Color is still blooming all around our neighborhood

by Steven Feingold

Do you ever find yourself walking around our beautiful neighborhood admiring the flowers, but with no clue what it is you’re looking at? Welcome to "Petworth Blooming"... every month I’ll feature some of the most common plants seen around Petworth, and give a little info about each one. 


Pink crepe myrtle at Randolph and New Hampshire.

One of the most commonly planted flowering trees, Crepe Myrtles come in a wide variety of colors. They can grow to be quite large, but many owners cut them back every winter to keep them small. The name comes from the thin, tissue-like petals.  Look carefully and you’ll see the unusually crinkled edges of the flowers.

White crepe myrtle on 7th Street NW.

Rose of Sharon bushes are blooming all over Petworth right now. They come in both white and various shades of pink. Originally from China, they are now grown in gardens throughout the world. These plants are members of the mallow family which includes tropical hibiscus, cotton, and cacao (chocolate) plants! The most distinctive thing about these plants are the “alien-like” pollen structure right in the middle of the flower. Other plants from the same family blooming in Petworth now are Rose Mallow and Okra.

A dark pink Rose of Sharon on 5th Street NW.

Pink rose mallow in the author’s garden on 4th Street NW. These enormous flowers only last for 1 day!

Okra flowers and fruit on 4th Street NW.

Okra flowers and fruit on 4th Street NW.

Marigolds are a cheap and easy to grow annual, either from seed or seedling. Varying from yellow to red, the complex flowers provide compact blotches of color all summer long. These garden favorites originally came from Mexico.

Marigolds blooming at the 64 bus stop at 4th and New Hampshire. Petunias and lantana in the background.

In addition to providing modest adornments to classical sculptures, Figs trees also produce delicious fruits that are great both fresh and dried. Figs are very unusual because the flowers are actually hidden inside the fruit! A tiny hole at the bottom of the fruit allows very tiny wasps entry for pollination.

Fig trees are very easy to grow. This one is doing great in the curb space along Illinois Ave.

The tiny flowers inside a fig. The small opening at the bottom of the fruit is on the right.

Creeping up electrical poles or any other vertical surface in sight, Trumpet Creeper creates large tubular flowers which are a favorite of hummingbirds. The dark green leaves look great too and provide nesting habitat for other kinds of birds. This aggressive vine tends to create a somewhat unkempt look to a garden.

Trumpet creeper hanging in an alley on 5th Street NW.

Often planted along retaining walls and in curbside beds, Sedum aka Stonecrop is one tough plant. This succulent is able to withstand dry conditions by filling its leaves with water whenever moisture is available. Smaller species of sedum are often used for green roofs where dealing with dry conditions is imperative.

Sedum is often planted in these cool planters made from old tires. Buchanan Street NW.

And finally, a bonus photo of a bee drying off after one of our many July downpours.

Carpenter bee on a rosinweed in the author’s garden on 4th Street NW. So cute and fuzzy!


Coming up next: Sunflowers, Cosmos, and Obedient plants...

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Steven Feingold

Steven moved to Petworth in 2013, and he and his wife have since adopted three of the neighborhood's finest felines. He works in the biotech industry, programming robotic laboratory equipment. He enjoys gardening, hiking, carpentry and playing pickup soccer. You can email him with any plant or gardening questions you might have.

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