Climate Change and Its Effect on Gardening

Climate-Conscious Gardening

To quote David W. Wolfe, Professor of Plant & Soil Ecology at Cornell University,

“We are in the unfortunate situation of being the first generation of gardeners, ever, who cannot rely on historical weather records to tell us what our climate is, or what to expect in the future.”

Join Master Gardeners in the Arlington/Alexandria unit of Virginia Cooperative Extension in a series of monthly articles in 2021 as we explore the topic of climate change and practical actions individuals can take in their home landscapes in response. This month, we’ll present an overview.

By Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener

The climate change we are experiencing now is the result of global warming that occurs when the heat-trapping effect of naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere is intensified by various human activities. The most abundant of these so-called “greenhouse gases” is carbon dioxide (CO₂) that results from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) and deforestation. Although less abundant, nitrous oxide (N₂O) produced during fertilizer application, fossil fuel and biomass combustion, and industrial processes is 300 times more potent and can remain in the atmosphere for 100 years. Also of concern is methane (CH₄) that is released from fossil fuel production, agriculture, and landfills. A fourth unstable, toxic gas is ground level ozone (O₃) which is produced by the interaction of nitrous oxides with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from such products as paints, solvents, aerosol sprays, building materials, and office equipment. Continue reading

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Word of the Week: Drupe

drupe [ droop ] noun: a fleshy, simple fruit with a central stone containing the seed


Fruit of American holly supports birds such as the cardinal, American robin and eastern bluebird.

Ilex opaca (American holly). Photo © Elaine Mills

Shiny evergreen leaves and red fruit make holly a desirable decoration for the winter season. Although its red fruit is often called a berry, it is actually a drupe. A drupe is a simple fruit that develops from a single ovary of a flower. The outer layer of the ovary wall forms a thin skin (exocarp); the middle becomes fleshy (mesocarp); and the inner portion turns into a hard stone (endocarp) that contains the seed. Together these layers comprise the fruit’s pericarp.

Continue reading

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The Glossary Project and “Word of the Week”

By Mary Free and Christa Watters, Extension Master Gardeners

NEW in 2021!

To back up and bolster the wealth of original content provided on our Web site, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV) has begun building a glossary of horticultural and botanical terms. Those of us who research and write about plants and gardening and the environment notice that we regularly encounter terms whose specialized meaning we are unsure of, or that are, in some cases, totally new to those of us not formally trained in the biological sciences. The goal is to enrich our collective comprehension of the various resources on our site, as well as our wider readings of horticulture and gardening. Many of the words we are researching appear in our Web site resources, such as the Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic and information about horticulture in general, native plants, invasive species, and weeds. Continue reading

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Between the Rows – January 2021 Edition

Welcome Veggie Gardeners!

Check out the January 2021 issue.

VCE and MGNV support local gardeners with a host of resources, including free classes, plant clinics and this newsletter.

We are re-evaluating future plans for the Between the Rows Guide to Vegetable Gardening. We want to hear from you before proceeding forward.

Please let us know what you think! Quick 7 question survey!

Previous garden guides are available at Between the Rows.

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