The Tribute Garden is located at 3308 South Stafford Street, Arlington, VA 22206
on the north side of the Fairlington Community Center near the parking lot.
Celebrating Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, past and present,
educating the community for a healthy and sustainable environment since 1981.
The Master Gardener Tribute Garden on the grounds of the Fairlington Community Center (FCC) in Arlington, Virginia, is one of two demonstration gardens at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Arlington office, home of Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) from both Arlington and Alexandria. The inspiration for the garden was Mary Newton, who trained as a Master Gardener in 1998, served as president of Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV), and remained active in the organization until her death in 2015. As Mary’s colleagues considered a way to honor her many contributions to the organization, the concept evolved into a tribute garden to celebrate the work of all EMGs.
Suzanne Williams (’05) of Positive Spaces Landscape designed the site to showcase native shrubs and herbaceous perennials that thrive in a dry landscape. The plans included a location for a bench with a concrete-pad extension for wheelchair or stroller, an invitation for the community to rest and relax. With the support of the MGNV Board, and the blessing of the Fairlington Citizens Association, an ad hoc committee of Master Gardeners won approval from Arlington County for both the location and plans for this project.
The wood and iron bench, based on the iconic 1964 World’s Fair Bench and bearing a plaque honoring the work of local Master Gardeners, was installed in early 2017. In April 2017, the garden design began to take shape around the installed bench. The location, a former driveway entrance to the FCC parking lot, proved a considerable challenge as the team rototilled through blacktop debris before they could amend the soil and plant. Gradually the vision became a reality, and the garden dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 26, 2017.
The plant palette of predominantly Tried and True Native Plant Selections offers an ever-changing show of color and texture throughout the seasons and attracts birds, butterflies, and other insects and pollinators. Several compact cultivars of native shrubs, including summersweet, winterberry, Virginia sweetspire, and dwarf fothergilla, sweep in a naturalistic flow around the bench. Seasonal color pops throughout the space with perennials such as purple coneflower, threadleaf coreopsis, beardtongue, and aromatic aster flowering in spring, summer, and fall. Other drought-tolerant species include little bluestem, blue wild indigo, rattlesnake master, eastern prickly-pear, field pussytoes, golden ragwort, moss phlox, wild pink, and Allegheny stonecrop.
The Master Gardener Tribute Garden invite visitors to the Fairlington Community Center to spend time, to pause and reflect. Two native trees anchor the garden: an American hornbeam, also called musclewood for its smooth muscular bark, and a willow oak, useful for its tolerance of tough urban conditions. The garden highlights plants with multiple seasons of interest and creates an environmentally sensitive habitat in an urban setting. Gardens never stay the same; they are always evolving. We invite you to rest on the bench and enjoy the seasonally changing picture the next time you are visiting.
*Special thanks to the Tribute Bench and Garden committee members who championed the project from concept to plants in the ground: Tamara Dailey (’05), Ann Kelleran (’99), Alison Kindler (’13), Jane Longan (’02), Tricia Rodgers (’98) and Anne Wilson (’06).
Tribute Garden Plant List
- Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ (little bluestem)
- Antennaria neglecta (field pussytoes)
- Opuntia humifusa (eastern prickly pear)
- Phlox subulata (moss phlox)
- Sedum telephoides (Allegheny stonecrop)
- Silene caroliniana (wild pink)
- Baptisia australis (blue wild indigo)
- Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (threadleaf coreopsis)
- Echinacea purpurea ‘Milkshake’ (purple coneflower)
- Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ [some reverting to straight species]
- Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master)
- Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)
- Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)
- Lysimachia lanceolata (lanceleaf loosestrife)
- Monarda ‘Petite Delight’ (beebalm)
- Oenothera fruticosa (bundrops)
- Packera aurea (golden ragwort)
- Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (beardtongue)
- Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)
- Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ (goldenrod)
- Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ (New England aster)
- Zizia aurea (golden Alexanders)
- Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Blue Mist’ (bluebeard)
- Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’ (summersweet)
- Fothergilla gardenii (dwarf fothergilla)
- Ilex verticillata ‘Berry Poppins’ and ‘Mr. Poppins’ (winterberry)
- Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ (Virginia sweetspire)
- Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)
- Quercus phellos (willow oak)