Winning Writers and Gardeners at the American Hort Society by Susan Harris

Last night the American Horticultural Society held its annual awards gala at its headquarters (above, an estate formerly owned by the Geo. Washington family) on the shores of the Potomac in Alexandria, VA. I was there, along with two GardenRant award-winners an assortment of movers and shakers in the plant world. The weather was perfect and so was the whole event. Awards were presented for books and for awesomeness in various categories – the Great American Gardener awards. Here’s a peek through some Achilleas to the Potomac River. Now for some winners! Here’s our own Tom Christopher with Larry Weaner, co-authors of the award-winning Garden Revolution. On the far right is award-winner Allen Bush descending the stairs with Tom Fischer, editor of Timber Press. (He won the Garden Communicator Award.) Book winners from left are Larry Weaner, Tom Christopher, Tom Fischer (accepting Joseph Tychonievich’s award for Rock Gardening) and Marta McDowell, who won for All the President’s Garden..
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Garden show-offs and lawn proselytizing at a DC museum by Elizabeth Licata

From the exhibition website Here’s one item not on the agenda for this month’s Garden Blogger’s Fling in Washington, DC, but I don’t plan to miss it: “Cultivating America’s Gardens,” at the National Museum of American History in Washington. It opened last month and is on view through August 2018, so there’s plenty of time for everybody to see it. For all the years that we’ve been flinging in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, and Austin, I’ve usually managed to sneak away for an afternoon to take in a great museum or two, wherever we are. Fling tours are always of gardens, of course, so if you want other cultural attractions, you have to break away for a few hours—which I ‘m happy to do. I had no idea this show was happening, until I saw yesterday’s article in the New York Times. It contains minimal information, but did have this: The oldest garden in the US? This is debatable. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts competes for the title of the oldest public garden (1831), ..
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Take the Sting Out with Nutritious Nettles by Allen Bush

A rich seam of stinging nettles in Salvisa, Kentucky. My daughter, Molly, decided to harvest nettles on our farm in Salvisa last year. I wondered, Why? I must have been lost in the woods. Suddenly, more herbalists are singing the praises of stinging nettles. Urtica dioica is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is also a valuable, anti-inflammatory, weedy herb. The leaves can be harvested fresh or dried for a nourishing pick-me-up tea. And they can also be blanched for pesto. Some of you may never have encountered a stinging nettle. Mike Berkeley a partner of Growild Nursery in Fairview, Tennessee, and co-creator of the Native Plant Podcast, said, “You run through the woods naked and you’ll find stinging nettles. So, you need to take precaution if you want to make an herbal tea or pesto with stinging nettles. They have tiny little daggers called trichomes that can irritate your thin skin or even the thick hide of a horse. (My wife, Rose, is a rider and she said, “Oh yeah, horses ..
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The Sawtooth Oak

Tree of the Week The Sawtooth Oak By Sheereen Othman | June 6, 2017 Quercus acutissima Are you looking for a hardy tree that is seldom troubled by pests or disease? The sawtooth oak is a resilient shade tree with a bit of flare. Native to eastern Asia, the sawtooth oak made its first appearance in America in 1862. The tree starts producing acorns at an early age, making it extremely popular with wild turkeys, squirrels, and other wildlife. But it has more to offer than food value. The tree boasts a dense canopy with attractive fall color in shades of yellow and golden brown. It’s easy to grow and maintain and does well in numerous conditions including slight drought. What makes this tree stand out is its serrated, oblong leaves — suggestive of how it earned its common name. In the Landscape The sawtooth oak is a large tree, reaching up to 60 feet in urban settings. It’s fast growing and yields huge quantities of 1-inch acorns in the fall. It does best in full sun and ..
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Natives – A Moving Target? by Thomas Christopher

Will the wild orchids in my woods survive the changes of the next half century? There was a certain irony in the timing, given America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Still, last week was the time when a group of Master Gardeners had asked me to give them a lecture about the possible effects on gardening of global climate change – and how gardeners can do their part to meet this challenge. Because my wife is a geologist who studies long-term climate change, I had expert help with the scientific aspects of this issue. Different climate-modelers present different scenarios of what is likely to happen as our current century unwinds, but virtually all agree that unless we kick our addiction to fossil fuels, our climate will grow significantly hotter by the end of this century. Indeed, the way things are going now, it looks as if by 2100 summers in upstate New York will be as warm as those of present day South Carolina. Obviously, this sort of transformative change will hav..
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Beach Landscape Hits and Misses by Susan Harris

Some people go to the beach to enjoy the ocean. I do that (a bit) but mostly find myself looking at plants, at gardens. So in late May I walked down the boardwalk at Rehoboth, Delaware and stopped to admire the cedar-shake homes and especially the windswept plants that look just right at the ocean. Quite a contrast with this absurd display of manicured turfgrass. It looked even worse last fall when it was festooned with Trump signs. (Why are we not surprised?) I love this home and garden a block or two off the beach. The roses are Rugosas, not the usual Knockouts. A cute beach cottage with Knockouts and whimsy, too. This lovely home uses a large swath of Liriope to replace about half the lawn. This hellstrip along the beach could sure a nice groundcover. Maybe just divide those daylilies. Don’t you just want to enclose all this plants that were dropped into the turf in one big border? I can’t figure out if this was once a monoculture hedge that lost a plant in the middle or if ..
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Celebrate Great Outdoors and Water Month in one of These Forests

National Forests Replanting Our National Forests Celebrate Great Outdoors and Water Month in one of These Forests By Sheereen Othman | June 1, 2017 June marks two national celebrations: National Great Outdoors Month AND National Rivers and Water Month. Great Outdoors Month is an initiative designed to get people active outdoors. The timing couldn’t be better as it’s the start of summer and end of the school year, what better way to mark the occasion than playing in the sun? National Rivers and Water Month is also set in June. It’s a time to pause and reflect on all that clean rivers and streams do for us. More than 180 million Americans depend on watersheds including rivers for their drinking water. We know the importance of a healthy forest to provide clean water. Read From Forest to Faucet – the importance of trees in helping to keep your drinking water safe and clean When watersheds are damaged or impaired, it doesn’t only affect wildlife in the forest that depend on ..
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But not for me by Elizabeth Licata

Photo by Edmund Cardoni Some plants are just untouchable, iconic. Lilacs are among those plants. They’re immortalized in poetry, like “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Or glorious in cities, as in Rochester’s lilac festival or New York’s Cloisters. Yet, I removed two large lilacs from my property within two years of moving in, and I was reminded why yesterday when two of my work colleagues came to me with their lilac problems. (I have a totally undeserved reputation as the gardening question go-to in the office.) One told me she’d had a lilac that had never bloomed in maybe 10 years. The other wondered why her lilac had bloomed profusely some years and this year she had maybe one or two blooms at most. For the one whose had never bloomed, I have only one solution—get rid of it. Ten years is way too long to wait for any plant. But to both of them, I confessed that I was not a big lilac fan, at least for my garden. They really need full sun, which is why I could never figure..
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Northern Red Oak: A Tree of Ease

Tree of the Week Northern Red Oak: A Tree of Ease By Sheereen Othman | May 30, 2017 Quercus rubra The northern red oak has been called “one of the handsomest, cleanest, and stateliest trees in North America” by naturalist Joseph S. Illick. During the colonial times people realized that red oaks are of high value and have superior wood qualities. This Midwest native quickly became a favorite for landscapers because of the tree’s adaptability and usefulness, including its hardiness in urban settings. In addition to its strength, the tree is attractive, displaying a beautiful show of reds and browns in the fall. One of the many distinctive features of the northern red oak is that it is easier than most oaks to transplant. It is believed that the first red oak to be transplanted was in Bishop Compton’s garden in England. It is equally at home on a shady city street or as part of a natural or managed forest. By 1924, there were more than 450 acres of red oak plantations in Ba..
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A Whole Different Spin on Pot Planting by Bob Hill

There have been very few opportunities for even the most avid of gardeners to plant bright red geraniums in an old, gray washing machine tub, so pay attention to this one. The story begins almost 45 years ago as Bob and Janet Hill, garden neophytes whose possessions included two small children, hefty monthly payments on a Volkswagen Squareback and the address of the local laundromat, received an income tax return for $444. This itself was a financial miracle since that figure was equal to about two-weeks take-home pay. The other miracle was that on the very same day the check arrived Bob and Janet saw an ad in the local newspaper for a washer AND dryer on sale for…please lean forward in anticipation here…$444. Yes, of course we did. With free delivery and appropriate hoses. The Washer & Dryer Gods had spoken. We Grateful Listeners were so proud of the purchase we gave our new appliances personal names – Max and Edna Hill Whirlpool. The couple served us faithfully and well for a long..
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