Welcome to the final Saturday in the Garden class for the 2016 growing season. Today’s topics will be Master Gardener’s favorite plants followed by a review of the best plan of attack for weeds in your garden. The purpose of our classes is to raise awareness and make appropriate changes in gardening culture.
Nancy Berlin, VCE Natural Resource Specialist, brought samples of a few of her favorite plants. Symphyllocarpus, a wildflower; is a member of the daisy family, grows to about 2 feet tall and blooms late summer ‘til early fall. You can find these at your nursery center. Next, Nancy shared a sample of New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. New England Aster is also easy to grow and blooms from August ‘til October.
Jeff Zimmerman, Master Gardener Volunteer, brought samples of his favorite plants from his home garden; Purple Beautyberry Bush (Callicarpa dichotoma) and Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). Jeff shared his experience with both plants; they bloom on new wood, they can be cut back in spring to maintain shape, but it is not necessary. They can grow to 8’ x 8’. Jeff enjoys the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies that are attracted to the bushes.
Ruth Johnson, Master Gardener Volunteer (with Nancy Berlin) introduced the audience to Garden or Tall Phlox, Phlox paniculata.
Garden phlox grow to 3’ tall, their scent is slightly spicy and they bloom for many weeks from August through October.
Paige Thacker, Unit Coordinator and Horticulture Extension Agent, shared one of her favorite garden specimens, Amsonia (Amsonia Hubrichtii).
It can be grown for edging or massing, has star-shaped blooms in June that attracts butterflies, generally grows to 2 or 3’ tall and has great fall color interest.
Master Gardener Volunteer, Don Peschka, with Thomas Bolles in the background, began today’s segment on “Weeds” by asking “What is a Weed?” The answer is different for each gardener. For instance, can you live with white clover which provides nutrients in the soil or wild violets, and has purple flowers in the spring? Considered weeds to some; to others they are beneficial to the overall health of the soil.
Rather than making the immediate decision to use chemicals to combat weeds, VA Tech now advises cultural weed control. How high you mow your grass affects weed control; mow low – weeds can grow. Mow higher and water properly to make grass able to compete with weeds.
Identify weeds before using chemicals. Always read the product’s instructions to be sure that it will work on your exact weed.
The final presenter, Thomas Bolles, BEST Lawns Coordinator, informed the large audience that different classifications of grasses (summer vs. winter weeds) get different chemicals, so know what weed you have. Call the MGPW Help Desk at (703) 792-7747 to identify your weed and sign up for the BEST Lawns Program and a Master Gardener will come to your home and provide you with answers to your questions while taking a soil sample for testing.
While the class is going on, there is still activity happening in the background.
Master Gardener Interns Missy Lackas and Carroll Schnieder (in pink) were doing their best to keep up with Janelle Bryant filling up wheelbarrows with mulch for the Native Plant Bed.