Juniperus virginiana, Eastern Red Cedar: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

juniperus-virginana

Photo by Elaine Mills at the Glencarlyn Garden

Eastern Red Cedar’s dense foliage provides excellent roosting and nesting cover for birds. Besides being a favorite wildlife food, the fruit gives gin its characteristic flavor. This long-lived juniper, which is native to eastern North America,* was prized by Virginia colonists for its wood. Today, its wood is favored as a closet/chest lining and oils are distilled for use in fragrances. Learn more!

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Agent’s Plan of Work

The January 27 evening plan-of-work meeting for Master Gardeners has been rescheduled to Thursday, February 11th. Room 118 from 7-9 with a social time from 6:30 – 7:00.
Another session will be scheduled soon.
All VCE Master Gardener volunteers are STRONGLY encouraged to attend this session.  Registration for these sessions is being taken at the help desk  703 228 6414 or  by email at mgarlalex@gmail.com.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 6:30 Social, 7:00-9:00 Program

Note: PENDING: FRI, Feb. 12, 9:30 Social, 10-12 Program (dependent on room reservation)

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Regional Gardens: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

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Panorama looking toward gazebo on Lake Caroline

Text by Elaine Mills, Master Gardener

Photos by Bob Kline & Elaine Mills

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, located in Vienna, VA, are open to the public daily, except for major holidays and under icy conditions. This 95-acre property, operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA), features a wide variety of planted beds, three lakes, four gazebos, and special plant collections, which are linked by multiple walking paths and surrounded by lovely forested hills. Numerous benches and seats are located throughout the garden, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy both garden details and panoramic views. Continue reading

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February Public Education Events

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Winter is a great time to plan for the gardening season. VCE Master Gardeners in Arlington and Alexandria will kick off their 2016 public education schedule in February with programs on vegetable gardening and designing a sustainable yard. VCE Master Gardeners will teach the sessions, with support from Arlington County VCE Agent Kirsten C. Buhls.

Vegetable Gardening: Planning & Seeding. Successful vegetable gardens begin with a sound plan. This workshop for the beginning vegetable gardener will address best management practices for site selection, soil requirements and soil improvement. This planning program provides guidance on crop selection and planting schedules. You will learn what works well in our area and best bets for new gardeners, how to grow plants from seeds―what to directly seed into the garden, what to start indoors and how to transplant seedlings.

Presented on the following dates in three locations:

Tuesday, February 9, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Senior Lounge, Walter Reed Recreation Center, 2909 16th St. South, Arlington VA 22204

Tuesday, February 16, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen St., Alexandria VA 22314

Saturday, February 20, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Rd., Alexandria VA 22304

Advance registration is requested. Free. Register Here! Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or send an email to mgarlalex.org.

Saturday, February 20, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.―Designing a Sustainable, Manageable Yard, Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206. Learn the best management practices of sustainable landscapes—using native plants, making the most of available water, building soil health and reducing maintenance. Master Gardeners of Arlington and Alexandria will cover the basics of sustainable landscapes and answer questions about individual garden management challenges. Advance registration is requested. Free. Register at mgnv.org. Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or send an email to mgarlalex.org.

And a reminder: VCE’s Master Gardener Help Desk operates year-round to answer garden-related questions, including questions about plant and insect identification. It’s staffed from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays in the VCE office at Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington. You can reach us by phone at 703-228-6414 or by email at mgarlalex@gmail.com. You’re also welcome to drop by, but we suggest contacting us beforehand to let us know you’re coming.

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Calendar of Events

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Physocarpus opulifolius, Ninebark: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

physocarpus-opulifolius

Photo credit Wikipedia

This drought-tolerant, adaptable shrub is found in open woods, lake shores, stream banks, and rock outcroppings.  Its papery bark continually molts in thin strips, revealing multiple layers of reddish to light brown inner bark. Learn more!

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Gaultheria procumbens, Wintergreen: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

gaultheria-procumbens

Image by Lady Johnson Wildflower Center

This charming member of the Heath family, noted for its lovely flowers, leaves, and berries, is widespread in woodlands of eastern North America from Canada to Alabama. An extract from its leaves is used as the familiar wintergreen flavor. The plant is named for Dr. Gaultier, a Canadian physician of the mid-18th century. Learn more.

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Ilex opaca, American Holly: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

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Image by Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

In the 1930s, Delaware surpassed all states in producing decorations made of American Holly, which flourished in its countryside and became its State Tree in 1939. Still common in the Coastal Plain and southeastern Pennsylvania, its frequency lessens moving through  the Piedmont into the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. Today commercial demand for holly has declined, but its value in the landscape has not. It comes into its glory as temperatures drop and berry-like fruits ripen to brighten the winter scenery. Learn more!

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Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Photo Credit: Mary Free, Sunny Garden and from Creating Inviting Habitats

Photo Credit: Mary Free, Sunny Garden and from Creating Inviting Habitats

Purple Coneflower has a rich history of medicinal use that has resulted in its over harvesting and decline in its natural habitat, centered in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. The few established populations in Virginia and Pennsylvania appear to be escapes from cultivation. So many beneficial insects (and goldfinches) flock to it though, one thinks of Echinacea as native. In any case, its attributes make it a “must-have” for a sunny garden. The coneflower’s seed heads persist through much of the winter.

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Athyrium asplenioides, Lady Fern: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Athyrium asplenioidesLady Fern (formerly A. filix-femina) typically grows in wooded ravines, moist woods, and floodplains from southern New England to the southern United States. This native is common throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, except for northern/northeastern Pennsylvania where it is mostly absent. The delicate and graceful appearance of feathery fronds gives rise to its name. Read more.

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Quercus alba, White Oak: Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

quercus-alba1You will need plenty of space for this beauty, which can spread wider than it is tall, maturing at over 100 feet.   This member of the white oak taxonomic group is an important plant to maintain biodiversity, and it supports an amazing 517 lepidoptera species (an order of insects that includes moths and butterflies). The Virginia Native Plant Society honored White Oak as Wildflower of the Year in 2011. Read more.

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