Home & Gardens

08/10/2016 - 11:07am
We are just back from a month’s vacation to find our shade garden looking quite wan. Any ideas for color and thrills this late in the season? You will be lucky to find best choices in, as you put it, “color and thrills this late in the season” among plants left in the stores. First you might revitalize the soil in your shade garden by giving it a light mulching (“top dressing”) of rich compost. Most shade-loving perennials have already had their blooming period,... >>more
08/10/2016 - 10:17am
If you’re short on garden space but love growing edibles, microgreens may be just what you’ve been looking for. Ditto if you’re a gardener who also wants instant gratification. Nothing tasting this good takes less space, less time, or less effort. Breaking the Rules Capitol Hill garden designer Gary Hallewell enjoys sitting on his Eighth Street rooftop vegetable garden at the end of a long, hot workday, watching his potted beans, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers grow. He even... >>more
08/10/2016 - 9:10am
Are you ready for a change of scenery? You don’t have to leave DC to achieve that. Stay at home, pull up a chair, pour a frosty beverage, and fan out a color paint deck. You’re in for a visual treat. Changing the exterior paint color of your home can chase away the doldrums and beautify your neighborhood. Stand out from the pack regardless of whether you are planning to sell your home or keep it. Tom Faison, realtor on the Hill, instructs his DC clients, “The first thing to... >>more
07/02/2016 - 10:42am
I have yet to identify a large plant in my garden of herbs. It smells like oregano and looks like mint – a very bitter taste when eaten. I’m thinking maybe Monarda. I’ve been Googling and asking experts but no definite answers. Do you have any thoughts? I do think Monarda is a best guess. Its leaves are a lot like mint leaves, but it smells like “bergamot” – not much help if one does not know that smell. It is the smell of Earl Gray tea bags. You have... >>more
07/02/2016 - 9:52am
Ari Novy, Ph.D., executive director of the US Botanic Garden (USBG), asked his staff how early in life they should start exposing people to plants. Their answer: At birth. So was born the infant program “Snugglers,” aimed at caregivers and their youngest children. This free program offers guided quiet time with plants, soft music, and lactation and changing stations. “The babies relax. The parents relax. It’s our most popular program,” says the enthusiastic Novy,... >>more
07/02/2016 - 9:10am
Let’s face it, as charming as our Capitol Hill Homes are, sometimes we just need more room. But after nesting into our favorite street and discovering the cool markets to get our favorite snacks, beer, and wines from, who wants to move? Or maybe we are thinking long-term financial security and figure that a rental unit could be an easy way to stay in the neighborhood we love and put money in the bank. Making additions to a row house can be tricky, especially if it sits in the historic... >>more
06/07/2016 - 11:10am
When should I start “feeding” my garden flowers? If you mean, when should you apply fertilizers to encourage flowering – maybe never. “Feed the soil, not the plant” is the mantra of experienced gardeners. While nutrients in one’s soil do get depleted, soil itself can be “fed” with regular additions of compost, manure, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, bloodmeal, bonemeal, and liquid seaweed. Clay soil can be top-dressed with such materials, even... >>more
06/07/2016 - 10:11am
With all the April and May rain, homeowners may be seeing wet walls and fearing that the long-delayed decision to tuck-point their historic bricks has reached the point of no return. Just the mention of removing and replacing old, crumbled mortar between bricks, a process known as tuck-pointing, can alarm a homeowner. There are horror stories of botched jobs, permitting nightmares, dust covering everything you own, and expenses that empty out your bank account. It is not a surprise that we put... >>more
06/07/2016 - 9:27am
Container gardens add great beauty to courtyards and terraces. They’re a triple aesthetic threat because in addition to beautiful plants there is the sculptural interest of the pots themselves plus the spatial complexity derived from using containers of different heights. As an ensemble they can make a small space look larger and more sophisticated without actually having to build anything. The downfall of container gardens is our local climate. Unless an irrigation system is in place,... >>more