As the summer peaks, I like to visit the local demonstration gardens to see how well the plants and vegetables performed in this area. Demonstration gardens are a great way to learn what works in the Washington DC metro area and how to manage our local issues, such as deer and rabbits. Each county that has a Master Gardener program usually has at least one demonstration garden, managed by the volunteer Master Gardeners. To find such a garden, call your local county Master Gardener program representative (your local extension agent). Some have several to showcase various environmental conditions and some use the garden as a place to teach or host workshops.
The Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (Arlington and Alexandria) have seven demonstration gardens:
- Glencarlyn Library Community Gardens, corner of S. Third and S. Kensington Streets, off Carlin Springs Road, Arlington
- Teaching Garden at Fairlington Community Center
- Master Gardener Tribute Bench and Garden at Fairlington Community Center
- Organic Vegetable Garden, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Marcy Road, Arlington
- Rock Quarry Shade Garden, Bon Air Park on Wilson Boulevard and N. Lexington Street, Arlington
- Simpson Park Gardens (E. Monroe Avenue at the end of Leslie Avenue, next to the YMCA in Alexandria)
- Sunny Garden, Bon Air Park, Arlington
Green Spring Gardens, part of the Fairfax County Park Authority, is a public garden with several smaller demonstration gardens. It is at 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. It also has an administration or visitors building with a small greenhouse, a historic building, and staff provide workshops and lectures for both adults and children.
The Prince William County Master Gardeners manage a very large “Teaching Garden” at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Within this large garden are mini gardens to illustrate certain conditions or issues, such as a deer resistant garden, shade garden, vegetable garden, and pollinator garden.
The Loudoun County Master Gardeners uses Ida Lee Park on Ida Lee Park Drive, Leesburg, as a teaching garden.
The Montgomery County Master Gardeners manage several demonstration gardens. There is a large garden with many thematic gardens at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood and an herb garden at the National Library of Medicine Herb Garden at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda. Each year, for a temporary period, they manage award winning gardens near the Old MacDonald barn at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.
The Prince Georges County Master Gardeners have demonstration gardens at their headquarters at 6707 Groveton Drive, Clinton, MD.
In addition some plant societies such as the National Capital Dahlia Society have demonstration gardens specific to their plant of interest. Contact the society directly to see if they have one. The National Capital Dahlia Society has the Nordahl Exhibition Garden for displaying dahlias at the Agricultural History Park in Derwood, MD. Plant NoVA Natives has a list of demonstration gardens that feature native plants on their site.
Written by Peggy Riccio, pegplant.com; July 2021