Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Recent Happenings

Take a look at some of the things our Club has done, they are all listed here. We hope you enjoyed them.  If you are not a member, then take a look at what you are missing and consider clicking Join Now!

  • July 18, 2017 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The June Party

    The afternoon was sunny and not too warm. The Hill Center Garden is quite lovely and it has plenty of shade trees. The staff were helpful and easy to work with. Jim Shelar provided background music. Donna Brandes took care of coordinating the food, and getting and returning the tents to the Coast Guard. Sandra Bruce took care of the flowers for the tables, with a little help from me. Gail Giuffrida said a few words and ran the White Elephant Exchange.

  • May 09, 2017 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The May Walk

    This year's May Walk was an exploration of gardens in a Northeast neighborhood on Capitol Hill. Organized by E J Truax, the owners of the five chosen gardens took about 15 minutes each to discuss their gardens. Here a few highlights:

    • The first garden at 921 F belongs to Eileen. Most of her plants are from family and friends, making it special to her. It’s filled with hydrangea, mahonia holly, toad lilies, lenton rose, clary sage, stoke’s aster, lion’s ear, woodland orchids and ostrich ferns to name a few. A lot of plants for such a small garden! Her ongoing project is the tree box in front of her house which she is turning into a meadow/native garden. Currently it has butterfly weed, borage, woodland asters, and milkweed – a work-in-progress.
    • Carol Edward's garden is lush and the hit of the evening were her huge, yellow peonies. She said they are available at Home Depot for $40.
    • The house at the corner of F and 9th was shown as a great example of professional gardening. It is beautiful but lacked the personal touch of the others.
    • EJ’s house, and the house next to it, were on the tour. That’s because she does her own garden, and her next door neighbor’s. The neighbor’s is a shaded garden with a lovely Witch Hazel as the center piece with surrounding camilla, ilex, ferns and a few annuals for color. Of note was a Gerber usually an annual, in it’s 5th year. Her personal garden is sunny and has no focal point. It is shades of green from a box wood, post bloom Fothergillia, and ferns. Of note is a large Fern Peony (Tantifolia) which had 17 blossoms this year. It did not bloom for many years but now in abundance. New this year is a Whip Cord evergreen. Fast growing it will be 3 feet by 4 feet in a year or so.
    • The last house was that of our hosts for the evening Mike and Mona Andrews. Mike is a certified Landscaper and his garden reflects this. The house is small leaving a lot and a half for garden. The front is deep going to a high white mortar fence that serves as the back-drop for a huge ,very old holly. It is basically a shade garden and Mike has included many hues of green and brown with a few touches of seasonal color i.e. Daphanes, Maple leaf Hydrangeas.Behind the wall is a shaded patio, fishpond with a fountain and plantings and a very sunny deck with beaucoup potted plants. 

    The tour ended here, at Mike & Mona's garden where, after their talk, refreshments were served (the beverages and snacks were sent to us by Anthony from his shore retreat).

    Everyone seemed to enjoy the walk and party.

  • March 28, 2017 7:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Birds, Butterflies & Other Critters In Your Garden

    Featured Speaker: George Jett

    George Jett, conservationist from Lothian, Maryland, used his photographs to give us a lively talk about the plants and wildlife that can be found in our Capitol Hill gardens.

    We saw pictures of owls, hawks, and other birds, butterflies, moths and caterpillars and plants that host many critters. He also showed us photos of the small mammals (e.g., cotton tail rabbits), harmless snakes, and skinks that also occur here. After March's meeting he sent handouts that will be available in April describing ways to create bird-friendly and pollinator-friendly backyards.

    Biography Submitted By Mr. Jett

    I am 71 and have taken photographs for over 45 years. I graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. In 1970. I worked as a Chemical Engineer and manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 30 years in the Office of Water writing regulations. My work was demanding, but I enjoyed it since I believed I was doing good for the earth. When George Brush jr. decided we did not need to write anymore regulations under his ” no industry left behind” policy I was given the option w/ a large bonus to retire. Since I was not allowed to do my job I retired in 2003, and have not looked back.

    I always had a passion for nature and am a self-taught naturalist. I often feel I was a better naturalist than a chemical engineer. Since retirement I have travelled extensively around the world documenting the natural history of the regions I visit. For example in 2016 I travelled to Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and South Africa. Much of what I have documented is on my website Take a look.

    My primary objective is to educate and promote conservation. I work closely with The Rainforest Trust, Bat Conservation International, and the American Bird Conservancy Also since retirement I have coordinated a breeding bird atlas, and a reptile and amphibian atlas in Charles County, Maryland for the Maryland Ornithological Society, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, respectively. These two five-year studies provided current information on these two important groups of animals.

    The program I intend to present to the garden club is a snap shot of what natural history you might find in and around your special place on Capitol Hill. The program will highlight birds, butterflies, and other critters you could encounter. I hope you enjoy the show.

    More photos and links coming soon.

  • February 14, 2017 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Featured Speaker: Barbara Bullock, Curator of Azaleas and Rhododendrons at the U.S. National Arboretum

    Our February presenter on Pruning, Barbara Bullock provided members and guests with a timely overview on pruning techniques.

    Pruning is part of a plan to achieve a garden’s vision with healthy woody plants. Proper pruning requires that the pruner understand the purpose of the prune. Pruning is required to remove diseased or dangerous branches. Pruning is also required to bring light and air to the interior of the plant and promote new growth. Damage from improper pruning cannot be reversed and can cause the death of the plant. Ms. Bullock included a number of slides in her presentation illustrating her points.

    Using Three Cut method will prevent the damage showing below.

    For the Three Cut method a first incision is made from below as shown

    A second incision is made from above just outward from the first incision. This incision will cut through the entire branch and relieve the pressure of the branch from the tree so that the limb does not tear off during the final prune made just on the outside of the collar.

    The final cut:

    Tree cut should be left alone to heal naturally. Applying a wound dressing will inhibit the natural healing process.

    Azaleas should be pruned in early spring to reveal the structure of the plant and allow light into the interior to force growth to emerge from the center. Pruning dead and overhanging growth out should be done at any time of the year. Removing excess leaf litter is also appropriate to encourage growth in the center of the plant.

    The Arboretum depends on volunteers to help maintain the garden and is particularly looking for volunteer to help with the Azaleas. Training is provided and a commitment is required. Contact Ms. Bullock at Barbara.Bullock@ARS.USDA.GOV. Much of the pruning at the Arboretum is done by volunteers. Volunteers are generally not allowed to climb. Pruning that cannot be done from the ground is contracted to a professional company. You can contribute to the beauty of the Spring Azalea and Rhododendron display.

    All photos are copied from Ms. Bullock’s presentation.


    Basic Pruning Principles

  • January 10, 2017 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our Member's Gardens:  Renewed / Repurposed

    Featured Speakers: Kym Hemley and Stephen Bauer

    This month, 2 of our members told us about their very own gardening experiences.

    Click Here To Read About

    Stephen's Garden

    Click Here To Read About

    Kym's Garden

  • December 07, 2016 4:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Deck The Halls, CHGC Greens Party

    Thank you to everyone who helped with the Greens Workshop:

    We had 27 participants in the Greens Workshop and other members who joined in the Deck the Halls Party. There were sufficient greens and supplies and we stayed within budget.

    Thank you to the many members who helped with this event:

    Sandra Bruce helped with the greens order.

    Sonia Conly obtained the venue.

    Evelyn McKay, Pat Hanrehan, Jerry and Maryann Sroufe, Edee Hogan, Joyce Jones, Doris Celarier and Sandra Bruce helped bag greens.

    Carol Edwards helped with bow making.

    Ed Peterman helped with handing out the greens.

    Tony Pontorno and Joe Purdy provided the beverages and supplies for the finger-food potluck.

    Bill and Vira Sisolak help immensely with storing the greens supplies.

    Also, the participants were very helpful in cleaning up their work areas and putting away the chairs. We vacated a clean, orderly premises at 9 p.m.

    David Healy, Greens Workshop Chairman

  • November 17, 2016 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Urban Trees - The Key To A Healthy Community

    Featured Speaker: Suraj K. Sazawal, Policy Advocate at Casey Trees

    Suraj Sazawal , Policy Advocate at Casey Trees emphasized that the District of Columbia will continue to be well served environmentally and aesthetically by increasing its overall tree canopy. The current canopy, the amount of coverage by greenery when looking at the city from overhead, is 36 percent. Ward 6 has the lowest tree canopy percentage, 17 percent, largely because of under planted federal property such as the Navy Yard.

    Casey Trees is advocating for a 40 percent canopy, a goal shared with the DC government and codified in official policy within the Sustainable DC plan. To achieve this goal will require a focus on new tree planting on private property. Casey trees works with home owners, developers, and non profit organizations to promote tree planting.

    Trees provide benefit by sustaining ecological balance, providing habitat for birds and insects, providing shade to streets and homes thereby reducing the need for artificial cooling and heating, and curbing storm water runoff that pollutes the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

    Policy in the District of Columbia supports the maintenance of heritage trees, any tree on private property with a circumference of least100 inches. Heritage trees may not be removed. Special trees, those with a circumference 40 to 99 inches, require a paid permit to be removed. It is possible to receive a permit to remove a special tree that is hazardous, however, the homeowner will have to pay the cost for removal. The District encourages tree planting on residential property through its River Smart Homes program and tree rebates.

    Recently, the city revised the rules for street tree box maintenance. In 2017 no objects or plants will be permitted next to the root flare of a street tree. No objects (i.e. railroad ties, decorative boulders, etc.) will be permitted on the curbside of the tree box, and none over 12 inches will be permitted on the other three sides. No invasive plants (ivy, barberry, etc.) can be planted in the tree box and all plants must be less than of 18 inches tall. Finally, no build up of soil will be permitted that affects drainage in the tree box. If a homeowner adds seasonal mulch, it must be no higher than the natural soil level. No mulch volcanoes!

    Council members Charles Allen and Mary Cheh oversee the committees that have the most governance over DC’s tree canopy. Saraj urged members of the garden club to become active advocates for trees in Washington by following relevant legislation and enforcement. It is easy to testify at hearings about trees, which usually take place in January. Information is available from Casey Trees to help all who wish to prepare themselves to be tree advocates.

    If You Missed The Meeting Or Want More Information

    You can download Suraj's complete presentation deck, with photos, graphs and more.

    CHGC Presentation Deck

    You can also download the District Department Of Transportation's document on Tree Space Rulemaking with everything that you could possible want or need to know about what you can do, or maybe not do, in a tree box.

    Tree Spaces Rulemaking

    You can become a Tree Advocate by contacting Suraj to learn how you can get involved. Additionally, if there are people interested becoming actively involved, we could arrange to hold a special Capitol Hill Garden Club workshop. Let Gail or Ed know if you would like for the Club to do this.

    Suraj Sazawal


    Fill out the short survey about the DC Comprehensive Plan, telling District planners what you think about protecting existing trees and planing for future ones.

    Take Survey Now

    The Urban Forestry Administration’s very interesting maps and other data are available for you, too.

    Urban Forestry Administration

  • November 16, 2016 7:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fall 2016 Turtle Park Clean Up

    On November 5, the Community Projects Committee organized a second workday at Turtle Park, which is a very heavily-used triangle park just north of Eastern Market. A group that included 15 garden club members and six neighbors came out on a beautiful fall day to clean the park and plant 750 daffodil bulbs, several shrubs, and some perennials. At our first workday last spring, we removed dead, dying and invasive plants, spread about 100 bags of mulch, and hung a number of birdhouses. Along with these plants and materials, we also purchased a hose that can reach all of the garden areas. The CSX grant obtained early this year and small donations from club members and neighbors provided the funds to buy all the items for both workdays. Staff of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District hauled away the many bags of refuse from both workdays.

    Can You Help Us Water!

    We still need help at the park. With our very dry fall and the imminent arrival of winter, the plants need watering to prosper. The very kind neighbors who live next to the park on Independence Ave. came to help us at this workday and have agreed to allow us to use water from their home to water the plants, without charge. Their outside hose bib is quite convenient to the park and we have left the hose stretched out a bit, so there is not much need to drag it far. So, if you can spare some time to water at the park, you could do so at any time by just turning on the water. Anyone who can help with this task should call Muriel Martin-Wein, who will coordinate the watering volunteers. (202-546-8977).

    A note of caution: the largest tree in the park has several dead branches that could fall at any time. The Community Projects committee has contacted the city about removal, but that process may take some time. So, use caution when walking or watering under that tree.

  • October 11, 2016 6:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Tree Boxes

    Featured Speaker: Steve McKindley

    Our speaker, Steve McKindley is one of two Ward 6 urban foresters with the Urban Forestry Administration (UFA), a division of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. The mission of the UFA is to manage and increase the District’s street trees.

    Healthy trees improve air quality, increase ground water retention, moderate temperature, and beautify the community. The city has planted 7000 trees each winter for the last several years. Planting takes place during the months of November through April. The city contracts with landscapers to plant trees and to water twice a month during the first summer. Residents are supposed to provide water after the first summer. The city automatically replaces dead trees removed by the city. Trees that survive for two years are expected to survive on their own

    The city has a number of regulations regarding tree boxes. Updated regulations can be found at the following sites.

    Residents are responsible for keeping ruble and trash out of tree boxes. Borders should allow water to flow freely into the tree box when it rains. Soil should stay at the level of the sidewalk and existing tree roots should not be covered as covering the roots prevents oxygen from reaching the roots.

    Plants added to tree boxes should be planted two feet from the trunks of new trees. Only shallow rooted plants growing to no more than 18 inches high. Roses, other bushes and vegetables are prohibited.

    Methane leaking from natural gas lines replaces oxygen and kills trees. Checking for and fixing leaks is important before replacing dead trees. For technical reasons the presenter was not able to provide pictorial examples of tree boxes

    Authors note: Several of us have found that bi-monthly watering is insufficient for new trees and even that is not always accomplished by the contractor. We have also found that watering needs continue for at least several years beyond the second year.

    Call To Action for CHGC Member Contributions

    If you have tree boxes that you tend, please snap a few pictures and write a little story to be placed here to tell fellow members the highs and lows of managing 'your' tree boxes.

    Or, if you just see a great tree box (or a really bad one), snap a picture for this page so we can all learn from the experiences of others.

    You can send your story and photos to the webmaster, Joe Purdy, who will post them for you.  If you just have a comment, you can post it by clicking  Add Comment below.

    Member Contributions!

    Submitted by Marian Wiseman

    I have 3 tree boxes that I tend.

    The one in front of our house we cultivated about 10 years or more ago, then the city extended it and added 2 huge tree boxes in the sidewalks adjacent to us., one of which is 55 feet long. They quickly filled up with weeds, so I adopted the new spaces.

    These two neighboring boxes get full sun, which my own garden does not, so I have really relished being able to plant things that need full sun.

    At the meeting, I found out that I am out of compliance because of the height limitation. Also, for the tree box in front of our house, my husband fenced it in with an impervious border. I was really sorry to find out that we are breaking the rules, but I’m not going to change anything.


    1. Our own tree box. The tulips are from bulbs I bought at the CHGC bulb sale. But as you can see, the tree box has an impervious wood border, Also (another no-no), we put a fence border on the curb side. And the soil is built up above sidewalk level. Sigh.



    2. Here is the 55-foot tree box, left untended in front of a parking lot. The first picture shows my starting point in 2014. I also watered the 2 baby trees, of course. From a gardening standpoint, I am so proud of this. I spaded it up and cultivated it. I brought in new soil. I bought a 100-foot hose to reach it from our house. I salvaged 2 great cast-iron urns being discarded from a neighbor’s basement, painted them black, and I plant them every spring. The tree box now has hibiicus, iris, asters, 2 planters with annuals, zinnias, and zebra grass. Sadly, all are above the 18-inch height restriction. Plus, I didn’t know about not planting anything for 2 feet around the base of the tree, so I have asters all around each of the 2 tree trunks.



    3. Finally, here are 2 pictures from 2016 of the tree box on the other side of our house, showing zinnias that grew from seeds I harvested in 2015 from my own zinnias. For 2 years this tree box was totally forlorn and untended, and the zinnias all I have done with it so far, but I have big plans for it for 2017.


    Submitted by Joseph Purdy and Anthony Pontorno

         Vacation Photos

    We were on vacation in South America and missed the meeting on tree boxes, but managed to get this photo of a tree box while getting a coffee on our way to the MALBA (museum of modern art) in Buenos Aires.  

    We liked it for its' formality. 

    We do not know if it would be compliant with our city's standards, though.

    Submitted by Joseph Purdy

    I would call these 'good neighbor' tree boxes.  Probably in front of the homes of people who have busy careers, or who don't like gardening, but who do want to be nice to their neighbors.  

    These have no weeds and no trash, but look great with clean dirt or maybe occasional mulching.  

    Fences can be a nice touch, and add a layer of protection to whatever you decide to plant.

    Here's an idea if you want to plant just one thing.

    Here's a nice mix of plants. But I do not believe that roses are compliant with DDOT guidelines, but they look nice anyway.

    Here's another nice mix of plants.

    WOW, check out this urban rain garden.  It's off K Street NW.  

    We really ought to do one of these here, on the Hill.

    Some things might get a bit large for their space. These are still growing.

    And, not to be forgotten are what I would call 'all-natural, native plant' tree boxes.

    Residents are responsible for keeping ruble and trash out of tree boxes. Borders should allow water to flow freely into the tree box when it rains. Soil should stay at the level of the sidewalk and existing tree roots should not be covered as covering the roots prevents oxygen from reaching the roots.

    Plants added to tree boxes should be planted two feet from the trunks of new trees. Only shallow rooted plants growing to no more than 18 inches high. Roses, other bushes and vegetables are prohibited.

  • September 25, 2016 3:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fall New Members Party

    This was our first big party of the season and was hosted by Joe and Anthony in the pub and courtyard at their Jenkins Row Condominium.

    Members enjoyed an array of refreshments, and welcomed a couple of potential new ones. This is always a great party, as member have a chance to chat and catch up on their summer adventures and talk about the coming year for the Club.

    Many thanks to Joe and Anthony for hosting our event!

@ 2016 Capitol Hill Garden Club, Inc.

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