The Long View – Meditations on Gardening – The End of Fall

DSCN4678By Christa Watters

One day the tulip magnolia next to my front door is still green – leaves fringed with yellow, spotted with brown here and there, yes, but basically still green, and on waking the next morning I see it still full of leaves as I pick up the paper, though the stoop is littered with yellowing leaves. By afternoon, a rising wind has stripped the upper branches of foliage, leaving just the gray bark of branches and twigs and the furry gray buds that hold next spring’s pink blossoms outlined against the gray sky. Gray, gray, gray — the dominant shade of November, it seems. But it’s not all gloom out there. Spots of color remain, and some trees are still in full flame of gold or red.

Last week I put the bird feeder back out in the walled patio, near the crabapple tree, which is still shedding its golden, rosy-cheeked fruits. The squirrels, also gray, except for one sleek black-coated variant, are munching on their own special fruit and nuts mix, while sitting on the brick wall contemplating the bird feeder. Can they outfox the baffle? Probably. One fellow is trying to retrieve a floating peanut he dropped into the fountain. Meanwhile the birds have begun to rediscover the cold weather food supply. A few pink rambler roses and a solitary gold-yellow hybrid spike up the color a bit. Not all gray after all.

The pink camellia is in full bloom next to the front door, another shot of color, as are the banks of naturalized chrysanthemums that come back every year across the path. It’s the time of year for thinning and cutting down some of the perennials that have become overgrown, for clearing out leaves that have powdery mildew (the peonies, summer phlox, and Monarda) or black spot (some of the roses), lest the spores infect the new growth next spring. Other plants can remain, to provide seeds or shelter for wildlife. And think how the Lilium seed pods and dried flower heads of the garlic chives will look when powdered with snow in the depths of winter.

The bulbs are finally planted – a couple of sacks of mixed daffodils to up the quotient of bulbs that stay put and multiply underground. The tulip bulbs I bought this year are a mix of coral pinks and orangey reds instead of the white-pink-purple mix of recent years. And – spur of the moment – I bought some fat, purple-blooming alliums for early summer. In my head I see the swirls of color that will grow a few months from now. It’s like creating a virtual painting, only I’ve hidden the colors underground for now. The rewards come in spring!

Photos also by Christa Watters

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AutumnFest at Glencarlyn Library Community Garden

by Judy Funderburk

AutumnFest at Glencarlyn Library Community Garden was a huge success thanks to all the Master Gardener support. Over 150 friends and neighbors showed up to enjoy the day — purchasing plants, tasting a great variety of herbal treats and teas, tasting, smelling and gathering samples of culinary, fragrant or medicinal herbs to take home. Taking a mini-workshop to learn more about Monarch Watch!, Good Dirt!, or Eight Great Natives!, making a sachet with colorful cloth and fragrant dried herbs and/or having Andrea Kaplovitz paint a flower or bug on your face allowed many participants to bring pieces of AutumnFest home. Continue reading

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The Long View – Meditations on Gardening – Why We Garden

Saffron CrocusDSCN2303By Christa Watters

We Master Gardeners have a mission to educate and inform our fellow gardeners about the best and most up-to-date principles for creating and tending good gardens. Heeding the call to garden in an environmentally sound manner is a worthy objective. We strive to plant native species, use less water, and avoid the need for chemical fertilizers by composting and choosing the right plant for the right place. But beyond that, most of us are driven by something else entirely, I suspect. As a friend said recently, ultimately, we love gardens because they are beautiful.  Continue reading

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Exciting Happenings in Glencarlyn Library Garden

First Fruits: Persimmons return to the Library Garden.  Photo by Judy Funderburk

First Fruits: Persimmons return to the Library Garden. Photo: Judy Funderburk

By Judy Funderburk

What do Persimmons, Poe, and Painting have in common – besides the letter P?!? All three were exciting happenings in the Library Garden this fall. Our native persimmon tree (Diospyrus americana) grew her first two orange persimmons. They were so pretty we didn’t try to pick and taste. Maybe next year!

Poe GC Garden

Poe Portrait Created by Kenmore Middle School Staff for Dramatic Reading

On the Thursday evening before Halloween, Kenmore Middle School Drama Students haunted the Garden with dramatic readings of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and “Annabelle Lee.” Lit by shadowy pumpkins and a starkly beautiful door-sized graphic of Poe himself, the Garden proved a perfect setting for the poems’ sense of brooding darkness in the face of loss of a love.

Pre-schooler painting with help from Master Gardeners Gabriel Eberhardt and Mary Frase.  Photo by Rosemary Grubb

Pre-schooler painting with help from Master Gardeners Gabriel Eberhardt and Mary Fraser.  Photo: Rosemary Grubb

Brand new crayola boxes came to mind as Master Gardener volunteers worked with the 18 pre-school children of Carlin Hall to paint the pickets of the new fence decorating their Children’s Garden. MG intern Gabriel Eberhardt planned, organized, and implemented this project as part of his now completed 60 volunteer hours and MG certification.

Glencarlyn kids create Banana Stalk Art Pieces.  Photo by Dina Kim

Glencarlyn kids create Banana Stalk Art Pieces. Photo: Dina Kim

A second instance of painting involved MG Paul Nuhn, who as he does every fall, brought together a creative bunch of neighborhood kids to make colorful sculptures out of the leafless banana plant stalks left after our first frost. Their artistry is titled: Mod Stalking The Garden!

Now the cold of winter is here, it is a wonderful to look back on the year, and reflect on how our fall events reached our neighborhood and broader community. We’ll be dreaming up exciting events for the spring, so stay tuned!


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Simpson Demonstration Gardens 20th Anniversary Recap

The Simpson Demonstration Gardens next to the Alexandria Y celebrated their 20th Anniversary with an Open House on Sunday, 22 September. Between 30 and 40 people attended the event, held on a crisp fall-like day. The gardens include a Waterwise garden (the first one created), tufa gardens, large and small berms for specimen trees, a pollinator garden, a bed with a butterfly soak, and a scented garden, among other beds. The gardens include both native and non-native species, some rare Alpine plants in the tufa beds, and a range of unusual plants demonstrating interesting variants of common plants as well as unusual species. Continue reading

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The Useful Life of Our Hardest Working Tree

By Christa Watters

The white oak is said to be the most useful tree in North America. This eastern species is known for the strong wood and silvery-gray (“white”) bark of its straight trunks. But its usefulness goes much further. A park ranger giving a tour of Huntley Meadows Park once pointed out that the “damaged” leaves of fall are in fact just a demonstration of the full cycle of life. Those leaves have served their purpose, and served it well, he said, providing food and shelter to insects and other small species that attach their pupae, lay their eggs in galls, or otherwise use their material. Continue reading

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Culinary, Fragrant & Medicinal HERBS !

10603214_927804697244643_1896589094557027697_nIf herbs are in your garden or your future garden, you won’t want to miss AutumnFest, September 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Glencarlyn Library Community Garden. Herbs will be a focus of the fun family festival with herbalicious food and drink and herbal sachet making. The festival will also have pumpkins and plants for sale, face-painting, and a naturalist with critters.   Continue reading

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Rick Darke, Noted Landscape Consultant, To Speak in Arlington in November

Rick Darke, a nationally known landscape design consultant and award-winning author, will discuss how to design home gardens that are both beautiful and able to support a broad array of wildlife on Wednesday, November 12, at the Arlington Central Library Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Continue reading

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Autumn Fest – Sept. 21

AutumnFest 2014-6-page-001


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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. Continue reading

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