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!

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


    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

@ 2016 Capitol Hill Garden Club, Inc.

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