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!

  • June 06, 2015 1:28 PM | Anonymous member

    June Party

    The June Garden Party was held on Saturday, June 6that the National Arboretum where our members enjoyed al fresco dining at this beautiful Washington landmark. This was our last event of the season!

  • May 12, 2015 6:30 PM | Anonymous member

    May Walk

    About 40 of us met for the Garden Walk on May 12 with Alexandria arborist John Noelle.  It was a delightful evening with perfect weather. We began at the James Madison building of the Library of Congress and noted the Virginia Stewartia, a small tree which belongs to the tea family and is closely related to camellias.  Also planted there are elm trees that are resistant to Dutch elm disease.  The viewing prize though was the two yellow woods in full bloom.  Moving across the street to the main Library of Congress we saw the rare cork tree with its wide spread crown.  Unfortunately this tree is in decline.  Still thriving are two very old gingko trees that flank a former entrance.  Come back to visit in the fall when their beautiful golden leaves reflect the sun and drop all at once creating a carpet of gold.  As we moved on to the Capitol grounds, we saw some of the wonderful native trees – black walnut, a blooming horse chestnut and a persimmon among them.  Then there were many different species of oak, which thankfully we had an arborist on hand to help us identify.  Our walk concluded in the Bartholdi garden which was in full bloom with iris, alliums, catmint and beautiful pots overflowing with flowers.  We enjoyed refreshments and a gorgeous sunset.  All in all, it was a good day.  Many thanks to Sharon Fergerson, Dan Bailes and Sandra Bruce for making the refreshments in Bartholdi so delightful.  For those interested in a fall tour, the US Botanic Garden is offering one in October led by the author of City of Trees.

    Top photo of Bartholdi Park courtesy of Scott McLeod;  Bottom photos by Dan Bailes;  Other photos contributed by Club members.


  • May 01, 2015 10:30 AM | Anonymous member

    More Smiles, New Friends

    On May 1, the Capitol Hill Garden Club took a dish garden workshop to senior residents at the Capitol Hill Towers Apartments.  Much appreciation goes to the members of the Community Projects Committee:  Carol Edwards, Vira Sisolak, Joan Fallows and Ida May Mantel, who planned, tested the idea of a training event at a Club meeting, and arranged for this workshop to take place.  Twelve Club volunteers have our warmest thanks; they were essential to its success: Sandra Bruce, Martha Connor-Donnelly, Carol Edwards, Joan Fallows, Pat Hanrehan, Ida May Mantel, Joe Purdy, Sandy Shelar, Bill Sisolak, Vira Sisolak, Susan P. Thompson, and EJ Truax.  They assisted 14 senior residents, one-on-one to make their own stunning dish gardens.  The residents were thrilled and pleased with what they learned and had made.  Merrifield Gardens supplied the same tropical plants, pots and saucers, as used at the Club’s workshop in April.  Linda Wilson Vertin, who led the April Workshop, again generously white-washed each pot and saucer at no charge to the Club.    

    The Workshop consisted of presentations and the making of the dish gardens.  Vira Sisolak explained dish garden making using the pots and plants she later used to assemble the dish garden the residents would make.  She included a pitch for the Club, and we may well see new faces at Club meetings in the fall.  Carol Edwards took on the nitty gritty of caring for the plants and their proper watering, making it all very clear and understandable.  Ida May explained follow-on assistance Committee members will provide to residents needing more help should issues arise.  Joan Fallows and Joe Purdy captured the special moments on camera.  A good time was had by all—volunteers and residents alike—and as she blushed when everyone joined in to sing happy birthday to Vira, there were warm feelings all around.

  • April 14, 2015 6:30 PM | Anonymous member

    Workshop Brings Many Smiles

    The April Club meeting was a dish garden workshop.  The regular conference-room set up became an activity area of covered tables, filled with preregistered dish garden makers and observers.  Linda Wilson Vertin from Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax led the workshop.  Known at the Center as Wilson, she specializes in tropical plants and design of long-lasting container gardens with a natural appearance.   She led attendees through the criteria for selecting plants and the needs that alternative combinations would have in terms of care, light, moisture and location.  To assist, Linda brought her associate at Merrifield Regina Lanctot, who was warmly welcomed by those recalling her earlier presentation on indoor plants.  The highlight was making the dish gardens and seeing the stunning results.  Following a demonstration, attendees quickly assembled three very fresh robust plants in clay pot and saucer that Linda had generously white-washed for us.     

    The workshop was more than making and learning about dish gardens.  Many prepared to volunteer at the Club’s community project in May to assist one-on-one a senior making a dish garden.  A number donated their dish gardens to the Club.  After receiving them at Capitol Hill Towers Apartments, Resident Service Coordinator Joelle Mendoza wrote:  “What a hit!  .  .  .  .   residents that were passing through or in the lobby at the time all wanted one.“  

    Special thanks go to Community Projects Committee members:  Carol Edwards, Vira Sisolak, Joan Fallows and Ida May Mantel for planning and putting together the many pieces required to make this unusual club meeting work so well.  Other club members offered invaluable assistance preparing and executing tasks:  Sonia Conly, Sandra Bruce, Donna Brauth, Ed Peterman, Joe Purdy and Tony Pontorno.  

  • March 10, 2015 5:30 PM | Anonymous member

    Capitol Splendor

    Parks and Gardens of Washington DC

    Featured: Barbara Glickman, Author

    Capitol Splendor — Parks and Gardens of Washington DC is a beautiful book filled with photos by Valerie Brown with in-depth essays by Barbara Glickman on 30 gardens in the Washington area.

    Barbara shared descriptions and thoughts about 9 of these gardens using a powerpoint with 80 beautiful photos.

    She discussed different types of landscape design as a framework for viewing these gardens and parks, including the gardens' history, owners, and horticultural highlights.

    The nine gardens were: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens; River Farm; Meridian Hill Park; Tudor Place; Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens; Dumbarton Oaks; Tregaron Conservancy; Ladew Topiary Gardens; and the US Botanic Garden.

    Copies of the book were available for purchase at the meeting, which Barbara inscribed for our members.

  • February 10, 2015 5:30 PM | Anonymous member
    The Ins and Outs of Seed Gardening

    Featuring: Mellissa Miller, Farm Manager, Common Good City Farm

    Mellissa Miller, the farm manager for Common Good City Farm, presented a program on the ins and outs of seed starting ( )

    Melissa graduated from Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J., with a B.A. in English and a minor in Environmental Science. She continued her education at Georgian Court to earn a masters degree in Holistic Health, studying urban design and working with school systems to create school kitchen garden programs. Melissa has worked on farms in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico as well as having urban farming internships in New York City and Boston.

    Common Good City Farm is a 501c3 educational charitable organization that operates a half acre farm in LeDroit Park to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for and with low-income DC residents. It offers hands-on farm education activities to children and adults. Since 2007 Common Good City Farm has taught over 1100 DC residents in workshops, engaged over 2100 DC school children, and hosted over 2500 volunteers. In 2013, Common Good City Farm provided over 5,200 pounds of fresh vegetables to low-income DC families.

    National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc., provided grants to Common Good City Farm in its formative years and has continued to collect donations for the farm as part of National Garden Clubs world gardening initiative

    Notes From The Presentation:

    It's a production farm at 4th Street and B Street, NW, near Howard Hospital. Have only 2 full time staff.

    There is a community drop off for composting.

    She spoke on why and how to start your own seedlings and how to make the soil for the seedlings. The recipe was provided but unless you are going to have a lot of seedling, I think it's easier to buy it.

    Do be careful to sterilize soil, and all equipment. Showed us how to make seedling containers out of newspaper, which can then be planted and biodegrade.
    If seeds are old, test to see if they are still fertile by planting a few and see if they germinate.

    Lighting: bright window. Can use aluminum foil to reflect more light. Artificial light: have about 6” from the plants.

    Watering: better to underwater than over water. Water soil, not plant.

    Fertilizer: none needed until plant has 2 true leaves.

    Antifungal spray: use room-temp camomille tea. Spray twice daily

    Hardening off: 2-3 weeks before you intend to plant them outside, put them outside in the shade for 2-3 hours to get used to the new environment. Or use a cold frame.

  • January 13, 2015 5:30 PM | Anonymous member

    Resource Recovery at DC Water

    Nutrient/Carbon Reuse and Energy Production

    in Washington, D. C. 

    Featured Chris Peot, the Director of Resource Recovery at DC Water

    Chris spoke to us on -Resource Recovery at DC Water: Nutrient/Carbon Reuse and Green Energy Production in DC.

    The DC Water digestion project is turning sewage waste into green energy and a compost/blended topsoils for use in an urban setting. Currently, the asset is recycled onto farms in VA and MD, with a small amount coming back to DC in the form of compost for use in tree planting, green infrastructure projects, and community gardens. With the completion of the digesters this fall, Resource Recovery at DC Water began producing a “Class A” biosolids product, suitable for use in an urban setting, and are embarking on plan to blend as much of this material as possible into a topsoil amendment product. DC Water is excited to retain this asset for use in the District, rather than exporting it to farmers. From the digesters will come 600 tons per day of soil blend feedstock, which will be blended and sold to commercial entities and donated to non-profits and community organizations and gardens. Green energy and dark, rich topsoil – are both an assets to DC.

    Members of the Capitol Hill Garden Club and neighbors have already been recipients of mulch provided by this program.

    Individuals or groups who wish to receive this no cost compost for their personal use may contact Chris at 202 787-4328 or for more information.

  • December 03, 2014 4:30 PM | Anonymous member

    Deck The Halls Greens Party

    Members of the CHGC kicked off the holiday season with our annual Deck The Halls Greens party where participants created all sorts of holiday decorations using beautiful, Club-provided greens.

    “Seasoned” members provided guidance to those who had less experience working with greens, and Johann Jurgen helped others create very stylish ribbon and bow treatments.

    An impressive array of sweet and savory treats was brought by our members, including a complimentary beverage service set up by Anthony Pontorno.

    Edee Hogan did the organizing and planning this year, but had lots of help from Sandra Bruce, Pat Hanrehan, Ed Peterman, Carol Edwards, Carmen Weichman, Doris Celarier, Leanna Fenske and Donna Brandes.

    Many thanks to those who made this evening a great success, and it’s not to early to mark your calendars now (the first Wednesday in December, 2015) for the next Capitol Hill Garden Club Deck The Halls Greens Party. You won’t want to miss it!

  • November 11, 2014 5:30 PM | Anonymous member

    The Pepper In Your Pot

    400 Years of African American Sowing and Growing

    Our featured speaker was Michael Twitty .

    Michael Twitty captivated and educated us with information about the history of plant introduction and cultivation in our gardens. The multicultural makeup of the United States enriched and influenced agriculture and horticulture enormously. A case in point is the planting history of the south, with its large number of Africans, both enslaved and free, Native Americans, and Europeans. During the 17th – 19th centuries, African and European food and cash crops were successful introduced and cultivated along side of indigenous American plants.

    According to Mr. Twitty, prior to European exploration, there were crop exchanges between people on the American and African continents. By the time that the Portuguese and Spanish sailed down the coast of west Africa in the 16th century, they brought some heat loving plants like bananas and found Africans already familiar with them. Other plants and herbs came to Africa via west Asia. These travel patterns afforded Africans, especially coastal communities, with expertise about the cultivation of many plants.

    Although a popular belief holds that Africans brought seeds of familiar plantsundefinedokra, peppers, benne, cowpeas, and many othersundefinedentangled in their hair during middle passage, Mr. Twitty corrected the record. Many crops introduced from Africa were the preferred food of enslaved people, and fed to them by their captors so that they would arrive at U.S. slave markets in reasonable enough physical shape to fetch a good price.

    Warm weather agricultural crops, such as rice, cotton, indigo, and sorghum, were regularly grown in parts of the African continent. To make a success of their New World plantations, many owners sought enslaved Africans with expertise in growing these crops. It is not unusual to find African Americans in a particular locality who can trace their ancestry back to a particular region in Africa that has a history of growing the same crop. For example, Mr. Twitty traces has traced his own history seven generations back to people from the rice growing area of Sierra Leone who were brought to a rice growing region of the US.

    As the colonial African American population grew, some of those escaped farms and plantations, settled near or with Native Americans in areas outside of the colonial control. They shared seeds and knowledge of how to grow themundefinedcorn, rice, sweet potatoes, cow peas, etc. – adding yet another dimension to the diversity to American agriculture and horticulture.

    According to Mr. Twitty, another important tradition brought from Africa was the small farmer’s market. Both free and enslaved Africans grew vegetables and herbs in small home plots. Those with more than enough food for their personal sustenance sold vegetables to the public. Some prolific gardeners were even able to save enough money to buy their freedom. Although these markets dwindled in the Untied States, the tradition still flourishes in Africa.

    Another common practice on 18th and 19th century farms was to hire or indenture a knowledgeable European to establish or oversee farming practices. Once the enslaved Africans mastered those practices, Europeans were no longer needed for that purpose.

    According to Mr. Twitty, African Americans also added their knowledge and skill to the growing of herbs and flowers, the grafting of fruit and nut trees, and animal husbandry. In his closing remarks, Mr. Twitty again emphasized how many cultures have contributed to the our American gardens and urged us to learn about and celebrate them all.

    Michael is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South.

    Michael also authors a food blog, Afroculinaria, which features issues of culinary justice each month on he's website,

    In 2016, look for Michael's book, The Cooking Gene.

  • October 30, 2014 6:30 PM | Anonymous member

    CHGC Members Win Garden-Related Photo Competitions!

    Capitol Hill Garden Club member Bill Dean received second place ribbons in all three photography classes in SCIENCE INTO NATURE EQUALS ART, the National Capital Area Garden Clubs’ standard flower show at the U.S. National Arboretum, October 18 and 19, 2014. His photograph in the “flowers” class received over 90 points, which meant he was eligible for the blue in that class.

    Capitol Hill member and National Capital Area president David Healy received third place ribbons in two of the photography classes. There were a total of 25 photographs in the 3 classes.

    In the horticulture division, Bill received a blue ribbon for his Habanero peppers and David received a blue ribbon for his marigolds. Bill received 3 second place ribbons, 1 third place ribbon and 1 honorable mention for 5 other entries. David received 3 second place ribbons and 1 third place ribbon for 4 other entries. There were 320 entries in the horticulture division.

    The flower show was judged by 12 accredited judges from other states in accordance with the rules of the National Garden Clubs’ Handbook for Flower Shows.


    October 26, 2014: Capitol Hill Garden Club member Bill Dean received a first place ribbon for his photograph of Carmel Bay in BON VOYAGE, a standard flower show presented by the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs in conjunction with Destination Delaware, the 2014 conference of the National Garden Clubs’ Central Atlantic Region. Bill’s photograph was in the Fall Landscape class.

    David Healy, a Capitol Hill member and president of National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc., received a second place ribbon for his photograph of Fallingwater in the Spring Landscape class. He took the photograph during last May’s District I bus tour to Fallingwater, the iconic Kaufman home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

    There were more than 50 entries in 10 photography classes.

@ 2016 Capitol Hill Garden Club, Inc.

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