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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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

Printable Flyer – January 2019 Public Education Flyer

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
Questions, telephone 703-228-6414 or email  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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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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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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