Regional Gardens: The United States National Arboretum

Text by Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener
Photos by Elaine Mills & Bob Kline

Arboretum Sign

Arboretum Sign
Photo © 2017 Elaine Mills

The United States National Arboretum, established in 1927 by an Act of Congress, defines its function as “a living museum where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes.”

The scientific mission is led by a team of geneticists, plant curators, horticulturalists, and plant pathologists working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. These scientists conduct basic and developmental research to preserve the genetic diversity of landscape plants, and develop new cultivars and technologies for the florist and nursery industries. Continue reading

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Hellebores – A Gardener’s Comfort

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Become a Master Gardener! Sign Up Now!

The 2017 Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training is open for registration!

2014-master-gardener-of-northern-virginia-annual-plant-sale-at-green-springOffered by Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), Arlington County Office, in partnership with the City of Alexandria, the VCE Master Gardener program trains participants in best management practices of gardening and landscaping techniques that preserve and sustain the environment.

VCE Master Gardener Training Open House will be held on May 24th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Fairlington Community Center 3308 S. Stafford St. Arlington VA 22206.  Let us know you are coming by contacting the VCE Horticulture Help Desk at 703 228 6414 or by email at

Application forms and more information . . .

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What’s up with those Cicadas?

by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Brood X 17-year cicada straggler exoskeletons.

Brood X 17-year cicada straggler exoskeletons.
Photo © Mary Free

If you think it is too early to find the exoskeletons of annual cicadas scattered along the sidewalk, then you are correct. What you see are the exoskeletons of periodical cicadas. Some of the Brood X 17-year cicadas have started to surface–four years early–in Virginia, Maryland, DC, Delaware, Ohio and Tennessee. Called stragglers or precursors, these early emerging cicadas will become more numerous as the weather heats up over the next couple weeks. They comprise less than one percent of the large Brood X, so don’t expect to see thousands of periodical cicadas under foot until 2021. Continue reading

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MGNV Plant Sale Greenspring Garden

greenspring_plant_sale_2015Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road,
Alexandria, VA.

Love the idea of using native plants, but can’t find them? Come buy native plants at reasonable prices that are specially-suited for this area, and meet with Master Gardeners who will answer all your questions and help you pick out the plants that will grow the best in your yard. This sale also helps support our local Master Gardener program. Continue reading

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Sunday in the Garden at Organic Vegetable Garden

Sunday, June 11, 1-4 p.m.
Potomac Overlook Park, 2845 Marcey Rd., Arlington 22207

Lots of Lettuce!

Join our very own VCE Master Gardeners who maintain the Organic Vegetable Demonstration Garden when they answer your questions about tending the summer garden, Square Foot Gardening, veggies in containers and irrigation ollas. Visitors should walk beyond the Nature Center to reach the garden. No registration necessary. Continue reading

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Hellebores – A Gardener’s Comfort

By Dina Lehman

Hellebore flower closeup

Hellebore flower closeup
Photo © 2017 Dina Lehmann-Kim

Avid gardeners spend the winter months gazing through plant catalogs, planning for changes and new additions to their gardens while eagerly awaiting the first signs of spring. The hellebore, an evergreen plant that usually reaches 15 inches in height, is one of the few plants that provides comfort to the gardener who is impatient for spring. The hellebore’s blooms can emerge in our area as early as December. And their blooms, as demonstrated by these images taken in April and May, are long-lasting. Continue reading

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Organic Fertilizers: Giving a Jump Start to New Plantings

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PERENNIAL: Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm

Monarda didyma Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This member of the Mint family, native to eastern North America, grows in dense clusters along creeks and banks, as well as in thickets and woods.  Prized by humans as an aromatic herb, its distinctive ragged red flowers are attractive to a variety of garden pollinators, especially when massed.

Learn more . . .

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June 2017 Public Education Events

The following are free public education events for June 2017.

Printable Flyer–MGNV June 2017 Public Education Events
Printable Flyer – Garden Talks at Arlington Central Library 2017

Waterwise Gardening

Monday, June 5, 7-8:30 p.m.
Fairlington Community Ctr, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, 22206

Simpson Water Wise GardeLearn tips and easy-to-implement practices for having a healthy green garden that you don’t have to water every day. We will discuss which plants can best survive our long, hot summers, how to group plants to take advantage of existing water sources, and use of water gardens, rain barrels, and best landscaping practices.

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

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Glencarlyn Library Community Garden Plant Sale

by Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener

Customers choose from hundreds of plants from Country Gardens nursery

Customers choose from hundreds of plants from Country Gardens nursery

Gardener coordinators Paul Nuhn, Alyssa Ford Morel, Wendy Mills, and Elaine Mills, and longtime colleague and mentor Judy Funderburk want to thank the Glencarlyn community for its strong support of our recent spring plant sale. Despite the stormy days preceding the event and crisp temperatures on Sunday, May 7, the sale was a great success, and all proceeds support the ongoing care and maintenance of the garden.

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Simpson Gardens in May – Open House Draws Bird Lovers

By Christa Watters, Certified Master Gardener

Lunaria annua (money plant) is in bloom in the pollinator garden now. In late summer and fall its coin-shaped seed heads will provide food for birds

Lunaria annua (money plant) is in bloom in the pollinator garden now. In late summer and fall its coin-shaped seed heads will provide food for birds.
Photo © 2017 Christa Watters

Simpson Gardens work parties began on March 7 this year, but in a hit or miss Tuesday pattern with a couple of rescheduled dates because of rain-outs. We have drawn interns from the fall class as well as from our regular roster of volunteers. Early spring’s blooming pattern was a bit unusual, as in all our gardens, with some plants putting on a show much earlier than usual. But the early warmth also enabled us to get our garden cleaned up and into shape much sooner than in some years.

The team held two potting-up parties, digging up volunteer seedlings, splitting clumps, and thinning beds that had become overgrown. These plants are being tended at Carol Kilroy’s house in anticipation of the May 20 plant sale at Green Spring Gardens Park.


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