Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Year In Review - Seasonal Observations A Guest Photo Essay by Judy Janowski

How quickly the gardening season comes and goes.
As quickly (and quietly) as each season flows.

We're always excited to begin.
We're saddened when the season ends.

Spring awakens hibernating bulbs.
You'll notice that bees also love.

Not just flowers but also bushes and trees.
Always a welcome sight to see.

Beware:  the month of May may bring
a surprise overnight snow covering everything.

All too soon we'll see dandelions in bloom.
At my house, within the flower beds most loom.

Spring flowers have come and gone.
It's time to mow one's lawn.

We notice other flowers now bloom.
A welcome sight each month of June.

So many flowers in bloom!
Overnight more zoom.

Stroll your garden at different times
as many photo ops you'll find.

At the end of the day be sure to take time
to enjoy nature's picture show shine.

Before you know it your vegetable garden will produce
a bountiful supply for your use.

Do take time to enjoy pollinators
who bring so much joy.

All too soon, yet none too soon,
one summer day sunflowers bloom.

Every August morning - harvest.
It was worth it.  Can't wait!

Look what else morning brings!
There's a time and a season for everything.

Gardeners are happy when harvest arrives.
Their work paid off and vegetables survived.

All too soon it's autumn.
Much work awaits to be done.

The hill is more colorful each passing day.
Too soon, this season hurridly makes way.

Garden cleanup as frost in the forecast.
A bountiful harvest.

In the morn, hoarfrost
means flowers are lost.

Quietly snow descends.
One season ends, another begins.

How quickly the year went by.
A new year before us lies.

Seed catalogs daily arrive
keeping the dream alive.

We peruse with much anticipation;
we forget the suffering that gardening brings.

It was worth it in the end.

Judy Janowski is a writer, photographer and gardener and she is a member of Elmira Garden Club in upstate New York. Visit her blog at to see more of her garden poetry and photography. Her latest book is Life Is a Garden Party Volume II. FMI click here

Sunday, February 4, 2018


The National Capital Area Garden Clubs' Judges Council will kick off the flower show season this March.  This Standard Flower Show is open to garden club members and guests. Mark your calendars and come join the fun! How about lunch out with your garden club friends and carpool to the show???

River Views
An NGC Standard Flower Show

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 1:30 3:00 p.m.
Open and Free to the public, parking near or on site

At the home of

Shirley and Frank Nicolai River View

12325 Hatton Point Road Fort Washington, Maryland 20744 

Presented By

The Council of Accredited Flower Show Judges

of The National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc.

Member of

National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Central Atlantic Region of State Garden Clubs, Inc. 

National Capital Area Garden Clubs Inc.

The Purpose of an NGC Flower Show is:
  •   To educate club members and viewing public,
  •   To stimulate interest in horticulture and floral design,
  •   To provide an outlet for creative expression,
  •   To communicate NGC goals and objectives.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Mother's Marigolds - A Guest post by Jenny Sullivan

When we have a break in the weather, a touch of warmth in the middle of the bitter cold of January or February, I retrieve from my garage the shoe box where I store flower seeds. At my kitchen table I lay the packets out like an array of gorgeous photographs spread out on a magazine editor’s desk, photos the editor must somehow choose from among to decide which will be published.  My yard has room for only about 10% of the seeds that lie before me. I admire the envelopes of new seeds with their handsome pictures of purple delphinium, mixed dahlias, orange butterfly weed. I peek into the brown bags of my harvested seeds with the dried heads of straw flowers, daisies, and Echinacea and pretend that I could plant them all in my half acre yard. I can’t. But every year, the seeds from Mother’s marigolds make the cut.

I never travelled home from a visit to my parents in Norfolk in the summer that Dad didn’t ask me, “Don’t you want to take back some tomatoes and cucumbers?” Certainly I did. And if the marigolds were just coming up, Mother sent me home with sprouts carefully set into a Tupperware container of dirt for transport.  If the season was nearing the end, I was welcome to deadhead the plants for seeds. No reasonable person would have turned down the offer. Just look at those marigolds.

      Although I like the marigolds mainly because Mother got me started, that is not all they have going for them. The variety in my yard, Tegetes patula, is just so pretty. They’re not elegant and beautiful like calla lilies or gladioli, but no flowers could be more “just plain pretty.” Their curly petals with their brilliant golds and oranges just shy of red are packed onto the heads. Their deep green leaves are so dense that they form a ground cover. Where there are no leaves and flowers, there are buds-- all summer long. Everything about marigolds screams vigor and abundance.

     They have a sweet peppery smell, almost like carnations. Carnations are perhaps making a comeback after years of being held in disdain by floral elites and effetes. But when I was a teenager, every year on the Saturday before Easter, Turpin’s flower shop truck would pull up to our house in the late afternoon with carnation corsages from my father for my mother, my big sister, and me. I sat in church on Easter Sunday with my nose buried in that corsage perched up at my shoulder and swooned over that pungent fragrance. The scent of the marigolds in my garden always takes me back there.

     And marigolds are so easy to grow. Give them some decent soil and decent sunlight, and they will grow for you. Give them better soil and full sunlight, and they will reward you with glorious profusion. The seeds are easy to harvest, and the plants self-seed like crazy, unless you live on a hill and all the seeds wash away in the rain.

     I have never spent any money on marigolds. Mine, of course, came from my mother’s yard, about 20 years ago! These same marigolds have yielded seeds that have gone to friends all over northern Virginia and are the reason the rectory garden at my church looks so good even after the lilies, Russian sage, and phlox behind the marigolds have faded.  I have a picture of myself baking my fruitcakes around Thanksgiving time, and bright, fresh, happy marigolds adorn my kitchen table—in November! I have spent not a dime nursing my marigolds. No pests or diseases have ever attacked them. In fact, people use marigolds in their vegetable gardens to repel little buggers and nematodes that would go after the tomatoes and strawberries on the surface and underground.

     Marigolds are trending these days because of all the uses of them in medicine and cooking. They are said to be good for treating skin rashes, abrasions, and insect bites.  Organically grown, they can serve as a poor man’s saffron and enhance soups and salads. But who cares? All a marigold needs to do is be pretty. That is why my mother loved them. That is why she wanted me to have the beauty of them. And that is why I will grow them every summer as long as I am flexible enough to bend down and scatter the seeds.

Jenny Sullivan became a garden club member here in Northern Virginia, after retiring from 42 years of teaching English.  She has authored two books in retirement, From My Father’s House, a southern novel click FMI and The Purpose-Driven Life: A Children’s Catechism click FMI.  Jenny will be teaching a course on Flannery O’Connor in the spring for Arlington County’s Encore Learning Program for Seniors.