Seeing in the Winter Garden

by Judy Funderburk, Extension Certified Master Gardener

Brown and Grey + Mockingbird Play

Mockingbird on (Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly), protecting its winter 'pantry.'

Mockingbird on Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly), protecting its winter ‘pantry.’
Photo © 2018 Judy Funderburk

As the cold of winter approaches, the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden winds down. Shorter days and colder temperatures signal some of the garden perennials that it is time drop leaves and turn brown, while for others it is their time to shine.

Unlike the riotous orange, red, gold, and magenta colors of fall, winter’s palette tends to be more subtle. Walk through the Library Garden with “winter” eyes and notice how the shades of brown and gray provide a backdrop for evergreens, some sedums, and native berry plants such as red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), and ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) to shine. Red Sprite’s berries will remain for at least a month and probably well into January, when freezing and thawing softens the berries enough that robins, catbirds, and mockingbirds come to feast. Continue reading

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TREE: Quercus alba (White Oak)

A beautiful Quercus Alba (White Oak) at the Sunny Demonstration garden. Photo © 2014Elaine Mills

A beautiful Quercus Alba (White Oak) at the Sunny Demonstration garden.
Photo © 2014 Elaine Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

You will need plenty of space for this beauty, which can spread wider than it is tall, maturing at over 100 feet.  Often dominant in the canopy, the State Tree of Maryland supports 80 birds and mammals and up to 534 Lepidoptera species. How fitting that the largest recorded US specimen lived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At nearly 500 years old, the majestic Wye Oak fell in 2002. The Virginia Native Plant Society honored White Oak* as Wildflower of the Year in 2011.

More information . . .

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Between the Rows – December Edition

Welcome veggie gardeners! 

It’s time to check out the December 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

 

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Gift Books for Gardeners

Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers Book CoverBy Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener

For many gardeners, reading about gardening is the next best thing to working in their garden or tending their containers. Below, in no particular order, are sources to consider if you are looking for a book for your favorite gardener this holiday season.

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FERN: Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Hay Scented Fern)

Spiderwort and Hay-scented Ferns in the Shade Garden Photo © 2014 Mary Free

Spiderwort and Hay-scented Ferns in the Shade Garden
Photo © 2014 Mary Free

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native of open woods and dry slopes is found throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In Virginia, it is abundant in higher elevations to infrequent in the Coastal Plain. It can spread quickly to create a ground cover in shady woodland gardens. Crush some leaflets and its common name becomes apparent from the hay-like scent that emanates.

More information . . .

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GROUND COVER: Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (Fragrant Sumac)

Fall leaves of Rhus aromatica (‘Gro-Low,’ Fragrant Sumac).

Fall leaves of Rhus aromatica (‘Gro-Low,’ Fragrant Sumac).

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This vigorous, ground-hugging shrub makes an excellent ground cover, suckering and filling in areas quickly. Its glossy foliage turns brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and purples in fall. At first glance, it may look like poison ivy (Rhus radicans), but Fragrant Sumac is not poisonous. It occurs more commonly in the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic Region than in the Piedmont.

More information . . .

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Regional Gardens: Norfolk Botanical Garden, Part II

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

Colorful plants in the Hummingbird Garden. Photo © Elaine Mills.

Colorful plants in the Hummingbird Garden.
Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills.

Part II of our profile of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Continue reading

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FERN: Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) en masse, in spring. Photo © 2016 Elaine Mills.

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) en masse, in spring.
Photo © 2016 Elaine Mills.

Native mostly in the northern half of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Ostrich Fern is indigenous in only three places in Virginia, including along the Potomac River in Arlington and Fairfax counties. It requires a large landscape to show off to full advantage its long, finely dissected fronds, suggestive of ostrich plumes.

Learn more . . .

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Regional Gardens: Norfolk Botanical Garden, Part I

Garden entrance. Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills

Garden entrance. Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills

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

Anyone planning a trip to coastal Virginia or the Carolinas may want to include a half-day stop in Norfolk to visit the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It’s worth a special trip in any season. Nationally recognized, the garden spans 175 acres, has plant collections, themed mini-gardens, and other special features to delight and educate children and adults alike.

Continue reading

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TREE: Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)

Aesculus pavia, Red Buckeye flowers in May. Photo © 2018 Elaine L. Mills

Aesculus pavia, Red Buckeye flowers in May.
Photo © 2018 Elaine L. Mills

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Native mostly to the southeastern United States,(but not to the Mid-Atlantic region,  this understory tree is found in woods and along streams. Its common name refers to shiny seeds called buckeyes, which are encased in husked seed capsules. Its showy flowers, suggestive of firecrackers, have led to its alternative name, Firecracker Plant.

Learn more . . .

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Between the Rows – November Edition

Welcome veggie gardeners! 

It’s time to check out the November 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

 

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the Caterpillar and the exoSkeleton – a Halloween Video

Gravestones! Ghosts! Goblins! exoSkeletons! You may have seen some of these at the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden this last day of October. Several black swallowtail caterpillars cling to the fennel. Will they grow large enough before the first frost to form chrysalises in which they can overwinter? As each races time and matures from one instar* to another, it sheds its exoskeleton, often devouring it for nourishment. Today’s demonstration seems to be in the Halloween spirit. Hope your treats are as satisfying.


Continue reading

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Fall Fruit at Glencarlyn Garden

Ripening fruit on the persimmon tree after leaf drop in November. Photo © 2015 Elaine Mills

Ripening fruit on the persimmon tree after leaf drop in November.
Photo © 2015 Elaine Mills

By Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener
Photos by Elaine Mills and Bob Kline

 A medium-sized tree along the fenceline bordering the herb beds at the Glencarlyn Library Garden may not catch attention much of the year. In November, though, its bright orange fruits suspended from bare branches easily draw the eyes of visitors. Continue reading

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January 2019 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoThese public education events for January 2019 are open to all, but space may be limited. To reserve a spot, please register online https://mgnv.org/public-education-events/vce-horticulture-programs-registration/.


Sustainable Landscaping: Design Basics

Wednesday, January 9, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. 
Columbia Pike Branch Library, Westmont Room
816 South Walter Reed Drive, Arlington 22204

Sustainable Landscape DesignSustainable landscape design builds on the unique conditions of your yard to create a healthier and more ecologically friendly outdoor space. Learn both basic design principles and the steps to take to assess your site’s conditions, no matter the size of your property.

Free. Advance registration requested at mgnv.org.
Questions, telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com  Continue reading

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Caring for your LIVE Christmas Tree

By Kirsten Conrad , Extension Agent for Arlington County and the City of Alexandria

Helping your tree survive its time indoors is a high priority for those who spend money on a live tree with the intention of replanting it outdoors when Christmas is over.  What tree owners need to do is to remember that the single most important goal is to keep the moisture level of the tree needles and twigs as high as possible and prevent it from drying out. Doing so will prevent needle loss and help to prevent tree mortality. Continue reading

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PERENNIAL: Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic)

Echinacea purpurea with a duskywing.

Echinacea purpurea with a duskywing. Photographs © Mary Free from Creating Inviting Habitats – Publications and Educational Resources

Purple Coneflower has a rich history of medicinal use that has resulted in its over harvesting and decline in its natural habitat, centered in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. The few established populations in Virginia and Pennsylvania appear to be escapes from cultivation. So many beneficial insects (and goldfinches) flock to it though, one thinks of Echinacea as native. In any case, its attributes make it a “must-have” for a sunny garden.

Learn more and check out Mary Free’s wonderful video of how Echinacea transitions from summer to autumn to winter in the demonstration gardens.. . .

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