The Sphinx That Lives Among Us

by Christa Watters, Certified Master Gardener

Sphinx Moth at Simpson Garden

Sphinx Moth at Simpson Garden
Photo © 2017 Denise Dieter

Our gardens and open spaces are home to many creatures we seldom notice in our busy lives. Even in our gardens, focused on planting, weeding, and pruning, we often fail to see what is right in front of us. But sometimes we get lucky, and see something quite stunningly beautiful.

Here’s an example of a creature so well-camouflaged that its sighting is indeed a surprise. The Pandorus sphinx moth (Eumorpha pandorus) has coloration and behaviors that often keep its presence secret or disguised.
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SHRUB: Physocarpus opulifolius (Ninebark)

Physocarpus opulifolius flower detail in May 2017
Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This drought-tolerant, adaptable shrub is found in open woods, lake shores, stream banks, and rock outcroppings.  Its papery bark continually molts in thin strips, revealing multiple layers of reddish to light brown inner bark.

Read more . . .

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March 2018 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoThe following events are scheduled by VCE Master Gardeners in Arlington and Alexandria in March 2018.

Printable: March 2018 Publicity Flyer

Winter PruningWintertime Pruning . . . and Why It is the Best Time to Prune (some) Plants.

Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
OR
Sunday, March 4, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Class meets outside, in front of
2416 Ridge Road Drive, Alexandria, VA  22302

Come for hands-on training on the how, when, and why to prune hedges, multi-stem shrubs, small trees, and large branches. You will also learn dormant season pruning of your non-woody perennials. The results will be healthier and bushier growth, and more attractive landscaping. Bring your own tools, and remember to dress for the weather! Entire class is held outdoors.

Free. Advance registration requested at mgnv.org.
Questions,telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com  Continue reading

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GROUND COVER: Pachysandra procumbens

Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge in April bloom

Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge in April bloom
Photo © 2016 Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Why plant English Ivy, Vinca, or Liriope when you can enjoy this southern, semi-evergreen gem? Fragrant white flower spikes in spring, later become camouflaged by a new flush of gorgeous, crisp green foliage. Leaves have a scalloped margin and take on an attractive mottling.

Learn more . . .

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Growing Food in Winter

Though it's snowing, our plants are growing!

Though it’s snowing, our plants are growing!
Photo © 2018 MGNV

If you would be interested in building your own cold frame, we still have spots in our Cold Frame Workshop coming up on February 17. Please register ASAP online!

Have you seen the winter sowing/season extension display in the outdoor garden area at Fairlington Community Center (FCC)? It was created by two 2017 Master Gardener interns, Jasmin and her mother, Georgia, as a part of their MG intern project. It illustrates how easy and effective growing plants outdoors in winter in Zone 7b can be, anywhere there is a small space and a bit of sun. Continue reading

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Winter and the Vegetable Gardener

By Nancy Dowling, Certified Master Gardener

Packets of Vegetable SeedsPeople seem to think that winter is a slow time for a vegetable gardener, but that’s a misconception. In fact, winter is the time a vegetable gardener works out plans for the coming year’s garden.

Planning includes imagination, research, organization, and . . . action!  For me, it starts with taking an inventory of seed packages on hand to see which ones are past their germination window, and which are still viable for the upcoming season. Usually seeds have a reliable germination period of about three years. Every year after the initial one lowers the germination rate by about 10 percent. So, if the initial germination rate is 90 to 100 percent, by the fourth year it may decrease to 50 to 60 percent, and that just might not be worth it when a new packet of seeds would increase your odds dramatically. Doubling and tripling the quantity of seeds needed in the fourth year may work for some seed types, but in my opinion, it leaves too much to chance.  Continue reading

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The Master Gardener Bookshelf:  The Foodscape Revolution

The Foodscape Revolution — Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden by Brie Arthur

Review by Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener

The Foodscape Revolution —Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden book jacket

Interested in growing vegetables but lack space or are concerned your local homeowner association will frown on edible landscaping? If so, The Foodscape Revolution — Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden by Brie Arthur may help. The Foodscape Revolution is a “how-to” for integrating annual vegetables and flowers in traditional ornamental landscapes. The result is fresh food, a beautiful landscape and, in Ms. Arthur’s case, an award from her local homeowner’s association. Continue reading

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February 2018 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoThe following events are scheduled by VCE Master Gardeners in Arlington and Alexandria in February 2018.

microgreensMicrogreens: What Are They, Why They Are So Fabulous, and How to Grow Them

Monday, February 5, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. (Rescheduled from Jan 8, 2018)
Barrett Branch Library
717 Queen St., Alexandria VA 22314

Microgreens – You’ve likely seen them, but what makes them so good for you?  Join us to learn their many benefits, and some simple ways to grow these delicious, nutritious and inexpensive baby plants & sprouts in your own home.  Plus, we provide supplies for you to plant your own container, so come prepared to get a bit dirty while you make your own microgreens garden in class!

Free. Advance registration requested at mgnv.org.
Questions,telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com  Continue reading

Posted in MG in the Garden, Public Education Events

Rosemary and Lavender: Hardy Herbs That Often Survive Our Winters – and Spice up or Calm Down the Gardener or Cook

By Judy Funderburk, Certified Master Gardener

Note: This is the second in an occasional series of short articles featuring herbs grown in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the Glencarlyn Branch Library in Arlington County, Virginia.

Lavender in bloom

Lavender in bloom
Image by Huntley Photography

Here in the midst of winter we invite you to learn more about rosemary and lavender – their backgrounds, growth habits, and needs; their culinary, fragrance, and medicinal uses. Both herbs are ingredients for food or drink served as “tastes” at our annual AutumnFest celebration in mid-September. Rosemary Herbed Pecans and Lavender Poundcake taste-tested recipes are included below.

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Posted in MG in the Garden, Recipes