summer 2013

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Welcome to Vietnam   # 58

Our Master Gardening group had our annual plant sale yesterday morning.  I don't think we hit the 50 degree mark, but it was a beautiful day.  The venue was a pavilion in the back of a Lion's Club in Frederick, MD.  Nestled in the woods, it was a very peaceful and enchanting setting :)  (Doesn't take much to make me happy, obviously!)

Large pavilion

Some of our Native selection

Non Native Perennials

Vegetables, Herbs and Annuals (Check out the fireplace)

Hanging Baskets

Extras from our Demo Garden

Support for Climbing Plants for sale

This year, like last year had people waiting for the 0800 start time.  I saw lots of smiles and answered lots of questions.  I was stationed in the Native Section with 2 other MGs.  My master plan is to have everyone plant SOME natives to help out our wildlife.
Waiting patiently

Straight to the Native Section

We had a Children's Corner ready so the the parents could wander and spend more money.

In my backyard this morning, I  found the nest outside my bedroom window is full of eggs.  I took out the screen and tried some pics, then went outside and took blind shots by holding my camera on top of the nest and just shot away.  Heard Mommy in another tree making some noise, I never touched the nest though.  I will try to take more pictures as the babies hatch and start their journeys.  Depends on the Mom of course.

View from window with telephoto

Blind close up with flash (very shady in there)
If you didn't already know this, you can click on the photos to enlarge them for detail.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Welcome! Italy, Lebanon, Taiwan, Armenia, China, and the Netherlands.  Up to 57 countries.

My lawn on April 22, 2012

Rain started last night, will be prettier in a couple of days

Many years ago we had a lawn that was ugly and filled with weeds.  I called a lawn company in to start a program to  fix it.  I had little lawn knowledge back then.  I enjoy mowing, so it was usually me pushing the mower and then sitting on the lawn tractor when we moved up to that.

My husband was always telling me that I was cutting the grass too short - "scalping it."   I of course ignored him because I was the one cutting and if you cut shorter you don't have to cut as often - right?

OMG!  He was right.  After my MG training I changed the way I do almost everything in my yard.

I learned that if you get a soil sample and adjust your Ph to 6.5 you solve a lot of problems.   I tested my soil 2 years ago.  Ph was 5.5.  Explained the bare spots and moss growth.  Followed the recommendations and added 80 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet.  Kicker was, you can only add 50 pounds at a time.  I did 50 # in the fall of 2010 and then the other 30 # in the spring.

I learned that if you cut your grass to a height of 3 inches, you can stop a lot of weed germination because the sun is not hitting your soil to start the germination process.

I learned that you should only cut 1/3 of the grass blade so you do not stress the plant.

I learned that if your lawn company is spraying for insects, you do not see any butterflies or birds in your yard.

I learned that if you aerate  your lawn,  more oxygen and water can get to the roots of your turf and make it healthier and stronger.

I learned that if you do not collect the clippings and leave it on the lawn you can cut back on your fertilization.  The grass decomposes and returns nitrogen to your lawn.

I learned that if you don't rake your leaves and mow them with a mulching mower (or mulching attachment to your mower)  you are adding much need organic matter to your soil.  Also it is wonderful food for the worms.

I learned that if you don't water your lawn during a drought it will go dormant and then turn green again when the rains come back.

l learned that thatch build up is due to shallow watering not leaving grass clippings on the lawn.  When people water less than 1" it stimulates shallow root growth.  If you water, make sure you give at least 1" so the roots can grow deep into the soil, not along the surface.

I learned that the best time to seed your lawn is late August or September.

If you to to  www.hgic.umd.edu and choose "publications" in the left column, then choose "Free publications online" you can scroll down and spend hours and hours reading about lawn care.

Bottom line, please do not add more fertilizer or pesticides than is specified on the directions on the bag.  That gets washed into the Chesapeake Bay.  Same with any chemical that ends up on a hard surface, driveways and sidewalks.

Well, I now mow high and often.  I fertilize in the fall only.  I do use an organic lawn fertilizer, it is not as quick to green up the lawn, but I feel that the plants are not as stressed.

I will use round up for poison ivy and bermuda grass, the other weeds I mow or cut out with a knife before they go to seed.  They then get thrown into my compost bin.  The rule of thumb is - if you let a weed go to seed, you're  fighting those seeds for 7 years.

My lawn is no longer ugly, or weed ridden.  It does have some weeds, but I am ok with that.  The neighbor to the right cuts her lawn to the ground. Filled with weeds.  Neighbor to the left uses the lawn company I used about 6 years ago.  His lawn is dark green and weed free.  He is also paying about $1000 a year.

The birds are back because there are bugs and worms to eat.  The butterflies are incredible!  Every year there are more and more.  I think the addition of native plants and flowers have done a lot, but the absence of pesticides is truly the key.

Nest being built outside my bedroom window

A few pictures I took yesterday:
Japanese maple off of deck

Wall  slowly being covered up

view leaving my neighborhood

farm I pass every day for  the last 30 years

field in fog

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Gardening

Welcome Dominican Republic and Bhutan  -  51 countries and counting!

Well, finally got into my own garden this last couple of weeks.  Been very busy with the Master Gardener  Demonstration Garden in Frederick, MD.  Had A LOT of weeding to do.  Didn't have too much damage to my native garden.  I think I may have lost 2 perennial plants.  Ouch.

My native garden overrun with weeds

Very easy to pull weeds with uncompacted soil

Penstemon in front, Shasta daises in the back

Achillea on left, Monarda on right 

 I have decided to make more pathways that don't need any mowing.  My daughter has been collecting cardboard boxes for me over the winter.  (diaper boxes)     I laid those first to block and kill the grass and then spread weed block cloth over it.  It will hold down the cardboard pieces and give another layer to block weeds.  I used just cardboard and newspaper on the other paths and had just a few weeds last year.  No big problem.  I want to experiment and see if the weed block does a better job.

From the vegetable beds:



I have planted potatoes, lettuce and sugar snap peas.   I am sure I will have pretty pictures in few weeks.

On the home front, I found a cute perennial at Southern States for $4.  Bitterroot.  Never have seen it before, but it is very cute.


Carolina allspice- Calycanthus floridus

Small dogwood with rabbit damage.  Just the lower area is showing life.  We'll see.

Front yard rock garden.  Has Siberian iris, bugleweed, dahlias, liatris , contorted filbert, New England asters,and  false turtlehead - Chelone lyonii
dogwood in bloom in demonstration garden

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Paw Paw

Welcome to Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago.  49 countries!

Just a quick entry.  Paw Paws are in bloom this week.  It is a native, but I had never seen one growing up in the suburbs.  We have a small patch at the UMD Demonstration garden.  It is an understory tree and bears fruit that is supposed to taste like vanilla custard.

Asimina triloba

"The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit native to America. Individual fruits weigh 5 to 16 ounces and are 3 to 6 inches in length. The larger sizes will appear plump, similar to the mango. The fruit usually has 10 to 14 seeds in two rows. The brownish to blackish seeds are shaped like lima beans, with a length of 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches. Pawpaw fruits often occur as clusters of up to nine individual fruits. The ripe fruit is soft and thin skinned."© Copyright 1996,1999, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.

I planted a paw paw in my backyard last fall.  It is a slow grower and probably wont give fruit for a few years.

flower from the paw paw
From my seed trays:

I was very happy  to see the nasturtium seeds germinate.  They are like little stones, so I took a nail file to them to scrape away some of the outer shell.  This is called scarification.  Again, something I learned in my master gardening classes. 

Redbud trees in bloom also.  Another Maryland native.