Archive for February, 2009

If you are going to garden you might as well know what you are talking about and do it in an environmentally sensitive way. Why not want to take advantage of these Free workshops that Henrico County is sponsoring?

Henrico County Extention hosts a lawn-care seminar March 10-12 with a program on weed control.
The seminars are 7-8:30 p.m. at the following locations (pick one): March 10, Varina Branch Library
March 11, Tuckahoe Area Library
March 12, Twin Hickory Area Library

“Lawn Weed Control” will provide information about a broad range of weed topics, including the use of herbicides and the application of pre- and post-emergence products to control weeds before and after they appear. Participants are encouraged to bring samples for identification and discussion. The seminar will include a question-and-answer period as well. Each session will be led by an Extension staff member or a Henrico Master Gardener.

“Lawn Weed Control” is free and open to the public; however,
participants should pre-register. Call 501-5160 to register or to obtain
additional information.

Participants can also learn more about Henrico Extension’s SMART Lawns program, a seasonal, comprehensive program that teaches a step-by-step approach to building healthy lawns. SMART Lawns, which teaches environmentally responsible practices, provides participants a plan tailored to fit their specific lawn-care needs. Contact the Extension Office for more information.


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Free Trees! Yes Free!

Two years ago, I participated in the Henricopolis free tree giveaway. It was great, I came home with 10 new shrubs and trees and they are doing really well — except for the dogwood my husband killed with the weed whacker.   You can be sure I’ll be at the tree give-away again this year, to replace that dogwood and get some more free trees.   The volunteers are great, giving planting advice and these are some really good tree and shrub choices for this region (read on for the varieties). 

Planting trees helps the environment, helps the James River, and can help lower your heating and cooling bill too.  The free trees are available to all Henrico County residents.

The Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD) will hold its annual spring tree-seedling giveaway for Henrico County residents on Friday, March 20 at the Hermitage High School parking lot, 8301 Hungary Spring Road. Trees will be given away free of charge beginning at 8:30 a.m. until supplies run out.

HSWCD will offer 13 species of bare-root seedlings, including red bud, white and red osier dogwood, bald cypress, red maple and white oak. Information about individual species and guidelines for planting seedlings are available on the conservation district’s Web site at www.co.henrico.va.us/swcd.

The seedling giveaway is part of HSWCD’s ongoing efforts to
protect the James River watershed by reducing runoff and sediment flows into local streams.

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What struck me most about Felder Rushing’s presentation last week at our Gardening in an Era of Climate Change symposium was that for him (and for me) gardening is all about nostalgia and doing what you love.

It is about plants that have been grown for generations by our grandparents or great grandparents. It is about remembering people we love through the experience of growing plants together. And it is about doing what we want with our gardens just because we want to and it feels good (even if it means a blue bottle tree that your neighbors might frown upon)green-bot.  (photos courtesy of Felder Rushing)

 If we are lucky to have someone we love to teach us about plants as Felder had his grandmother, we revel in telling the story of each plant in our garden — and we are able to remember plants as sacred. The redbud tree that came from a volunteer from my mother’s garden. The daffodil and starflower bulbs that I dug up from our old house and brought with me when we moved, despite the huge effort it took to pack “just a few more things.”  The strawberry begonia from my Nana Ruby. The volunteer magnolia that my father-in-law brought in a 5-gallon paint bucket from Savannah. The corkscrew willow cutting that a vendor gave my 2-year-old daughter at the Maymont Flower & Garden Show 6 years ago — that now stands 25-feet tall. All of these plants have a story. All of these plants are easy reminders of why I garden.

I am incredibly grateful for Felder reminding me that even in today’s world  it is important to still make time for gardening. It is so importatnt to remmber  how important it is to make time to continue that tradition with my own children. blue-bottle1 (If you are interested in this topic, make sure you check out our next symposium in April– No Child Left Inside: Restoring Nature to Early Childhood )
I still remember the priceless gift my own mother gave me at age 5 when she let me have my own 2-foot by 2-foot triangle section of her big garden. It was better than any sandbox I’d ever seen, and grew the best carrots I’d ever tasted.
If you are looking for inspiration in gardening, look no further. Felder Rushing offers that and much more in this podcast:

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I’m happy to announce Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s first ever podcast. Last week we brought Allan Armitage to the Garden as part of our Gardening in an Era of Climate Change symposium, in celebration of the Garden’s 25th anniversary. What we got was pure inspiration. And an incredibly fun and humorous presentation on how gardening has changed in today’s world. As Armitage says, remembering our inspiration for gardening is what its all about.
“You can’t be old and be a gardener – we are always working towards the future,” he says. Armitage reminds us that we garden because of the emotional reward and the anticipation. Getting back to the basics of what inspires us, rather than being distracted by trying to choose between 25 types of coral bells is what it’s all about.
Involving our children in gardening is critical, he says. Here is the link to the American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Gardening symposium that Armitage references.

Stay tuned to this blog for more inspiring podcasts by Felder Rushing next week. Also, we’d like to offer our thanks: this symposium and other 25th anniversary programs are made possible by generous support of the Robins Foundation.

OK, take it away Dr. A…


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Everybody seems to have their own favorite pick for the White House Farmer. Mine of course is Charlie Collins, who happens to be a good friend and the farmer at Victory Farms CSA.   Secretly, I’m glad he didn’t win (Charlie came in 8th)  since I was dreading loosing him to the Obamas. 

But, as GardenRant’s  Susan Harris points out, the  voting for the White House Farmer brought in almost 56,000 votes in 10 days.  If nothing else, this speaks to how important the local gardening movement has become and how passionate (and wired) its members are.

Now, all the gardening community has to do is convince Obama that this would be an important first step in setting an example that the whole country could follow.  Here are the winner’s statements.  Who do you think should farm at the White House?

Carrie Little and Claire Strader write:

It is a great honor for us to be recognized by our communities as potential candidates for the first White House Farmer. We are thrilled by the possibility of converting a portion of the lovely White House lawn into a lively vegetable farm. As vegetable, fruit, and flower growers, we know that a well-managed organic farm can be at least as beautiful as a lawn and certainly more engaging, productive, and inspirational.

The fact that so many farmers were nominated for the White House farmer position and that so many individuals voted in this unique “election” speaks loudly to our combined interest in local, organic agriculture. As is made clear in each farmer’s nomination, there are many skilled growers who contribute significantly to local food movement throughout our country. We are all unique. We all have a somewhat different focus be it Community Supported Agriculture, or emergency food relief, or youth empowerment. Still, we share the common cause of feeding our local communities with the freshest, cleanest, most healthy food we can coax from the soil.

Taking personal responsibility to a new level by addressing the core issues of the Obama administration’s focus, this farm could be the example for the nation. It would clearly address economic insecurity, fuel conservation, climate change, and healthcare issues in a very tangible way. Collectively, this effort could be the center of the cultural shift needed to highlight the imperative that we need to eat locally and think globally.

Together we are working toward a new future of agriculture in our country. We believe that future is grounded in small-scale, organic food production that meets the nutritional needs of people within reach of the farm and is not shipped from coast to coast at great cost of fuel, freshness, and nutritional value.With the support of more and more eaters in our communities, that future is coming nearer. A White House farm and a White House farmer will be powerful symbols for this future of agriculture, not to mention a delicious resource for the DC community. No matter who becomes the first White House farmer we stand in support of the White House farm project and would be honored to bring our spades and worm castings and hula hoes to join in the effort!

Claire Strader, Troy Gardens

Carrie Little, Mother Earth Farm

Margaret Lloyd’s Statement

Change is here . . . in our backyards, in our communities, and in the White House.

By raising food at the White House, President Obama’s promise of change can include the most fundamental thing to Americans: the food they eat. For the First Family, the White House Farm would provide an opportunity to directly engage in agriculture, a place for inspiration and reflection, and the highest-quality, best-tasting food we the people can grow. To Americans, the White House Farm would show the President’s sincerity in his effort to address the hard issues within our food system, his support for local, organic food, and his openness to innovation. The White House Farm would also acknowledge the tireless work of more than a billion farmers worldwide, renewing America’s commitment to improve their conditions and alleviate hunger.

My farming experience inspired me to develop a system for growing food where people live, which led to my business, training people to become farmers at home, work and school. Now, I’m especially inspired by the surge of support for the White House Farm which has come from every corner – more than 55,000 voices. I’m also glad to learn of assistant Chef Kass’ taste for local produce.

The nominees are impressive and dedicated individuals, and I’m happy to see so many farmers on the same page. Thank you to all the people who participated in this wonderful grassroots movement! President Obama’s own election has reminded us of the potency of commitment and community. It is this commitment and community effort that can revolutionize America’s food system.

Thank you to the 5300 people who have supported me so far. I owe a big thanks to my sister Alex and brother-in-law Tom who really fired up the engines. Also, my brother, parents, family, all my friends and clients, the UC Davis community, and the people of Davis, who put their heart into spreading the word. Yes we did!  The work has just begun. I’m ready for the next step.

All this talk of urban gardening is just getting me excited not only for the first vegetables to start coming in from our local CSAs in April, but even more importantly about the urban gardening movement in general.  It won’t be long before Lewis Ginter is hosting <strong>”Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness”</strong> a 25th anniversary symposium, August 4-5th.    

If we are lucky, the Obama’s garden-farm will at the height of producing summer’s bounty of vegetables — right in the middle of one of the most urban gardens in America.

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