Tongue under Chin

By Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

To end Pollinator Week we bring you a tongue-under-chin story.

In this short video, a queen Bombus impatiens (common eastern bumble bee) rests on the petals of a hydrangea. She straightens out her proboscis, which she keeps folded beneath her head, and slides it back and forth between the mandibles. The proboscis comprises the mouth appendages. A horny sheath formed by the palps and maxillae protects the soft, reddish hairy tongue, which stretches and acts as a straw to draw up nectar. The mandibles act like teeth or pliers to chew wood, cut flower parts, or grasp enemies.

Speaking of enemies, what looks like a male Megachile sculpturalis (giant resin bee) attacks the queen from behind. This non-native bee first collected in the U.S. in North Carolina in 1994 has since spread to most states east of the Mississippi River and into Canada. It can be aggressive toward our native carpenter bees, sometimes attacking and displacing them in their nesting sites. The female giant resin bee grows almost one-inch long–larger than the native common eastern bumble bee queen. Luckily Queen Bombus recovers and avoids the next attack.


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PERENNIAL: Iris virginica (Virginia Blue Flag)

Iris virginica, Virginia Blue Flag

Iris virginica, Virginia Blue Flag
Photo © 2015 Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native iris, also known as Southern Blue Flag, is a wetland species growing in marshes and meadows from Virginia to Louisiana. Its showy flowers would make a lovely addition to a pond or rain garden.

Find out more about Iris Virginica and see a great video with pollinators . . .

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For the Birds, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds

By Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Creating Inviting Habitats Cover by Mary Free

Creating Inviting Habitats by Mary Free

One of the resources featured on the poster Pollinator Protection Vital to Urban Agriculture  is Creating Inviting Habitats.

This Virginia Cooperative Extension publication examines the habitat requirements for butterflies and birds common to our local area. In fact, most of the plants and wildlife were photographed in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, Virginia. Continue reading

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Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)

Thanks to Jennifer Gagnon,  Coordinator, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, for letting us reprint this article from 2011. Unforunately, since Jennifer wrote this article,  Giant Hogweed has now been discovered in Virginia.

6/21/18 – An update from Jennifer Gagnon – “apparently one of the reported sightings was an intentionally planted hogweed in someone’s garden.  The wild sighting turned out to be cow parsnip.  SO, for now, as far as we know, it hasn’t escaped into the wild in Virginia.”

You Ain’t From Around Here!

Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed)

Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed)

by Jennifer Gagnon, Virginia Tech

There are many things I haven’t seen in the woods which I would like to see. Like a black bear, or a porcupine (as long as neither hurts my dogs). But one thing I sure DON’T want to see is a certain member of the carrot family, the giant hogweed. This is one carrot you don’t want to eat, people. According to the USDA’s PLANTS Database, this species is not yet established in Virginia; but other sources suggest that it is. Either way, this article should serve both as a warning and an incentive – let’s not allow giant hogweed to gain a foothold in the Commonwealth.

Continue reading . . .

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Pollinator Protection Vital to Urban Agriculture

2017 Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit
Pollinator Protection Poster

In 2017, 223 Master Gardener (MG) volunteers contributed about 14,500 hours serving Arlington and Alexandria under the auspices of the Virginia Cooperative Extension. They operated the VCE Horticulture Help Desk and staffed plant clinics at the farmers markets in Alexandria, Arlington, and Del Ray as well as at the Arlington Central Library serving 2,232 clients. The six demonstration gardens offered teaching platforms as did the MGNV Website, which posted 129 articles and promoted the Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic reaching 39,611 visitors. 2018 Pollinator Week LogoMGs organized and led over 60 public education classes with some 7,200 contacts. Classes focused primarily on urban agriculture and sustainable landscaping using best management practices for environmentally sound gardening.

Sustainable landscape management helps improve soil productivity and conserves and protects water resources. Through use of native plants, it benefits our local habitat and wildlife, including pollinators. MGs created a poster for use at the 2017 Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit that focused on pollinator protection, which seems especially relevant for this Pollinator Week, celebrated from June 18–24. Continue reading

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July 2018 Public Education Events

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

Classes |  Wednesday Library Garden Talks | Plant Clinics

Printable Flyer: July 2018 MGNV Flyer


Saturday, July 7, 11 a.m. – 12 noon
Glencarlyn Library Community Garden

300 South Kensington Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Garden Talks: Good Gardens All Start with Good Soil

Library Garden Talks First Saturday of the month in the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden

Join Extension Master Gardener volunteers in the Library’s Community Garden the first Saturday of each month to learn about a different sustainable gardening topic. The mission of the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden is to provide resources for Arlington residents to learn how to create gardens in both suburban and urban landscapes. The Garden consists of many smaller gardens including herb, shade, sun, tropical, dry, container, and native gardens

Free. Questions? Call 703-228-6414 or email Continue reading

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Summer Herb Supplement

A Guide to Growing and Using Herbs

Welcome HERB gardeners!

It’s time to check out the Summer Herb Supplement to the monthly post, Between the Rows – A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for vegetable and herb gardening!

Here you will find additional information on growing and using garden herbs. 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 Herb Supplements are available at VCE Garden Guide under Resources on the MGNV site.



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PERENNIAL: Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea) 

Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea

Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea
Photo © 2015 Elaine Mills

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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