Just like the eagles returning to their nests along the Anacostia River, gardeners are ready to return to their favorite plant and garden centers. Spring never comes soon
enough for diehard garden enthusiasts. Frager’s Garden Center has operated in three different spaces since the June 2013 fire. Now it is poised to reopen around the corner of the 1100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue — a month before the newly restored Frager’s Hardware opens in April.
The Long-Awaited Opening
General Manager Kristin Sampson has been managing the Frager’s garden center for eight years. She could be described as almost giddy with excitement about the re-opening. Kristin came to gardening while she was getting a BA in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in International Relations. A friend was working as a nanny and Kristin was invited to help the family clean out their gardens on a beautiful spring day. “I was so surprised how much I really liked it,” says Kristin.
Shortly after graduating, Kristin found herself living in Philadelphia in a row house on one of the city’s well-known garden streets. Instead of a cement median between lanes, the streets contained a long garden bed that no one was caring for. Kristin’s house was at the end of the row, and she decided she should do something about the lapsed garden. As soon as she started digging, an eighty-year-old woman joined her, and a young child soon followed. “I suddenly realized how much gardening creates community,” Kristin says smiling.
Kristin found her way to Frager’s and the world of plants when she began feeling burnt out in the policy world, and happily has never looked back. She now lives in Upper Marlboro where she has more room to garden, although she says the abundance of deer is a constant tension. From the number of people stopping by Kristin’s office just to check in, she has found her community here as well.
More space and a new storefront
Since the Frager’s fire six years ago, the Garden Center has been in multiple locations. That’s a long time to be in limbo. Soon Kristin and her two full-time colleagues will be permanently located back at the Frager’s complex. They were there last year, but now – come April — they will be joined by the full Frager’s enterprise.
“I am looking forward to being able to finalize the layout of the Center,” says Kristin. “I know it was frustrating last year to come in and find that we were always moving things and it is also going to be great to know how much space we will have, so we can bring back a lot of the nursery vendors that have furnished wonderful plants to Frager’s in the past.”
Starting up in March, the Garden Center will have plenty of conditioning soil, mulches, and manures to get gardeners started on their new season. Whether you
have a new garden or are ready to spruce up your existing one, spring is the perfect time to get the shovel out. It is too late to put in spring bulbs, but now is a great time to plant hellebores, commonly known as Lenten Roses, or the Hill favorite, climbing phlox. And whose heart doesn’t sing when walking by bright yellow and purple pansies? It is also a good time to put in a shrub or tree before the weather gets too hot and dry.
A new indoor shop, Foliage
Branching out from the outdoor space, the Garden Center will expand to its own indoor shop, named Foliage. The shop will feature house plants and will contain the Center’s garden tools and accessories. In addition to the new indoor facility, the outdoor space will also be expanded. The shop’s entrance will be on Pennsylvania Avenue, between the pizza place and the Hype coffee shop. It will be a few more months before Foliage opens its doors.
Kristin’s tips for success
Gardening, as we know, is a never-ending project. “One year something may do really well in your yard, and the next year the deer or other natural things find the plants and they wilt,” says Kristin. She and her other garden staff are happy to help gardeners solve plant dilemmas. “You can bring your sick plant to us, but we really
ask that you bring it in a zipped up baggy. We don’t want to contaminate our healthy plants.” And, while Frager’s Garden Center doesn’t do offsite consultations, they can walk you through a garden design on site.
Last year’s excessive rains were a challenge to all, and The Old Farmers Almanac says, “summer will be rainier and cooler than normal, with the hottest periods in late June, early July, and early to mid-August.” Kristin says there isn’t a lot you can do about the abundance of rain, but one observation from last year was that terracotta pots dry out a lot quicker then ceramic or resin pots. Having pots with proper drainage systems is a must. And, if you can move your potted plants under cover during intense rain, it can help them thrive when the sun does return.
Ready, set, go. It’s March and the Garden Center is open.
Rindy O’Brien is itching to get back in her garden. Thoughts or comments, contact her at [email protected]