites that are best practices for protecting the local eco-system.

    To help make eco-friendly plant choices a little easier, Behnke's has even developed their own labeling system for BaySafe plants, affixing a bright blue " Behnke BaySafe" label to native perennials and woody plants.

    Why should gardeners grow BaySafe plants?
    Native plants are critical for the environment. Many serve as food sources for native insects, which in turn are food sources for birds and other animals. Most native insects are unable to feed on non-native plants; thus, food sources for our song birds are reduced when we plant non-native plants. Yes, you will have some feeding damage, holes in leaves from caterpillars, but it is critical for species diversity that gardeners include native plants in their landscapes. In addition, since native plants are well-adapted to our local climate and native soil, they will require less care than many non-natives.

    I've been anxious to get a list of "Favorite Native Plants" from someone at Behnkes to add to my recent series on the topic, and Susan Harris, blogger for Behnkes (and Gardenrant, Lawn Reform Coalition and other great, fun sites) was able to help me out.

    Here is a list of Favorite Native Plants from Alex Dencker, who has worked at Behnkes for over 20 years and is currently the manager of the Potomac store.

    Alex Dencker is wild about native plants, and suggests them to customers at Behnkes Nurseries every chance he gets. Asked to choose his top "got-to-have" native plants for the garden, Alex gushed about these:  

    Ferns: New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis) , Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea L.)  

    Grasses and "grass-like stuff": Carex (sedges), River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Panicum spp, and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).

    Flowering Plants: Columbine, Milkweed, New York and New England Aster, Bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa), Joe-Pye Weed, Heuchera villosa, Virginia bluebells, Penstemon digitalis, Mountain mint, Solidago ("goldenrod), and tiarella cordifolia.

    Trees: Serviceberry, River Birch, Cornus alternifolia, Redbud, American holly, Sweetbay Magnolia, Sourgum, and these oaks: White, Willow, Scarlet and Red.  

    Vines: Crossvine, Wisteria frutescens, and Decumaria barbara. To find out more about Behnkes, visit their website. And while you are there, bookmark their events page for upcoming events.

    Website by Water Words That Work LLC