November/December 2018 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoThe following public education programs, scheduled by Extension Master Gardeners in Arlington and Alexandria in November & December of 2018, are open to all, but space may be limitedTo reserve a spot, please register online.

ClassesExtension Master Gardener Help Desk   


Tuesday, November 6, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Shirlington Branch Library, Campbell Room
4200 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206


Tuesday, November 20, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Barrett Branch Library
717 Queen St., Alexandria 22314

(please note that the same class content is offered twice)

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

Mimicrogreenscrogreens—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 and 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 microgreen garden in class!

Free. Advance registration requested at
Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or email

Thursday, November 8,  7-8:30 p.m.
Burke Branch Library
4701 Seminary Rd., Alexandria 22304

Putting Your Garden to Bed

Hamamelis virginiana, Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana, Witch Hazel

Fall is an ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, and even vegetables. Learn easy tips from Extension Master Gardeners for onsite composting, providing winter habitat and food for wildlife, and end-of-season care of tools and equipment. We’ll also help you identify great plants that can add interest to your yard during the gray doldrums of winter.

Free. Advance registration requested at
Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or email

Tuesday, November 13, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Barrett Branch Library
717 Queen St., Alexandria 22314

Gardening to Attract Wildlife in a Yard of Any Size

Zinnia with Monarch

Zinnias in the Butterfly Garden at Simpson Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia attract pollinators like the monarch butterfly.
Photo © Mary Free

Looking to attract more birds, butterflies, and pollinators to your yard and in the process help our local ecosystem? Providing wildlife habitat is key, even in small spaces. Learn how to make your yard more attractive to wildlife using sustainable landscaping techniques, many of which require less work and maintenance than traditional gardening methods! Learn about native plants and other resources that can create a healthy garden for birds, butterflies, as well as for you and your family.

Free. Advance registration requested at
Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or email

Saturday, December 1, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Fairlington Community Center, Room 100
3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, 22206

The Edible Oasis: Permaculture Ideas for Small Urban Yards

Cherry Belle radishes

Cherry Belle Radish at the Organic Vegetable Garden
Photo © 2016 by Nancy Dowling

Why is gardening so much work? Learn to grow vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs to produce food now and for many years to come, while reducing your annual labor and capital investments. Our basic permaculture concepts and designs will let you transform your small urban yard, or a tiny slice of it, into your own mini food forest.

Free. Advance registration requested at
Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or email

Check out the Extension Master Gardener Help Desk!  

Extension MG Help DeskThe Extension Master Gardener Help Desk operates year-round and we welcome your garden-related questions, including those related to plant and insect identification. The Help Desk is staffed from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays at the VCE office at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, 22206. Contact us at 703-228-6414 or, or drop by to speak with our Help Desk volunteers.  It’s best to call before you come to make sure we’re available.

Our other plant clinics will resume in the spring.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Arlington County Cooperative Extension 5 days prior to the event at 703-228-6400 or *TTY 800-828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations.

Virginia Cooperative Extension  is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. VCE programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
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TREE: Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Sassafras offers three-season interest: globelike clusters of chartreuse flowers in spring, leaves with three distinct shapes, dark blue fruit in red cups in summer, and foliage ranging from orange to crimson to purple in fall. This native is common in wood edges throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region except for the northern border of Pennsylvania.

Learn more . . .

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

Regional Gardens: The Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens

By Elaine Mills, Certified Extension Master Gardener
Photos by Elaine Mills & Bob Kline

 (Based on visits August to mid-Dec, 2014-2017.) 

The Meadow Garden is fascinating even in the winter months. © 2015 Elaine Mills

The Meadow Garden is fascinating even in the winter months.
Photo © 2015 Elaine Mills

A recently posted book review on Sowing Beauty discussed some of the technical aspects of designing meadow gardens and mentioned two local meadows to view. Gardeners may also wish to visit a much larger meadow with educational signage at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

Continue reading

Posted in Regional Gardens | Tagged , , ,

The Learning Garden

by Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener

Small pallet garden of succulents

Small pallet garden of succulents.
Photo © 2018 MGNV

The Learning Garden is tucked into an alcove behind the Fairlington Community Center (FCC), the long-time home of the Arlington and Alexandria branch office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service (VCE). It is one of several horticultural learning opportunities which Arlington County included in the FCC redesign master plan at the VCE’s request. Constructed as part of the FCC renovation in 2007, the Learning Garden has two large raised beds and several in-ground planting areas. Wide walkways provide space for containers and a bench under a shade tree near the back entrance offers a quiet place to sit and relax.

Learn more . . . 

Posted in Fairlington Gardens, Learning Garden | Tagged , ,

PERENNIAL: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) close-up fo flowers and buds.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) close-up fo flowers and buds.
Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Daisy-like asters bloom profusely late summer to early fall. Native to more northern parts of the Mid-Atlantic Region and mountains of Virginia, in NoVA they may have spread from cultivation where they are often used in wild gardens and roadside plantings. For smaller gardens, the dwarf cultivar ‘Purple Dome’ has a low, bushy habit that does not require staking and produces abundant bright, royal purple flowers.

Learn more . . .

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

Between the Rows – October Edition

Welcome veggie gardeners! 

It’s time to check out the October VCE Garden Guide for vegetable and herb gardening!

VCE supports local gardeners with a host of resources, including free classes, plant clinics and this newsletter. Want to know more? Subscribe here to receive future editions.

All the garden guides are available at VCE Garden Guide under Resources on the MGNV site.

VCE Garden Guide - Between the Rows


Posted in MG in the Garden, Organic Vegetable, VCE | Tagged ,