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  • Jennifer Jewell


Photos courtesy of Joe Joe Clark, all rights reserved.

A lot of news comes out of Washington DC at most times, and this year looks to offer even more. But we’re visiting the MidAtlantic belt for its gardening news. We’re joined in this by Kathy Jentz founder and editor of Washington Gardener, a gardening magazine and information hub for gardeners of DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

I’ll be speaking at a symposium on Women, Horticulture & Diversity at the Smithsonian Institute and their Smithsonian Gardens on March 18th as part of my national 2020 speaking tour around my book The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants – so I thought I would like to get the lay of that gardening place in advance. For more information on this and my other speaking dates and locations make sure to check out

When it comes to gardening and horticulture, it’s always best to consult the people who knows best – the gardeners OF the actual place.Kathy Jenzt – The Washington Gardener herself – joins us from her home and garden in DC to share more.

Kathy Jentz is an avid home gardener and professional garden communicator in the mid-Atlantic zone 7B. After graduating from college with her Journalism degree, she went to work managing communications such as newletters and magazines for trade associations in her area. In 2005 she brought her skills for publishing & communication together with her love of gardening and launched the Washington Gardener – a regional gardening magazine covering all manner of ornamental, edible, ecological and communal gardening for DC, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Despite being in the center of a wealth of public gardens and horticultural research, Kathy realized there was a big gap in communicating all that horticultural knowledge to home gardeners of Mid-Atlantic, which was the catalyst for founding the magazine, because, as we go on to discuss, when it comes to gardening information, the best of it is generally served fresh and local.

Follow Kathy and Washington Gardeners work on-line at:, and on Instagram: @wdcgardener, Facebook, and Twitter.

Join us again next week when we speak with another gardener/writer, Marta McDowell – whose focus in life is that sweet spot in the meeting place of trowel and Pen as she describes it. Marta’s freshly updated The Gardens of Emily Dickinson showcases the gardening life and love of this long-loved poet.


- Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Perennial Plant Society on Jan 23rd and,

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you there.



Thinking out Loud this week...


In this segment of our conversation with Kathy Jentz, I was struck by several things – her fully rounded love and engagement in gardening being at the heart of all of them. How she embraces ornamental, edible AND ecological gardening. How she embraces and enjoys the realities of living on a busy urban corner with a community college and a subway stop nearby – a community garden that she helped to found diagonally across the way. She mentions the interactions she has with front garden passersby, how she works with her big oaks not against the dry shade they create, she mentions her water barrels for harvesting rain water and slowing stormwater run-off in big rain events, how she has a catio to keep her cats (and her family on buggy summer evenings) happy and enjoying being outside but not prey to cars, and not predators to birds and other wildlife.

For me, somehow, these details Kathy mentions in passing of working – creatively and resourcefully – with the place she’s in all paint a picture of just how many many small ways we as gardeners can and do improve the environments we’re in – we improve the carbon footprint, air quality and heat island effect of urban areas with the large trees and other plants we tend, the watersheds we’re part of by creating and caring for beautiful, permeable surfaces, the community atmosphere of our streets for residents and visitors by just offering these sensual oases.

I love this. So does the rest of the world. Thank you to every gardener out there and the many ways your passion ripples positively out into the world.

I’m sure you noted my surprise at the twist in Joe Joe’s story last week – his stroke at such an early age followed by the nearly mystical role that plants themselves as well as the powerful mental symbolism that they held for him played in his healing and recovery. Toward the end of our conversation with Kathy, she too notes the powerful role that plants play for her in her densely urban environment – physically and through the chemical relationship we know we engage in with plants – the oxygen cycle dance we do together with plants, our sympathetic nervous and lymphatic systems’ response to the scents and pheromones and colors of plants and plant communities as borne out in the research around Shinrin yoku and forest bathing. But as Kathy implies – there is also some kind of vibrational call and response between us and this planet we live on and with and because of – our bare feet against her outer shell of living, breathing, vibrating soil and roots and interconnected organisms is real – we gardeners know this – at the very cellular level information gathering that are our bare hands, bare feet, and happy noses, hearts, and brains out in the garden with our garden family – we know this vibration is ours and it is good – good for us, and good for our plant and animal kin. Enjoy it – pass it on to others – pay attention to it and value it. As we head into the future that is ours to grow – we as gardeners have powerful and positive impacts to make for the better for us all. Don’t neglect this on your to do list and resolution list this month and year and life. Wear your gardening passion proudly. It could help save us all.

OH – and look forward to the first CP series of the year when in February we talk all about health and wellbeing in the garden – it’s the garden heart month for us and I think you’re going to like it – we have some serious garden vitamins coming your way.

Together we grow.




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