Beauty Berry…and WOW ..YOU CAN GROW THAT!

Callicarpa Americana …Callicarpa japonica…….I have to catch my breath after uttering these words.  This shrub takes my breath away every time I see it in it’s autumn splendor.

Used by Native American Indians for medicinal purposes, this native shrub has an interesting history.  Multiple parts of this shrub were boiled and used in sweat baths to treat rheumatism, colic, itchy skin,certain types of malaria and numerous other diseases.  Many birds and animals also cherish the stem, leaves and berries as a food source. We tend to appreciate Beautyberry shrubs for their ornamental flowers in the Spring and the fruit clusters in the fall.  It is a beautiful way to remember fall, while providing food for wildlife during the winter months.  
Callicarpa usually ranges from about 3 – 6 feet in height, but can take a heavy pruning in late winter to control its growth.It blooms from late spring to early summer with pinkish or violet blossom that are inconspicuously held in clusters along the stem.  The difference between the two species is mostly in the branching.  The Americana holds its fruit on long stems away from the main branch.  Japonica or the Japanese Callicarpa has long skinny leafed, weeping branches and the fruit is held in clusters all along the stem.  To some, these shrubs also have an aromatic hay like scent. This makes it a phenomenal statement in the landscape.
Mostly found in thickets from Maryland to Florida.  It loves dry, open wooded areas and is adaptable to humid summers and moderate winters.  
Japonica – narrow leaves and weeping form
Callicarpa Americana – larger berries and longer branches…simply stunning in the landscape!!

Callicarpa ……… is a wonderful shrub to invite into your garden…..YOU CAN GROW THAT!!!

Bulbs…………..they are easier than you think!!

Usually at this time of the year, as I am prepping my garden for fall, I wander into my garden room and find bulbs that I have tucked away.  Last year I went to Clyburn Arboretum (a must see if you re into the beauty that surrounds you!!) in Baltimore and happened upon their bulb sale.  The tulip and daffodil display that dotted the landscape was phenomenal, so I had to purchase some bulbs to support their ongoing educational opportunities.

Although the tags have now faded, so exactly what cultivars I have, well I am not quite sure – but most are still firm and some even have bulb-lets……

As with most gardeners, early Spring got away from me and therefore, I did not store them properly…however 98% survival is not bad.

So let’s talk about how simple it is to have an outstanding bulb display in your garden.  If you have bulbs from last season and they were stored in a clean and dry spot you are fortunate.  Improper storage of bulbs can lead to rotting and sometimes total disintegration.  Nothing like thinking that a package of bulbs is viable when there is merely a shell with nothing inside.  Gently squeeze any bulbs for firmness.  If all is lost there are many resources where fresh bulbs can be purchased.  If you mail order, use reputable resources for quality bulbs.  I highly recommend Brent and Becky’s for mail order.  Don’t forget your local small garden centers, without our support, they will surely disappear.

Deciding where you will plant the bulbs is your next most important step. On the back of packaged bulbs there is usually a guide to tell what lighting is needed, how deep, soil requirements, bloom time, etc.  These are written to ensure optimum growth and bloom.

I had my heart set on the taller snowdrops.  The botanical name is Leucojum aestivum. I purchased these at my local garden center Ginkgo Gardens on Capitol Hill. I have also ordered some but I believe in supporting local first.  Considered o be Giant Snowdrops, these bulbs have many of the attributes that I was looking for – they naturalize, deer resistant, late blooming, 14 – 16 inches tall, great for containers and great for rock gardens.

They are recommended to be planted at 5 inches deep and 12 bulbs per square foot.  These bulbs , also known as Summer Snowflakes require well drained soil, full sun to partial shade and definitely should be considered a must have for the garden.  The smaller, earlier blooming snowflakes – Galanthus Nivalis – are sometimes missed due to snowfall depth  or just too cold to linger in the garden to notice them.

Fall is also the right time to plant summer bulbs like lilies.  I marveled at a friend’s tree lillies offered by Breck’s. Mary Alice gifted me with a box this year and I will be putting them in as soon as possible.  These tree lillies stand taller than me and I am five foot, eight inches tall.  They are healthy and when they bloom, simply light up the garden.  Once again, the packaging inside gave me all the information that I need to ensure optimum success.  My box included red, purple, white and a golden yellow with names like Satisfaction and Garden Treasure..  Yes I am just too excited about the possibilities of them in next year’s garden.

So I suggest that while you are looking at the gaps in your garden or remembering all the fantabulous bulb displays of last Spring,, think about planting some bulbs.  YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!!!

Troll stairway. ….at least in my mind

There is a tree outside of my cul de sac.  I watched the most amazing thing appear over the past two months.  It looks like a troll or perhaps some garden fairies have begun their climb to the  top of the tree.  My imagination runs wild every morning as I wait to capture a quick glimpse of a  mystical creature.

Nature is awesome…….

Saturday at Old City Farm and Guild Festival….not just another day…………….

A few weeks ago my dad and I were going to mulch a bed he created in the middle of the front yard…but we decided against it because it was too hot.  We have to be a bit careful in the heat these days after his health scare earlier this summer.  I thought that a brief visit to visit Frank Asher at Old City Farm and Guild’s Home Grown DC Event was the wiser thing to do. In my world, when in doubt, find a festival or a party…because life is short….and there should always be time for FUN!!! Off we went to see what fun could we could fall into, on such a warm Saturday afternoon.

Look at those healthy plants!!!
Daddy beat me going into the festival…imagine that!

Well we were not disappointed.  The crowd was manageable and the festive spirit was in the air in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington DC.  My Dad reminisced about how he delivered papers in this area as a child and how much the area had changed. With development encroaching upon this historic neighborhood, the grounds of the Shaw Junior High School, 925 Rhode Island Avenue was looking more like an outdoor party than a small local garden center.  There were people who resided in DC, had grown produce from their own gardens, school groups/gardens and even a flower grower who had items for purchase. If you chose to be a participant, there were several categories that our own Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine, shared with the audience for judging. From the longest bean to the strangest looking vegetable, Kathy invited audience participation by clapping to see who would win.  I still think that one of those vegetables looked a little….well…you just  had to be there.  It looked like so much fun, just think to have an audience of strangers (but food aficionado’s) judging your homegrown vegetable – AWESOMNESS!!!  I wonder who won best pie?????  The garden community is such an awesome place to participate and belong.

Kathy Jentz in her awesomeness as Judge…

I am quite passionate about supporting local business people.  When I first visited Frank at Old City Farm and Guild, I noticed the pottery, healthy plant material, mulch, bee hives and propane….all in one place.  It was also rather neat that customers can participate in a CSA and pick up their produce delivered weekly to Old City Farm and Guild.  What an astute businessman or Pied Piper of Green to think of the necessities one might need in the center of the Shaw area from a grass roots perspective. The staff at Old City Farm and Guild all were quite eager to assist customers – even on this busy day of festivity..a smile …a Thank You for coming out….how awesome was that???  Frank Asher, I hope you are a permanent fixture in the Shaw neighborhood or at least in the DC area.  You are a needed component to a changing community….

Thinking I had tuckered my Dad out, I was planning on taking him back home.  He had other ideas.  Earlier this summer we were in one of the big box stores – looking at plants – when we over heard this lady sharing that there was this nursery off of Briggs Chaney Road and Old Gunpowder Road. that has excellent merchandise. Road warrior that I am, I was ready to put Dad in the truck and rush over to see what the offerings were.  That young man trains quickly and well…he was headed to the truck before I was!


Joy in the morning….

This little Hydrangea has been neglected all summer.  When I remembered that I had placed it in a pot, it had one bloom…that was July.

 This morning, I happened upon it again and it has three blooms.  Sometimes the things that bring us joy, we neglect….not on purpose, but we sometimes just forget to pause. Next year, I plan on taking more time and focus on planting more of what brings me joy….and sharing it.  

Now the muscari is poking through the soil anticipating Spring……Thank You Kathryn Hall for your words that  have made me pause, just a little bit more …..

PAUL……all is now right with the world…

After a whirlwind weekend picking Kale, raspberries and grapes….and enjoying nature, I was happily surprised to find that Paul opened today. 

What is Paul?  It was my favorite establishment  for a quick bite while visiting Paris.  Not a day went by that I did not enjoy watching the inner workings of the kitchen with rows and rows of delectable french pastries tempting my palette.   I would sit outside and patiently wait for my quiche and salad.  Sometimes I would stand and eagerly consider what I would carry out to enjoy at the Tuilleries to snack on as I people watched.

Well, I am home and PAUL is right across the street from my office.  As I sit here and enjoy a quiet personal grand opening….I am so glad PAUL is close by.


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