GROUND COVER: Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold)

Chrysogonum virginianum, Green and Gold

Image by Mary Free, Quarry Shade Garden

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This low, spreading ground cover forms a star-studded mat of velvety foliage that is as attractive at the front of a formal border as it is in a naturalistic setting. In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is mostly found in Virginia, where it is common in the Piedmont and lower mountains.

More information . . .

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New Focal Point for the Sunny Garden

by Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener
Photos © 2017 Elaine Mills

Native wisteria vine blooming in its original location.

Native wisteria vine blooming in its original location.

The Sunny Garden has a new focal point: a striking wooden arbor arching over the central entrance path. The new structure was designed and installed by Master Gardener Alex Dickman and her husband Doug, with assistance from a number of volunteers who joined the garden’s work party on March 9, 2017. Continue reading

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SHRUB: Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla)

Fothergilla gardenii

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Native to southeastern coastal areas, Dwarf Fothergilla shines three seasons of the year. Spring brings sweetly-scented, white bottlebrush flowers that welcome pollinators. Its summer dress is a pretty green. Fall leaf color is spectacular, turning exquisite shades of yellow, orange or red that brighten up the woodland garden.

More information . . .

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Stroll on by Simpson Park Gardens

Learn about our wonderful Simpson Park Gardens!
Join us at the Monthly stroll- we look forward to seeing your there.

Stroll on by Simpson Park Gardens On the second Tuesday of the month, 11am to Noon, the Master Gardeners of Arlington and Alexandria will be in the garden to answer questions and feature a monthly highlight. Tuesdays 11am–Noon April 11 May 9 June 13 July 11 August 8 September 12 October 10, 2017 Location and Directions Simpson Park Gardens is located at 420 East Monroe Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301, within Simpson Park, between the YMCA and Eugene Simpson baseball stadium. Parking is available in the YMCA lot.

Join us on these special dates
Sunday, April 30, 1–3pm: Bird Friendly Gardening
Sunday, September 24, 1–3pm: Fall Open House

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Spring is here and . . .

the Virginia Cooperative Extension office in Arlington is here with a host of services and programs to help you with all your landscape and gardening needs!!

Lake Valley Seed PacketsFREE Seeds for vegetables and flowers are available during office hours. “Take all you want, but plant all you take” is the rule and you have only to sign out the number of packets you take. Send us photos of what you did with YOUR seeds and we might publish them on our website for everyone to see!

FREE Soil Test Kits and instructions for finding out what your soil pH is and what nutrients your plants need to thrive. Need help with your soil test results?  Call during the hours of 9am -noon at 703 228 6414 or email us for a replacement-
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Posted in Event, Public Education

Signs of Spring in the Shade Garden

By Dina Lehmann-Kim, Master Gardener

To any garden visitor strolling through Bon Air Park’s Shade Garden in mid-January, clumps of snowdrops would have immediately captured their attention given the backdrop of mostly barren garden beds filled with fallen brown leaves.

The garden has two types of snowdrops: the larger, Galanthum elwesii (giant snowdrop), and the smaller Galanthum nivalis (snowdrop). In addition to a larger flower, closer inspection shows that Galanthum elwesii has a broader, blade-shaped leaf that is a paler green than the leaves of its smaller cousin. The smaller snowdrop has narrow, spear-shaped leaves in a much darker shade of green.

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PERENNIAL: Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)

Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebell) © Mary Free

Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebell) © Mary Free

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Spring has finally sprung when the pink buds of Mertensia virginica show themselves in late winter and early spring, evolving from being coiled up like a scorpion’s tail to opening to deep pink or blue nodding flowers in drifts of woodland carpets. The Virginia Native Plant Society named Virginia Bluebell as Wildflower of the Year in 1989.

Read more . . .

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Master Gardeners and the 4-H Junior Master Gardeners Program

Cultivating an interest in gardening – Volunteers welcome!

by Susan Wilhem, Master Gardener Intern


4‑H Pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Basic gardening provides an exciting opportunity to help young people develop curiosity about and appreciation of gardening and the natural world.   In Arlington and Alexandria, 4-H and Master Gardeners collaborate to do this through the 4-H Junior Master Gardeners program.

4-H is the biggest and oldest youth development program in the United States.  Similar to Master Gardeners, 4-H operates under the auspices of the Cooperative Extension Service which began as a way for state land-grant universities to distribute research-based agricultural knowledge and expertise to the public.  The focus of the 4-H program was on young people, who were viewed as more open to new ideas at 4-H’s founding in 1902.   While agricultural best practices are still components of 4-H in rural areas, in Arlington and Alexandria, 4-H provides young people the opportunity to acquire leadership, citizenship, and life skills through a variety of programming.  One of these programs is the Junior Master Gardeners program. Continue reading

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Crazy Mixed up February (and March!)

by Judy Funderburk, Master Gardener

Flowering Quince ( Chaenomeles speciosa) close-up

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) close up view.

“Spring” … sprung or unsprung?

In the middle of what is supposed to be winter, when the days are still relatively short and the nights long, the plants in the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden are responding to the record-breaking high temperatures with a confusing but wonderful mix of blooms, berries, textures, and colors. Never before have we seen such combinations of winter and spring in the Garden. Here are some photos taken on February 21 that made me smile and shake my head and look in wonder. Continue reading

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Notes from the Organic Vegetable Garden

By Master Gardener Nancy Dowling 

Cabbage at the OVG

Cabbage at the OVG
Photo © 2017 Nancy Dowling

Satisfaction to this gardener is coming back to the Organic Vegetable Garden in March after a 4-month break and seeing beds filled with green foliage. We did absolutely nothing to this garden after we put it to bed in November 2016. Yet, here in March, everywhere you look you see growth. See our harvested baskets: spinach, three kinds of kale, arugula, broccoli, and cabbage for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). A generous crop! Our carrots and beets, planted in late August-September, are looking healthy. And our cover crops are ready to cut. I’m including pictures, so please enjoy the show.
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