Home & Gardens

04/18/2017 - 9:10am
Planning and Planting Around a Finicky Season Spring for all of its beauty and wondrous renewal can be dark, often voracious. Plants have to grow at accelerated rates to please this finicky season. All the while our rapacious creditor gives no guarantee of success for their efforts. Spring takes from the delicate and quickly devours the fragile – part selection of the fittest, part only the strong surviving, with a sprinkle of Mother Nature’s twisted sense of humor. Spring can... >>more
04/17/2017 - 10:12am
Our new townhouse back yard is entirely unplanted. There is a brick patio at the back door, a nine-foot wood fence around three sides, and nothing. What perennials do you suggest we might plant first? The Problem Lady loves a tabula rasa, but not if it exists inside the gardener’s own mind! Please stop all planting plans for a few seconds to focus on some questions: What purpose must this back yard serve in your life? A place to sunbathe? Meditate? Entertain? Impress your mother? Grow... >>more
03/30/2017 - 1:40pm
The Smithsonian Associates’ March program, “Vertical Gardens,” sold out in advance. About 120 gardeners of all ages spent two hours in the S. Dillon Ripley Center with three young, highly educated, tech-savvy farmer-entrepreneurs who are leaders in the burgeoning urban agriculture movement here in DC, and nationally. These folks are the farthest thing from the back-to-the-land hippies of yore. Niraj Ray, founder of Cultivate the City (www.cultivatethecity.com/), and Mary... >>more
03/11/2017 - 12:12pm
How hot does it get in DC in the summer? It’s already been such a hot winter. Welcome, stranger! DC temperatures can exceed 100 degrees F for days on end. Remember how 19th-century denizens simply fled “the swamp” every summer – to Cleveland Park or New England – long before Mr. Trump planned to “drain” it. Summers here can also be rainless. Do find flowers in the “drought tolerant” category. To my ear it sounds pretentious when some of my... >>more
03/11/2017 - 11:12am
Creeping, crawling, feeding under the covers of night. They move in swiftly, only to retreat soon after to the safety of cracks and crevices. They’re called bed bugs. At least two DC Public Schools (DCPS) buildings have reported incidents of bed bugs in the last two months: Savoy Elementary School (2400 Shannon Place SE) and Miner Elementary School (601 15th St. NE). Savoy closed in early February because of the problem. Miner remains open. These two infestations are part of a much larger... >>more
03/11/2017 - 10:12am
Over the past decade spring has been anything but predictable. How does an avid gardener adjust? This new, unpredictable climate seems to be the norm. How do we as gardeners decide what to plant and when to plant it? Do we dig everything up and create a Colorado-inspired rock garden? Do we make weekly trips to the garden center to buy plants only to have them freeze, fry, or die because they have come from a warm cozy greenhouse into a volatile climate?  It seems as though sometimes the... >>more
03/09/2017 - 11:12am
The West Wing of the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany in the National Museum of Natural History houses 4.8 million dried pressed plants, the oldest of which was collected in the 1500s. Capitol Hill resident Alice Tangerini has drawn well over 1,000 of them in her role as the museum’s botanical illustrator. Her illustrations appear in scientific journals published worldwide and may be seen in the Smithsonian’s online Catalog of Botanical Illustrations: http://botany.si.edu/... >>more
03/09/2017 - 10:12am
On a chilly January morning I pulled up to an old stable located in an alley off of Florida Avenue in DC’s Trinidad neighborhood. An exuberant man popped out of a door. “You found it! Welcome to my Dwell!” With that I entered into David Bernhardt’s Dwell, the “tongue-in-cheek” name he gave this project when his wife told him that she would live in any abode as long as the end product would be worthy of a writeup in Dwell, an architectural and design magazine... >>more
03/08/2017 - 11:12am
Of course you do! But true love requires a commitment. Under your roof is your home, most people’s most valuable asset. You can easily see when the paint or drywall inside your home needs to be redone, when you need new carpets or flooring, or when you need to replace your front stairs. But you probably can’t see the roof and have no idea what the condition is from year to year. You need to make sure the roof is properly maintained to protect that most valuable asset! It’s not... >>more