Sunny Garden Renovations 2014

Written by Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener

Photos by Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

With the support of their team of Master Gardener volunteers and interns, coordinators Kate Donohue and Joe Kelly have undertaken a second year of renovations in the Sunny Garden. The Sunny Garden is located at Bon Air Park, Wilson Blvd. at North Lexington Street between Ballston and Seven Corners. The garden is at the far end of the parking lot.

Plan of beds in the Sunny Demonstration Garden.

Plan of beds in the Sunny Demonstration Garden.

Updating the design of Bed 1, one of the large central beds, was assigned to interns Anne Brooks and Debbie Siegel from the Class of 2013. They researched plant combinations with an eye toward using already existing plants as well as some new species. After developing design ideas individually, they met with Kate to decide on and then implement a final plan.
False blue indigo, which was previously the focal point of the herb bed, has been divided and successfully transplanted as an anchor in several places in this bed. Early in the season, Carolina lupine, Arkansas bluestar, and -iris ‘Jesse’s Song’ provided lovely yellow, blue and purple color, respectively. Low daylilies ‘Stella de Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns’ and sedums ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Brilliant’ will bloom in shades of yellow and pink through the summer and fall.

Overview Beds 1 and 2-Large Version

Iris, mint, geraniums, False Blue Indigo, Bluestar, and Alliums bloom in shades of purple and blue in Beds 1 and 2 in mid-May. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

There are plans to add asiatic and oriental lilies, hollyhocks and foxgloves to provide color and strong vertical lines in the middle of the bed without blocking the view to the beds behind. This fall, bulbs will be planted to provide interest early next spring.

Renovation of Bed 4, the herb bed, was also assigned to several interns as their student project. Gabriel Eberhardt took on the early work of cleaning the bed and identifying existing plants. Christine Corcoran, with support from Master Gardener Liz Pittleman, completed the planning and planting.

Although it appeared to have survived the harsh winter, a large, established rosemary plant had to be removed, as it had developed a bacterial infection. It has been replaced by a barbeque rosemary with such strong, straight stems that they can actually be used as skewers for the grill. Other additions to the herb bed include tarragon, sage, oregano, basil, verbena, coriander, chervil, lovage and several kinds of lavender and thyme, which Christine purchased from DeBaggio’s Herb Farm.

Replanted herb bed (Bed 4) and Bed 8 in background.

Replanted herb bed (Bed 4) and Bed 8 in background. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

Joe Kelly oversaw the renewal of Bed 5, one of the large beds toward the back of the garden. Due to increasing shade from the overhanging white oak tree, he removed a significant number of Tartarian asters, which require full sun. In their place, he transplanted shade-loving hellebores and bleeding hearts from Bed 6. A path dividing this bed from Bed 3 now provides easier access to the compost pile and the newly sited mulch pile, which is no longer an eyesore beside the public path.

The west end of Bed 7, designed by Kate Donohue, focuses on plants such as swamp milkweed to attract butterflies. Golden asters are now flourishing there after having been moved from a shady spot. Tall sunflowers, Joe Pye, and ironweed are located in the center of the bed. A decision will need to be made about using bricks and tough plants at the edge where dogs come by.

American Wisteria, one of the new native plants introduced into the garden, makes a lovely show on the fence of Bed 7.

American Wisteria, one of the new native plants introduced into the garden, makes a lovely show on the fence of Bed 7. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

The middle of the Bed 7, designed by Master Gardener Alex Dickman last year, is holding its own. The American wisteria, which is training on the fence, draws considerable attention from visitors who are interested in learning about this alternative to invasive oriental wisteria.

American Wisteria, one of the new native plants introduced into the garden, makes a lovely show on the fence of Bed 7.

American Wisteria, one of the new native plants introduced into the garden, makes a lovely show on the fence of Bed 7. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

 

Master Gardener Celia Denton, a former garden coordinator, this spring designed and replanted Bed 8, another bed toward the front of the garden. She is retaining a large hibiscus and some grasses, but otherwise has chosen a new mix of native and non-native plants to create a colorful succession of blooms. The native species and cultivars include agastache, boltonia, eupatorium, gayfeather, goldenrod, penstemon, phlox, stokesia and tickseed. The design is completed with dahlias, dianthus, daisies, salvias, scabiosa, valerian, yarrow, and several types of sedum.

Celia Denton takes a break from replanting Bed 8.

Celia Denton takes a break from replanting Bed 8. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

Master Gardeners Mary Frase and Elaine Mills, who began renovation on the garden’s “hellstrips” as their intern project in Spring 2013, have continued to carry out their long-range plans. They planted bulbs last fall, including snowdrops, grape hyacinths, and winter aconite, as well as pansies, which put on an early show this spring. Daffodils, which had spread prolifically, have been removed to the east border of the garden.

One of the "hellstrips" and eastern part of Bed 7 in mid-June.  Co-coordinator Joe Kelly weeds near Bed 6 in the background.

One of the “hellstrips” and eastern part of Bed 7 in mid-June. Co-coordinator Joe Kelly weeds near Bed 6 in the background. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

In April and May they added new drought-tolerant native plants: gayfeather, lyre-leaf sage, yellow wild indigo, muhly grass, and trumpet honeysuckle. The sundrops, threadleaf coreopsis, coneflowers, dwarf goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, hyssop-leaved eupatorium and little bluestem, which they repositioned or added last year, continue to do well.

Some plants growing at the front of the beds suffered considerable damage from salt and gritty snow and ice, which were piled on the beds after each winter storm. The verbena and ice plant are completely gone, and the thyme was also decimated. These have now been replaced with several kinds of sedum. Some of the low-growing geraniums have also been repositioned toward the front.

Another improvement came at the hands of Master Gardener Scott Ford who designed and crafted long-lasting bed markers from easily obtained materials at Home Depot for less than $5 per sign. His design features pressure-treated, rounded landscape timbers trimmed to 18″ with the top cut at an angle with a table saw. He drilled holes into these posts, and inserted foot-long threaded zinc rods to hold them in place. The number plates are powder-coated aluminum.

Scott Ford shows off one of his newly designed markers in Bed 1.

Scott Ford shows off one of his newly designed markers in Bed 1. Photo: Elaine Mills and Liz Pittleman

Renovations to the Sunny Garden will continue next year with replanting in Beds 2 and 3. The coordinators are also considering plantings behind the bench in Bed 6 in what is now a nursery holding bed and as well as around the perimeter of the garden.

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2014 Master Gardener of Northern Virginia Annual Plant Sale at Green Spring

By Grace Dailey (photo credits) and Alison Kindler

The 2014 Master Gardener of Northern Virginia annual Plant Sale at Green Spring Gardens, was notable for a Friday set-up morning with a downpour of rain that started the previous night and was so heavy the counties sent out text alerts to warn of flooding, and one county alert even directed us to seek shelter. But everyone who signed up as an MG for the early set-up showed up before the 7 a.m. start time and pitched in setting up the tents and tables. You could hear the three cordless drills making their own music as the tables were put together by these “craft-persons.” The rest of the day was marked by equally motivated and dedicated volunteers who quickly pushed the tents into place, surrounded them with tables and filled them with plants to be sold. Continue reading

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The Language of Flowers

Originally posted on TMI LIVING:

It’s June and here is a bunch of flowers that I picked from the garden to celebrate the weekend and my son’s high school graduation.

While a Dutch or Flemish artist painting a still life in the seventeenth century might collage an arrangement from flowers, fruit and insects at different seasons, my photo simply shows the bounty of flowers out in the garden today.  Last week, peonies were in flower: this week, their seedpods are revealed and the petals are scattered on the ground. Last week, daylilies were in bud and now they are out. The June Flowers vase is a mixture of native cultivars and ornamentals imported from around the world selected for their interest, beauty, or perhaps sheer persistence in the landscape.

What are the stories of these flowers? Why are they growing in my garden in Northern Virginia?

June Flowers Diagram

Click links for details of each flower

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPenstemon or ‘Beardtongue’:

View original 1,054 more words

Posted in MG in the Garden

New Monarch Waystation at Bluemont Park

Written by Maraea Harris, Master Gardener Intern

The Bluemont Bird and Butterfly Garden began around 2004. The space, which had been just another parking lot island, was filled with various flowering perennials and shrubs and was used and maintained by park rangers. When the county changed its policies regarding ranger assignments, no rangers were permanently assigned to the park and it fell into disrepair.

In 2013, a team of four interns and a Master Gardener were tasked with revitalizing the garden. Work began in December of 2013 to assess and plan for the project. When the project began, the park looked like an overgrown dirt patch. The walkways were indiscernible and overgrown plants were crowding each other out of the garden. Since then the team, with the help of dedicated community members and support from Parks and Recreation staff, has transformed the park into a once again flourishing garden.

Click here to see the transformation!

Bluemont Bird and Butterfly Garden

Continue reading

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There is More to a Garden than Flowers and Foliage – Wildlife in the Shade Garden

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

In early spring, the Quarry/Shade Garden is hardly shady. Before the trees have leafed out, sun streams through bare branches beckoning the ephemerals to emerge and effloresce. As the canopy thickens, light dapples flowers of varying form and color dominated by shades of green in the shapes and textures of ferns and foliage. The Garden offers visitors a welcome and serene respite from the summer heat. However, if you look closely – just beneath the calm – wildlife simmers. Have your camera, cell phone or iPad ready! Continue reading

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Happy Pollinator Week! Happy 25th Anniversary!

Celebrate National Pollinator Week and the first day of summer at Bon Air Park. On June 21, 2014, the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV) in cooperation with the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and Arlington County will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Quarry/Shade Garden. This Garden offers an inviting habitat in a variably shady area for pollinators and other wildlife (and people too!) with over 80 different native perennials, ferns, shrubs and trees in addition to a lesser number of non-native plants.  Continue reading

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Tick Season Arrives in Arlington and Alexandria

VIRGINIA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION

ARLINGTON COUNTY OFFICE

Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206

Telephone 703-228-6400

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 28, 2014

Contact:  Kirsten Buhls, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent, (kbuhls@vt.edu)


Tick season arrived a little later this year, but not by much. Last week volunteers at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Horticulture Help Desk at Fairlington Community Center identified several ticks found by residents of Arlington and Alexandria, both in the adult and larval stage. All were dog ticks. Continue reading

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Alice C. Nicolson, Master Gardener Emeritus

Reprinted from the MGNV Special Garden Newsletter May-June 2012. Alice was a planner and founder of the Shade Garden, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
By Christa Watters
Updated by Elaine Mills

Alice Nicolson has been a master gardener since 1980. She began volunteering at the Help Desk at Cooperative Extension that year and has been an unfailing participant in Master Gardener activities ever since, sharing her expertise, her love of taxonomy (it’s even part of her e-mail handle) and her keen sense of observation with each generation of incoming students.  Continue reading

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Happy 25th Anniversary Quarry/Shade Garden!

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Twenty-six years ago, Bon Air Park’s Quarry/Shade Garden was neither a quarry nor a garden. The 40‘ x 30’ site, once used as a quarry for inferior- grade building stone, sat idle and overgrown. It boasted as its only feature a curved stonewall that Arlington County had erected to prevent soil erosion onto a newly constructed pathway.  Continue reading

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What happened to my shrubs?

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Cupido comyntas (Eastern tailed-blue) in August © Mary Free

Cupido comyntas (Eastern tailed-blue) in August © Mary Free

Do you recognize the plant on which the male Eastern tailed-blue is perching? It is a heath – Erica vagans ‘Yellow John’ – native to parts of Europe. Heaths are desirable, low maintenance, evergreen shrubs that nurseries sometimes mistakenly label as heathers even though heaths have needle-like rather than scale-like foliage.  Continue reading

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