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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March was here, but where is Spring?

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

After one of the warmest winters on record, the March Shade Garden (pictured below) in Bon Air Park was awash in color with a parade of blooming bulbs, spring ephemerals, ornamental trees and native and non-native perennials. Virginia bluebells bloomed beneath the white flowers of the serviceberry tree. The brilliant purple/pink flowers of the redbud tree contrasted with golden ragwort grouped amidst the rocks. White spring starflowers and nodding, yellow bellwort (barely visible behind) stood on the west end of the upper oval while hellebores anchored the east. Yellow barrenwort blossomed in front of the Garden above the stone retaining wall. That was in 2012.

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Will the real shamrock please “stand up”?

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Trifolium repens

The month of March is a good time to talk about the shamrock, a symbol often associated with Ireland and Saint Patrick’s Day. In Gaelic, shamrock translates to “seamrag,” which also means trefoil or clover. There is some debate over whether this celebrated plant is Trifolium dubium (small hop or yellow clover) or Trifolium repens (white clover, pictured1), both native to Europe but now widespread in the United States.  Continue reading

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Audubon at Home in Arlington and Alexandria

NorthernFlickerAudubon 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. PearlCrescent
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Audrey Faden, Master Gardener Emerita

By Christa Watters

Audrey Faden

Gardener in Chief: Audrey Faden at work in Simpson Gardens, next to the Alexandria YMCA.

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. 

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Turning a New Leaf Conference

by Anne Wilson, Public Education Chair, wilsanne@gmail.com


Image taken from Conference Website

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

Posted in Public Education

Master Gardeners’ Bookshelf

By Elaine Mills, MG, Class of 2012 & Columbia Pike Branch Library Volunteer, emills@rksystems.com

BOOK REVIEWWhile 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

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Public Education Class Creates an Online Manual of Sustainable Gardening Resources

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.

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It’s Not Too Late to Plant Bulbs!

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.  Continue reading

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Planting and Forcing Flower Bulbs

Planting and Forcing Flower Bulbs Continue reading

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