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GHI Launches Garden Contest

posted in: Home and Garden

You all remember GHI’s recent kitchen and bathroom renovation contests, right? The winners are here (kitchen) and here (bathroom), with photos and their tips for us. The contests were conducted by the Architectural Review Committee chaired by Lola Skolnik, and I’m a member, too.

Next up from the same hard-working committee is a Garden Contest, and it’s not your Grandmother’s Garden Contest! Meaning, it’s not just about beauty, though I say three cheers for beauty – it feeds the soul, brings neighbors together and creates curb appeal.  But we now know what our foregardeners didn’t know and certainly didn’t teach us. We know our yards have jobs to do; they play important roles in our local ecosystem.

So (cash) winners of the GHI garden contest will be chosen according to points given in these categories:

Rhododendrons in Old Greenbelt
A lovely GHI garden.

 Hard to define, but everyone knows beauty when they see it. Good design, color and plant choice – so much goes into aesthetics.

Compost Central, and a no-care Sedum groundcover.
Compost Central, and a no-care Sedum groundcover.

Examples include on-site composting, ability to be maintained with limited water, fertilizer, pesticides or gas-powered tools.

Rain Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Rain Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Stormwater management and erosion prevention.
Examples include deep-rooted plants, permeable pavers, rain gardens, and absence of bare soil.

Pond and mixed-shrub border.
Pond and mixed-shrub border.

Provision for pollinators and birds.
 Examples include a water source, natural food sources, and shrubs for shelter.

Bark at Air and Space Museum; Conifer Collection at National Arboretum.
Bark at Air and Space Museum; Conifer Collection at National Arboretum.

Four-season interest.
 Examples include evergreens, winter berries, and art.

Inviting patio near Philadelphia.
Inviting patio near Philadelphia.


Usability.  Examples include seating, shade, play areas, and privacy.

The contest has lots in common with the Less Lawn Garden Tour we had in 2013, but hopefully it’ll do even more teaching and inspiring. Photos and tips from the gardens will eventually be on the GHI website, just as they are from our kitchen and bath contests. 

The volunteer panel of judges will include committee members plus expert gardeners from outside GHI and at least one professional – one with expertise in stormwater management and other eco-services required of yards. Entries will be judged on photos that show the gardens in all seasons, plus one site visit by the judges – next year.  So start photographing your gardens! The latest GHI Communicator includes an entry form and more details.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

  1. Kristi
    | Reply

    This is fantastic!! Thank you for including sustainability and pollinator provisions.

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