DC Victory Gardens, Food and Drink, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, We Green DC

How Does Your DC Garden Grow?

It’s already that time, you guys! That’s how you know spring is almost here…. it’s seed sowing time. I’m so excited to start in on my vegetable garden, I’ve got my grow light out, I’ve got all my books (this and this) on my coffee table and I’ve been madly perusing the Seed Savers Exchange website. But I got a little overwhelmed with where and when, exactly, to start, so last weekend I sat down  to talk a little bit with Meredith Shepherd of the DC-based organic home gardening service Love & Carrots and get her advice for starting your own small home garden.

Here are a few of her tips:

  • Grow herbs. Meredith advises the best way to get started gardening is to design and grow a small herb garden, especially if you’re a renter. Her favorites are lavender, sweet woodruff, lemon verbena and chives.
  • Don’t over water or under water. Read up on what you plant and what kind of soil and water level it needs so you don’t waste your time or drown your plants. (She told me I should be keeping my rosemary separate from the rest of my herbs because it likes it a bit drier.)
  • Salad greens can grow in the shade, especially the “cut and come again” varieties. This is handy if you live on a narrow street and don’t have much sunlight.
  • The District proper is a plant hardiness zone warmer than the rest of the surrounding DMV area. This is handy to know when you’re trying to figure out when and what to plant.

Overwhelmed? Love & Carrots can help. Meredith’s service offers everything from consulting (a one-time service where she helps you think it all through) to coaching (you set up regular appointments where they teach you everything you need to know, complete with syllabus and notes emailed to you after), or full plant-and-care service done by her staff.

After confessing the way growing a garden makes me feel like I’m sticking it to big agriculture (Monsanto, I’m looking right at you), Meredith agreed. “I feel like I’m bringing back a part of culture,” she said about Love & Carrots. “All our grandparents had gardens, it just makes sense.”

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Entertainment, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, The Great Outdoors, Tourism

Tourism: Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Photo courtesy of
‘Hillwood Museum’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

Hidden up in Van Ness, Hillwood Museum and Gardens is a few acres of green, colorful, luxe heaven. The tagline for the museum is “where fabulous lives” and I think that is the best possible way to sum up the place.

You drive up to the gates (yes, it is gated, they also recommend you have reservations to visit the grounds, though that is not required, we did not) and a guard lets you in. You drive up a windy, steep azalea-lined road, and are directed to the visitors center where you check in. The suggested donation is $12, and not particularly suggested, much more mandatory. But well worth it. After you are given a map and the lay of the land by guides, you’re set free to roam the house and the gardens.

There are many, many gardens to explore at Hillwood. There is the french parterre, the rose garden, a putting green, a Japanese-style garden, a lunar lawn, and a cutting garden. But I think it might be easier to show you, than tell you what those are like. Continue reading

Essential DC, Tourism

Tourism: United States Botanic Gardens

flowers at US Botanical Gardens

So the doldrums have hit. It’s cold. You’ve got on your scarf, your hat, your gloves, and soon we’ll upgrade and add in some ear muffs and your heaviest coat. It’s the perfect time to plan your winter escape to the United States Botanic Gardens. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (including holidays and weekends!) the conservatory is a large glassed-in garden-topia. You can get there a number of ways, but my lovely roommate and I took the metro to Federal Center and walked a quick few blocks to the West side front lawn of the Capitol.

The conservatory is split into different plant-type sections, for example, one for orchids and one for the desert, etc. (Wow, am I a botinast or what?) And then there’s a big huge rainforest in the middle stretching two or three stories high. It’s humid and somewhere around 78 degrees, kind of like a mild DC summer day. It’ll bring nostalgic flashbacks of those wonderful, warm days of yore. Short on cash? The US Botanic Gardens admission is free, like all the best things in DC.

So aside from the rainforest, and the desert, there is plenty more to see at the Botanic Gardens…

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