Spring Has Sprung!

 Back by Popular Demand:
The Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club Drive-Thru Plant Sale
Saturday, May 15

If you have perennials that need thinning out, consider donating them to the Drive-Thru Plant Sale. The Garden Club is seeking five or more of the same type of plant. All plants need to be planted in sanitized pots.

If you need pots, please email the garden club.

To sanitize pots:
Prepare three large buckets: 1 – water with a little liquid soap; 2 – 9 parts water to 1 part mild, unscented bleach; 3 – clean water. Scrub pots in the bucket with soap and water (a brush and sponge are helpful). Rinse pots in water, then soak in the bleach solution for 10-15 minutes. Wear long rubber gloves with cuffs to avoid getting bleach on your clothes. Remove pots and place them in the clean water to rinse them. If you have terra cotta pots, submerge them in a container of clean water and soak for 10 minutes to remove the bleach from the pores of the material. Spread pots on an old sheet to air-dry, preferably in the sun. The pots should be completely dry before adding soil and plants. It may take a day or two, depending on the weather.

Garden Tour of Spring Bulbs
“Blossom by blossom the spring begins” – Algeron Charles Swinson

Here are some local places to see spring colors in the area:

Rawlings Conservatory, Baltimore
Burnside Gardens, Nokesville, Virginia-pick your own
Marriot Woodward Park, Washington, D.C.
Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

Create a Bee Hotel

Native bees will be looking for a place to build their nests. Building and managing bee hotels for wild bees is a great resource for local bees. Kids will enjoy gathering bundles of cut pieces of bamboo, paper straws and hollow stems to glue into a container for your homemade bee hotel.

 April Garden Chores

  • Cut back vines that are growing where you don’t want them.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses, including liriope.
  • Start weeding!
  • Top dress with compost and/or mulch.
  • Divide, move, and transplant perennials and shrubs.

What’s Blooming in Your Garden?

Daffodils and Forced Forsythia

Send Pests Packing

On February 14, 2021, former Garden Club co-president Marilyn Kessinger gave a wonderful presentation on pests. She described many solutions to the pest problems we may have in our home, yard, and garden, now and in the coming summer months. Here are a few of her suggestions:

To deter mice, use strong scents in areas they may inhabit or enter your home. Cotton balls may be soaked in peppermint, ammonia, cloves, hot pepper, white vinegar, or citronella to keep them away.  Commercial products which do not include pesticides include Pestblock and Tomcat, rodent-deterrent expanding foams, and Mouse Magic, a peppermint and spearmint product available in sachets or pellets. Steel wool and crumpled aluminum can also be put into crevices and small holes.

Ants can also be a nuisance in your home. They also don’t like strong smells such as cinnamon, essential oils, cayenne, black pepper, and citronella. Borax is a safe way to kill a nest of ants. A bait of 1 part borax and 3 parts sugar will attract ants who will, in turn, carry the borax back to the nest. Other recipes for this concoction include:1 tsp borax/1/2 cup honey, 1 tsp peanut butter/2 tsp borax/2 T honey.

A spray made with 1-20 drops of peppermint in a cup of water would make a good repellent and chalk and diatomaceous earth are great barriers to ants. Why not plant mint near the house foundation to deter ants?

Fruit flies that are attracted to mature fruit and vegetables can be a nuisance any time of year. Since they are attracted to vinegar, make a trap of vinegar, with a few drops of liquid soap added, in a small dish or jar lid, cover it with plastic wrap and prick a few holes in it. The flies go in and can’t get out. Or leave out an almost empty opened wine bottle to capture the party-goers.

White flies, fungus gnats, scale, and spider mites can be a real problem with houseplants. Safer brand houseplant sticky stakes will attract and kill flying insects. The larvae can be eliminated with a drench made from 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide and 4 parts water. Natural plant derivatives neem and pyrethrin are available in stores. To make a homemade insecticidal soap simply add a few drops of vegetable oil and liquid soap to a spray bottle with one cup of warm water.

Dust mites can best be controlled by frequent vacuuming and using zippered pillow covers. Sprays with aromatics such as lavender, clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary are also useful.

BTI is a biological control for mosquito larvae. Mosquito dunks placed in water barrels, ponds, and water features or broken up and sprinkled into the saucer under your outdoor plants and downspout extensions will help to stop the life cycle of these pests. Commercial sprays may kill pollinator bees, beneficial insects, and our darling lightning bugs.

Ticks are also offended by certain smells and plants including fleabane daisy, lemongrass, garlic lavender, cedar, rose geranium, rosemary, mint, chrysanthemum, wormwood, and marigolds.

And because mice are the major carrier of ticks, make some tick tubes by placing lint or cotton balls soaked in pyrethrin inside empty toilet paper tubes and place in areas around your yard, near brush piles.

Slugs like to party in beer, leading to their demise. You could also spray them directly with white vinegar, dust the ground with diatomaceous earth, or use slug controls with nematodes or iron phosphates. To keep slugs out of pots, try putting copper flashing or pennies all around the sides of the pot. The slugs will get a shock! Plants they don’t like are garlic, fennel, rosemary, rue, anise, and wormwood.

You can watch the full video HERE.

Garden Travel at Cherry Blossom Time

 The Tidal Basin is well known for its cherry blossoms. The virtual National Cherry Blossom Festival is March 20-April 11, 2021. There are other, less crowded places to see cherry blossoms as well and since being outdoors is a sensible way to be socially distant, perhaps you would like a little garden travel.

National Arboretum

Dumbarton Oaks

Druid Hill Park, Baltimore

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

Pagoda at Patterson Park, Baltimore

Williamsburg Village, Olney, MD

House Plants

Houseplants add the greenery we miss outdoors this time of year. Be sure not to overwater, but mist occasionally, and use a light to extend the daylight.


March Garden Chores

● Clean up – get an early start by cleaning the yard and garden beds, cutting back grasses, and ratty-looking foliage of perennials. Stems leftover winter may have nesting bees, so leave the stalks or lay the trimmings on the ground.
● Mulch to prevent new weeds and hold the moisture.
● Create places to step as the garden will be extremely wet.
● Seed the bald spots and fertilize your lawn, but not at the same time.
● Prune summer-blooming shrubs.
● Plant potatoes, onion sets, peas, beets, and kale.

Through the snow, life emerges. Say hello, snowdrops!

Ordering Seeds for Summer & Winter Bird-Feeding

Ordering Seeds for Summer

In the Garden Club Mary Dominique wears many hats, including overseeing the growing of seedlings that are sold at the museum’s annual Strawberry Festival. She selects seeds and manages the plantings at a local high school greenhouse.

In recent years she has been ordering seeds from Seeds ‘n Such, and Pinetree Super Seeds. She sometimes also orders from  Jung Seeds, Park Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Pinetree has varieties that are harder to find, like Zucchette Rampicate, a prolific, sprawling zucchini that is less susceptible to the squash borer.  Johnny’s has a wonderful selection of seeds.  Baker Creek and Southern Exposure have nice heirloom seeds.

The new seeds Mary is most interested in acquiring this year are: Zinnia profusion ‘Red Yellow Bicolor’, ‘Autumn Frost’ hybrid squash, ‘Snak Hero’ peas, ‘Green Light’ cucumber, and ‘Echalion Creme Brulee’ shallots.  They are All American Selection winners for 2021.

Mary suggests getting together with other gardening friends to place an order, sharing packets of seeds and shipping costs.  With last year’s heightened interest in home gardens, it is suggested to place orders soon.

Snak Hero Peas
Green Light Cucumber
Autumn Frost Hybrid Squash
Echalion Creme Brulee

At All American Selections you will find even more ideas for your 2021 gardens, including these beautiful perennial plants:

Penstemon Arabesque Red
Leucanthemum Sweet Daisy Birdy
Celosia Kelos Candela Pink

PennState Extension has also reviewed new perennials and trees and shrubs for 2021.

Helleboro Golden Lotus
New England Aster Pink Crush
Redbud Flame Thrower

Winter Bird-Feeding

The Audubon has a guide for feeding birds in the winter, explaining the right combination of feeder and food to provide a refuge for birds and a stage for watching their colorful antics.

Here is a fun project to make –  a Bird Seed Wreath made in a bundt pan.

The kids will enjoy making this bird feeder from a recycled water bottle and wooden spoons.

February Garden Chores

The  UMD Home and Garden Information Center has plenty of February Tips and Tasks for outside garden tasks as well as caring for your indoor plants.  Here are few more ideas:    

Get your hand tools sharpened.  Here are some local places:

Christopher’s Hardware                           Ron Berman’s  Sharpening
500 Olney-Sandy Spring Road                4000 Shallow Brook Lane, Olney, MD
301-570-1300                                           301-648-4615

As we huddle indoors this winter, it is great to see that the US Botanic Garden has videos of the gardens in summer and inside the arboretum. There are also online events such as cooking demonstrations and yoga classes.

The Beauty of Winter


The Promise of Spring

Transform Your Lawn and Prep for Spring Planting

The Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club wishes you a very Happy New Year!

Club members shout a great big “thank you!” to the outgoing co-Presidents, Amy Cohen and Marilyn Kessinger.  They graciously accepted an extra year in addition to the usual 2-year term.  Little did they know it would include a myriad of changes and challenges. Amy and Marilyn made a fabulous team and used their creativity to allow the Garden Club to continue productively in a difficult year.  When the pandemic arrived, they implemented virtual programs so that the Garden Club could continue providing excellent programs to the community.

Amy Cohen

Marilyn Kessinger

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. A warm welcome to the new Co-Presidents, Marge Combs and Kathy Ramienski. The Garden Club looks forward to their dynamic leadership over the next two years.

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.