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!

  • 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.


    http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/RuleHome.aspx?RuleNumber=24-109


    http://ddot.dc.gov/node/508592


    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!









  • September 24, 2016 11:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Barracks Row 2016 Fall Festival


    The Barracks Row Fall Festival is a great event for our neighborhood, and this year our Club was there, meeting and greeting neighbors and passersby, talking about our Club in particular and gardening in general.


    Jennifer Cate organized bright colored posters and lots of fresh mums for the booth and lined up volunteers. Visitors to our booth were given a gift bag with a daffodil bulb to plant in their garden, along with a flyer about our Club and the coming year’s meetings and events. At the end of the day, a sign up sheet was filled with names and email addresses for people who wanted more information about our Club!


    Jennifer and Joan Fallows were on site all day, along with the other Club volunteers who did 2 hour shifts talking to the public. According to Joan, "As I listened to conversations, I was struck by the gardening expertise and knowledge that the club volunteers have to offer. We have so much valuable garden wisdom in our garden club. Members deserve a pat on the back for sharing it!"


    From butterflies, to shade, to soil, to chipmunks, the questions kept coming!


    Many thanks to the Club’s volunteers at the Festival, including Mary Blakeslee, Lazlo Bockh, Ida May Mantel, Joe Purdy, Katherine Anderson, Susan Thompson, Vira Sisolak, Stephen Bauer, EJ Truax, and Marian Wiseman. And special thanks to Jennifer and Joan for organizing and setting up our presence at the Festival!












  • September 13, 2016 7:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Natural Flora and Public Parks of Australia


    Featured: Ed Peterman


    Ed Peterman shared photos and personal stories about his 2015 trip to Australia with his father.


    Ed's father, who has not traveled extensively, had always wanted to visit Australia. So Ed planned the trip of a lifetime for both of them, spending a month visiting the lovely gardens of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, including a drive of more than 2,500 miles from Sydney to Cairns. 


    As if that were not enough, their trip included visits to The Great Barrier Reef, the tulip fields in Tasmania, a 100 year old sugar mill, and two farm stays (Ed's father is a farmer).


    Much of their trip focused on their shared love of nature, flora, fauna and farming.














  • July 07, 2016 8:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Fourth Of July




    On a Fourth of July morning with no rain in sight, 10 garden club members marched behind our new banner in the community parade on Barracks Row. Also, on decked-out bikes, were Joan Fallows and several members of Leanna Fenske's family, both adults and children. Lenna pulled a little red wagon with one of her younger grandkids sitting in it and I pushed my garden cart. There was a big crowd watching the parade, with a huge number of little kids. Club members gave small folding fans to the crowd as we walked. We were quite the group as we carried our gardening tools and EJ Truax wore her full set of hand tools around her waist.


    Club members who marched said they enjoyed the event and that we should march in this parade every year. It is very informal, so little preparation is required. Marching with the other Hill groups raises the club's visibility, particularly among the young families who live on the Hill. The Community Projects Committee and the Membership Committee coordinated the club's march.


    Contributed by Vira


  • June 09, 2016 10:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    June Garden Party


    CHGC members celebrated the end of yet another great year for our Club at the always beautiful U. S. National Arboretum in Washington, D. C.


    Ed Peterman, CHGC VP introduced long-time member Gail Giuffrida as our new Club President, saying she was happy to take the post and looked forward to working with the executive committee and with all of our members to keep the club fun and exciting for the coming year. 


    Donna Brauth, our outgoing Treasurer, was thanked for the incredible job she has done managing our finances, and was presented with a gift certificate for her efforts and dedication.  Board members and Committee Chairs were also recognized.


    The Club also recognized members Jim and Sandy Shelar who are moving to Maryland.  Having been very active members, including a stint as President for Jim, we’ll miss having them in our neighborhood, but they plan to remain members, so we’ll look forward to seeing them at some of our meetings and events.


    Leanna Fenske organized a rather fun ‘White Elephant Exchange’ with a surprising array of gardening-related items for our members to share and enjoy.


    As Joyce Jones pointed out it “takes a village” to have a great garden club party like this, and our terrific party would not have been possible without the famous “Party People”  who set up the party: Joyce Jones, Lorraine Fishback, Sharon Ferguson, Leanna Fenske, Sandra Bruce and Sonia Conly.  She also offered thanks to Dan Bailes, Jim Fishback, Floyd Brown and Nick Brandes.  


    But special thanks go to Donna Brandes who organized the party again this year, saying that these events "kind of remind me of Thanksgiving – all that work and preparation and all gone in a flash, but that flash from 5:30 to 8:30 was ever so much fun."



























  • May 20, 2016 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    High Glen Gardens Visit




    Peter Couchman, Executive Director at High Glen Gardens, led a group of garden club members on a tour of this beautiful private property near Frederick at the base of the Catoctin mountain on May 20. 


    The 64 acre parcel was purchased by the owners initially for development into a residential and commercial property, but a fateful picnic on the grounds one afternoon their plans and they decided to build a home there. In 2005 the home, inspired by their European travels, was completed. Four acres of formal gardens, designed by McHale Landscape Design of Annapolis, were installed in 2008. Then, in 2013, the owners hired Rodney Anderson Summers, Inc. Landscape Architects, a Delaware firm that had worked on Longwood, the Nemours Mansion and Hillwood, to create a master plan for eventual conversion into a public garden. 


    We toured the early planting of 5 acres around the house and pool and saw the division of the property into garden rooms with the clever pruning of trees – European birch and American Hornbeam -- by pleaching to encourage them to grow into hedges. 


    Around the back of the home is a beautiful perennial boarder inspired by Hampton Court in England and an Ellipse Garden, inspired by Dumbarton Oaks. One of the most unusual features is a bocce ball court with a raked Japanese stone garden. We all loved the Summer House, which is the “nerve center” for entertaining at High Glen Garden. The structure is made from recycled materials from two demolished barns in Frederick County, and is designed to look like an old Italian villa. The surrounding gardens are Mediterranean in feel, but also include materials from the American southwest and scented plants – thyme lavender, and agastache. The color scheme is silver and white that “pop” in early summer evenings. 


    Approximately 25 acres of new gardens are under development (a Grand Allee entrance, a Woodland, and an Earth Sculpture), and about 30 acres of fields are awaiting future garden development. Because the property had been a dairy farm, lots of work is required. Peter told us about the poor condition of the soil and their use of cover crops to add needed nitrogen. Trees are being planted at a rapid rate and other outdoor structures are in the process of construction to provide architectural interest. Still to come is a belvedere. Currently, tours are limited to garden clubs and other kindred spirits. But, eventually, High Glen Garden will be open to the public and will give us a local rival to Chanticleer. 


    Progress on the garden and pictures can be found at www.facebook.com/HighGlenGardens. 


    After eating our picnic lunches in the barn, we stopped by Surreybrooke Gardens and Nursery. This property was also a dairy farm. The owners still live there and farm part of it, but the main feature is a nursery which started as an herb farm in the 1970s. Now, a pavilion, which can be rented for weddings and other events, and a much larger garden center greet visitors. A number of demonstration garden showcase plants that are offered for sale. Of course we took advantage of the wide variety of plants, unique pottery and garden ornaments for sale. 


    What a joy to have had the opportunity to visit these gardens on a sunny day during a week of almost constant rain.


    Submitted By:  Lorraine Fishback



















    Peter Couchman, Executive Director at High Glen Gardens, led a group of garden club members on a tour of this beautiful private property near Frederick at the base of the Catoctin mountain on May 20. 


    The 64 acre parcel was purchased by the owners initially for development into a residential and commercial property, but a fateful picnic on the grounds one afternoon their plans and they decided to build a home there. In 2005 the home, inspired by their European travels, was completed. Four acres of formal gardens, designed by McHale Landscape Design of Annapolis, were installed in 2008. Then, in 2013, the owners hired Rodney Anderson Summers, Inc. Landscape Architects, a Delaware firm that had worked on Longwood, the Nemours Mansion and Hillwood, to create a master plan for eventual conversion into a public garden. 


    We toured the early planting of 5 acres around the house and pool and saw the division of the property into garden rooms with the clever pruning of trees – European birch and American Hornbeam -- by pleaching to encourage them to grow into hedges. 

  • May 10, 2016 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May Walk @ Congressional Cemetery




    The sun peaked through a week-long cloudy city just in time for the Capitol Hill Garden Club to take a tour of Congressional Cemetery, one of our neighborhood’s most interesting attractions.


    Since the founding of our city in 1790, Congressional Cemetery has been a final resting place for Washingtonians. Now a National Historic Landmark, the cemetery is flourishing with brick pathways, slate walks, trees, blooming gardens and of course, buried Washingtonians. It was the perfect spot for our May Garden Walk, where we were guided through the cemetery by cemetery board member and docent, Sharon Bosworth.


    There are 17 different tours that can be taken at Congressional, each focusing on different aspects of the cemetery. From politicians to Native Americans to past mayors of Washington, each tour can be adapted for the people visiting.  Our tour focused on trees, plants and flowers, but with a bit of history added in.


    Noteworthy about the trees is that the original stewards of Congressional chose varieties that would not be considered suitable for a cemetery today, e.g. magnolias, which are large and beautify and messy.  They will live out their natural lives, but will not be replaced.  Instead, future trees will include native varieties that will be allowed to produce a canopy over the graves.


    Gardening enthusiasts were pleased to learn that graves can be adopte

    d and landscaped by individuals and groups. So as you walk the cemetery, you occasionally notice a grave or group of graves that is just loaded with plants, flowers, and a plaque acknowledging the name of the person or persons responsible for establishing and maintaining

    the space.The Talbert grave, see photo here, is particularly lovely and is manage by Club member Lynn Church.  Another fine example is the area around the Arsenal Monument which is managed by Joyce Palmer.


    Other stops along the way included the graves of Elbridge Gerry (of gerrymander fame), J. Edgar Hoover (whose grave is planted and decorated by the FBI), Joseph Gales (former publisher and DC mayor), John Philip Sousa (the ‘March King’), and the Arsenal Monument (memorializing 21 Irish immigrant women killed in an 1864 dynamite explosion).


    The Public Vaults were created as a temporary resting place for people whose families needed more time to plan their final arrangements.  Remember, there were no funeral homes or refrigerators back then, and so over 6,000 families paid a $5 fee to use the vault.  Members of Congress stayed there for free. Guests included John Quincey Adams, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor.  Dolly Madison’s family got the most value for their $5, with a 5 year stay while her son worked his way through a family bankruptcy.


    A reception was hosted after the tour by Joseph Purdy and Anthony Pontorno in the party room and courtyard at Jenkins Row condominium.


    To find out more about Congressional Cemetery, go to their website where you can plan a short visit, make a donation, order an engraved brick with your name on it, or buy a plot for an longer stay.


    Special thanks for this event go to Lynn Maloy, Program Director, Congressional Cemetery for helping us organize this tour;  Daniel Holcombe, Grounds Conservation Manager, Congressional Cemetery, who provided Sonia Conly, E. J, Truax and Sharon Bosworth with information on the challenges of managing trees in an historic cemetery; Sharon Bosworth, Board of Directors of the Association for the Preservation of the Historic Congressional Cemetery;  Sonia Conly for organizing this event;  Joseph Purdy and Anthony Pontorno for hosting the reception.






















  • April 12, 2016 7:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    That Camera In Your Pocket


    Featuring: Patty Hankins


    How to Take Great Garden Pics with Your Smart Phone


    Patty Hankins our guest speaker presented us with some great tips to get the best out of our smart phone garden photos. While some of her tips are specific to the smart phone most apply to photography in general. First, think what caught your eye? Focus on capturing the eye catching subject. Some eye catching subjects are repeating colors and features such as shapes and lines. Compose the photo using some basic rules: the rule of three puts the center of interest at point that is roughly at 1/3 of horizontal and vertical distance from the edge; leading the eye for example using a path or a curved branch to the subject and using negative space to bring the eye to the subject are examples.


    Early morning and evening are the best times to take photos to avoid glare and washed out colors. Keep the camera steady using a tripod such as a gorillapod for smart phone or a holder designed for your phone.. Bill Sisolak demonstrated his shoulder holster. In addition to stabilizing your photos the holster is a secure carrying case for your phone. Using the volume control to “click the shutter” is another tool to reduce camera shake. Review the picture, checking all four corners. Delete the failures. Editing is important Ms. Hankins prefers Lightroom as a more user friendly tool.


    This writer suggests visiting Ms. Hankins website http://beautifulflowerpictures.com/ for some excellent examples of the points Ms. Hankins made in our program.


  • April 09, 2016 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Turtle Park Clean Up


    CSX Corporation has awarded a $2,000 grant to the garden club for our work in Turtle Park, the city park just north of Eastern Market. The company has established a grant program that will provide alleviation to residents directly affected by their Virginia Avenue Tunnel project and for beautification projects in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The CHGC is very grateful for this grant, as it will enable us to bring the Turtle Park back to its role as a showplace of Capitol Hill.


    Longtime garden club member, Muriel Martin-Wein cared for the park for many years. She collected money from neighbors, convinced the city to do work in the park, arranged to have broken turtles replaced, coordinated work days, and hung many birdhouses. As her health began to restrict her activities, Muriel was less able to do these things, but her spirit remains strong and she retained her interest in the park.


    Last winter, the Community Projects Committee of the club decided to sponsor a work day at the park to begin the renovation. The effort began with the application to CSX for grant monies to be used for materials and plants. The work at Turtle Park began on April 9, with a large turnout of CHGC members and nearby residents. This stalwart group pulled weeds and invasive bushes, planted rosemary, Hellebores, and liriope, and laid 75 bags of mulch on the park through rain and snow. (See story below.) The following day, a small group of members came to continue the work. Muriel was present on both days to help direct the work in the garden beds. Since then, she has recruited volunteers to help her complete the renovation work. She plans to continue this work in an effort to control the weeds and provide water to plants that need it. The Community Projects Committee will plan another major work day in the fall to lay mulch and plant spring-blooming bulbs, additional perennials, and perhaps a small tree or two. Because all the work will be done by volunteers, the funds from CSX will go far.


    Thus far, the garden club project to renovate the park has been a great success. But we all know that weeds are persistent. If any club member or community resident would like to help Muriel over the rest of the spring and through the summer, please call her at 202-546-8977. And, she is still collecting birdhouses and donations to purchase them. Muriel also has several birdhouses that had hung in the park but need repair. If anyone knows of a person who could do the simple woodwork to repair these birdhouses, please let Muriel know. With CSX funds, the club will pay for materials. Muriel would like to hang a large number of birdhouses in the park so our neighborhood children can search for them, as did generations past when 75 birdhouses hung in the park.


    Additional photos from this event may be found on our Facebook page.





































    Turtle Park Clean Up


    Members of the Capitol Hill Garden Club, with the help of other neighbors, rallied in the Spring snow on April 9th to do a ‘clean up’ project at Turtle Park near Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.


    Longtime CHGC member Muriel Martin-Wein has cared for this park and encouraged neighbors and garden club members to help her. She can no longer do the gardening work herself, but was present to advise as to the various tasks to be done. About 2 dozen people were there to work!


    Additional photos from this event may be found on our Facebook page.


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