Green and Gentle Lands: Exploring Gardens and Historic Sites

By Nancy Smith Brooks, Extension Master Gardener

London Gardens

I took a marvelous cruise in May 2019 called “Green and Gentle Lands: Exploring Gardens and Historic Sites,” aboard the Ponant Line’s ship Le Boréal. We took six different excursions to gardens in England, Scotland, Belgium, and Norway.

“Summer Sun,” blown glass and steel sculpture by Dale Chihuly, at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England Photo © 2019 Nancy Smith Brooks

“Summer Sun,” blown glass and steel sculpture by Dale Chihuly, at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Photo © 2019 Nancy Smith Brooks

Our first stops were at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Richard Barley, Director of Horticulture, Learning, and Operations at Kew, met with our group of avid gardeners and talked about Kew’s worldwide research role and its seed bank at Wakehurst, “a library of plants.” Pleasing this Master Gardener of Northern Virginia and University of Virginia graduate, he quoted Thomas Jefferson: “the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it’s culture; especially a bread grain.” Barley also described his decision to bring Wolfgang Buttress’s sculpture “The Hive” back to Kew from the 2015 Milan Expo, and to reassemble its 170,000 pieces in a meadow.

Continue reading

Posted in Master Gardeners on the Road

September 2018 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoPublic education events are open to all, but space may be limited. To reserve a spot, please REGISTER ONLINE.

Saturday, September 7, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Glencarlyn Library Community Garden
300 South Kensington Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Garden Talk: Good Gardens All Start With Good Soil

Garden Talks - First Saturday of the month - June - September

Healthy soil is the foundation for a healthy garden and essential to our planet’s food web. Come tour the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden with an Extension Master Gardener to learn about the elements of good soil and practical ways you can care for the soil in your own garden.

Free. Questions? Contact Extension Master Gardeners at telephone 703-228-6414 or email Continue reading

Posted in Glencarlyn Library Community Garden, Organic Vegetable, Organic Vegetable Demonstration Garden, Public Education, Public Education Events, Simpson Gardens, Teaching Garden, Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

New Plant Clinic in Alexandria!

MGNV - Plant Clinic logoWe are excited to announce the NEW Beatley Library Plant Clinic!

If you live on the west side of Alexandria, you can now bring your plant questions to the library every other Tuesday evening and get help from our talented Master Gardeners!

Alexandria Public Library LogoAugust 13, 2019 – November 12, 2019
7:00 to 8:30p.m. on every second & fourth Tuesday

Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library
5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304 (Directions/Map)

Posted in MG in the Garden, Public Education | Tagged , ,

PERENNIAL: Eutrochium dubium (Eastern or Coastal Joe-Pye Weed)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This more diminutive Joe Pye Weed is native to the eastern coastal plain and can be found in swamps, shores, and wet meadows.   Its beautiful pink-headed stems wave in the summer breeze and provide landing platforms attractive to butterflies and other insect pollinators. Eupatarium dubium is now called Eutrochium dubium by Virginia Flora.

Find out more about Eutrochium dubium and see a great video with pollinators . . .

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

Many Mints at the United States Botanic Garden

By Anne Galer, Extension Master Gardener

Salvia patens(Mexican blue sage)
Photo © 2019 Anne Galer

So small I missed it on the first pass, the mint exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden is worth a stop if you’re down on the National Mall.

Crammed into ten feet of space along the corridor between the cactus and medicinal plant rooms is a colorful display of many of the Lamiaceae family members. Ranging from Salvia through coleus, basils, oregano, thyme, mountain mint, and more, the display refreshes your memory of how many plants are part of this diverse family, and how their uses range from culinary to ornamental.

In signage titled “It’s Hip to Be Square,” visitors are reminded that “when you see a plant with square stems, and leaves growing opposite each other, there is a good chance it belongs to the mint family.” Other surprising details revealed in the exhibit include the fact that of the more than 7,000 species in the Lamiaceae family, some 400 plants are native to the United States. Monarda (Beebalms) and Pycnanthemum (mountain mints) are two popular mid-Atlantic native ornamentals on display.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The mint exhibit runs through November 23, 2019, so there is plenty of time to work it into your next visit to Washington, D.C. On your way out be sure to make a quick stop in the Botanic Garden’s West Gallery to see the poster exhibit “Celebrating New American Gardens,” open through October 15, 2019, and plan your next green road trip.

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

2019 Arlington County Fair – “A Family A-Fair”

Arlington county fair 2019 logo

Wednesday, August 14 through Sunday, August 18

Fun and prizes abound at the Arlington County Fair! Fun comes in many forms-the traditional midway of rides and games, food of all kinds, shopping and information tables. Look for the Arlington/Alexandria Cooperative Extension information booth for horticultural help and to see a display on the 40-year history of our local Master Gardener program. The Competitive Exhibits show off the best of our area’s produce, art, and baked goods. And don’t miss the racing pigs!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more information go to

Thomas Jefferson Community Center,
3501 South 2nd Street, Arlington 22204

Posted in Arlington County Fair | Tagged , , ,

GROUND COVER: Heuchera villosa (Hairy Alumroot)

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 . . .

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