Dear Garden Problem Lady,


My camellia buds froze and dropped in early February. By Feb. 11 my daffodils started to bloom. Such wild swings – freezing – rain – and 50F and 60F degree-days too. Was the groundhog right about an early spring this year?
Your question is most apt. Historians will try to tell us reasons why. About the future, no one can know.

Are there any spring bulbs that squirrels DON’T like? All my tulips have been dug up and eaten.
Daffodil, Chionodoxa Glory of the Snow, Tommasiana Crocus, Fritillaria, Hyacinth, and Allium bulbs are a few.

Walking up East Capitol on Feb. 16 I saw a Witch Hazel in full bloom. So enchanting – I had to stop and worship. Are they hard to grow?
They are easy to grow with good sun. In brilliant yellows, oranges, pinks and reds — they bloom in winter and early spring when little else does – and they smell divine. They like acid soil and grow to 15 or 20 feet. They might prefer some filtered shade in our scorching summers.

My Escargot begonia is three years old. Its leaves are very beautiful, but after its initial pale pink flowers, it has never bloomed again. It is in a window with north light – so it never gets direct sunlight. What might be lacking?
It does not need or want direct sunlight. Interestingly, your Escargot, a member of the Rex family, does not go dormant . Stunning leaves, not those tiny blossoms, are its main attraction. The Escargot probably needs much more humidity. Set it on top of a thick bed of pebbles in a flat container, and keep the water level at the top of the pebbles. Water it sparely, only once a week, never allowing the roots to sit in water. Fertilize with every second watering.

I thought English Ivy was a no-no – it’s invasive and it’s not native to the USA. Can you explain why English Ivy can be seen practically everywhere on Capitol Hill?
To quote Dr. Samuel Johnson – ignorance, Madam – sheer ignorance. Ivy roots are hard to eradicate, and destroy bricks, mortar and trees. — but ivy requires no upkeep and most of us still think it looks grand. We besotted Americans continue our centuries-old crush on English ivy.


At the March 12, 2019 meeting of the Capitol Hill Garden Club Scott Kratz, Director of the 11th Street Bridge Park Project, will show plans for DC’s first elevated park. Meetings start with refreshments at 6:45 pm at the NE Public Library, corner of Maryland Ave. & 7th St. NE. Meetings are free and open to all. Membership details: