Master Gardener Tribute Bench & Garden Dedication Ceremony

by Peter Hickman, Certified Master Gardener  & 2017 President of MGNV

The idea for the Master Gardener Tribute Bench and Garden originated as a way to honor Mary Newton. Mary served as MGNV President fifteen years ago. It was a time of transition for MGNV as we went from a period of working without an extension agent and being “in charge,” to supporting the work of the agent. Mary led the organization through the transition with grace. She was patient, kind, and a good listener —a true gentle gardener. She passed from this life in September 2015.

Photo of Mary Newton

Mary Newton
Photo © 2017 Leslie Fillmore

As Master Gardener friends thought more about a tribute to Mary, they realized that she probably would not have wanted it to be all about her but would have wanted to honor the work all Master Gardeners past and present. An ad-hoc committee formed to pursue this idea. With the support of the MGNV Board, this ad-hoc committee developed a proposal and won Arlington County approval for this project last December. Once the handicapped accessible bench was installed, the ad-hoc committee prepared the soil and lovingly installed the Garden and have been keeping an eye on it ever since. In April, the Tribute Bench and Garden officially became the latest demonstration garden. Continue reading

Posted in Tribute Bench and Mini-Garden

November 2017 Public Education Events

The following are free public education events offered by VCE for November 2017.

Holiday and Winter Containers (Note that the class is offered twice)

Holiday greenery

Wednesday, November 1, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, 22206 


Saturday, November 4, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen St., Alexandria 22314

Come learn some tips and tricks for keeping greenery fresh and for selecting plants for winter-long interest in containers. This fun and popular class is part winterizing your garden pots and part flower-arranging, as well as an opportunity for getting some hands-on experience.

Free. Advance registration requested at Questions 703-228-6414 or Continue reading

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Simpson Gardens Fall Round Up 2017

By Christa Watters, Certified Master Gardener

Denise gives rosemary to visitor

Denise gives rosemary to visitor.
Photo © 2017 Carol Kilroy

Simpson’s Fall Open House took place on a warm, sunny late September Sunday with the asters and goldenrod in full bloom. We offered tours of the garden, with explanations of its history and the various beds and their purposes and seasonal strengths. Along with informational handouts and refreshments, we gave away small rosemary plants propagated by one of our gardeners.


Continue reading

Posted in Simpson Gardens

SHRUB: Viburnum prunifolium (Black Haw)

Viburnum prunifoliumTried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This elegant large shrub to small tree, found in woods and thickets, has an upright oval crown when young, often becoming irregular with drooping lower branches.  Creamy-white flowers give way to edible pink berries that ripen to deep blue-black. More Information . . .

Posted in MG in the Garden, Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic | Tagged , , , ,

Garden Myth Busters! Landscape and Lawn

By Rachel Vecchio, Master Gardener 2016 Intern
and Libby Good, Certified Master Gardener

lawn closeupTHE MYTH: Always fertilize your lawn in the spring.

THE REALITY: A homeowner’s lawn and garden spring to-do list is usually long, including getting out the fertilizer and putting the spreader to work. But that particular chore may be unnecessary and even harmful, according to experts.  Continue reading

Posted in Garden Myth Busters!, Intern Projects | Tagged , , ,

PERENNIAL: Symphiotrichum cordifolium, Blue Wood or Heart-leaved Aster

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Blue Wood or Heart-leaved Aster

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Blue Wood or Heart-leaved Aster
Photo © Mary Free

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Formerly classified as Aster cordifolius, this native, found along forest edges and ledges in the eastern half of North America,* would be a welcome addition in a residential shade garden. When summer flowers are fading through mid fall, the delicate blue flowers of this prolific bloomer attract numerous pollinators. 

Find out more about Symphyotrichum cordifolium and see a great video with pollinators . . . 

Posted in MG in the Garden

Chanticleer Gardens—the Book and the Garden

By Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener

“To create a garden is to search for a better world.  Every gardener is like Oscar Hammerstein’s Optimist, for the very act of planting is based on hope for a glorious future.”

Adolph Rosengarten Jr., founder of Chanticleer Garden

The Art of Gardening—Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by R. William Thomas

The Art of Gardening—Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by R. William Thomas and others, is the next best thing to actually visiting Chanticleer Garden (Chanticleer), an amazing public garden in Wayne, PA. Filled with fabulous photographs and detailed descriptions, the book is both inspirational and practical.

The Art of Gardening was written collaboratively by Chanticleer’s executive director and head gardener, R. William Thomas, and the horticulturists responsible for each of Chanticleer’s seven distinct gardens. The introduction starts with an informative discussion of what Chanticleer is—a pleasure garden of plants and art, a demonstration garden, and a museum, and what it is not—an event location or arboretum. Next is an overview of Chanticleer’s history, starting with Adolph Rosengarten Sr.’s purchase of seven acres in 1912, and going on to describe the property’s subsequent evolution from a private estate to a public garden under the stewardship of Adolph Rosengarten Jr. and his wife Janet. Continue reading

Posted in The Master Gardeners' Bookshelf | Tagged , , ,

Native Grasses for Fall and Winter

By Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener
Photos: Elaine Mills 

Want to learn more about Native Grasses?
Sign up for Elaine’s October presentation!

Green seed heads of northern sea oats backlit by morning sun at the National Arboretum

Green seed heads of northern sea oats backlit by morning sun at the National Arboretum

As summer’s annuals are beginning to fade and fall perennials are putting on their last show of bloom, native grasses take on a more prominent role in the natural landscape. Some of these members of the Poaceae family are well-suited to the home landscape, where they can bring structure, subtle color, texture, and even sound to garden beds well into the winter months.

A tall woodland grass that can be seen in the southern parking lot bed of our own Glencarlyn Library Community Garden is northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). This perennial grows in upright clumps with arching stems, bamboo-like leaves, and eye-catching oat-like seed heads that rustle and shimmer in the breeze. The green spikelets are beautiful in summer when backlit by the sun. Continue reading

Posted in MG in the Garden, Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic, Tried and True Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunny/Shade Garden Tour – This Sunday!

Tour our Gardens logoSunday, October 1, 2017 2–4 pm

Get ideas for the right plant for that special place in your yard:

  • Tour the gardens
  • Get advice from Master Gardeners
  • Pick up helpful information and resources
  • Get free seeds
  • Try your luck in a plant raffle

Location and Directions

The Sunny and Shade Gardens are located in
Bon Air Park off Wilson Blvd. at 850 N. Lexington Street. The Sunny Garden is located adjacent to the parking lot near the rose garden. To find the Shade Garden, walk along the paved path by the left side of the Sunny Garden around the corner.

Posted in Shade Garden, Sunny Garden | Tagged , , ,

TREE: Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum, Black Tupelo

Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum, Black Tupelo
Photo © Elaine Mills

Found in a variety of sites from creek bottoms to upland slopes in eastern North America, Black Gum is noted for its beautiful yellow to orange to scarlet fall foliage.  Bees make a flavorful honey from the nectar-rich flowers, while many birds and mammals enjoy the juicy fruit. Learn more . . .

Posted in Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic | Tagged , , , , ,