Transform Your Lawn and Prep for Spring Planting

Amy and Marilyn also helped to continue several of the club’s traditions, despite the museum being closed to the public. With the cancellation of the annual Strawberry Festival, several young plants would have gone unsold without the quick thinking of Amy and Marilyn. They worked hard to put together the “Drive-Thru Plant Sale,” where community members purchased the plants online and drove to the museum for contactless pick-up. The club sold out of plants (!) and donated the proceeds to the museum. The annual Holiday Greens Workshops and Holiday Greens Sale were both cancelled, but the holiday spirit was kept alive with a virtual tour of one garden club member’s beautifully decorated historic home.

The Garden Club is very grateful to have had the leadership of Amy and Marilyn and know they will continue to be avid supporters of the Club and Museum.

Lawn Alternatives

Manicured turf grass lawns cover most properties in suburban Montgomery County, but a new movement is challenging this conformity and providing food and shelter to birds and insects, diverting rainwater, and beautifying our front yards.

Allison Weiss, the museum’s Executive Director, shared photos of her journey to remove 100% of the grass from her property, and relocate the front brick walkway and replace it with stone.  There are two rain gardens in the center of each half of the front yard; the rest is conservation landscaping with native plants.



There are plenty of resources to realize your own new lawn:
low maintenance lawn ideas
lawn alternatives from the and the University of Maryland Extension
Naturescaping (nature-friendly landscaping)
– Using alternative groundcovers like Stepables, available at Stadler Nursery in Laytonsville.

The Montgomery County RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program offers rebates to property owners who wish to add gardens that slow water runoff in their yard.

Winter Gardening

In January you can start sowing perennials and hardy annuals in mini-greenhouses made from plastic milk jugs, soda bottles, or clear clamshell containers.  In February cold-hardy vegetable seeds can be planted.  Penn State Extension has helpful information on successful winter sowing. A video on this unique method can be found HERE.

Fall Crafting and Décor

Everlasting Crafts

After a Garden Club member showed her gifted Preserved Boxwood wreath to the group, a few members wanted to try the process. This project needs special curing ingredients, 20 days to preserve the freshly cut boxwood, and a large number of products. The final results are beautiful, sustainable wreaths to last, hopefully, for many holiday seasons.

Make your own with these instructions.

Fall Decor

In past years the Garden Club has made front porch fall decor as an auction item at the Museum’s gala, and in 2019, held a workshop on creating your own fall decorations, including velvet pumpkins and tablescapes. Create your own fall décor with inspiration from these projects past.


Fall Clean-Up

Garden Tour
Since the museum was built, the Garden Club has maintained the Courtyard Gardens.  Dedicated to Mary Rice, the founder of the Garden Club, the gardens are tended by a group of volunteers led by Mary Dominique and Penny Sidell.  The gardens consist of an herb garden,  perennial gardens, and shrubs.  The Garden Club also plants the garden near the front door and is currently training the refurbished wisteria on the front walk arbor.  




Harvest Notes
Anthony Vodraska has grown unusual looking Tromboncino squash with seeds provided by Mary Dominique. This is an Italian heirloom cultivar of the species Cucurbita moschata, or more commonly referred to as butternut squash.  He quickly discovered their vining habit and had to erect additional bamboo supports.  It seems to live up to other reports that it is more tolerant of common summer squash pests and they produce beautiful large yellow flowers that attract pollinators.

In the Spring when he could not find zucchini seeds at the big box stores, he selected a packet of white pattypan squash. The vines spread much more than zucchini vines, but are very productive, allowing him to donate many to Harvest Share, a community donation program.

Show-Offs and Bloomers!
Mary Dominique has a beautiful border of “elephant ears”, the common name for a group of tropical plants known for their large, heart-shaped leaves of the genera Colocasia. They have enjoyed the rains this summer. The annuals zinnia, cosmos, and Melampodium accentuate the greenhouse and deck.







Fall Clean-up
As flowers begin to fade, it is time to tidy up the gardens and cut everything to the ground. However, flowers that have seed-heads are a great source of food for birds, the stems are homes for overwintering bees and plants are still taking nutrients into their roots. Cutting Down Perennials in the Fall answers the questions we all ask in the fall.

The vegetable garden, still producing until the first frost, will need to be put to bed as well. A nitrogen-fixing cover crop will suppress the weeds and enrich the soil. A list of cover crops is HERE.


Summer Harvest

Written by Garden Club member, Jan Baweja


Member Updates
Anita has been donating produce from her garden to Harvest Share, an initiative in Montgomery County that asks backyard and community gardeners to grow a little more in their gardens and donate the extra produce to community resources dedicated to reducing food insecurity. She donated 10 pounds of green beans each week this month, 22+ lbs of various vegetables every month.

Here is a beautiful example of one of our Strawberry Festival plants, sold in 2019 and flourishing in 2020 in the Garden of Strawberry Festival Chair, Lori Thomas.


Kathy Gaskill, a Master Gardener and long-time member of the Garden Club has a lovely home surrounded by beautiful flower borders, a large vegetable garden, a growing tree and shrub collection, and a water management site that uses a diverse group of grasses and stones. Here are a few pictures.


Is anyone pickling, canning, and freezing their fruits and vegetables? Even if they are not from your garden, you may buy fresh produce from farmer’s markets. Pickling cucumbers are available from most Asian markets, too Try this recipe for Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles… no canning equipment necessary! Share your goodies with us by sending an email.


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The Wisteria Will Bloom

Written by Garden Club member, Jan Baweja

The beautiful wisteria will bloom again on the newly painted pergola! The Garden Club had major assistance on this project from Phil Normandy and Roger Haynes from Brookside Gardens.

Before the pergola was painted last fall, the wisteria had to be taken down. Garden Club member Kathy Gaskill spoke with Phil, who recommended Roger Haynes as he is in charge of all the wisteria at Brookside Gardens. Roger came out to the museum and offered to help get the wisteria growing again up the columns, instead of wrapping around them.  The method being used is the same method used at Brookside Gardens where Roger takes a string, ties it at the base of the column, and attaches it to the top of the column.  He selects the healthiest wisteria shoot and wraps it around the string to get it growing vertically up the string.  Roger will be training the wisteria with the Garden Club for the rest of the year to make sure it is growing properly.


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Craft Time
Our gardens continue to marvel us through the summer with their colorful displays.  Why not preserve that beauty by pressing, drying, and printing with those lovely flowers and herbs.  Here are a few projects to try.

Lavender Wands

Anne Petzold suggests picking the lavender while blooming and stems are flexible.

Pressed Flower Pictures

You can even dry the flowers in the microwave!

Dried Herb Wreath

A great way to dry herbs… and smells good too!

Hydrangea Wreath

Garden Club resident expert, Penny Sidell, suggests picking hydrangea in September. Put them into water before wiring them onto the frame which has been wrapped with old stockings or tulle.

Fabric or paper painted with flowers

This is a fun project to do with kids… try using a rubber mallet.

What’s Blooming in Your Garden?

Garden Club co-president, Amy Cohen, shares her July bloomers.

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