August Notes from the Organic Vegetable Garden, in Potomac Overlook Regional Park

by Master Gardener Nancy Dowling

Sungolds, Romas

Sungolds, Romas
Photo © 2016 Nancy Dowling

Enough already, the tomatoes seem to be screaming. It’s too hot; you expect too much from me. And I agree. It is too hot to put out new fruit, too hot to stand up straight and tall and too hot to look good! The current run of heat and humidity has taken its toll on our largest tomatoes. Smaller varieties, like the Sungolds and Romas, seem to hold up better and longer, but the big ones are pooped. Continue reading

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PERENNIAL: Rudbeckia fulgida (Eastern Coneflower)

Rudbeckia Fulgida

Rudbeckia Fulgida
Photo © Mary Free
Glencarlyn Garden

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This species of coneflower, distinct from Rudbeckia hirta, the annual “Black-Eyed Susan,” features long-lasting and abundant “daisy-like” flowers that attract butterflies mid-summer to fall. Its native habitat is found in scattered pockets in the Mid-Atlantic Region, including in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties. Learn more . . .

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September Public Education Events

There are many fabulous opportunities for learning in September – come join us!

Just Added! Thursday, Sept.1, Fall Gardening in Containers, 1 p.m. at Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th St S., Arlington 22204.

VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (Arlington/Alexandria) will present a program on Fall Gardening in Containers for the Over 55 Program at Walter ReedIt will focus on plants you can grow successfully in our area in the fall as well as how to select the right pots, prepare for planting, and keep plants that are growing in containers healthy and happy. The program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested by calling Walter Reed Community Center Senior Programs at  703- 228- 0948. Continue reading

Posted in MG in the Garden

High Summer at Simpson Gardens

By Master Gardener Christa Watters for the Simpson Crew

Seed pods of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Common Milkweed (Asclepius syriaca) seed pods
Photo © 2016 Christa Watters

We’ve survived a long siege of fairly relentless heat this summer as July brought day after day of 90-degrees and higher, with humidity also pushing the limits. Some plants love the heat and are thriving, while others have passed the flowering bursts of spring and early summer and started setting seed or gone dormant.

Among the plants that love heat and sun are some of the big pollinator-attractor flowers. In this first week of August, the common milkweed (Asclepius syriaca) has finished blooming and is displaying those big pods that hold the seeds that will disperse in fall, little brown ovals floating on puffy white silk parachutes. Continue reading

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For Your Pollinator Garden

Written (and Photographed) by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Monarda fistulosa

Photo © Mary Free

Do you want to create or add to a pollinator garden? Do you look at lists of plants that claim to be superior at attracting pollinators, then wonder which ones really perform best?

If you wish to target bees, then consider native Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot). If you need convincing, click on the image below to watch this video recorded in late June 2016 at the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden in Arlington, Virginia. Continue reading

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Calendar of Events

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GROUND COVER: Heuchera villosa (Hairy Alumroot)

Heuchera villosa

Heuthera villosa
Photo © Elaine Mills
Greenspring Gardens

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Although Hairy Alumroot’s native habitat in Virginia is mostly in the southwestern mountains, its five-inch wide, semi-evergreen leaves and late season flower plumes make it a species worthy of consideration for a woodland garden. There also are many fine cultivars of this species available. Learn more . . .

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PERENNIAL: Liatris spicata (Gayfeather), Blazingstar

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata
Photo © Mary Free, Sunny Garden

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Tall and upright, Gayfeather provides nice vertical form in a garden. Its purplish, feathery flower spikes contrast well with yellow-flowered, mound-forming plants. Its widely scattered natural populations in the Mid-Atlantic Region* include those in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudon counties.  Learn more . . .

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SHRUB: Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

The sweet-scented, fuzzy white globes of Buttonbush are familiar to those who spend time fishing or lounging along a river or pond. This widespread native, a favorite of wildlife, is so common it is often overlooked.  Learn more . . .

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PERENNIAL: Phlox paniculata (Summer Phlox)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Phlox paniculata, Summer Phlox

Phlox paniculata, Summer Phlox
Image: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Phlox paniculata has large trusses of fragrant, showy flowers that come in a range of purples, pinks, reds, and white atop two-to-five-foot stems in summer.

Learn more . . . 

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The Shade Garden Showcases Ferns

by Dina Lehmann-Kim, Master Gardener

Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern

Photo © 2016 Dina Lehmann-Kim

While the Shade Garden at Bon Air Park is host to a wide variety of plants, the stars this month are the ferns. Ferns thrive in shade and come in a range of sizes, hues, and leaf (frond) structures. This standout plant has prehistoric roots and continues to enchant gardeners despite the fact that it does not flower.

Fast-spreading ferns can be used as a ground cover while slow-spreading or “clumping” ferns such as the garden’s Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponiscum ‘Pictum’) are best used as an accent plant in a well-defined space. Continue reading

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