Sat, 21 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDTThis summer has been a challenging one for keeping plants growing. Record-breaking temperatures in July and August have created heat stress for plants. According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, the May-to-July period was the warmest on record for the Northeast and Southeast and the ninth-warmest for the Central region. This period produced record heat for the Washington area -- and a bumper crop of questions from area gardeners.
Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDTThe objective of a Japanese garden is to establish a space that creates a mood of serenity and symbolism inspired by nature, designed in a very controlled fashion. Typically this includes the use of rocks, gravel, water, statuary, bridges, wood and some plants that appear to be hundreds of years old. In a traditional Japanese garden, elements are representational of nature in human proportions.
Sat, 31 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDTEven though the heat has been record-breaking, you are still working in your gardens and have lots of questions. It's time to address some of them.
Sat, 24 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDTIf you are trying to sell your home, you can rise above the competition by designing curb appeal into your property.
Sat, 17 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDTGardeners and kids have a lot in common. The most conspicuous similarities being that both like to pluck flowers, pick fruits and berries, study insects and, not least, get wet and dirty. It's a natural match, and adults can nurture young people's interest in horticulture by inviting them to help weed, water, plant biennials, divide irises, deadhead flowers and learn what various plants look like -- especially poison ivy.
Sat, 10 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDTUsually by this time of year in the Washington area, we have had about 20 inches of precipitation. As of this writing, we are within a couple of inches of the average at Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall airports, but Reagan National is more than six inches below normal. We have seen worse than this, but precipitation this year has been fickle, in the form of winter rain and snow -- followed by significantly below-average rainfall in April, May and June.
Sat, 26 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDTA few times each year, I like to review products that I hope will be useful to home gardeners. After a tryout, I find some promising products to be disappointments, and those I allow to die on the vine. Only the winners make it into print.
Sat, 12 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDTMore than in most years, there is acute concern associated with pest control in the Washington area. On May 7, late blight was detected in a greenhouse in St. Mary's County. Measures have been taken by the grower to eradicate the disease, but plant scientists don't know whether it will spread or whether this outbreak is related to last year's.
Sat, 05 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDTIn 1986, the rose, official flower of the District of Columbia, became the national flower of the United States as well. It's also the official blossom of Georgia, Iowa, New York and North Dakota -- making it most popular choice for a state flower. But this popularity is somewhat curious, as gardeners know roses are fraught with disease and insect problems.
Sat, 22 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTAccording to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, April was the warmest on record, going back to 1880. This unusual warmth at the start of the growing season might be one of the reasons readers have a bumper crop of gardening questions.
Sat, 15 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTIf it seems like your neighborhood has become noisier in recent years, that's because it probably has. With increased suburban development, the Capital Beltway and other major arteries such as Interstate 270 and Route 50 in Maryland, Interstate 66 in Virginia have been widened to accommodate more traffic. Add to that the construction of the Fairfax County Parkway and one of the latest highway projects, the Intercounty Connector between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and road expansion has touched most of the Washington area.
Sat, 08 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTOver 40 years doing landscape and design work, and more than 13 years writing this column, I've picked up some valuable lessons. They might be thought of as principles for planning and managing your landscape.
Sat, 01 May 2010 00:00:00 EDTA well-informed gardener is more likely to be a successful gardener. Here are some book selections that I found particularly useful for meadow design, herbal plant preparations, pruning, tomatoes, square-foot gardening and hardscaping. And, if you'd like to carry your celebration into the weekend from the official April 30 Arbor Day, I offer some books about trees.
Sat, 24 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTSpringtime offers the perfect opportunity for gardening aficionados to take advantage of lectures, workshops, tours and other educational programs. Before you plan an outing, call to ascertain if preregistration is required. If a fee is not shown, the event is free.
Sat, 17 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTIf you're a gardener and planning a vacation out of the United States, be aware of what your travels can deliver. You might be bringing home more than you bargained for.
Sat, 10 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTWith spring upon us, many plants have seized the opportunity to begin growing -- including many weeds. Flower blossoms opened quickly this year. The earliest to open are already in need of triage, and planting beds are begging to be cleaned up and weeded.
Sat, 03 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDTTrees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are flowering, lawns are growing, plants are leafing out quickly, and the pruning and repair of broken limbs and other damage from February's blizzards should be almost finished. As reader questions suggest, it's time to renew lawns, plant shrubs and control garden pests.
Sat, 27 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDTThe Washington area is glorious in springtime, not only because of its famous cherry blossoms, but also because of an abundance of flowering bulbs.
Sat, 20 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDTGardens can relax or energize you, depending on their design. Balance the energy flow in your landscape to ensure it will be comfortable and harmonious. The Chinese have used this method of design for many thousands of years. It is called feng shui, pronounced "fung shway."
Sat, 13 Mar 2010 00:00:00 ESTAs daylight saving time begins this weekend, it's a reminder that spring is just around the corner. So we have an assortment of questions that spans the winter-spring boundary.
Sat, 06 Mar 2010 00:00:00 ESTThe ending of winter and approach of spring intensify cabin fever and turn gardeners' thoughts to the potential that greenhouses -- and their fancier cousins, conservatories -- offer.
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTAs I write, snow is finally melting, making its way into the soil, creating soggy conditions in planting beds and woodlands.
Sat, 20 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTWhy is it not surprising that questions this month have been related to the weather? Top concerns included broken plants and snow and ice safety. Readers have also been asking about an invasive alien pest that could overtake the native box elder bug among pests that seek the warmth of your home.
Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTLocal governments in the Washington area have been spreading massive amounts of de-icers for snow and ice removal. These materials can harm streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay as they wash from paving, and can harm pets, plants, wildlife and aquatic life.
Sat, 06 Feb 2010 00:00:00 ESTMany planting practices that were thought critical to the health of trees are simply myths. Some ideas that have long been accepted by experts have proven to be incorrect. This is understandable because it can take generations to comprehend the sophisticated systems of these magnificent plants. While you're enjoying the warm and cozy indoors this winter, let's examine some tree myths.
Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTEl NiÃ±o is back. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center reports that El NiÃ±o has gained slightly above-average strength over the Pacific Ocean since December, signaling that its effects might persist into the spring. What that means to gardeners in the Washington area and the Southeastern states is the possibility of wetter weather than usual.
Sat, 23 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTEvery growing season offers the potential for rejuvenating your garden, and now is the time to start reflecting on last year's performance and to plan this year's landscape design.
Sat, 16 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTThe winter landscape can be extraordinary if your garden is designed for winter interest. Consider plants that flower, offer berries, hold their foliage, have showy bark or display attention-grabbing shapes even without leaves. If you haven't planted with an eye toward winter interest, your beds will remain bare for another nine to 10 weeks.
Sat, 09 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTOn the heels of an extraordinary fall, when many plants stayed green into December, we had a record-breaking snowfall in time for the holidays. Now the leaves are gone and the remnants of the flowers in the garden are black. It's time to enjoy relaxing in front of an open hearth, with the sweet aroma of burning wood.
Sat, 02 Jan 2010 00:00:00 ESTMany gardeners are confused by what constitutes an heirloom plant. For me, there is no set definition.
Sat, 19 Dec 2009 00:00:00 ESTThis is the perfect weekend to get your Christmas tree, if you haven't done so already. All you need now is just a little guidance to help you choose the right tree.
Sat, 12 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST
Sat, 05 Dec 2009 00:00:00 ESTThe holidays bring out the best at the Washington region's most beloved gardens, many of which offer special programs and displays through December. Here's a list of some of my favorite upcoming events, many of which are free. Be sure to call ahead to make sure there's no required pre-registration.
Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTLandscaping jargon often leaves homeowners and part-time gardeners perplexed, and it's no wonder. In the garden, commonplace words can take on different meanings. For example, "exfoliate" is not a spa treatment, "pools" aren't always for swimming, "beds" are not a place to sleep, "percolate" doesn't refer to brewing coffee and "suckers" aren't lollipops.
Sat, 21 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTWe live surrounded by many trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that aren't from this area. It may seem like they belong here, but they don't. They aren't the plants that Mother Nature originally intended for our region.
Sat, 14 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTGardening tasks don't stop with the end of the growing season. You can still plant trees, do landscape design work, inspect insect damage, and evaluate what performed well in the garden this year and what needs more attention. Here are answers to some of the questions that have been sent in recently.
Sat, 07 Nov 2009 00:00:00 ESTIf you thought you had missed your last chance to plant trees or shrubs in your yard this year, think again. November is still a good month to install such plants, as the ground has not frozen yet and the air is still warm enough to work outside.
Sat, 31 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTAs the holidays draw near, it's time to start thinking about gifts for the gardeners in your life. Among the many possibilities worth considering are gloves, tools, planters, pest repellents, organic growing media and, of course, plants. To help get you started, here is a list of some products that we reviewed over the past several months and would gladly recommend.
Sat, 17 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTThe leaves are changing colors, and the weather's turning crisp. That means it's time to answer some of your fall gardening questions.
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTIf you want to learn more about gardening, there's no substitute for getting your hands dirty, and one of the best ways to pick up that practical experience is by volunteering at a local garden.
Sat, 03 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDTOne of the great joys of writing this column is collecting all sorts of interesting tidbits about gardening. It's time to clean house and share some unique stats and entertaining facts from the gardener's notebook.
Sat, 26 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTA well-managed lawn performs several functions every homeowner would consider essential. It can help to control dust, dissipate heat and noise, reduce glare and lower fire risk. And, with proper care, your lawn can improve soil and water quality by allowing rainwater to slowly percolate into the soil, which reduces runoff into rivers and streams.
Sat, 19 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTCan you have a lovely garden and eat it, too?
Sat, 12 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTEvery gardener needs a site plan -- a drawing with as much information as can be collected on the property, from the potholes in the driveway to the direction of the prevailing winds, correctly noted for each season.
Sat, 05 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDTThe tiny splash caused by a raindrop is a surprisingly destructive force and the No. 1 cause of soil erosion. As rain falls, the drops hit bare ground, breaking soil particles free and washing away valuable topsoil. The resulting runoff sweeps chemicals and sediment into rivers and streams in amounts that can imperil aquatic life.
Sat, 22 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTAbout 670 species of butterflies live in the United States and Canada, visiting hundreds of thousands of flowers, drinking nectar and pollinating plants in their short lives.
Sat, 15 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTOn Aug. 1, my wife, Sandy, and I attended the groundbreaking of the 15-acre rose garden in Shanksville, Pa. It was an emotional event, officiated by Sue Casey, the president and founder of the organization Remember Me Rose Gardens, which is creating rose gardens at the site of each of the three plane crashes on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sat, 08 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTOne of the best ways to interest children in plants is to start working with them when they are young and curious, and there's no better time to begin than the dog days of August, after summer camp ends and before school starts.
Sat, 01 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDTPersonal security is always on our minds, especially at home. We double-lock our doors, arm our homes with security systems and motion-sensor lights, and even install bars on our windows. But not many of us think about landscape design as a way to protect our homes from intruders.
Sat, 25 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTEven if you have some horticultural knowledge, you probably consider landscape design abstract. It's difficult to visualize an entire garden rather than a single element, such as a flower, tree or trellised vine. Hence, the big picture should be broken into smaller parts to better understand it.
Sat, 18 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTSummer is prime time for wildflower meadow displays. You can see them along many interstates and along hiking and biking trials. They are fashionable in roadside design, adding lovely focal points to otherwise featureless areas, and, because they are rarely mowed, they lower the cost of road maintenance. They provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, and they reappear every year.
Sat, 11 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTIt's time to answer your garden and landscape questions as we roll into midsummer.
Sat, 04 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDTIn keeping with the spirit of 1776, here is a list of plants that represent principles stated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, altered as though greenery could declare, "all plants are created equal." Plants are entitled to roam free, provide food, inspire, live long, be independent and protect their territory, help the environment, and promote democracy in the world of flora.
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTThis rainy spring will be remembered as the season gardens didn't need irrigation. Grass was lush, shrubs and trees stayed wet, ponds and outdoor planters didn't require topping off. Other than weeding, it was a labor-free spring -- provided your property was well drained.
Sat, 20 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTIt's time again to answer your garden questions.
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTIn the 1950s, I watched a television game show called "Name That Tune." The goal was to name a song in as few notes as possible. This inspired me to invent a game called "Name That Bloom," where the objective is to identify plants as you see them blossom.
Sat, 06 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDTNew growing seasons offer opportunities to remember how your plants fared last year and consider what you'd like to see this season. Your garden could need only small changes: Maybe azaleas have gotten a little unkempt and need pruning. Perhaps bed edges require a touch-up, a tree is too big or a specimen plant too small. Careful and constant maintenance always makes a big difference.
Sat, 23 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTHomeowners want to enjoy looking at lush plants, but don't want wildlife to enjoy consuming them.
Sat, 16 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTFences and walls add stability, enclosure and additional design elements to a property. They mark boundaries, keep children and pets safely inside, and provide comfort and privacy.
Sat, 09 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTSpring is a time to take advantage of lectures, workshops and tours. These are free unless otherwise noted. Call ahead to see if registration is required.
Sat, 02 May 2009 00:00:00 EDTMost people consider gardens and landscapes fairly safe spaces except for the patches of poison ivy you weren't paying attention to or the tick habitats here and there. But, unless safety considerations have been taken into account, the landscape can be an extremely dangerous place.
Sat, 25 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTIt's time for more spring questions.
Sat, 18 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTGardeners who are seeking a lot of color with little maintenance can get both from summer-blooming bulbs, which should be planted soon.
Sat, 11 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTWhen designing ornamental gardens, homeowners usually think about looking at the plants, not eating them. However, many plants can be poisonous. One of the most common ways young children are poisoned is by eating pretty berries or flowers that look like candy.
Sat, 04 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDTIt's time to answer more of your gardening questions.
Sat, 28 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDTPest control doesn't have to be toxic.
Sat, 21 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDTPerhaps you think moss grows like a weed because you see it everywhere -- on patios, garden furniture, lawns, the side of your house, on trees and in poor soil. It does, but only when it's happy.
Sat, 14 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDTNot so long ago, people wanted to get rid of rocks in their yards. Now they often request them as part of the trend toward more natural-looking gardens.
Sat, 07 Mar 2009 00:00:00 ESTDesign errors can create a lack of harmony and comfort in your garden. Here are the most common landscape design mistakes.
Sat, 28 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTThere's still some time left to wrap up winter gardening chores before spring -- cleaning up, renewal pruning, composting and some mulching should be done before the sap starts flowing.
Sat, 21 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTIt's time to answer some more gardening questions.
Sat, 14 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTA natural garden can create a home for birds, butterflies, bees, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, snakes, bats and more -- all while requiring less pruning and preening. But it takes the right flora to get the fauna to appear.
Sat, 07 Feb 2009 00:00:00 ESTAfter a slapstick-style fall on our icy driveway last week, I am fortunate to have my bones intact. That pratfall, which would have made Jerry Lewis proud, reminded me that how we melt ice is important to the safety of people, pets and plants.
Sat, 31 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTThere are so many lectures, seminars and workshops at botanical and estate gardens, arboretums and parks in the Washington area that there's not room for me to list them all. However, here's a rundown of places that conduct classes without requiring that participants be part of a degree program. Several of the university programs do require an application for admission.
Sat, 24 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTMost homeowners approach landscape design in a way that is meant to meet their immediate need, whether that is screening, groundcover, shade or flowering plants. The proper approach to landscape design is multi-dimensional -- considering interest on ground, vertical and overhead planes.
Sat, 17 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTIt's time to answer your garden questions again -- in winter, when time is spent out of the garden, planning what can be done to enhance it in spring.
Sat, 10 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST"Man is a tool-using animal . . . without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all," wrote Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle.
Sat, 03 Jan 2009 00:00:00 ESTIn winter there's not much to take your attention away from the structure or colors of trees and shrubs. You can appreciate them for their branching habits and bark, not just because they supply the "canopy" or "spatial enclosure" of the landscape.
Sat, 27 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTMulch is a gardening mainstay because it protects and nurtures plants while improving the look of many landscapes. Plants need different types of mulches depending on the season.
Sat, 20 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTIt's understood among landscape designers that the aesthetics of a garden go considerably beyond visual beauty to encompass sound and touch.
Sat, 13 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTOne school holiday assignment I never minded was to read a book of my choice. So, here are my picks for some landscape and gardening books for your holiday reading and gift list this year.
Sat, 06 Dec 2008 00:00:00 ESTWhen homeowners cut their landscaping budget, they typically get rid of things such as garden pools, fountains, walls, seating, sculpture, containers and lighting. But these elements, which can be grouped together as "site amenities," contribute to the impact of a garden.
Sat, 29 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTA new crop of questions sprouts as fall changes the dynamics in our gardens.
Sat, 22 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTHere are some upcoming holiday and horticultural events for November, December and January. They're free unless otherwise noted. Call ahead to see whether registration is needed.
Sat, 15 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTA neighbor stopped by last weekend holding a piece of shrub with a dainty, sweet-smelling flower on it. His wife walked past the plant daily and absolutely had to know what is was. Fragrance does that to people.
Sat, 08 Nov 2008 00:00:00 ESTHenry Marcellus Cathey, who died on Oct. 8 at age 79, was a brilliant plant scientist who understood the world of horticulture far beyond the boundaries that his doctoral degree and study as a Fulbright Scholar offered.
Sat, 01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 EDTWe can look at a calendar and know that it's fall. But how do the trees know?
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTPeople are trying to figure out how to save money everywhere they can. A lot are becoming interested in growing their own fruits and vegetables.
Sat, 18 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTThere are many gardening practices you may not have thought about that can make a big difference in the health of the environment. Here are a dozen:
Sat, 11 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTHere's the test: How do you feel when you see a large slope planted with English ivy?
Sat, 04 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDTThis month, possibly more than any other, is the time to ensure that your garden stays healthy and blooming next year. It's a great time to assess and improve your landscape.
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTLectures, workshops, tours and other programs are available around the region this fall. They're free unless otherwise noted. Many require registration, so call ahead.
Sat, 20 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTIt's been raining a lot lately, this being hurricane season. While it's good to leave our drought of the past three years behind, it's clear that sudden drenching rains, or sustained heavy rain, can cause flooding and serious damage.
Sat, 13 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTAs gardeners, we are at the forefront of the new Green Revolution.
Sat, 06 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDTAs summer comes to an end, you're still busy in your gardens.
Sat, 30 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTVines can be trained onto almost any structure -- deck, porch, shed, pergola, wall, fence, pole or arbor. The type of climber being trained determines how it should be attached. Plants climb in different ways:
Sat, 23 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTGardens existed before gardeners, but gardeners can claim credit for the idea of shelters and trellises, structures that allow us to come closer to and enjoy our plants more in their natural setting.
Sat, 16 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTHere are answers to some of your summer gardening questions.
Sat, 09 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTA well-researched landscape design can go a long way toward lowering energy costs and putting homegrown food on the table. Nature has given us the tools to save money while being environmentally conscious.
Sat, 02 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDTTake advantage of some interesting exhibits, lectures, workshops, tours and other educational programs in August. Events are free unless otherwise noted. Many require registration, so call ahead.