FERN: Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

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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Garden Musings: Unexpected Gift

Outside my early morning window on the world
“A dust of snow” *
But no.

I look closely and see
Hundreds of tiny interconnected crystals of ice.

Spread lightly across the little deck they become
A light-filled crystalline coverlet.

The temperature is already rising,
And the azalea holds (for how long who knows)
Shiny light-capturing frozen pendant droplets
At the end of every leaf.

Azalea in fancy dress, rhinestones glittering –
This morning’s unwrapped gift.

* “Dust of Snow” is the title of a poem by Robert Frost.

~ Judy Funderburk

Like this piece? We’re trying out short form thoughts on gardening and gardeners.
If you are an Arlington or Alexandria Master Gardener and have something to say in 300 words or less, poem or prose, send it to us at socialmedia@mgnv.org.

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Word of the Week: Crosier

crosier, crozier [ kroh-zher ] noun: the curled top of a young fern frond, also commonly referred to as a fiddlehead


The crosiers/fiddleheads of Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (cinnamon fern) emerge with a woolly covering in spring. Photo © Mary Free

When the frond (leaf) of a fern emerges from its underground rhizome, its head is coiled (circinate). Its appearance has been likened to a crosier (a bishop’s curved staff) or the scroll on the head of some stringed instruments, hence the commonly used term fiddlehead. Fiddlehead also refers specifically to a young coiled fern frond that is edible and eaten as a vegetable.

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GRASS: Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Once the dominant species of the North American tallgrass prairie, this warm-season grass is noted for the open, airy appearance of its seed heads and the multi-season interest of its foliage.  In addition to its use as an ornamental, Switchgrass is also utilized for soil conservation and as a biomass crop. Learn more . . .

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