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!

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  • October 08, 2013 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Gardening In The Great Indoors

    Featuring: Regina Lanctot

    Regina is a plant specialist at Merrifield Garden Center in Fair Oaks, gave a lively presentation October 8 on “Gardening in the Great Indoors.” Starting with the psychological and health benefits of houseplants, which like all plants absorb toxins in the air, she provided many suggestions on how to keep houseplants thriving. Among the highlights:

    · Be careful when transporting plants home; even brief periods in the car in freezing winter can kill newly purchased plants, especially orchids but other tropicals as well.

    · Houseplants need time to acclimate to your home’s surroundings; gradually introduce plants to new settings. Try to replicate the conditions in which they thrive in their natural habitat. Even cacti can burn if thrust suddenly in a very sunny spot.

    · Many houseplants like humidity, especially during the winter when artificial heating creates desert like conditions. Don’t spritz houseplants with water. It’s better to place them in a saucer on pebbles in tray above a small layer of water. Gravel at the bottom of a pot is not helpful for drainage, either (contrary to common perception). A clever way to prevent water accumulating in the potting soil is to place a block of Styrofoam at the bottom of a jardinière and set the pot on top of it. Clear plastic “growers’ pots,” which permit a good look at the plant’s root system and general state of in-soil health, are especially good for this technique of displaying houseplants.

    · Plants love an occasional hose-down with water to provide moisture and to eliminate some kinds of insect pests.

    · Don’t repot houseplants often; some actually thrive in root-bound conditions. And never report a new houseplant until it’s clearly adapted to your home’s surroundings.

    · Indoor plants, like those outdoors, need ventilation, which helps prevent fungus. In still air try a gentle fan.

    · A layer of activated charcoal can help prevent root and stem rot.

    · Don’t overwater plants, notably succulents. Houseplants love rainwater, free of many compounds present in tap water that can be harmful to plants.

    · Don’t over fertilize houseplants, and don’t fertilize at all during their natural “resting periods.” Light-colored deposits on the top layer of houseplant soil can be a sign of fertilizer salt accumulations, which can be treated by running water gently through the plant’s soil in the pot.

    · Another sign of overfertilization can be leaf tip discoloration, which can also the result of other difficult-to-diagnose problems.

    · Orchids like to be potbound, but when the bark and other aerating planting medium breaks down and gets mushy, it’s time to repot, generally in 2 years.

    · Don’t prune more than one-third of a plant’s foliage or its roots at a time.

    · Insect pests come in many varieties, some of the common ones being mealybugs (which look like tiny cotton tufts) and scale (look like tiny shields); both are sap suckers (often resulting in “honey dew”undefinedsticky, carbohydrate-rich goop from the insects’ feasting on your plants) and are best treated by plucking them with Q tips and alcohol.

    · Two good websites are and

    This is but a sampling of Regina’s thorough presentation. For more information, visit Merrifield Garden Center at Fair Oaks and talk to Regina one-on-one. But do call the center at 703-968-9600 to make sure she’s there. Regina’s a busy lady who conducts many workshops, including those for Master Gardener candidates, and was recently asked to organize all Merrifield workshops and related activities.

    Many thanks to Roberta Gutman for organizing and presenting tonight's speaker.

    Also, 2013–2014 budget approved.
  • September 10, 2013 7:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Bodacious Bulbs

    Featuring: Adam Pyle 

    Adam delivered a timely and informative presentation on Bulbs that will undoubtedly help members select and plant a better bulb display in their garden, and help us close a few more sales during our annual fund-raiser.

    Tonight's presentation materials on bulbs along with an array of photos and informative materials written by Adam can be found on his website,


    Adam Pyle grew up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, spending time withgrandparents who were avid gardeners. From a young age he was always obsessed with plants and knew that he wanted to work with them as a career. Later, at the University of Maryland, Adam intended to major in landscape architecture, but found himself drawn to horticulture and botany, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Natural Resources and Plant Sciences. He soon joined the staff at United States Botanic Garden, where for five years he worked as the lead gardener of Bartholdi Park, experimenting with new gardening techniques for the Mid-Atlantic region. He now works as a professional horticulturist there and spends much of his time planning and designing exhibits, displays, and programs for the visiting public. Adam particularly enjoys sharing his Washington gardening experiences in the hopes that others can learn from his successes and failures.

    Synopsis of Adam's presentation:

    Some basic recommendations for spring flowering bulbs are:

    1) plant in full sun (may be under deciduous trees which come into leaf later)
    2) moderate moistureundefinedwith excellent drainage is required
    3) bone meal or an organic fertilizer is preferred
    4) plant to a depth of three times the height of the bulbs
    5) use a pine straw mulchundefinedor, if in a pot, overplant with pansies.

    If you are planting bulbs in pots, the pots should be at least 12-14 inches deep and wide. Use a mixture of potting soil and perlite, fill half way up and then start layering bulbs as close as shoulder-to-shoulder covering each layer with soil before adding the next layerundefinedup to 7 layers in very deep pots. Experiment with color and bloom time.

    When do you plant your bulbs? Usually when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees. Practical hints: when the asters and mums are on the wane or you turn on the heater in your car.

    In planning for use of tulips, Mr. Pyle recommends aiming for patches or splashes of color with no less than 10 tulips with similar heights and blooming times, but varied flower shapes and patterns in a color scheme of two or three variations. He also suggested staggering bloom times when planting larges swaths of tulips.

    He very generously gave us his email address: (under the heading "Think Spring") for checking out blossom heights, bloom times, etc. on several charts he has created. This information can be enormously helpful.

    He did not confine himself to tulips and daffodils, but included ideas about crocus, snowdrops, fritillaria, alliums, dwarf iris, and anemones. He especially recommended the multiflowering hyacinth ‘Anastasia,’ which multiplies readily and will last for yearsundefinedunlike tulips, which he treats as annuals, because hybrid tulips decline rapidly after their first blooming, losing size, color, or sometimes disappearing altogether. And yesundefinedhe recommended leaving the green leaves of perennial bulbs to die back naturally without cutting or tying so the bulbs can develop strength for their next year’s flowering. –Pat Driscoll

    Many thanks to Pat Discole for planning, organizing and introducing this program.

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