Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary Program (AAH) helps people create and maintain natural habitat (for birds, amphibians, reptiles and the insects that support them), around their homes and community space. Our own backyards provide an opportunity for conservation, even as natural habitat is decreasing. Key components of the program include conserving water, removing invasive plants, using native plants where appropriate, reducing the use of commercial fertilizers and pesticides, and providing habitat via shelter, water and food.
By Christa Watters
Audrey Evans was born on a coffee farm outside the town of Nyeri in Kenya in 1941. She recalls the “small” 600-acre farm as a beautiful place, with steep hillsides, rivers, bush, and a view of Mt. Kenya. Her father, who went to Kenya from South Africa, started the farm in 1911. Her mother, his second wife, went to Kenya in the 1930s from England as a nurse and met her future husband when he was a patient in the Nairobi hospital where she worked. “He fell in love with her voice,” as the story goes.
by Anne Wilson, Public Education Chair, email@example.com
Several Master Gardeners attended the fifth “Turning a New Leaf” conference of the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC) on Saturday, November 15, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The CCLC is a mid-Atlantic coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to researching, promoting, and educating the public about conservation-based gardening and landscaping practices that protect the Chesapeake Bay. The conference, co-sponsored by George Washington University, brought together policymakers, educators, and landscape professionals to exchange information related to sustainable design that improves water quality and conserves soil while also supporting wildlife habitat.
This year’s conference featured Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, as keynote speaker and C. Colston Burrell, landscape architect and author of Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, as closing speaker. Continue reading
By Elaine Mills, MG, Class of 2012 & Columbia Pike Branch Library Volunteer, firstname.lastname@example.org
While it’s time to put many of our garden beds to rest for the winter, some gardeners may enjoy perusing a new Arlington Library acquisition to help them plan their plantings of edibles for the spring growing season.
Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Gardening, by Katie Elzer-Peters, provides guidance for growing the edibles best suited to our particular region. In the introduction, she explains how the coastal plain in which Arlington and Alexandria are located experiences the most distinct separation between warm- and cool-season gardening. In addition, we must deal with unique issues, such as spells of warm weather in winter, which can affect dormancy of fruit trees. She urges gardeners to focus their planning around the guiding principle of seasonal gardening. Continue reading
Public Education Class Creates an Online Manual of Sustainable Gardening Resources with 70 Tried-and-True Plant Fact Sheets
by Carol Rosen, Public Education Committee
“Designing a Sustainable, Maintainable Yard,” the half-day program offered by Master Gardeners at Fairlington on October 19, was the first offering in the Public Education Committee’s new Sustainable Gardening track of classes.
For this program on sustainability, handouts were provided in electronic form to reduce resource consumption. The resulting Digital Manual on Sustainable Gardening, described below, not only benefited the class but also created a continuing online resource that can grow and support other classes and uses. The Tried-and-True Plant Fact Sheets for more than 70 trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers, ferns, grasses, and vines are a remarkable resource in themselves. In all about 100 digital pages of plant fact sheets, best management practice summaries, and other handouts on sustainable gardening were developed. You can see several pages as examples here: SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE SHEET. The complete Digital Manual on Sustainable Gardening can be found HERE. This event was planned and delivered entirely by MGNV members–no outside speakers, no visiting experts, no catering, no borrowed materials. This was the largest MGNV public education activity in 2013.
By Christa Watters
Procrastinators rejoice! Though those of us who grew up in colder climes may think it’s too late to plant our bulbs for spring bloom, it’s really not – at least not for all bulbs. Tulips, for example, can rot in the ground in our heavy Virginia soil during warm, wet falls. Some sources say that waiting until about first frost is better for tulip bulbs, which like colder climates. Plus, it gives the squirrels less time to dig them up before frost hardens the ground. Still, you need to get them in before the ground really freezes.
So November, and sometimes even early December is still fine. It’s also fine for planting daffodils and narcissus bulbs, hyacinths, crocuses, even grape hyacinths.
Be generous – color massing is the most effective way to create an impressive and heart-lifting display next spring. So cluster the bulbs in drifts that complement the rest of your borders or beds.
In our area, most hybrid tulips don’t successfully come back in succeeding years, and should thus be treated like annuals. If you do leave them for a second year, choose Darwin varieties, some authorities recommend. Alternatively, choose species tulips that generally perennialize better and naturalize well in rock garden clusters, as in this photo of Kaufmanniana tulips at the Simpson Waterwise Garden.
Daffodils and narcissi are much more reliable at coming back year after year and even multiplying in the ground. Choose some bulbs for their massing effect, yes. But also consider choosing some for their individual beauty, like these gracefully winged white and yellow Cyclamineus narcissi.
For fall crocus and colchicums, the fall-blooming relatives of our spring bulbs, it is, unfortunately too late this year, but while you peruse the catalogs, make a note on your calendar to order the bulbs in a timely manner next year. Spend some time this winter researching the best times for those . Here are a few photos of fall blooming bulbs to set you dreaming:
This program is full. Please check back with us for other upcoming programs on sustainable gardening. Those on the waitlist will be notified by January 19 of their status. Thank you. Registration is now closed for the next presentation of MGNV’s six-part series, Making Your Yard Sustainable. Classes will be held on consecutive Saturdays, January 25 to March 1, 2014, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, in Arlington. Continue reading
From the time you step off the curb, you begin experiencing the Smithsonian Institution through its expansive gardens. The Victory Garden sits on the east side of the American History museum and is an unconventional way to teach history. Using a design from a 1943 pamphlet, the Smithsonian Gardens has re-created a World War II victory garden to educate the public, not just about history, but botany as well. The garden contains over 50 varieties of vegetables and flowers that change with the seasons. Currently in late summer, the garden features plants from the mallow family, which includes some surprising plants, like hibiscus, cotton, and okra! Continue reading
The Simpson Demonstration Gardens, next to the Alexandria YMCA, celebrated their 20th Anniversary with an Open House on Sunday, September 22. Between 30 and 40 people attended the event, held on a crisp fall-like day. The gardens, built atop an old roadbed, 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 plantings. 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.
The Master Gardeners provided seed packets, recipes using garden products, tiny starter plants, and snacks including the use of mint, sage, zucchini, pumpkin, and other edible plants. Many native plants were alive with bees and butterflies, including a black swallowtail (pictured) and many skippers. The gardens are open daily for visitors, and Master Gardeners are at work maintaining them every Tuesday morning, weather permitting
Learn more about the Simpson Gardens here: http://mgnv.org/demonstration-gardens/simpson-gardens/