Tag Archives: Master Gardeners

Demonstration Gardens: Learn What Works In Your Area

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. The gardens are open to the public, every day, from dawn to dusk, free. 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 five demonstration gardens:

  • Glencarlyn Library Community Gardens, corner of S. Third and S. Kensington Streets, off Carlin Springs Road, Arlington
  • Simpson Park Gardens (E. Monroe Avenue at the end of Leslie Avenue, next to the YMCA in Alexandria
  • 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
  • Sunny Garden, Bon Air Park, Arlington

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 have a demonstration garden at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD.

The Prince Georges County Master Gardeners are fortunate to use the Kitchen Garden at the Riversdale Gardens and House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, MD.

Got Gardening Problems? Contact Your Local Plant Clinic

One of the great, free resources available to Northern Virginia gardeners are the plant clinics sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). If you have a gardening problem or question, you can visit the plant clinics at select farmers markets, public libraries, and special events to get answers to your questions and solutions to your dilemmas.  All are staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners who have received training from the VCE to answer general gardening questions; questions about pests, diseases, or weeds; and identify plants.

In addition to the plant clinics, there are two places to go for gardening challenges if you live in Fairfax or Arlington County or the City of Alexandria. There is an Arlington VCE office at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, and a Fairfax VCE office at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1050 of the Pennino Building. Call the Fairlington help desk at (703) 228-6414, between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday, year round, or visit in person, or e-mail mgarlalex@gmail.com. Or call the Fairfax help desk at (703) 324-8556, between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday, April through October, or visit in person, or e-mail at mgfairfax@vt.edu (Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 am to 12:30 pm November through March). Other Virginia counties have similar resources, this link provides the contact information for each county’s VCE office http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/index.html. There is a Plant Problems page at pegplant.com that lists additional information, including books.

2017 Schedule of VCE Plant Clinics

  Location Address Day/Time Date
Annandale Farmers Market Mason District Park
6621 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
Thursday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Arlington Farmers Market N. 14th St. and N. Courthouse Rd Saturday

8:00 am – 11:00 am

April – September

 

 

Arlington Central Library 1015 N. Quincy Street

Arlington, VA

Wednesday

6:45 to 8:45 pm

March – October
Burke Farmers Market 5671 Roberts Parkway
Burke, VA
Saturday
8:00 am – 11:00 am
May – September
Chantilly Library 4000 Stringfellow Rd
Chantilly, VA 20151
Saturday
10:30 am – 1:30 pm
May – September
Del Ray Farmers Market E. Oxford & Mt. Vernon Ave. Saturday

8:30 am to 11:00 am

May – September
Fairfax City Regional Library 10360 North Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Falls Church Farmers Market City Hall Parking Lot
300 Park Ave
Falls Church, VA 22046
Saturday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Pohick Library 6450 Sydenstricker Rd.,

Burke, VA 22015

Sunday

1:00 to 4:00 pm

May – September

 

 

Herndon Farmers Market 777 Lynn Street
Herndon, VA 20170
Thursday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Kings Park Farmers Market 9000 Burke Lake Rd.
Burke, VA 22015
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Kingstowne Farmers Market Kingstowne Town Center
Alexandria, VA 22314
Friday
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
May – September
Lorton Farmers Market 8990 Lorton Station Boulevard
Lorton, VA 22079
Sunday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
McLean Farmers Market 1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101
Friday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
Mt. Vernon Farmers Market Sherwood Library
2501 Sherwood Hall Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
Wednesday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Oakton Library 10304 Lynnhaven Place
Oakton, VA 22124
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Old Town Alexandria

Farmers market

301 King Street, Alexandria Saturday

7:30 to 9:45 am

May – September
Reston Farmers Market Lake Anne Village Center
1609 Washington Plaza N
Reston, VA 20190
Saturday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
Richard Byrd Library 7250 Commerce Street
Springfield, VA 22150
Tuesday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Wakefield Farmers Market 8100 Braddock Road
Annandale, VA 22003
Wednesday
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
May – September

 

New Videos on Plant Propagation From Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program has produced a series of 10 short videos on YouTube about plant propagation. Filmed in the Virginia Tech greenhouses, each video is about 4 minutes or less. Topics include seeding, transplanting, grafting, air layering, tomato grafting, and the many different types of plant division. These will be helpful as you begin to start seeds indoors now or if you are interested in dividing and multiplying your houseplants.

 

Local Demonstration Gardens: Learn Which Plants Grow Well In Your Area

African Blue Basil

African Blue Basil

As the summer ends, I like to visit the local demonstration gardens to see how the flowering plants and vegetables fared (especially during this hot, dry summer). 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. The gardens are open to the public, every day, from dawn to dusk, free. 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) and ask if they manage a demonstration garden. 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 five demonstration gardens:

  • Glencarlyn Library Community Gardens, corner of S. Third and S. Kensington Streets, off Carlin Springs Road, Arlington
  • Simpson Park Gardens (E. Monroe Avenue at the end of Leslie Avenue, next to the YMCA in Alexandria
  • 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
  • Sunny Garden, Bon Air Park, Arlington

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 have Ida Lee Park on Ida Lee Park Drive, Leesburg, VA; which they also use as a teaching garden.

The Montgomery County Master Gardeners have a demonstration garden at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD.

The Prince Georges County Master Gardeners are fortunate to use the Kitchen Garden at the Riversdale Gardens and House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, MD.

To learn of more public gardens in the area, read the tab “Public Gardens” on my site, http://www.pegplant.com.

'Lady in Black' Aster

‘Lady in Black’ Aster

Saturdays In the Garden with Prince William County Master Gardeners

tweety statue

Tweety in the Woodland Garden

This month I attended “Saturday in the Garden” at the Teaching Garden. Hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Prince William County staff and Master Gardener volunteers, this month’s event was “Lessons from the Deer Resistant Garden, Woodland Garden, and the Four Seasons of Interest Garden.” For me it was a 45-minute ride from my house in Fairfax County to Prince William County but easy to find. The program was free and outside in the garden, from 9:00 am to noon. Set on the grounds of the St. Benedict Monastery, the Teaching Garden is quite large, in full sun with the exception of the woodland garden and home to deer, critters, and ticks.

Solomon's seal

Solomon’s Seal in Woodland Garden

About twenty of us sat in chairs under tents while Nancy Berlin, coordinator of the Prince William County Master Gardeners, presented the speakers, all Master Gardener volunteers, and agenda. We received a handout listing each garden’s inventory of plants and characteristics. There were three presenters for three garden beds who first talked for a few minutes under the tent and then guided us to the beds. We also visited the Cook’s Garden and had the opportunity to buy plants culled from the gardens. The Master Gardeners gave everyone water bottles, milkweed plants, and a variety of seeds.

Harriet Carter started us off in the Woodland Garden, which was heavily shaded and vulnerable to deer. This garden demonstrates alternatives to growing grass in tree-shaded areas of one’s yard and is low maintenance with drifts of mostly native plants. Although it is basically dry shade, the volunteers have rain barrels and soaker hoses to use during extended times of drought. At this time of year, June, there were no flowers but Harriet showed us large photos of the spring blossoms for each plant. Harriet pointed out hellebores, witch hazels, bluebells, woodland phlox, toad lilies (“which deer do not eat”), Solomon’s seal (“the foliage make a good groundcover”), wood poppies, and epimediums. Harriet has the lead on this particular garden and you could tell it is a labor of love. She is trying to develop a glen of ferns, is learning that the yellow twig dogwood needs more sun, and just planted a summer blooming rose campion for a little bit of color. She also pointed out the garden’s “mascot,” a statue of a girl with small birds on her arms, named Tweety.

bears breeches

Bear’s Breeches in the Four Seasons of Interest Garden

Jean Bennett gave us a tour of the Four Seasons of Interest Garden, which was one of the original gardens started by Sister Pat, a nun who also was a Master Gardener. This bed was created to show year round beauty and blooms from late March through mid-November. She said that in the winter they have colored bark from the yellow and red twig dogwood and flowers from witch hazels and hellebores. In early spring they have daffodils (they sell the daffodil bulbs in the fall), followed by iris and then dianthus, gaillardia, spiderwort, and red hot poker plants in the summer. One of the more unusual plants is the bear’s breeches. With its large coarse leaves, it is easy to see why deer don’t like them.  Jean recommended the sweet pepper bush as a nice native shrub to have at home. The threadleaf coreopsis and daylilies were just starting to bloom. The only ornamental grass in the garden was a red switch grass (“a great grass to grow in Virginia”). Currently its green blades are tipped with red but by fall the leaves will turn burgundy color.

Leslie Paulson showed us the Deer Resistant Garden although she cautioned that the only truly deer-resistant plant is the one the deer do not eat today. Leslie suggested using textured, thorny, fragrant, waxy, and/or poisonous plants. The younger the plant the more likely the deer will eat it and the younger the deer the more extensive their palate so they will try a wider variety of plants.

sumac

Sumac in the Deer Resistant Garden

Leslie showed us a beautiful sumac bush, only a few feet high. Sumac is a large shrub or small tree, very common on Virginian roadsides. It is more noticeable in the fall when the leaves change color but trained as a shrub in the garden, sumac adds elegance with its lacy leaves. Leslie recommended growing lion’s tail next to it because its tall orange flowering structures make a great combination. There was blue flowering nepeta which is in the mint family so deer do not like it (“the white flowering one behaves itself a lot better than the purple one”) and alliums (“all alliums are poisonous to deer”). There was a large area covered with fuzzy lamb’s ears, a low growing native type and a taller type with large flowers that bees love. Yarrow was blooming and two ornamental grasses, pink muhly grass and red switch grass, will provide color in the fall.

squashwithcontainer

Squash and Nasturtiums in the Cook’s Garden

Harriet gave us the tour of the Cook’s Garden which was fenced to keep out the groundhogs, rabbits, and deer. They use their own compost but are starting to experiment with cover crops such as alfalfa, buckwheat, and crimson clover to add nutrients back to the soil. To control small bugs they hand pick and put them in a jar with soapy water which they call the “bad bug swimming pool.” We saw potatoes blooming and tomatoes with basil planted nearby as a companion plant. There were Brussel sprouts under a row cover to keep bugs out, onions protruding out of the ground, and squash plants with nasturtiums nearby as a companion plants. Next to each squash plant was a plastic container with drainage holes submerged in the soil. Harriet explained that the squash leaves will cover the ground so filling the bucket with water will ensure that the water reaches the roots.  A large bushy cilantro plant was flowering in the corner, attracting pollinators. We then walked to another area that was netted on all four sides, much like a rectangular box, which contained sweet potatoes.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and highly recommend this monthly event. I plan to go back at different times of the year to see how the plants change and to view the rest including the Zen, white, children’s, fairy, fragrance, mailbox, lavender, bee/butterfly/hummingbird, rock, shrub, and native plant sections. The gardens are open to the public every day but volunteers recommend that the public check in with the Monastery office before entering.

Saturday in the Garden is held once a month from April through October, 9:00 a.m. to noon, in the Teaching Garden, St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136. The program is free but registration is requested to ensure adequate handouts and weather cancellation notifications. Call (703) 792-7747 or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org to register; visit the link below for more information http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/vce/Pages/Saturday-in-the-Garden.aspx

Local Resource for Growing Tomatoes Successfully This Summer

year-of-the-tomato-logoThe University of Maryland Extension (UME) has a fantastic “Grow It Eat It” program. This year, they have declared 2016 as the Year of the Tomato. To celebrate this popular veggie, they created a site devoted to learning more about growing, harvesting, and preserving/canning tomatoes, http://extension.umd.edu/growit/2016-year-tomato. The site has a variety of resources: a list of local UME offices, contact information for Maryland’s gardening experts, and the list of the Master Gardener plant clinics for getting answers to tomato problems. It also has a link to their Youtube playlist of tomato information; recommended cultivars; winners of the 2015 tomato tasting events; and tomato-related articles on the Grow It Eat It blog. Although this is a UME resource, the information is applicable to those of us who live in the Mid-Atlantic area so Virginia and DC residents can enjoy the bounty. If you ever wanted to grow tomatoes successfully, now is the time!

Free Gardening Resource in Northern Virginia: Plant Clinics

One of the great, free resources available to gardeners in Northern Virginia are the plant clinics sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). If you have a gardening problem or question, you can visit the plant clinics at select farmers markets, public libraries, and special events to get answers to your questions and solutions to your dilemmas.  All are staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners who have received training from the VCE to answer general gardening questions; questions about pests, diseases, or weeds; and identify plants.

plant clinic

Fairfax County Master Gardeners providing free advice at the American Horticultural Society’s Plant Sale

In addition to the free plant clinics, there are two other places to go for your gardening challenges if you live in Fairfax or Arlington County or the City of Alexandria. There is an Arlington VCE office at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, and a Fairfax VCE office at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1050 of the Pennino Building. Call the Fairlington help desk at (703) 228-6414, between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday, year round, or visit in person, or e-mail mgarlalex@gmail.com. Or call the Fairfax help desk at (703) 324-8556, between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday, April through October, or visit in person, or e-mail at mgfairfax@vt.edu (hours are Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 am to 12:30 pm November through March). Other Virginia counties have similar resources, this link provides the contact information for each county’s VCE office http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/index.html.

Additional resources, including recommended books, are on the “Plant Problems” page on my website at http://www.pegplant.com.

2016 Schedule of VCE Plant Clinics

  Location Address Day/Time Date
Annandale Farmers Market Mason District Park
6621 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
Thursday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Arlington Farmers Market N. 14th St. and N. Courthouse Rd Saturday

8:00 am – 11:00 am

April – September

 

 

Arlington Central Library 1015 N. Quincy Street

Arlington, VA

Wednesday

6:45 to 8:45 pm

March – October
Burke Farmers Market 5671 Roberts Parkway
Burke, VA
Saturday
8:00 am – 11:00 am
May – September
Chantilly Library 4000 Stringfellow Rd
Chantilly, VA 20151
Saturday
10:30 am – 1:30 pm
May – September
Del Ray Farmers Market E. Oxford & Mt. Vernon Ave. Saturday

8:30 am to 11:00 am

May – September
Fairfax City Regional Library 10360 North Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Falls Church Farmers Market City Hall Parking Lot
300 Park Ave
Falls Church, VA 22046
Saturday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Government Center Farmers Market 12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035
Thursday
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
May – September
Herndon Farmers Market 777 Lynn Street
Herndon, VA 20170
Thursday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Kings Park Farmers Market 9000 Burke Lake Rd.
Burke, VA 22015
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Kingstowne Farmers Market Kingstowne Town Center
Alexandria, VA 22314
Friday
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
May – September
Lorton Farmers Market 8990 Lorton Station Boulevard
Lorton, VA 22079
Sunday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
McLean Farmers Market 1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101
Friday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
Mt. Vernon Farmers Market Sherwood Library
2501 Sherwood Hall Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
Wednesday
9:00 am – 12 noon
May – September
Oakton Library 10304 Lynnhaven Place
Oakton, VA 22124
Saturday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Old Town Alexandria

Farmers market

301 King Street, Alexandria Saturday

7:30 to 9:45 am

May – September
Reston Farmers Market Lake Anne Village Center
1609 Washington Plaza N
Reston, VA 20190
Saturday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
Richard Byrd Library 7250 Commerce Street
Springfield, VA 22150
Tuesday
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
May – September
Vienna Farmers Market Faith Baptist Church
301 Center St. S.
Vienna, VA 22180
Saturday
9:00 am – 12:00 noon
May – September
Wakefield Farmers Market 8100 Braddock Road
Annandale, VA 22003
Wednesday
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
May – September
Special Event:
Spring Garden Market
American Horticultural Society
7931 E Boulevard Dr
Alexandria, VA 22308
10:00 am – 4:00 pm April 8-9
Special Event:
Earth Day
US Geological Society
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr
Reston, VA 20192
10:30 am – 2:00 pm April 21
Special Event:
Springfest
Lorton Workhouse Center
9601 Ox Rd
Lorton, VA 22079
to be determined April 23
Special Event:
Spring Fling
Walker Nature Center
11450 State Rte 4721
Reston, VA 20191
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm May 7
Special Event:
Southgate Community Day
Southgate Community Center
12125 Pinecrest Rd
Reston, VA 20191
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm May 7
Special Event:
4H Fair
Frying Pan Park
2709 West Ox Rd
Herndon, VA 20171
10:00 am – 4:00 pm August 6-7
Special Event:
Vale Days
11528 Vale Road
Oakton, VA 22124
to be determined October 15