SHRUB: Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Clethra alnifolia, Sweet Pepper Bush, Summersweet

Clethra alnifolia, Sweet Pepper Bush, Summersweet
Photo © Mary Free

Summer sweet and spicy is the pleasant fragrance of this pollinator magnate. This tall shrub, common in the Coastal Plain of the Mid-Atlantic Region, naturalizes readily in shady, damp places as well as coastal landscapes. Though not native to NoVA, it grows well in cultivation here.

Learn more . . . 

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PERENNIAL: Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Monarda fistulosa

Photo © Mary Free

Similar in appearance to the BeebalmsMonarda fistulosa provides color and contrast for the herb garden, wild garden, native plant garden, meadow, or perennial border.  Its aromatic leaves can be used to make mint tea. The Virginia Native Plant Society named  Wild Bergamot Wildflower of the Year in 1993.  Learn more . . . 

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From the Organic Vegetable Demonstration Garden, July 2016

By Master Gardener Nancy Dowling

Lots of Lettuce!

Lots of Lettuce!

Photo © Nancy Dowling

If you enjoy growing vegetables, it’s probably due to the months of July and August – months when your garden starts to give back way more than you give it. At the Master Gardeners’ Organic Vegetable Garden (OVG), in beautiful Potomac Overlook Regional Park, we just harvested all of our garlic – plenty for both our volunteers and Arlington Food Assistance Center, which provides food for needy families. Continue reading

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Zika and Mosquito Control

mosquitoVCE/Master Gardeners and our local jurisdictions and  are very serious about helping our community learn the best management practices for mosquito control in light of the current Zika health crisis. Attend one of these public education sessions and keep up on the latest information through the following links. Learn More . . . 

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Calendar of Events

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August Public Education Events

Download the August Public Education flyer.


Wednesdays in the Garden – August 3, 10, 17, and 24 (No program on August 31), 7 to 9 p.m. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington 22201.

This series, taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, is designed to teach gardening skills to a wide audience.

Topics by date: Continue reading

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SHRUB: Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire)

Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire)
Photo © Mary Free

Fragrant, showy four-inch spires of white blossoms fall from arching stems in late spring. In autumn, the leaves of Virginia Sweetspire turn a vibrant red to orange. This native* favorite has graceful open growth habit and performs best in partial shade with moist soil. Learn more . . . 

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New Brochure for Glencarlyn Library Community Garden Is Big Hit

By Judy Funderburk
Everyone who sees our new brochure says something nice:

GC Library Garden Brochure Garden Guide“It’s beautiful.”

“It leads you into the Garden.”

“It helps you learn more about the plantings in each of the 10 garden sections.”

Continue reading

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Library Garden Receives Gift from Campbell Elementary 2nd Graders

By Judy Funderburk

Campbell School Wind Chime

Campbell School Wind Chime

Ms. Jessica Berg’s 2nd grade class walked from their school to the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden bearing a gorgeous homemade gift! It is a wind chime made from repurposed bamboo that the children found invading the back of their schoolyard. After the bamboo was cut into varied lengths, each “chime” was individually hand-painted by a child, each of whom chose their own paint colors and design.  Continue reading

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GROUND COVER: Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Opuntia humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear

Opuntia humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear
Photo © Christa Watters

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (formerly O. compressa) is unique. Its natural habitat is in scattered pockets from Ontario, Canada, to Florida and Louisiana, rather than the Southwest. Though infrequent throughout Virginia,* it is naive to Fairfax and Prince William counties. Like many of its desert relatives, it is edible, but handle with care! Learn more  . . . 

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June at Simpson Gardens

By Master Gardener Christa Watters for the Simpson Crew

Each of Simpson’s many and various garden beds has its special time for looking wonderful. One of my favorite plants this time of year is a smallish tree that grows near the western walkway about halfway through the gardens. Our specimen of the sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, is thriving, although it bloomed less prolifically this year than in some years. Continue reading

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