Too soon, the end of June!

IMG_0775 IMG_0787    Leslie led a tour of the garden to a lively, lovely group of ladies, “The Garden Gals”. The visitors are from all around Northern Virginia and two of the ladies came back the next day to attend the Saturday in the Garden.

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Looking perfectly happy and healthy in the Natives Garden is a Maple Leaf Hydrangea. Keeping this large specimen in such good shape took dedication from the bed’s leader, Ruth, from the very beginning of the season when she had fencing installed even before you could see the bush emerge from its slumber, just to keep the deer from eating it.

DSC_0298  In the same bed, your eyes will be caught by another tall plant, Monarda Didyma, known by a number of different names: crimson beebalm, Oswego tea and Bergamot.

 DSC_0290  The White Garden is glowing this week!

DSC_0303 Observed in the Herb Garden is a very interesting plant not often seen; walking onions. Also known as Tree onions, topsetting onions or Egyptian onions, Allium ×proliferum, are similar to common onions (A. cepa), but with a cluster of bulblets where a normal onion would have flowers. Walking onion bulblets will sprout and grow while still on the original stalk, which may bend down under the weight of the new growth and take root some distance from the parent plant, giving rise to the name “walking onion”.

DSC_0292 DSC_0293 Hard-to-miss is the Giant Coneflower or Smooth Leaf Rudbeckia (cradling Threadleaf Coreopsis) in the Childrens Garden because it stands over 7 feet tall! Reports were that goldfinches were visiting the flowers before they even opened.

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Leslie noticed a pest visiting the redtwig Redbud…a Redbud leaf roller; Fascista cercerisella. The characteristic injury is folding the edge of the leaf onto the upper surface and fastening it down with strands of silk. In the folded areas the larvae feed on the upper surface layer of the leaf. This brings about the drying out of the leaf and it turns brown. The larvae seem to be able to jump away quickly!

DSC_0319 Noticed for its unusual scent and round flower is Santolina, Lavendar Cotton. Ruth kindly explained that this plant was historically used for “strewing” in homes as a room deodorizer and possibly as a pest mitigator.

DSC_0320 The Celebration Garden is proud to present Crocosimia, “Lucifer” with its brilliant red tubular flowers on 3 foot stems. If the leaves look familiar that’s because it’s a cousin to Gladiola.

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DSC_0328 So much going on in the Cooks Garden! Amye was caught busily harvesting beets and admiring the squash (top left) with its ripening flowers. Tomatoes are coming along, so is the buckwheat which is starting to flower. There is a broccoli head nearing maturity!

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Joe and Larry work tirelessly to modernize and simplify use of the Compost Corral. New signs are being installed while in the background the bins are checked for adequate temperatures and turned when appropriate.

Enjoy the upcoming long holiday weekend!

Happy gardening,



Saturday in the Garden: Deer Resistant, Woodland and Four-Seasons Gardens

DSC_0279 Please welcome our returning college Summer Intern, Janet Spain. Janet will be working with the Cooperative Extension Service staff on a variety of programs including the PWCo Fair.

Saturday in the Garden featured many topics of interest to gardeners. Starting with Harriet Carter’s presentation and tour of the Woodland Garden. Harriet is a MG Volunteer.

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Very little is blooming in the garden, but it is full of color. This garden demonstrates that there are alternatives to growing grass in a tree-shaded area of your yard. This is a low maintenance garden consisting of 5 groupings of semi-shaded settings: 1) tall trees, 2) understory trees, 3) shrubs, 4) herbaceous plants, and 5) ground covers. The idea was to use mostly native plants, planted in drifts, with the goal of enjoying a garden that requires minimal maintenance once the plants were established. It is surprisingly a very dry area, so we have irrigation out there in the form of water barrels and well water.

Leslie Paulson, MG Volunteer, brought more ideas from the Deer Resistant Garden to the audience.

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DSC_0277  The only truly deer resistant plant is the plant they don’t want to eat TODAY. They avoid plants that are scented, fuzzy or textured, thorny and/or poisonous. Sprays (such as Bobbex, Liquid Fence or “I Must Garden”) are used, but it’s important to remember that these should be reapplied after it rains. Leslie included other control measures such as fencing that is at least 7 feet tall, electric fencing, and incorporating native plants.

The tour continued with Jean Bennett, MG Volunteer, leading with a discussion of The Four Seasons of Interest Garden.

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DSC_0267   This is the original garden area in the Teaching Garden. There is always something blooming from late March through mid-November. This garden is an excellent example of providing year-long beauty in the garden. Most of the current plantings are perennials that require minimal care, with a few much-loved annuals added. Best Practices advice: Use compost when planting in spring; mulch in spring and again in the fall to protect plants over the winter months. Advantages: bees and butterflies love the garden!

DSC_0269   Korean Mum, dendranthema x grandiflorum.

Always a favorite on a tour of the Teaching Garden is a view of the latest activity in the Cook’s Garden, led by Harriet Carter, MG Volunteer.

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On the left, Harriet is describing the sweet potatoes in Bed A and we see onions and sunflowers in Bed B. The onions look great, but the sunflowers have been nibbled on.

DSC_0285  Our Master Gardener Interns, Sheila Buhl and Marie Scanlon, pause for a moment. Thank you ladies for supporting this event!

Leslie Paulson would like to remind ALL gardeners that Japanese Beetles are going to be abundant this year; hand-pick and dunk in water to get rid of them.

Next Saturday in the Garden is July 16th from 9:00 – 12:00. Topics cover Getting Your Lawns, Landscape and Vegetable Garden Ready for Fall.  It’s FREE, but call the office to register at 703-792-7747.

Happy gardening!

Jan Gubrud, MG Volunteer

Moon in June

DSC_0261 This week we welcomed MG Intern, Janet Spain, to the garden. Janet was so busy working … hidden among the plantings, actually … that we almost overlooked her. Janet loves being out in the environment. Thanks so much, Janet!

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Many chores were on the punch list for the Compost Team this week. The #2 bin’s temp had dropped and enzymes vital to breakdown had stopped working, so the team were giving it a boost with more “green” also known as chicken manure. The team spent time shoring up the walls of the deposit bins. Thank you to Larry Lehowicz, Bob Carter, Dave Robison and Joe Ray for keeping this vital area working.

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In the Cooks’ Garden there is concern over the tomatoes; rows planted in the ground (on the left) vs. the one planted in the planter just outside of the fencing (on the right). Perhaps the plants in the ground stayed cool while the planter warmed quicker during the spell of cold weather early in the season?

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Above, in the same row as the slower growing tomatoes, are potatoes, solanium tuberosum. At the far edge of the Cooks’ Garden, in brilliant warm colors are nasturtium.

DSC_0246 In the Celebration Garden, the blooming Salix Integra, hakuru-nichiki, Dappled Willow, is looking like fireworks exploding from the deep green Plumbago. What an eye-catcher and the leaves are even more colorful if you look closely.

DSC_0248 Caught in the Mailbox Garden is chartreuse  Creeping Jenny framing blooming nasturtium. Hmmm, maybe an idea to add to this blogger’s garden???

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We uncovered a couple of interesting plants this week. On the left, an unusual annual, Salvia, hot lips, has bi-colored flowers. It may be overlooked when searching for it at a plant center because it blooms solid red when young, changing to white before changing again to bi-color blooms of red w/white. Click on the image to enlarge and really enjoy the unique blooms. This plant will grow to about 2 feet tall and as wide by end of the season. On the right is a type of Lamb’s Ear: Hummelo, stackys, Monnieri; it’s leaves are apple green.

DSC_0259 One of our visitors this week … a turtle buried where is dark and cool. He’s a bit shy, so we recovered him and won’t tell where he’s hanging out.

DSC_0258  Come on out and stroll by the Bee, Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden while it’s in near maximum bloom! Spirea Japonica, neon flash, is beautiful under the Coral Honeysuckle, lonicera sempervirens. This garden is imaginatively planted with many colorful favorites.

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The newest addition to the Teaching Garden, an accessible bed, is nearing completion. Designed by Hank Spencer and installed by Hank with the help of Don Peschka this space will demonstrate researched ideas for how to build one at home.

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… and friendly faces found in the garden.


Don’t forget Saturday in the Garden this weekend from 9:00 – noon, featuring the Woodland Garden, Four Seasons Garden and Deer Resistant Plant Bed, as well as seasonal tips from the Cooks’ Gardeners. Join us, but please register @ 703-792-7747 or

Happy gardening!

Jan Gubrud

Friendly Faces Visiting the Garden this week!

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Ron Cloer, pictured here with his wife and Sister Pat, paid a surprise visit to the garden. Some of you may remember Ron, then a new Master Gardener Volunteer, designed the layout of the Teaching Garden as well as what the individual beds would feature.  Ron commented to the gathered Master Gardeners that the design remains as he envisioned and looks even lovelier.

Several Master Gardener Interns were in the garden this week, learning from their mentors and Bed Leaders. Meet Kathy Westcott, Conrad, Marie Balestri-Scanlon (behind Marie is Ron Snelson also an Intern), and Eileen Murphy caught “in the moment”:

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We so appreciate their sweat and sore muscles to keep the beds looking superb! Thank you, too, to Eileen for joining the new Social Committee. She’s really excited about helping the planning of several events under consideration.

The garden was treated to a visit from a troop of Daisy Scouts last weekend! These young ladies are from Henderson Elementary School in Montclair. They brought with them a multitude of questions and some surprising observations!

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Their colorful visors were all decked out with ladybugs, bees and flowers. So darling!

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One day Kathy, Leslie and Bob thought the rock garden could use a facelift, moving the large stones around.


A few days later, Bob enlisted David Robison to help fine-tune the facelift to allow for more area between the stones for new plants. Whew! Everyone was sweating buckets, but the results are eye-catching!

DSC_0221 Here we see Lynne Lanier finalizing updates to the Mailbox Garden. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you’ll see how inviting the blooms look lining the stepping stone walkway.

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DSC_0195 DSC_0194  A few shots of “What’s Blooming” this week. The first, at top left, is Penstemmon “Husker Red”.

Our Mid-Atlantic summer weather is right around the corner. With that in mind, Leslie would like to remind all volunteers to take 10-minute breaks each hour and keep drinking water.  Come on out and lend a hand any Tuesday morning and Thursday evening; there’s always something new happening!

Eaten Radishes  Mystery in the Cook’s Garden…who’s eating the radishes??? This blogger had hoped to have named the culprit with today’s submission, but consultation with Detectives Thomas Bolles, Jean Meink and Amy Foelsch have turned up no solid leads…YET. They have observed teeth marks, but DNA is not available at this writing. Thank you Amye for the fine photo.

Happy gardening!



Hooray, it’s finally June!




A group of ladies from Countryside Garden Club toured the Teaching Garden this week, with Leslie Paulson narrating interesting information about each planting bed as well as the Cook’s Garden. The ladies had so much fun!

The Compost Team’s Joe Ray shows here the various stages of compost and explains that you can tell your home compost is ready to be used when it stays compressed when squeezed and feels a bit like a wet sponge. (Click to enlarge pics for detail.)

DSC_0186  Nope, not yet. This is the bin pictured in the April 20th blog. At that time, the bin’s contents were clearly small branches and leaves and Joe and Fred were watering it, mixing it and adding chicken manure. What a difference a month and temps in the center of the pile reaching 140 degrees makes!

DSC_0185  Almost, but not yet…wait for it.

It’s still dry and doesn’t compress when squeezed.

DSC_0184  Bingo! Perfect!

You could say that the Compost Team’s work is the basis for all the beds in the Teaching Garden. In another 5 – 8 weeks the bins will be moved to the curing area for 3 – 4 weeks and maintained at about 60 degrees before ready for garden use.

DSC_0188  This is the new “cold compost” pile that was started in April. It is something new, on trial. Breakdown is coming along nicely.

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A fine example of how the compost is used in the garden.

DSC_0175  Work began this week on a new demonstration of a “mobility challenged garden”, designed and built by Hank Spencer, MG Volunteer (wearing the dark hat, sleeves rolled up). Hank did many hours of research on the project, including the height and depth preferred by a person in a wheelchair. It will be built with a “perch” for a person to sit on the sides, close enough to lean in to the middle of the planter. The design is meant to give visitors ideas to take home and apply to their garden.

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Don Peschka, in the white hat, was on board to give Hank a helping hand.

DSC_0174  This Memorial Day week, we remember with gratitude the dedication of Master Gardener Volunteers who are no longer gardening beside us, but still in our memories.

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DSC_0159  Above, left, Rosa “Carefree Beauty”; right, peonies in full bloom; and bottom left, blanket flower.

Next week: A “who dun it” in the Cook’s Garden! Stay tuned, folks!

Happy gardening, friends!