Home & Gardens

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
05/04/2016 - 10:42am
The month of May, jam-packed with proms and Mothers’ Day celebrations, is synonymous with roses.  Whether we grow our own, or buy stems at Eastern Market, the rose remains the most loved flower of all for many of us. Many do not know that the rose is the official flower of DC.   ‘American Beauty’ became the District’s flower in 1925, when it was the most cultivated rose in the US.  This hybrid rose originated in France, and its individual stems... >>more
05/04/2016 - 10:12am
There are many perks to living in DC, but did you know that as a DC resident or business you also qualify for rebates for purchasing energy-saving appliances, cooling and heating systems, and lighting – regardless of your income bracket? The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) offers discounts and rebates to help residents and businesses use less energy and save moneythrough energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. This is a resource that every DC resident or... >>more
05/04/2016 - 9:42am
What can I plant to hide the old leaves of daffodils? And, when my Virginia bluebells die back to nothing, as they do – and my white bleeding heart also disappears from view, as always – what should I put in their space that will not interfere with the bulbs and the Dicentra roots? You are right to allow spent tulips and daffodils to keep their leaves, thus replenishing their bulbs. Mask the spent leaves with any sun-loving perennial or annual, from lady’s mantle to Rudbekia... >>more