Photographing the Tried and True Sheets: Part 2 – Capturing Flowers and Fruits

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Part One of Photographing the Tried and True Sheets explored how best to capture the forms of plants and trees in photographs. You can read part one here! This week, a closer look at capturing the best images when photographing fruits and flowers.

Echinacea purpurea: Mary Free
Creating images for the Tried and True Plant fact sheets required many trips to local public gardens and parks to find good specimens as well as many, many pictures to capture them to best advantage. In Part 1, we focused on images that portrayed growth habit or form; now we turn to flowers and fruits.

Capturing Flowers

A blooming period usually offers sufficient opportunity to find and photograph individual flowers at their peak. Capturing flowers en masse, like the Echinacea purpurea in the Sunny Garden, when most are full and fresh and not yet on the wane, requires more vigilance. Catching an insect on a particular plant requires both vigilance and patience. Continue reading

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Photographing the Tried and True Sheets: Part 1 – Capturing the Form

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Quercus alba AnnotatedIn a major improvement, Tried and True Plant fact sheets now provide photographic images that highlight native plants grown in MGNV demonstration gardens and local public spaces, such as Green Spring Gardens, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and the U.S. National Arboretum.

Master Gardeners have photographed Tried and True Plants during various stages to provide each fact sheet with examples of form, flowers, fruits, foliage and/or bark. Visiting public gardens allows you the opportunity to observe a plant’s growth habit first hand before making an investment in your own garden. Now, if you’re unable to visit a garden or the plants are out-of-season, you can see the stages on the fact sheets.

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The Long View – Meditations on Gardening

 The butterfly garden at Simpson Demonstration Gardens in Alexandria, filled with native plants and pollinator attractors. All of Simpson Gardens is made on the site of a former paved road and parking lot. Photo: Christa Watters

The butterfly garden at Simpson Demonstration Gardens in Alexandria, filled with native plants and pollinator attractors. All of Simpson Gardens is made on the site of a former paved road and parking lot. Photo: Christa Watters

The Garden as Artifact

By Christa Watters

Garden: n. Planted area of ground, a plot of ground where plants such as fruits, vegetables and flowers are grown. (Latin origin hortus garda implies a closed area. Ultimately from a prehistoric German word that is also the ancestor of the British word yard.)

Gardener: somebody who tends a garden or lawn, either as a profession or hobby.

~ Encarta World Dictionary (1999)   

Garden: n. a plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated. vt. to lay out or work in a garden.

~ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition

Sitting out the cold and snowy days of late winter is a good time to consider what it means to be a gardener, particularly for those of us trained to share our knowledge with the public. Often it is useful to turn to the dictionary to guide one’s rambling thoughts.

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Updates to Tried and Trues and to Problem Plants

Updates to Tried and Trues and to Problem Plants 

Written by Mary Free and Elaine Mills

Get over that winter funk by planning your spring, summer and fall gardens. Searching for ideas? Take another look at our enhanced Tried and True Plants and Problem Plants resources. We have added 3 native ferns and 5 native ground covers to the Tried and True Plants library. Besides that, we have updated 48 of the Tried and True fact sheets with easier-to-read format, added information, and new images of plants that (mostly) can be visited in local public gardens. Additionally, we have identified those plants included in the Plant NoVA Natives campaign.  Continue reading

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The Long View – Meditations on Gardening – Midwinter

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The garden’s bare bones in winter – a miniature Japanese Maple. Photo: Christa Watters

The Bare Bones of the Garden

By Christa Watters

Here we are at midwinter, halfway between the December solstice and the spring equinox. It’s a hard time for gardeners, a time when the garden seems to sleep and it is mostly too cold to contemplate even pruning chores. Here and there, the emerging green tips of spring-blooming bulbs offer hope, but mostly it’s a bleak scene.

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MGNV Volunteers in Our Community: 4-H in Virginia


By Gabriel Eberhardt

unnamedLast week we talked about the origins of 4-H. Now let’s focus on   4-H closer to home. In Virginia, approximately 20,000 adults and teens volunteer their time and energy annually to help more that 170,000 Virginia youth learn leadership, citizenship and life skills while discovering how to build on their own ability to make good decisions, manage resources wisely, work effectively with others and communicate successfully.

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Alexandria 4-H Agent Reggie Morris leading a group of junior 4-H members in the 4-H National Youth Science Day Experiment “Maps & Apps!” Photo: 4-H National Council

Many programs and services are offered through the Alexandria 4-H Youth Development Program at the Lee Center. Alexandria’s 4-H program participates in National Youth Science Day, National Food Day, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, After-School Enrichment program, In-School 4-H Enrichment and Special Interest Programming, and the highly popular 4-H camping program, which is one of the largest in the country.

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Master Gardeners in Our Community: The 4-H Program

By Gabriel Eberhardt

Master Gardeners don’t  just volunteer with VCE and MGNV. They also share their expertise with the wider community. In the first of this occasional series, Master Gardeners in our Community, MG Gabriel Eberhardt looks at the history of 4-H. Part two of his article (posted next Sunday) will explore 4-H closer to home, here in Alexandria. Continue reading

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Predator in the Urban Garden

DSCN4667By Christa Watters

On a recent morning when I went out to the patio to fill the bird feeder, I looked up and thought maybe the neighbors had put one of those owl statues on their wall to deter unwanted birds and other critters. Then the statue moved – a big, handsome young hawk, an immature Cooper’s I think, judging by the speckled white breast, the long rounded tail and the relatively large size. A handsome, bold predator, maybe hoping for a fat dove at the feeder. When I took his picture, he sat for a bit, then tired of the attention and flew off, at which point the sparrows and jays and cardinals returned, the squirrels took up their chattering and tree-leaping shenanigans again, and life resumed in the walled gardens of my part of the city.

Photo also by Christa Watters

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In the Winter Garden – Reflections from 2012

This article, written by MGNV member Mary Free in December 2012, is worth a repeat.  Appreciating the winter garden makes for a happier all-season gardener! For some excellent native tree suggestions you can explore the MGNV series of tried and true plants. Trees in particular can be found at Tried and True Plants/Trees: http://mgnv.org/plants/trees/

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Herbaceous Plants

As annual flowers succumb to freezing temperatures and many perennials enter a dormant period, one green plant still covers the ground in the woodlands and shade gardens: Polystichum acrostichoides. Also known as Christmas fern, its graceful, finely textured fronds often are used as a seasonal decoration.  Continue reading

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Snow

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Photo: Michelle Dunkley McCarthy

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

― Lewis Carroll

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