by Judy Funderburk, Master Gardener
Glencarlyn Library Demonstration Garden Plant Sale
Though raindrops were falling on their heads, the hundreds of plants and 192 folks who came to the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden Plant Sale on Sunday, May 1 were not deterred. A colorful crowd of people and umbrellas filled the parking lot at 300 South Jefferson Street in Arlington.
Master Gardeners were available to help buyers find just the right addition to their home gardens from the hundreds of natives, herbs, perennials, tropicals, shrubs, and small trees brought by Rhonda Stevenson from her Country Gardens nursery in Tom’s Brook, Virginia. In the back patio area, hundreds more plants propagated from the Library Garden and from the home gardens of several Master Gardeners waited to be chosen. These plants were divided into sections by hours of sun needed to thrive; buyers were introduced to and purchased the various categories: “Shady,” Sun-Loving and Part Sun/Part Shade.
Coordinators of the Glencarlyn Library Demo Garden — Judy , Paul and Alyssa — are deeply appreciative of all the help received from the 27 Master Gardeners and Interns who volunteered in the midst of rain drops on the day of the sale. Thanks also for the many MGNV helping hands that dug, divided, potted up and wrote signage for the more than 600 plants we had for sale, and for the behind the scenes help of our publicity maestro, who got out the word and helped bring in the people to make the sale a success and let the public know about the good work of Master Gardener volunteers in the Northern Virginia area!
Pre-Schoolers Learn About Seeds
Intern Susan Lewis introduced 25 children from the Carlin Hall Creative Pre-School to Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson as a prelude to having them learn about seeds, sunflowers, planting, waiting, and the miracle of growth. Over four sessions, the children took in the different perspective that Mortimer Mouse had on the value of seeds (he loved to eat them and couldn’t imagine why anyone would put a delicious sunflower seed in the dirt!) as well as the possibility that they, like Mortimer, might be able to grow one sunflower seed into many more seeds just by careful planting, watering, and the difficult task of waiting.
Every child planted a yogurt cup full of seeds and watched patiently (or impatiently) for them to begin to grow. Imagine the excitement as the dirt began to fill with green shoots and then leaves. The children watered their plants often, and midway through placed them outside to “harden off” the tender shoots. Finally on April 25 and 26 every child planted his or her seedlings outside, digging a good hole, patting down the soil, and watering well. David Mallett’s Garden Song, “Inch by Inch, and Row by Row,” which we had been practicing singing with hand movements, provided the perfect celebratory ending for the children’s experiential learning about seeds. Susan completed the required hours for her intern project, toward becoming a certified Master Gardener and the children had an experience that will go way beyond those hours. They get to watch their plants grow every time they go out to the playground. Susan will continue to check in with the children and the sunflowers, hoping their plants will indeed grow like Mortimer’s did, eventually becoming taller than the children and filled with hundreds of sunflower seeds.
A Three Season Journey With The Red Buckeye
Last fall the native Red Buckeye shrub (Aesculus pavia) located on the Third Street side of our Glencarlyn Library Community Garden grew well over 50 brown round fruits — 1- to 2-inch seed capsules, each of which holds a large dark brown seed that looks and feels like a nut. When these seed pods split and the seeds dropped to the ground, some of them began to germinate and send out root shoots. We gardeners collected 30 or so that were sprouting and potted them to see if they would overwinter and grow into baby Red Buckeyes for the Spring Plant Sale. The squirrels were very interested in our Buckeye seeds, even though they are supposed to be poisonous, so we covered them with wire. Come spring, a few began to grow leaves, but only one developed a strong leading stem with multiple true leaves and looked healthy enough to go to the Green Spring Plant Sale.
Though not a fully successful experiment, planting the buckeye fruits was fun to try, and we wanted to see if we could propagate and grow babies of this beautiful native shrub. To learn more about the Red Buckeye, go to the Master Gardener Web site, MGNV.org, and click on “Tried & True Native Plants for the Mid-Atlantic.” Scroll down to “Trees A to M”, then scroll sideways and click on Aesculus pavia. A wealth of information about this and many other native plants is at your fingertips through the T & T lists on our Web site.