Bulletins PVC NARGS


Potomac Valley Chapter

North American Rock Garden Society



Volume 7, Number 4

July 2005

This bulletin is a bimonthly publication of the Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS

Jim McKenney, Editor jimmckenney@starpower.net 301-770-1867


Calendar, 2005 & 2006



July 14-17, St. Johnís, Newfoundland. "Rock Garden of the North Atlantic" NARGS Annual Meeting. Finn Haugli, Todd Boland, Bruce Ryan, Maria Galletti, Bernard Jackson, Jamie Ellison, Wilf Nicholls. Field trips. Contact Bodil Larsen, 709-437-6173. blarsen@mun.ca.

July 24, 4-6 pm - Val and Bill Lorenz, 8610 Running Fox Ct., Fairfax Station, VA - - 703-323-0546 or vlorenz107@aol.com; our annual picnic.

See Directions Page below.

September 10 Ė Walk through Southern Exposure, a new planting at the U.S. Botanic Garden led by Bill McLaughlin, curator of the plants and the architect of the garden. Bill grew all the plants in this special zone 9 and 10 garden.

September, date and place TBA - Our Fall Plant Exchange

November 12- Our Annual Meeting, Elections, and Membersí Slide Show, Meadowlark Gardens, Beulah Road, Vienna, Virginia. . 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. Coffee at 9:30 A.M. See Directions Page below.

Please contact Betty Spar if you wish to show slides. Betty will need to know about AV needs well before meeting time.

Betty Spar, United States Botanic Garden

245 First Street SW, Washington, DC 20024

202-225-5002, Fax 202-225-1561

January 7 Carlo Balistrieri, Curator of the T.H. Everett Rock Garden at the NY Botanical Garden, place TBD.

February 11 Brookside Gardens, 9:30A.M-1 P.M.

John Scott, founder of the Rockland Botanical Garden in Berks Co., PA.and a student of Dr. Wherry.

Feast for the East, an account of the tour he led in June with the Hardy Fern Foundation and the British Pteridological Society.

March TBD, but Betty has two things in mind

April 1, place TBA Marion Jarvie from the Ontario Chapter NARGS, Rock Garden Goodies



Next Deadline August 15, 2005




Our website is up and running!!! Check at


To access the Membersí Section;

our "username" is pvcnargs

the password is plantsrock

Thanks, Marge!


The E-Robin

In the old days (i.e. pre-email) many plant groups conducted round robins, often simply called robins. The robin was a sort of progressive letter to which each member of the robin added in turn and then forwarded to the next member. It was a great way to spread information, although Iíve often wondered if the limited popularity of robins was not attributable to the reluctance of many to display their grammatical and orthographical creativity to their peers (not to mention the hieroglyphics they called penmanship).

E-mail technology offers the opportunity to continue the robin tradition, but this time, if you so choose, without the hassle of checking to see if you have dotted your iís and crossed your tís. In addition to (or as a substitute for) commentary, itís simple now to attach pictures.

About a year ago, Alice, Dixie and I began to exchange pictures and commentary informally. Along the way we were joined by Dan and Jim and Bob Faden. Bob does not post pictures but does provide commentary (and the occasional much-needed ID).

This has been a source of real pleasure for us. Only last week Jim and Dan wowed us with a series of great Arisaema images, and Alice and Dixie always seem to come up with something unlikely, interesting or beautiful. The often ephemeral nature of inflorescence being what it is, most of us will never actually see these plants in friendsí gardens. But those email pictures are a next best thing.

Would you like to join us? You donít have to able to send pictures, you donít even have to comment. If you just want to lurk and see whatís going around, thatís fine. Send me your email address and Iíll add you to the distribution list.

Jim McKenney





We are pleased to announce the following new members:

Thomas Baughn

2714 Dawson Avenue

Wheaton, Maryland 20902


Charles Findlay

210 West Walnut Street

Alexandria, Virginia 22301


Rob Gimpel

32 Drawbridge Court

Catonsville, Maryland 21228


Laurie Hall

5426 5th Street South

Arlington, Virginia 22204



Ann Stoddard and John Straub

8718 23rd Avenue

Adelphi, Maryland 20783




Lauren Fyfe

3610 Cornell Rd

Fairfax, Virginia 22030


Louise and Jim Hourrigan

2598 Babcock Rd

Vienna, Virginia 22181



Robin Cross




Wayne Goldstein


Dixie Hougan


Linda Keenan


Lynn Title


Note: if you volunteered your email address and donít see it above, it is because we will not publicize it without your permission. Let us know.


Dixie Hougen



On one of the lists in which I occasionally participate, there has been a very lively exchange this week regarding the sort of plants which qualify for consideration as "native" plants. Several of us were provoked to make some outrageous statements. Things got hot!

In an effort to make peace, I posted this. I hope not too many of you will smile Ė or grimace - in self-recognition as you read this.

One reason your efforts to grow natives may come to grief

About a decade ago Wayne and I were hiking in far southeastern Virginia shortly after a night of hurricane-force winds and came upon a downed tree with a mighty crown of Smilax laurifolia. Better yet, it was full of ripe seed which only a day or two before had been basking in the sun sixty feet up.

Smilax laurifolia is one of the most magnificent evergreen vines native to North America. It looks a bit like Clematis armandii. It's all but unknown in cultivation, partly because it is only dubiously manageable as a garden plant, very slow from seed and probably slow to propagate vegetatively. I've never seen it offered in the trade. Seed is hard to acquire because it is produced high up off the ground, usually well out of reach.

I collected several dozen seed and planted them when I got home; they germinated a year or so later, and then grew very slowly. Now, about ten years later, the several surviving plants are still youngsters only about six feet or so long. They grow in a tangle of bog plants. Remember that word tangle.

About an hour ago, I noticed the other member of the household giving the Smilax area a lot of attention. When I investigated, I discovered her busily ripping out the "strangle vine". There in her sweet hand were clutched the partial sum of ten years' worth of patient waiting.

After I calmed down, I resolved to plant more tomatoes and dinner-plate dahlias: at least they look like "plants". And letís face it, there really wasnít room for a dozen sixty foot evergreen vines, magnificent or not.

[After writing the above, I Googled Smilax laurifolia and found a commercial source. So if you donít want to wait ten years...]

Jim McKenney


After living 27 years at my current address I will be selling my home and garden in July. It's a Cape Cod with three levels including an attached greenhouse and walkout basement that opens to a 700 square foot flagstone terrace. The house sits on a third of an acre and has a rock garden, woodland garden, pond, lots of evergreens, some perennial beds and so on. The details have not yet been set on the sale price but it's going to be something over four hundred grand. I'm hoping to sell to a garden-friendly person, but who knows what evil might lurk in the hearts of any non-gardening type who might buy the place. They could bulldoze the whole thing into oblivion. I'm announcing this in case anyone in the chapter might be interested in a new house and garden. In the event that an evil person buys the place I will ask them if I can remove the plants or if Brookside Gardens might have first pick of the corpse (I don't have a copse or they could take that, too).  Eric Grissell [(301) 384-7346, 210 Piping Rock Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20905)

View of Eric Grissellís garden






Valerie & Bill Lorenz

8610 Running Fox Ct

Fairfax Station, VA 22039

From I-66:

Take VA-123 S exit Ė EXIT 60 Ė toward Fairfax, 1.2 miles

Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto CHAIN BRIDGE ROAD/VA-123 S. Continue to follow VA-123 S

8.4 miles

Turn RIGHT onto VA-643/HENDERSON RD, 1.9 miles

Turn LEFT onto VA-647/HAMPTON RD, S.1 miles


FROM I-95: (modified from MapQuest)

Take I-95 SOUTH

Take the VA-642 exit Ė EXIT 163 Ė toward LORTON 0.3 miles

Turn RIGHT onto LORTON RD/VA-642

Turn RIGHT onto OX RD/VA-123

Turn LEFT onto VA-647/HAMPTON RD 2.4 miles

Turn RIGHT onto RUNNING FOX CT. 0.3 miles






Silene virginica in the garden of Eric Grissell


Located on Beulah Road between Rte. 7 and Rte. 123 in Vienna Virginia.

From the beltway: Take the Tysone Corner 7 West exit. Go 5 miles on Rte 7 to the intersection of Beulah Road on the left. Turn left. Meadowlark is two miles on your right.

From 66: Take the Nutley Street exit toward Vienna. At the intersection of 123, turn right onto 123 and continue for 2 miles to the intersection of Beulah Road on your left. Turn left on Beulah. At the 4-way stop. Turn left. This keeps you on Beulah Road . Continue one mile to Meadowlark on your left.

From points west: Take US 7 east to Beulah Road on your right. Turn right two miles to Meadowlark on your right.




The Faden tufa garden in Simpson Park, Alexandria, Virginia


Sempervivum and Aethionema in the garden of Paul Botting.



Top to bottom:

Sedum pulchellum in the Faden garden

Aethionema caespitosa in the Botting garden

Cholla and contrasting foliage in the Botting garden





Top to bottom:

Conradina verticillata in the Faden garden

The stuff of dreams in Sashaís garden

One of Sashaís famous newspaper walls

Want to see these images in color? E-mail jimmckenney@starpower.net and request either the 781KB version or the 15000KB version of this Bulletin. Both are Microsoft Word files. Or, ask for the images only to be sent in four groups of four, about 450KB for each group.



Our summer picnic this year will be held at the Fairfax Station home of Val and Bill Lorenz, on Sunday, July 24, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. (directions inside)
The club will provide plates, utensils, napkins, cups and soft drinks - BYO wine or beer. Please bring a dish to share, along with serving utensil, a chair or blanket to sit on, and one or more plants for door prizes or perhaps a short plant exchange. Val describes her garden as a work in progress, a description I think we can all relate to. There is very little lawn
, the area being given over to beds of plants connected by paths. Please let Val know if you'll be coming Ė see the Calendar inside for her number.


















Jim McKenney, Editor

PVC Bulletin

11127 Schuylkill Road

Rockville, Maryland 20852




Ramonda myconi in Sashaís garden