public space in an area neighborhood

Cherries in the Kenwood neighborhood

It is nice to drive and see the spaces that are wonderfully maintained by either neighborhood gardeners or even the jurisdictions themselves. Who does the maintenance of these public spaces is not as important as that it is being done and we the public get to enjoy it. In neighborhoods around our area early builders or even neighborhood groups planted thousands of Cherries along our suburban roads, many in small neighborhood communities. The primary tree planted has been the Yoshino Cherry emulating the gifted Cherries on the Tidal Basin in our nation’s Capital. There is obvious pride in these communities in their Cherries. Many have covenants mandating maintenance of these trees and, when removed, their replacement with like trees. The effect is ethereal for a too short period in early Spring.

public space along Reno Road, NW

Street planting along Reno Road, NW

There is the occasional small plot of land cut off due to road configuration that becomes public space due to its’ disconnection from any nearby home lots. My guess is neighbors cherish these open spaces, regardless of their small size, and band together to plant and maintain them. It gives them some much needed gardening space and a chance to enhance their neighborhood in so many different ways. Some are areas of reflection which may include a seating area or just a small walking path. Others are just a planted garden space providing neighborhood beauty and enhancing everyone’s quality of life. Regardless of the reason it also increase home values in the immediate neighborhood as it increase the “curb appeal” of the neighborhood. 

In some cases such as the bulb plantings by the Maryland State Highway Administration along our major highways, it is really right in our faces as we speed by. Some of these plantings look as if they may contain better than 5,000 Narcissus bulbs and the affect is both soothing and entertaining as we pass by. Large flowing sweeps of colors along our interstates provide us poor commuters a splash of brilliance in our otherwise dull commutes. Just spectacular!

Remember to: clean your gutters as tree flower drop is coming to an end. Deadhead and fertilize your bulbs for best flowering for next year. Do not band the foliage but do cut it off at the first sign of browning or yellowing. This indicates the plant is in the first stages of sloughing its’ leaves so it is ok to provide an assist. If you haven’t done so, prepare your garden for vegetables and remember, its’ pretty nice to stick the occasional vegetable plant in the landscape where it can get five to six hours of sun and provide your family with some fresh Summer produce.

Spring in Washington DC



Woodpecker searching for larvae

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Can it really be the start of Spring? It just seems so odd that here we are in the first full week of March and it feels like Spring. This time last year we were still experiencing snow with measurable snow on both March 5th and March 20th. The last couple of years, Spring has been so late, it just doesn’t seem right. But I’ll take this early warm weather knowing full well it may be just a brief interlude in Winter. It is such a pleasure to drive in DC and to see the first Cherries blooming along Massachusetts Avenue with Witch Hazel, Hellebores and crocus. With all the breeding work being done the last few years, Hellebores are quite spectacular with their deep red and dark maroon shades.


Now a week later, after several days of way above average temperatures, Spring is really busting out all over. Forsythias, Cherries, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Star and Saucer Magnolias are all in bloom. The forecasted arrival of the Tidal Basin Cherries has even been pushed up by almost 2 weeks. We are in full spring mode here, working nearly every moment of daylight available to us. Even though it is not really practical, we try very hard to get ahead of emerging Spring perennials and bulbs, so that we can get mulch and fertilizer down. There is no real reason for this except that it is easier to work in garden beds without bulbs coming up everywhere.


Osprey leaving the nest during nesting season

Osprey cruising the mouth of the Chester River

It’s also so glorious to watch the return of native birds as they either flood back into the area from warmer climes such as the Osprey or just simply make themselves known by singing up a storm now that breeding and nesting season is here. Robins are so funny as they congregate in the shallows of my waterfall bathing and throwing water everywhere as they frolic. Spring is here.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Late Winter 2016

With the warmer temperatures, I have been getting out and tackling early Spring tasks in the garden. Of course stick patrol is high on my list at this time of year just to tidy up my property. Second I have been cutting back perennials such as Liriope and ornamental grasses. I also do careful pruning of last years’ foliage on perennials such as Hellebore and evergreen ferns so as not to damage the new foliage coming up. Like most of us, I am ready for Spring. I am seeing a few signs though, so Spring is not that far away. I also had a brief show of color on some crocus and also several clumps of daffodil foliage peaking up in our big perennial bed in front. It also seems that as the temperatures rise above 45 degrees birds of all stripes start making themselves known by their songs. It is quite the happy sight when large numbers of Robins frolic in the shallows of the pond making it really seem like Spring.    

 Nature was kind to us in that the 24” of snow in January was gone in a relatively few days. Within 10 days the only trace was mountainous piles in the corner of parking lots. These will take some time to melt away. Since then we have been having a really up and down Winter, temperature wise. A few days of cold followed by several days of warmer weather has made it difficult for the body to adapt to the cold. Oh those heat bills!

I know that there is still a lot of Winter left and mother nature tends to remind us of this pretty sharply. So give it time and Winter will be done and Spring will be here and we can all start another spring season. Happy gardening!