Thursday, April 13, 2017

Score One for the Stubborn Cuss

Let me start this post by just telling you I'm stubborn.
I could give up but I just don't see the point.

For the past several years I've killed my tulips by submerging them in moisture-retentive soil designed to keep my summer plants happy.

There was no happy medium. 
What made the tulips happy, brought death and despair to the summer annuals. 

Being a stubborn cuss, I tried method after method to solve this problem, to no avail. The more I failed, the more irritated I became. Come hell or high water, I was going to solve this stupid problem and I'd do it cheaply. Ha!

So I scheduled a drought and stuffed my bulbs into wire baskets lined with burlap and filled with old soil. Logic dictates that a container full of holes should drain exceedingly well. Logic won and I have tulips. Score one for the Tamster!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sweet as Candy

I'm a sucker for a sweet surprise

The 'Candy Showers Red' trailing snapdragons I grew from seed have already started blooming! 

 and the pure joy of the unexpected.

It's a reminder that sometimes just letting go

to see what happens next 

Some of the plants I've grown from seed have been moved to the patio to enjoy the warm temps. I have others still under grow lights.

is more rewarding and authentic 

than anything you could have planned.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Love a Gardener Redux

I originally posted this in 2015 but it's one of my faves so here it is again.

I'm convinced most gardeners see the world a bit differently than others. We all know real love is announced through all the small things that are - or are not - done through out the year rather than a single grand gesture on a manufactured holiday. But if you wanted to woo your favorite gardener, how would you do it? Rest easy and follow these steps. You are guaranteed to make an impression.

When the gardener is covered with compost and sweat, avoid statements such as, "What the hell happened to you? Were you hit by a a manure truck?" and "Sweet Mother of God, you smell like a goat." Instead, while they're showering find a way to make dinner magically appear, quickly pay the delivery person, and open a bottle of wine.  

Instead of traditional chemical-laden roses and cheap box of candy, consider this approach, "I've hired David Austin and his landscaping crew to dig up the rest of the lawn and personally select a dozen of his most fragrant roses for you to enjoy all summer. When I told them I was trying to romance you, he suggested I buy the 'In the Mood' package." 

Hey, baby! The landscapers are here!

Instead of telling the gardener the pink things by the yellow flowers next to the bushes look good, try Latin. "The planting of silene and tulips near the osmanthus 'Goshiki' is beautiful" just might help you get lucky. But butchering the Latin and telling them the "sireen and tulips by the gohsweeki are really nice" is probably better than nothing.

But if you really want some lovin', snuggle up close and whisper in his/her ear, " I cleaned, sharpened, and organized all your tools."

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Growing Addiction

There is something about success that is addicting, 
as if a giant sign suddenly appeared that said 
"You've figured this out so do it again!"

It doesn't matter if what you're doing is mindlessly easy to others. We all have our own mountains to climb.

I grow a lot of rudbeckia hirta because it's so easy. This year I'm also growing the herb monarda citriodora. I bought a few organic plants last year (pink flowers above) and loved them so much, I'm starting them from seed. They're also super easy.

I've figured out how to grow many annuals from seed but don't be impressed. I specialize in growing plants that are easy to grow but I'm ok with that.
 Life's hard enough. 
I don't need to make it harder by torturing myself. 

'Frosted Flames' snapdragons have cool variegated foliage

The vast majority of the plants you buy at garden centers and even many online nurseries are full of pesticides so every annual I want that attracts pollinators is grown from seed. Sometimes I grow a few herbs, too, although the organic ones are pretty easy to find.

Most of these plants were grown from seed.

It's not hard.

Pink 'Summer Jewel' salvia grows and blooms quickly.

I buy big red plastic drink cups and poke holes in the bottom with a hot screwdriver I've heated on my stove. I fill them with moist soil and scatter the seeds on top. The only seeds I ever bury are the big ones. I cover the cups with plastic sandwich bags and put them on a heat mat under some cheapo grow lights. 

Seed grown dahlias are pollinator magnets

It's not hard.  

Once the seeds sprout, I take off the plastic bags. This year I'm starting almost 50 different types of seeds. I'd probably grow more if I had the room. Is that crazy? Maybe. But life's short so a little crazy is ok, too. It beats boring.

Cups full of monarda 'Bergamo' and monarda citriodora

This summer when my patio pots are bursting with organically grown, pollinator friendly plants I can stand back and say, "I did this!" 

To track how my plants are progressing, check out my So Seedy page.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Beautiful Madness

I'm still here.

I've just been crazy busy juggling a career while serving as director of the 2017 Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling.

My garden is one of the stops on the Fling.

But that's ok. Crazy doesn't bother me.

 Nothing much has changed. 

I enjoyed this container grouping so much I'm repeating it 
next summer.

My dogs dug new holes 
after I filled in 
all the old ones and
 are still pooping in the garden
 when they think I'm not looking.

I redesigned my shade garden
 - again - 
because it's become an annual event. 

I'd much rather make traveling here 

or here 

with him

 an annual event but it hasn't happened yet. 
My talents apparently lie only in buying plants
 but not actually designing anything with them.

 If I ever tried to make it as a designer 
I'd be living in a van down by the river.

Native anemone canadensis spreads vigorously, suffocating everything in its path. I redesigned this area with plants whose leaves are large enough to shade out the anemones, hopefully slowing them down.

I updated my So Seedy 2017 page and
 am planning on starting more seeds 
than I have room for.

 But that's ok, too. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

2017 Capital Region Fling Registration Info

I'm having a party! Are you coming? I hope so! Here's everything you need to know about registering for the 2017 Capital Region Garden Bloggers FlingThe Fling will be held from 6 pm Thursday, June 22 to 8 pm Sunday, June 25.


Registration is $300 and payable with all major credit cards. I'm using Eventbrite to manage our registration and there is a $17 processing fee. You also have the option to add-on a wine tasting at Stone Tower Winery. Only those who have purchased this prior to the Fling will be able to participate. We'll be having lunch at Stone Tower and they'll be setting up a special tasting just for us in the beautiful event space we've reserved. Wineries are busy places on summer weekends so purchasing this ahead of time guarantees you a chance to sample our amazing Virginia wines. 

If you'd like to add the wine tasting, it's available on the final 'Pay Now' page. You also have the opportunity to Opt-In to receive information from our sponsors. This is an excellent way to learn more about these wonderful companies. Only registrants who have Opted-In will have their email given to our sponsors.  


Registration opens at 12 noon (Eastern Time) on Saturday, October 15. To register send an email to  In the email, include your name, a link to your blog, and how long you've been blogging. I'll visit your blog to make sure it's at least six months old and includes at least one post written on or after April 15. If there's an issue, I'll email you back. If not, you'll receive an email from Eventbrite with an invitation to our private registration page. Early registration is not available unless you have previously sponsored a Fling. 


No. Registration has been set up to allow each blogger to only purchase one ticket at a time. If you write your blog with another person, they'll need to register separately.


No. While our registration is higher, we've been given an excellent room rate of $159 a night at the beautiful Hyatt at Reston Town Center, which is lower than previous Flings. The Hyatt also offers a free shuttle from Dulles International Airport, eliminating the extra expense of a cab. The Thursday night Welcome event will feature a full dinner instead of just appetizers, courtesy of the amazing folks at American Meadows and High Country Gardens. These savings reduce the cumulative cost of the Fling, making it the same as previous Flings.


Once your registration has been confirmed, I'll send you an email with the link to the Fling-only Hyatt registration site. A code has been applied giving everyone a special rate. If you reserve your room before being given this code, you'll pay a much higher rate. If you want to extend your stay, the Hyatt is offering the same rate on June 21st, 26th, and 27th based on availability so book the extra days as soon as possible to avoid paying the standard rate. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Party at the Casa! Are You Coming?

I'm having a party and you're invited! I'm hosting the 2017 Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling and I want you to come! The 2017 Fling is open to garden bloggers from around the world and will feature amazing gardens in Washington DC, northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland. It's going to be awesome!

Here's the scoop:

What are the dates/times and who can come?

We begin at 6 pm on Thursday, June 22 and end at 8 pm on Sunday, June 25, 2017  Any garden blogger with a blog at least six months old by the registration date that contains a minimum of one post written on or after April 15, 2016 is welcome to join us.

What do you do at the Fling?

Think of the Fling as the ultimate garden tour. You'll be surrounded by other gardeners as passionate about gardening as you are. Bloggers are interesting, intelligent, creative people and visiting gardens with them is an incredible experience. Have you ever wondered about the people behind your favorite blogs? This is your chance to meet them! 

Enjoying lunch by a lake at the 2016 Minneapolis Fling. Photo by Helen Battersby

Ok, so what are we going to do at the Capital Region Fling?

We'll be visiting the amazing Smithsonian gardens along the National Mall in Washington DC. You'll have several hours to self-tour this area which will probably include a bathroom break in one of our world famous museums.  We'll also be visiting the incredible US Botanic Garden as well as a few other fabulous DC gardens. Did you know there's an urban "farm" right in the middle of DC?

In Maryland and northern Virginia, we'll be exploring amazing private and public gardens as well as visiting a very cool local winery. There will also be an opportunity to shop at one of the premier nurseries in our area. Check out this interactive story map for a sneak peek into our itinerary!

There are twelve Smithsonian gardens along the National Mall. 

What is the Capital Region?

The Capital Region includes the surrounding suburbs outside DC that are home to most of the people who keep the nation's capital running. DC is a small city and doesn't have enough space to house everybody who works there. Waking up in Virginia, commuting into DC, and then popping into Maryland is very common. Believe it or not, you'll probably lose track of what state we're in while you're here. One of the unique characteristics of the Capital Region is its geographic diversity. Within 45 miles of the White House you can find numerous historic towns such as Arlington, Alexandria, and Annapolis, world class wineries, beautiful farm land, and views of the Chesapeake Bay and Blue Ridge mountains.   

Did you know there's a house in Maryland with a sidewalk in DC?

When can I register and how much does it cost?

Registration opens at noon (Eastern time) on Saturday, October 15, 2016. The cost is $300 and is payable through all major credit cards. Registration is expected to fill up quickly so mark your calendar so you don't forget! 

How do I register?

As soon as registration opens, send an email to the Capital Region Fling committee that includes the following info: Your name, how old your blog is, and a link to your blog. We'll quickly confirm that your blog meets the registration criteria and will send you a response with a link to our invitation-only Eventbrite site to register for the Fling. Once you've registered through Eventbrite and your payment has been processed, you're all set! 

Where can I find this information?

About two weeks before registration opens, I'll post a reminder on my blog. There will also be information available on the Garden Bloggers Fling webpage and in the Facebook group. I'll post the email you'll use to contact us on October 1 but won't begin responding until noon (Eastern time), Saturday, October 15. To make it fair for everyone early registration isn't an option unless you have previously sponsored a Fling. 

What does my registration fee cover?

Your fee covers the expenses related to the Fling including admission and transportation to each garden, fresh from the farm appetizers at our Welcome! party on Thursday night, and lunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well as dinner on Sunday. You will pay for your transportation to the Fling and your hotel expenses. We're staying at a beautiful Hyatt at the Reston Town Center and have been given a special Fling-only room rate. There will be multiple opportunities to win incredible door prizes supplied by our sponsors so leave some space in your suitcase for all the swag.

We'll be traveling in air conditioned comfort thanks to the luxury coaches and mini-buses of Reston Limo.

Are we going to be visiting your garden?

Yes! While my garden doesn't compare to the others we'll be visiting, it's my pleasure to welcome you to the Casa! I hope to see you there.

Are you coming?