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!

  • September 09, 2014 7:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Yoga For Gardeners

    Featuring: Pamela Hostetter of Blissful Yoga
    Pamela demonstrated how yoga can increase flexibility and strength in the muscles that are routinely stressed by gardening. After stimulating the mind and body by digging, planting, and weeding, members learned how to relieve aches and relax their mind by practicing yoga while seated in a chair.

    As this was the first meeting of the 2014 - 2015 season, our Club vice president (Ed Peterman) also discussed our budget, introduced the chairperson for this year's bulb sale (Elizabeth McLure) and thanked various members for their help over the summer and in the set up of our first meeting in our new location (Sonia Conley, Sandra Bruce, Anthony Pontorno and Joe Purdy).

    The 2014/2015 budget that was proposed by the Executive Board was reviewed and unanimously approved by the members present at the September meeting. 

    A copy of the budget is available to members by clicking on the Members Only tab to the right.

  • May 31, 2014 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On May 31, when fifty garden club members gathered on the patio of the U.S. National Arboretum, the weather was balmy and the setting was freshly landscaped. As usual, Johann and friends had added the perfect notes of elegance and grace with linen cloths and flowers on each table. 

    Just after appetizers were served, we selected and exchanged gifts in the White Elephant. An orchid planted in a beautiful container changed hands several times, leaving anticipation, excitement and disappointment in its wake. The same was true of a funky felt rooster. Oh well, luck of the draw! Both participants and observers had fun with this activity. Thanks, Marissa, for this entertaining addition to the evening. 

    Yet again, the garden party demonstrated that the garden club is chocked full of good cooks. The food was delicious, the music atmospheric, and the company unbeatable. Finally, we again wowed the Arboretum staff with our efficient and complete clean-up. 

    Thanks again to all who made this year’s party a success!

  • May 13, 2014 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    May Garden Walk

    The annual Spring Garden Walk was a stroll through the Stanton Park neighborhood of Capitol Hill.

    About thirty club members and their guests examined the gardens along Fourth and Fifth Streets noting details of plantings and hardscape. Susan Thompson’s carefully constructed questionnaire was a great inducement for us to pay close attention to interesting flora and artistic features, including a larch tree, a rare choice in the DC area. Along the way, the group spoke with one home owner who had constructed and planted a vertical herb garden from a discarded construction pallet. We ended the walk with refreshments in Sharon Ferguson’s garden lovely backyard garden.

    Thanks to Susan and Sharon for an interesting and entertaining evening.

  • April 08, 2014 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Designing with Texture to Make a Shady Garden Shine

    Featured: Janet Draper, horticulturist, Smithsonian Gardens

    Janet Draper brought her gardening creativity and experience to shed light on designing shady garden spaces. The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, a tiny 1/3rd of an acre that includes areas of deep shade and dappled light, is located on the U.S. National Mall and is open 24 hours a day to visitors from around the globe. With labeled plants representing over 900 different taxa on display, this garden educates it visitors. Due to the nearly constant events occurring within a stone’s throw, and major construction on the historic Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, the challenges of keeping the garden looking good can be daunting.

    Janet Draper has served as the sole gardener at the Smithsonian Association’s Mary Livingston Ripley Garden since 1997. She has extensive design and horticultural experience with firms, nurseries, and garden centers including Oehme von Sweden Associates, Homestead Gardens, The Plantage, and Kurt Bluemel, Inc. Janet also interned domestically and internationally with Mt. Cuba Center for Native Plants in Delaware, the Ball Seed Company in Illinois, Beth Chatto Gardens and Elmstead Market in England, and the Perennial Nursery of Countess VonStein-Zeppelin in Germany. She holds a B.S. degree in horticulture from Purdue University.

    Synopsis of Designing With Texture To Make A Shady Garden Shine 

    Submitted by Sallie Strang

    Opening the April Capitol Hill Garden Club presentation with a slide of a sunny summer garden in full flower, Janet Draper asks, “Is this the garden you are imagining? If so, the shade gardens I have to show you will not meet your expectations. But they can offer you a beguiling path to walk down.”

    A self-acclaimed “plant geek,” Draper frequently quotes English gardener Beth Chatto, author of Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden: Shade-loving Plants for Year-round Interest, in touting the rewards and sumptuous pleasures of gardening in shade. Draper speaks from 15 years experience with the Ripley Garden, a deciduous shade garden where “all spring bulbs do well,” but as spring moves to summer, the shade becomes darker and darker. Then, says Draper, contrasting texture becomes the focus, and flowers, if they appear, are merely bonus.

    Draper offers visual suggestions with the slides and plant combinations that almost overwhelm until she offers her simplified approach. “When I start a garden,” she says, “I begin with three plants with different textures that appeal to me. Then I add another three and another three and another three.” That one hint let each of us leave the meeting with inspiration and the impetus to follow those directions on the first sunny day.

    “I’ve fallen in love with bold, bold foliage,” Draper says and suggests:

    *Chinese mayapple (Podophylum versipelle)

    *Hakenochloa macra Aureola (Plant it to cover dying tulip leaves.)

    *Helleborus foetidus (Cut the seed heads off when you have enough plants.)

    *the fine linear lines of Carex (sedge)

    *Danae racemosa (a slow growing, evergreen laurel with glossy fronds to three feet and great for cut foliage)

    *epimedium for dry, shady hard-to-grow areas (In April, Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' in my way-back shady garden provides a bonus of yellow flower sprays peeking out among the fading daffodils.)

    *Polygonatum odoratum varigatum (variegated Solomon’s seal) or Polygonatum odoratum cultivar with a golden shade

    *Parthenocyssum vine (Virginia creeper) for “a great plant to add oomph to any group,”

    Draper suggests Brunnera and illustrates its drama with a guttural, drawn out emphasis on BRUNundefinednera.

  • March 11, 2014 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    John Bartram Lives

    Featuring: Kirk R. Brown

    We were pleased to have had Kirk Brown as our presenter at the March garden club meeting, reenacting the life of colonial-era plantsman John Bartram, “the father of American Botany.”  (Among Mr. Brown’s many achievements is the Green Achiever Award for advancing horticulture, presented by the Pennsylvania Nursery and Landscape Association.)

    In a spouse-created waistcoat, stylish breeches, buckled shoes, and with carved snake-adorned walking stick in hand, John Bartram regaled members of the Capitol Hill Garden Club with political jokes, life-long accomplishments, and complaints. Here is his story.John Bartram (1699-1777) was a third-generation Pennsylvania Quaker, born in nearby Darby. He was imbued with a curiosity and reverence for nature, as well as a passion for scientific inquiry.  Bartram purchased 102 acres from Swedish settlers in 1728, and systematically began gathering the most varied collection of North American plants in the world including Franklinia alatamaha, extinct in the wild since the early 1800s.  A self-taught man, Bartram had the quintessential “can do” American spirit that continues to inspire us today.  His travels – by boat, on horseback, and on foot – took him to New England, as far south as Florida, and west to Lake Ontario.  He collected seeds and plant specimens, establishing a trans-Atlantic hub of plant exploration through his exchanges with London merchant Peter Collinson.  Plants from Bartram’s Garden were exchanged with the leading thinkers and patrons in Britain.  In 1765, Bartram was appointed the “Royal Botanist” by King George III.  At home, Bartram founded the American Philosophical Society with his friend Benjamin Franklin.  His garden was a source of inquiry and pleasure for luminaries like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  His seed and plant business thrived, with lists appearing as early as the 1750s in London publications.  His international plant trade and nursery business survived him and thrived under the care of three generations of Bartrams.

    For more about John Bartrams's life click here.
  • February 11, 2014 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Nature of Ikebana

    Featured: Diana Cull

    At the garden club’s February meeting, our speaker was Diana Cull.

    Ikebana, an ancient floral art of Japan, has captured people's attention because of its graceful lines and pleasing forms. Ikebana reveals the beauty and vigor of its floral components. This program introduced members to the basics of this art form. What is "ikebana"? How does it differ from western flower arranging? Are there different styles of ikebana? What are the basic elements of an "ikebana" arrangement? What distinguishes the Sogetsu School of Ikebana? We learned the answers to these questions and more at this demonstration/lecture by Diana Cull, a certified teacher of the Sogetsu School.

    Diana Cull Biography

    Diana has been studying ikebana for over 30 years and was a student of the late Mary Sugiyama, former Executive Director of Sogetsu North America. She is a certified teacher in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana and holds the teacher’s rank of Komon.

    Diana is the past Director of the Sogetsu Branch of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. She is also a past president of the Washington, D.C. Chapter #1 of Ikebana International, and continues to serve on the Chapter’s Board of Directors.

    Diana retired from the Federal Government in 2000 after 32 years of service at the Census Bureau. Since retirement, she has spent more time demonstrating and teaching ikebana.

    She has exhibited her ikebana at various venues in the Washington Metropolitan area including: the U.S. National Arboretum and the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.; the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA; and Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, MD.

  • January 14, 2014 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Seasonal Interest for Winter Gardens

    At the garden club’s January meeting, our speaker was James Gagliardi, a horticulturalist with the Smithsonian Institution. He is responsible for the landscape surrounding the National Museum of Natural History, which includes butterfly and urban bird habitats. He is an editor of the Smithsonian’s first gardening book, Encyclopedia of Garden Plants for Every Location, which will be published in the fall of 2014.

    James showed the garden club audience how and which plants can maintain their appeal in winter. Click here for a list of plants. He highlighted important garden features which include, berries (e.g. winterberry hollies), grasses (e.g. little blue stem) , seedheads (e.g. milk weed), stems ( e.g. red twig dogwood), bark (e.g. paperbark maple), evergreens, and even some spent flowers (e.g. cone flower). Woven throughout his presentation was information on how ecology and landscape design can work together to benefit the environment.

    Garden Club members are fortunate to have such a resource so close to Capitol Hill, and we look forward to the development of the “prehistoric garden” now underway at the Museum of National History.

    Please visit the Smithsonian Gardens webpage, where you'll find more information and photos from James' presentation.
  • December 29, 2013 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    2013 Capitol Hill Garden Club Bulb Sale

    Because of your diligence and effort the gross receipts were: week one $1404 ($839/$565); week two $1140 ($509/$631);  week three (Sunday only) $582; week four $1130 ($644/$486); week five $1130 ($597/$533); and the November meeting $232.  The gross profit was $5418*.  Our total net profit is $2,177.

    * Excludes $200 in small change advanced from existing club assets for the bulb sale.

    Thank you to all who made this fall’s bulb sale a smashing success.  A special thanks to Co-chairs Carol Casperson and Leanna Fenske for excellent leadership and hard work.

    Many thanks to our club members who: served as Officer of the Day, sold bulbs, selected bulbs, priced bulbs, transported bulbs, set up and dismantled the sales booth, recruited volunteers, tracked the money, and provided storage space.  (I apologize if I have inadvertently missed anyone who contributed time and effort to the bulb sale.  Please let me know who you are so we can all celebrate your contribution.)
    Robert Atcheson
    Alex Belano
    Suzanne Bowden
    Donna Brandes
    Nick Brandes
    Barry Brauth
    Donna Brauth
    Diane Brockett
    Floyd Brown
    Sandra Bruce
    Sharon Calkins-Hubley
    Judy Canning 
    Doris Celarier
    Sonia Connelly
    Martha Connor-Donnelly
    Joe Cwiklinski
    Bill Dean
    Kim Diffendal
    Pat Driscoll
    Carol Edwards
    Elizabeth Edwards
    Mathew Emry
    Paul Etter
    Joan Fallows
    Lorraine Fishback
    Becky Jo Fredriksson
    Bob Fuller
    Kay Fuller
    Ann Grace
    Gail Giuffrida
    David Healy
    Jeff Johnson
    Joyce Jones
    Joan Keenan
    Cherie Klein
    Denny Lane
    Inez Lester
    Mary Lischer
    Barbara Marks
    Liz McClure
    Lea McDaniel
    Evelyn McKay
    Janice McKenney
    Nancy Metzger
    Jennifer Newton
    Sharon Newsome
    Anthony Portorno
    Beth Purcell
    Joe Purdy
    Ed Peterman
    Tracy Peoples
    Jim Shelar
    Sandy Shelar
    Vira Sisolak
    Gene Smith
    Olivia Sparer
    Mary Ann Sroufe
    Jerry Sroufe
    Susan Thompson 
    E.J. Truax 
    Joel Truitt
    Keats Webb
    Ruth Widmann
    Marian Wiseman
    Carla Yates-Bremer
    Kerry Dooley Young
    Johann Yurgen
    Fran Zaniello
    Marissa Zapata 
    We also want to acknowledge members who volunteered to serve, but were rained-out and unable to serve on another day, including Bob Cashdollar, Sharon Hanley, Muriel Martin-Wein, Margaret Missiaen, Eileen Reagan, and Julie Rios.

  • December 04, 2013 4:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Deck The Halls Workshop

    This is one of our most popular events, where members make holiday wreaths, swags and table arrangements using a beautiful assortment of holiday greens and ribbons provided by the Club.

    'Coaching' is provided by members to those who want help with the design and making of their arrangement. Refreshments are served.

    This year's event was very well attended, with many beautiful holiday arranges going home with the members who made them.

    Sandra Bruce was the 2013 chair, and offered the following thanks to those who worked to make Deck The Halls a success:

    "I want to thank the following volunteers who either helped in the morning with set up and bagging or in the evening with clean up and putting the tables back in order. Ed Peterman and E J manned the registration table and when Gail and Cherie came over to do their shifts Ed wanted to stay so they were able to work on their projects. Johann Yurgen is not on this list but tied beautiful ribbons all evening and entertained everyone that came to visit him. And last, Carol Edwards who kept an eye on things and stepped up when she was needed."

    Bagging and Setup

    Pat Hanrehan
    Judy Canning
    Janet McKenney
    Faith Brightbill
    Evelyn McKay
    Elizabeth McClure
    Donna Brandes
    Carol Edwards
    Jennifer Newton


    Anthony Pontorno
    Everyone who brought something


    E J Truax
    Ed Peterman
    Gail Giufridda
    Cherie Klein

    Clean up

    Jennifer Newton
    Pat Hanrehan
    Vira Sisolak
    Elizabeth Edwards
    Edee Hogan
    Olivia Sparer
    Amy Dapot

    To see more of Bill Dean's photos from our event, visit his site here.

    Want to be the 2014 Chair?

    Sandra Bruce has chaired this event for the past 2 years, and so it's time to find someone who can run it next year.  If you want to find out more about what chairing this event will require, contact Sandra.  Or reach out to Carol now and let her know you want to chair Deck The Halls for 2015.
  • November 12, 2013 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Favorite Perennial Introductions

    Featuring: Jessica Bonilla and Drew Asbury

    Like gardeners everywhere, the gardeners at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens have their favorite plants – the ones they have found work well and look good in both their public and home gardens. Since Hillwood’s gardeners get a chance to observe new introductions before most of the rest of us do, they also are keenly watching for plants that might make the next “favorites” list. At the November Capitol Hill Garden Club meeting, Hillwood’s lead gardener, Jessica Bonilla, and Drew Asbury, greenhouse and cutting garden grower, combined their observations and expertise to present an overview of 47 notable plants – some old, some new – along with hints about each plant’s characteristics and cultural preferences.

    [See additional notes and the list of recommended plants below.]

    The bulbs remaining from the annual bulb sale fundraiser were steeply discounted.

    Most fascinating tip of the evening? 

    Add foot powder (think Dr. Scholl’s) to tulip beds to keep the squirrels at bay.

    Picks for new and exciting plants? 

    There’s Thalictrum (Meadow Rue) ‘Black Stockings’, best planted with lots of leaf compost and in dappled light. Or if you’re looking for a plant for a hot, dry sunny spot, try the Kniphofia (Poker Plant) Popsicle Series that are smaller than many Poker Plants and rebloom in late summer. Another long-blooming plant is Coreopsis ‘Mercury Rising’, a red coreopsis that the Mt. Cuba Trial Gardens in Delaware found to be less susceptible to disease than many of the new cultivars. Helenium autumnale Mariachi Series was recommended as a “great late-summer-blooming Sneezeweed” that will add oranges and reds to the landscape. A new grass to consider is Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’, a Little Bluestem grass that grows 2’ – 3’ tall in a very upright form with the bonus of red and purple fall color. Another is the Giant Sacaton Grass, Sporobolus wrightii ‘Windbreaker’, recommended as a worthy replacement for Pampas Grass that is becoming a problem invasive in warm climates. (Several other new plants were also included in the evening’s list (Joe add a link to the full list, which should be posted on the website.)

    Some favorite perennials that perhaps you haven’t considered yet? 

    Hillwood’s gardeners found it difficult to settle on their favorite and reliable perennials but they finally winnowed the list down to 36. If you don’t have a Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) in your garden, the recommendation was to go buy one for a dry shady spot. At bloom time, be sure to cut off the old leaves so you’ll see the new leaves emerging. Another plant good for shade is the spring-blooming Barrenwort, Epimedium perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’, which holds its flowers above the green and red foliage.

    Thinking beyond the usual ground covers? 

    Bonilla and Asbury suggested Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ (Japanese Forest Grass) to add texture to the garden and which has more vigor than many of the other varieties of this plant. Also suggested for ground covers were Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, (Creeping Jenny), if you can supply the all-important moisture, and Tiarella ’Elizabeth Oliver’, an 8” – 12”- tall Foam Flower that is suitable for shade and is stronger than the native.

    Some recommended perennials that are perhaps less well known are Acorus gramineus ‘Minimum Aureus’, a Dwarf Golden Sweet Flag with a pleasing fragrance (but keep it moist if it’s in the sun) and the Cranesbill Geranium ‘Rozanne’ that “blooms non-stop from June to November”. The Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (Angelina Stonecrop) rewards the gardener with foliage that changes color every season from green to yellow to orange in the fall. For bold foliage, one to think about might be the South African native Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (Pineapple Lily) that grows from a bulb and is an easy plant in part to full sun.

    Notable Plants:

    Baptisia australis, False Blue Indigo
    Verbena bonariensis, Tall Verbena
    Agastache rupestris, Sunset Hyssop
    Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage
    Verbascum 'Southern Charm', Showy Mullein
    Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldstrum', Black-Eyed Susan
    Sedum rupestre 'Angelina', Angelina Stonecrop
    Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy', Pineapple Lily
    Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low', Catmint
    Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink', Hardy Mum
    Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus', Purple Coneflower
    Amsonia hubrichtii, Arkansas Blue Star
    Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum', Japanese Painted Fern
    Helleborus orientalis, Lenten Rose
    Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold', Japanese Forest Grass
    Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea', Creeping Jenny
    Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver', Foam Flower
    Primula japonica, Japanese Primrose
    Chelone Iyonii 'Hot Lips', Pink Turtlehead
    Liriope 'Monroe White', Lily Turf
    Astilbe chinensis 'Superba', Chinese Astilbe
    Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila', Chinese Astilbe
    Epimedium perralchicum 'Frohnleiten', Barrenwort
    Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum', Variegated Solomon's Seal
    Trillium grandiflorum, Wood Lily
    Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Plumbago
    Heuchera 'Caramel', 'Citronelle' & 'Mocha', Coral Bells
    Hosta 'Krossa Regal', Hosta
    Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears', Hosta
    Acarus gramineus 'Minimus Aureus', Dwarf Golden Sweet Flag
    Geranium 'Rozanne', Cranesbill
    Stokesia laevis 'Peachie's Pick', Stokes' Aster
    Phlox paniculata 'Shortwood', Garden Phlox
    Eupatorium fistulosum, Joe Pye Weed
    Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard', Adam's Needle
    Panicum virgatum 'Northwind', Switch Grass

    New and Exciting

    Thalictrum 'Black Stockings', Meadow Rue
    Kniphofia Popsicle Series, Poker Plant
    Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising',. Tickseed
    Helenium autumnale Mariachi Series, Sneezeweed
    Brunnera macrophylla 'Alexander's Great', Siberian Bugloss
    Lobelia cardinalis 'Black Truffle', Cardinal Flower
    Delosperma 'Fire Spinner', Ice Plant
    Agave neomexicana, New Mexico Hardy Century Plant
    Agave salmiana 'Crazy Horse', Crazy Horse Hardy Century Plant
    Schizachyrium scaparium 'Standing Ovation', Little Bluestem
    Sporobolus wrightii 'Windbreaker', Giant Sacaton Grass

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