Friday, August 31, 2012

To everything, there is a season

Everyone knows that when it comes to gardens, there is a time to reap and a time to sow. But many people don’t realize that there are also times when it is good to just let your garden rest.

Many plants can be harmed much more quickly by too much attention than by too little. Certainly too much water or too much of any chemical is going to harm the plant, the beneficial critters and the surrounding environment. And even the strongest plants can only tolerate a limited amount of pruning and “rearranging” in the garden.

Even soil that is continually worked can suffer, eventually becoming worn out and depleted of the nutrients that help your plants grow.

Gardeners, too, can benefit from a rest. Taking time away from the chores and duties of maintaining a garden and spending a little more time just appreciating and enjoying it is a great way to restore a tired gardener’s enthusiasm.

The Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog was started in June 2010, and in the past two years, we have shared over 710 posts about the joys and environmental benefits of green gardening.

We have planted many of the things we have learned about gardening into this blog, added the knowledge and insights we have gained from our readers and local garden enthusiasts, and have created a garden blog that is brimming with information for you to come and wander through and pick and enjoy.

And now, it is time for us to rest.

All of our great posts will still be out here for you to enjoy. You can use the Topic Index page (located from the horizontal menu bar), the Search this Blog input box to search for a specific topic or click on one of the Labels in the right sidebar.

For information that you don’t find on the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog, the Eco-Friendly Resources page (also available in the horizontal menu bar) will lead you to many other great websites in the area that are brimming with information to help you continue with your gardening efforts.

It has been a wonderful pleasure and honor creating and sharing this garden blog with you. I hope that you will come visit it often.

I can’t wait to see what the next seasons bring us all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chesapeake Ecology Center, 10th Anniversary Celebration & Native Plant Sale – Sept. 15

When: Saturday, September 15 , 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Rain date: Sunday, September 16)

Where: 245 Clay Street, Annapolis, MD 21401

All are invited to this free event and celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Chesapeake Ecology Center (CEC)! Join Master Gardener tour guides for tours of the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens at the CEC. Learn about native plants, rain gardens, and other conservation landscaping practices. This is also their annual fundraiser, and native plants at discount prices will be made available.

The CEC is located at Adams Academy at Adams Park Middle School, in Annapolis, MD, just two blocks from the Navy Stadium. Visit - - for more information and directions to the CEC.

Visit this link for a list of the plants available:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Upcoming Classes, Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens is one of our favorite places for gardening classes of all kinds. Here are a few that are coming up in the next few weeks, but I encourage you to bookmark their education page to keep an eye on what’s coming up!

9/8/2012, Flourishing, Flowering Salvias
  Green Spring Gardens Park
Start Time/Day:  9:30am Sat

Make room in your garden for those eye-popping, traffic stopping fall blooming salvias. This genus includes plants with fragrant leaves, culinary uses and flowers that attract hummingbirds. Nancy Olney, staff horticulturist, shows you her favorites in the garden and shares propagation and growing tips. Take home a sample of a hardy salvia for your own garden.

9/14/2012, Basic Gardening: Grow Great Grub
  Green Spring Gardens Park
Start Time/Day:  1:30pm Fri

Planting a fall vegetable garden will extend the gardening season so you can continue to harvest fresh produce. Many cool-season vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they mature during cool weather. Master Gardeners show you how.

9/29/2012, Invasive Plant ID and Native Alternative
  Green Spring Gardens Park
Start Time/Day:  9am Sat

Its time to remove those invasive plants and plant native plants we can all enjoy, but first you need to know how to ID them. In this workshop Kristen Sinclair and Brenda Skarphol, curatorial horticulturist, focus on invasive plant identification both in the classroom and the field and provide native alternatives to plant instead. Identifications materials included.

10/5/2012, Basic Gardening:Put the Garden to Bed
  Green Spring Gardens Park
Start Time/Day:  1:30pm Fri

Its fall again! Time to enjoy the break from the summer heat and head back into the garden for some end-of-season maintenance. There is plenty to do before Old Man Winter arrives. Master Gardeners share suggestions for ensuring that your plants are well prepared for the cold weather ahead.

For more information, visit Green Spring Gardens website.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Pesticide Website for Virginia

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has launched a new website to help educate the public about pesticides.

The website helps teach users about  common pests of the home, lawn and garden, along with the information about which options and practices best manage those pests.

There is a whole section on Integrated Pest Management which helps users to choose more environmentally friendly methods of dealing with garden pests.

Check it out!

Backyard Birds Presentation – September 8th

What: Backyard Birds Presentation

When: Saturday, September 8, 10AM-12:30PM

Where: 3400 Bryan Point Rd., Accokeek, MD

Birds can bring feathered fun — and free insect control — to a backyard garden. Join Accokeek Foundation for an introduction to the backyard birds of Maryland. From red-breasted robins to cheerful bluebirds, they will identify several common birds of Maryland and discuss how to attract them with shelter, water, and food—from seed and suet cakes to bird-friendly native plants.

Discussion will also cover  basic birding skills. Weather permitting, participants will take a guided trail walk. Participants will receive a copy of Bill Fenimore’s Backyard Birds of Maryland and other take-home materials.

Pre-registration is required by Thursday, August 30, 2012.

Register Here: The Accokeek Foundation, 3400

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to create a rain garden – August 25th

What: How to create a rain garden

When: Saturday, August 25th, 2012, 10:30 – 12:30

Where: Common Good City Farm, V Street NW between 2nd and 4th Streets, DC

What is a rain garden? A rain garden is a special type of garden  which includes a well-draining soil and preferably native drought  tolerant plants that can attract local pollinators. This workshop will  help give you an outline of how to design your own garden as an  attractive way to prevent water run-off from polluting our watersheds.

Teacher: Lili A. Herrera is a landscape architect and horticulturalist with a passion for plants. She worked in NYC at a small landscape  design firm and now works in DC for a landscape architecture firm  working on all scales of garden design. She is also a garden volunteer at Dumbarton Oaks and Common Good City Farm. For information contact

Workshops fill up quickly, so register TODAY at

Information for this post provided by Common Good City Farm.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Backyard habitat workshop, Saturday, August 25

What: Backyard habitat workshop
When: Saturday, August 25th, 1-4 pm
Where: Takoma Library

This weekend DDOE and DCPL with Audubon MD/DC are hosting a backyard wildlife habitat workshop at Takoma Library (416 Cedar Street NW, Washington, DC 20012). 

The workshop will be on Saturday, August 25 from 1-4pm.  Karen Mullin from Audubon MD/DC will be there to give a presentation on conservation gardening and creating space for wildlife and to give gardening advice.  After the presentation, they will be planting a native plant garden behind the library.   There will be freebies available to those who attend: birdhouse kits, books, native and invasive plant guides and plants. 

If you are interested in attending this event please send an email to

Information for this post provided by: Damien P. Ossi,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Franklinia Trees in Full Bloom at Triadelphia Recreation Area


Now’s the time to see the beautiful white, camellia-like flowers of the blooming Franklinia tree. The state champion, Franklinia, is on the picnic grounds at Triadelphia Recreation Area, 2800 Triadelphia Lake Road, Brookeville.  Three other of these uncommon trees also have been identified near the picnic grounds.

Sometimes called a Franklin tree, this champion tree is recognized as the largest specimen of its kind within Maryland. 

This Franklinia is 26 inches in circumference, 32 feet in height and 32 feet in crown spread. By comparison, the current national champion, located in Pennsylvania, is one inch taller, but 10 inches longer in crown spread and 16 inches wider in circumference.  

These rare trees, now distinct in the wild, were discovered along Georgia's Altamaha River in 1765 by botanists John and William Bartram and named for their family’s friend, Benjamin Franklin. This beautiful landscape tree is now considered extinct in the wild.  Only trees that were planted still exist throughout the country. Franklinias need a rich, moist and well-drained soil and the warmth of the full sun.

In August, you can see the white, camellia-like flowers of the Franklinia and smell its lovely fragrance. In the fall, the leaves turn a yellow to a scarlet color to signal the season’s shorter days. 

In addition to the beauty of this tree, they are noted as a  favored perch for the birds that call Triadelphia home, including cardinals, Carolina wrens, robins and mockingbirds.

Information for this post provided by:

John C. White, 

To learn more about the Franklinia tree, here’s a great article entitled: America’s ‘First’ Rare Plant: The Franklin Tree by Lucy M. Rowland

Friday, August 17, 2012

District of Columbia Invasives Day, Sept. 8th

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

The DC Cooperative Weed Management Area

Cordially invites you to

Participate in DC INVASIVES DAY, which is aimed at increasing awareness and community efforts toward managing invasive plants and promoting native wildlife habitat in Washington, DC.

The DC-CWMA members, partners and others will host various sites around the District where residents can engage in invasive plant removal as well as learn about invasive identification and restoration. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the managers some of these parks to learn more about wildlife management efforts and take part in restoring areas to promote wildlife conservation. There are several sites throughout the city and we are still looking for more sites, leaders, community groups and residents to engage.

Sites (Include):

Rock Creek Park,  Dumbarton Oaks Park , Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Fort Dupont Park, C&O Canal Park,  Kingman Island,  National Arboretum

For more information and to RSVP contact:

For more information on the DC Cooperative Weed Management Area - please click this link DC-CWMA. They are still looking for additional sites, community partners and residents to engage, please contact Laura if you would like to lead a group, suggest a site or learn more about the event.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Living in a place that cares

One of the really great things about the Metro DC area is the abundance of information available to anyone who wants to learn how to take care of the environment. If you have lived here for very long, that may be something that you just accept as “the norm”, but there are many parts of the country….many states….and many counties that don’t provide any information to their residents on how to conserve water, create compost or install a rain barrel. To me, providing this knowledge to people shows a great commitment to the area and to the people who live here.

In case you haven’t gone out searching for any of this info lately, I wanted to remind you about the great Eco-Friendly Resources page that we have here on the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog. I had to fix some of the links from when I created it, but there is still a WEALTH of information for any budding green gardener.

Click on the tab for : Eco-Friendly Resources


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rain Barrel Workshop – September 23

Every time it rains, I am reminded that we still have two downspouts coming off of our home that don’t empty into rain barrels. We do have long plastic, flexible hoses at the ends of our downspouts, so we can direct the water  where we want it, allowing it to soak into our yard rather than adding to stormwater runoff. But I would much rather capture as much of that rain as I can, since we use water from our rain barrels to do most of our watering.

My husband and I already know how to make rain barrels, so we will probably run out and buy the parts and make our own. But for those of you who haven’t made one yet, there is a rain barrel workshop coming up on September 23 in Reston (and another one on October 13th in Annandale). Registration is required so click on the link below to register.

What: Rain Barrel Workshop

When: September 23, 2012, 1-3 pm

Where: Walker Nature Education Center, 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191

Click here to learn more or to register: Rain Barrel Workshop

Read this post to find out more about rain barrels, as well as how to make your own: The Rain Barrel Response

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bay-wise landscaping program

I love the Master Gardener program. For those who don’t already know, Master Gardeners are volunteers who are trained through the local Extension Service to help people with their gardening questions and problems.

So I really enjoyed reading this article about Melina Meshako,  a Prince George’s County Master Gardener who made some big changes on Joint Base Andrews, a military facility in Prince George’s County.

What was most impressive to me was that Ms. Meshako suggested MD Bay-Wise certification for all the common areas around on-base housing.

MD Bay-Wise Landscaping is a pretty extensive certification program for properties that adhere to certain specification that make their site more eco-friendly, which of course, makes it friendlier to the Bay.

But despite the many requirements of the program, Joint Base Andrews was able to succeed with their certification.

“It was a lot of work. There is a huge list, a 50-point system for becoming Bay-Wise certified, and we did it,” said Liberty Park at Andrews Community Outreach Director Greg Ramirez. “There are 394 acres we’re responsible for, including the common areas and landscaping around housing and Belle Chance, the historic home on Andrews.”

To get your property certified, you have to meet all of the requirements for the appropriate “Yardstick” for certification. You complete “The Yardstick” and contact the Master Gardener program in your county.

I checked out The Yardstick for Homeowners. There are various eco-friendly landscaping practices and you check all of them that apply to your property. Each practice has an “inch” value of 1 – 9 inches. Your property much achieve 36 inches to be certified. For example, you can add one inch for every rain barrel you have installed, 5 inches if you don’t use pesticides, and 9 inches if you don’t have a lawn.

Very cool program! If you want to see how your yard ‘measures up’, you can download the brochure for homeowners here: Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick

Master Gardener Grows Plants, Awareness

Maryland Bay-Wise Landscape Management

Friday, August 10, 2012

Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail

Technically, this isn’t about gardening. It is about farmers. And ice cream.

But its pretty hard to not want to spread the word when you hear about something called Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail. I mean, come on, its about fresh, homemade ice cream. In fact, it’s like a scavenger hunt with 7 different stops, all providing mmmmmmmm ice cream. Add them up, and they create the nation’s first farm-based ice-cream trail.

Here’s a little blurb from their flyer:

“Maryland has seven dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on farm ice cream. Together, they make up the newly minted Maryland Ice Cream Trail. Visit each creamery between June 20 and September 7, and you may be named. . . Maryland’s 2012 Ice Cream Trail Blazer!”

Driving around Maryland eating ice cream……sounds like a win-win situation to me. A win for you, a win for the farmers…and who WOULDN’T want to be named Maryland’s 2012 Ice Cream Trail Blazer?

Here are some more instructions about blazing the trail, with a link to the full pamphlet:

How You Can Be a Trail Blazer! As you travel from creamery to creamery this summer, enjoying Maryland’s Best dairy on a cone (or cup), have this Maryland Ice Cream Trail Passport stamped with each creamery’s Official Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail Stamp.

Then, mail your completed passport by September 7, 2012 to Maryland’s Best Ice Cream (address in pamphlet).

All completed passports will go into a large, chocolate covered waffle cone. If we pull yours out, you will win a $50 gift certificate to the creamery of your choice. And incredible bragging rights! Enjoy the trail!

Who (or what) influenced you to be “green”?

I’ve often mentioned on this blog why I started being more eco-friendly in my landscape. The primary reasons are: wildlife and my husband.

I have always liked having birds and butterflies in my yard but until I really started doing some research, I didn’t realize that I would attract a lot more of those critters by getting rid of chemicals (although that one seems really obvious now) and planting native plant species.

As for my husband’s role, he has always been very concerned about the environment, primarily because he likes to fish. He is the one that explained the whole groundwater connection to me. How everything that goes into the ground can end up in the local water supplies, etc.

My husband isn’t a scientist or anything. He’s a builder. And a hunter. And a fisherman. Before I met him, I thought I was the great Bambi-loving environmentalist and he was “the enemy – the hunting/fishing/building destroyer of the environment.”

The first time I saw him nurture an ailing plant, or gently release a fish back into a stream, I realized how dumb it was to ever categorize anyone by their habits or their occupation.

Between the influence of hubby and the hummingbirds, once I started to be a “green gardener” I was pretty much hooked.

Our gardens give us so  much joy, juicy food, fragrant herbs, beautiful birds and butterflies, that just want to keep learning more and more ways to keep things “green”.

So, who (or what) helped influence you to make “green” changes to your yard? Who talked you into your first rain barrel? Or taught you the joys of native plants? Or the pleasures of gardening for butterflies? I would love to share some of your answers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Favorite Native Plants – A few from our readers

suebb A few more responses trickled in for my request for Favorite Native Plant recommendations. These last few are from some of our Facebook and Twitter friends. I think every one of them mentioned the great value to pollinators of these preferred plants:

Donna Williamson, author of The Virginia Gardener's Companion: An Insider's Guide to Low-Maintenance Gardening in Virginia, mentioned several of her favorites. "Mountain mint is just the best - what a world of pollinators enjoy it! I am growing Pycnanthemum muticum but there are other species that I am not familiar with. And wild senna (Cassia marylandica) and  of course Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) and all the goldenrods!"

Samantha, from the Pollinator Plates project (check out their website) said “One of my favorites is Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) . Obviously, the Monarchs need it, but when it's in bloom, it's a real pollinator party! Mine is always covered in bees."

Brent Bolin, a fellow wildlife lover, suemonlisted several favorites: Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) for the monarchs. Ironweed (Vernonia  noveboracensis), because it looks great & wildlife loves it. Various Phlox for color. Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) looks great & attracts birds/bees . Our yard is NWF certified & also certified monarch waystation. Not sure if my white turtlehead (Chelone glabra) is attracting checkerspots yet.” You can learn more about Brent by visiting his blog

Sue Dingwell, who says she has been a native plant nut suefernfor years, (and who was also kind enough to share some photos for this post)  mentioned these favorites: "Native flowers to love: columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), golden ragwort (Chrysogonum virginianum), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), bee balm (Monarda didyma & Monarda bradburiana). Showy fern: cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnomomea). Must have native shrubs: serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus), viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) and American beautyberry (Calicarpa Americana). The mountain mint is a spreader, but not aggressive and not hard to contain. You will definitely love the energized layer of pollinators that cover this wonderful plant when blooming." In addition to her “native plant nut” monicker, Sue is a Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, member of the Virginia Native Plant Society, and volunteer at River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. And she has a really beautiful blog called:

Thanks to everyone who offered their favorites. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you make some of your own decisions when it comes to native plants.

Previous posts in this series:

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Woods in Your Backyard: Simple Tips for Environmentally Conscious Homeowners

This might be a bit of a drive for some people, but it sounds like a good program:

What: The Woods in Your Backyard: Simple Tips for Environmentally Conscious Homeowners

Where: Cole Cinema, Campus Center, 18952 E. Fisher Rd, St. Mary's City, MD 20686

When: Saturday, August 11, 9:00 am – 12 pm

The St. Mary's Arboretum is pleased to invite the public in for its first 2012-2013 calendar event on Saturday, August 11.  Meet Craig Highfield, Program Manager for Forestry for the Bay, and learn simple techniques useful for small landowners here in Southern Maryland who wish to be good environmental stewards of their properties. 

Owners of even just a few acres can make a positive difference in their environment through planning and implementing simple stewardship practices. By enhancing wooded areas or creating natural areas on your lot, you can enjoy recreation, aesthetics, wildlife and improved water quality.

Topics will include:

  • Forest ecology & woodland management principles
  • Tree identification
  • Converting lawn to natural areas
  • Invasive species control

Also explored will be invasive species identification and control.  Unsure of something in your yard that appears to be invasive, climbing or crawling everywhere, taking over?  Bring a piece of it to the session and let Craig identify it for you!

For more information, visit the St. Mary’s College of Maryland website

Information provided by: Jacqueline U. Takacs, Watershed Restoration Specialist

Friday, August 3, 2012

Favorite Native Plants – James Gagliardi and Christine Price-Abelow, Smithsonian Gardens

cupplant Native plants certainly have many benefits to the environment, making them an eco-friendly choice for any home gardener. But I love the fact that so many of the people I asked mentioned wildlife value as a top benefit.

Here are a few more contributions for my series on Favorite Native Plants. These are from James Gagliardi and Christine Price-Abelow, horticulturists for two of the Smithsonian Museum gardens.

James Gagliardi is a Horticulturist at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. He mentioned Cup Plant as one of his favorites:

“A native plant currently drawing a lot of attention in the  Butterfly Habitat Garden is the Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)”, James said. Reaching a height of nearly 10 feet this plant towers over most others in our meadow planting.  Bright yellow daisy-like flowers bloom throughout the summer but the best feature is its wildlife value.  The plant serves as a host and nectar plant for butterflies.  Cup Plant is also included in the plantings in the new Urban Bird Habitat at the National Museum of Natural History as a seed and water source – its name comes from the way the opposite leaves fuse at the base forming a “cup” that catches rain water.”

Christine Price-Abelow is a Horticulturist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Christine said that garden phlox and dogwood are two of her favorites:

“Phlox paniculata, garden phlox is one of my favorite summer blooming perennials,” Christine said.   “This native species provides just the right pop of color when the rest of the garden is looking a little stressed out.  I also love the fact that it consistently blooms from July thru October in the Washington DC area.”

“Another one of my favorite native plants is the Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida.  This small tree is considered a staple in the landscapes of Virginia and is a tree featured in everyone’s garden.   The flowering Dogwood is a four season tree with beautiful fall color, winter interest, spring blooms and bright red fruit.”

Thanks for taking the time to add some of your favorites, James and Christine.

To learn more about some of the native plants in the Smithsonian Gardens, visit  the Smithsonian Gardens blog.

Previous posts in this series:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Native Plant Sale September 7th & 8th

What: Fall 2012 Native Plant Sale at Environmental Concern

Where: 201 Boundary Lane, St. Michaels, MD  21663

When: Friday, September 7th  9:00-4:00   AND  Saturday, September 8th 9:00-2:00

Native plants ideal for Rain Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Shade Gardens, Wetlands, Salt Tolerant Plantings and Songbird Hedgerows will be available. Plants are grown from seed (local and regional eco-types) right here in the nation's first wetland plant nursery!

Pre-orders will be accepted through Wednesday, September 5th.

For more info, call EC at 410-745-9620 or visit

(Information submitted by Penny Greeley @ Environmental Concern

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to save 150 gallons of water a day….

That’s the headline I saw on a blog post recently so, of course, I had to click over to read it. I’m fairly certain that we don’t even come CLOSE to using 150 gallons of water a day in our home, so I was interested to see how someone could write an article about saving that much. But the writer, Michele Hallahan, writing on LivingGreen Magazine, DID appear to do her homework.
Here are some of the facts gleaned from the article that allowed the writer to come up with the hefty sum of 150 gallons of water savings:
  • Water use in the USA is typically around 180 gallons per day per person.
  • Switching to low-flow showerheads can save you 12.5 gallons every time you take a 10 minute shower. That’s 50 gallons per day in a household with 4 people showering daily!
  • Switching to low flow aerators on your sinks can save up to 21 gallons per day
  • Nationwide, irrigation uses more than 7 billion gallons of water a year! Irrigate your garden only before 10am or after 7pm in order to make sure your thirsty plants get the most from your precious water!  Save up to 60 gallons per day by watering wisely.
  • Front-loading washing machines use half as much water as top-loaders. Switch to an Energy Star rated machine to save up to 12.5 gallons a day.
  • Run your dishwasher only when full. Save up to 6.5 gallons of water per day.
We are definitely good about saving water in our landscape. Not counting what we get from our rain barrels, I would say that we don’t even use 60 gallons of water all MONTH in our landscape. And we save a lot by waiting until our dishwasher is full and not running the extra cycles. But it’s nice to have the reminders for some of the other easy changes.
Here’s the link to the full article if you want to read it: How to Save 150 Gallons of Water per Day Without Leaving Your Home

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