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Visit a horticultural library

Now that the weather is cooling off and the pace of garden tasks is slowing down, it's a great time to expand your knowledge through reading gardening books. I love our DC public libraries and they have some wonderful and important gardening books. This year, I've checked out some great books from DC public libraries: Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden was instrumental for creating my 2018 Rooting DC presentation, The Chinese Kitchen Garden helped me to expand my garden options (written by a DC Master Gardener), and The Soil Will Save Us reinforced my belief that gardeners can be part of the solution for climate change and habitat restoration.

There are also several libraries specifically dedicated to horticulture in the DC area. It was an overcast day when I visited the USDA National Agricultural Library, which makes the tall building appear even more imposing in the photo below.

Only the ground floor reading room is open to the public. The third floor Special Colllections reading room is open by appointment only. From browsing a few reference books on edible plants, I learned that the ajwain seeds on my spice rack come from Trachyspermum ammi and not Plectranthus amboinicus (aka ajwain leaf). I also found evidence to suggest that ayote, my favorite filling for pupusas, is a species of Cucurbita argyrosperma. I'm hoping to grow ayote in my garden next summer.

Other horticultural libraries are located at public gardens: Brookside Gardens, Green Spring Gardens, and Dumbarton Oaks. I've been to both the Brookside and Green Spring libraries and they're both terrific. I'm waiting to visit the Dumbarton Oaks library until after November 1 (hey, that's today!), when admission to the garden is free for the winter season.